Strike Warnings Galore

photo: bistro le panier

In the Square Sainte-Marthe, Le Panier bistro.

Bové Fails To Talk To 'Billionaires'

Paris:- Sunday, 29. January 2000:- Tonight, long-distance truck drivers will begin forming barricades along France's entry-points, as a labor action begins for higher pay and shorter working hours. It is unknown how long this situation will continue. On Tuesday, expect all RATP operations - métro, bus and RER - in Paris to be at a near standstill as a result of strike action by all unions. Operations of non-RATP RER lines may be affected, and there will likely be other transport strikes throughout France. Hospital workers may also continue their demonstrations throughout France. Due to this weekend's thaw, the danger of avalanches in alpine areas is very high, and mountain road conditions are treacherous.

José Goes To Davos

The 30th world economic forum began in Davos on Thursday, 27. January and peasant leader José Bové told Le Parisien what he intended to tell the 'billionaires' in Thursday's edition of the paper. Bové also was reported to have an official invitation.

Then nothing more was heard until last night's TV-news, which showed demonstrators trashing Davos' McDonald's outlet, which was flying a banner with the motto, 'Think Global, Eat Local.'

For the first time in the history of the annual Davos meetings, the exclusive mountain resort was under a state of semi-siege. The Swiss army rushedphoto: bistro l'atmosphere in 70 troops to contain the wilder elements of what were thought to be possibly 1000 demonstrators from five countries - who were protesting without permission from local authorities.

The café l'Atmosphère has entertainment evenings beside the canal Saint-Martin.

President Clinton, 30 other heads of state and 1200 business leaders must of had a feeling of déja-vu as Seattle-type events were repeated at high altitudes, in wintry conditions.

It was an US President's first visit to a Davos meeting, and Mr. Clinton took the opportunity to plead for freer trade - and - state that the demonstrators had a right to be heard. Other delegates repeated this view to TV-news.

José Bové and the Peasants Confederation reportedly withdrew without meeting Davos' founder, Klaus Schwab. This morning, radio France-Info reported that Mr. Bové had been touched by tear-gas during Saturday's events.

However, there was no sign of this on Saturday as he gave TV-news a fairly lengthy interview while marching in a protest parade, holding his familiar pipe in one hand and part of a large banner in the other, in falling snow.

Paris Casino?

A group in Lyon has recently received permission to operate a gambling casino in that city. This has not gone unnoticed in Paris, which has 14 private gambling clubs.

The nearest real public casino to Paris, is 30 kilometres away, in Enghien-les-Bains. Apparently, Bordeaux is considering the opening of a casino too.

Assistant mayor, Jean-Pierre Bloch, thinks Paris-Las-Vegas is a poorphoto: cafe de l'europe copy of the real thing, and if Americans want gambling with their Paris they should be able to get it in the original. Mayor Tiberi thinks it is a subject that merits 'reflection.'

A 'with feeling' café at the bottom of the Rue Sainte-Marthe.

An operator of gambling casinos in Nice, Dax and Chamonix thinks casino gambling for adults in Paris could be 'educational.' He added that a casino is not just blackjack tables and slot machines, but can be a whole mall full of a wide variety of entertainment and services.

The operator of Paris' race tracks, France-Galop, has also floated the idea of adding a casino to their Longchamp track, in order to give it year-round business. The principle sponsor of the annual Prix d'Arc race at Longchamp is the operator of casinos at Cannes, Deauville and - the slightly too far away Enghien-les-Bains.

However, there is a 1920 law on the books that forbids public gambling within 100 kilometres of Paris. An exception to this was made in 1931, when the license for Enghien-les-Bains was awarded.

Another law, dated 1998, allows for casino gambling in towns with more than 500,000 inhabitants, which are classified as 'tourist centres.'

Paris has not been classed officially as a 'tourist centre.' But the secretary-general of the Hôtel de Ville was quoted as saying the city had made a request for this classification 'more than a year ago.'

