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Some Brazilian units then took part in the Champs–Elysées parade the following morning, and Lula saluted and went on to the Elysée Palace for the cocktail in the extra sunny garden.

Earlier in the week Lula was at the G8 meeting in Scotland where he pleaded the case for Africa as well as for the particular plight of Haiti, where Brazil has 8000 troops stationed, under a UN command. Along with India, Japan and Germany, Brazil is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, with some support from France and none from the United States.

Seven Brazilian airforce aircraft overflew Paris during the Bastille Day parade, trailing green and yellow smoke. This is a model that France will buy from Brazil, or take in trade for a dozen used Mirage 2000s that Lula eyed for his airforce.

Other random items associated with the end–of–year Bastille Day hoopla were the usual presidential pardons, given to certain categories of prisoners because of prison overpopulation. On the opposite side, the recipients of Légion d'honneur awards were also named, among whom were actor Philippe Noiret, film maker Fernando Arrabal and mode designer Valentino.

Then, because of perfect weather on Thursday, a quarter–million trekked to the Champ de Marsphoto, cafe terrace, bastille, 13 july for the traditional evening fireworks at the Eiffel tower. These always look the same to me but I was informed that there were some extra features not seen since the special show done for New Year's 2000.

Bastille café terrace during the 'Viva Brazil!' show.

Little noticed last Monday were the few deputies in the National Assembly who quietly voted to change the work statues, to allow workers to 'opt' for contractual pay–per–day rather than normal hourly pay. Managers are usually paid on a daily basis. This could raise the average number of hours worked per year from about 1600 to 2800, at no increase in salary.

This came too late for the union reaction this season. The summer has priority now, and another million left Paris this weekend headed south. The traffic radars are cranking out speeding tickets, the forest fire water bombers are in heavy rotation, and the nearly naked French are grilling on all the coasts, along with millions of visitors.

Folks are busy falling off mountains, Jose Bové's merry pranksters are tearing out genetically modified corn, swimmers are drowning, festivals are booked out, jazz is all over, food inspectors are on the prowl, the Tour de France grinds on and the Stade de France is full of sand and parasols for a week. No more 'nons,' no Olympics; just sun, sand, sex, food and fun.

Those of us left behind have only another week to stew until this year's edition of the fake–beach Paris Plage resumes along with nightly tango. All things being equal, or exceptional, this will probably be the date of the return of the chilly rains. Or the heatwave, or maybe all three.

Unfair Competition

Some French cleaning ladies who work for a office cleaning firm in Luxembourg used to take the bus there, until the bus line moved one of its pickup stops to some unhandy location. The odd thing is, the French bus company thinks the cleaning ladies have to use its bus service.

The cleaning ladies were annoyed. They said they weren't allowed to talk while riding the bus, nor eat, or anythingphoto, cafe, pantheon, 13 july else and on top of it, the driver was rude. In the evening, instead of picking them up at 21:30 when their shifts ended, the bus wouldn't appear until 22:30. At the beginning of 2002 the cleaning ladies decided to organize a car–pool.

On the way back to Montparnasse.

The bus company noticed a radical decrease in the number of passengers, who it has been charging 110 euros each per month according to reports. The bus company went to commercial court in 2003, charging the cleaning ladies with 'unfair competition.' This court decided it wasn't competent to try the case.

The bus company then changed its mind about appealing and decided to go to a higher court. It is seeking 5000€ 'per infraction' from each of the cleaning ladies, confiscation of their cars, and compensation of 1,996,800 euros for loss of income between January 2002 and December 2004.

Among other dubious deeds,the bus company has had the cars of the cleaning ladies followed to see how many kilometres they go. It has also taken the Luxembourg cleaning company to court, for 'inciting its employees to commit car–pooling.'

The case will be heard by the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Briey in the Meurthe–et–Moselle department at the beginning of 2006. It is already being referred to as the stupidest suit in the entire history of law. As such, you will notice, it's another unique 'first' for France.

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