True News For Skeptics

photo: bistro le grand carnot
Depending on the management, any place named
'Carnot' around here will do.

After Exorcist, Charge Is Laid Against 'X'

Paris:- Sunday, 25. October 1998:- A couple of weeks ago, 15 of the good villagers of Delain, were readying their parish church for a planned concert, to be performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Besançon the following Sunday.

photo: pumpkin, to leftWhen they moved the old altar a lot of other things started moving too. For the three days at the end of last week, the Saint-Hubert church of Delain was scene of flying tapers, falling statues, bouncing lights and dancing vases.

One large candle flew 20 metres horizontally, before being sliced lengthwise in two. No one was hurt by the flying objects, but there were close calls.

The church in the village of 200 inhabitants in the valley of the Saône was so afflicted by 'events' that a part-time professional exorcist was borrowed from the Archbishop of Besançon.

The good Franciscan brother explained that there is no official post as exorcist, but that the 'demand was so great' that one had been assigned to each bishopric. He has already dealt with 'a hundred cases.'

No sooner inside the church, than a brass double-candlestick fell right in front of him, and then retired by itself. After spending a couple of hours in the church, he said he'd never seen anything like it before.

Fortunately the 'events' seemed to have stopped sometime on Saturday, and the planned Sunday concert by the Philharmonic Orchestra could take gophoto: golden october ahead. Sixty ticketholders declined to attend the musical evening.

This is a rare moment of 'golden October,' not the Saint-Hubert church spire.

On Monday, the altar was replaced in its original location by the parish priest. Before the eyes of the parish priest and some gendarmes, candles broke apart and fell to the floor. On Tuesday, new odd signs were found; but these had the look of work by Halloween tricksters.

The mayor of Delain went to the police station and lodged a charge against 'X.' This is common in France in cases were the victim doesn't know 'whodunit.' Now gendarmes are inside the church conducting an investigation and Europe's media circus is outside it, waiting for official word about its spookiness.

One witness said that if he'd been alone, he would have said he was unscrewed. Church authorities also had a charge laid against 'X,' along with the mayor. An official said, "Being a believer doesn't exclude one from being intelligent."

French Students On Strike, Part II

Last Tuesday, students held their marches again throughout France and in Paris. The estimated number of those taking part was about half the number of those in the first demonstration just over a week ago - about a quarter-million.

Intensive talks were held by the students and the government which went on between the two walks, and a large number of the issues had been tentativelyphoto: F2-TV, strike security settled. All the same, many teachers were on strike for the day and joined the student marchers.

Union security member, protecting students. Photo: F2-TV.

Wednesday's edition of Le Parisien says the students are disorganized, and were afraid of the 'casseurs.' The police had vastly increased manpower and much stricter control of the situation in Paris, and some labor unions lent their organized security people to the students.

Despite a gigantic police presence throughout France, there were 300 arrests and 85 were slightly injured.

The education minister, Claude Allègre, addressed the National Assembly on Tuesday evening, with a whole basket of propositions.

He continued on Wednesday, with a promise of an extra four billion francs for the 1999 education budget, plus 14,000 new positions in the schools, including the immediate addition of a thousand foreign language teachers.

Besides Le Parisien, many students remained skeptical. They've heard all this before; four years ago. The problems of French schools are not ones to be put right with temporary bandages and what seems to be really desired, are fundamental reforms.

Geezers Take Their Strike Turn

On Thursday, it was the 'old folks' turn to march in Paris and throughout France. This was only good enough for page four of Friday's Le Parisien, even though the seniors had 70,000 out on the streets of France.

What with all the 'early' retirements and much retirement in general beginning at age 55, about 20 percent of the population in France falls into the 'retired' category.

What was the strike about? The pensioners want a raise of course. Not only have pensions not kept up with the rising cost of living, but they've been beaten on the head by new taxes. Some pensioners claim to have lost 42 percent of their purchasing power in the last four years.

This is serious. Here is a fifth of the population which does not earn, but does consume; this is a serious factor affecting the whole economy.

While the average pension in the private sector was 11,160 francs, about 20 percent of these received no more than the minimum of 4,200 francs a month. The average for women is 6,702 francs.

Being a civil servant may not pay well until after retirement. The average for male retirees is 13,347 francs a month and 10,848 for the ladies.

Although most of the figures above are 'averages,' many pensioners in France are more familiar with sums around the minimum.

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