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France

French press review 9 October 2017

media

As economic reality takes hold, some of the enthusiastic fizz leaks out of the Catalan determination to declare independence. There's more criticism of the French budget as Robin Hood in reverse - is President Emmanuel Macron really robbing the poor to give to the rich? And what is causing the latest catastrophic epidemic on the health front?

Le Monde says the weekend was dominated by two Spanish stories - Saturday's nationwide marches calling for a dialogue between Madrid and the Catalan separatists; yesterday's protest by the so-far silent majority in Catalonia itself, with hundreds of thousands of Catalans marching in Barcelona to say they want to remain part of Spain.

Right-wing Le Figaro says the pressure continues to mount, both at home and abroad, against those campaigning for Catalan independence.

The right-wing daily's editorial is headlined "Basta!" (Enough!). In a wonderful series of mangled metaphors, Le Figaro says the Spanish region is "headed down the slippery slope without brakes and is running towards the abyss with troubling tenacity". As, indeed, is that sentence.

It gets better. Le Figaro's writer tells us that Catalan independence would be "Brexit with tapas" a reference to the spicy little snacks Catalans and their Spanish neighbours eat to give themselves more of an appetite for wine and beer. An independent Catalonia could well find itself adrift in the cold waters of economic exclusion. With hardly a peseta to spend on wine, beer or tapas.

Left-leaning Libération says the antis have finally woken up, mainly because the threats by banks and investors to leave the region have made them see that the economic reality of an independent Catalonia would be disastrous. Where diplomacy and police violence failed, a simple rap on the chequebook does the trick.

There were also protests in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia to mark the 65th birthday of President Vladimir Putin. The theme was not "Happy birthday, Mr President" but let's have a little more democracy. Most of the marches were banned and there were 270 arrests. The organiser, opposition politician Alexi Navalny, is currently in jail for, well actually, organising protest marches.

French budget favours the rich

Le Monde's editorial looks at the national budget for next year, which will be debated tomorrow by the French parliamentary finance committee.

We've already been given the tune - less tax to encourage the rich to invest more in creating jobs, which will boost the economy by encouraing more spending -but nobody is too sure what key we're all expected to sing it in.

Le Monde has no doubt. This is not a budget motivated by a real desire for greater equality. It favours the rich at the expense of several social groups, retired middle-managers, for example, who are going to suffer.

The French economic observatory says that, over the five years of the Macron presidency, the new rules will mean a boost of 700 euros per year to the top 10 percent, while the bottom 10 percent will have to settle for less than 200 euros.

Plus, or rather minus, the various cuts in public spending proposed in the budget will most affect the less well-off.

How can that be justified, wonders the centrist daily, suggesting that there is still time for the nation's parliamentarians to put things right when the budget arrives back in the National Assembly.

Sleep your way to power and influence

Le Monde's health pages are talking about sleep again. And so am I. You're not suffering one of those recurring nightmares. This really did happen about a week ago.

This time the doctors and other specialists are worried that sleep, getting enough of, has not been given sufficient importance in the latest French national health strategy.

All the usual suspects are rounded up. They are cigarettes, booze, lack of exercise, being overweight and being very overweight.

But the word "sleep" is not mentioned once in 189 pages. Scandal! cry the shuteye specialists, sufficient sleep is vital for mental and physical health. Especially in a society where sleep is seen as a sign of weakness.

Western individuals now sleep at least one hour less per night than was the case 30 years ago and that goes a long way to explaining why we are now fat, unhappy, tense, have high blood pressure, are depressed and suffer from dementia.

According to the writers, we are currently living through a catastrophic epidemic of sleep loss. It is time to wake up. Or perhaps not?

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