New Civilization News: "France---A fond au revoir"    
 "France---A fond au revoir"33 comments
picture21 Mar 2006 @ 07:49, by Richard Carlson

Father and daughter at the mighty Allegheny River last summer.

Please subdue the anguish of your soul. Nobody is destined only to happiness or to pain. The wheel of life takes me up and down by turn.

---Kalidasa

Eliminate something superfluous from your life.
Break a habit.
Do something that makes you feel insecure.
Carry out an action with complete attention and intensity, as if it were your last.

---Piero Ferrucci

To the mind that is still
the whole universe surrenders.

---Lao Tzu

The century is soft and the year yet new in my daughter. Her 14th year half over, Air France flight 8701 begins descent at this dawning hour over Paris. For the next 80 days part of me will be here in the Ohio River Valley and part will be reaching out 6 hours ahead to Ilona living and studying in France. A few hours ago, after weeks of preparation, her mother and I entrusted her to the care of the family who invited her to go with them. There have been agonizing moments of uncertainty, but finally we committed and several hours ago wished her bon voyage. Just before we left Athens Ilona sent out this email message~~~

"Before I depart, I wanted to share with all of you my love and graciousness
for your love, support, prayers and comfort as I leave for France. It has
been so wonderful for me to know that I have so many people to love me.
Thank you all!

"Thank you all for your support, it's helped me to take a deep breath in
order to embark on this life changing and beautiful experience.

"GROS BISOUS! (=
(Big Kiss)"

The English teacher does not reach for his red pencil, impressed as he is with the Big Heart of his young lady. O she will be so changed! Already it has happened...and out of my sight and protection. She took off in an airplane for the first time. And in another hour she will go through customs into a country where her English will be merely a second language. I have Montreal with which to compare it, but her mother and I mostly must imagine everything that will be happening.

We've spent so much time trying to prepare her, but how have we prepared ourselves? We're going to have 2 weeks of adjustment and homesickness too! Fortunately we'll be getting phone calls and Instant Messages, complete with webcam, and all the intimacy technology can provide. Hopefully the pain of parting will be eased.

Things have changed at the airport. It used to be you said good-bye to your loved one as he walked through the door to the plane. Then you ran up a flight of stairs to the flight deck to wave as she climbed aboard or put her hand on the window, if she could get a seat on that side. You waited for the plane to close up and taxi out to the runway. Then you watched thrilled as off it flew.

Not any more. Now you get to Security and it's over. There was the first shock as Ilona realized this is as far as we could go. Tears and kisses. We would wait in the terminal another hour and a half until we were pretty sure that one of the airplanes taking off had to be hers...and then we'd go home. All we could do was try vaguely to squint half a mile across the airfield to where we thought the gate and plane had to be. Back and forth I went to the Departure Schedule to find out when they might be boarding, when the doors were closed, and finally when the flight disappeared from the list. The whole process required more stamina than we were prepared to endure.

The tickets had been checked as the family entered Security and moved towards the screening area. I stood on tiptoe and stretched to watch them as far as I could. At the last moment, Ilona turned to wave one more time. Our eyes met. Tears...but also bravery!


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33 comments

21 Mar 2006 @ 09:34 by jstarrs : Ilona will love it...
...France is a wonderful country, especially in the south-west.
I hope she's gets to go to some of the Cathar power places like the mighty Montsegur:


That part of the Mediterranean is lovely, also, Coullioure for example:
 



21 Mar 2006 @ 10:30 by dempstress : Chin up Richard
It must be difficult for you both, but a parent who has the belief and courage to trust and let go a little is a wonderful thing for a young adult. I'm sure she'll have a great time and, as you say, come back not changed but developed in a new direction, and having access to a wider understanding about the world and other peoples and cultures than many of her contemporaries. It is a long time but she is with people she knows and loves and trusts. Hopefully it will all be the most wonderful adventure and give her the confidence to know she can cope with new and challenging developments.

Meanwhile I have a tear in my eye too, reading your comments: perhaps in empathy for your emotions, or perhaps in envy of Illona for her parents.  



