Yawn. Stretch. Yawn. Stretch. Sip.

Yikes! How did you all get here?

Oh, that’s right. We need a Morning Feature. But not just any Morning Feature…something new for Tuesdays.

When fellow faculty member Professor of Neuroholdemology Caractacus decided to take his sabbatical about 6 years early, the resident and satellite faculty at Blogistan Polytechnic Institute opened up the intertoobz, cranked up the old communicator machine, and strategerized about what to do.

The “Things We Learned This Week” series was fun and popular, but I’m not sure anyone else could follow in Dr. C’s footsteps. When the bar is set that high, wouldn’t it be better to find another bar?

Our new bar….

Not that kind of bar, even if faculty do get the keys to the wine cellar library. Instead we’re starting a new Tuesday feature – “Digging Deeper” – that gives you a chance to host a discussion without needing Dr. C’s research skills. For this feature, all you need is an interest in the news and in digging deeper into a news item or two that catch your attention.

At BPI Campus we get news from these RSS Feeds:

1. Talking Points Memo
2. Think Progress
3. McClatchy
4. Washington Independent
5. International Herald Tribune
6. The Onion

In my job as news aggregator on BPICampus.com for the Noontime News series, I have noticed that the news falls into four categories:

1. Gossip stories – This is “what crazy thing did someone just do”.
3. Followup stories – Next day stories once news organizations had time add a little more backstory.
4. Ongoing topics – Topics that span several news cycles and might be interesting to dig into a little bit.

An observant student (yes, Sally? You have your hand raised?) would notice that the word “dig” is in that last numbered point and also in the title. Very good.

Ongoing topics are the types of news stories we’d like for “Digging Deeper.” Not the gossip, not the breaking news, not even the next day stories. Stories that have had a chance to percolate.

I found a couple of topics this past week that I wanted to dig deeper into. I will offer one here to get our feet wet.

National Strike in France

On September 7, French workers staged a one day strike over a proposed change in retirement:

Just back from summer vacation, French unions carried out a one-day national strike on Tuesday, snarling transportation just as Parliament was to begin debating a measure that would raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has called the pension bill the last major legislation of his first term and vowed that the government would not bend on the essentials of the proposal, which is intended to avoid large and growing deficits in the pension system as people live longer and baby boomers start to reach retirement age.

But after an anxious summer of urban violence and a government effort to harden its security policy, aggressively deporting non-French Roma who overstay their allowed period in France, Mr. Sarkozy finds himself at a political crossroads — historically low in the opinion polls and with his own party divided and dispirited.

The unions said 2.5 million people went on strike, exceeding their goal of 2 million, while the Interior Ministry said the figure was considerably lower, 1.12 million, in 220 protests across France.

On September 23 another strike was staged:

French workers sought Thursday to test President Nicolas Sarkozy’s resolve on overhauling the pension system, staging a major strike that snarled transportation and closed schools and public offices for the second time this month.

Protesters rallied in 232 demonstrations around the country to protest Mr. Sarkozy’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 beginning in 2018, and to raise the age at which full pension benefits can be received to 67 from 65. At least 1.1 million people joined demonstrations Sept. 7 for the same cause.

The changes in the pension system have already been adopted by the National Assembly and face a hearing Oct. 1 in the Senate. Mr. Sarkozy’s party comfortably controls both houses, and the government hopes to have the law on the books by November. But public opposition has led governments to water down such measures before.

More strikes are supposed to kick in on Tuesday (today) with airlines and other services expected to be affected.

Why is this story interesting and worth digging deeper into?

First, French workers are protesting increasing the retirement age…something that is being contemplated here in the United States.

Second, this snippet from Monday’s news:

Mr. Sarkozy, who was aiming to be able to present himself for the next two years as a courageous reformer in the national interest, may instead end up with the image of an elitist imposing unwanted reforms on the poor. A widely quoted survey in Le Parisien on Monday said 71 percent of respondents either supported or were sympathetic to the strikers. The telephone poll of 1,002 people was conducted Oct. 15 and 16.

So in the comments lets dig deeper into this story, find the heroes and the villains, the winners and the losers, the short term and the long term and, most importantly, what we can learn from it.

And the good news? We have not yet dug this hole so deep that we can’t get out of it. But we are looking for a volunteer for next week. Sign up in the Comments.


At BPI Campus.com our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.