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French press review 3 March 2015

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The newspaper distributers are on strike this morning, so we're forced to fall back on the web sites of the various publications.


The main story in conservative Le Figaro looks at the huge number of conspiracy theories which emerged following the January terrorist attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket here in Paris.

One secondary school teacher has already been transferred for having shown students a video linking the Paris attacks to the 11 September, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York.

According to Le Figaro, claims that the Paris attacks were organised and perpetrated by the French secret service spread like wildfire on social media. The murder of the injured police officer, shot dead by one of the Kouachi brothers following the Charlie Hebdo attack, was described as a fabrication.

The common theme of the conspiracy theorists is to blame the attacks on other entitities than those indicated by the police and political authoritiues.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

An expert interviewed by Le Figaro says conspiracy stories are particularly popular among adolescents who are already extremely sceptical and feel suspicious of the official sources of information. The youngsters are happy to have a version of events which debunks the version offered by the standard sources of authority, parents, school, the media, political institutions.

For the conservative paper, teachers face a huge and largely unrecognised task in helping their young charges reconcile an understandable rejection of the official view with an uncritical acceptance of nonsensical theories.

If school doesn't teach children to distinguish between facts and opinions then it is failing dismally, according to Le Figaro.

Libération gives pride of place to the courage of the whistleblowers like Julian Assange (the man behind the so-called Wikileaks) and Edward Snowden (US National Security Agency files), those who risk their jobs, freedom and nationality to leak important information to the general public. Here in France, warns the left-leaning paper, employees who take similar risks will find themselves isolated and ill-protected in a sort of legal no-man's-land.

Le Monde give the top of the front page to the widening diplomatic gulf between the US president, Barack Obama, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is due to address the American Congress later today, at the invitation of Obama's Republican rivals, on the question of the Iranian nuclear programme.

Israel is against any deal short of a total ban on nuclear research by Teheran; Washington is more lenient, perhaps more realistic, in insisting that a compromise is the best way of ensuring a continuation of western supervision of the Iranian nuclear sector.

Just two weeks ahead of parliamentary elections in the Jewish state, this is, according to Le Monde, the worst clash between the Israeli and the American leaders.

On inside pages, the centrist paper plays down the nature of the clash, suggesting that it's row between family members rather than a matter for divorce.

What impact the dispute will have on the search for a final nuclear deal with Teheran, due to be agreed this month, remains to be seen.

Later today, the French Senate will vote at the end of the upper house's first reading of the law intended to help France make the change to renewable energy from the fossil fuel era. The crucial question is, what place to give nuclear power in the brave new world of wind farms, wave power and bicycles for everybody.

President Hollande has attempted to close the gap between Socialists and their former Green allies by promising to get the proportion of French electricity produced by nuclear stations down to 50 per cent by the year 2025. But many ecologists worry that the promise is simply not enough, and won't be kept anyway.