21 Mar 2006 @ 17:39 by Quinty @68.226.88.25 : This might sound odd
but you can still feel it. Those moods Faure and Ravel and Debussy and Poulenc captured on the streets. It's still there. Ilona is quite lucky to be going there, at her age. I agree, of course, with the two commnets above....  


21 Mar 2006 @ 18:46 by jstarrs : Yes, Quinty...
yes, well said.
It's like that, just like that.  



22 Mar 2006 @ 11:40 by jazzolog : The First Day
Dear Friends,

Thank you for your replies and encouragements to our family as we've entered this great adventure. Jeroch is not to be left out either, as he and Karen were reunited when her plane took off from DeGaulle in Paris just TWO HOURS before Ilona's landed there. They decided to celebrate by driving to Florida...especially with his revived drivers license he got as a surprise for her. We received a call from them half way through Georgia last night. Karen had been studying in Pamplona these past few months, a town in Spain just across the Pyrenees from Pau. They'd hoped to get together over there until they compared schedules.

Ilona called twice yesterday, and I want to get offline quickly since it's noon over there and she might want to contact again. The first call was from Paris at 5:15 AM our time...but Dana had wanted to hear as soon as they landed safely. She may not have been too intelligible, so Ilona called again 6 hours later when they finally were in the midst of settling at May 8th, 1945 Street. (I'll save you younger Yanks the Google by reminding us that May 8th commemorates the German Nazi surrender to Allied Forces. I like there's a street named that and they're living there!)

When I talked to her she had to be very tired, so I found myself being the staunch daddy again trying to sound positive and perky. Actually, no one could have prepared me for how hard not having her around is turning out to be on me. Dana says she knew what difficulty she was going to face...and the first thing she did yesterday morning was mark the 80 days in red on the kitchen calendar. We'll be counting down day by day. I was so involved in the logistics, legalities, and eventualities that I never considered what simply walking into her room yesterday would feel like.

I don't want to bring her down or contribute to the work of adjustment she's going through, but I need to let her know how I genuinely miss her. We still need to focus on the wondrous opportunity and huge days of happiness ahead, but Mom and Dad are learning some things over here too. With both our children traveling around at the moment, we're certainly getting a chance to catch up on our chores...but we're also finding an inventory occuring about how we're doing and who we are. Didn't expect that! :-)

They don't have Internet yet at the house. If the political unrest in France becomes more severe this week, there may be delays in getting it installed too. I'm going to be mailing a card to her today...and hope delivery isn't stalled. We'll keep you in touch with further developments.
Rebuilding the nest for Spring,
Richard  



22 Mar 2006 @ 12:38 by dempstress : Hmm
I suppose a time-limited trial 'empty nest syndrome' period a few years before the real thing hits could be pretty healthy. An opportunity to shake things into shape and a wee reminder of yourselves as people not just parents?  


22 Mar 2006 @ 13:32 by swan : I think your feelings are
appropriate for the situation. I stood out in front of my house and cried when my daughter, Carrie, drove off on her moved to California. On the other hand both Carrie and Ilona were going on a soul adventure. What a lucky girl to be going to France at this age!  


23 Mar 2006 @ 12:20 by jazzolog : France---Bonjour!
The phone call we'd waited for all day yesterday came late---not until 12:30 PM our time. We'd created a 90 minute window together with Ilona...at least until a regular schedule is set up for school and chores and things; but she and Keenan had taken a bus downtown and were exploring Pau, and didn't get back until suppertime over there. As soon as we heard her we knew everything is going to be all right!

She sounds great! Rested, excited, enthusiastic...oh gee, more grownup already. She says all the young people from the school they'll attend (starting tomorrow) go downtown for lunch (which lasts how long?)...but she saw nobody eating. Hmmm, as a result maybe, she says she saw no fat people at all (and now thinks she's going to have to exercise like mad to lose our characteristic Yankee pleasantly-plumpness). They all smoke!!! (I had warned her about the pungent Gauloise, made popular by Picasso and Sartre---and do I understand they no longer exist?) She said she's in culture shock! Of course we do expect something from the French that maybe isn't real. (For more on that see below~~~) The important thing is she's been in the midst of it now, and the two of them will be a fantastic team in the coming exchange.

