French victor gets the spoils;

loser gets to say 'I told you so'

PARIS - The leader of France's defeated Socialists appealed for calm yesterday after post-election violence left cars burned and store windows smashed.

While the unrest has been relatively minor, it sent a message to Nicolas Sarkozy: He may have won the presidency, but he hasn't won over the many French who consider him - and his free-market reforms and tough line on crime and immigration - frighteningly brutal.

Sarkozy, who beat Socialist Segolene Royal in a runoff Sunday, is a divisive figure whose tough language and crackdowns on crime and immigration have angered many on the left - and in the immigrant-heavy suburban housing projects that erupted in riots in 2005.

Last night, the third after the election, appeared calmer than the previous nights, with only a few reports of violence.

Some 730 cars were burned nationwide Sunday night and 592 people were arrested. The following night, 373 vehicles were torched and 160 people were taken in for questioning across France, police said.

The troublemakers this week have been mostly white, whereas the 2005 riots involved many black and Arab youth angry over discrimination and alienation from mainstream society.

"To all those who can hear me, I ask them to immediately stop all this behavior," Socialist Party chief Francois Hollande said yesterday on RTL radio.

"We are in a republic where universal suffrage is the only law we know. There can be disappointment, there can be anger, there can be frustration. But the only way to react is to take up your ballots, not other weapons," he said.

Royal had warned of renewed violence in case of a Sarkozy victory.

But voters favored Sarkozy anyway, handing him a mandate for reforms that include tax cuts and new labor rules making it easier to hire and fire to revive the sluggish economy. He faces a big challenge in carrying this out in a country that cherishes its generous social safety net.

The Socialists, however, are in disarray, with many calling for an overhaul of a party still attached to Marxist ideas that have lost currency in an era of borderless markets. Hollande sought to shore up his authority by insisting yesterday that he would lead the party's legislative campaign - not Royal.

Haitian survivors claim their

boat was intentionally rammed

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Haitian migrants claim a Turks and Caicos naval vessel rammed their crowded sailboat twice before it capsized last week, killing 61 people, a senior Haitian official said yesterday.

Jeanne Bernard Pierre, director-general of Haiti's National Migration Office, said that the migrants' account had not been confirmed but that Haiti would consider it "criminal" if found true.

Turks and Caicos Police Inspector Hilton Duncan declined to comment on claims the migrants boat was rammed, saying the sinking was under investigation.

American mountain climber killed

in 1,600-foot plunge; 2 pals survive

WELLINGTON New Zealand - A young American mountain climber was killed and another seriously injured in a fall on a New Zealand glacier, police said yesterday.

Three 20-year-old Americans, all students at Lincoln University in Christchurch, fell about 1,600 feet Monday night while descending a glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park on New Zealand's South Island, said Wanaka police Constable Mike Johnston.

Police identified the victim as Austin Hanchey of Fairview, Tenn., an environmental-conservation student on a semester of study in New Zealand. Police have not yet identified the two survivors.

He didn't mean to burn down

opera house, just singe it a little

MEXICO CITY - An electrician convicted in a fire that burned down Venice's famed La Fenice opera house has been extradited to Italy, where he faces a prison sentence for arson, Mexican officials said yesterday.

Enrico Carella, 37, was arrested in February in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. He fled Italy in 2003, when Italy's top criminal court upheld arson convictions against him and fellow electrician Massimiliano Marchetti, sentencing them to seven and six years, respectively.

La Fenice, a late 18th-century opera house, was being renovated when it burned down in the middle of the night on Jan. 29, 1996.

The electricians admitted starting the blaze but said they intended to cause only minor damage so they wouldn't have to pay fines their company faced for being behind in its work.

La Fenice, which means "phoenix" in Italian, rose from its ashes, reopening in December 2003.

Library's erotica collection

to help pay for renovations

VIENNA - Vienna's City Hall has launched a "sex hotline" to raise money for the Austrian capital's main public library, officials said yesterday.

It's unusual, but it's not particularly raunchy: Callers pay 53 cents a minute to listen to an actress read breathless passages from erotica dating to the Victorian era.

City Hall set up the hotline this month to help the library raise cash for remodeling and expansion, Austrian media reported.

Anne Bennent, a famous Austrian stage and film star, reads passages from the Vienna library's collection of 1,200 works of erotic fiction from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the library said.

Officials said the hotline would be operational through May 31. *

-Associated Press