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French press review 8 August 2013

The French papers take a look at the US's closure of several embassies in the Middle East, while tensions between the US and Russia continues. France's economy also takes centre stage today, with many wondering if the country is truly recovering from its recession.


Left wing Libération reports on the American government’s decision to close many of its embassies and consulates, after a series of warnings, as well as Obama’s decision to cancel a summit with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The closure of 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East this week highlights the difficulties for Washington in its fight against international jihad, explains the newspaper.

Tensions between Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the West have grown in recent days, especially with the United States.

Between the embassy closures and drone attacks, the U.S. government has no choice but to recognise that two years after the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist threat is far from being eliminated, writes Libération.

According to strategy and terrorism specialist François Haisbourg, interviewed by the daily, Washington’s fallback reaction is a victory for the terrorists and shows that extremists can still represent a threat without having to bomb buildings.

In an extensive report, the paper comes back on the situation in Yemen, where fears of an attack against Western institutions are growing.

Libération also draws a portrait of the situation in Guantanamo Bay, which is still open regardless of President Obama’s 2009 promise to close the prison, and where detainees are starting a sixth continuous month of hunger strikes.

Washington also canceled a bilateral summit with Moscow, due to the asylum granted to Snowden, reports the paper, which analyses the relationship between the two countries.

In the meantime, international pressure builds against the situation in Russia, as human rights organisations denounce the law against “homosexual propaganda” voted by the Russian Government a few months ago.

Right-wing Le Figaro also covers the relationship between Washington and Moscow, but it’s a national story that catches the eye on the paper’s front page.

“Should we believe in economic recovery?” headlines the paper, questioning the socialist government’s optimism regarding France’s economic situation.

If French President François Hollande suggests that “something is changing in the economy,” the slight tremor in activity barely demonstrates the beginning of a recovery from a recession in which the country has been stuck for several quarters, writes Le Figaro.

If the economy is heading out of recession, writes the paper, many uncertainties remain. Large corporations, which have generally maintained good results recently, are also very prudent when it comes to investing in France.

Communist daily l’Humanité reports on the online multinational retailer website Amazon, and headlines: “ Amazon’s Scorched Earth Strategy”.

Blackmailing public administrations, organised tax evasion, financially insecure employees threatening bookstores... The American online retail group will stop at nothing, writes the paper.

According to a study led by Greenwich Consulting, explains l’Humanité, Amazon declared some 110 million euros in sales in 2011, paying only 3.3 million euros in taxes to the French government.

However, according to the consulting firm’s calculations, the company made closer to 890 million euros.

Popular daily Aujourd’hui en France reports on an increasingly “trendy” scam in France, which consists of stealing licence plate numbers to evade tickets and other penalties.

Apparently, an increasing number of unscrupulous drivers are thieving registration numbers, reports the daily - a situation that can become a nightmare for victims who struggle to prove their good faith.

The newspaper explains that it’s pretty easy to make fake licence plates or even have real plates made with fake or stolen numbers, but the con artists risk up to seven years in prison and a 30.000 euro fine, along with a suspension or even a loss of their driver’s licence.

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