It is certainly true that Paris is not full of slot machines. What it does have, is a lot of locations for off-track betting - the PMUs - and an incredible numbers of places where bets on the Loto can be placed.

Almost every week the Loto-organization launches a new type of gambling ticket. I have also been in cafés where tickets are sold for draws that take place about every ten minutes, with the results being shown on TV sets in the cafés.

The beauty of this is, no hand is tied up pulling a slot-machine handle - both hands are still free to hold glasses.

Dakar-Cairo Finds Pyramids

I have completely lost the Dakar-Cairo Rallye. Did it reach the pyramids? Last weekend, all the news was about three Peugeot 206's that refused to start up for a stage in the Monte-Carlo Rallye, which is about 375 years old.

That it was even taking place was a surprise to me. The 'Monte' used to be insane Europeanphoto: antoine & lili soldes sport. A mid-winter road race, with about six different starting points - such as Stavanger or Minsk - it ended up sliding down icy alps into Monaco about this time.

Winter sales continue in the shadow of the canal Saint-Martin.

One year a Panhard won it. There was a co-efficient for weight-to-power, with Panhard high on the first and low on the second. Another year, a Mini - driven by certifiable madmen - won it. I think a Mustang won it once too.

It still counts towards the world Rallye championship, which the 'Dakar' does not. Besides cars refusing to start - because of the cold! - and 'dangerous' stages were dropped while the rallye was in progress.

This resulted in some old-time 'Monte' business - everybody protesting everything. I don't 'follow' this type of thing since I gave up my personal BX racing car, for the RATP's métro.

Davos Life Online

The 30th world economic forum organizers, known simply as 'Davos,' is held in a high place in Switzerland, from Thursday, 27. January until Tuesday, 1. February.

Co-ordination for protesting demonstrators is offered by the organization called something like 'Citizen's Control of the WTO.' The 'Attac' association is not taking part in these alpine festivities, but proposes an "after' on its web site. In France, 'afters' happen about dawn and may include hangover cures.

The WTO is an United Nations organization and it too has a Web site, called 'Global Compact.'

The BnF Launches Gallica 2000

Free of charge, France's Bibliothèque Nationale has just cranked up its Gallica server to offer more than 35,000 titles - either for consulting online or for download as PDF files. Most of these titles are 19th century texts and few are literature - but this will change over time. After all its stops and starts, the BnF is now 'open to the world.'

Web Shorties:

The 27th comics festival at Angoulême ends today. This Web site presents this year's prize winners, plus links to other sites featuring 'bandes dessinées' - BD for short. In France, the 'comic books' are hardcover and they outsell practically all other forms of published fiction.

Interactive radio, television, 3-D, and the Internet are the main concerns of the annual 'Festival Imagina 2000,' which is organized by France's INA and Monte Carlo's TV Festival; this year from Monday, 31. January to Wednesday, 2. February - in Monaco as usual. Entry for students is 800 francs and for civilians starts at 3500 francs.

Two weeks later, just down the coast in Cannes, the annual 'Milia 2000' takes place from Tuesday, 14. February tophoto: canal st martin Saturday, 18. February. This is the annual market showcase for multimedia, which includes the Internet of course. Entry fees are from 2000 francs to 5000 for the 'Think Tank.' These amounts do not include the value-added tax; so add 20.6 percent to the bill.

One of the locks on the canal Saint-Martin.

If you feel like doing a little international industrial snooping, you should take a look at 'FranceTech,' which is actually a French Ministry of Industry site meant to show off France's techno jewels. This site is trilingual, in French, English and Spanish - presumably because most Germans already know about everything here.

Historians of social movements may be interested by a new site conceived by the 'Equipe du Maitron,' within the framework of a CNRS lab and a group of associations.

Some of the suggestions for these Web site references have been supplied by 'Internet Actu.' To sign up for this free weekly newsletter in French, send an email to

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