She'll be sending pictures of the house and her room as soon as the Internet is set up. It sounds like a dream house getaway. There's a pool outside and a sort of gym downstairs. Not sure how many bathrooms she said...maybe 3...but she wants to make clear when the French say bathroom they mean a room for bathing. The master one has a Jacuzzi. (O these academics DO like to put on the Ritz!) Toilet is someplace else. She was looking at the Pyrenees in the distance from where she was phoning. I'm sure we'll get a photo of that.

I was worried they'll have trouble setting up Internet, as the demonstrations continue in France [link] and the trade unions (including Air France) are calling for a national strike on Tuesday [link] . I got a very nice reply from Annie Warmke though saying not to worry~~~

"Usually DSL access is pretty simple. They just go down to the phone
office and purchase a kit. Then someone shows up pretty quick to make
sure it all works. Political unrest or not, they probably won't have much
trouble getting DSL."

Annie lived in France a while ago, and has warmly been giving me good advice through the separation pangs. Her granddaughter lives with them now at Blue Rock Station, and she wanted me to know this~~~

"When Cat is gone to her mother's house us grandparents find that we just
work more. She's the one that tempers our schedule and grounds us in
taking time for each other. I miss her when she's gone, but I am also
grateful for the experiment her absence creates. One day she'll be grown
up and we will have to find other children to nurture along...that's the
reminder she offers when she's on vacation from us.

"Don't waste the days missing your darling daughter. Set time for YOU, and
your other loved ones. She'll be back before the blink of an eye, and in
the meantime she's with you every day. You hear her voice when something
reminds you of her, and she hears your voice too in the same way. She
will need time to be disconnected from you, and you from her. The reunion
will be so marvelous."

Isn't that great advice? And I find the worries and heartaches have eased so far today. I know there'll still be times during the day when the fact that Ilona's gone for many more weeks will dawn on me and it will hurt. I pondered that a lot yesterday because I haven't felt like this in a lot of years (and then in quite different context). I think what happens is a parent is conditioned to think protectively of one's children, who still are in the house and all, many times through the day: Where are they? What are they doing? Are they OK? Over and over again we self-check like that out of a very good habit. But when what comes up is "Oh yes, she's gone to France," there's this incredible physical reaction. I guess it's homesickness---but that's kinda nuts because here I am, home. With friends like you and Annie---and many others too---we're coming to understand it and make the adjustment. And Ilona is on her side too!

By the way, Annie and her husband have a wonderful website and love visitors. To check out who and where they are...and the amazing story of how they built their house out of straw and old tires, take a look~~~ [link] .

And oh yes...about France and fashion realities, there was an amusing article in the London Times the other day about French chic. It might brighten your day as it did mine~~~
[link]

Cheers,
Richard  



28 Mar 2006 @ 12:02 by nraye @80.176.105.234 : Happy Landing
Richard, so nice to hear of safe arrival into the Old World for Illona. You seem to be following all her steps by remote, a busy time no doubt but surely interesting too. As an exile from France myself, in a manner of speaking, my description would be Sophistocated. And further recent exile reports say the region of Pau is the last area of discovery to be had in France! another opportunity in time then. Hoping it is fun and wonderful for you all - Nicola  


28 Mar 2006 @ 13:00 by dempstress : Glad
that she's having a good time....it's a great way for a young person to explore a new place, being among people she already knows. My trips to Europe (back when Europe was something across the Channel rather than something we are, in theory at least, part of) at around that age were generally school exchanges, where you found yourself pretty much stranded with a strange family, and this could be ok or, as on one occasion in Austria, pretty unpleasant. It sounds as if she's having a ball.

Is amusing to hear the comments on smoking and eating habits. Here in Scotland last Sunday was the first day of a ban on smoking in public places (something the French would never countenance) and after months of broo-ha-ha in the press and media it all seems to be going amazingly smoothly. Today's one-day UK national strike by public service workers on the other hand.......  



