Alimony - French Style

photo: bistro le st andre

A 'V'-shaped bistro in the Latin Quarter.

Listeria Culprit Still Missing

Paris:- Sunday, 27. February 2000:- A generous 1975 law that tended to provide ample support for divorced wives, has been found over time to be somewhat hostile to ex-husbands. The amount of alimony would be fixed at the time of the divorce - and the law contained no scope for any revision.

In the past 25 years, some ex-husbands have been subject to layoffs and, depending on age, perhaps no future prospects of ever earning as much as they did at the time the amount of alimony was set.

This 1975 law has effectively caused some ex-husbands to be in debt for the entire rest of their lives - and their new families can 'inherit' thisphoto: diplome 99, beaux arts debt. Inflexibly, the law does not take into account unemployment or illness; or an ex-wife's good fortune - and the amount of alimony can only be revised in extremely rare cases.

This has caused considerable misery and sometimes total ruin. At long last, the law is expected to be revised soon. But the revision still foresees the distinct possibility of continuing to pay alimony to children who survive the ex-wife.

To see what students at the Beaux-Arts are doing these days, pay this expo a visit.

The revised law also will put into action the possibility of transferring capital to an ex-wife - over a period of eight years - instead of paying alimony.

Once agreed to, this would be a fixed amount not susceptible to revision. Only alimony could be revised, and only in the direction of less.

France's Listeria Puzzle

Early in the week Le Parisien was telling its readers that the possible cause of the current listeria outbreak in France is jellied pork tongues. Tongue from beef was also previously cited.

The particular strain of the bacteria causing illnesses has been identified, but its exact source has not. The government's health authorities have a crises centre working on the problem.

Meanwhile, supermarkets have withdrawn all brands of jellied pork tongues. But by the weekend, three new cases of the illness were discovered, bringing the total since late last year to 26.

Because of the cross-contamination possibilities, many food products are implicated. Increased risk from listeriosis is faced by pregnant women and babies, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems - caused by certain cancer treatments, AIDS, diabetes, and kidney disease.

Defense against the risk of listeria while visiting any place that is not your own home is not always practical because you have less control over food storage and its preparation.

If you feel you need more to know more, here is a link to a Web site with up-to-date information.

Taxes Uncertain

You can count on death at some time in your life, but if you live in France taxes are not as certain. The coming deadline for tax declarations is 15. March, but finance ministry unions have threatened to refuse to treat them.

The unions are angry about the finance ministry's tax 'reform.' Until now taxpayers have been required to make their declaration in one place, and pay the taxes due in another place.

The 'reform' proposes to unify all tax services in one place. The purpose of this is mainly to reduce the cost of collecting revenue from taxpayers - which is higher in France than elsewhere.

Part of the 'reform' would see a pre-printed tax declaration form, thatphoto: haider, 1 lobby, 0 could be used by those who need only to make simple declarations. Another 'reform' would create special divisions for calculating the taxes of companies.

The meaning of this sign is a mystery to me. Who is 'Lobby?'

What the unions seem to object most to, is the possible closing of some of France's 3800 tax payment offices. They fear losing another 4000 salaries, after having lost 13,000 over the last ten years.

Union officials are planning to close tax declaration centres as a protest. This will prevent three or four million taxpayers from getting any assistance in person. For those who mail in their declarations, there will not be enough staff to treat the paperwork.

According to 'republican principles,' everybody is to treated equally by the tax inspectors - from penniless clochards to companies employing hundreds of thousands. The unions would like to see this principle remain intact.

WWW, Okay - Ads, No

Since 1992, books, films, magazines, newspapers and stores have been prohibited from advertising on television in France. This measure was adopted to protect the advertising revenues of regional newspapers.

However, the authority charged with watching over this sector of activity - the CSA - has decided that Web sites are none of the above, and can advertise themselves however and wherever they want.

For example, the white-goods and household appliance chain 'Darty' cannot advertise its shops on TV - but has routinely sponsored TV-weather news with its after sales service.

The new ruling means that 'Darty' can advertise its Web site any way it chooses - which has caused an explosion of protest from the newspaper owner's association.

So far, the CSA has taken this into account by saying it will re-examine the question, in 18 months. In the meantime, everything from corner groceries to gigantic hypermarchés to Disney can advertise their 'Web' sites on TV.

'Red' Michelin Turns 100

On Tuesday, Michelin will put the 100th edition of its famous 'Red' guide on sale. The first edition, destined for 3000 motorists and some cyclotourists, was a helpful guide for touring in France in 1900.

While courageous drivers were dodging potholes and seeking the next gasphoto: place st michel stations, the 1901 edition was being prepared to include scenic sights. The guide was a great success and began making money in 1920.

Michelin's first 'stars' appeared in 1925 and it was so impartial that it awarded no 'stars' in its home town of Clermont-Ferrand.

The Place Saint-Michel; cleaned up for a rainy day.

What is new this year is the third star for the Grand Véfour in Paris, and for its chef, Guy Martin - who was already favorably cited by the competing food guides, Gault-Millau and the Bottin Gourmand.

A first mention and a first star was awarded to David Van Laer for his Maxence in Montparnasse, and Jérôme Galidie of 'W' at the Hotel Warwick got a first star too.

Web Page Display Mystery

Many of the references I post here for interesting French Web sites, I get from Internet-Actu's weekly newsletter. This started as a CNRS service, but has since become an independent 'start-up.'

Internet-Actu recently branched out with a new bi-weekly newsletter called Pixel-Actu and I have signed up for this; for its digital imaging news. 'Pixel-Actu' also has a Web site and I have been looking at this - because I've plugged it here, and because it deals with photography.

When I look at this Web site, its text does not display accented French characters correctly. It substitutes a non-character '' for 'é' - for example. Metropole itself does not do this, but some other French and European Web sites do.

I have finally decided to try to find out why. In theory we are all using the 'Latin-1' or 'Western Latin 1' or 'ISO 8859-1' encoding, which enables most western foreign language accents to be displayed correctly.

Not all font sets contain all of the accented characters, but all the main ones certainly do. Besides setting my own 'preferences' to 'ISO 8859-1' and using full-set fonts, my computer system is a French version and this includes the keyboard layout known here as 'AZERTY.'

Thus, I have three bases covered. The remaining unknown factor is my own Internet Access Provider, cour commerce st andre This firm routinely sends me email messages with a 'PS' saying they are sorry to have suppressed French accents, because 'certain computers cannot decipher them.'

'Old' Latin Quarter - in the Cour de Commerce Saint-André.

I have received emails - via this same ISP - from French sources with mangled accents too. What I don't understand - I code and send out accented characters, Metropole contains accented characters; plus I receive many emails with correctly accented characters.

In other words, incorrect characters are coming only from some sources. If any of you suspect what may be the reason for this problem, I would like to know about it.

Both of the newsletters and Web sites mentioned above feature many items that may be familiar to you, but they also include news of developments in Europe. Both are well-written in French, so if you want to build up your techno vocabulary, these newsletters can help.

The Coming 'Fête' de l'Internet

Every year this event is announced with some fanfare, and every year I fail to grasp what it's all about, because it seems to be entirely 'virtual.' In order not to forget it, I'll run this one yet again.

The Fête's organization is non-profit and it is coordinated by the AFI association. This event is not restricted to France; at the European level it is called the Fiesta 2000. The actual Fête/Fiesta will take place from Friday, 17. March to Sunday, 19. March.

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