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French press review 22 September 2011

There's not a glimmer of good, or even moderately good, news on this morning's French front pages.


Two papers look at the legal troubles haunting a couple of gents dangerously close to President Sarkozy.

Four papers worry about money, buckets of it going down the drain in all cases.

And Catholic La Croix is worried about the Pope's visit to his home country, Germany.

The La Croix headline reads "Benedict's German challenge," a reference to the fact that the pope will return as something of a stranger, to a country where the Roman Catholic Church is in deep crisis.

Sexual scandals, mass defections by the formerly faithful, and internal disputes on theological and practical issues are just the main problems faced by Germany's Catholic establishment.

Pope Benedict's message will simply be that "the future is in the hands of God". Given our experiences of the past and the present, that's really not all that reassuring.

The past might be about to catch up with Nicolas Sarkozy.

Two presidential advisors are currently in police custody, answering questions about the so-called "Karachi affair" in which it is suspected that money was skimmed off a 1994 deal to sell three submarines to the Pakistan navy, and that said money was then used to finance the presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur.

The problem is that the two men currently being interrogated by the police are long-term close friends of the French president, and one of them, Nicolas Bazire, was Sarkozy's right-hand man in running Balladur's 1995 presidential campaign.

Libération's editorial says Sarkozy's own electoral ambitions look well set to be chewed up by the global financial crisis, with any surviving little fragments being further mashed by right-wing financial scandals.

And speaking of financial crises . . .

Business daily Les Echos says European banks have already lost 200 billion euros as a result of the woes in the eurozone.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Communist L'Humanité is up in arms at what it calls the failure of the French banks to help local authorities. Seventy-one per cent of public sector investment in this country is handled by local councils, but they can continue to work only if money is cheaply and readily available.

The banks are, according to L'Huma, strangling the system by charging exhorbitant rates or flatly refusing loans. So now local government agencies are going to create their own financial organisation, and cut the banks out of the picture completely.

Big figures feature on the front page of Le Figaro too. There, we learn that it would cost more than 750 billion euros to wind down the French nuclear electric industry, a move which is a major plank of the Socialist presidential platform.

The figure is a bit surprising, since the German nuclear business could be wound-up for a mere third of that sum. But then the man who's making the calculations is the head of the French Atomic Energy Commission, and Le Figaro is a right-wing newspaper.

The front page of Le Figaro also carries the heart-warming story of a couple of aging parents, stuggling pensioners both, who have had to go to court in an effort to dislodge their son, all of 41 years of age, who refuses to leave the family home.

Worse, he won't contribute a centime to household expenses, orders his mother to wash and iron his clothes, and insists on the punctual delivery of his meals.

The mammy in question has recently been hospitalised, suffering from exhaustion and depression.

So she and her husband have decided to get the law to move the ungrateful man out of the family home.

Apparently, no fewer than three-quarters of Italian males between the ages of 18 and 39 still live with mamma and papa, and the courts are awash with irate parents trying to dislodge their aging offspring.

The judges find in favour of the parents in all cases, provided the child has a job, and has not recently been divorced. Apparently, the courts invariably advise the old folk to rush home and change the locks.

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