...Continued from page 1

He was, as is said in France, a combative militant. When Soviet tanks rolled into Prague he happened to be visiting the Kremlin and was happy to tell French TV-news what a good thing it was - right from the Red Star's headquarters.

As a Red-Commie, Georges Marchais came second to none; and was often accused of taking 'orders from Moscow' which he cheerfully admitted.

There was a bit of murkiness about exactly what he did during WWII in Germany, but he always maintained he was a forced laborer at the Messerschmidt aircraft factory.

François Mitterrand also spent some murky time in Germany during the war. What he did there and the circumstances of his wartime return to France are still unclear, as far as I know.

Georges Marchais also had the misfortune to see the party's share of the national French vote fall from a high point of about 25 percent to the 10 percent it can sometimes poll today.

Nevertheless, he never tired of making TV appearances; once insisting that he was not personally responsible for the lousy weather.

He stepped down as party secretary in January 1994 and the post was taken over by Robert Hue - who looks like a Protestant minister and who plays electric guitars - who is therefore a post-Wall Communist who sounds like a sensible man even if he is a lefty.

Georges Marchais was born in the same year as the founding of the Communist Party - in 1920.

Sports News: Mercedes Stops 'A'-Klasse Sales

In a full-page ad in Friday's Le Parisien, the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz announced that it is suspending sales of its new car - for the 12 weeks necessary to equip all cars with its latest version of ESP - some sort of 'dynamic' regulator of a car's road-handling.

The beginning of the ad stated that the new 'A'-Klasse car had passed German TüV tests with flying colors - without ESP - and that this had been confirmed by 'numerous specialists.' Then the ad stated that, in some tests done without ESP and at higher speeds - the car did find itself 'en situation critique.'

An alert reader sent a clipping from a US paper about this problem; as it concerned BMW's and their tricky stick-shifts. The columnist wrote that he was very surprised that it was possible to put a A-Klasses - Libe Title BMW into reverse by merely moving the gear-lever and without unlocking something first. He also complained about an Audi's red instrument lights and the fact that it was impossible to put a piano into the back seat of one of their cabrios.

This is 'Auto-Bild's' 'trick' photo; the one taken after the car really fell over with no film in the camera and they had to 'trick' the car over again for the photo.

Personally, I have run cars through the TüV in Germany and I was not impressed with their inspections, which used to be at two-year intervals. The administration of it was impressive however; with it being necessary to make an appointment for the inspection three months in advance.

But the thrill of the week came last night when TV-news showed an East-German 'Trabi' being run over a shalom course like the Merc, and the 'Trabi' came through it with flying colors! No wheels lifted off the pavement and it was going 75 kph, near its top speed.

Next, I expect it to be done with a '52 Beetle, a '38 Ford coupe and finally with a lift-truck, which has no suspension at all. French cars are not allowed in this competition since they have all had ESP since about 1935, although some of them only had one headlight on grounds of cost.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of cars I would like to point out that Herr Daimler and Herr Benz invented the car more than 100 years ago, and they named one of their inventions after Herr Benz' daughter, who was named Mercedes - in case you were wondering why a German car has a Spanish name.

Early automobiles did not have ESP and the steering wheel was thought to be a great invention when it was finally introduced. Once cars could be easily turned from one direction to another, the idea to add brakes to them was another pioneering invention in the area of ESP.

Ed's Note:

The trial of Maurice Papon continues, with stair sitters many interruptions, mostly because of his frail health. Each Friday there is 'news' that next week will see new expert witnesses in court and that the 'real' trial will finally begin; but this seems to be put off week after week.

For next week, we have been warned to expect the testimony of a 'surprise' witness - a man who worked in the Bordeaux prefecture at the same time as Papon; from 1942 to 1944. Apparently nobody has been aware of this man's existence until quite recently.

Web sites devoted to the History and Trial of Maurice Papon

The Matisson family were the first to launch a civil case against Maurice Papon, in 1981. Jean-Marie Matisson runs the website, and reports from the courtroom. At the website, click on 'Affaire Papon.'

Another website of interest contains daily coverage of the trial by the Bordeaux paper, the Sud Ouest.


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