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France Press review

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French press review 12 October 2017


Harvey Weinstein, a new anti-terrorist law and death by air pollution are among the topics earning mention, honourable or otherwise, in this morning's Paris dailies.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal is having political repercussions in the United States and completely dominates the French front pages.

According to Le Monde, the Republicans are now accusing their Democrat opponents of having been slow to denounce the Hollywood producer because of his generous contributions to party funds.

Weinstein is accused of multiple rapes, sexual assaults and intimidation. He personally gave 1.4 million dollars to the Democrats since 1990.

And he also organised million-dollar fund-raisers for Barack Obama, who won his bid for the presidency, in 2012 and Hillary Clinton, who lost hers, in 2016.

Several Democrat senators have already started to get rid of the money offered by Weinstein, many giving the cash to charitable associations and women's defence groups.

Speaking to CNN, Jennifer Granholm, Democratic former governor of Michigan, observed that the Republican outrage against Harvey Weinstein was ironic, given that President Donald Trump had himself been accused of sexual harrassment on 15 occasions.

Right-wing daily Le Figaro notes that Weinstein, once described as the third most powerful individual in Hollywood, after Steven Spielberg and God, holds the French honour of Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth.

And what were the journalists doing?

Le Figaro also wants to know why it took so long for the American media machine to go public with a story about which everyone knew for decades.

Harvey's behaviour was a joke in Hollywood, his meetings with young actresses were public knowledge, organised by a team of aides and secretaries. Where was the supposedly feminist press looking while all this was going on, wonders Le Figaro. Did his friendship with powerful political figures protect the Hollywood mogul?

The American papers themselves are this morning criticising Hollywood for its misogynous system and complete lack of moral values. To quote Diane Keaton, "La-di-dah!"

The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe all lament the veil of silence which protects the big hitters in the worlds of cinema, media and politics. You'd think they could do better than that.

Mentioning Hillary Clinton, who profited enormously from Weinstein's support, and who took several days to issue a statement of condemnation, Le Figaro says the credibility of many of feminism's great figures, who were in the vanguard in attacking Donald Trump's sexism, has been damaged by the Weinstein case.

The damage may go a lot further than that.

The problem may, finally, be part of Hollywood, a place where, says Le Figaro, people will accept any sort of misbehaviour on the part of those who make lots of money.

And it doesn't help that those making the money are all men, many of whom regard women as part of the reward for their extraordinary achievements.

A dangerously dehumanising law

Since yesterday France has a new anti-terrorist law, conceived to replace the emergency regulations put in place after the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and renewed ever since.

In today's Le Monde legal specialist Mireille Delmas-Marty sees a danger of the legislation establishing what the French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville called "soft despotism", in which the population is reduced to a timid, hardworking flock with the government as the shepherd.

According to Delmas-Marty, the attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington mark the point at which the human rights pendulum began to swing back, with security becoming the crucial measure of value.

We are, she says, now living in a state where suspicion has replaced protection and where a sort of determinism means that all individuals labeled dangerous are suspected of planning a crime.

The new law is dangerous, according to Delmas-Marty, because it is dehumanising.


Air pollution is killing 500,000 Europeans every year, according to the latest report from the European Environmental Agency.

The microparticles spat out by diesel engines are the worst killers, followed by nitrogen dioxide, also predominantly from diesel-powered cars, and ozone.

The overall toll for continental Europe's 41 nations is a slight improvement on the 2016 figure which showed 550,000 premature deaths due to air pollution.