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French press review 11 November 2014

The storm in the goldfish bowl continues. The latest French political scandal has given rise to a series of denials and contradictions worthy of a schoolyard.


President Hollande's right-hand man says François Fillon asked him to step up the judicial pressure on Nicolas Sarkozy: "Did not," says Fillon. "Did too," says the right-hand man.

Libération's front page describes it all as "The dance of the denyers".

The left-leaning paper wants to know who invited whom to the famous dinner at which judicial pressure was or was not discussed? What did the lads talk about while they weren't talking about judicial pressure? And who finally profits from the whole sorry fiasco?

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Libération notes that Nicolas Sarkozy is at least making a short-term profit, since this smoke screen is nicely covering up his possible involvement in a real scandal... the complex financial system put in place to disguise the fact that he spent a lot more than the legal limit to finance his 2012 campaign. But there are now so many legal cases involving the ex-president that it may take more than a smoke-screen to save him from jail or, at least, disqualification from standing for public office.

Conservative paper Le Figaro says this is yet another major embarrassment for President Hollande, a man who is no stranger to embarrassment. His right-hand man makes a sudden appearance in the media, with dramatic effect, then denies ever having said what he said, then admits that he did, only to have his claims damned from a height by the man he says said what he said.

Even if the president appears blameless, he is sure to have his image further damaged by the circus acts surrounding him.

The editorial in Catholic La Croix describes the latest affair as a hand grenade in the trench warfare that is French politics. And we'd better get used to it, warns the catholic daily, since the road to the 2017 presidential election is going to be littered with accusations, leaks, revelations and denials.

At the end of the day, the only real effect of this sort of nonsense is to further undermine the confidence of the ordinary French voter in the integrity and dependability of the ordinary French politician.

Expect to see record levels of abstention, says La Croix, or worse, with the dark suggestion that the extreme right Front National party of Marine Le Pen is well placed to profit from the disgrace of mainstream politics.

Dossier: Ebola outbreak 2014

You can tell they have a healthier attitude to politics in India. As part of a weekend reshuffle intended to speed up reform, the prime minister, Narendra Modi has just named a Minister for Yoga.

Modi, who is himself a strict vegetarian and daily doer of yoga, has appointed the former Tourism Minister to promote traditional medicine, yoga, unani (herbal cures) and siddha (basically, meditation).

The Indian Prime Minister has already asked the UN to see if they could fit a World Yoga Day into the calendar. During his recent visit to the US, Modi tried to convince Barack Obama of the benefits of a daily few minutes of contortion and meditation. Barack probably gets all the contortion he needs from the Republicans.

Le Monde reports two recent victories for the supporters of genetically modified food in the United States. Two states have decided that producers can put genetically modified ingredients in prepared dishes, without mentioning that fact on the label. And one of the nation's biggest potato producers has got the green light to grow genetically engineered taties.

Frankenspud! The engineered tuber contains fewer cancer-provoking substances, according to its creators, and can resist transport and handling better than its natural relatives. The company involved is the largest supplier of chips and wedges to the McDonald's fast food empire.

Says Le Monde, let those Europeans currently charged with the negotiation of a new free trade agreement with the United States remember that dozens of food products are now almost exclusively genetically modified in the US, with Europe still nervous about the long-term implications.

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