...Continued from page 1

The users had complained about perpetual 15 to 40 minute delays - on a route that only totals 35 minutes running time. Now the users are furious that the appeals court has decided that the delays are more the passenger's fault - at the same time as the SNCF is running a national campaign to find out - from users - how the SNCF can improve its service.

If this were only a minor fracas, it is nothing compared to the Friday morning locking-up in cell 214 of the Santé prison of the new patron of the SNCF, Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, a former finance director of the oil company Elf - for alleged participation in a complicated financial affair involving gazillions of francs worth of 'pots-de-vin,' Swiss accounts, fake commissions and other financial hocus-pocus.

World's First?

A disgruntled candidate for a local election in eastern France sued his winning competitor - for 'false election promises' and the court agreed and fined the defendant 20,000 francs for 'diversion of votes with the aid of disinformation.'

It all turned on the text of an election brochure published by the defendant, which promised the local installation of a holiday village and the creation of 310 jobs. The brochure also denounced the authorities for putting administrative roadblocks in the way of the project, adding that it was unfair to 'play games with the employment of 310 people.'

The prosecutor argued that the candidate had known that the promoter of the project had publicly declined to proceed - long before the brochure was printed; and that the distribution of the tract just before the election amounted to disinformation, or electoral fraud.

Good News - Late, But Not Too Late

The French-brand 'Hollywood Chewing Gum' is running a neat promotion this year, called 'Open Miles.' The company has hired a bus company to carry 16 to 25 year-olds on regularly scheduled routes through France - for free. The buses are equipped with toilets, video and air conditioning.

Typical routes are Lilles-Nice, Caen-Nice, Strasburg-Nice, Paris-Nice, Paris-Perpignan, Paris-Biarritz, Paris-Brest, Paris-Quimper, Bordeaux-Nice, Grenoble-Bordeaux and Rennes-Biarritz. All of these are two-way routes.

Reservations are necessary, and these can be made by telephone : (1) 36 68 11 99 or by Minitel : 3615-Hollywood. You need to know the code number of the all the points of departure - and these can be intermediate stops. If there are free seats, when the reservation is made you will receive a passenger number and this should be used for confirmation a couple of days before departure.

There are a couple of other things to note: you need an identity paper, you need parental permission for ages 16 and 17, and you should check the day before to make sure the bus has a full gas tank.

Departures are not daily; each route has different dates. Hollywood is supplying transport only - no food and no lodgings. And the last catch: buses have a fixed number of seats and when these are full - you either keep checking for a cancellation or get out your thumb.

The free service will be maintained from 15. July until 24. August. In return for this free fun idea, this is a free plug.

Still Demonstrating :

- Sunday, 8:00, on the right bank of the Seine, from the underground of the Tuleries to the underground at Henri IV; on the left bank from Quai Anatole-France to Quai Branly: by Operation Bicycles-Pedestrians.

- Sunday, 10:00, in the streets of the 5th arrondissement and at 14:00 on the Quais of Valmy and Jemmapes (in the 10th), and from Loire and the Marne (19th): Operation Strolling and Relaxation.

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