...Continued from page 1

To balance this report, I should point out that teacher's unions are also very much involved. Besides being underpaid, these are the ones who face standing-room-only classrooms.

The education minister, who is on the bulls-eye of all this, Claude Allègre, is generally respected by all sides. He is a very talkative, but cool customer, and he is always saying he will see 'whatphoto: metro 14 sightseers can be done' to effect the 'déblocage de crédits supplémentaires.'

The new métro also has vantage points for 'sightseers,' which is a nice touch.

Whether these are funds budgeted for education, or some general slush fund available for pouring on the loudest squeaking door, I do not know. Whenever enough people get into a determined strike in France, it is always solved by the promise of a 'déblocage de crédits supplémentaires.'

Girls Just Wanna Strike Too

There is some evolutionary rule that good students sit at the front of classes and in modern times a majority of these are quite likely to be of the female gender.

Thus we were treated on Thursday's TV-news to the students' spokesman in the form of the articulate Alice Martin, after she had had a chat with the education minister, Claude Allègre.

According to yesterday's Libération, what impressed her most was the horde of the press reception waiting for her as she left her meeting with the minister, who she characterized as 'sincere.'

Alice Martin, 16, was elected to the student coordinating committee at a Thursday night meeting in the Latin Quarter - to represent the FIDL - Federation of Independent Democratic Students - which she had never heard of as recently as a week ago.

With a self-description of 'mainly timid' she not only doesn't look like 'Danny the Red,' she doesn't sound like him either.

Apparently, it is mainly girls who are class leaders. When it comes to putting out school papers or being actively involved with school life, girls outnumber the boys by five to one.

The Case of Bernard Tapie, Part 37

If not France's, then my favorite ex-businessman, ex-government minister, ex-actor, ex-soccer-club owner ex-con and current author, Bernard Tapie, is in a judicial clinch with the Crédit Lyonnais again.

Anti-corruption super-judge Eva Joly was talking to Mr. Tapie last week about suspected attempted fraud. When the Crédit Lyonnais lent Tapie a packet for one of his ventures, he in turn may have posted three valuable paintings as part of the bank's security.

Crédit Lyonnais now says the three paintings - a Modigliani and two Chagalls - are fakes. Tapie says they are, or were fakes, but that the originals werephoto: exterior gare de lyon never part of the credit-guarantee; only some old copies the bank seized from his residence along with other belongings.

A newspaper kiosk outside the Gare de Lyon.

Mr. Tapie won the first round some time ago when it was proved that the copies were inventoried as copies by an expert - so they were never considered part of the guarantees. Another expert says they weren't even copies, but totally invented 'in-the-style-of' pieces.

The Crédit Lyonnais kind of agrees with this, but says all the same that the fraud lies in replacing the real with the fakes and then passing off the fakes as real - regardless of them not being part of the guarantee. At least, I think this is what the bank claims.

That was on Monday. On Friday an appeals court was examining a Crédit Lyonnais civil suit against Mr. Tapie for putting up stuff valued at less than 50 million francs - which was supposed to be worth between 356 and 517 million francs - as guarantees.

On account of this, the bank tore up its 'friendly divorce' in March 1993 with Mr. Tapie - which plunged him into a cascade of debt and a non-stop legal whirlpool.

The bank won this 'divorce' in court, but this then put an earlier 'divorce' - more favorable to Mr. Tapie - back in force. So while some courts are trying to figure out whether there is any lack of 'good faith' here in regards to the paintings - by whom? - Mr. Tapie is thinking of suing Crédit Lyonnais for slander.

I have not the slightest doubt that this story will have a 'Part 38' too, so stay tuned for it here. Meanwhile, I understand Mr. Tapie's latest book is selling well. I think some of it has to do with his recent experiences in jail. I am sure it is a bestseller within the circles of judge Eva Joly's 'clients.'

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