Hunters Lose Free Range 'Rights'

photo: stacked chairs bistro interior

This is how many bistros looked in Paris on May Day.

Euro Court Gives Nod To Small
Property Owners

Paris:- Sunday, 2. May 1999:- This week's big news in France was the announcement of the surprise decision by the European Court, that will require hunters to get permission to hunt on private property.

Previously, under another law, it was legal for hunters to hunt anywhere they felt like doing it; but mainly on small properties. The exceptions they faced amounted to two: the government excepted itself from this right of passage, and anybody who could afford to build a wall, could keep hunters out.

A bunch of small landowners took their claims of the right of private property through all the French courts, and lost to the hunters at every instance.

The old law, named after Fernand Verdeille, enacted in 1964, also required small property owners to belong to a thing called the Communal Hunting Association (ACCA) whether they wanted to or not.

The hunter's argument was that 'open' hunting permitted the control of bird flocks, in about 30 Departments where landholdings are small. They claimed that the hunting was in the 'public interest.'

However, the European court decided the French law violated three areas of human rights: the rightphoto: rue castiglione arcades of property, liberty of association, and non-discrimination. The court ordered the French government to revise the 'Verdeille' law, and to pay civil damages of 30,000 francs to the individuals who sued.

France's estimated 1.6 million hunters and their 2.7 million hunting dogs are very unhappy about this. Unhappy hunters fall into about the same category as unhappy farmers for being not only vocal but active as well.

But, because the European Court is the highest of all - like the United States' Supreme Court - the small property owners have won. The court's decision is final. There is no appeal. No more free passage over property of less than 60 hectares, within some 10,000 communes.

Fifty Percent of the French

The rest of the headline above is, "Know How to Use a Computer" and the part Le Parisien left out is "Fifty Percent Don't." Frankly, I am in former of these fifty percents and wish I were in the latter. The 'glotze' is getting to me.

And then, well, it isn't 50 percent; it is only 46 percent according to the statistics people at the Insee. A four percent difference is only 3.4 million people. Blithely, Le Parisien goes on, 'it is the kids and young adults' who have picked it up in school.

In general, higher schools in France have one computer for seven students, in technical schoolsphoto: railway wagon at acheres one for 17 students, and one for 30 students in lower grades. Yet, two-thirds of the latter say they have picked up the 'rudiments' - although only the initial ones - of computer use.

Railway wagon behind Achères library is used for young readers.

Another study claims 22.5 percent of French households have a computer now. Currently, prices have fallen and some promotions have even started, giving away cheapo PC's in return for signing up for Internet access. It is the French 'Minitel' model: give away the machine and cash in with the monthly access charges, while splitting the line charges with the teleco.

A computer guru was quoted as stating, "At this rate a large majority of the population will know perfectly well how to use a computer, between now and a few years."

Of five Le Parisien readers interviewed, one had never used a computer and had no idea of what the Internet may be. One had one for kid's games, two use them for text-editing, and one who took an optional course in 1988, doesn't use one at all.

Sailor's Bars Provide Livelihoods for 60 Bar Girls

The story, of course, is about the 'Petit Chicago' area of the southern port of Toulon and a court case that resulted in the definitive closing of five 'Bars Américains,' plus fines, jail terms, and suspended sentences for the operators, as well as the concurrent but unreported loss of livelihoods for 60 ladies. This is from 'Les Faits Divers' section which I occasionally read, but seldom report because of its mayhem level.

Paris Covers Up

No doubt Paris has its own 'livelihood' bars, but this story is not one of 'Les Faits Divers.' This is an environmentally cheery story instead, involving the covering over of the Perifreak!

As alert readers will know, I got tired of always having to look up the spelling of the Périphérique - which is the name of Paris' hairy ringroad and midnight speedway - and now exclusively use Mike Harmon's handy 'Perifreak!' contraction.

For those of you who have not experienced it, this 'road' lies between Paris and its near suburbs - sort of like a moat, because a good part of it is sunken. It is 32 kilometres in circumference and none of them are nice. Generally, there are four or five lanes going each way; except where it narrows to allow entering traffic - which has the right-of-way, coming as it does, from the right.

While on the outside lane a driver is constantly harassed by this - nearly invisible - arriving traffic, so it is prudent to move a couple of lanes to the left. With a nominal speed limitphoto: foie gras at foire of 80 kph, moving to the left requires care on account of the express mentality of drivers not harassed by giving way to the right - who may be happily cruising at 120 or more.

A serious bar for wine tasting at the Foire de Paris, with a serious foie gras bar behind.

All in all, it is more exciting than many amusement park rides. That is, when it is not totally jammed - or subject to surprise closings for repairs, usually at night and in summer - when you were hoping to have a clear shot at clipping along smartly. Whizz you go, and detour! - sends you into the unsignposted depths of the Bois de Boulogne where streetlights are rare.

I have been hopelessly lost more often and for longer periods in the Bois de Boulogne than the total time I've actually spent on the Perifreak!

Ah, the point of this news item is, Paris has decided to cover over more of this noisy, stinking, sewer of a public highway. 'No frontier between Paris and its 'burbs.' So four new decks are planned, to add to the 30 percent of it already covered. The work, which will cost about one million francs per covered metre, will take until 2006 to complete. Perifreak! Detour!

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