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France

French weekly magazines review 30 November 2014

media

One person you can't avoid this week in the French magazines is former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Each of the weeklies has a different slant though.

Le Nouvel Observateur features the former president's photo with the title "Usé" meaning "worn out". With the image of a flat battery, the subheading reads: no ideas, no work, no real desire. Le Nouvel Obs says that the campaign for the primaries in the opposition UMP party which concluded last night has been lacklustre and that Sarkozy has no new ideas, strategy or programme.

Left-wing Marianne asks whether an alliance between Sarkozy's UMP and the Front National of Marine Le Pen is on the cards. The magazine publishes the results of an exclusive poll in which 55% of UMP supporters would rather their party formed an alliance with the FN in the upcoming regional elections than see the left win.

L'Express has a photo of Hollande but Sarko is not far: L'Express's editorial team asks why Hollande is obsessed with Sarkozy and vice versa. The magazine quotes both politicians' comments about each other from the past year or so, revealing how closely they follow each others' activities.

Out of France and to even colder climes, two of the weeklies carry articles about the Arctic.

L'Express's journalist Laurence Pivot reports from aboard the Canadian iceboat the Amundsen where she interviews scientists furiously scrabbling to gather data about this unique eco-system. The cartographers she meets explain that only 10% of the seabed has been mapped, meaning that we know less about this part of planet Earth than we know about the Moon and Planet Mars. Meanwhile, geologists, biologists, meterologists and oceanographers are in a race against time to gather the maximum amount of data sometimes working for days on end without rest.

Since 1984 the ice sheet has reduced in surface area by 30% in summer and 8% in the winter. All of it has reduced in thickness by half. For geologist Lantao Geng this is worrying because of the methane gas trapped in the ice. It is 23% more poisonous than carbon dioxide and the more of it is released, the more it could trigger the further melting of the ice caps: a vicious cycle. All of this should be food for thought for the politicians at the international climate conference in Paris next year, the piece concludes.

Le Point also picks up the situation in the Arctic but in its economic pages. Its article entitled "Hunting Arctic treasure" looks at how the melting of the icecap could open up economic opportunities not to mention a political Pandora's Box.

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The magazine says that whilst the South Pole has been protected as a sancturay until 2048, the North Pole has become a potential eldorado for big business. With the receding icesheet which could roll right back as early as 2030, business people in the hydrocarbon industry, fishing sector and shipping businesses - not to mention those with an eye on precious metals - are rubbing their hands together at the new opportunities which may be opening up.

Not all are happy though: Michel Rocard, the ambassador for the poles says that the main countries of the Arctic Council - the US, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark - are fiercely defending their turf. Tensions heightened when the Russians implanted a titanium flag on the seabed directly on the North Pole in 2007. Rocard says that anarchy may reign in these tricky waters given the lack of international cooperation.

The article does outline the difficulties of exploiting the resources both due to the difficult conditions of the area but also the risks to the environment.There are many complex details but, concludes Patrick Bonazza of Le Point, the myth of the Eldorado of the north persists.

We are likely to hear more about the region over the coming years both in terms of the environment and the geopolitics at play.

L'Express
in its culture pages has picked up on an interesting rend in teen literature that of "dystopian fantasies". This genre of books includes James Dashner's Maze Runner, Veronica Roth's Divergente series and Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy which has also been turned into blockbuster films. What the books have in common is that creativity and compassion are crushed and an oppresive state dominates.

L'Expess wonders whether this is a sign of our times and Glen Tavennec, director of youth literature at Robert Lafont publishing house, thinks that we are only going to see an increase in the trend with sci-fi getting even darker.The politics in the books are not lost on the younger generation.

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