...Continued from page 1

It is possible that a 35-hour work week will open the gates to all sorts of short-time employment - less than 35 hours - and this will entice people with one low-paying job to take two, to make ends meet.

The situation could arise that this could cause a chronic shortage of jobs, which would result in a constant downward pressure on wages - perhaps to the point that ordinary workers would get paid no more for two 30-hour a week jobs than they used to get for one 40-hour a week gig.

Jacques and Cindy in India

While a lot of readers have been engrossed in the current media serial running in Washington that will become known as 'The Open Gate' - for all sorts of reasons - Jacques Chirac and Cindy Crawford have been criss-crossing each other's paths in India; each trying to peddle their various wares.

Cindy had a Japanese-brand watch to sell while the President of the Republic contented himself with selling 'France.' According to a confident, Mr. Chirac's efforts to learn Sanskrit were discouraged by his professor who suggested he learn Russian instead.

Apparently it was the right time for a visit to a large country where France has scant influence. The US is busy with other matters, India is loosening up its economy, and France is a certain key to the 'Euro.'

Titanic Box-Office

mannequins du caireI seldom mention foreign movies in France because I figure the whole rest of the world is talking about them, and that leaves me a monopoly to write about French movies, which I do about once in a month of Sundays.

But it is hard to overlook the fact that the movie about the sinking of the Titanic drew nearly a quarter-million spectators the week before last, and the film has sold over five million tickets in all since it opened in France.

The kids in my car-pool want me to see it and I obliged them by watching Bruce Willis on TV along with ten million other viewers, which is not bad for a movie named 'Piege en Eaux Troubles,' which was not about the Titanic at all but did have boats in it.

No Schmozzel in Hat; France Pulls Out Rabbit

The beginning of the week was filled with dire predictions for Wednesday night's trial football match at the new stadium, purpose-built for next summer's World Cup gala in France.

Last week I mentioned that the traffic people were worried about getting sportsfans to the new Stade de France, while the transport unions coyly played 'strike-alert' to drive up the blood-pressure of all concerned.

Even the Minister of Transport had suggested to everybody to start heading for the stadium around 17:00, to be on time for a 20:30 kickoff.

On the day of the match, Le Parisien gave it not only their front page, but their back page as well, with one double-page color photo spread. Inside, the paper said there were four other things le Parisien 'Quelle Fete' to worry about, besides the traffic. These two pages were followed by three about football and the match itself.

In the middle of the paper there was a four-page pull-out which showed the readers everything about the stadium, with a double-page illustration saying you are here: 'Place 9 in row 73 in the B1 tribune.'

This is at the top of 18 sets of stairs. From inside the stadium, there are four huge exists, which are supposed to allow 80,000 fans to leave within 15 minutes.

Le Parisien's usual Paris area traffic map looked decidedly odd, and the text said, 'From 15:00 until midnight, avoid the 17th, 18th and 19th arrondissements, the autoroutes A1 and A86, the National One, the N186 and the D24. From some reason, all the southeast exits from Paris seemed to be blocked, starting from 22:30.

Meanwhile, in order to get this city edition of the paper, I had to cool my heels waiting for a train. My friendly SNCF agent told me not to bother punching my ticket because the controllers never work on strike days - for the obvious reason that some passengers are a little more annoyed than usual.

I noted the train times that had been posted and got back without waiting, and I guess it was the usual two trains out of three that were running.

In the evening at 20:00 I glanced at the TV-news. There was a stupendous inaugural show in the new stadium and it looked like everybody who intended to come was inside it.

Outside it, there were no traffic jams, no transport strikes, no catastrophes. The autoroutes around the stadium were deserted and one driver said he went past it at 180 kph, amazed to get home in time to watch the game on TV.

Sportsfans actually arrived at the stadium at 17:00 as suggested, and then froze for three and a half hours until the game started in the near-zero temperatures. When the match was over, they went home to get warm.

Transport officials estimated that the RER and the métro carried 60,000 of the 80,000 spectators to the stadium, with the two RER lines handling 50,000 alone.

On top of it all, the French national team beat Spain, 1-0. Today there are 130 days left until the World Cup begins.

The World Cup SportsBar Never Closes; May Extend Hours

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 'psychotorrid' 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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