Our nation's debt is literally indenturing our children to our international debt holders, but most Americans don't care because they are more concerned about the latest saga involving Snooki on Jersey Shore rather than what really matters, our country’s future.

Monday, October 18, 2010

BBC- French strikes force petrol stations to shut

Let's remember that the French, unlike us Americans, primarily rely upon public transportation to get to work or the grocery store, yet after only one week more than 10% of the gas stations are out of fuel.

What do you think would happen here in the United States if all the Unions organized a general strike? Now the US is not known for these types of strikes because we aren't socialists (at least not fully yet) but if a large Union such as the Teamsters were to organize a nationwide strike the result to our economy and general well being would be devastating.

Without Union longshoremen no ships would be unloaded from China, so Wally World's shelves would be empty within a week. But even the few things we produce here in the US, like food, require union labor to transport it from the farms to our grocery shelves.

Now imagine if just the Teamsters decided to organize a strike. You might ask yourself why they would strike in the first place especially since union workers generally, but not always, get higher pay and better benefits than non union laborers well what if the United States government refused to bailout the Union's underfunded pension plans? This type of situation could become a reality in the not so distant future as many private and public pension funds are woefully underfunded and one of the solutions to that problem will be to decrease the payouts to retirees.

So now is the time to prepare for the future. Extra gas for the car just means you have a couple of gas cans filled in the garage and if this type of situation never happened here in the US then you would have the gas for the lawnmower or some cheap gas (gas prices only seem to go up) for the car when you swap out the gas so it doesn't go stale. The same goes for food. If you put away an extra couple of weeks of food, which you will eventually eat anyways, all you really are doing is saving money because just like gas, food prices always seem to go up.

So you have two choices as a freedom loving American either prepare for the worst and hope for the best or be unprepared and hope it doesn't get any worse. I chose the former rather than the latter.

BBC- French strikes force petrol stations to shut
About 1,500 petrol stations in France have run dry or are about to close as fuel supplies are hit by strikes over government pension reforms, officials say.

A blockade of oil refineries has lasted a week and the body that supplies most supermarkets says one in four petrol stations is affected.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has called a crisis cabinet to protect supplies.

He told reporters that the reforms were "essential" and would be carried out.

The exact number of France's 12,000 petrol stations affected by the strikes is unclear, but oil company Exxon Mobil has described the situation as "critical".

A spokeswoman said that anyone looking for diesel around Paris or in the western area of Nantes would face problems.

Severe shortages have been reported in Brittany in north-west France and the International Energy Agency says that France has begun tapping into its emergency oil reserves.

Workers at France's 12 oil refineries have been on strike for a week and entrances to many of the country's fuel distribution depots have been blocked.

Panic-buying was blamed for a 50% increase in fuel sales last week.

The head of the Leclerc chain of supermarkets, Michel Edouard Leclerc, warned that at the current rate his company's petrol stations would be empty within two to three days if the blockade of refineries remained and fuel imports were paralysed.

 Strike action against the government's reform plans is being ramped up, with lorry drivers starting the week by staging a go-slow on motorways around several major cities including Paris, Lille and Lyon.

A further day of strikes is scheduled for Tuesday, on the eve of a key Senate vote on the pensions bill.

Half of all flights to and from Paris's Orly airport and one in three flights at other airports are being cancelled, according to aviation officials.

Airport operator ADP said there were already some delays at the capital's largest airport, Charles De Gaulle, on Monday because of strikes by oil workers.

Street protests have been planned in a number of cities and disruption is also expected on public transport and in schools.

The government wants to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67.

Burning cars
There were already demonstrations outside 261 schools on Monday, which the education ministry said had been blockaded.

In the western suburb of Nanterre in Paris, dozens of students clashed with riot police who fired rubber bullets.

Shop windows were reported broken in the Saint-Denis suburb, where education officials said more than half the areas secondary schools had been blockaded.

In Lyon, several cars were burned and one teacher whose car was badly damaged by fire complained: "They want to fight [against the pension reform]. OK, but they have to understand the meaning of what they are doing".

In other developments:
Outside the Grandpuits refinery, east of Paris, strikers burned tyres in defiance of a government order that the facility should be reopened.

In some cities, such as Toulouse (south-west) or Saint-Etienne (centre), public transport depots were blocked on Monday morning, preventing buses and tramways from operating for several hours.

Rail traffic was being disrupted with one in two fast TGV trains running, and one in three normal-speed trains running.

Although the Eurostar train service between Paris and London is normal, there is no Eurostar service between Brussels and London on Monday due to a strike in Belgium.

A key fuel pipeline that supplies the two airports in Paris has been restored, but the civil aviation authority is warning airlines operating at Charles de Gaulle to arrive with enough fuel to make the return journeys.

Crisis cabinet
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered key ministers to form a crisis cabinet with the role of ensuring the continuity of fuel supplies.

Three departments are being charged with coordinating the state's services to maintain the supply: the interior and economy ministries as well as the energy and environment department.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon has insisted he will not allow the refinery strikes to hit the French economy.

Several other figures have said the country is not at risk of fuel shortages.

"The government is in control," Industry Minister Christian Estrosi told French radio on Monday.

"There will be no blockade for companies, no blockade for transport and no blockade for road users."

The head of the French Petrol Industries Association, Jean-Louis Schilansky, has said fuel shortages are not yet at crisis point.

"If the lorry drivers go on strike, if people block the refineries, then we will have a very big problem. But we're not at that stage yet," he said.

France has a strategic fuel reserve which holds up to three months of supplies, the government says.

Public support
According to the latest opinion polls, more than 70% of French people continue to support strike action.
On Saturday, a fifth day of protests brought 825,000 people on to the streets, police said, although unions put the figure at 2.5 million to three million.

The pension reforms have already been approved by the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament.

The upper house, the Senate, has endorsed the key articles on raising the retirement age, and is due to vote on the full text on Wednesday.

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