But First the Weather News

photo: resto de viande pub st lazare
Somewhat garish bistro, possibly full of red meat.

Followed By 'Winter Sports'

Paris:- Sunday, 13. December 1998:- Judging from mail from readers, all of you who are planning Paris visits in the next few weeks are concerned about the weather. You are right to be concerned, but rest assured, there is indeed weather in Paris.

Today it is half-bright and the TV-weather ladyphoto: xmas tree is saying that it is warmer than 'normal' for the season. She is not explicitly saying it is damper than usual, which is making it feel colder, but she should. Relative humidity is an unknown factor in French weather news.

What will it be like when you are here? The official weather-boffin answer is, 'Who knows?' In a few days it will be 21. December which is, if I remember correctly, some sort of celestial occasion on the calendar. Really cold winter weather usually shows up after Christmas, if it shows up at all.

Right now it is warm, between five and ten degrees, but it is damp. I hope this helps you to decide what to wear. Remember though, winter sales begin early in January and this is when Paris shops go into their 50 percent-off routine - but not usually for winter coats.

Le Pen Autodestructs

KaPow! During the week the ultra right-wing Front National Party split into two camps of fighting, spitting and hissing cats. The other 85 to 90 percent of the French political life has been listening to this in amazement - they couldn't make the nationalist party collapse from its own contradictions - so it is doing it to itself.

Commentators keep saying there are no ideological differences between the two camps; the fight is about who is going to lead the party faithful. Jean-Marie Le Pen sounds like a mad Hitler on a psycho-bender while Bruno Mégret seems more like a cool and 'Mr. Reasonable' Joesph Goebbels.

Some Le Pen supporters have been following him for a long time and I doubt they will be overly disturbed by his outward signs of total hysteria. Mégret's followers are more likely to be younger 'technocrats' so there is a real possibility that when the mud-flinging clears, there will be two nationalist parties; both more marginal than ever.

50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

France put on a big show last week for the 50th Anniversary, because the Universal Declaration of Human rights was originally signed in Paris.

This occasioned an impressive parade of world leaders through Paris' many gala events and France's President got a lot of prime TV-time.

What was a little unclear was the actual date of the anniversary. In Marly-le-Roi on Friday, I accidently came across Amnesty International's 'Peace' bus andphoto: amnesty bus learned there that the date had been Thursday, 10 December, when the bus had been parked all day at the Parvis at Trocadéro, which is dedicated to 'Man's Rights.'

The French section of Amnesty, along with TV's Arte/la Cinquième, also has a presentation of the 'World Cup of Human Rights' that may interest you. There is also an International Federation of Human Rights' Leagues and I believe there is an annual report based on its observations.

Metropole's first issue, number 1.01, which went online on 26. February 1996, had a commentary entitled 'The Internet is a Universal Human Right.' At the time, I was unable to find a copy of the Universal Declaration at Unesco's library, and lucked onto a last remaining copy of Amnesty's version at fnac, which I still have.

If you are not familar with the short text within its 30 articles - which can fit on one A4 page - you should be. You may have more 'rights' than your government wants you to think you have.

I am certainly not trying to say that your government may have signed this 'Universal Declaration' of everybody's rights and has not bothered to tell you its details, but merely suggesting that governments can be a bit casual about letting their citizens know what's going on.

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