- French Twist
- Home-Invasion Ruling
- Books Galore
- Data on Demand
- Pork Chap
- Magazine Mounties
- Cheating Teachers
- D.C. United
- Where's Pa?
- Invisible Man
By Ryan H. Sager
If you thought the French were strange for liking Jerry Lewis, get a load of this: The French government is cracking down on people who work too much.Employees trying to work more than the legal limit of 39 hours a week can expect to be harassed by the government, reports The Washington Post. Labor inspectors have been found counting cars after hours in parking lots, checking office entry-and-departure records, and grilling people about their work schedules. Several companies have been fined for allowing employees, including managers, to work longer than is legally allowed. As a researcher at the Center for the Study of Labor in Paris told the Post, "Even a top manager does not have the right to work more than [they're legally allowed to]. It has to do with security and public order."
Of course, maintaining "security and public order" threatens to disrupt France's way of life in another way that's not entirely lost on Frenchmen. "We are in world-wide competition. If we lose one point of productivity, we lose orders," Henri Thierry, an executive at Thomson-CSF Communications, told the Post. Thomson-CSF was fined the equivalent of $2 million for 2,000 overtime law violations in three months. Thierry is even less pleased with a proposal favored by the Socialist government to shorten the legal work week to 35 hours. "If we're obligated to go to 35 hours, it would be like requiring French athletes to run the 100 meters wearing flippers," he said. They wouldn't have much chance of winning a medal."
By Mariel Garza
Christmas came early last year to the home-schooling families of Lynn, Massachusetts. In December, the commonwealth's top court ruled that a law giving public school officials expansive rights to visit home-school households was unconstitutional.The decision in Michael Brunelle, et al. v. Lynn Public Schools ended seven years of legal battles. The court ruled that the school district's policy--which essentially allowed officials to enter a home-schooler's residence at will--violated federal and commonwealth protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
"This is a big victory for home schooling not just in Massachusetts but across the country," said Michael Farris, president of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association, which served as the plaintiffs' counsel. The association's main fear was that a decision in favor of the school district would have given a green light to similar policies in other parts of the country. By Farris' count, school districts in about a dozen states were likely to adopt similar requirements if the Lynn school district prevailed. Indeed, other states, including Rhode Island, New York, and South Dakota, have already tried to pass similar laws.
"We've picked them off one by one, normally through legislative means," Farris said. "We've used the legal system successfully at times, but other times it's been the predicate for legislative action."
Steven Pustell, whose family was one of the two represented in the lawsuit, was thrilled with the outcome. "It reaffirms the independence of home-schooling parents to raise their children the way they [see fit], without unwarranted government intrusion," he said.
By Charles Paul Freund
Not enough books to choose among? Could be. Book superstores such as Borders may have 150,000 titles and online sources such as Amazon.com claim to offer a million in-print books. But nearly all these titles share one limiting factor: They're in print from American publishers. Readers in search of books published overseas have a hard time getting them, and their usual solutions (like asking globe-trotting friends to bring books back for them) haven't changed much since Guten-berg.The Internet, however, is upgrading that tradition. Barnes & Noble has teamed up with Bertelsmann A.G., the German book conglomerate; they plan to offer books in a variety of languages via Barnesandnoble.com. A spokes-man for the venture told The New York Times that customers eventually would be able to order almost "any book on the planet." Bertels-mann also plans its own Europe-based multilingual book site.
In the meantime, Amazon.com has already established two comprehensive sites offering hundreds of thousands of titles: Amazon.co.uk for British works and, on Bertelsmann's turf, Amazon.de for German books (Klicken Sie Hier!). Of course, the Internet has long been teeming with specialized foreign book sites, from a site selling New Zealand's 619 local books in print to one run by an association of Dutch second-hand dealers.