The Battle for Paris, Part 44

photo: bistro le navigator

A small bistro in the Rue Galande in the Quartier Latin.

Whoopee! Cash Is Back!

Paris:- Sunday, 28. May 2000:- Sometime - when? - yesterday probably or maybe today - the bigwigs of the Paris section of the RPR party gathered together and selected Philippe Sequin as their candidate for the election for mayor of Paris in 2001.

The sitting mayor, Jean Tiberi, also a member of the RPR party, either was not invited to put up his own name at the meeting or chose not to attend it at all.

Since Jean Tiberi continues to consider himself a candidate for re-election, he is steering a course that could lead to his exclusion from the RPR party - since it obviously cannot promote two candidates for the mayor's office.

Police Set To Pounce On Fake Voters

Two investigating judges who have been working on an investigation into election fraud in Paris for the past five years, are expected to go into action 'before summer.'

Investigators have interviewed hundreds of real votersphoto: welcom to istanbul who have been surprised to learn that they have been put on electoral lists in two arrondissements where they do not reside.

The fast-food place's name refers to the café, not the town, which is far away.

Police think they have detected 859 phantom voters in the 3rd and a little more than 7700 in the 5th. While most of these will face no consequences, those who may have instigated the fraud will be under the magnifying glasses of the judges.

The investigation was sparked off by the 'Green' party - Les Verts - and they have been comparing their list with the one complied by police investigators. The Greens think the police list is 125 names short for the 3rd arrondissement alone.

They want to compare voter's addresses with those on income tax returns, but this has been refused so far.

Whoopee! Cash Is Back!

Armored-car employees finally reached a settlement with their employers, and are now busily trucking new cash from the Banque de France to banks - and hauling used cash back from businesses.

As their strike ends, various other strikes have also ended - which has left the way clear for new groups to stage walkouts, slowdowns and other actions.

The beginning of the week will see reduced traffic on SNCF rail lines in the Paris area and throughout France.

The Securité Sociale Is Healthy

For the first time in a very very long time, the budget of the Securité Sociale is in balance and the government could not help itself from rejoicing about this last week.

The way the system works in France, in general, is the ill person pays in cash for medical services in advance. Then a claim is placed with the Securité Sociale, and thephoto: paris draft resisters fraction - or 100 percent - that is reimbursable, is paid back.

Draft resisters getting ready yesterday for what may be their last march through Paris.

At the moment, with a balanced budget, about 12 million claims for reimbursement are late, and this has been a general tendency for the past year.

The Securité Sociale treats about a billion claims a year. Three million residents receive free medical care, with a potential six million to be added.

Cybercrime Worries the French

In two recent polls, the French indicated that they don't trust the confidentiality of the Internet, especially in areas where they have to put personal information online.

This fear is considerably reduced when those polled have had some experience with email and the Web. All the same, both non-users are users want more security and guarantees that personal information will be protected.

For 1999, the police only registered about 4000 complaints involving cybercrime.

Meanwhile, over at the good old Minitel, police have uncovered a massive fraud, that seems have been taking in two to five million francs per month for its leading operator alone.

Certain Minitel numbers, such as the prefix '3617,' are billed by France Télécom at 5.57 francs per minute. Of this amount, the national phone company keeps 91 centimes.

So all it takes is some clever people with a server, a little trick stuff and some accomplices - and a whole bunch of Minitel terminals connected non-stop to the number in question - to run up big bills pretty quickly.

The surface idea was to offer household appliances and travellers' cheques as prizes to those who stayedphoto: moms day dolls connected for long periods of time. Right from the start, the telephone receipts exceeded the value of the 'prizes' by factors of three or four.

I know - Mom's Day is past - but maybe the dolls here will make up for it.

The second step, was to arrange for somebody else to be liable for the telephone bills. Some bills were run up on employer accounts and others were done from apartments rented under phoney names.

One 'operator' had 20 Minitels connected for 17 straight hours on his employer's account, and this returned him 600,000 francs worth of travellers' cheques.

Normally, Minitel terminals will automatically shut down, but a software hack was introduced to the system so they would stay connected.

Police were quoted as saying it was, "Fraud on a colossal scale." The thing to remember is that the Minitel-server combine has been around for a couple of decades and tens of millions of French users have a lot of confidence in it.

Only 30 Days Until...

The summer sales are an important factor in Brigitte's plan to visit Paris. Quite rightly she wrote to the 'Internet Reporter for Paris' to ask when they will be, and the lame answer was 'dunno.'

In fact I did look at the calendar which tells me that school holidays for summer start in all of France's three zones on Monday, 3. July this year. Logic therefore suggested that summer sales would start in Paris after everybody has safely bought their necessities at the full prices.

This off-the-frayed-cuff response was not good enough for Brigitte, so she phoned Printemps. The department store told her they are starting their summer sales this year on Tuesday, 27. June. If this is Printemps' date, you can be pretty sure it will be everybody else's' too.

This made me look at the calendar again. Sure enough, Tuesday, 27. June is when I leave the continent for my little holiday - wearing last summer's tattered rags. This will put me three years behind when 2001 rolls around.

Spanish Football Sports News

Readers who picked up on the Spanish football fan activity in the Quartier Latin, mentioned in this week's Café column, deserve results. Real Madrid thumped Valencia 3-0 in a game where Real dominated - according to Café Metropole Club member Jason Hraynyk - who saw the match 'live' on TV which he was watching in case any hockey games were on.

Multi-Continental Web Life:

Vedettes, Choo-choos and Montmartre

In October of 1997 John McCulloch wrote to Metropole about his pal Emile, who founded the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf. Now the 'Vedettes' have their own Web site and it may be worth a look.

After hanging out in the casinos of Las Vegas for a very long time, John is now snooping around in Death Valley and the Amargosa Desert and digging up their abandoned Railroads.

Recently he was contacted by the Montmartre photography association, so you may also be able to find some of John's photos on its Web site too.

Learn Spanish In Spain

Don Quixote, Spain's largest language school, is running a writing competition which involves prize scholarships, accommodations and a bit of cash. Every six months, the three best essays in Spanish or English will be selected by vote via the Web. Candidates need to explain why learning Spanish is a good idea and why they should win the scholarship. Voters can win prizes too. On top of it, Don Quixote wishes all participants 'Buena Suerte!'

Get Rich Quick - By Chance

I am not the best Web surfer so I have no idea if all the 'get-rick-quick' schemes I am offered via email-spam ever pay off for anybody - the spammers or the spammed.

I am also a terrible gambler and even worse at betting, so I restrict my losses to the Loto. In 30 yearsphoto: cafe pierrot this has not paid off handsomely - so I now let the Loto's computers pick my 'winning' numbers on the theory that maybe I can win something else with the time I save.

It had to come sooner of later, but now the online-lottery is here - and there are rumors that three other sites are close to launch.

These people must have won the Loto already.

This is not an endorsement for this activity because personal experience has shown that it wastes time and money; especially money. This is only worth a look if you have plenty of both to vaporize.

Culture for the Masses

Worth a look is supposed to be the 'transdisiplinary' cultural Web site called '@xé Libre which features the plastic as well as the performing arts, including the festivals - which are major factor in the summertime entertainment landscape of France and Europe.

Paris' Peace Wall, Still

This leaves the URL for Paris' Peace Wall which is still on the Champ de Mars. This 'Mur Pour la Paix' - which is a Dot-Com and not a Dot-Org - continues to survive. Peace lives on! You can also learn how to read the word 'peace' in 31 languages, including Spanish.

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