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March 29, 1999

France declares Marshalls law
After weeks of rioting, Chirac orders Army to brutally slash prices

PARIS — In response to weeks of rioting and panic in the streets of France’s major cities, French Premier Jacques Chirac declared a state of Marshalls law yesterday. The measure, which Chirac says was necessary to prevent anarchy in the economically and existentially troubled nation, is the first time that the French government has declared a state of emergency modeled on an American discount apparel (46375 bytes)

"When people have no money, they begin to question the nature of language, and what a beast it is to try to unravel when you can not afford Dockers," said a teary Chirac as he squatted on the steps of the National Assembly. "I squat so that others may stand, for it is terribly hard on the knees," he added, and ran inside.

After a half-hour of confusion and hors d'oeuvres (a mock word the French appropriated from birds) Chirac came back outside.

"All constitutional civil liberties are hereby suspended in France," he said. "In this, our time of utmost emergency, we will be governed by only a single precept: the availability of brand-name family apparel, giftware, domestics and accessories, at much lower prices than you’d pay at department stores."

In accordance with Chirac's order, special battalions of the French army, clad only in khakis and red aprons, traveled all day yesterday across the nation mercilessly slashing prices. Rural bakeries reported having bread prices cut in half, saying that troops also forced them to sell designer jeans and cords for misses, petites and petite misses — the tiniest of the French people. In Paris, public transportation ground to a halt as Metro trains were stocked full of ladies’ casuals and outerwear.

Jean-Baptiste D'Argent, a swarthy Frenchman, was quite happy with the state of emergency. "I have been searching for an affordable copper skillet for years," he said. "All-Clad was way out of my price range, but now, I have a saucepan to go along with it! And a lid! And a bag of copper, which I watch conduct heat faster than any other metal! So even, so warm! I love you copper! I love you Jaques Chirac!"

In the 1990s, two factors have indelibly altered the landscape of France and placed it on shaky footing as a nation. The first is its devastated economy, with little to no growth and an unemployment rate that has hovered around 20%. The second is the realization that they have no actual language but are merely saying the phrase "Je be de" in different intonations, pretending that they understand each other in accordance with a centuries-old unwritten pact. ("I like the ‘English’, with the actual words," said one Paris resident.) In the face of such turbulence, it is perhaps unsurprising that Chirac has taken this radical step.

But international human rights observers have strongly criticized the move, fearing that the Marshalls Law in France may give way to T. J. Maxx Law. Such was the case in Algeria, where Prime Minister Redha Malek recently installed himself as Maxximum Leader and replaced the country’s anthem with T.J. Maxx’s doo-wop jingle.

"Prices here have been cut to dangerously low levels," said Bryan Donnelly, a BBC reporter stationed in Algeria. "Sometimes a housewife will accidentally drop a dinar [worth $.01678] in a store and will be fatally crushed under the weight of the men’s shirts and slacks that she is entitled to in exchange. It is a desperate place, where few dare walk outside at night for fear of being attacked by unwanted goods and services. I fear that France may not be far behind."

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