Ohhhh - The Winter!
If the water in the Seine rises too much, you
Dramas In the Alps
Paris:- Sunday, 28. February 1999:- If I am personally negative about 'winter sports' it is because I had to shovel a lot of it when I was a young lad. A pal, living next door, got skis one Christmas and got a broken leg before New Years. I could harmlessly skid around in the golf course across the street, and that was as good as I wanted it to be.
All the same, this past week has been exceptionally terrible in the Alps; in France, Switzerland and in Austria - and I feel sincerely sorry for people who have been risking their lives or losing them just to have some fun.
Mountain professionals are saying there have been few winters like it - with lots of snow; freezing and thawing. It is just bad everywhere.
On account of the seasonal industry that the mountains support, everybody crosses their fingers in hopes that there will be no disaster. This year seems to be exceptional - but nobody is willing to tell winter sports fans to stay home.
The three mountain trekkers who hid themselves from the elements in an igloo for 10 days, left a press conference in anger when a reporter asked them if they hadn't started out with a warning not to do so.School holidays mean sking for some; magic for others.
Their survival was an amazing feat of knowledge and self-control. Less has been said about the risks the searchers were taking in trying to find them; in high winds and often in blizzard conditions.
A day after Le Parisien was calling this season a 'drama,' it had been downgraded to 'catastrophe.'Paris Bourse Goes Big Casino
Television ads have been bombarding - one of my favorite words! - us with offers to buy shares in France Telecom, or like last week, in Air France, which saw its share price jump 13.7 percent from the initial offering price.
Since the newspapers are telling money hoarders - savers - that the basic interest rate on savings may dip below three percent, taking a flutter on the casino at the Bourse has started to seem attractive. Three percent won't even cover France Telecom's rate rises after all.
FT's first offering, in October of 1997, has risen by about 200 percent. Their second, in December of last year, has risen 39 percent so far. Since Air France's launch into the cool skies of rampant capitalism last month, their shares have picked up 15 percent in value.
But selling state enterprises is not all rosy. Thompson CSF, which makes all sorts of electronic stuff - high-tech in other words - is wallowing around with a rise of only 1.6 percent since last June. Insurance biggie, CNP, has risen only 4.3 percent - which is a lot less than the Bourse as a whole.I thought it would be free. Louis must be hard up.
French savers are very prudent, but the government wants them to give up their savings accounts and their life insurance - to get their money circulating a bit more swiftly, in the hopes they will invest in something that will create jobs.
Doing this is not the primary intention of these semi-ex state concerns, because the government usually maintains a controlling interest - so that the ownership can't transfer to Wall Street or Tokyo.
And it still means, with the all the muscle and all the money available for hoopla, there is very little investment money floating around for small and medium-sized businesses - not to mention tiny start-ups.
This is not to say there are no smaller, less well-known firms on the Bourse because there are. If you aren't out for a fast buck, a number of these are good picks if you are willing to 'buy and hold.'Semi-Good News for Harassed Drivers
As a safety measure, Paris deputy-mayor Hervé Benessiano, thinks that small motorbikes and scooters should be required to have licenses. He is not the only one; a new regulation is creeping towards enactment, possibly by the end of this year - if the authorities can figure out how to license two million of these things.
The reason for alarm is simple: the number of accidents involving these vehicles has risen 27 percent, and injuries are up by 55 percent. Every day in France, two are killed and 20 are injured. A 1998 study showed two-wheelers were involved in half the traffic accidents in Paris.If I had gone to the Etoile Sud instead, for an extra 3F50 I could of had a café too.
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