...Continued from page 1

Union leaders were meeting with Renault executives at the time, but the meeting ended with no positive results for any side.

Front National Connected to Violence in Two Incidents

Also on Tuesday, the Front National held a self-congratulation party in Marseille at the Salle Vallier. The affair was attended by Jean-Marie Le Pen and his second, Bruno Mégret, who did not bring his wife, who recently won the mayoralty of Vitrolles.

In the late afternoon, 6,000 anti-Le Pen demonstrators assembled at the 'Mobile' and marched to the hall where the FN meeting was being held. Their advance was stopped by three companies of the anti-mutiny police, the CRS, and a prolonged battle ensued - with the CRS launching tear-gar bombs at the militants and receiving rocks, iron bars, nuts, bolts and bottles in return.

The CRS counter-attacked at 20:00 and sporadic battles continued for hours. Five participants were hurt, including a journalist from the Gamma agency.

A certain of number of those attending the political meeting complained of difficulty of access to it and suggested such behaviour be forbidden.

Stand of FN Publication Trashed at Salon du Livre

Around 16:00 on Thursday, about 20 young tough guys tore apart a stand at the Salon du Livre. The stand was identified only by a standard sign, with the name 'SANH' - which apparently is an abbreviation for 'Société Anonyme de National-Hebdo,' one of the Front National's publications.

I just caught a glimpse of this on TV-news, and it was pretty wild. I saw four or five on the stand trying to defend themselves from a small mob that was tearing the thing apart, and when the defenders tried to use some of the wrecked metal poles from the stand, these were immediately grabbed by the attackers and used against the defenders.

This was about 20 seconds of video I saw; and it was violent. The newspaper does not say how they happened to get a photo of it, nor how it came to be covered by TV-news, although I noticed there were a lot of cameramen and film crews working at the Salon on Wednesday.

Paris Is Getting Ready for Pollution

We were warned that pollution warning level three might be reached on Thursday, but the weather must have changed because I didn't hear of it actually being announced.

All the same, the administration is floating ideas to see who shoots at them. One of these ideas - one used in both Athens and Rome I believe - is to limit the use of cars in the capitol to even numbered license plates on even numbered days, and odd on odd. Apparently the decision to do this during the next 'level three' alert has been taken by the prime minister, Alain Juppé.

As all French license plates end with departmental numbers, these are not numbers to be considered odd or even. All the same, Le Parisien had to point out to its readers which of the other numbers might be the odd or even.

Apparently the authorities never gave the question a thought, and some readers thought it might be the first number or the sum of the numbers. Le Parisien says the number which counts, is the last one in the first group, the one before the letters in the middle. Got it?

The mayor of Paris, Jean Tiberi, has another idea. He wants to put 'valves' on the roads that feed into the périphérique, so that the volume of vehicles can be reduced, like turning off a tap. Mayors of communities surrounding Paris are against this, and I imagine all rapid-freight or delivery outfits do not think a great deal of the idea either.

Residents of Paris can get a municipal parking ticket that allows them to park where they live, for 15 francs a day. With these, they don't have to feed parking metres 10 to 15 francs per hour. In an effort to induce residents of the city to leave their cars at home, the daily fee will be waived. Another measure taken by the city, is to limit the speed on the périphérique to 60 kph, 20 kph less than the normal limit - and a lot less than what is normal when traffic is light.

Tah-tah! And Now... The Sports News!

Le Parisien got all weepy in today's edition telling its readers that the national rugby squad would be playing its last championship match in Paris' Parc des Princes stadium, this afternoon.

'Last match' for two reasons: the next annual France scores another goal Five Nations rugby tournament will play its French games in the new super-stadium being built for the World Cup soccer matches, and because today's match is the final encounter of this year's series of friendly brawls between five squads of the toughest guys in Europe.

Co-incidently, the first match ever played at the Parc des Princes was the final game in the same tournament. France beat Scotland in 1973 to win the modestly-sized silver trophy.

Sometime this afternoon, France again beat Scotland, to win its fifth Grand Slam. Now they can lock up the place and toss the keys in the Seine.

I was perfectly aware that this game was on this afternoon, but I forgot all about it just the same. I forgot about the TV-news at 20:00 too, and by the time I got the set turned on, the anchorman was talking to two At victory, up goes the silver pot players dressed in tuxedos, in what appeared to be either an elegant billiard parlor, or some other sort of gaming room.

No game clips were shown, no score was mentioned, no winner was announced. I had to deduce that France had won because the players looked in good humor. Dressed in tuxedos means nothing; both teams have a gala dinner together after every match - very 'gala' for the French tonight. (Now I cheat and go to Sunday:)

Sunday TV-news starts at 11:45 according to the TV Guide, but there is nothing but game shows. At 13:00, all they show is big guys in tuxedos, smoking big fat cigars and drinking champagne, and one guy with no jacket, staring a very tall red candles. The big Sunday sports show is on at 17:45 and by now I'm am not going to miss it - and - hooray! - there are clips from the game, after talking heads run the history past for twenty minutes.

France wins. At one point 24 points were mentioned, but they either didn't say, or I didn't hear, what the final score was. I don't think anybody cares.

Up until Saturday, France's best score was 45 to 10 over Ireland, gained on 7. January 1996; and the worst defeat was to England, by seven to 26, on 3. February 1990. France's previous Grand Slams were in 1968, 1977, 1981 and 1987 - so it is a good while since they tasted one. The French word for slam is 'chelem.' No kidding. And bravo!


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