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French press review 16 October 2012


Feeding the world and the French budget are among the subjects covered in today's papers.

This is World Food Day, and Catholic La Croix uses the occasion to look at the way in which the buying-up of agricultural land by, notably, the biofuels industry, is making it more difficult to feed the growing global population.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

As we pointed out yesterday, current agricultural models are patently, and tragically, incapable of feeding the seven billion human beings currently alive. By 2050, when there are likely to be between nine and ten billion of us, the situation risks being even more catastrophic.

The number of people who don't get enough to eat in sub-Saharan Africa has seen a net increase over the past two decades of around 60 million people.

According to La Croix, a lot of the blame for that alarming trend, which runs completely counter to the global tendency of increasing food security, can be laid at the doors of the mega-multi-nationals, food and fuel companies who have bought enormous swathes of, for example, Colombia and Mali, with a view to producing animal feed for the European market, or rice for export. In both cases, the impact on local, traditional agriculture has been disastrous.

Le Monde reports on the re-opening, yesterday, of the three universities in Côte d'Ivoire.

The Abidjan campus, named after the first Ivorian president, Félix Houphouët Boigny, was the scene and source of terrible violence during the civil war. It has been closed for the past 18 months, having being reduced to an empty shell . . . everything of value was stolen, right down to the copper wires in the walls; the library was cleaned out; the archives were destroyed.

In the decade before the civil war, the university at Cocody had become a virtual outpost of the pro-Laurent Gbagbo militia operating under the banner of the Ivorian School and Student Federation. Builders working on the renovation even discovered a mass grave dating from the years of the Gbagbo-Ouattara conflict on the campus grounds.

Today, Cocody and the other colleges at Abobo-Adjamé and Bouaké are again open for business, trying to cater for an inflated first-year intake that includes the past three years of school leavers.

Business daily Les Echos looks at the French tax debate, as parliament gets down to just that . . . debating who should pay, and how much. Is it better to cut costs or raise taxes? Is it wise to plunge the economy into the cold bath of budgetary rigour, just as it shows signs of getting over the cold sweats of the crisis? And is the European golden rule, which limits state borrowing to 3% of gross national product, such a great idea in the first place?

Communist L'Humanité wants to know what became of the fighting budget promised by the Socialists during the election campaign.

The communist daily claims that, if the government really had the courage to tax big business properly, they could take in an extra 50 billion euros.

The bosses of big business are already whinging that they have to pay too much, and are threatening the end of the world and the demise of the French industrial model, if they don't get a 30 billion euro let-off.

Who's telling the truth? Well, everybody. It's just that their points of view are very different.

Dossier: DRC elects a president

On inside pages, Le Monde looks back to the recent conference of French-speaking nations, which came to an end in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Sunday.

The president of the host nation, Joseph Kabila, got off fairly lightly says Le Monde.

Kabila was sharply criticised, notably by his French counterpart, Frank Hollande, for Kinshasa's failure to secure the eastern border region around Lake Kivu.

But Kabila will have been happier at the conference decision to blame Rwanda, at least implicitly, for much of the unrest in the eastern DRC.

That obviously changes very little for the people who live in the Kivus, but at least their plight is, once again, acknowledged.