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French press review 3 November 2014


Libération looks at the recent spate of drone sightings over French nuclear stations. The headline, in English, reads "Game of Drones". The problem is, nobody knows who's playing, nor what the ultimate stakes may be.

Thirteen incidents have been recorded in the past four weeks of unmanned flying machines in the air over nuclear sites. The current law forbids the use of such machines over densely- populated areas, specifically football stadiums and protest marches. But there's nothing to stop them flying over nuclear power stations, provided they stay below the 150 metre altitude limit and don't carry video cameras. You need a special licence to fly a drone with an on-board camera.

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Libé's editorial wonders about a society terrorised by chain-saw wielding clowns, and tiny flying machines, with the crucial question in each case being one of identity. Who is behind the mask? Whose hands are on the controls?

Communist L'Humanité gives pride of place to Burkina Faso, asking if the destitution of President Blaise Compaoré is going to sound the knell for the cohort of aging African leaders who have successfully fudged their own national constitutions in order to keep themselves in power. And what does the Burkinabe situation say of French foreign policy which continues to treat murderers and despots as legitimate leaders until their own people throw them out?

And speaking of troubled presidents, conservative daily Le Figaro asks what French leader, François Hollande, can do with the remaining half of his five-year term. The man himself is due on national television on Thursday to attempt to salvage his image. Frankly, Le Figaro doesn't hold out much hope.

The electronic edition of Le Monde is quite worried about the future of the planet, and so should we all be.

The paper's internet site looks at yesterday's publication of the fifth report by the intergovernmental expert panel on climate change, and the news is not good.

This is also the main story in Catholic La Croix, where the optimistic headline assures us we still have time to save ourselves.

The trouble is, of course, we've heard the experts cry "wolf!" so many times before. Everybody knows that the global climate is undergoing dramatic changes, there's no longer any doubt that human beings are principally responsible for the alterations, and only idiots and Chinese industrialists continue to believe that there's still time to sort it all out.

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But, because it's a slow-motion catastrophe and we're so used to bad news coming in instantly recognisable flashes . . . bombs go off, storms roar in, planes, or presidents, vanish . . . no one can get a real grip on what melting polar and mountain ice-caps will mean in 20, 60, 100 years time.

And it's hard to sell future famine as a horror story. Especially since we're all struggling to make ends meet as the global crisis settles down and becomes the global norm.

UN chief Ban Ki Moon wasn't joking yesterday when he said that the average global temperature is well on its way to being four degrees higher by the end of the century. At which point 60 per cent of food crops would not survive, and two thirds of the world's coastal cities would look like Venice. Human beings will fight one another for access to the few remaining parcels of arable land. For years we've been told that 2 degrees would be disastrous. Now we know that 4 degrees will be the end of human civilisation.

Did somebody say "wolf!"?

And spare a thought for Portuguese footballer Ricardo Ferreira who this morning starts a fifty-year ban from the game.

Ricardo copped the record punishment for kicking the ball at a referee and spraying the match official with water. This, after a match which Ricardo spent on the subs' bench.

The man has already served a 45-game ban for assaulting opposition players.

He'll be entitled to return to football in 2064, by which time he'll be 78 years old. And perhaps a bit wiser.

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