If Not Super Huge Success,
It Was a Really Nice Day

Bar-Café-Tabac, in Paris

Politicians Unasked for May Day

Paris:- Saturday, 3. May 1997:- According to the police estimates, 23,000 May Day revelers marched from place de le République, past Bastille, to the place de la Nation on May Day, Thursday. The organizers estimated the marchers numbered 60,000.

Just in case the candidates forget what the election is about, many in the parade carried banners demanding employment and the abolishment of the lack of it. Other themes were the reduction of the work-week and raises in salaries - subjects the politicians have avoided addressing.

Practically all of Paris' main unions were represented in the parade for the first time in 14 years - by their members. Front National on May Day Only the CGT's leader, Louis Viannet, marched with them. Marc Blondel passed the day in Bordeaux and Nicole Notat of the CFDT was in Nantes.

Front National parade on May Day in downtown Paris.

Apparently the unions showed more unity in Lille, Toulouse, Grenoble, Limoges, Nancy and Metz, than in Paris. The public-workers union, the FO, stood a bit apart in Marseille, Lyon and Nice; although they took part in the Paris demonstration.

Just as I got dislodged from a traffic island last year by the CGT's strongmen, this year they pushed one of their own - a photographer for L'Humanité - off his island. Socialist politicians who were not marching, tried to salute the passing parade, but were booed off the scene.

There were many banners and many colorful balloons, the sound trucks blasting 'world music' and, from what I saw, a festive air to the proceedings - as the weather for the day was ideal.

Rome beat Paris' score, as the three main Italian unions put on a music festival, which drew a half-million.

Memory of a Somber May Day

On the 1. May 1995, a visiting Moroccan named Brahim Remembrance of 1995 Bouarram, 21, was walking along by the Seine, near the Pont du Carrousel. A small group of skinheads appeared and the young Moroccan ended up in the river and drowned.

Young girls carrying the wreath to be placed in the Seine.

He did not know that Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National party traditional May Day celebration had just broken up and passed over the nearby bridge towards the left bank. He never knew why he ended up in the river.

On Thursday morning, long before any of the big demonstrations got under way, a group of 300 gathered at the Seine quai to toss a wreath of remembrance into the river.

Part of France Buoyed by 'Bambi' Victory

The French press and television have been paying extraordinary attention to the blitz elections in Great Britain for the past week.

The conservative Prime Minister John Major was considered to be a goner and the conservatives had been in power so long that the 'New' Labor Party's victory was really no surprise.

Blair and wife at 10. Downing

Euro supporters of all parties in France do not know exactly whether Tony Blair's move to 10. Downing Street is a positive sign of a change in long-time British semi-reluctance to whole-heartedly participate in the European Union.

Mr. and Mrs. Blair outside their new residence in London.

The overwhelming win by the socialist- oriented Labor party is being cautiously interpreted as being a stimulant to leftist tendencies among French voters. However, there are so many other dissimilar factors, that no solid conclusions can be reached.

One thing is certain; France's Socialist party brain-trust is taking a careful look at Tony Blair's very cautious campaign strategy, to see if they can get any helpful tips from it.

A Short Pause in the Drought

We have had a little rain for about four days and before the sidewalks were dry, TV-news was showing viewers scenes of farmers running their hands through dry soil with just a thin film of damp on top.

It is either the driest spring since the 'end of the war' or in the last 50 years. Since the beginning of the year, rainfall has been half of normal, and for April it was a lot less than half. The river Loire has not been lower since 1949.

Forest fires have already consumed more wood than in all of 1996. Water restrictions are now in force in 23 departments; but these concern mainly agricultural usage. There is plenty of domestic water, of which quite a lot is drinkable.

EDF, the state electricity concern, was on TV the other night to explain why it can't release more water from its hydro-electric dams, mostly in alpine regions. I've forgotten what their main reason was, but apparently they need a lot of water for cooling the nuclear electric plants; and it isn't a case of them running out of water for their hydro-electric turbines.

Bad Times for Political Books

The 'snap' election called by the President has caught French book publishers in a dilemma. What to do with the books already produced but not yet Journalists killed distributed to bookstores? What to do with the books ordered, with their manuscripts in production?

And worse times for journalists - 600 killed on the 'job.'

Long before the election is over - and it won't be long from now - many of these topical tomes may very well be out of date. Even UNESCO has got caught out - the politicians invited to last Saturday's 'Day of the Political Book' at the world organization headquarters in Paris, begged off.

Some of these books are historical in nature and will merely be held off the shelves until September - but some major politicians, in hard campaigning now, have asked for their deadlines to be moved back.

Bumpy Times in the Air

I put up a 'NewsFlash' last Tuesday about the Orly air controllers strike set for Wednesday. Pilots, cabin crews, baggage handlers, all and sundry, have been having 'spot' strikes - mostly affecting internal air traffic - since February.

Up until 25. April, there had been 15 days with some sort of transport disruptions, and since the 25th, the schedules at Air France Europe have been chaotic.

Cannes Has Its 50th - Its Cannes Forever

The 50th Annual Cannes Film Festival rolls out its traditional red carpet Wednesday, 7. May, for a run through 50th Cannes Film Festival to Sunday, 18. May. This year the jury is presided over by Isabelle Adjani, who will be helping to decide which of the 19 films in the main competition will win this year's Golden Palm, the top prize.

No need to go to Cannes for glitz and movies - both are in the Champs-Elysées.

Meanwhile Cannes will be crawling, or limousining with all of the world's great and huge film stars, who will be walking up the carpeted stairs, in their mere real sizes - neither as large as their super-wide giant screen-sizes, nor in their diminutive TV-screen sizes.

An Unusual Racial Slander Case

After the publication of the interview with Catherine Mégret, the newly elected Front National mayor of Vitrolles, in the Berliner Zeitung, a bunch of French people went to their local police stations and lodged civil complaints.

Last Wednesday 729 of them filed through a courtroom in Aix-en-Provence as their names were called out; thereby making the complaints into official court cases. Each had deposited 100 francs for the privilege - a sum demanded to dissuade frivolous charges.

The case will have its first audience on Monday, 30. June.

No Sports News Again

Due to not watching any TV-news except for election video-clips, there is no new Sports News this week.

Actually, hopes for Paris' football team PSG to win the French championship lifted slightly from utter fantasy to dreamland, but if I heard correctly, were dashed in the end by Monaco's lead, which it has maintained throughout the season.

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