strikes continue, this country is exhausting

Like last December, my Christmas blog posts are interrupted by violent social movements going on all around me; last year it was the gilets jaunes, this year it’s the unions and general strikers. All I really want to talk about is Christmas: the beautiful lights and decorations, the gaily-decorated department store windows, my modestly-priced holiday gift guide that I’m compiling … But I can’t even get to the department stores because, other than two automated metro lines, all the other lines are closed.

Yesterday (Thursday) was freezing cold and very damp. Some of my office colleagues walked for one hour and a half to get to work in the morning, and an hour and a half to go back home in the dark and the cold. Today (Friday) it is forecast to rain all day. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m lucky: I can walk to work (or take the number one metro line which is driverless and fully automated.)

Here’s a conversation I had yesterday with a colleague: “But I thought the office had organized a car-pooling scheme. Can’t you find someone who lives near you with a car?”

My colleague, who had walked an hour and a half to work: “Yes, that’s my boss who set up the car-pool thing,” (the Human Resources and Communications Department Director)

“Yeah, so, is there someone who lives near you with a car?”

“I don’t know, that information is confidential, and I don’t want to ask my boss.”

?????  Geez, I thought to myself, for the Communications department, they don’t seem to be very communicative. It’s true that the French have never taken to the carpool concept, called covoiturage in French, preferring to selfishly drive to work alone so they can brood and glower in the solitary comfort of their car.

Here’s a video and an article in The Guardian which explains the situation, I’m too fed up to talk about it. I’m exhausted by the constant whining of the French: moan, moan, moan because they might have to work beyond 62 years of age. Moan moan moan because they haven’t put money aside in a retirement savings account. Why not? Because they depend on the government to do everything for them. The worst are the transportation strikers: some of them get to retire at 55 years of age with a nice pension. Those are the ones who are protesting the hardest, egged on by their Communist union leaders.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/05/anti-macron-protests-held-in-france-with-strikes-set-to-continue

a waste of two beautiful lives – London’s terrorist attack

I’m sitting here – furious and profoundly sad – while reading the article below about the violent stabbing death of a human being on London Bridge last week. Jack Merritt, was his name, and he succumbed to knife wounds following an attack by an Islamist terrorist.

Part of a gang of nine extremists who were sentenced in February 2012, the ‘jihadist’ had planned to establish a terrorist military training facility on land owned by his family in Pakistani Kashmir before returning to Britain and carrying out terrorist attacks. His jail sentence was supposed to be from 16 to 18 years. He was freed and out on the streets six years later in December 2018. WHY?

Our governments do not sufficiently protect us, but rather put us in danger by their leniency and inattention towards Islamist ideology and radicalization. And I’m sick and tired of hearing officials say “Our condolences, our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families.” Not good enough. Here in France, 263 innocents have been brutally killed in Islamist attacks since 2012. And there will be more.

The second victim of the London Bridge attack was Saskia Jones, a former Cambridge University student from Stratford-upon-Avon. 23 years old, she had her whole life before her. What a waste. And for what?

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/dec/01/london-bridge-attack-victim-jack-merritt-tributes

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/dec/01/second-london-bridge-victim-cambridge-university-student

the winter of French discontent, nationwide strike starts December 5th

The French are discontented. So, what else is new?

Tens of thousands of public service workers with the RATP (Paris transportation network) and SNCF (French national railway) will be striking against President Macron’s proposed reforms to pension benefits, which he says will “transform society” for the better and update a system some consider sclerotic and outdated.

Macron contends that this is necessary to balance France’s deficit and stimulate the economy; unions and other critics argue that these measures will “sacrifice a generation” of workers who have relied on the security of solid, no, let’s say ‘very generous’, pension benefits. Their concerns are shared by “yellow-vest” protestors who fear increasing precarity and decreased benefits as France aims to slash its deficit and stimulate the economy.

Beginning at 10 pm on Wednesday December 4th, but officially starting on Thursday December 5th, no one knows how long the strikes will last. Could be a few days, could be a few weeks. It is imperative that travelers to France stay informed of developments. Some predict the strikes could paralyze transportation until Christmas Day.

Unions have been warning of “zero metro and zero RER” service in Paris. Lines 1 and 14 of the Paris Metro, which are driverless and automated, are expected to run during the strike period. Buses and tramways operated by the RATP are also expected to be severely affected, with greatly reduced service during the strikes. In addition, “yellow vest” protestors have vowed to block traffic in Paris, potentially further disrupting road traffic.

In the office where I work, my colleagues are organizing carpools. I’m lucky, I can walk to work.

Trains operated by the SNCF – from regional to national, high-speed TGV lines – may grind to a halt or near-halt as part of the action, and worry that it could lead to weeks of trains not operating at all should government fail to reach an agreement with workers.

Right now there is little concrete information on how badly Eurostar and Thalys trains between Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels and other international destinations will be affected by the strike. Eurostar published the following notice on their website: “The strike action is likely to have a significant impact on our ability to deliver the usual timetable as we expect disruption to signalling along all routes. It is also anticipated that there will be major disruption to Metro and RER services in Paris and connecting trains to all destinations within France. For this reason we are currently not able to sell tickets for Thursday 5th and Friday 6th December 2019.”

Air France may also see workers strike, which may give travelers cause to avoid using the carrier in December.

