...Continued from page 1

The Socialist International Meets

You might have been unaware of the continuing existence of the 'Socialist International,' but last week the top bonzen of Europe's Socialist elite gathered last week at La Défense for the 21st Congress of the Socialist International.

France's Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, managed to ignore Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, whom he was sitting beside; and they both ignored Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who is famous for his very large fake grin.

Lionel Jospin said, "Even if changing society is no longer the order of the day, changing society should remain." Of course, in French, thisphoto: comptoir des relais, odeon means something subtle. Not so subtly, he added, "I refuse the alternative that wants either more employment with more disparities, or less disparities but with less employment.'

One-time chrome-yellow ex-'Café Monaco' now seeks upscale cliental.

Germany's Gerhard Schröder, between a trip to Asia and a No-More-Wall party in Berlin, said that there were no fundamental differences within the Socialist International, but 'all the same, there are differences in its practice.'

Then he added that it is an error not to include industry leaders in Socialist thinking. According to Le Parisien's report, he was speaking without notes. About his own policies - which have been awarded in Germany with a train of electoral defeats - a French ministerial assistant murmured that 'it was not the time or place.'

Tony Blair said, "They sometimes say Lionel Jospin is a lefty while I am in the centre and there are deep divisions between us. Forget these labels. One may defend both the fairness and spirit of enterprise. If we can't reform our societies, we will ease the return of the right. To be in the centre, for Social-Democrats, is not treason."

France's number two Socialist, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis commented, 'Blair hits all the right Sozi notes, but fundamentally, he doesn't give an inch.' Another ranking French Socialist said, "At least he didn't announce the formation of an Socialist International of the Centre."

Which all means, the leaders said what they wanted to say and nobody disagreed with anybody, during the meeting.

Afterwards, Gerhard Schröder flew to Berlin to attend the ceremonies commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's tumble. While well played by TV during the week, the actual turnout for 'Wall Party II' did not match the original version.

Mme. Robinson - French Style

A lady school teacher in the southern city of Montpellier was the source of some interesting TV-news commentary last week, after receiving a one-mouth sentence - suspended - for unusual aid beyond the call of duty she had extended to one of her pupils.

The pupil, 14 years old and male, was in the care of his grand-aunt. The teacher, 34 years old, with three children - one the age of the pupil - was in charge of the pupil's education.

Due to his background, he was characterized as violent and aggressive, not to mention a border-line delinquent. The conscientious teacher sought to change this - which resulted in a criminal charge, launched by the grand-aunt, for 'purloining the parents' authority over a minor.'

The lady prosecutor demanded a sentence of three months - suspended - for the teacher's 'history of love, and folly' that went way beyond mere assistance to the 'distressed young man.'

The teacher's lawyer, after the verdict, said her client rejected any feeling of guilt, adding that the court's decision only aggravated the pupil's confusion.

Fortunately, the conviction will not go on the record. In the meantime, the grand-aunt has withdrawn her civil complaint, and in a letter to the defendant, recognized her good intentions. The teacher's capabilities as a educator were never in question.

It is unknown if the judgement will be appealed. Both the teacher and the - perhaps former - pupil are now profoundly disturbed, according to Le Parisien.

Page Three - Shootout On the Perifreak!

A heavy-duty motorcyclist runs a red light and pops the side of a white Golf on the Perifreak! - driven by a woman with three kids in the car. It stops within 30 metres.

The motorcyclist picks himself up from where he's spilled himself, hauls out a magnum and tries to hijack a passing Seat. This is driven by a cop in civies on his way to work at the Place de l'Italie.

He pulls out his service pistol and pops one off at the motorcyclist, but misses and the motorcyclist shoots back, twice, hitting the cop twice.

The motorcyclist turns to a passing Peugeot 206 and tries another hijack. He jerks a door open and puts his cannon in the face of the driver, who is another policeman in civies.

But this time the cop backs out of his car and the motorcyclist takes it in the direction of Val-de-Marne. The police investigation is continuing.

French Web Life

By coincidence, my Internet Actu source for French Web Life has mentioned a site for the Languedoc-Roussillon area - which is where the weekend's big storm hit France. Besides being a database, the Capline site also has news from the region. They may need help, so give them a hit.

Another regional site has come online, covering Brittany, the Loire country, Normandy and the Vendée. In addition to news, it has cultural information plus multimediaphoto: le welcome, rivoli reports, interviews, 'what's on,' and as all sites must have these days, shopping. It's called Top Ouest and it is online now.

Tolerance is something that is considered to be acceptable, but is often notably lacking from everyday life. Elie Wiesel founded the Universal Academy of Culture in 1992 to promote tolerance, through 'accepting diversity.' This is a new Web site, and it seeks your thoughts on the subject of how to convince bigots they are not 'doing the right thing.' The URL is for the 'front door;' it's up to you to find - or contribute - the rest.

Shorties: Probably due to the recent Armistice Day, I stumbled on the URL for Web site for Les Invalides, which is also one of France's war veterans' centres. More generally, the newsstand magazine Historia now has a Web site. There are several other popular 'historical' magazines available on newsstands in France as well; as a vast subject, it seems to be popular.

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