Thursday, February 02, 2006

quelle journée!

What a day it has been. A couple pieces of good news came down the pike today, First my degree was cleared by my university, and second the Peace Corps gave me final medical clearance. Une fête is in order.

A side note: I am in a cyber café where kids are playing network games with two teams: Americans and Iraqis...being Iraqi seems to be the popular choice... update: the Iraqis seem to be winning...

On the French front all is well, I finally gave into the societal pressures to participate in the "soldes," the department store sales that take place once a year (maybe twice). So now I won't be getting any more of those looks in the Tram as I now mix in with the French clothing norms quite nicely.

An interesting note: At the supermarket they did not have any disposable plastic bags! There is an anti bag mobilisation (i've always been an anti-bagist). I was forced to buy a reusable bag for 15 cents. Impressed I was...

Yesterday I began to photograph signs, it's a new hobby if you will. Street signs, store signs, posters, etc.

Yesterday evening I went bowling of all things...I think there was a better selection of 60s American music than at your average alley in the states.

The day before last a protests took place all over France over the newly proposed contrat premier embauche (first employment contract) which is one in a slough of reforms by the French government, currently a "Right" government to lower the unemployment rate. I was lucky enough to attend the Nantes protest. The debate is interesting though because the "Right" is convinced that more flexibility on hiring and firing needs to be given to companies in order to lower the rate. The "Left" which is of course in favor of a low unemployment rate sees the government's reforms as institutionalizing the "precariousness" of jobs, especially for young workers. The strong unions in France are bringing out the crowds in protest. The protest culture in France and the sentiment of social "solidarity" is quite particular so I was happy to see it first hand. There is a strong movement against economic liberalism (free market capitalism) which is seen as a threat to culture, to jobs, and workers rights. This clashes pretty nastily with the conviction of the French "Right" that the way to help the greatest number is for France to sharpen its swords and compete in the global economy by helping business along instead of getting caught up in worker's rights. The US of course represents free market capitalism to Frenchmen so this explains some of their anti-US sentiment (which is only skin deep)

A couple news commentaries: On the news front, there is much talk here of the hostile takeover attempt of Mittal steel (# 1 in the world ) originally from India on the European steel manufacturer Arcelor (#2). In short the Europeans don't want to lose their seat at the controls of the world economy. This takeover attempt however says alot about the state of things in the World and in Europe. First the East is rising, who could have imagined a few years back an Indian born company buying up one of Europe's largest. Second, the EU is really being tested by this. It will be interesting to see how the EU tackles the situation, or if it can with its current structure. But one thing is for certain, if Europe wasn't united Arcelor would have already been bought up.

Also Interesting is an article that appeared today on a new book that questions all the literature on the Rwandan genocide until now. France has taken the brunt of the blame for the West's involvement. I don't know if this book (written by a Frenchman) is an attempt to clear France's name but it uses the CIA and the UN as sources in saying that Paul Kagame, the current president and hailed by the west post-genocide, more or less planned the genocide and let Rwandan Tutsis be slaughtered, in favor of Tutsis exiled in Uganda, such as himself.

Well, that is all for today, hope all is well with you all, love, chris


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