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French press review 19 August 2014

International news dominates French press as France continues its annual August slumber.


Libération looks at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

As you heard earlier in our programme, the suburb of Saint Louis was the scene of violent protests since a local police officer last week shot and killed an unarmed black man.

Libé wonders whether this is a quintessentially American story, and what the French may have to learn from it.

If anything, the paper thinks it's the difficulty of reconciling minorities and vast social inequalities. How should police forces deal with these issues?

Relations between police and France's own minorities are not good either, it warns.
Just as there are not enough black police officers in the US, there are also not enough Muslims in France's security forces.

Though the French had never heard of Ferguson a week ago, its story is not as unfamiliar as one would think.

And Le Monde comments on a meeting held by European foreign ministers last Friday - when the EU essentially congratulated itself for not doing anything much, and agreeing that each country would decide on its own whether to ship arms to the Kurds in Iraq.

The paper says France as usual was more than keen to do so, alongside the UK, Italy and the Tcheq Republic.

Germany though remains wary - mostly because it sees the writing on the wall: arming the Kurds in Iraq may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. European so-called sophisticated weapons may end up being used in a Kurdish insurrection against the Iraqi State.

Le Monde also takes a look at the Côte d'Ivoire, which is preparing for a potential Ebola outbreak by closing its borders with Liberia and Guinea.

Reporting from a small border village, the paper says the frontier is porous, with many clandestine routes and families that span both countries.

The villagers are already isolated, but now even more, as they have been asked by the government to stay in their homes.

Only a lorry passes through to collect their produce and sell it on the market. Locals doubt the very existence of the virus and feel the measures enforced by the government are no more than another attempt to control them.

La Croix thinks Pope Francis' visit to Asia marks new beginnings with the Vatican's role on the continent. Though the region is home to two thirds of the world's population, only 12% of them are Catholic. Vietnam has begun to entertain special relations with Rome, and the paper hopes it's now China's turn. The paper quotes Confucius, saying if China's patience is infinite, then the Vatican's is eternal.

And in French news, Libération has a report on Loschwiller, a village in Alsace that is literally bulging.

It all started a few years ago, when a newly-wed couple drilled a hole in their backyard for renovations. What they did not realize is that they hit an enclosed water reservoir, which began to leak. The soil in the region is a kind of clay that increases by 60% in volume when it gets wet.

Libé reports one local saying the ground is swelling "like a kugloff," an Alsacian kind of bun. Geologists say they have never seen anything like it, and 40 houses in the village are already webbed with cracks, causing much distress...and a headache for figuring out who will pay the damages.

Finally, L'Humanité has a hopping story on the horse sales in Deauville. The city in northern France is host to an annual sale of young pure-blood horses. The reporter for the Communist paper clearly had a fun time spying on the world's rich and powerful at the sale, describing British gentlemen drinking beers and laughing at Saudi princes' jokes. Here, yearlings go at an average price of around 250,000 euros. The auction house makes a whopping 35 million euros every year.

To give you an idea, L'Humanité says that's 2,000 years of a salary on minimum wage. The Communist paper wonders: Crisis? What crisis? Clearly some people are still having fun.

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