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France

French weekly magazines review 7 June 2015

media DR

This week's magazines offer to expose the conservative policies at the heart of Socialist Party thinking, teach us how we can concentrate like chess grand masters and let us look behind the pots and pans in some of the world's great kitchens. Not forgetting football's troubled rulers at Fifa.

Weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné says the scandal which has recently seen a series of judicial red cards dished out to various officials of Fifa, the body supposed to govern world football, is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect more revelations, more big-name suspects and, when the dust settles, jail sentences.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Le Nouvel Observateur wonders how long former Fifa president Sepp Blatter can go on protesting his innocence.

"He is the Lance Armstrong of football administartion," says Andrew Spalding, a law professor and specialist in corruption, comparing Blatter to the American cycle doper. "Everybody around him is exposed by the scandal and Blatter goes on saying he's clean."

L'Obs reveals one interesting fact about Chuck Blazer, the American football chief who has been cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of Fifa. Blazer's two New York apartments were rented by the football body at 18,000 dollars (16,000 euros) per month for the main one. The rent of the other, a mere two-bedroom affair in Manhattan's Trump Tower, is not specified. That's where Blazer kept his cats. And Chuck Blazer's credit card bills were also paid by Fifa . . . to the tune of 26 million dollars (23 million euros) between 2004 and 2011.

No wonder Chuck is cooperating with the feds. He'd clearly find the accommodation on Riker's Island a bit cramped. And where would he keep the cats?

Russian leader Vladimir Putin once told Blazer he looked a bit like Karl Marx. The father of communism is probably spinning in his north London grave.

The magazine Marianne publishes an interview with the left-wing intellectual Régis Debray, one-time advisor to French Socialist president François Mitterrand.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

Debray says France has lost faith in itself because of having too much respect for outside opinions. Brussels, Nato, the International Monetary Fund, sovereign credit ratings, the 3.0 per cent rule.

"Our politicians are falling over themselves to prove that the nation's papers are in order," says Debray, "to show that we haven't forgotten our table manners."

But France has been most influential, he claims, most listened to, when she has had something different to say.

On the debate about publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed, Debray reminds readers that irony is something that different civilisations appreciate differently. He suggests that having the right to be blasphemous does not oblige us to exercise that right. In our relations with our cultural neighbours, he says, we should show at least a minimum level of courtesy.

Kazakhgate seems like pretty small beer compared to Fifagate but it has the great advantage of starring former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the man whose court wrangles are keeping the cream of the nation's lawyers, and their cats, in Blazeresque comfort.

Le Monde Magazine reminds us that in 2010 France sold two billion euros worth of weapons to Kazakhstan. But there's a suspicion that the deal went through, not because French bullets are better than anyone else's but because someone in the Paris presidential household asked the Belgian authorities to get three Kazakh bigwigs off the judicial hook.

The three were wanted on 48 criminal charges, most of them involving the words "fraud" or "corruption", sometimes both together. They were all friends of the Kazakh President Noursultan Nazarbayev. They got off with a fine and a warning from the judge.

Dossier: The Strauss-Kahn affair rocks France, IMF

Now the ugly possibility emerges that some of the billions paid for the French weapons went into private pockets. And some of those pockets were in nicely tailored suits orbiting the French president. As Sepp Blatter might say, that doesn't make Sarkozy guilty of anything more serious than choosing the wrong kind of advisor. But the legal mill is grinding. As, in all probability, are the teeth of the man who heads Les Républicains.

Is the French Socialist Party a right-wing organisation?

That question is posed on the front page of the weekly Nouvel Observateur. Inside, various political and intellectual worthies offer their answers.

Socialist Party boss Jean-Christophe Cambadélis accepts that the French left has been contaminated but he blames the times we live in, citing the rise of the terrorist threat, the increase in immigration, the economic failure of Europe, France's lack of competitiveness and the political flowering of the far right as pressures which have forced the Socialists into the arms of the banks, the bosses and the international bad-guys. Things are going to change, he promises.

Women's rights in France - given or taken?

The philosopher Michel Onfray says no party which accepts austerity as a key economic strategy can claim to be socialist. Onfray thinks the current situation offers a great window of opportunity to the communists, who can come back from the dead to reclaim the status of a popular and pragmatic political force.

Former prime minister Michel Rocard says the socialists have lost their way because they haven't been able to impose a different way of reacting to current economic realities.

And, as if all that wasn't enough, Le Nouvel Observateur publishes an opinion poll showing that about half of French Socialist voters feel that the current government is not sufficiently left-wing.

Le Figaro Magazine looks at the unsavoury world of top-class cooking, where chefs can earn more than first division footballers. But much of the French food industry depends on illegally employed labour, black-market methods and cost cutting on quality. Competition is fierce and the media's love affair with the sector means that some chefs are more often on TV than slaving over a hot stove. The crucial question is, would you rather eat poor food from a big name or great food from an unknown? Let the big names take note.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

Can you learn to concentrate like a chess champion? A piece of cake, says former world chess number one, Garry Kasparov in Le Point.

In the era of zapping, flashes and snippets, we can slow the flow of information and reestablish a stable relationship with a world in rapid movement.

It's all a question of deep breathing, focus on a single object, mental arithmetic and internally rehearsing the action you wish to accomplish. Make sure you switch off your mobile phone first.

By the way, there's now a word for how you feel when the person you're talking to suddenly launches into a conversation with a third party on his or her mobile phone. The word is "plizzed," a mixture of "plussed" (for added out of the loop) and "pissed" as in very annoyed. Nothing for it but to get out your own phone and plizz back.

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