...Continued from page 1

Zero tolerance requires ordering the police to exercise it, it requires more police to enforce it, and it is definitely going to require building a lot more jails to hold all the people who fail grasp the concept.

France has always prided itself on being supple enough to function despite all of its laws and exceptions to them - and of being aware that if ever they were enforced to the letter - the country would be unfunctionable.

Tolerance is a 'was' word. Suppleness looks like it is headed for the trashcan. Enforcement looks like it may be more efficient than enlightenment.

And justice? This is the one number craving of the French. No matter who does what to whom, the cry is always for 'justice.'

Often justice is interchangeable with fairness. The French want fairness too. Fairness leads to tolerance, or should if it were not for envy.

Well, it is impossible to make envy illegal - but under French justice pride can certainly be prosecuted and condemned. However, the Président of France has immunity.

Who's Who On Strike this Week?

Just as José Bové was facing the fact that he is likely to go to jail after losing his appeal, France'sphoto: hair salon, rue lappe mainstream farmers launched a strike, aimed at the major distributors of food products.

On Thursday, 13,000 farmers were blockading 68 distribution centres. But by Saturday, after reaching a fuzzy agreement the farmers packed up and went back to their farms.

This was done after the government said it would support the farmers in their fight for fair produce prices, with the condition that they leave the distribution centres alone and go home.

This, surprisingly, they did.

The Truckers

Last night the long-haul truckers set about preparing barricades of trucks. At the same time the Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said the government was prepared to talk, but was not willing to see any repeat of the massive blockades that were common in 1992, 1996 and 1997.

A delegation from the CFDT, one of the lead unions, was invited for a talk on Saturday evening with the Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. Without beating about the bush, he told the union leaders that truckers found at barricades would have their drivers' licenses lifted.

He also informed them that regional Préfets would have cranes at their disposal to lift trucks out of the way. Finally, he said that the CRS riot police would be available in force, backed up by gendarmes.

On Sunday, several minority unions accepted the offer proposed by the trucking operators' association. This left the majority CFDT and the CGT unions alone to half-heartedly put up some 36 barricades around France today.

During the day some striking truck drivers were arrested and held for hours before being set free. By this evening, the confrontation seemed to be fizzling out.

Everybody Else

One of the SNCF's unions has called for a train strike on Tuesday.

The big CGT union has given the RATP a 24-hour strike warning for tomorrow, which will probably affect the métro and buses in Paris. The same warning applies to Lyon, Marseille, Reims, Toulouse, Bordeaux and other centres all around France.

Hospitals have received a strike warning notice from a minority union. Educational workers may also go on strike. Work stoppages are also expected at post offices, France Télécom, EDF-GDF, and Air France.

Several other kinds of government workers have also announced strike plans. Air controllers are expected to strike during the week. Workers at France-3 TV are still on strike.

Driving test inspectors continue their strike and gendarmes have been mobilized to give candidates the written part of their exams. They will have to wait until the inspectors return before attempting the practical part.

Meanwhile, cable operator Noos has taken out full-page ads illustrated with handcuffs, as a warning to users of counterfeit access cards.

Online Weather Warnings

We are in the grip of winter now and it seems to be going about it with more will than seen for manyphoto: merry go round, pl italie years. France-Météo's online alert service is very short-term. Its level '3' and '4' warnings are now being taken seriously as well as being broadcast regularly on TV.

Mainly these warnings will about areas beyond the area of the Ile-de-France. Even though Paris itself is seldom a thrilling weather area, there are occasional gusty winds which can be hard on umbrellas.

If you are curious or need to know more about France's early fall weather, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. Check out the warning-prone 'Vigilance-Météo' area on the opening page.

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