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Lagardère had several nicknames. These included the 'Acrobat,' 'the patriot,' the 'Gascon,' 'le Playboy' and 'Monsieurphoto: july column, demonstrators Vroom-vroom.' After a big fight in 1980, he acquired Hachette. In 1998 he got control of Aerospatiale which led to the creation of the trans-European EADS, which holds parts of Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Eurocopter, Astrium satellites, and Arianespace.

'Demo' weather for a soon-to-be spring marching season.

Along the way dozens of magazines were pulled into the group. Some of their titles are Elle, Paris-Match, Parents, Pariscope and Car & Driver. Cable TV stations were added, as well as Hachette Livres - Fayard, Hatier, Grasset, Guide du Routard, Nathan, Bordas, just to name a very few. Newspapers include Le Parisien and l'Equipe, and the group owns parts of T-Online.

Today the annual accounts of the group were presented by Arnaud Lagardère, 42 years old, and head of the huge cash-flow media branch since 2000. The group posted a loss for 2002 after a huge profit in 2001.

Don't Overstay Your Visit

A few weeks ago a couple of charter flights to Africa were organized for visitors without residence permits for France. In an interview with Le Parisien shortly afterwards, the Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy, proposed fingerprinting all applicants for three-month tourist visas.

He said that some visitors who get the three-month visas arrive in France and then throw away their papers so that the authorities will not know how long they have been in the country, or where they've come from.

The Interior Minister said that people without papers are hard to deport, because the authorities don't know where to send the charters.

The plan - idea? - was immediately met by protests from human rights groups. It is unknown if the Foreign Ministry was consulted, or whether it has the capacity to carry out the measure. France received about 80 million visitors in 2002.

This Week's Jailbreak of the Year

After the breakout a week ago of Joseph Menconi from the Borgo prison in Haut-Corse - using a plastic rocket-launcher - prison guards at Fresnes just outside Paris were shocked at 04:20 last Wednesday when a heavily-armed commando managed to free the gangster Antonio Ferrara.

The bad guys shot up two watch-towers with machine guns, while others blew up a delivery entry and enteredphoto: bd henri iv the prison where they demolished another fortified door with grenade launchers, which got them to the door of a ground-floor disciplinary building. On a barred window they used plastic explosive.

They handed a bullet-proof vest to Ferrara and all managed to retreat through two walls and a fence with only one getting wounded by fire from guards, and reached a high-powered get-away car - perhaps an Audi - equipped with a police blue light.

After the parade, lots of car-free streets.

On Friday Fresnes and the Baumettes prison near Marseille were searched with fine-tooth combs from top to bottom without significant results at Fresnes. Nine portable phones were found in Baumettes.

Police spokesmen believe there are seven or eight gangs in France capable of the escapes organized at Borgo and Fresnes. They are considered highly dangerous because of the risks they take, and police doubt that they can be captured 'cleanly.'

Saturday's paper comes with a design for the prison of the future - to replace the prisons of the 19th century. I doubt that we'll ever see one of these, built to hold no more than 150 prisoners - because France has a serious deficit of big prisons already.

Offshore Red-Hot News

Today's Hotwired news service suggested turning to non-American media for news sources. In their story they quoted Newsweek contributing editor Deborah Branscom as saying that few US-based news organizations challenge the government's line. Ms Branscom's Weblog keeps track of what's being shown, said and written outside the United States.

Some of her picks are:-

The 'Guardian Unlimited' news site, which features news from the British-based 'Guardian' and the 'Observer' newspapers. According to 'Nielsen/NetRatings,' 650,000 of the Web site's daily visitors were logging on from ISPs in the United States. The Guardian's Web site presents both pro- and anti-war positions.

The same rating service said that a quarter of the 'Australian Broadcasting Corporation's' news service visitors tuned in from the Americas.

Many of the non-US Web sites are getting hits through referrals from 'Weblogs;' such as 'NetSlaves.' These are not always entirely reliable, but they at least offer views not found in mainstream US media.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote, "US TV-news seems to be reporting about a different planet than the one covered by foreign media." Last week one of his columns in the Times began with, "America's leadership has lost touch with reality."

The search engines help too. If you tell 'Google' to find 'Iraq' or 'war' it will return over 50,000 links, with many of them to non-US papers.

Also see Deborah Branscom's 6. March posting.

Sports News

The server-lady, Linda Thalman, returned in one piece from a week of skiing on some very high Alps. "The next place I'm going is has to have warm water with sand and palm trees," she said.

Online Weather Warnings

We are in a bright grip of spring now and it seems to be going about it about more seriously than in pastphoto: sunday jazz, renes wedding band years. In contrast, France-Météo's online alert service is very short-term. Its level '3' and '4' warnings are changed to colors for TV presentation, with orange indicating 'beware.'

René's Wedding Band jazzes up Rue Daguerre on Sundays.

Mainly these warnings will about areas beyond the area of the Ile-de-France. But spring is spring and even Paris is not completely immune to it.

If you are curious or need to know more about France's tentative spring weather, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts.

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