Below are the latest OECD statistics showing the percentage of an average salary that retirees receive in eleven different countries around the world: Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, United States, Japan, Poland and Great Britain. After a full career, the French retirement pension represents 74% of one’s last salary; that’s less than in Spain, Portugal and Italy.

This chart below illustrates the average exit age from the labor market in these same countries. Up until 2010, the legal retirement age in France was 60 years old. Today it is 62. However, the French government is encouraging workers to stay longer in the workforce; and the French are balking at this idea. For me personally, where the average retirement age in Canada has been 65 for as long as I remember, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

 

living out loud

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what ‘living out loud’ meant. I vaguely thought it might be akin to ‘living large’ or ‘living life exuberantly’. So to be sure, I looked it up.

Urban Dictionary describes it as –  Being yourself, genuine, open, trustworthy, with sass, spice and flare. Living on purpose, loving others and yourself, living passionately for your values, no matter what. Letting others see your light shine, and not being scared to be different or worry about others opinions of you. Living a life you’re excited about, with purpose on your terms. Inspiring others to do the same.

Someone on Quora described it as: Be yourself and enjoy life and show you enjoy it, without stepping on anyone else in the process. Show good will toward all and revel in the simplest pleasures. Share your happiness freely, and share in the happiness of others.

Somewhere else I read – ‘living openly as a gay person.’

I then stumbled across a website that lists 30 ways to Live Out Loud (the website is authored by Sonya Derian.) I think that all of the 30 ways are so fantastic, I’m sharing them with you below. I particularly liked the Emile Zola quote –

“Si vous me demandez ce que je viens faire en ce monde, moi artiste, je vous répondrai: je viens vivre TOUT HAUT.” Emile Zola

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world as an artist, I will tell you: I came to live out LOUD.”

click here on the blue link:

Live Your Life Out Loud: 30 Ways to Get Started

France’s shame – massive Paris protest march today

Today, Saturday November 23rd, women (and I hope men and boys) engaged in protest marches all across the country against violence and femicide towards women. As much as I wanted to join the Paris march, I was unavailable today.

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Read this article below, it reiterates everything I posted in my November 17 and September 19 posts.

France has among the highest rates in Europe of domestic violence. This is thought to be down in part to the poor police response to reports of abuse. Many of the women killed this year had previously sought help from police, it has been reported.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/23/frances-shame-thousands-protest-gender-violence

Christmas is a coming!

Where has the year gone? It seems to have screeched by. Which is precisely why I keep a blog. So I can click on any month of the year and say to myself – that’s what I did in February (went to Amsterdam), that’s what happened in April (Notre Dame cathedral burned), that’s where I went in May (Italy), etc., etc.

In one month it’ll be nearly Christmas, my favorite holiday. Last year I spent it with my two childhood friends in London, England, and it was fantastic. Speaking of England, let me introduce you to Delia Smith, one of Britain’s best known celebrity cooks. Here she is in her cozy country house preparing Christmas dinner and giving us lots of tips. Such as storing the Christmas pudding under the bed!

So make yourself a nice cuppa, sit down and relax, and watch the no-nonsense, reassuring Delia.

 

open letter to President Macron to do something

It’s not an open letter, but rather an open video (below), imploring the President of France to act on the problem of violence towards women in this country. The statistics are overwhelming. What is he doing about it? Nothing much. What about his wife, Brigitte? Couldn’t she get involved as spokesperson or head of a commission? Finding a solution seems to be low on the list of government priorities. I know, I know, we have the pressing problems of the gilets jaunes, the underfunded hospitals, the upcoming transportation strike scheduled for early December, the migrants and refugees and where to house them, radical Islam and a hundred other concerns. There’s just no time or budget set aside for the pesky problem of women being killed by their partners or ex-partners.

In mid-September, I wrote a blog post on this very same subject. The number of femicides for the year was 107. In October that number jumped to 116. Today, in November, the number is 131! What’s going on? Has femicide become an epidemic in this country? I’m starting to get really pissed off.

Femicide: the act of killing a woman, as by a domestic partner or a member of a criminal enterprise.

Femicide: a gender-based hate crime, broadly defined as “the intentional killing of females because they are females.”

Céline, Sarah, Clothilde, Eliane, Hélène, Denise, Ophélie, Martine are the names of some of the other women murdered by their current or former partners this year. There’s no law condemning femicide in France.

Up until just a few years ago the killing of a woman here was called – are you ready for this? – un crime passionnel (a crime of passion) – thereby letting the man off the hook.

§§§

Two weeks ago, 40-year-old Sylvia was fatally stabbed by her husband in the region of Alsace.

Sylvia’s death represents the 131st femicide since the beginning of this year, ten more than last year.

Yesterday a shocking report was published on the subject. Of the 88 cases of domestic violence studied in this investigative report by the Ministry of Justice, 80% of the complaints were dismissed. Dismissed? By who and why?

To be continued.

Last Sunday night at 11 pm, the daughter of Sylvia received a frantic phone call from her mother begging her to come over quick because her violent husband was stabbing her. The daughter immediately called the local police and told them what was happening. The daughter arrived in three minutes. The police, whose station is blocks away – and who were aware of the problem because Sylvia had already lodged formal complaints – took thirty minutes to show up. Too late, Sylvia was dead.

“No one wanted to listen,” says Stella the daughter, “No one wanted to help.”