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France

French press review 7 February 2018

media

Weather reports, the perils of interplanetary driving, and the French president's ongoing visit to the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

While Le Monde's internet edition looks at a France virtually paralysed this morning by a few centimetres of snow, the top of the paper's printed version says that US President Donald Trump and the American military establishment have decided that China and Russia are threats that must be met with "lethal force". The Pentagon has been told to revise US nuclear weapons policy, in view of what is regarded as a new arms race between the major powers.

Moscow has reacted by condemning the US leader's belligerent and anti-Russian stance. Beijing says the American vision is based on outrageous suppositions. But the Chinese are, they say, now considering a boost for their nuclear deterrent.

The Donald has already increased US defence spending for this year and has promised to allocate 716 billion dollars (580 billion euros) to the sector in 2019.

Zola writes about Paris snow

Le Figaro also goes to town on the weather, with a headline proclaiming "Record traffic jams and transport paralysed in the Paris region".

In a touch of class, the conservative paper pulls out an article from the archives, signed by one Emile Zola in 1867.

It is, says Le Fiagro proudly, a magnificent article, full of poetry, on the arrival of snow in the City of Light.

Zola was delighted to discover the French capital "once again all white and chaste". Especially since Zola and Le Figaro did not always see eye-to-eye or more serious matters than meteorology.

The great novellist notes that "all the ugliness of winter has disappeared. Each house looks like a beautiful woman who has put on her fur coat." Steady, Emile!

They didn't have traffic jams in 1867.

Storm clouds over Corsica

More immediately, and a lot more seriously, Le Figaro's main story looks at French president Emmanuel Macron's visit yesterday to the French Medciterranean island of Corsica.

He compared those who have killed in the cause of Corsican nationalism to more recent terrorists, refusing all talk of a possible amnesty for those accused of so-called political crimes. The local nationalists, boosted by recent electoral success, were less than pleased.

A second presidential speech is scheduled this morning in the island's second city of Bastia. Le Figaro suggests that this may be the occasion for Macron to soften the message slightly but without any weakening of the ultra-republican line or the refusal of any talk of an amnesty.

Has the president missed an opportunity to begin some sort of process of reconciliation?

Musk makes a big splash in space

Libération gives the honours to outer space and the launch of a yoke called Falcon Heavy by the South African billionaire, Elon Musk.

Falcon Heavy, which sounds like a beer you could order in Glasgow, is a rocket, the most powerful engine to leave the Earth's surface since the Saturn V monsters that took Americans to the Moon. The idea is to put Musk's car into orbit around the Sun and send the rest of the trappings on to Mars, in anticipation of a future conquest of the Red Planet. It is interplanetary publicity of the highest order, and will make Musk even richer as he gets put on front pages from Mullingar to Makliviko.

The car will stay in orbit for several million years, with David Bowie's Space Oddity blaring from the CD player.

Musk says he likes the idea that extraterrestrials will discover the vehicle in millions of years, probably illegally parked and certainly breaking the intergalactic speed limit.

The only real reason the Heavy is interesting is that it has been designed to be recycled, the massively expensive engine bits returning gently to Earth where they are collected, repolished and reused.

Having successfully sent up an open-topped car, the business of launching communications satellites will now be a piece of cake, and a lot cheaper than the current going rate for the standard use-once-only projectile.

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