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French press review 14 December 2011

French teachers are set to strike. The world welcomes Palestine, or does it? Sarkozy welcomes French  firms back home. And do you need a dating assistant?


Many French teachers will be on strike tomorrow.

Left-leaning Libération attempts to explain the latest trouble in the classroom, most of it related to government plans to change the way schoolteachers are graded.

At the moment, teachers are evaluated every three years by a department inspector who comes to watch a day's work. A good result means a small pay increase.

Now, the government wants to introduce a three-yearly interview with the school principal as a way of controlling the teacher's climb up the pay ladder.

The trade unions are none too happy at the way in which the business of education is being managed.

The headline in Communist L'Humanité reads "The world welcomes Palestine".

That's a reference to yesterday's ceremony at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, where Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas saw his embattled territory welcomed as the 195th member of Unesco.

The headline is a huge exaggeration, of course, since neither Israel nor the United States have welcomed Palestine's accession to the UN body.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Perhaps the organisation's director general, Irina Bokova, put the whole thing in perspective in her welcoming speech, when she said that the founding principle of Unesco was "to nourish in the human spirit a belief in the power of peace against the culture of war".

Despite the crisis, business is booming in the global aviation industry.

The world leaders, Airbus and Boeing, are coming to the end of a record-breaking year, each company having delivered more planes than in any previous year of its history, both with order books bulging for next year.

Airbus took on 4,000 employees in the course of 2011 and urgently needs as many again.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been encouraging consumers to buy products which are made in France.

Yesterday Sarkozy praised locally made stuff while visiting the Alpine factory where the ski producer Rossignol has resumed work, having earlier shifted production to Taiwan.

The president said the Rossignol experience proved that the French industrial base could be saved and even expanded.

Le Monde is sceptical. The centrist paper says France has made several crucial mistakes: while Germany continues to produce world-leading items like Porsche, Mercedes and Leica, French products have rarely had that same sort of clout and so end up competing in the crowded and cost-cutting middle and lower ends of the market.

Indeed, says Le Monde, the Germans manage to have their cake and eat it, since 85 per cent of your average Porsche is actually manufactured in the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, but is assembled in Leipzig, which is where they stick on the fancy badge and the price tag.

Right-wing Le Figaro says it wil take more than presidential pleasantries to get France working again.

French products have to be competitive in a tough market, and that means reducing the cost of taking on workers, liberalising labour law and providing a stable fiscal environment.

Otherwise the struggling consumer will vote with his wallet and buy the cheapest thing possible.

There's a sign of the times on inside pages of Libération where the activities of "dating assistants" are explained.

Dating assistants are people who will trawl internet dating agencies for you, if you are too busy to do your own research.

They will send emails on your behalf and even keep up your end of an on-line chat session, with a view to getting the phone number of a selected potential partner or partners.

The system of virtual flirting has been a raging success in the US for the past three years, and is catching on here in France where five million people log on each month to services offering online love.

You pay between 120 and 560 euros to have someone do the online seduction for you, and you get your money back if things don't work out.

I'm not sure what criteria are used to decide the level of success on the online agencies, but you can use your imagination.

What I want to know is what happens when you finally meet the man or woman of your dreams and she, or he, says "strange, you don't seem as funny as your emails".

You would have expected them to know better in the land of Cyrano de Bergerac!


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