"Put an End To the Beginning!"

photo: cafe in luxembourg garden

In the Luxembourg - outside, beneath the trees and
the falling leaves.

Culture Strikes Continue

Paris:- Monday, 22. October 2001:- False bomb alerts and phoney anthrax alarms have drastically increased in frequency in France since the world 'changed forever' on Tuesday, 11. September. Before this date, nobody had ever heard of the disease.

Authorities here have reacted swiftly, with courts handing out prison sentences to offenders on the spot. No waiting five years to go to jail, like many unconvicted murderers and other violent criminals who can spend long periods in 'preventative detention' without being tried.

Whether as a gag or for revenge, the courts see no difference and they are being generous with jail terms ranging from a couple of weeks up to three months. The maximum penalties canphoto: b & w sport photos, luxembourg be two years behind Swedish curtains and fines of up to 200,000 francs - which will amount to 30,490 euros after the beginning of next year.

The crime is called 'communicating a false information' - which, besides having a version in French also has a buzzword called, 'Intox.'

The older sports photos are on the Luxembourg's inside railings.

In the days before the world 'changed forever' Paris had an average of about four 'bomb alerts' daily. This figure - including the cases of mailing milk powder to the tax inspectors - has jumped to 40 a day in Paris alone.

Each 'alert' causes a big mobilization of firemen, police, bomb experts, and lately, detox experts - usually amounting to a sizable crew. Buildings and métro stations are evacuated and security perimeters are set up - with all the attendant disruptions these cause.

Psychiatrists say the fake warnings are sent by people who have loose marbles at the best of times, and get a kick out of causing trouble - or want to 'get even,' such as the man who took revenge on the source of all the junk mail filling his in-box.

So far, emergency measures have cost tens of millions of francs. Not only are public places evacuated, but many people have landed in hospitals for observation because they were in contact with suspected anthrax - which takes no less than 72 hours to verify. in France the disease is usually called, 'la maladie du charbon.'

What no reports mention, is how the authorities are tracking down the hoaxers they are catching and sending to jails in France. Unlike in the United States, French justice officials have not announced any one million dollar rewards leading to the arrest of people sending poisoned mail.

According to tonight's TV-news, France is the world's leader for phoney anthrax alerts. The stiff jail terms are meant to 'put an end to the beginning' of them.

Culture Strikes - Continue

As of the weekend strikes are still going on at the destinations of many visitors - the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, the Pompidou Centre - as well as non-destinations such as prisons in Alsace and Lorraine.

The implementation of the 35-hour work week is still the cause of the seemingly ever-lastingphoto: rue de rennes conflict, although the museums are under the Ministry of Culture and Justice looks after the prisons.

On the 1st of January, 2002, no less the 5.5 million civil servants are supposed to only show up for work for 35 hours each week.

One of the problems is that under current rules civil servants work between 1540 and 2080 hours per year, and the objective is to bring them all into line with about 1600 hours.

The Rue de Rennes with the Tour Montparnasse hanging over it.

The other problem is that the government wants to do this hat-trick without hiring anybody new. The government also expects services to expand their hours, to be more accessible to the public.

This is not going to be easy to do without increasing the number of civil servants, while each of them get the equivalent of an extra month off work per year.

This has been partly solved at one tax-collection office that has reduced its opening hours. A sign on the door says, 'tap on the window for entry when we're closed.'

More Strike News

Last Tuesday's big strike was hardly felt in the public administration sector, but public transport was hit hard. Although strikers numbered less than usual for this sort of a multi-union affair, many users in Paris suburbs decided to take the day off - which is more easily done with the 35-hour week.

The result was some of the reduced number of trains that were operating, ran nearly empty. Whilephoto: rue d'odessa leaders of the CGT and FO unions were satisfied with the results, the all-over effect was only a pale shadow of earlier 'grand strikes.'

The government reacted with announcements concerning the sectors directly concerned by the 'crises' - the airlines, insurance and tourism - and had nothing to say about salaries, unemployment and protection of jobs -which were uppermost in the demands of the unions involved.

The entry to the Rue d'Odessa from the Boulevard Montparnasse.

Meanwhile in the Paris region, the semi-general strike, mixed with the 'Vigipirate' security operations - produced 279 kilometres of traffic jams at 8:30 - which was far from the 400 km record set in 1995 during the train strikes.

Marks & Spencer Saved!

Last week the Galeries Lafayette group stepped in with an offer to assure the continuation of the Marks & Spencer chain in France, with a guarantee to save 1500 jobs.

However, the unions involved have not yet been informed of the conditions. They don't know if workers will continue to work for the old brand-name, or if the chain of stores will be absorbed into the Galeries Lafayette circle.

Besides its own flagship name, the family-owned Galeries Lafayette also controls the Nouvelles Galeries, the BHV department store chain, Monoprix, and a credit unit.

