...Continued from page 1

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Long before the election is over - and it won't be long from now - many of these topical tomes may very well be out of date.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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