...Continued from page 1

There will be something to see too because the trains are all new and fully automatic. While they have no driver, they do have the pneumatic tires that make a couple of the other lines more comfortable. 'No driver' presumeably means 'no strikes' too.

Why Tolbiac?

The new a colossal library at Tolbiac, opened its final section on Friday. The space reserved for researchers, on the ground-level of the interior garden, had individual seats ready for 2,000, divided into 14 reading rooms.

This completes the new Bibliothèque Nationale de France at the Tolbiac location. This started out ten years ago as the 'Trés Grand Bibliothèque' - which I believe is now officially named either 'Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand' or 'Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Quai François-Mauriac.'

The part of the library open to the general public opened in December 1996. The task of moving the vast number of volumes and documents - tens of millions - from the Richelieu site is finally complete, and now the researchers who haunted the old library will find very comfortable and well-lit seats in the new.

As a reminder, here is the Web URL for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Social Reform Takes a Beating from the Right

As probably everybody knows by now, France currently has a Socialist government. It is one with ambitious social engineering plans - such as the 35-hour work week, and another one called 'PACS.'.

'PACS' stands for Civil Solidarity Pact. It is a project for a law designed to fill the legal grey areas which are generated by unconventional unions. At present, laws recognize that one can be single, or a couple can be married or divorced.

'Married' means one man married to one woman. For this, there is a set of laws that govern taxes, children, inheritances, andposter: 1989 auto salon work, to mention but a few items - all dating back to the dawn of the legal system - which was a large carryover from church 'law.'

The Paris Auto Salon's first poster - from 1898.

In today's complex society there are many other possibilities - quite a few of them in practice - and the unions resulting from these have no legal basis, no legal rights. The 'PACS' are intended to fix all this up.

Other countries in Europe have already made steps in this direction; most notably Holland and Sweden. These are well-known social-engineering labs and their experiments are watched closely.

Basically, a 'PACS' is a civil contract between any two consenting adults; and is sort of a new form of marriage. It extends many of the legal aspects of traditional marriage to what - conservatives and the church think - unconventional unions.

This is in recognition that people will do want they want, law or no law, and is a way of extending traditional protections - to children, for example.

It seems that a lot of couples in France have not bothered to get married for one reason of another. This causes all sorts of problems. A father may not be able to pick up his kid after school, because his name is not the same as the mother's, is one tiny example.

Generally speaking, 'PACS' is a benefit to a lot of people in less than usual situations. It is not, in contrast, a reduction of benefits to couples in completely traditional circumstances.

Debate about the new law has been fairly muted because it seems to be one of the sort that fallsphoto: pedal cars into the area of common sense. The Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, said as much on Thursday night's TV-news. 'Nobody loses anything from this; a lot of people gain from it,' to paraphrase him.

For small motor-sports fans, small cars without motors.

So yesterday, every conservative that could be rounded up, showed up in the National Assembly, and out-voted the Socialist deputies who hadn't bothered to attend the session.

Actually the vote was on a procedural issue. A majority of conservative deputies voted to declare that the text of the new law is unconstitutional.

This means that the text has to be rewritten. The new wording will be presented to the parliament again on 24. and 25. October, and will again be voted on Tuesday, 27. October.

About the Other 23 Items of News

None of these are pressing, but a lot of them are sufficiently interesting; enough so that I think I'll write some of it up for next week's issue. If I have time. Oh - one final note: attendance of the Auto Salon was about 1.25 million over ten days. So many people showed up for it yesterday that the entrances had to be closed several times. The salon organizers are said to be looking for a bigger location, for 5. October 2000.

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