The Liberal Horror

lib-er-aladj. Abbr.lib. 1. Having, expressing, or following social or political views or policies that favor non-revolutionary progress and reform. 2. Having, expressing, or following views or policies that favor the freedom of individuals to act or express themselves in a manner of their own choosing. 3.CapitalLAbbr.Lib. Of, designating, or belonging to a Liberal political party. 4. Of, relating to, or characteristic of representational forms of government. 5. Tolerant of the ideas or behavior of others. 6.a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.b. Generously given; bountiful: a liberal serving.7. Not literal: a liberal translation.8.Obsolete.a. Permissible or appropriate for a free man. b. Unrestrained. 9. Relating to or based on a liberal arts education. -n.1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions. 2.CapitalLAbbr.Lib. A member of a Liberal political party. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin liberalis, of freedom, from liber,free.]

Of course, it is not exactly fair to give only the Anglo-Saxon definition, without the more Latin one. Let's take:-

LIBÉRAL [liberal], E, AUX [-o] adj. Favorable à la liberté: idées libérales - Arts etc. - N. m. Partisan de la liberté individuelle en matière politique et economique.

LIBÉRALISME n. m. Doctrine des partisans de la libre entreprise, qui s'oppose au socialisme et au dirigisme; plus particulièrement, théorie selon laquelle l'Etat n'a pas à intervenir dans les relations économiques qui existent entre individus, classes ou nations.

Last week the Secretary of State for the Budget, in presenting the outline of the coming budget to the Communist group in the National Assembly, got a lively reaction when one of the deputies suggested that its orientations were 'outrageously liberal.' "I would rather be treated by technocracy - but certainly not liberalism," the deputy was reported to have remarked.

Internet Life

Is It Me or My Browser? - Part II

After careful consideration of last week's 'Question of the Week' here, I am convinced my browser is capable of accessing Metropole, but stumbles a lot when I try to check out the other Web sites mentioned here occasionally.

But don't let my minor problems put you off. After all I am only a part-time user, and probably don't know the finer points of tweaking these things.

Learning French In Paris

Even as a multi-time drop-out I can recommend the Alliance Française for learning French in Paris. More than a mere language school, it has been teaching everything you should want to know about France and the French since 1884. It had 516 students in 1901, and the Alliance Françaisephoto: sign, blanchisserie moved to its present location at 101. Boulevard Raspail in 1919.

You probably know all of this already, but I couldn't find its Web URL for Paris some months ago, so I dropped in last week to find out what it is. A fellow in the reception said it was easy to find, and showed it to me on his screen - without telling me the URL. Luckily, I picked up a brochure before I left.

In case you think learning French might be a waste of time, the historian Alain Decaux recently warned that English is on the skids - according to a report in 'The Guardian' by Stuart Jeffries, forwarded today by Metropole reader Alan Pavlik.

Mr. Decaux claims it is becoming a 'world language' which is less and less 'English' and increasingly 'soup to nuts' - or 'ruined by neologisms and barbarisms.' A knowledge of 'world-English' is not going to help you with Shakespeare, Wilde or Joyce, Mr. Decaux has claimed.

French, on the other hand, has official defenders such as the slow- but-sure-moving Académie Française, plus schools like the Alliance Française. France aside, there are 30 million native speakers abroad, with another 80 million 'other' French speakers forming 'la francophonie' - including me, I guess.

Restaurant Life In Paris

I can say I looked at this site that is claimed to have 22,000 Paris addresses referenced, with some of them being restaurants, but I can't remember a single thing about this.

But I still have the blurb for it, even if I don't know where it came from, and the blurb is truly impressive. If I remember correctly, 'Eat In Paris' is a French Web site, with its name in English.

Eat In Paris is also supposed to be, "Très pratique pour les touristes" - possibly because some of the restaurants are recommended by other surfers, or diners, or whatever they are.

You can search for local hash houses by location, type of food served, by ambiance and by price. For techno fans with portable phones there is also a 'Wap' service running off this Web site, enabling users to pick places to eat while waiting in line at 'no change' places.

French Tourism, Son of a Re-Run-Run

The URL for this started out with a description of what was supposed to be one jumbo Web site that included links to all the major sites dealing with 'everything you wanted to know about tourism in France.'

However, this proved to be less than advertised - or I got an 'E' with it - but finally I got to somewhere that seemed to show promise.

This seems to be the 'Tourisme en France' Web site, which has versions in French and English, and the URL here is for the version in English - but don't be surprised if its text seems to be in French - much as the 'French' in Metropole is as 'French' as I can make it, like the phrase 'Tourisme en France.'

'Vigilance Météo' - Just In Time

For over six months now I have been mistakenlyphoto: rain on leclerc saying here that Météo-France's 'Vigilance-Météo' service is available. But now that it is, the weather has proved its worth by getting violent in various regions around France.

For simple rain in Paris you need an umbrella more than vigilance.

'Vigilance-Météo' consists of assigning four colors to departments in France liable to be attacked by hurricane-speed winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, tornados, blizzards and/or avalanches - and it is updated twice daily.

If you are curious or need to know more, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. The 'Vigilance-Météo' area is on the page's top left.

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