28 Mar 2006 @ 16:27 by Quinty @68.226.88.25 : This general strike
could be a bummer for Ilona, if it interferes with classes and getting about. And that's too bad. The timing is quite unfortunate and I hope she has some good luck.

But I also admire the French for not taking what's dished out to them. It is almost a routine of French life to periodically shut the country down when, let's say, their cheese is under attack and Monsanto attempts to gain a stronger foothold. As a commentator here in Providence says, that's democracy. That's freedom. They still have it there, in France, and I wish we would raise hell a little more here in the US when our own rights and freedoms are under attack. (I'm saying this without being all that familiar with what the current dispute is all about.)

American francophobia is a sad and disgusting thing. Some of my countrymen complain that the French are impolite. I have never witnessed such a thing, and have always gotten along well with the French when visiting. I have seen the proverbial table of drunken ugly Americans loudly boasting, for one and all to hear, of their money and success. Having met Ilona I think she will be liked and respected over there. And I know her behavior will be proper. I'm beginning to sound like another "self-hating American." My defense, on that score, is that we always need to be self critical, in a sane and healthy manner, in order to improve. What's more, like it or not, there is an aspect of arrogance and jingoistic superiority in America's view of the world. The largest, perhaps, example being, at this time, our view of Arabs and Muslims. Had we more knowledge and respect for that part of the world we, a majority of the American people, may not have so willingly approved of "democratizing" Iraq, and creating a mirror image of the US in Iraq. Look at where we are.  



29 Mar 2006 @ 09:00 by jazzolog : Vive La France!
Here I was, so proud of myself, actually sending out messages to folks (in the 3rd wondrous year of the Iraq Liberation) with no political content! How relieved everyone will be, I thought, just to hear about daughter, friends and a group of OU students studying in the somewhat remote city of Pau, France.

Aljazeera let us know 40,000 marched in Pau yesterday [link] , but other news services don't mention that particular city in their coverage of the demonstrations. Perhaps things went peacefully there. Ilona telephoned at 2:30 our time yesterday, knowing both Dana and I still would be at work...but she wanted to leave a message anyway.

One of the complications in the flow of our keeping in touch came over the weekend, as France went on Daylight Savings Time...and we didn't. I hadn't anticipated that, preparing for those changes to come here this weekend. At any rate, that's put them 7 hours ahead of us instead of 6...and our timing went off for "windows" of contact. We had planned to keep in touch by Internet and IM, but Ilona says it's charged by the minute there...and she hesitates to build up too much of a bill.

So we got the voicemail. Ilona and Keenan had managed to attend their first day of classes Monday, but at some point it was announced school would be closed yesterday. She said the normal schedule was to resume this morning, and at this hour (11 AM there) I see no reports of continued protest today. LeMonde is carrying a story that today discussions are to be held about sorting out the dispute in the courts. [link] (Whether that approach will satisfy the young people remains to be seen, but the unions have been the prime movers in strike action more than student groups I believe.) School is only half day on Wednesdays, so we shall see what the afternoon brings. Ilona promises to call in 2 hours...so that's why I'm up in the middle of the night getting this done before I have to get ready to go to work.

Some people received a message from her referring to a Microsoft Group she's set up, which has about 50 photos of the house in Pau...and a glimpse of the initial settling in. (Maybe she did that at Keenan's dad's office before they got Internet in the home.) She hasn't changed anything since Sunday, but here's the link~~~
[link]

We received a lovely message from Nicole Ptolemy, Ilona's French teacher at Athens High. She says Ilona's empty chair in the classroom is a reminder of how much she is missed. I cannot thank this wonderful teacher enough for all the time and effort she took to help Ilona prepare for this great opportunity. She arranged for a tutor from OU to meet her after school once or twice a week, just to practice conversation...and of course worked with her herself as well. Miss Ptolemy has been so encouraging, especially through the anxieties we all had as to whether or not Ilona could manage this. I hope the District realizes what a fine educator they've got here!

