The Total Flop of the Euro

photo: bistro le zodiac

Eating at this bistro might make it your lucky day.

Lunchtime for André At the Copshop

Paris:- Sunday, 28. March 1999:- Last Tuesday Le Parisien decided to tell its readers about the 'Flop of the Euro.' This was in its 12th week of operation for something like 300 million people and it is a failure already.

It is a bit like saying Caesar Augustus was a has-been at the age of three, because he wasn't Emperor yet. The number-one culprit seems to be our banks. They are not playing the euro 'game' fairly. They are simply and coolly ripping us off.

I had a European currency note to change into francs the other day, and the bank's commission was a flat 60 francs. At the end of last year, it was a flat zero; but I will admit the commission might have been buried in the exchange rate.

The Euro Commission in Brussels, before it resigned en masse last week, was snorting about it. They told the banks to 'negotiate' with us. Sure thing! Use a French cheque to buy something in Germany, and you may face 200 francs in charges.

Meanwhile, I've noticed that while catalogues are generally proposingscan: euro flop le parisien prices in francs and euros, it is not clear whether the prices include taxes or not. Before the euro, prices in France had to be quoted 'TTC,' or all taxes included. Since the tax I'm talking about is generally 20.6 percent, not including it is a bit deceptive.

All the other actors party to this drama seem to be deceived also. Nobody is paying their income taxes in euros because the tax people wouldn't accept calculations in the new currency. While a lot of public services, like the SNCF, will accept payment in euros, not many customers are using them.

So far, it is possible to have bank accounts in euros; cheques in euros and plastic in euros. There is no cash in euros yet, and until it physically exists the problems may continue.

In Germany, where use of cheques and plastic are described as 'underdeveloped,' there is even less likelihood of paying in euros, where everybody is quite used to routinely tendering 100 and 200 DM notes for ordinary purchases.

Without being able to have it in the hand, roll it around, see it; the euro may as well be a plugged ruble.

Le Pen Explains Arsenal to Belgians

Last week, Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was having a quiet dinner in Brussels when it was interrupted by three police officers. They asked him if the Peugeot 605 parked outside the restaurant was his.

On the affirmative the police then wanted to know about the loaded shotgun, the 50 .38 caliber bullets, the two bullet-proof vests and the pepper-spray bomb as well as the detachable blue bubble-light, all found in the unlocked trunk.

The club, the radar-detector and the two tear-gas grenades in the front glove box also interested the anti-bandit police. Le Pen's bodyguard's expired gun permit for a .357 magnum was equally interesting. Le Pen's own Eurodeputy identification was elsewhere.

He and his party were asked to 'go downtown' to Brussels' central copshop and it took an hour for a head prosecutor to decide to let them leave. But an assistant prosecutor has asked for his immunity to be lifted so she can ask him a couple of questions. The bodyguard is in trouble for not having a valid gun permit and the driver may be fined for the radar-detector.

Like he does, Le Pen got hot under the collar. Two kids had smashed the Peugeot's windshield to get a portable phone left on a front seat, and diners in another restaurant who saw it happen, had called the cops. When they came and spied the arsenal, they thought they were dealing with dangerous characters.

Bug 2000

The DGCCRF, which is short for the office of competition, consumption and fraud enforcement, has announced that 60 percent ofphoto: metro palais royal all computers now being sold by the hypermarket chains, will stumble on I. January 2000.

The inspectors say that in some cases it is the machines themselves or it is the software they are delivered with that will cause the 'bug' to change their internal calendars to '00.'

Microsoft has already been warned that 'Works 4.5' is not compatible with the next century. So the fraud people are issuing warnings to the constructors; and apparently users can press charges too if they end getting stuck with the double-zero.

World Cup Fake Record

Last year, for the occasion of the World Cup in France, investigators seized more than 2.3 million counterfeit articles, up from 706,000 seized in 1997. That's a boost of 228 percent.

Half a million of the items were directly related to the football championship. Naturally, most of the fakes were imported from other countries, but a Marseille T-shirt factory was captured with thousands of copy-cat T-shirts too.

In other words, while France watched the matches and had a good time, customs agents were working overtime. Textile articles are the most counterfeited, followed by toys and luxury goods are in third place.

In Europe, Italy leads in the manufacture of fakes, but is well behind world leaders located in some Asian countries, who together, account for about 50 percent of the world's bogus output.

The Crime of the Week

Last week, little Andre's father signed the five-year old up for private school, in another town 10 kilometres away from the village they live in.

This was after little André spent a lunchtime with the local gendarmes. It happened like this: on Monday at 9:00, André's mom phoned the school to say André would be having lunch in the school's cantine.

She gave a cheque to one of André's older brothers for the two or three lunches, but André was in the kindergarten section and his brothers were in the grade school section of the village school.

Apparently, the school recently abandoned the system of selling ticketsphoto: parc marly, no swimming, no skaying corresponding to lunches. This system is common, because it allows for flexibility - on some days the kid might have lunch at home for example.

The sign says, 'No swimming, no skating.' It should say, 'Watch your step.'

For some reason, not explained in the story, the older brothers did not inform anybody that part of the cheque was for André, or they forgot, or something. But between 10 and 11:00 the cook was informed to not make two lunches.

With André having no lunch waiting for him, the school director had three choices: if the kid isn't going to the cantine or the parents aren't picking him up - she can keep him with her, she can hand him over to someone designated by the parents, or she can send him to stay with the cops.

The director of this particular school in this particular village, chose the latter. The report doesn't say if or what the gendarmes gave five-year old André for lunch.

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