French Take To Cashless Mode

photo: bistro vigouroux, chatelet

This café's problem is not lack of cash, but lack of temperature.

Armored-Car Crews Still On Strike

Paris:- Sunday, 21. May 2000:- As of this evening, armored-car crews have reached no agreement with their employers. This is despite an escalating offer that is getting closer to the strikers' demands.

The practical result is half of France's ATMs being without cash at any given time. Banks and other merchants are still recycling used banknotes back into the machines, while the striking armored-car employees are blockading the Banque de France - preventing the distribution of new notes.

As usual in any strikes in France that last more than a whole week, the employers are screaming for the government to bail them out - with subsidies - of our money. But with each round of negotiations, the offer increases - with the government not promising a centime to anybody.

For users there seems to be no great inconvenience other than slightly longer lines of people waiting to use the ATMs. Usually only a quick glance is necessary to see whether a particular machine is loaded or not.

If there's no line in front of it, it's probably empty - or nobody around is currently short of cash.

Bandits Not Playing Fair

Taking unfair advantage of the situation, enterprising robbers crept into a big vacation complex overnight last week with a borrowedphoto: bikini war, bus stop poster big truck with a crane on it.

Armed with pump-action shotguns, they persuaded the holiday park's security men to surrender to 'force-majeure' by getting them all together in one place and pointing big guns at them.

Paris billboard operators started a no-holds-barred bikini war during the week.

Then they politely asked where the safe was to be found. When told, they produced exactly no more equipment than necessary to extract it, and with the aid of the crane and winch on the big truck, they ripped the booty out of its resting place.

It must have been a somewhat small safe, because they tossed it into a getaway car and vanished into the night with it - leaving their trusty truck behind.

It was only next morning that the vacationers learned that they had woken up at a major crime scene.

A Presidential Term of Five Years?

A former President of France thought this idea up but I do not know why. The present term is seven years and there is no limit on how many times an elected president can re-run for the highest office in the land.

The five-year term idea has been kicked around all week and the only person in France who seems to think things should remain unchanged is a politician who will probably never run for presidential office.

This leaves the current president, Jacques Chirac, in a position to change his own five-year old opinion for 'no change' into one favoring the idea.

Except for the 'no change' guy, everybody concerned seems to want to fight over doing the change with 'Plan A' or 'Plan B.' Some politicians don't seem to care muchphoto: 2nd fiat 500 one way or the other, so they are arguing for a two-term limit just to have something to talk about in Saint-Germain restaurants.

This magazine scored two 'Fiat 500s of the Week,' setting a new all-time record.

The newspapers are trying to make as big a fight out of this as they can, but ever since President Chirac was spotted on holiday walking around sockless and bouncing his grandson on his knee like any other French grandpa, his popularity has continued to rise.

Despite some slight worry about where the next 100-franc note may be coming from, polls also show that Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's popularity is also rising tidily, although he lags behind the president a bit because he has to run the darn country, after all.

In fact, like the Paris Bourse, neither man's popularity ever seems to dip. I think news organizations reset the percent scores occasionally in the quiet of th night - to get them back to a level so they can continue to rise.

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