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France

French weekly magazine review 29 January 2017

media

Well left-leaning French weeklies not surprisingly put the spotlight on the personality clash gripping the country’s 'gauche' or left-wing politics, ahead of Sunday's final vote for the Socialist Party's presidential primaries. While others talk of cyberwars and anniversary milestones for Paris's Centre Pompidou. 

L’Obs magazine sports a cover photo of Benoît Hamon, who emerged as a major contender in April's presidential elections after a surprise win in the first round vote last Sunday.

Hamon topped the poll beating previous favourite and former Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, 35 to 31%.

The cover carries the title 'The Rupture' ... then comes Hamon's charge “Manuel Valls is the most divisive for the left”.

Fear-mongering Valls?

In the interview, the dark horse and staunchly left-wing candidate - who wants to introduce a universal basic income and legalise cannabis – accuses pro-business Valls of “playing on French fears” with his authoritarian style.

He snubs Valls’s experience as PM and Interior Minister, saying “It’s not enough to stroke the chin to be taken seriously."

"I want to make the future attractive. I don’t want to cause suffering among the French. I would take that as a failure for the Left if it had no greater electoral business than fear mongering for tomorrow.”

Ouch ...

Hamon defends reform 

The former education minister says he's changed his ideas “on social justice, redistribution of wealth and solidarity.” Whereas Valls has not - he just keeps shifting his ground … "What kind of future does Valls propose? I still have no idea," he snipes.

Hamon says people accuse him of being utopic, but that both he and Valls were born of the same political school of social reform. And he at least is sticking to the idea of transforming society, rather than caving in completely to capitalism, and an un-reined free market.

Cyberwar threat

Economics weekly Le Point looks to "The New Global Cyberwar" ... "Nothing is easier than cutting the Internet: just cut cables. They are simply buried or even laid on the bottom of the oceans," writes reporter Guerric Poncet. Common thinking he says often links the Internet with satellites, whereas in truth 99.8% of intercontinental traffic passes through the 366 submarine cables distributed across the planet via its oceans.

The story quotes Jean-Luc Vuillemin, the French telecommunication company Orange's international networks director, whose Orange Marine subsidiary controls one-sixth of the million kilometres of cables now deployed around the world.

With fibre optics he says, the capacity of those cables are now millions times higher than with satellites.

Supremely powerful yes ... but which one could with evil intent bring to a sudden halt like the click of a light switch.

And we'd all be left in the cyber dark. Perish the thought.

Happy birthday Beaubourg

Le Figaro magazine meanwhile turns its gaze to culture and a spot on the four decade history of Paris's Centre Pompidou, commonly known as Beaubourg.

The stunning tubular building near Les Halles shopping district in the centre of Paris was designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers. Deeply controversial at the time of its conception, today much loved.

Three million visitors come each year, to its modern and contemporary arts and photographic exhibitions. And perhaps according to its original poster in 1977 to "Come see, listen, read, play, understand, feel, dream!"

Unrepentant jihadists

And finally Marianne runs a lead story on an issue which is preoccupying France and the world - that of jihadism - with a headline "The returners are mostly unrepentant".

Journalist Patricia Neves looks to the story of a radicalised 23-year-old woman, 'Sonia B', who left to join the ranks of the Islamic State Group in Syria in 2015.

She then fled the terrorist organization and returned to France, only to leave again.

She told her story to the French journalist and RFI correspondent David Thomson, author of the book Les Revenants - The Returned.

In the interview Thomson, a reporter with RFI's Africa service, says the tripping back and forth between France and Syria or Iraq has eased since the IS lost its control of the Turkish border region last summer.

He says authorities woke up late to the threat posed by female jihadists, signing up from France. Even today they are given greater mercy by the justice, and treated as victims, whereas men are systematically imprisoned on their return.

And in his mind the programs of deradicalisation in France launched three years ago have been a complete failure.

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