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French press review 5 December 2017

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Who is Laurent Wauquiez and why should you care? How do American voters who supported Donald Trump in his charge to the White House feel he has managed his first year at the helm? And how safe from terrorist attack are French nuclear reactors?


Le Monde's main story looks at next weekend's election to choose a new leader of the right-wing Republicans party:

"Wauquiez set to take up the reins of a right in ruins" reads the ringing headline.

Laurent Wauquiez is the man most likely to emerge victorious when paid-up party members vote on Sunday.

His platform has been criticised as extremely conservative on social issues. He has promised to reunite a party hammered in the last legislative and presidential polls, currently divided between benign supporters and committed enemies of President Emmanuel Macron's government. Not to mention the internal divisions between former Fillonists, jaded Juppéists and sad supporters of Sarko.

So he has his work cut out for him, has our man Laurent.

A year of the Donald

Right-wing daily Le Figaro gives the front-page honours to Donald Trump, finding that supporters of the US president are still 100 percent behind their leader, seeing him as the mouthpiece for their anger.

Since the media are not to be trusted, they feel, the president's pronouncements are greeted as wisdom, addressed to the ordinary people left on the margins by the American system.

On the less positive side, Le Figaro interviews a psychiatrist who says that Trump's swaggering is the sort of behaviour that can lead to wars. Brandy Lee, who teaches at Yale University, has analysed all the president's statements and his various actions and says Trump urgently needs to have a professional check on his mental health.

Le Figaro's editorial looks at the two Americas exposed by the current presidency: while the polite world of Wasington is shocked by the daily outrage provoked by the Donald and his fulminating tweets, his grassroots supporters are loving it, applauding their president, a man with the courage to tell the system to go and stuff itself.

And for the second morning in succession, Le Figaro portentously quotes the famous observation of former French president Charles de Gaulle, to the effect that a leader's standing is part and parcel of his authority and is directly related to his distance from the ordinary citizen. Not for our Donald, merci beaucoup!

How safe are French nuclear sites?

Left-leaning Libération looks into the security flaws in the French nuclear sector.

The paper says the various commando operations against French nuclear reactors by the activist group Greenpeace prove that terrorists could exploit the same vulnerabilities.

Sites are open to air attack, either by small planes or drones, and could be sabotaged by insiders.

There's the question of the security of the tons of radioactive waste which is transported on French roads and railways towards the reprocessing plant in the Dutch city of the Hague.

To say nothing of the problem posed by cyberattack targetting the systems which control the reactors. Overall security is condemned by Libé as inadequate.

Save the planet? Save my lungs!

The message coming from the UN climate conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, is far from comforting. Not only is the planet going down the gurgler, but we're going with it.

Le Monde interviews Maria Neira of the World Health Organisation. She says the strategy so far used by climate activists has been mistaken. Instead of focusing on melting ice caps, drowned Asian islands and baked polar bears, stuff that is going to happen far away in some indeterminate future, Neira says we need to understand that air pollution is killing us now, at the rate of 6.5 million premature deaths every year.

Just look at Delhi where this week's cricket Test against Sri Lanka has had to be stopped on several occasions because players were being taken ill on the pitch.

Maria Neira hopes that what we won't do for the planet, we might do to save our own skins.

Thirty-six percent of lung cancer deaths, 34 percent of strokes and 27 percent of heart attacks are caused by breathing polluted air.

Neira says China has made huge strides in cleaning up its industrial sector, not because of international agreements but because people could no longer breathe the air in Beijing.

Hospital admissions in the Chinese capital have diminished by 30 percent since the clean air programme was launched. That's the way ahead for all concerned.