...Continued from page 1

This weekend, the most recent governor of the island, Bernard Bonnet, is conducting a hunger strike in the Santé prison in Paris' 14th arrondissement. He claims he is the victim of a plot by the media or the Corsican nationalists, and maintains he is innocent.

All of this has created a general uproar in France; and not for the first time over Corsica. This time the situation may have gotten one number too hairy.

(The word 'arson' comes from Norman French.)

Meanwhile: the Language Sandwich

There are supposed to be 75 regional 'languages' spoken within France, so if you have problems with pure French as I do, it might be because you are in the wrong region.

The 'European thing' has its strange pan-European effects and is taking directions to unknown destinations. The other day, France signed an agreement in Budapest, to promote its regional languages.

This is, of course, only symbolic - as well as being against several centuries of attempts tophoto: strike train schedule make France one country - so France also made a declaration that the Budapest deal did not mean Paris is going to automatically recognize and protect minorities.

The French Constitution for example, in its second article, says the 'language of the République is French.' President Jacques Chirac wants the Constitutional Council to clear up this question, and it should hand down a decision in a month.

Paris suburbanites did a lot of this last week.

However, teachers of regional languages say the French Constitution has to give way, or conform to the European. Eight other European countries who have signed the Budapest charter already accept their regional languages; France might ratify the charter next year.

Ratification will mean publishing the texts of French laws in regional languages; but will not mean being able to have your trial for arson conducted in Corsican, for example. The educational system will be able to introduce regional languages to the course structure, and public authorities will be able to use local idioms.

But the barrier is fully and firmly lowered against any sort of liberalization for radio and TV - these remain 'French only,' both public and private.

As a public service, Le Parisien - which is neither a radio or TV station - has published the first phrase of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; in Alsatian, Basque, Catalan, Corsican, Occitan and Provençal. Very neat.

The Strike that Fizzled Out

Whether it was orchestrated or not, TV-news relentlessly showed angry commuters in the Paris region night after night - until the powerful CGT union, whose leaders did not favor the strike in the first place, withdrew its national strike warning for Monday.

By last Friday, most commuter traffic in the Paris area was back to near normal as the militant minority unions caved in and their member train drivers put the wagons on the rails again.

No one will agree with me, but I think the probable cause of the sudden end of the strikephoto: commuters at st lazare was that everybody was anxious to get home on time to see the TV-news at 20:00 and to catch the latest reports about the curious events in Corsica.

These people are not 'waiting for Godot,' they are waiting for a sign of their train.

TV-news kept up its barrage of war news from Korsovo and this was often the evening's lead item, but much of the rest of many broadcasts were given over to exciting and dramatic scenes from the National Assembly, as the government and opposition tried to get the upper hand over an affair that started with a minor arson of an illegal beach café.

Meanwhile, the SNCF says it 'lost' 300 million francs of our money on account of the strike.

Paris Goes Roller Crazy

Last weekend had good weather and on Monday, sportsmen and women of all ages, shapes and sizes, stormed shops selling rollers of every type, to be ready for this weekend, which is turning out to have weather even better. One shop sold 200 pairs on Monday alone.

I accidently caught a poster for this weekend's roller derby in Versailles - without realizing it involved a marathon run from Montparnasse to the château.

Completely unknown to me until I saw it on tonight's TV-news, was another marathon from the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris, through the Val d'Oise, to the freight zone 2 at Charles-de-Gaulle airport. Is this 'sports news?' Is the 'entertainment' news? Is this 'craze' news?

You'll know it's the latter if you write to ask what people are wearing in Paris these days and I reply, 'Rollers!'

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