And now I'm going back to bed. (Here's the LA Times coverage of the strike from half an hour ago~~~
[link] )  



29 Mar 2006 @ 12:45 by scotty : Terrific article Richard
Full of love - thankyou so much for sharing this - I'm enchanted !!!

um - Caroline- the French introduced a ban on public smoking ten years ago - and believe it or not it's very much respected LOL !  



29 Mar 2006 @ 13:19 by dempstress : So much
for what I know. Didn't seem very much respected during my brief and abortive trip to the south of France the Christmas before last mind. The Scottish one doesn't seem to have thrown up any newsworthy conflicts so far either, despite dire predictions.

Nice pics from Illona....The house seems to have a very clean and minimalist sort of interior. What a great adventure.  



29 Mar 2006 @ 16:56 by jazzolog : Sharing A Pint
Thanks for your comments ladies, almost like a chat at a little pub, eh? And what a group we'll make when that day comes! I'm hoping Jeff stops by with his impression of how public non-smoking is doing in Toulouse. (As I recall he always stumbled upon our little cavortings in the Groups back in the day.) Ilona says all the stuff in that house is from Ikea, so we Swedes have to take the blame for the spare look. I remember that problem trip to France Caroline, and presume a certain someone will pay you back with a fine vacation soon.

Ilona's call this morning reflected a bit of the action in Pau. Despite US State Department warnings for Yanks to stay away from such things in France, the kids went downtown anyway and got an eyeful. Ilona's interest in things political got plenty of inspiration upon seeing signs and banners from every shade of commitment, especially on the Left. We've been trained over here to look upon anyone with a communistic viewpoint, for instance, as a satanic monster.

OU called the facility in Pau to find out what they were doing with the 40 university students who paid a bundle to go over there. When the boss of the College of Business found out they held classes as if nothing were going on, he sorta flipped out. Yeah, it's a bit like Quinty was saying about Yank arrogance and chauvanism in his comment above. How cool is it for a program partly geared to enable the New Globalization Order to ignore a union shutdown of educational facilities?

Things quiet and negotiating today...and so on we go. The editorial pages throughout Europe are having a field day with the stability of the French government. If developments continue at this pace, Ilona will get the best education in how people can effect change in a government her mom and I could have hoped for.  



30 Mar 2006 @ 10:22 by jazzolog : An Email Of Concern To France
First of all, this was Jeff's reply yesterday to questions about the smoking ban and other matters around his hometown in France (given at The Asylum chatroom)~~~

"Slack:. . . 2006-03-29 17:03:57
We have a 'police' figures side and a 'demonstrators' figures side here.
The official one here was pretty big recently so it may have been even more actually.
Backbone, yes. I admire the French for this - in the UK no-one has a back-bone any more, they're all floppy.
The public smoking here is pretty sane really.
Main places, airports, stations, cinemas are pretty tight and people respect.
Most cafés have 'corners' for smokers'.
Restaurants don't seem that affected, one can smoke in them unless other-wise stated but there's more and more people stopping so the smokers are becoming the pariahs instead of the hip guys of old.
I stopped a couple of years ago after 40 odd years.
Very odd.
Now it's sun-downers here and musts I into the sultry eve metake and drinketh a chilleth beer upon yonder balcony."

"Slack" is the nickname he uses in the chats just in case, gentle reader, you don't frequent the places. Also Jeff is from the UK, I believe, and so he's entitled to his remark up there.

OK, the email in the subject line is one I wrote just now to the Ohio University professor in charge of the group in Pau. His family also is host to our daughter. My understanding is there are 40 university students from here studying in that town right now. Initially a number of responses to the demonstration on Tuesday, and mine too I guess, was that the French always are protesting about something so this is no big deal.

This morning I did a bit of research and found a couple good articles. One is this interview yesterday at MSNBC [link] and the other is a look by Newsweek at protest currently in France and Italy [link] . I think there's going to be more to this than just kids kicking up because the nut trees are in bloom. So I wrote to Pau and asked for a quick overview from his standpoint. I'm interested in how he sees an American study abroad program, which is about business organization and opportunity, in this country where clearly an economic crisis is unfolding fast. We'll see if I get a reply.  



