Friday, March 20, 2009

Sunny skies, Anarchists and European style Communists

Yesterday thousands marched through the Place de Bastille of every labor and political persuasion, young and old out for a day in the Parisian sun. The T-shirt above was worn by a member of an anarchist group who strenuously distanced himself from the communists. He believed a very long strike was necessary to bring the government down, not a day strike under blue skies. I was struck by the many elderly people sporting communist banners and arm bands. I mentioned my years in Ukraine and what happened there under communism including the deliberate starvation or deportation of Ukrainian farmers causing the death of 7 million of them. But, that wasn't real communism they replied! Wishful thinking at best. It's so interesting to be in a country where people pay 40% of their income for taxes for social programs that pay them more than they were making if they lose their jobs, where the university costs about $900 a year, where there is full socialized medicine and where the people believe the government is not doing enough. So yesterday millions marched in France for more even though there is no more. I would not like to be an elected official here. At least when I was in the middle of the sea of marchers everyone was having a good time and there were no outbreaks of violence. Not sure how the day ended but everyone was back to work today as far as I could see. Shalom from Paris. David Schneier

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aux Barricades

The great rallying cry of the revolution of 1848 in France was "Aux barricades!" -- meaning workers should go out and block the streets against the government and its troops. Tomorrow is supposed to be another general strike of some sort in France to call on the government to help the workers. The photos show what it can look like in France. (Upper photo-Lionel Cironneau/The Associated Press, lower photo-BBC) I'll be out trying to get my own photos of this country stopping event.

According to Radio Netherlands Worldwide, "More than two million people are expected to take part in nationwide strikes in France on Thursday in protest against proposed cutbacks by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Trade unions and left-wing parties have urged workers to come out in large numbers in the second show of force against the government since January. Public services will be affected nationwide. The strikes will also disrupt commuter trains, intercity rail services and air traffic. International trains like the Thalys and Eurostar are planning to run as scheduled, although delays are not being ruled out. The strikes across 200 towns - which should last until Friday morning - come against a backdrop of mounting anger over job losses and factory closures."

Please pray for France and for Leslye and I as we try to get around in the city. Often the strikes go an extra day when the start on Thursday so that the workers can have a long weekend. Shalom from Paris. David Schneier