Jacques Gets a Summons

photo: le petit zinc

The Petit Zinc's 'new look' is unchanged from its old one.

Globalization's Black Thursday

Paris:- Monday, 2. April 2001:- Last week Judge Halphen, who is investigating public housing affairs in Paris - and had been doing so for ten years - sent President Jacques Chirac a summons to appear as a witness, to provide testimony for the investigation.

This action was a 'first' for the 5th République. The news of the summons was put on the AFP wire and constituted the front page of Wednesday's Le Parisien, before the President received his copy of it.

The President's crew quickly informed the media that, according to the French Constitution, the President could not be summoned to appear as a witness - citing the separation of powers.

The media translated this to mean the President wasn't 'going to see' Judge Halphen. Meanwhile, the President's RPR party spokesmen were on the various radios, denouncing the judge's act.

One legal expert thought the Constitution might permit the President to testify as a witness. But the expert added, that if the President did so once, he'd end up spending all his time testifying about one thing or another.

The expert added that if there were chargesphoto: left bank speedway, flooded against the President, it was up to the members of the Assembly National to ask the High Court of Justice to act. But as the Constitution is, there is nothing in it to compel the President to simply testify as a witness.

Sunday's flooded Seine speedways made them inaccessible for closing to traffic.

Another Constitutional expert said there was nothing to hinder the President from testifying, because he wasn't summoned because of his function as chief of state.

Constitution aside, there is a monarchial idea in France, which gives the idea that summoning the President is 'not done.' However, polls taken after the issuing of the summons indicated that a majority of the French see no reason why the President can't be summoned.

At the bottom of the summons, the text says that the witness can be made to appear before the investigating judge by 'public force.' Failure to do so can result in a fine of 25,000 francs.

At the Assembly National some deputies were outraged by the imagined 'lèse majesté,' but most of the big names of all parties had little to say. Some think the Constitution needs clarification - on occasions like this - but when things are calm, Constitutional changes are not a big priority.

Hoof and Mouth - Ban Lifted

In France there have been no further confirmed cases of hoof and mouth disease, so restrictions on the movements of animal products has been lifted and France is allowed to export meat and dairy products again.

The three departments concerned, where two cases of the disease were detected, remain under embargo until Thursday, 12. April. It is believed the infections had one source.

Rail Strike(s) - Part II

The SNCF is still being plagued by partial strikes, which have also affected the Eurostar trains and international lines. For the coming week, strike actions may affect all lines, all over France.

On most lines trains are running on reduced schedules, such as one out of two trains or two out of three. RER trains in the Paris area are also affected.

Black Thursday - Shut-Downs of the Week

On the day after the announcement of unemployment falling below the nine percent level, two companies decided to announce partial or complete shut-downs.

Multi-food giant Danone dropped the hammer on two of its biscuit factories, to perhaps throwphoto: right bank traffic, bouchon more than 1700 jobs into peril at five locations in total. This came after the food group's announcement of record profits of four billion francs in 2000.

Even when the speedways aren't flooded, the Quai des Tuileries looks like this every Sunday.

Stunned workers immediately went on strike at both locations to be completely shut down. For some unknown reason layoffs in France are called the nonsense term of 'plan social' when 'anti-social' would be more precise.

The second hammer came when British merchandizing giant Marks & Spencer kept its iron blinds rolled down at all of its 18 stores in France on Thursday, as a signal to its 1700 employees that they are soon to be thrown out of work.

Although this has been called by the company a 'restructuralization' - a word which is not listed in my dictionary - its French operations are to be eliminated entirely. Throughout the rest of Europe, another 20 stores will be closed as well.

Marks & Spencer has lost money in France in the last couple of years as it has failed to keep up with textile newcomers such as Gap and H&M, but the group as a whole has already announced the distribution of a two billion pound dividend for investors in 2002.

TV-news showed emotional scenes at both the biscuit factories and at Marks & Spencer's headquarters store on the Boulevard Haussmann - where the announcement of the shut-down had been made via email.

While boycotts of Danone products took place at sales outlets on Saturday around France, long-time Marks & Spencer's customers jammed its stores, in solidarity with their workers.

Marks & Spencer's CEO Luc Vandevelde admitted that its French employees had made 'superhuman' efforts on the part of the company, but he defended its decision to 'rationalize' its 'globalization strategy' by abandoning France and Europe and concentrating its resources on the tiny offshore island of Britain.

International xpo 2004
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