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French press review 3 August 2011

French prisoners speak out about ocercrowding. Homeless helpers strike over budget cuts. Markets flounder despite the US debt deal. Who is the world's best-paid film star? And why museums and antique shops should keep a sharp eye on their rhino horn.

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Communist newspaper L’Humanité looks at prisons in France. Its headline reads, “The guilty state of French prisons.” The paper has assembled a number of witness accounts after inmates in a prison in Rouen in northern France complained of overcrowding. The paper wants to know if justice will be served.

Rouen is not the only French prison housing too many inmates and in rather grim conditions, but its prisoners are leading the way in making those facts public. And they have won same cases in which the French state was forced to pay former inmates damages.

Libération also focuses on social issues in France. “Samu social” has gone on strike, saying they don’t have sufficient funds to do their job correctly. Samu Social is the centre homeless people can contact in case of an emergency (115).

They are also the ones to place homeless people in shelters overnight. Their budget has been cut by 40 million euros since last year. That means, when there are no more beds in shelters, they can longer afford to rent hotel rooms for instance.

Conservative paper Le Figaro’s front page is all about money. The paper looks at why markets are still down, even after the United States reached a compromise to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default.

The paper outlines three reasons: they are still worried about the US debt which hasn’t been dealt with and they also worry about Italy and Spain’s debt in Europe.

Plus, slow economic growth in the United States and the rest in the world isn’t giving them much hope for the future because people have no money to spend and spur growth.

Also in Le Figaro, actor Leonardo DiCaprio has overtaken Johnny Depp as the best-paid actor in the world. With just two movies last year – Inception and Shutter Island – he earned 54 million euros.

Compared to that, French actors are almost underpaid. With 3.4 million euros, Marion Cotillard is the best-paid actress in France (even though she earned 20 times less than DiCaprio).

We began the French press review with prisons, and we end it with crime. A new misdemeanour is making the rounds: stealing Rhino horn.

Authorities believe an Irish group is behind a handful of thefts across Europe, breaking into antique shops and even museums to steal the commodity.

The reason: money and sex. Ground down to a powder, the horn can be sold for a lot of money, especially in Asia, where people believe the powder can help with potency issues. Something doctors have not confirmed.

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