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French press review 20 June 2018


The US withdraws from the UN Human Rights Council, condemning the organisation as "hypocritical". The French economy is not going through the brightest of patches. And computer technology can seriously damage your health.

The US has confirmed its departure from the United Nations' Human Rights Council.

Le Monde says we're becoming used to the withdrawal of Donald Trump's America from global institutions and agreements . . . think of the TransPacific free trade deal, or the Paris pact on climate, or the Iranian nuclear business. This president is in favour of one-sided action leading to the isolation of the United States from the rest of the global community.

The Human Rights Council was yesterday condemned by the Trump administration as "hypocritical," "selfish," and "a source of embarrassment".

Le Monde is quick to point out that the same terms could well be applied to the current immigration policies being administered by the United States.

Yesterday, the US ambassador at the United Nations, Nikki Haley, accused the Human Rights Council of shielding violators of the very rights it is supposed to be protecting, specifically mentioning the DRC, Venezuela, China, Egypt and Iran.

Haley did not have anything to say about Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, both involved in the humanitarian disaster caused by the three-year war in Yemen.

But she was careful to stress that the US remains firmly committed to the fight for human rights. Which is either irony, stupidity or good news, depending on your point of view

Diplomatic analysts say the US withdrawal from the council is due to the organisation's perceived bias against Israel, target of five critical resolutions, more than North Korea, Iran and Syria combined.

Bad news for the French economy

French economic growth is slowing down, according to the national statisticians.

Gross Domestic Product, basically what the country can produce in a year, is expected to improve by about 1.7 percent by the end of 2018, far off the glorious surge of 2.3 percent achieved last year.

The main reasons for the setback are weak local demand and a slowing of industrial production. The building sector is the only part of the economy which continues to do well.

Le Monde points out that it's not all France's fault. The strength of the euro against the US dollar doesn't help, neither does the increase in oil prices, nor the global impact of various protectionist policies.

The unemployment level remains virtually unchanged at nearly 9 percent of the active population.

The national statistician is not expecting any sudden rise in household spending, with the average Frenchperson likely to stuff whatever's leftover into the old woollen sock, the thing the average French saver uses instead of a piggybank.

The only problem is that saving is not as good as spending for economic growth. And probably suggests that the French are stuffing it away like squirrels desperately preparing for a harsh winter.

Beware the monster in the machine!

The editorial in Le Figaro is devoted to the menace to humanity posed by modern technology.

This cry from the heart is inspired by the recent outburst from Sean Parker to the effect that "God only knows what comlputer screens are doing to our children's brains." And Sean Parker should know a thing or two about the dangers. He used to be the president of Facebook.

Now, like so many former stars of the world wide web, Sean is spending his early retirement writing about the dangers of the company that continues to pay his pension.

Apparently, most of the big names in Silicon Valley insist on sending their kids to private schools where iPhones, iPads and the rest of the expensive junk churned out by Valley businesses is prohibited. Le Figaro consecrates the rumour whereby Bill Gates and Steve Jobs refused to have anything resembling a computer inside their own homes.

Computers make you fat, short-sighted, weaken your concentration, lower your academic and creative performance, disturb your sleep and can lead to various kinds of public misbehaviour.

Le Figaro poses the serious question of the link between the recent increase in sexual violence and the flood of pornography available on the internet.

The right-wing daily wants to see governments take up the challenge posed by new technologies, and not leave these powerful machines in the hands of big business. It may, of course, already be too late . . .

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