Crash Investigation Springs to Life

The American Dream
If this really is the 'American Dream' then I'll take Cuba..

Criminal Police Hand 400-page Report to Judge

Paris:- Saturday, 3. January 1998:- Four months to the day after the fatal crash which killed Princess Diana in Paris, Criminal Police have turned over a 400-page report of their investigation to Judge Stéphan, who is in charge of the case.

After police investigations going through the backstage of the Hotel Ritz, the totality of the facts seem to point at the state of sobriety of the car's driver, Henri Paul, the number two security man at the hotel.

Although off-duty on the evening of Friday, 30. August 1997, he was called back to the hotel by his employer, Dodi al-Fayed, who also died in the crash. Police have witnesses and proof France-2TV that Henri Paul drank two pastis' before taking the wheel.

But from the first day of the investigation, police have known that another car was somehow involved in the crash. It is now known that two witnesses saw a white Fiat Uno leaving the tunnel, in a zig-zag fashion, immediately after the crash. Police have yet to find this car and its driver.

The Fiat was driven so erratically that it attracted the attention of the witnesses, who observed it for a short time. There was a large dog in the Fiat's rear seat, and its muffler was damaged. After they had reported to police, the police returned to the tunnel and found pieces of Fiat tail-light mixed with pieces of Mercedes' headlight glass.

New Year's in Paris

On New Year's Eve the Champs-Elysées was Nut fest in Metz cleared of traffic, the lights were turned on and 500,000 people showed up for a big party which was watched over by a police force of 1,500.

Not in Paris: the 'Nut' party in Metz.

There were 13 arrests. Firemen were required about 150 times, for incidents due to crowding and one man had a heart attack. There was also a large crowd at Trocadéro, and I saw this on the news channel, LCI.

The two number-one TV stations, TF1 and France-2, had corn-ball variety shows and their news departments did not show the Champs-Elysées at midnight.

New Year's in France

Within the past couple of years, it has become a tradition to set cars on fire in Strasbourg at New Years and this year was no exception with 53 set ablaze. For 1997, a total of 522 cars were torched in the Strasbourg region. Bus stop shelters were also hit on New Year's and 32 were destroyed as were 21 telephone cabins. Over a much wider area, 65 cars were cooked up in the Ile-de-France region.

Ramadan in France

The month of Ramadan started on Tuesday, 30. December, for an estimated four million Muslims who reside in France. They are to fast between sunrise and sunset daily for a month, and it does no harm that the days are short.

Many French employers take the - lack of - eating habits into consideration; because some may need a quick snack as soon as the sun is officially down, which is about 17:00 in Paris at this time. Some companies strike the normal two-hour lunch period entirely and work straight through the day.

Because of the long day without eating, many wives take extra effort to prepare special dishes during the month - which can make Ramadan a period to look forward to.

The beginning of Ramadan coincides with the first glimpse of the crescent of the new moon. The exact time of this varies around the world, and some Muslims begin Ramadan according to their country of origin, rather than when it officially begins in France. Next year there will be an Arab satellite which will be used to fix a unique time and date for all the world's Muslims.

Unemployed Strikers have Public's Support

Le Parisien published a poll it had ordered from CSA Opinion and results showed that 63 percent of those polled are F2TV- Montmartre Parade sympathetic to the goals of the current 'strikes' by various groups of unemployed throughout the country.

Surprisingly, this positive opinion was shared by all social groups, including employers, who are 55 percent in favor.

From Montmarte's New Year's Day parade. With Pom-Pom girls too!.

According the Le Parisien, the demo I went to witness at the Bastille last Tuesday with Professor Greb, took place with about 50 demonstrators. According to the report, there were nearly more organizers than demonstrators - which surprised me because I thought there would be a big turnout.

Have You Sent Your Card Yet?

There are many traditions in France and one of them is to send greeting cards, starting on 1. January. This is not an option, this is an obligation. Like other 'latins,' the French are not fanatical about it and send an average of ten cards.

The British are supposed to send 40 and the Americans about 30; but the Japanese are supposed to be number one worldwide, having sent an estimated four billion cards last year.

Le Parisien has a handy guide of dos and donts: send the cards early. If you get one, you have to send a reply card within 24 hours. You have to write the address by hand. If the greeting is printed, you are supposed to add a personal word or two. Don't send to same card as last year, and change your 'personal words' occasionally.

The Trial of Maurice Papon is Temporarily Suspended

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.

Sports News: 20th Paris-Dakar

The first Paris-Dakar rallye was 20 years ago and it began as sort of a winter-lull lark. Some racer types got together on New Years Day and drove down through Algeria and the desert to Dakar in Senegal.

In those days, almost anybody with wheels could -try- to do it and it was like a three-week long jaunt for good old boys, and some Paris-Dakar at Versailles girls. After a good many years the big money moved in and pushed the amateurs out - of the running. No more 2CV's; no more lone, self-financed motorcyclists

New Year's Eve in Versailles - clean and new.

Then with politics, the route was changed so that in some years the event took place, but not in Paris nor in Dakar. This year's event is an attempt to bring it back to its Paris and Dakar roots, and public TV is pushing it for all it is worth.

This started 30 minutes into the New Year with France-3 TV broadcasting non-stop from the starting gate in front of the Château of Versailles. Starting about 04:30 or 05:00, the whole circus was slated to get underway with a sprint up to the Pont d'Iéna by the Tour Eiffel, and then head south.

Two odd thoughts: for promotion France-3 was showing clips of a whole series of spectacular dumps, crashes, flops, flips, and other bad things that happen to wheeled engines in rough going.

The other thing is I don't know where they are. When I thought F2TV- flying moto they were nearly in Grenada, they were instead running mud races somewhere in central France. A day later, when I thought they were doing 'special stages' around Grenada, they might really have been near Narbonne.

From a training film, entitled 'How to Fly Your Motorcycle in the Desert.'

Now [Sunday], apparently, the Paris-Dakar has slipped through Grenada, taken a ferry from Alicante and is in Morocco. I heard on the radio that France-3's star reporter, Gérard Holz, was hurt in a tumble - but I saw no mention of it on TV.

The World Cup SportsBar Is Open Again

Real SportsFans should hang out the SportsBar where the fans have all the eggnog they can make themselves, at the Football Café, and have relaxing bowls of popcorn while discussing the finer points of the world of football, without getting too 'psychorigide' about it. Cool.

Less uplifting are the 'official' Web sites: represenred by the FIFA - which stands for Federation International - and the French Organizing Committee, known to all far and wide as the CFO. I don't what the initials stand for, just like SNCF does not sound like RR to me.


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