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France

French press review 16 April 2013

There's a strange contrast on this morning's front pages with news of the explosions at the Boston Marathon vying for space with the public declaration by French government ministers of their personal wealth. We might as well be looking at two different worlds.

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Sports daily L'Equipe publishes a front-page photograph of one Boston finisher, being helped by officials after having been knocked to the ground by the first explosion. In the background, you can clearly see the flames of the second blast. The headline simply reads "Horror".

Why, wonders L'Equipe, would anyone attack the Boston Marathon, the world's oldest public endurance event, run every year on Patriots' Day to mark the opening battle of the American war of independence?

Was the race to real target?

Several other explosive devices were defused, one of them at the JFK Library, the largest public building in Boston city centre.

A final terrible irony: the theme of yesterday's race was "26 miles for 26 victims," a reference to the children and teachers murdered at Sandy Hook School last December.

Yesterday French ministers engaged in the financial equivalent of what right wing Le Figaro chooses to call "a striptease". No clothes came off, just a few financial details being exposed to public scrutiny.

We can thus confirm that the 38 ministers in the Ayrault government between them possess 37 houses, 29 apartments, 40 cars, two boats and three bicycles. All three bikes, by the way, belong to the same minister, Christiane Taubira.

Just four ministers qualify to pay the ISF, the French tax on the very well-heeled. Laurent Fabius at foreign affairs is the richest cabinet member with assets valued at over six million euros; perhaps appropriately, Benoît Hamon is the poorest at just 230,000 euros.

He's responsible for the social solidarity and consumer protection portfolio.

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