French Cocos Chose Lady

photo: bistro du dome, rue delambre

If the Dôme is too much for you, this is its quieter
annex in the Rue Delambre.

Are You Ready for Canned Pastis?

Paris:- Monday, 29. October 2001:- The French Communist Party, in a vote on Saturday night, chose Marie-George Buffet as the new secretary of the party, which turned out to be several 'firsts' in one.

Madame Buffet is also a cabinet minister in the Socialist-dominated government, presided over by Lionel Jospin. She holds the portfolio for 'Youth and Sports.'

Her election was allowed by the introduction of a new post in the French PC's leadership, also created on Saturday. The former party secretary, Robert Hue, stepped up to the position of 'president' of the party, after having been the fourth secretary of the PCF since France's liberation in WWII.

This left some party members perplexed, as the PCF has never had a president before. Others suggested that Madame Buffet had no need of a 'chaperon,' in the form of a party president.

Government minister and party secretary, 52 year-old Madame Buffet joined the PCF in the late '60s, andphoto: wheel at concorde joined its Central Committee in 1987. She donates her ministerial salary to the PCF and lives modestly in Blanc-Mesnil, where she was elected as a national deputy in 1997.

Concorde's wheel keeps on twirling - but not for much longer.

Madame Buffet expects to remain a minister in the government until next spring's presidential elections, when Robert Hue will be running for the office of Président of France. Afterwards she hopes to return to being an ordinary deputy.

In other news during the week, it was reported that the PCF has been signing up a good number of new members.

Non-Hijack of the Week

A Boeing-load of gay Brits were snuggled cozily into their snug airplane seats high over France on their way home from vacations in Spain, when somebody looked out what passes for a window on a 737, and noticed that their airliner was being shadowed by a jet fighter.

While most passengers - not recognizing a French airforce Mirage F-1B - went into a total panic, fearing a hijacking of some sort, one had the presence of mind to film the nearby jet fighter - and later probably made a tidy bundle by selling the tape to TV-news.

According to France-2's version of TV-news, whoever did the filming knew his way around the camera and the Mirage showed up fine, nice and clear.

What wasn't at all clear to the panic-stricken passengers returning from Malaga, was that their plane's crew had lost radio contract with French air controllers - and these sent up the Mirage for a look-see.

While the plane's crew waved 'all is well' at the fighter pilot, they forgot to tell passengers that losing ground-control radio contact is fairly routine and having a jet fighter as a sort of nursemaid is not a cause for sheer and utter panic.

According to both TV-news and Le Parisien, with hundreds of inner- European flights crossing France, this sort of lost-radio incident happens about twice a week.

Shadow City Council

One of the new ideas in the Hôtel de Ville is to give a public voice to Paris residents who are neither French nor citizens of a European Community country.

Public meetings for potential council members were begun in June and continued on Saturday in participating arrondissements. These number 12 out of 20, with the tenth arrondissement, under leftist control not participating and the 15th, under rightist control, going along with it.

The present meetings are called the 'Assises de la Citoyennité,' which means they are meant to be democratic forums for expression concerning life in the city for foreigners.

Of course the right-wing fears that participation by non-French and non-European residents will be the first step to a right-to-vote in municipal elections - butphoto: fall street scene this seems unlikely to happen soon in France.

To belong to the 'Conseil de la Citoyennité' one must be over 18 and have lived in Paris since before 31. December 2000. Candidates can apply until 21. November of this year.

Exactly how the choice will be made is unknown, but 90 foreign residents will form the future 'Conseil de la Citoyennité,' with Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë as this council's leader.

More fall color adds to normally somber city views.

According to the 1999 census, there were 166,585 non-French, non-EU foreigners living in Paris. While nearly half were citizens of African countries, there were a substantial number from Asia, including 6,334 Japanese.

Non-EU Europeans numbered nearly 18 thousand, South Americans accounted for 8,316 and North Americans numbered 8,176.

Culture Strikes - Continue

According to Sunday's Le Parisien, there is 'good news' for tourists. The paper says the recent wave of strikes at national culture sites is 'almost' over.

On Saturday the Louvre opened its doors for the first time in eight days. While the strikers decided to suspend their blockade, a Paris judge alsophoto: red, black flags, louvre pyramid ordered them to unblock the Louvre's doors.

The situation remains confused however, with the Centre Pompidou open, the Guimet and the Arc de Triomphe closed, and the Musée d'Orsay half open, at half-price.

Last Thursday at the Louvre - on strike'

It ha been estimated by the Louvre's directors that, since the strikes began last March, 430,000 museum visitors have been turned away and the museum has lost 15 million francs at the box-office.


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