France Télécom's Jackpot

photo: bistro des lavandieres

In colors to match its name - the Bistrot
des Lavandières.

The Listeria Puzzle, Part 2

Paris:- Sunday, 5. March 2000:- The state's national telephone operator updated its logo last week, to signal its changeover from being a sensible and sane telephone access provider, to being a full-bore 'Internet Company.'

I wasn't warned about this, so when I saw the ads in the métro, I thought they were for another one of the mobile phone companies that spring up overnight like mushrooms.

France Télécom pulled off the neat hat-trick of increasing its 1999 profits by 20 percent over 1998, which also had a double-digit profit. For this, the stockholders will get one Euro per share, and the subscribers will get a price rise for the monthly hookup charge.

Late on Thursday's session of the Paris bourse, France Télécom's shares jumped up by 25 percent, which sent the CAC40 index up to 6477, which was an increase of 3.54 percent for the day's session.

This explosion was caused by the announcement of FT putting its Internet activities on the market. This onlyphoto: friday rain, haussmann amounts to three percent of FT's global turnover and seven percent of its traffic - yet was good enough to add a paper increase of 295 billion to FT's market value.

Things are changing on Haussmann, between Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.

The French state still owns 62 percent of FT shares, so it must feel pretty good about the result. The owners of the French state have not been asked to express any opinion; nor to expect any dividends.

With the new valuation, FT now represents about 20 percent of the bourse's leading indicator, the CAC40. This is up from just over 10 percent in March 1998. When introduced to the market, shares were quoted at 182 frances and now they are about 355.

Investment professionals say the shares are overpriced at anything over 300 francs - but nothing is 'overpriced' when the magic word 'Internet' is connected to a stock. FT hasn't had much luck with its attempted alliances with global operators outside France.

The rise in value of France Télécom's stock exceeded the bourse's daily limit, which is 20 percent. Because of the late trading, the price probably jumped before trading in it could be halted.

France's Listeria Puzzle, Part 2

A knowledgeable doctor, working in the public hospital sector, told me that there is no listeria 'epidemic' in France at this time. He said the word 'epidemic' is one only used by the news media.

The current rate of illnesses due to listeria is absolutely normal for France - and is one-tenth of what used to be 'normal' ten years ago.

In effect this means that all the actors in the food-chain have cleaned up their act a lot. Continuous and vigorous sanitary inspection keeps it this way.

All the danger points pointed out by newspapers and TV reports were well in evidence at my local street marché last week, and I observed similar 'danger' situations around the food stands at the Salon de l'Agriculture.

What I did not see were piles of consumers writhing with pain, lying on the pavement at the street marché or at the salon. From what I ate at both places, I have had no ill effects.

Life itself is a risky business. We might want it to be completely risk-free, but this is never going to happen. It is well to be informed of the degree of risk, but it does no good to anyone to be frightened unnecessarily.

France's Sick Hospitals

Hospital workers in France have taken to the streets ten times in the last three months, to protest against the lack of adequate funding for public health care.

Normally, hospital staff are on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the year - so to take time offphoto: c&a, metro signs for street protest parades is not something they are doing for fun, or because it is carnival time.

A suspicion exists among public-sector hospital personnel that the government is quietly cutting funds in order to boost the use of private-sector health care by the public.

This has been done in other countries, and has resulted in dire consequences. Each country has its 'have-not-so-much' citizens. When public medicine gives way to private, these are often the people who end up with less.

'For-profit' medical care benefits the few who can afford it and penalizes those who can't. In France, this is contradictory to republican principles - as well as being dubious from the viewpoint of medical ethics.

In most cases, specialists and doctors working within the public-health sector have consciously decided to live with modest salaries, because they see this as benefitting more of the public.

Society accepts the idea that it needs firemen, because they perform an essential public service. The health of the public is no different - proper care for all increases general public health, and this is a national - and international benefit for all - not just a few.

Switching budgets around, to make it appear as if the private sector of health care does a better job with the public's health, has never produced a positive result.

The President Visits a Start-Up

While France Télécom was applying a bit of frisson to the bourse, Jacques Chirac was paying a visit to 'République Valley,' which is the nickname of a former threadneedle building that has been converted into an Internet start-up beehive of e-commerce.

Started last summer with two three-person outfits, the building now houses 14 companies with 110 employees. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on another area in Paris where fledgling Internet enterprises are putting up their name-plates.

This area borders on the Rue Saint-Denis, where there is significant trade on the world's oldestphoto: paris info, printemps profession - success begets success? The new companies are mainly installing themselves in the Sentier garment district, which is finding itself too constricted for the street handling of garments.

The reason for no on-the-spot reporting about the storm's effects on Paris' major parks is that they are closed.

There are other busy Dot.Coms installing themselves around Paris, usually in low-rent districts, like the 20th arrondissement.

Apparently the President was quite impressed with the energy of the start-ups he visited. He called for a tax system more favorable to stock-options, which is a system of using paper instead of money that under-capitalized start-ups like to use for paying salaries.

The RATP's 'Cyberdeck'

Without much fanfare Paris' transport RATP authority installed four 'Cyberdeck' Internet terminals in their Port Royal RER 'B' station last August. The units are equipped with touch-screens instead of 'mice' and they have French keyboard layouts, so these are two features that take a bit of getting used to.

Offering free access and unlimited online time, this 'beta-test' has proved successful and now the RATP plans to install the stand-up 'Net centres in other stations. These will be at Denfert-Rochereau, Luxembourg and Châtelet-Les Halles; all on the same RER line 'B.'

Radio WEB, AM and FM

While checking out the RATP's 'Cyberdeck' at Port Royal a week ago, I ran into Bénédicte Vidal who was there to interview 'Cyberdeck' users for a tv-radio.com report.

This led to me taking a look at 'tv-radio.com,' which acts like an enabler for radio stations to broadcast online - and this includes French stations. If you want to hear radio France-Info's 'Life of Plants,' now you can.

To get the full effect of 'Net radio, you will need to have Apple's QuickTime version 4.1 installed, and a 56 K modem. Tv-radio.com's software would also seem to offer independent radio producers a means of broadcasting, without using the government-regulated airwaves.

The Coming 'Fête' de l'Internet

Every year this event is announced with some fanfare, and every year I fail to grasp what it's all about, because it seems to be entirely 'virtual' and I am not a good enough surfer to find out.

However, in France as well as elsewhere, there is a definite online community dedicated tophoto: agri, mobile calva still the idea of independently-produced content - without ads or E-sales - for 'no profit' in other words.

'No profit' does not mean 'no value,' as inspired amateurs will put more of themselves into their creative efforts than many hired-hand professionals are ever required to do.

Seen at the food salon - this functioning antique portable still; for turning apples into Calvados.

The Fête's organization is non-profit and it is coordinated by the AFI association. This event is not restricted to France; at the European level it is called the Fiesta 2000. The actual Fête/Fiesta will take place from Friday, 17. March to Sunday, 19. March.

Related Statement of Idiotic Non-Policy

In case you are wondering about Metropole's apparent four year-long 'no profit' status; this is completely inadvertent and mainly due to the fact that I 'don't get it.' By the same token, you don't get banner ads and other common hustles that waste your valuable time and money.

What you will be able to get, is coming soon. For banner fanciers, you will still be out of luck.

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