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Showing posts from October, 2012


Every employee has a grievance. This was back in September, but there were no newspapers for a day (except for Le Parisien). No, journalists weren't on strike--the distributors were:

SNCF Grève / Public Transportation Strike

The SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français), the national rail service in France, is having a planned strike today. Fortunately, I only use the Paris public transportation (metros, buses), which is a different system not affected by this strike.

In principle I generally do not agree with protests (whether strikes, manifestations, or something else), especially when the grievances are hardly grievous. There is a qualitative difference (okay, an enormous qualitative difference) between SNCF people going on strike because they want better wages and benefits and 19th-century French miners going on strike because they didn't earn enough to even feed their families and because they worked in conditions that were actively killing them.

This qualitative difference is obvious in the half-hearted manner of today's strike. If a protest's demands are truly just, then the protest shouldn't care about those affected, right? But the SNCF has been very careful to alert pass…

2012 Presidential Elections: Venezuela

This is the eighth in a series of posts on the numerous presidential elections this year. The  first seven posts were on the elections in Taiwan,Russia, Senegal, France, Egypt, Paraguay (not technically an election), and Mexico. I think I missed one in the last month or two; let me know.

Hugo Chávez won the presidential election in Venezuela precisely two weeks ago. If he finishes his new term in 2019, he will have been in power 20 years.

This is good news for those who approve of Chavez' authoritarian regime and the political and social consequences of his Bolivarian Revolution, as well as those who credit him with giving the country low gas prices and building new, free clinics and other infrastructure.

This is bad news for those who suspect election irregularities or intimidation of voters (not to mention outright fantasy) by the Chávez administration (not just in this but in his past presidential victories as well) and who see only societal decline and economic disaster as a resu…