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French press review 29 April 2015


Anger at the means being deployed to rescue foreign climbers in Nepal, anger at police violence in the United States, Chinese economic problems, Greek debt and the way Jean-Marie Le Pen has put his far-right Front National party's financial policies into action.

Le Monde's main story says Nepal's poor have been relegated to second place by a massive rescue operation destined to save a handful of foreign climbers trapped on the flanks of Mount Everest.

With the death toll from last weekend's earthquake now likely to exceed 10,000 and many of the worst-hit areas of Nepal still completely cut off, the use of a fleet of private helicopters to ferry 170 climbers to the relative safety of the Everest base camp has sparked debate and anger in the ruined country.

Critics point out that, paying an average 70,000 euros per head to climb the world's highest mountain, the foreigners are all well insured. The helicopter operators are thus certain of being paid for each "rescue," which is hardly the case if they try to help ordinary Nepalis.

L'Humanité looks to the United States and the latest violent outpouring of black anger against police violence, this time in Baltimore.

There clearly is a problem: the communist daily says that, in the course of the month of March alone, no fewer than 111 people were killed by the forces of law and order in the US. The vast majority of the victims are African-Americans and L'Humanité says that, for certain sections of the population in poor urban areas, the police are no longer regarded as protectors but as enemies.

If a return to a level of violence worthy of the darkest days of racial segregation is to be avoided, something more serious than luke-warm political platitudes will be required, L'Humanité believes.

La Croix looks to China, with a main headline suggesting that the Asian economic boom has come to an end. This year, Chinese growth is likely to languish at around the 7.0 per cent mark, the dragon economy's worst performance since 1990. Even if a similar growth rate would make most European leaders water at the mouth, it's bad news for an economy that is now facing declining demand, mass unemployment and sharply rising costs.

And there's a shortage of investment, says La Croix, since Chinese banks don't lend to ordinary businesses, just to massive multinationals or state-run companies.

Libération looks at the first hundred days of the Syriza government in Greece and finds that, sadly, nothing has changed. The election promises of an end to austerity have run into the harsh reality that heavily indebted Athens no longer has any real control over its own financial future.

Right wing Le Figaro notes that President François Hollande later today chairs a meeting of the defence council against a background of increasing demands on the French military, especially in the wake of the January terrorist attacks in Paris, and an ever-diminishing budget. The president faces tough choices.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné give pride of place to the latest scandal to engulf the far-right Front National party founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen. He is suspected of having salted away a substantial stash of euros in a Swiss bank account. Le Canard Enchaîné says the old guy was just following party policy which involves taking France out of the single currency zone. Instead of taking France out of the euro, Jean-Marie has been taking the euro out of France and storing it in Switzerland. He's an old fellah. It's easy to get mixed up.

Let's hope it's not one of those predictions that cause spectacular downfalls but the front page of sports daily L'Equipe say our local football heroes, Paris Saint Germain, are looking like champions.

Three-one winners last night against lowly Metz, Paris now have five consecutive league victories to their credit and a three-point lead over second-placed Lyon. There are four playing days to the end of the season. But as Bayern Munich, ingloriously dumped from the German Cup last night, will tell anyone who cares to ask, four days is a long time in football.