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NewsletterDecember 2001

You're on candid camera, but it doesn't count

It has been determined that in France a driver that runs a red light can not be ticketed if the only proof of the infraction is a photo. Some intersections in France were equipped with cameras to catch those that were in too much of a hurry to stop when the light was red. But it was all for naught, for someone to get a ticket for running a red light a police officer must see the infraction.

Good father

In early November a fisherman, I don't remember the town, saved his wife and two young children from drowning. I am not sure how it happened but the wife and children were in their car and some how the car rolled off the dock and into the water. The fisherman jumped into the water, got his wife out, who was trying to save the children but not having much luck. Then he grabbed one child through the windshield, by her hair, as it was the only thing he could hold on to and pulled her out. He then got out the other child. The news showed the car, it was amazing anyone escaped alive...

Crime today, justice tomorrow.

There is a special court system in France set up to deal with juveniles that are accused of crimes. When a juvenile is arrested for a crime he or she goes to trial the next day. The idea is that immediately a young person will see the results of his/her actions. A judge stressed that having this quick turn around is critical. Juveniles instantly experience feedback between their actions and consequences. The juvenile defendant still has all the rights of any other defendant, it's just the time frame that is accelerated.

We are # 1

SNCF, the French publicly owned train company, is the French public sector and the European train company leader in lost days due to strikes. I forget the number of lost workdays but it was a lot.

Strike II

The police in France are not happy with their working conditions. They don't feel safe on the job, ten have been killed this year with many more being shot at. Earlier in the month police started a slow down strike, they would only do the minimum to insure public safety. Minor law breaking would not be enforced, law breaking that put the public at risk would be punished. Police in France don't make a lot of money, they start around 8,000 FF(US$ 1,070) per month. One policeman interviewed said that after fifteen years on the job he was making 15,000 FF(US$ 2,000) a month. The police are also unhappy with the amount of time they work. Most work over 40 hours a week, in France the standard workweek is 35 hours. Officers would prefer to have more time to spend with their families. The government has promised better pay, creation of more jobs, 6000 police jobs were cut in the last few years, along with improved working conditions and better on the job safety. This has not satisfied the police unions who have started to take to the streets with demonstrations. Stay tuned…

Strike III

General practitioners in France will no longer make house calls between the hours of 8:00 pm and 8:00 am. I have to say that I was surprised to hear that house calls still existed anywhere in the world. The problem is that the amount of money general practitioners receive for this service has not changed in three years.

Strike IV

The workers of Moulinex, a French maker of home appliances, have given up their occupation of the Moulinex factory in Alençon, a town in Normandy. Five of the six unions agreed to the social plan for the workers. This strike was a very militant two month take over, that at one point saw workers with bombs threatening to blow up one of the factory buildings. Workers never blew any thing (one word) up, although they did burn some small buildings. As one worker said they had nothing to lose. Moulinex is going to cut 3700, of 5600 jobs in France. Over 400 hundred are going to lose their jobs in Alençon.

Coming soon, strike V

Bank workers in France are planning to strike on January 2nd. The first working day of the Euro. This strike could be a mess as France in effect will have two currencies on January 2nd, the Franc and the Euro, only in France.

Not in my back yard

The town of Chaulnes has been chosen as the site of the third Paris airport. Needless to say the citizens of Chaulnes are none too happy, as the town will be demolished. Chaulnes is 125 km(78 miles) due north of Paris. One of the main reasons that the town was selected is that it has a TGV(French high speed train) station. The ride is only 30 minutes from Paris. Last I heard all appeals to change this decision were rejected, all that is left is for the residents of Chaulnes to obtain a good price for their houses and land.

The Euro

It seems that the French are in favor of a United Europe, including the Euro, my wife being an exception. I was watching a round table discussion that had varying political views. The question being debated was something like "what role does/should France play in European and world affairs." One of the panelists, from a French think tank, pointed out that in general the French people are in favor of a more United Europe. This is because the French tend to think of France as the leading power in European affairs. (Omit that) As Europe becomes more unified with a single currency, and therefore stronger, France in turn also becomes stronger. I thought that was an interesting analysis.

Professional Army

Starting November 29, 2001 France will have a 100% Professional Army. France phased out its draft. The last draftees finished their terms on November 29, 2001. Over the last few years other changes have been taking place in the military as France reduced its military budget, by around 25%. From what I can understand there seems to be a general consensus that this will be good since there is not the need to have an army as big in years past.

He did it

General Paul Aussaresses has been convicted of apologizing for war crimes and it looks like he will be fined 100,000 FF. His editors will also be fined. What happened was that the general wrote a book, Services spéciaux, Algérie 1955-1957(Special Services, Algeria 1955-1957) he wrote openly about torturing and killing Algerians. Aussaresses it seems, wrote in a very cold style with little feeling, something that the French state could/would not tolerate. Aussaresses All war crimes committed during the1954-1962 Algerian war are not punishable due to amnesty laws.

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