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France

French weekly magazines review

media

France's politicians can't hide their cash from today's French newspapers, who also take a look at the women behind some of the world's most powerful men. And the French papers also take a glimpse into the top science news, including the world's first test-tube hamburger.

Le Point, on its front page, questions who tells more lies: President Sarkozy or Socialist Party candidate François Hollande.

The two have been trading insults in recent times. Sarkozy has outright accused Hollande of being a liar, at Sarkozy's first major political rally after he announced his candidacy.

Le Point's conclusion? All of the major candidates lie. And French people are unlikely to be fooled by the charade, as they unenthusiastically traipse to the polls.

Both L’Express and Marianne examine the candidate's cash. The candidates are obliged to supply details of their assets and, in anticipation, L'Express has done a survey of their salaries and property.

Sarkozy earns much more than the other candidates: over 18,000 euros per month, whereas the others average between 6 and 8 thousand.

Left-wing Marianne is rather more candid about the topic. On their front page, they dub Sarkozy, "the Swindler." They then scoff at his claims of being the "people's candidate."

But, his record of consorting with bankers, billionaire friends and big business bosses has given him the reputation of being the "bling bling" president.

Marianne does not think that he can shake off this image, given his patchy record of trying to right social ills in the country, during his first mandate, not to mention how his name keeps cropping up in a string of corruption scandals.

On a rather different theme, Le Figaro's weekend edition takes a look at the role played by dictators' significant others.

You may remember earlier this month that Asma Al-Assad came out in support of her husband, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Her family is from the city of Homs, home to much of the current fighting.

Le Figaro weekend takes a look at her life growing up in exile in London. It wonders whether she is in denial or that there truly is nothing she can do to halt the violent crackdown in Homs. Or perhaps there is some truth in the old adage that love is blind.

They also publish an interview with historian Diane Ducret, whose book Femmes de dictateur, or "dictators' women," surpringly hit the bestseller list.

According to Ducret, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin spent more time penning love letters than writing political dispatches.

In extracts published in the magazine, there are alarming stories, such as orgies in Pyongyang under Kim Il-Sung.

But there are also stories of tenderness in relationships, such as Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini doing the dishes so that his wife wouldn't have to.

The extracts provide a fascinating glimpse into the women behind these powerful men.

And there is a surprising variety among the women. Milosevic' s wife Mirjana Markovic was a political manouverer and remains convinced her husband was a good patriot.

Saddam Hussein had his sex slaves, and a Greek lover who now lives in Sweden. Yet his wife Sajida is one of the most impressive partners, according to the historian, due to her dignity in the face of adversity.

Marita Lorenz could not bring herself to kill Fidel Castro, despite the promise of two million dollars from the CIA.

The historian says that uncovering these stories ruins our intellectual comfort that dictators responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century have a human side.

In Marianne's science pages, there are stories of the weird and wonderful. One of my favourites is a new species of chameleon that has been discovered, which is only 2,5 mm long. The article is complete with a photograph of the animal, barely the size of a match head.

Another science story from the pages of Marianne looks at "space trash." This is the story that there are thousands of metal objects orbiting the earth that were previously a part of old satellites.

And these objects, which are spinning at kilometres per second, could collide with functioning satellites. According to some experts, telecommunications satellites could be rendered unusable in 20-30 years unless they are cleaned up.

Scientists in Switzerland have proposed an 8-million euro prototype called "Clean Space One," which could be launched in 2015 to hoover up the space detritus.

Marianne also wonders whether the test-tube hamburger is the solution to feeding the world whilst protecting animals.

Scientists have managed to grow meat in the laboratory from a cell culture. Apparently, it is a funny colour, tasteless and costs 250,000 euros. So perhaps you won't find it in MacDonalds for a while.

A topic which is worrying Le Point is the mounting tension between Israel and Iran.

The bomb blast in Bangkok last week is suspected to have been carried out by Iranians. It is the lastest in a series of attacks by both sides.

According to Le Point, there is no mystery as to what is going on whilst Iran has been targeting Israeli embassies: Israel has been assasinating Iranian nuclear scientists.

Israel will not tolerate nuclear arms in the region, apart from its own. Historic precedents indicate this tit-for-tat could be followed by an attack on crucial equipment. But, according to Le Point, this is unlikely this time around.

There is little enthusiasm in Washington for an overt attack on Iran and this would have limited effect. Le Point thinks that the covert war and international sanctions will be more effective tactics.

It speculates that a more likely scenario is that the Israeli security agency Mossad is working with the US National Security Agency and British MI6 to hack into Iranian control systems.
 

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