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Published on March 19 2006

Top News Article | Reuters.com
PARIS (Reuters) - The French government defended on Sunday a new job law that has provoked mass protest marches and played down a threat from unions of a possible general strike if it fails to withdraw the law by Monday night. Spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said the conservative government passed the law, which lets employers fire people under 26 for any reason during a two-year trial period, in a bid to fight youth unemployment. Opponents of the First Job Contract (CPE) law, including unions, student groups and left-wing parties, argue it is regressive and will create a generation of disposable French workers insecure about their future employment. "What is our objective? It is to mobilize against unemployment, especially among youths," Cope said on LCI television. French unemployment stands at 9.6 percent nationwide and over 20 percent for young people.
What am I missing here? The students are insecure about their future employment--WITH A 20+% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE?????? Wouldn't a "first job"--even though you know it's not a lifetime gig--be preferable to nothing at all? Wouldn't an incentive to employers to hire these young people--and we're not talking 16 year olds here, we're talking University graduates-- be something desirable? After doing a little more reading, I have suddenly become very sympathetic to the students' sad plight. Go here and you will understand why.
Moreover, French businesses are weighted down with regulations and restrictions that make its labor market one of the industrial world's most rigid. France's minimum wage is roughly double that of the United States. The workweek is limited to 35 hours. French workers are entitled to a minimum of five weeks of vacation and 36 weeks of paid family or maternity leave, with additional time off available on an unpaid basis. It is very difficult for French companies to lay off or fire employees. Dismissals are subject to stringent bureaucratic constraints. As a result, French companies are extremely reluctant to hire new workers. On average, the United States creates more new private-sector jobs in a month than France does in a year. At the same time, the generosity of French welfare offers little incentive for the unemployed to look for work. The result is a growing population of idle, disillusioned poor with little connection to society at large.
I am protected by a negotiated union contract, and I had to work 25 years to be eligible for 5 weeks of vacation per year. (My father was horrified that I got that much vacation that soon!) I had NO paid maternity leave, and was back on the job (too early physically, I might add) after about four weeks off with my kids. It's only been in the last dozen years that I could take ANY sort of maternity leave and not fear dismissal if I'm not covered by a contract. 35 hour workweeks? :-O I think I'm relatively lazy in my 40-48 hour week, in comparison with friends who are putting in 60 hour weeks. Yeah, I need to start learning to speak French. Ooh, la, la...

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Published on March 18 2006

In an ongoing effort to add that background music to my life, tonight I'm headed off to see this guy and this guy in concert. It's part of my Jazz history class. One of the requirements is that we attend a "live jazz performance" for one of the three reviews we'll write during the semester. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a "live jazz performance" in northern Wisconsin? I've been googling my little heart out for 8 weeks now--I just missed a jazz festival at a college within two hours' driving distance--by one day. This thing tonight didn't come cheap, either--I had to buy a membership to the Woods and Waters Fine Arts Council. Eh, what the heck. Maybe I'll get all cultured up!! Wonder if I can manage to get lost between here and Park Falls? With my unerring sense of direction...yep, more than likely! Jazz out.

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Published on March 5 2006

Buried in schoolwork, but still around... How the heck did I do this when I carried a full load of classes? Oh yeah... I was only working 30-hour weeks back then, not 48 hour weeks. And no business. And no union job. No wonder it was easier then...sigh. Yup, and still had time for a beer now and then. Those were called weekends.

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Published on February 25 2006

Saw this on the evening news last night--kinda makes whiny Olympians and pro athletes look pretty bad. Make sure you watch the video--those were some good shots! CBS News | Autistic Teen's Hoop Dreams Come True | February 24, 2006 17:04:52
(CBS) It was the stuff of Hollywood, but it was real. Senior Jason McElwain had been the manager of the varsity basketball team of Greece Athena High School in Rochester, N.Y. McElwain, who's autistic, was added to the roster by coach Jim Johnson so he could be given a jersey and get to sit on the bench in the team's last game of the year. Johnson hoped the situation would even enable him to get McElwain onto the floor a little playing time. He got the chance, with Greece Athena up by double-digits with four minutes go to. And, in his first action of the year, McElwain missed his first two shots, but then sank six three-pointers and another shot (video), for a total of 20 points in three minutes.
UPDATE: video available here

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Published on December 30 2005

Teenage Adventure
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An American teenager ran away to Baghdad over Christmas and survived probably the most dangerous destination in the world before being packed off home by the U.S. military, U.S. officials said on Friday. Farris (Bueller?) Hassan, the 16-year-old son of Iraqi immigrants to Florida, showed up at the Baghdad bureau of an American news agency on Tuesday and recounted a tale of foolhardy daring by a would-be journalist on a far-fetched school project, the Associated Press said in a report on its unlikely visitor. Unable to speak Arabic, the dangers of his predicament began to dawn on him when he went out of his hotel looking for food and had to pull out his phrase book.
And we worry about kids' drinking parties up here, or our little Ferris Bueller's days off? Can you imagine that phone call to his parents? "Hi son, where have you been?" ...long pause.... "You're WHERE????" (Not to mention, I want to read THAT report on "What I did for Christmas vacation"!!!)

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Published on December 22 2005

Grade is in......score (including the extra credit papers & stuff I did) is 395 points out of a possible 395 points.
"A"
Omigod.

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Published on December 20 2005

the semester is over ....whew. Amazing how much harder, but how much more fun, this school stuff is this time around. Essays are DONE and turned in. Two hours ahead of time even!! *goes to take a LONG hot shower*

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Published on December 19 2005

Packers Suffer Worst Loss in 25 Years - Yahoo! News
It was the low point of an awful season for the Packers (3-11), who absorbed their most lopsided loss since a 61-7 defeat at Chicago in 1980.

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Published on December 19 2005

Intensive coffee consumption accompanies intensive panic and intensive writing..... I don't remember this being so rough 25 years ago. Maybe that's why I didn't finish, ya think?

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Published on December 10 2005

Got my questions for my final in International Politics this morning--NOT going to post them since that would probably be considered some sort of copyright violation or cheating on finals. Four essays due in ten days. Four. Urgh...... I think I know what I'll be doing for the next week. I'm already a wreck--I want to do well on this so badly. I'm pretty excited about how well it's gone so far, and I want to finish up with a bang. Four. Prayers are appreciated, lol.

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