...Continued from page 1

Without knowing the amount of the RATP's operating deficit in Paris, it is impossible to tell whether 1.5 million is a drop in the bucket of red ink. It is also possible that the electric buses are very expensive to buy and operate, no matter how clean or 'election-positive' they are.

New Métro-RER Connection

A new RER line 'C' station, located beneath the métro line 14 station at Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand has come into service, adding yet more connectivity to the Paris system of public transport.

Winter Sports News

This week, I'm letting the sailors get on with their various deep sea races on various oceans, to concentrate on traditional winter sports events.

Rallye Monté Carlo

Open road car racing on Europe's over-iced and underdeveloped twisting mountain paths that pass for roads is a long-established winter tradition, and in the case of the 'Monté,' it is the year's first event counting towards the world's annual full-bore rallye championship.

The event is so tough that the major TV networks could not seem to convince their film crews to cover thephoto: rue frochot, pigalle racing, or TV-news producers think it is so lacking in news value that even finding more than a paragraph about it in the papers has been a minor feat.

The odd but interesting Rue Frochot, near Pigalle.

Tommi Makinen captured first place today, after completing the 32-kilometre 'special,' over the iced Col Turini. At the beginning of today's final stage Makinen had a three-second lead over Colin McRae - which turned into 13 minutes when the accelerator-electrics of McRae's Ford quit functioning.

Makinen, driving some sort of Mitsubishi, made this his third consecutive victory - and thus joined two other three-time winners, Sandro Munari - in the '70's - and Walter Rorhl - in the '80's. Long-time competitor Carlos Sainz came in second.

Rallye Paris-Dakar

Down in Africa, the Paris-Dakar rallye was blitzing its way towards the finish line at the coast at Dakar today with Hiroshi Masuoka and Jean-Louis Schlesser more or less neck-and-neck, after leaving Paris on New Years Day.

On Saturday night, Jutta Kleinschmidt, driving some sort of Mitsubishi, thought she had the third place in the overall general class sewed up.

But the race's commissioners penalized Jean-Louis Schlesser 60 minutes for unsportsmanlike driving during Saturday's start, which 'destablized' Hiroshi Masuoka in some unreported manner which cost him vital time.

Schlesser and his buggy won the day's final 'special' but with the penalty deducted, Jutta Kleinschmidt became the first woman driver to win the rallye, which had its 23rd edition this year.

She competed in the rallye for the first time in 1991 and managed to finish twice before skipping the 1994 edition and abandoning the idea of competing on a motorcycle. At first, she drove one of Schlesser's buggies, before leaving his team to join the high-powered Mitsubishi team in 1998.

While the rallye is hard on the cars and trucks, it is absolute hell on motorcycles, and very dangerous. This year's winner in this class is Fabrizio Meoni, riding a KTM. Meoni also had the rallye's shortest overall time with 70 hours, one minute and eight seconds. Kleinschmidt was about 41 minutes behind.

Other Winter Sports News

As of today, 'winter' is 32 days old. If you are interested in the state of snow at French winter sports stations, try hitting the Hiver,SkiFrance and Net4Ski Web sites.

The ex-ski champion Edgar Grospiron has an exceptional site, called Ridearth. Especially conceived for actual fans or practitioners of speedy downhills, it features all sorts of current white snow activities, including morsels of techno-ski music.

Web Life:

The Multimedia Tax Bungle

The surtax on recordable media as reported here last week, goes into effect on Monday as planned. But Prime Minister Jospin blew his top when informed that the tax was intended to apply to computers too - and this part of the idea was killed.

The notion of the tax - intended to reward the music industry without penalizing pirates too much - was worked out by a commission composed of interested parties, including consumer organizations.

But when it came down to the crunch, the vote by the commission to adopt the measure was 50-50 - with the consumer organizations boycotting the vote. The commission's president cast the deciding vote in favor of the music industry.

The idea is to have a tax similar to the existing tax on audio and video cassettes - which are taxed for the purposes of a 'private copy.' Professionalsphoto: rue andre antoine, montmartre and users are not allowed to make 'private copies' of software or video games anyway, so the tax shouldn't concern them - in theory.

The long view of the Rue André Antoine near Abbesses.

But with CD-ROMs and DVD's, which can be used to store data as well as be the media supports for original multimedia creations, the new tax makes no distinction between 'private copy,' perfectly legitimate uses of the storage media, and illegal piracy of music.

Finally, the sole beneficiary of tax collected seems to be the music industry's authors' organization - which has no intention of sharing its booty with any other sort of authors and creators.

Your Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankyou' here.

The 'Official' Weather: 100% 'Winter'

Météo France is the official source for France's TV-weather people - if you don't get French TV where you are, you can get the weather from where they get it. Because it is 'official' - meaning: as true as possible - don't expect forecasts to exceed 24 hours even though TV sometimes goes out on a limb with unreliable seven-day forecasts.

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