30 Mar 2006 @ 12:04 by dempstress : Corruption
If a few weeks in Europe is corrupting Illona I dread to think of the state I must be in after 50 years. Positively rank. It's always amused me that the term 'liberal' in the US translates as some sort of satanic commie, while here it conjures up a wet, indecisive, middle-of-the-road type.

As for commies, I once went out with a chap who had led a left-wing break-away from the now effectively lifeless Scottish Communist Party, and a nicer, more rational chap you'd be hard-pressed to find, albeit I didn't share his political views. Vive la difference, say I.

Meanwhile, French plainly appreciate the proper way to treat a dog. Egalite pour les chiens!
(With apologies for the lack of accents. Don't know how to access symbols and wingdings here.)  



30 Mar 2006 @ 12:55 by jstarrs : There was a time...
...when the loafing, idling off-spring of the British Empire aristocracy were given nifty allowances & sent to 'The Old Continent' for a proper education which usually meant hanging out in the royal courts seducing the female bourgeoisie & ladies in waiting or flittering their pocket money in gambling houses on the mediterranean coast.
Things are more orderly these days I guess.
And probably a lot more boring.

My parents were hard line pinkos and yet, I still feel normal.
Sort of...  



30 Mar 2006 @ 13:18 by dempstress : Well, we save
a lot of money on travel these days, being already a part of Europe. So we can just sit tight and observe, gamble with and seduce each other. Must be a bad chat-up line in there somewhere.  


30 Mar 2006 @ 17:28 by jstarrs : Thanks, good post, Quinty...(nt)
*  


30 Mar 2006 @ 18:52 by Quinty @68.226.88.25 : About that dog up there

It can't be a French dog. There's no glass of wine!

Or is the man simply an American being hosted by the dog?  



31 Mar 2006 @ 09:57 by jazzolog : The Dog
is enraptured in the sweet nothings whispered by her host. At Jeff's Log Katelyn Mariah posits the dog actually is God. Perhaps the man is confessing.  


31 Mar 2006 @ 10:14 by dempstress : I think that the dog
is more interested in the sweet trolley than in sweet nothings.  


31 Mar 2006 @ 14:18 by martha : The dog
is actually asking if Jazzy's offspring brought her slippers to France.  


31 Mar 2006 @ 14:23 by jstarrs : This is ridiculous...
..Ilona is somewhere on the other side of the world fending for herself, alone in a barbaric, disintegrating country and you guys are discussing some dog at some table?

Disgusted, Toulouse.  



31 Mar 2006 @ 16:52 by jazzolog : It's All Quinty's Fault
Had he noticed there actually IS a carafe of wine at the table, and possibly 2 glasses, none of this would have happened.  


31 Mar 2006 @ 16:58 by Quinty @68.226.88.25 : JStarrs
No, Ilona is not in the United States.....

What's more, I would never make a mistake regarding wine....  



31 Mar 2006 @ 17:18 by Quinty @68.226.88.25 : Let me clarify

The glass of wine and the water glass belong to the dog. The man seated at the table is attempting to sell the dog a subscription to the Reader's Digest. (For you Europeans that is a popular magazine here in the US.)The dog, though, is more interested in the carafe of wine, which is a good Rioja. (No French wine snob that dog.) All this took place about a year or two ago. Since then the dog has gotten married and has run for mayor. It was a close race but the dog lost. The man returned to America where he has lived happily ever after upon the proceeds he received from selling subscriptions to thousands of bystanders at the Tour de France when it swept through the Pyrenees. I hope all that is clear now.  



