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France

French press review 15 June 2011

media

The French editors are struggling a bit this morning. Without a single really newsworthy story to get their journalistic gnashers into, they pound out a few old chestnuts.

So.

Right-wing Le Figaro tells us that the national carrier, Air France, is under government pressure to choose European-made Airbus planes against those produced by the American Boeing.

The stakes could hardly be higher. Air France is about to make one of the largest orders in aviation history, buying 100 long-haul jets for a total price estimated broadly in "tens of billions" of dollars.

With an election coming up, 144 French MPs have thought it wise to sign a petition calling on Air France management to spend all that money wisely . . . meaning on French-built aircraft, which employ decent French voters.

The top brass at Air France are none too happy to be put under the squeeze. The pilots' trade union says the future of the company is at stake in such a decision, since the new planes will be operational for about 20 years. They say the decision should be based on economic considerations, not political ones.

Senior management have made a wise statement worthy of King Solomon. They'll be ordering planes from both companies, and will base their choice on the engines proposed and the maintenance costs.

The aircraft chosen will still be flying when a lot of the current batch of French deputies have been completely forgotten by the electorate.

Communist l'Humanité has a touching front page. "Why this paper is indispensable" is the headline, with the small print explaining that the coffers are empty and that the paper founded by Jean Jaurès in 1904 is in danger of disappearing. That, according to the lads at l'Humanité, would deprive the nation of a special voice in political, social and cultural debate.

Catholic La Croix is a bit hot under its clerical collar at the growing popularity of sects, S-E-C-T-S, small groups of people who believe bizarre things. The Catholics are always a bit hot under the collar at the popularity of S-E-X, but that's a different story.

A government commission on weird religion has just published its annual report, warning that next year, 2012, is a big date for those who predict the end of the world.

According to the Mayan calendar, that unbeatable resource for those planning how to spend their last days, 21 December next year, 21-12-20-12, is absolutely the end of everything.

Dossier: The Strauss-Kahn affair rocks France, IMF

And the organisers of sects are adept at playing on the fears generated by such spurious predictions, roping in new members, getting them to sign over their soon-to-be-superflous cash reserves, and, in extreme cases, promoting mass suicide.

The commission, and the Catholics, are advising all to be prudent as "the end" approaches.

We hope to be on the air on the morning of 22 December 2012 to announce that the predictions were, once again, wrong.

Speaking of the end of the world, a woman called Anne Lauvergeon is on the front page of business daily, Les Echos. She says that the Japanese disaster at Fukushima, and the decisions by Germany, Switzerland and Italy to close down their atomic power plants do not spell the end of the global nuclear industry.

What we are seeing is the end of cheap and careless nuclear operations, but that the growing global demand for power will make atomic energy impossible to replace. And that's good news for Anne Lauvergeon, because she's the current boss of the French nuclear constructor, Areva.

Le Monde publishes a portrait of Kenneth Thompson, the American lawyer who represents the woman who accuses Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape.

Thompson has no function in court. He sits in the cheap seats like any other member of the public. But, outside the courtroom, he's the man who faces the cameras and microphones as the plaintiff's representative.

And he does it well. He comes out with nice byte-sized statements, and his heart is clearly in the right place: "All DSK's money, power and influence can not change the truth of what happened in that hotel room."

Or again: "My client is fighting for her dignity as a woman, and for the dignity of all those women and children who've been victims of sexual abuse, and were too afraid to say anything."

Kenneth Thompson is a black man helping to defend a black woman. And he is no stranger to success.

He's already won a case against two New York cops who tortured an immigrant from Haiti, he got a guilty verdict against a top official in the New York governor's office, accused of beating his wife, and he regularly wins million dollar settlements against the multi-national banks.

"I've nothing against the rich and powerful," says the rich and powerful Thompson. "I just want to help those who are abused, make sure their voice is heard."

His current client will face the trial without fear. And, says Thompson, "I will arrange things so that the whole world knows she's telling the truth."

 
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