...Continued from page 1

If you have been just passing through the city recently you may have noticed a certain untidiness in the big métro stations of Châtelet, Etoile, Gare-de-Lyon or out at La Défense.

This is not normal. The cleaning of the stations is subcontracted and every once in a while the subcontractor's employees seem to need to show their boss they don't like the working conditions or the pay; and the subcontractor feels the need to show these employees he is not an old softy.

There is talk of outside 'casseurs' aiding, by bringing in outside garbage, the 70 to 100 strikers - out of 700 cleaning employees - and there is also talk by the CGT of the subcontractor bringing in strike-breakers, with police assistance.

Today, the strike has been on for two weeks and things are beginning to stink.

No Funnies

The only early Paris paper to hit the newsstands Friday morning was the Communist Party's l'Humanité, and Le Monde made it in the afternoon.

Serge July, who runs Libération was sufficiently annoyed to tell readers about it on the front page of his paper's Saturday edition.

In a top-left column, under the headline, 'Libération Censuré' he wrote that some union members were trying to censor the contents of the newspaper. He mentioned that this happened at Le Figaro too; a paper on the opposite side of the political fence.

There have been sporadic stoppages of selected papers for several weeks now, but the non-editions seem to be getting more regular - with Le Parisien getting hit about once a week.

Government Stamps OK On Internet

All of the papers - when they have been on the stands - have been spending a lot of ink on 'multimedia' and 'Internet,' almost all week. Apparently the government has made an official decision that the 'Internet Is Okay for the French.'

This is about one year after President Jacques Chirac discovered the Internet at an ANPE employment office in Boulogne-Billancourt - which was accidently discovered a week earlier by an alert Metropole Paris reporter, and reported here.

Last week somebody threw a magic switch on a modem at the Elysée Palace and put Jacques Chirac, Président de la République Française, online. According to Libération, if Jacques decides to answer your email to him, it will be via La Poste.

Alain Juppé went online when he was Prime Minister and I think confiserie, r F MironLionel Jospin took over the same email address. If you have any good ideas about how he can make four million unemployed happy within about two weeks, I think Mr. Jospin would like to hear from you.

The time of day and the kind of place, that makes you want to run into and buy something warm.

The most complete reference about the Web in France is supposed to be really up-to-date, also according to Libération - which of course did not appear with its weekly 'Multimedia' section yesterday; leaving me in the dark about Internet affairs in France.

Libération's editorialist points out that the Internet is a decentralized network which permits individual interactivity, which is totally at odds with the notions of Colbert which govern France - which may permit the French to sidestep the government's strangulation of individualism.

Now there's a notion for you. The France we all know and love commits hari-kari by becoming wired.

World Cup Bouchons

As far as I know, the French had to apply for permission to hold this summer's World Cup in France. They weren't forced to do it. If I can believe Le Parisien, it appears as if the planners are like the guy who painted this big floor, and now he's stuck in a corner waiting for the paint to dry.

In a double-page spread, which is mostly a map, the paper shows where the brand-new Stade de France is in relation to access roads and public transport.

The map is detailed enough to show where and how many tour-buses can park. Six of them can fit into the space between the A86 autoroute and the SNCF's RER line 'B,' for example. None of these bus parking spots are in the stadium's parking lot, but there are not terribly far away.

The paper has two sets of graphics, each showing a 'Scénario Catastrophe.' One is for road travellers and the other is for public transport.

One of the 'catastrophe' examples is the A1 autoroute. It has a capacity for being able to handle 8,000 automobiles per hour. In a matelassier usual rush-hour there are 6,500 travelling on it, but for the World Cup another 7,000 extra are expected to join the flow; turning it to a colossal standstill. The A86 is slightly better off, with an overbooking of only 3,000 cars per hour.

In the Marais, you still see craftsmen, doing crafts in the old ways - but not often.

Both the RER 'B' and 'D' look just about feasible with the football fans packed in like thin sardines, but the older and smaller métro line 13 looks like it is supposed to carry 5,000 passengers an hour more than its capacity.

The stadium can hold 80,000 spectators, and exactly 5,000 parking places are available; 4,000 of them for 'VIP's. Within a two-kilometre radius there are maybe another 2,000 spots of street parking.

France plays against Spain on 28. January and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has already said he's taking the RER. It's a good thing he's not the same size as Chancellor Kohl, who is a big fan.

The World Cup SportsBar May Go Dry at Times, But Never Closes

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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