31 Mar 2006 @ 18:28 by jstarrs : I do like happy endings...
..now where were we?
;0)  



1 Apr 2006 @ 10:58 by jazzolog : Has The Crisis In France Been Averted?
Maybe...and with our daughter and so many OU students over there, we're certainly hoping so. About an hour ago (our time) SwissInfo posted this story from Reuters~~~

April 1, 2006 12:13 PM
Strategy sessions follow Chirac speech
By Tom Heneghan

PARIS (Reuters) - France's conservative government and left-wing opposition held emergency strategy sessions on Saturday after President Jacques Chirac both backed a disputed youth job law and called for rapid amendments to it.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin called in his main rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, and the pro-Chirac speakers of both houses of parliament to plot how to rush the amendments through the National Assembly as soon as possible.

Left-wing opposition parties gathered at the headquarters of the Communist Party to co-ordinate protest plans ahead of a nation-wide "action day" slated for next Tuesday. A similar protest last Tuesday mobilised over a million demonstrators.

Students held small spontaneous demonstrations across France on Friday evening after Chirac addressed the nation to announce his decision. A handful of violent protesters destroyed the office of the conservative Paris deputy Pierre Lellouche.

"Today is April Fool's Day. If this weren't so serious, I'd think the speech was delivered today," Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Force Ouvriere union, told Europe 1 radio.

"This confusion cannot stop the crisis," said the left-wing daily Liberation, criticising Chirac for signing the disputed jobs law but asking employers not to use it until a follow-up law modifies its most contested measures.

The conservative Le Figaro praised Chirac for seeking a compromise but warned that all sides -- protesters, government and opposition -- "must enter the game before events get out of hand for all of us".

The disputed law allows employers to fire workers under 26 without reason during their first two years. Chirac said he would sign it because parliament had passed it and France's Constitutional Council had examined and approved it.

But he effectively declared the law dead on arrival by telling Villepin to follow it up immediately with amendments that would shorten the trial period to one year and oblige employers to justify any firing.

Villepin's bid to ram through the reform, which he says is crucial to fight youth unemployment of 22 percent, has forged such varied groups as students, workers and the divided parties of the left into a broad opposition front.

CHIRAC AIMS TO DEFUSE

"It is time to defuse the situation," Chirac said in the televised speech, in which he said he understood the concerns of youths who could not find jobs.

But Bernard Thibault of the pro-communist CGT union said: "We stick to the call for mobilisation now more than ever."

"We are not more convinced this evening," said Bruno Julliard, president of student body UNEF.

BMP Paribas senior economist Dominique Barbet also saw the unrest continuing: "The law has been largely emptied of content but the trade unions, students and opposition just refuse the law altogether, so the protests are likely to continue."

Chirac also proposed that trade unions, students and high school pupils join what he called a "constructive social dialogue" to draw up the amendments to the job law. Unions and students promptly rejected the offer.

Business leaders fear more protests could damage France's image and hit investment and tourism, especially since the unrest has erupted so soon after rioting by angry youths in the poor suburbs around France's main cities late last year.

New figures on Thursday showed February unemployment stuck at 9.6 percent, one of the highest levels in Europe. Joblessness among under 25-year-olds fell only slightly, from 22.8 percent to 22.2 percent.

Reuters
[link]

On Thursday an interesting analysis of the situation, entitled The Striking Idiocy Of Youth, turned up in the London Times. Its author is Theodore Dalrymple, a man I don't always agree with but whose writing style is just irresistible. He's a psychiatrist who's lived all over the world, and most recently (as far as I know) was attached to a large prison hospital in an inner city area of the UK. He's written a book called Life At The Bottom.
See what you think~~~

[link]  



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30 Mar 2008 @ 09:34: OLD SOUL AT HOME: BOON TO SOUL EVOLUTION
24 Feb 2008 @ 21:18: My Dad
13 Jan 2008 @ 13:16: Don't be a sucker, man - face the cougar, baby !
2 Jan 2008 @ 16:42: A Crappy New Year from the rabbit...
24 Dec 2007 @ 08:25: A Child Is Given
8 Sep 2007 @ 16:10: Let Kids be Kids!!!
19 Aug 2007 @ 11:07: Heavy With Child
6 Aug 2007 @ 20:17: Genealogy
26 Jul 2007 @ 12:44: Healthy Kids have enormous energy



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