Wednesday, March 15, 2006

France, CPE and US economic problems

My comment at http://superfrenchie.com/?p=600

Well said tcheni, you are a good advertisement for the value of a philosophical education.

A lot of people here seem to assume that the Americans are doing well in comparison with the French, some Americans don't agree:

Unemployment - the horror movie. Bertram Doyle, Mar. 6th

"...The telecom market collapsed, merged, mutated. Independent major market competition – gone. WorldCom and Global Crossing and the RBOC’s, gone. Boom and bust. And in the end, thousands were unemployed, myself among them.

And having seen it all before, I’ve got that feeling again now. But this time, it’s the entire economy. A bit of time and research on the Internet indicates that I’m notalone in this ‘feeling’. Unseen forces. Indecipherable patterns. Nameless dread.

It’s like a horror movie.

Okay, fine. It sounds crazy. But that’s the point. What’s happening to our economy is crazy. Scores of writings and reports show that the ratio of job creation to job loss is skewed to the ‘bottom’, that is, good jobs (minimum $16.00 per hour, full-time, with medical benefits and retirement) are being replaced with bad jobs (pick one: fry cook, barista, cashier). Firing in San Diego, hiring in Bangalore. The deficit is ballooning into the trillions, pension funds are looted, and unsustainable growth and rapacious capitalism are combining to throttle our future in the cradle.

And you, dear reader, are unemployed. Or underemployed. Or ‘anxious employed’, a term that seeks to brand the anxiety and trepidation of workers who’ve survived the last round of job cuts..."

http://www.nickelanddimed.net/

Cf.

Happy New Year, American Dream

By Holly Sklar
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services, December 27, 2005

"The American Dream doesn't need to go on a diet in the new year. It's been shrinking for years.

We are becoming a nation of Scrooge-Marts and outsourcers -- with an increasingly low-wage workforce instead of a growing middle class. Even two-paycheck households are struggling to afford a house, college, health care and retirement.

The American Dream is becoming the American Pipe Dream.

"The vast majority of American workers (70 percent) think 'the American Dream' has been or will be harder for them to financially achieve than it was for their parents' generation," according to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index.

We are living the American Dream in reverse.

The hourly wages of average workers are 11 percent lower than they were back in 1973, adjusted for inflation, despite rising worker productivity. CEO pay, by contrast, has skyrocketed -- up a median 30 percent in 2004 alone in The Corporate Library survey of 2,000 large companies.

Median household income has fallen an unprecedented five years in a row. It would be even lower, if not for increased household work hours. Americans work over 200 hours more a year on average than workers in other rich industrialized nations.

We are breaking records we don't want to break. Record numbers of Americans have no health insurance. The share of national income going to wages and salaries is the lowest since 1929.

Middle-class households are a medical crisis, outsourced job or busted pension away from bankruptcy.

..."

http://www.nickelanddimed.net/

see also:

"english language coverage of the young workers’ revolt in France
This blog will have continual updates on the situation in France as events unfold, you can see photos, discuss on our forums and read the background to these events on libcom.org/news."



"tuesday 14th of march - youths riot in paris as highschool students come out in force across france


Yesterday was the students day of action. We were giving updates as and when we recieved them, but this remains just a sample of what happened across France:

today

Photos in of yesterdays Nantes train station blockage.

3.15am

Mobilization of anti-cpe high-schools in Arras [from indymedia lille]:
The high schools in Arras (Robespierre, Molet, Carnot) are blocked tonight. This evening a rumour of a prefectoral decree allowing intervention of the police force circulated. A rumour only no doubt.

1:57am

Map showing university blockages & strikes as they stand. (Greve=strike, Fermeture=closed by university).

midnight:50

Youths rioted against CRS this evening in Paris as the riot police blocked students approaching the Sorbonne. Photos here and here.

midnight:46

A University ampitheatre, packed with well over 700 students has voted to stirke and to blockade the Tréfilerie site of the University of St. Etienne. This has already forced the abandonement of a proposed open day tomorrow. At the Métare site a blockade was also agreed and students will continue to meet daily as long as the struggle continues.

Meanwhile, 200 youths have occupied Jussieu University, also in Paris.

midnight:27

Le Figaro are reporting 4,500 marched in Rennes, 1500 in Clermont Ferrand, up to 5000 in Limoges, nearly 4000 in Lille, 1100 in Caen, 1000-2000 in Le Havre and 2000-4000 in Lille.

11.28pm

First pictures of todays riot near the Sorbonne.
..."

http://www.libcom.org/blog/

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Equinox: Beating Bird Flu

Last night there was a chilling Channel 4, Equinox programme on Bird Flu. It wasn't just alarmist; it showed the impressive work being done by scientists to understand the virus, which involved looking at tissue samples saved from 1918. The "Spanish Flu" (really bird flu) epidemic then killed up to 100 million worldwide, but up to now there have been very few books or TV documentaries about this, compared with the massive coverage of WWI, which killed far fewer people:


"The world is preparing for a new natural disaster. As the deadly H5N1 bird flu spreads across the planet, scientists fear it could mutate into a human disease. If it evolves the ability to spread from human to human the result could be global devastation.

In an Equinox Special, Channel 4 follows the story of the world’s top flu experts and their race against time to understand the virus, and so prevent a pandemic.

The key to stopping a new flu pandemic could lie buried with the victims of the worst flu disaster in recorded history. As many as 50 million people died in the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, itself a bird flu outbreak.

Understanding the 1918 pandemic not only gives a chilling insight into what a modern outbreak could be like, it also provides scientists with the extraordinary possibility of stopping H5N1 before it kills millions of people today. Will they get there in time?

Bird Flu

What do bird flu, everyday flu and pandemic flu have in common? Is there really a new plague on the horizon?


The Spanish Flu of 1918

The flu virus of 1918 killed up to 100 million people worldwide. What made it so lethal? Virologists say it's vital to answer this question if we are to avoid another deadly pandemic."

Channel 4 Monday 13 March at 8pm

http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/B/birdflu_equinox/