...Continued from page 1

One dodge was to set the fantom goods on fire, and police recovered declarations for two different fires, which had apparently destroyed identical goods; right down to identical typographical errors.

Banks are normally reluctant to press charges, because it looks as if they'll give away money to anybody who asks for it. In reality, the business of the papers, the guarantees, the insurance, all of it - could only be organized by operators L'Ecluse Madelaine with a good knowledge of how banks operate, and by creating a plausible mountain of fiction with which the banks would deal.

No wild scenes of revelry are near this wine bar on Friday, only a day after Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived.

Seven of the big banks started to smell something fishy and when they got together in secret and found that the same 300-odd companies owed all of the huge sums - over 100 million just between the seven - so they called in police investigators.

The police actions continued for the rest of the week, with many snared in the roundups still held in jails while the investigation continues.

Many thousands of honest merchants in the Sentier garment district are bitter; they had problems borrowing rolling capital before this happened and now they're afraid it will become impossible.

Faute Grave: Crédit Lyonnais

The bailouts in repetition of Crédit Lyonnais have not ceased. Once the world's largest bank outside Japan, Crédit Lyonnais got caught in the same squeeze as many Japanese banks, after pumping money into a rising worldwide real estate market in the late '80's turned sour in a falling market in the early '90's.

Unlike Japanese banks, Crédit Lyonnais is a state-owned bank and it is facing its third tax-payer supported bailout and this one is the biggest yet: an estimated US$25.7 billion, or more than 150 billion francs.

Since the government cannot just take public money and toss it into this bottomless pit, the European Commission is calling the shots on this one. Crédit Lyonnais will probably be called upon to divest itself of some of its foreign holdings, such as the Bank für Gemeinwirtschaft, its prize German subsidiary.

Ed's Note: the Trial of Maurice Papon

Last Monday, the trial of Maurice Papon stopped again before it started for the week, while the president of the court read a medical excuse, saying that Mr. Papon's pleuro-pneumopathy had worsened, again.

Again the president of the court ordered an independent medical opinion, and suspended the trial until Thursday, 27. November.

Certain of the witnesses and survivors attending the trial every day are as old as Mr. Papon and nearly as infirm. They want to see him confronted with his acts, but one of their lawyers pointed out that the age and illness of the defendant was an unavoidable reality, and not necessarily a tactic of the defence.

Last week the trial was to have dealt with the specific acts, upon which the actual charges in the trial are based.

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.

Watch Your Step in the Forest

The TV commercial shows a casual and well-dressed couple taking a walk in the autumn forest, accompanied by two frisky ten year-old boys. It looks like the Meudon Forest or maybe the Parc de Saint-Cloud, and the sun is shining.

The boys get bored and bound off from the path, which is also used by horseback riders. Amid the fallen leaves they find a can-shaped metallic object, and one of them pounds on it.

The scene cuts back to the strolling couple. Their conversation is interrupted by a blast and they immediately look around for the boys, and then race to a rising cloud of smoke.

There are loud and hysterical wails from the mother and forms can be seen on the ground. The scene fades and a voice-over says... "Mines..."

If it was the Meudon Forest, you should remember that the Gestapo used the Standard Club as a headquarters during the Occupation - it was therefore a possible Resistance target - so the possibility of anti-personal mines there is quite real.

Time Machine

You take off from Paris at 11:00 this morning and you land in New York at... 8:45 the same morning. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Air France's Concorde flights that beat the clock heading west across the Atlantic Ocean.

The supersonic aircraft was actually put into regular service on 21. January 1976, doing aller-retours to Rio; while it took long fight in court to obtain US landing permission.

Only 20 of the time machines were built, and six of them are parked in museums today. Air France keeps a spare in New York and another at Roissy, to ensure that the daily flight leaves on time. After every 12,000 kms of flight, each plane goes for a nine-month long checkup, costing 40 million francs.

With the round-trip Paris-New York fare set at 40,000 francs, Concorde's operators make a bit of spare change with charter flights. A Middle-Eastern oilman missed a regular flight, so he hired a Concorde to catch up: cost 1.4 million francs. Two of the craft have already been rented, to fly into the year 2000 at the speed of sound.

Sports News I: Why Trezeguet Isn't Parisian

The answer is simple; David Trezeguet plays for Monaco because their team can afford to win. In a nutshell this explains the routine dismal performance of the capitol's football club, PSG.

This is why Monaco beat the pants off PSG at the Louis II stadium in Monaco on Thursday evening. Score: PSG 0, Monaco 3. This is why Saturday's Le Parisien says PSG is 'depressed.'

Sports News II: The New Stadium Works Okay

Meanwhile, two other teams tried out PSG's new home stadium on Wednesday evening. This was at the brand-new Stade de France, which will be next summer's Paris location for World Cup games.

This game started off with a boules competition, held from nine in the morning until 17:00. During the day other sports activities were centeredFrance 98 tickets around and in the new stadium and at 19:00 homage was paid to the 2,000-strong construction crew. Participants in the various events were teams formed by the stadium's sub-contractors.

This is the World Cup official ticket office on the Champs-Elysées. I forgot to go in and ask if they have any left for sale.

Finally, at 19:30 the first football match got under way in the new stadium, with about 8,000 sportsfans trying out the new seats.

A team formed by the construction workers took on the team of the Variétés Club de France, led by Michel Platini. Variétés beat the hardhats, 6-0.

Besides having the game, the purpose of the evening was to test the stadium's equipment - the lights, the sound system and the sanitation facilities. After the game a hardhat commented, "Okay, we were beaten by Variétés; if they had built the stadium we wouldn't be playing here today."

Sports News III: 20th Paris-Dakar

Eh oui, that's right; January's coming sprint to Africa is being run for the 20th time and for this one it's a return to the traditional Paris depart and non-stop drive south. To date 371 teams have signed on for the 10,245 km sortie, which will take 18 days, baring accidents.

Start location is the place des Armes in Versailles and start date is 1. January 1998. Everybody still running should make the final sprint on the beach at Dakar on 18. January; baring high tide.


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