'Plague of the Week'

photo: bistros, place tertre, montmartre

The Place du Tertre, in the centre of the 18th arrondissement and the 'Battle for Paris.'

Delanoë Out-Talks Séguin

Paris:- Sunday, 4. February 2001:- Just as we were getting used to eating a bit less of nearly everything last week, hoof-and-mouth disease exploded in Britain, sending a tidal wave of Shock! and Horror! across the channel to wash all over the continent.

While we have been getting more and more uptight about 'mad cow' disease, which has taken years to get the whole European cattle industry in a terrible shambles - 'Eating It Can Make You Bonkers! - the reaction to the hoof-and-mouth epidemic has been astonishingly swift.

Ordinary folks have had no idea of the amount of livestock that is routinely transported across borders and across the narrow channel.

Almost as soon as hoof-and-mouth disease was discovered in Britain, animal shipments were stopped and disinfectant units were set up for all other travellers - with travellers'photo: new york enfant du monde, bercy shoes and car tires being run through disinfectant baths.

Then TV no sooner showed us sheep and pigs by the tens of thousands being tossed into huge barbecues, than we find out that thousands of these animals have been imported to France - and ex-und-hopp, into the barbecues they went - are still going, too.

Okay, we don't have to worry much. Human beings are immune to hoof-and-mouth disease - it is only terribly contagious to just about every farm animal there is.

One of the 'Enfants du Monde' in Parc de Bercy.

The disease was thought to have been eradicated about ten years ago, and vaccinations to prevent it were stopped. France still has a stock from that time, but it is not near enough to vaccinate all the livestock in the country.

At the same time, this all co-incidently coincides with a Muslim holiday, which I think is called 'Aïd el-Kébir.' Like turkeys for Christians, this calls for - by tradition, not for religious reasons - the ritual slaughter of lambs, and the eventual feasting of them, on Monday.

Warnings against doing so have been issued by the leaders of Paris' Grand Mosque, and another warning was issued in Mecca.

TV Election Debate

The pay-TV channel got though the regulatory hurdles and managed to stage a debate between the two leading candidates for the office of Paris' mayor, but this left two or four other candidates out in the cold.

Philippe Séguin, the leader of the rightist list slugged it out with Bertrand Delanoë, the leader of the leftist combine - and afterwards the general impression was that the slender-looking Mr. Delanoë had out-punched the substantial Mr. Séguin.

This was reflected in polls, which shows a selection of Parisians favoring the leftist PS-PC-MDC-RDGphoto: election posters, montmartre list by 10 points over the rightist RPR-UDF-DL list. After the televised debate, the 'undecided' also dropped 10 points to 14.

In a straight man-to-man poll, Mr. Delanoë outpointed Mr. Séguin by 26 points, with Mr. Delanoë grabbing over 50 percent.

Posters in the 18th are part of the 'Battle for Paris.'

While the debate was in its polite progress, outside the Canal+ TV studios the 'excluded' staged a wild demo - with pétards! - which also got its 30 seconds of air time and rapid dispersal by the CRS.

The compromise was for the present mayor, Jean Tiberi, and the leader of the Paris' Greens, Yves Contassot, to have another TV-debate a day following the first one - but I think both refused - with Yves Contassot getting good coverage outside Canal+ from Germany's ZDF channel.

On Thursday night, Mr. Delanoë and his Paris list filled up the huge Zénith concert hall with 3500 supporters, to listen to a steel-drum band louder than the previous evenings' firecrackers.

Europe's group of 'pink' mayors from Rome, London, Vienna, Barcelona and - Geneva! - sent greetings to the rally via closed-circuit TV.

Meanwhile, current Paris mayor Jean Tiberi - who is furious with nearly everybody - is still trying to get the Séguin camp to agree to a fusion of their two lists, in order to be stronger for the second and final round of balloting on Sunday, 18. March. The first round is next Sunday, 11. march.

After some of the dust settled, the organizer of the televised debate, Canal+ estimated the audience to have peaked at about 2.8 million spectators, just before the evening's TV-news at 20:00.

Canal+ operates on the pay-to-view system and I am not a subscriber, since I can't avoid subscribing to the state's TV-tax.

Other Vital News

As usual in Paris, there was plenty of 'other news' during the week. The heights above the Riviera were buried under a lot of snow early in the week, and by tonight EDF still has not restored power to all of its customers. A survey has shown that 70 percent of Parisians have eaten a sandwich a some time during their lives, which is not surprising since every café in town serves ham and cheese sandwiches. The roller-folk are likely to get their road status changed from being pedestrians, to being - what? I don't know. That's it - here's the wrap-up right in the middle of the column. But first, here's the

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