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French press review 20 August 2014

The papers are still looking across the Atlantic, where the US is embroiled in racial tensions and riots not altogether unfamiliar to the French.


The dailies are divided over how the US should deal with the situation.

Le Monde's editorial says the protests in Ferguson show that segregation is still alive and kicking.

But it congratulates US President Barack Obama for refusing to dramatize the situation: the paper says his coolness is a smart move. It's better to wait for emotions to cool down before holding a full-out debate on race and discrimination.

Conservative daily Le Figaro agrees - Obama is tip-toeing the issue to avoid protests from happening all over the country. Dispatching the US attorney general Eric Holder to Missouri was the best thing to appease tensions, and the security forces that have been dispatched have been discreet and effective.

Libération though would beg to disagree, saying the police have reacted with unnecessary violence, and more people from outside of Saint Louis suburb are streaming in, keen to keep up the chaos.

And L'Humanité thinks Obama's weak response only stokes the fire. The Communist paper says it's as if the state doesn't know how to respond to the issue of racial discrimination. It sees everything in terms of security. But sending more police out is not going to solve anything. There are many other places like Ferguson that witnessed unjustified violence against black youth in recent months. Falling incomes and mounting social tension have set the stage for a public debate that needs to happen now.

In more breaking international news, Le Figaro brings us the story on this year's bad harvest of hazelnuts - which is causing distress for Nutella fans. Hail storms in Turkey, the world's primary producer of hazelnuts have halved this year's crops. And prices have jumped to a new record in the last ten years. Chocolate producers are in a fix, including Ferrero, the producer of the hazelnut spread Nutella that has become a staple in many European households. The chocolate giant's response to the nut dearth has been to buy up the world's leading hazelnut producer, a Turkish company called Oltan. But there's not much it can do about the poor weather, so Nutella may become a luxury item not so far down the line.

And in French news, Libération has an analysis of the radical right party Front National, and how it sees the world beyond France's borders. According to Libé, it's the West... and then the rest, to quote the historian Niall Ferguson.

A Front National European deputy has published guidelines for the party's agenda abroad: they would declare Sunni fundamentalism a sworn enemy, alongside Qatar and Saudi Arabia... while reaching out to ‘defend Israel’. According to the analyst interviewed by Libé, the Front National has always had an ambiguous attitude towards Israel. Though it denounces a Jewish-American imperialism, it's also profoundly allergic to Islam. According to the analyst, the guidelines are an attempt to tease out alliances based on this one driving, irrational fear of Muslims.

And finally, Catholic La Croix has the story on the last village in France to finally get running water.

Amanty, in the North-Eastern region of Lorraine is home to 50 people, and they are the last in the country to be hooked up to the public water supply. Until now, they've depended mostly on private wells, and had no drinking water. Some members of the community actually preferred this to being hooked up to the public system. One says it was a "mini existential problem" that divided locals.

Now some will be sad to have to waste "good water" to flush their toilets.

La Croix calls this the price to pay for progress.

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