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Friday, 17 March 2006

Lotsa riots this year

So 64 of 84 total universities in France are on strike. Including to Sorbonne, where Cola studies, but not her program. They've been having riots today and maybe the last few days. Apparently some cars are on fire. You know, the French love cars, almost as much as Californians love cars. But they seem to love to burn them as much as they love to drive them.

How are these riots connected to the riots of November? Glad you asked. As you may know, minorities, especially minority youth around the Paris suburbs get hassled and beaten by the police. They also have exceedingly high unemployment rates. All of France has high youth unemployment. The wise leadership decided the riots were not caused by police brutality or racism, but by rap music and over-regulation of workers. Yes, clearly the youth would get hired more often if they could be fired at will for any or no reason. Also, staying in school past 8th grade is a luxury for the upper classes. So they lowered ages for mandatory school attendance and passed something called the CPE.

The CPE says that you can fire folks under 26 for the first few years of them having a new job. What's to stop businesses from just replacing new 24 year olds every 2 years? Nothing. What protects young workers who want to join or form a union or whose bosses desire sexual favors? Not very much (especially since women, along with minorities, are disproportionately unemployed.) Would a bank want to loan money to somebody with the possibility of losing their job at any moment? Not in France. Are landlords down with this? Not so much. Do folks want to live at home until they're 26? no.

Nobody is happy with this law. More than 2/3rds of France is against it. but nobody in power wants to admit making a mistake, so it is not repealed yet. Meanwhile, the universities are mostly out on strike and more and more high schools are striking. Kids are throwing molotov cocktails at stuff. The kids in the suburbs in November mostly just burned cars at night. The middle class college kids torch presses, cars and maybe some flics during broad daylight! The youth unrest has spread.

There's a huuuge protest planned for Saturday... someplace. I kind of want to go, as I am in solidarity with French students (hey, I'm a French student!) and workers, but I don't want to be in a riot. Also, I don't know where it's going to be.

The November riots were mostly in the suburbs (although there were signs of a molotov cocktail a couple of doors down from me) and so were not something threatening my safety. These new batches of riots are in the center areas of town: swanky, posh places. Again, not so much effecting my personal safety. So if you're prone to worrying, there's no need on my behalf. Also, for all these riots and burnings, very few people seem to actually get hurt.

I've also been on strike from school from monday morning until this afternoon, but that was mostly as I had the flu. I'm better now, although we'll see how I feel tomorrow after staying up so late. The problem with being sick is that one sleeps so much and at such weird times and then are awake feeling at odd times for the next few days after recovery.

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1 comment:

Polly Moller said...

I'll be in solidarity with your protest tomorrow. Paul & I will be participating in the anti-war march in SF.