Nothing in France is Like Chicago

Bistro Le Reveil Malin
Don't let the motorcycles fool you - this is not a 'biker café.'

Chicago Probably has Lower Taxes and Less Crime

Paris:- Saturday, 25. October 1997:- Le Parisien ruined our week on Monday by headlining the some of the detail of all the new taxes about to fall upon us.

Some new things will be taxed such as life insurance and some deductions will be eliminated or reduced. A whole raft of administrative charges - such as raising the cost of a new Carte d'Identité by 10 francs - are foreseen, but these add up to the relative bagatelle of 1.44 billion, while the increase on gas taxes will total 4.3 billion francs.

The cozy little supplementary deduction accorded journalists will be suppressed much to the fury of my colleagues. This does not concern me because I ceased to have any income some time ago, and the convoluted administrative hassle to get it in the first place, is not worth the candle.

However, opera singers who got one of these, will be annoyed. The suppression of all these little gifts - to 77 professions! - will bring the state coffers the grand sum of 350 million francs, which will about cover a month's worth of SNCF debt service.

The Var is Not Like Chicago

Jean-Marie Le Pen said France was worse than Chicago, at an electoral meeting to plan the ultra-right-wing Front National strategy in the coming regional elections, especially in the Provence-Alps-Côte d'Azur - where there have been a series of political bombs exploding lately.

Le Parisien, a couple of pages after the FN report, started running a multi-edition series about the affairs of the region. The very fancy cheese shop paper rehashed the assassination of the deputy Yann Piat, the mysterious suicides, the corruption affairs, the 'settling of accounts' by various clans of bandits, and uncleared murders of other elected officials.

It is probably easier to find good French cheese in France than in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the right-centrist UDF party, were reported to be 'nauseated' by the scandal of the exposé book written by two journalists at the Canard Enchainé; 'L'Affaire Yann Piat.'

Yesterday a judge in Paris decided the two journalists had not shown sufficient proof of the allegations, when only one of nine witnesses cited by the journalists turned up in court. Most of the other witnesses are highly placed in the Var and declined to attend for various reasons.

Apparently, since this is a civil case of defamation, witnesses are not obliged to appear. The plaintiffs, who are not named in the book, are trying to have about 20 pages of it suppressed. The judge will make his decision known next Tuesday.

In the brouhaha over this, the fact that the identity of whoever ordered the assassination of the National Deputy remains a mystery, seems to be forgotten.

The Papon Trial - the Third Week

In Nice, Jean-Marie Le Pen said, "It was more comfortable to be in the resistance in London than in Paris."

To which, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Minister of the Interior, dryly replied, "It was easier to collaborate in Vichy than to be in the resistance in London."

After another cozy weekend, the trial resumed last Monday and throughout the week proceeded towards total confusion.

The plaintiffs are angry with their army of lawyers for not being aggressive enough. Citizens are confused by a boulangerie parade of ex-Ministers for whom Maurice Papon worked after the war, who say he was a competent administrator, but say nothing about his war-time activities because he did not work for them then.

In the French bread department, Chicago probably falls behind France.

Then the business of the colonial war in Algeria has been added, and it has nothing to do with the present trial except to indicate that Papon has always carried out orders - no matter what the deadly results.

While this is going on in a courtroom in Bordeaux, members of the government and the opposition are wrangling in the National Assembly, about whether 'France was Vichy' during the war or 'France was in London' and 'Vichy was in... occupied France; not really the Republic at all.'

Leader of the opposition, Philippe Séguin blew up, with 'Enough, Enough, Enough' in Le Figaro. He said it was inadmissable to use Papon as an excuse to try General de Gaulle, the Gaullist Party - the RPR - in sum, a trial of France itself. He was sickened to say there would only be one winner to this direction: the Front National Party.

There is a script the course of the trial will follow, and the part where 'facts' are to be considered has not yet been reached. So far, what has been considered has been the 'personality' of the accused, which has been based on personal opinions rather than facts.

The very real anti-jewish laws of the wartime Vichy government will be examined, followed by the defendant's precise role in carrying them out as part of his official functions in Bordeaux. Near the end of the trial, surviving witnesses will give testimony.

On Thursday morning, the deendant's doctors had him admitted to hospital, suffering from infectious bronchitis. The trial was suspended until Monday.

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