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Striking France - A U.S. Rural Expat's View of the Violence

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This morning we interviewed some recent new residents of rural France, a couple who have relocated from the South-East U.S. to a small rural French community.

Here in the U.S. all we see on the TV news is violence and reports that this is due to complaints over changing the retirement system for French civil servants.

Out in the quiet French countryside things look very different. The new residents are former teachers from the U.S. and were well-prepared for a life in France, fitting in well enough that they say neighbors warned them in time to prepare for the strikes and shortages.

Vehicle fuel hasn't been a problem because they filled up before the strike began and, being retired, don't drive much anyway. Still they report that some fresh food is becoming difficult to get. Things like fresh bread which is such a staple of European meals are fast disappearing from stores, leading more people to bake for themselves.

Sugar is also in short supply, at least in some rural areas.

The violence in the cities certainly is real, leading rural residents to avoid the cities.

But something which has been missed in most or all U.S. TV reports is that the violence associated with this strike has as much or more to do with simple vandalism as it does with the minor adjustment to the retirement age.

Asking to remain anonymous, one of the couple told Newsblaze, "These people ("casseurs"-gang bangers) are nuts unruly 16-20 year olds throwing rocks, burning cars, schools. That has nothing to do with being opposed to the raising of the retirement age."

As for the government response to the violence reported in TFI News online, the Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Tuesday promised the "firmness" against the "thugs" who s' inflitrent in processions. "Il ya des droits, le droit de faire grève, le droit de manifester. Il n'y a pas le droit de casser ", at-elle déclaré sur Europe 1. "There are rights, the right to strike, the right to protest. There is no right to break," she said on Europe 1. " Il ya un vrai problème parce que dès qu'il y des manifestations qui se répètent, dès qu'il ya des jeunes, nous voyons s'inflitrer un certain nombre de petits groupes qui sont purement et simplement des casseurs ", at-elle dit. "There is a real problem because once there events that are repeated, when there are young, we see stick on a number of small groups who are simply thugs," she said."
- Translation by Google.

John McCormick is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. Contact John through NewsBlaze.

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