All posts by Louis Ortiz

Just an update

I don’t know how many of you caught this (the finals crush affects us all). A reminder of how present the cultural issues of the veil (specifically the niqab) are in France, even if only for a small subset of French citizens.

The story after the jump is about two women charged for wearing the full face covering niqab. Both women spoke to journalists outside of the court. “We’ve been sentenced under a law that violates European law. For us, it’s not about the size of the fine, but the principle. We can’t allow women to be convicted for freely following their religious beliefs”

They will appeal the decision to a higher court. If the higher court confirms the fines, they will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg, says their lawyer, Yan Gre.

It will be interesting to see what happens should it get that far.


Job Squeeze in France

I saw an article in the latest issue of the Economist (link: talking about the automation of new trains in Paris. The article goes on to talk about the push in French businesses towards increased automation because of the burdensome labor laws (harsh payroll taxes). This made me think about the squeeze on foreign workers attaining jobs in France as the country continues to improve technologically. In a France where there are cultural issues that make it difficult for immigrants to get a job, this is a troubling trend for immigrants hoping to improve their situation by working in France.

20, twenty everywhere

Apropos to nothing, I found this article ( about how the French love the number 20. It doesn’t really have a concrete answer of this obsession, just a few examples of how appropriate it is that the G-20 is meeting in Cannes.

Just an oddity I thought I would share with the class. Does anyone have any good ideas on why the French love the number 20 so much?


Crisis of the Euro-zone

I was reading the economist and came across this great bit from Charlemagne (the columnist dedicated to Europe, not the conquerer of old… where he talks about the current crunch in the Eurozone.

If you’re not familiar with what is going on, the crisis is predicated on a number of countries that are in a bad way economically (Greece being the most egregious). This stems from lackadaisical management by the government and numerous other factors that I won’t bore you with. This column does a good job of characterizing the squeeze that France is currently in.

Sarkozy in particular is in a tight spot as he has to balance pushing for a more integrative financial stability model as well as ensuring France’s continued relevancy (either real or imagined) and the not insignificant fear of a French ratings downgrade. France has the highest debt and deficit ratio of the countries in the euro-zone with a AAA rating, and its banks have immense exposure to countries in southern Europe. Sarkozy is intent on making sure France maintains that rating and on keeping the boat afloat ahead of the presidential election. Good read.

Considerate Haitians

I thought it was delightful that the Haitian leaders saw fit to include in their Declaration of Independence a few clauses as to the preservation of peace among their neighbors. “Let us ensure, however, that a missionary spirit does not destroy our work; let us allow our neighbors to breathe in peace”. That’s just terrific. How often, in the act of shrugging off oppressive rulers, do people take into account those around them? “Fortunate to have never known the ideals that have destroyed us, they can only have good wishes for our prosperity”. It is particularly interesting that the Haitian generals included these ideas, given that there are no such considerations populating the American Declaration of Independence…What made the Haitian and American colonial experiences different such that one set of wealthy men would make these considerations, while the other set of wealthy men would not? Or is the geographical context of the two situations so different that comparing the two is pointless?