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France

French press review 11 January 2017

media

Outgoing and incoming US presidents are on several of this morning's French front pages, as is the debate about media credibility in the Trump era. Muslim body bags for women are banned in Morocco, ostensibly for security reasons. And the top companies on the French stock exchange are doing very nicely, thank you.

American presidents dominate this morning's French front pages.

Le Monde has Barack Obama saying goodbye after eight years at the helm. He is described as elegant, relaxed and funny.

Le Figaro gives pride of place to Donald Trump, who will move into the White House in nine days, saying that Moscow has compromising personal and financial information about Trump.

The crucial problem with that story is that no one can say whether it's true or not.

The television news channel CNN says that the president-elect has been warned by US spy chiefs that the Kremlin has information which could discredit Trump. The closest anyone can get to giving a source for the "information" is a British former MI6 agent who has been providing the West with details of Moscow's alleged hacking of other government's computer systems. But no one can say if he's making sense or just talking through his bowler hat.

Le Monde attempts to have its cake and eat it by describing the report as "explosive but unverified", going on to note that the unverrified allegations include details of Trump's colourful sexual activities while visiting Russia, details which the Russian secret services could use to put pressure on the US leader.

Manufacture, sale of burkas banned in Morocco

Le Monde reports that the authorities in Morocco have banned the production and sale of burkas, the all-covering garment worn some Muslim women.

According to the local press, the Interior Ministry has told its regional agents to ensure that the making and selling of burkas is stopped by the end of this week.

No official announcement has been made but Le Monde quotes officials in Rabat as saying the move is motivated by security concerns.

Top 40 French companies pay out 57 billion euros to shareholders

Left-leaning Libération makes no mention of the Trump probably-not-a-true-story-but-too-good-to-ignore, especially-since-it-concerns-Trump.

Instead Libé reports that, notwithstanding the crisis, the top 40 companies on the Paris stock exchange paid out 57 billion euros to shareholders last year, the best payout since 2007, the year before the global crash and the emergence of austerity as a generalised policy.

The fortunate shareholders last year shared the equivalent of two-thirds of the amount the French state spends on education and research each year.

And they can hope for even better days ahead, since the top 40 French companies have been paying out at about seven percent below their true potential since 2010.

Afghan refugees face long wait in -15°C

At the other end of the social spectrum, Catholic daily La Croix reports on the plight of those refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, who are hoping to reach western Europe by the so-called "Balkan route", officially closed since last March, currently blasted by temperatures of -15°C.

Last French cigarette factory to close this year

Le Monde also reports that Imperial Tobacco has announced the closure later this year of its cigarette factory in the central French town of Riom. That will cost 239 jobs and an annual output of nine billion smokes.

While Imperial can justify the closure of the last cigarette production line in France on the basis of a sharply declining local demand - down 19 percent last year by comparison with 2012 - the English company continues to make huge profits, doling out an extra 10 percent to shareholders last year, the eighth successive year of increased turnover, profits and share dividends. Imperial Tobaccon has the second largest share of the French fag market, after Philip Morris, the people who make Marlboro.

It's just that the cigarettes are now produced in places with very low labour costs and fewer concerns about public health.

About 80 percent of those who will lose their jobs in Riom are women.

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