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French weekly magazines review 14 December 2014

What’s wrong with France’s schools? Why is Europe’s own GPS satellite so slow to take off? Can a computer program predict the future? And are young French people saving the country’s sartorial bacon?


Marianne is talking about schools this morning. The centre-left magazine explains how it believes the French education system is failing.

As you might remember, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was appointed education minister a few months ago and according to the weekly, she has done a good job so far.

But that's not enough, explains Marianne, she will have to deal with the "catastrophic legacy" previous ministers have left her.

So what's wrong with the French education system?

Almost everything, according to Marianne.

Students don't know how to read anymore, teachers are underpaid, the school’s programmes are not good and the ministry isn’t doing great when it comes to gender equality.

What's the solution then?

For the weekly, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem should rethink education and change everything. That task promises to be complicated, given that no ministers managed to do that in recent years.

Now let's move on to the Chinese GPS system.

There is an interesting piece by the founder of the Rue89 website, Pierre Haski, in this week's L'Obs.

You might remember the failed launched of a Galileleo satellite a few weeks ago.

Galileleo is the European GPS system, created as an alternative to the American system.

The project should have been the shining example of how Europe can do things right.

But, Haski says, the project, which should have been ready by 2008 but will now not be up and running until 2019, is actually the symbol of how the European Union is not working properly.

Take China, for example.

According to Haski, their GPS system, Beidou, is a success. It was launched last year and is already recognised as safe by the main international organisations.

Dossier: Ebola outbreak 2014

There is one difference between Europe and China though: funds.

This week's Le Point is reporting that a woman can predict the future.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kira Radinsky has created a computer algorithm that can predict the future.

Radinsky, who was born in Ukraine and now lives in Israel, was even selected by the prestigious US university MIT as one of the best innovators of the year.

The program she created was, for instance, able to predict the cholera outbreak in Cuba in 2012.

And, according to the right-leaning magazine, its predictions have 70-90 per cent chance of being true.

So how do this work exactly?

Radinsky's algorithm studies books, New York Times archives and Wikipedia pages in order to predict what could happen.

The program doesn't always work though, explains Le Point.

For example, it predicted the fall of the Sudanese government in 2013 - but that did not happen.

There is one nice quote from Radinski.

"The past does not repeat itself but its pace does," she says.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

Finally, you might have noticed that most French people don't really make an effort anymore when it comes to clothes. That's according to Le Monde Magazine.

The generation who was born in the 70s and 80s is now attending quite posh events wearing jeans.

And that's something the weekly doesn't like very much.

But fear not.

The magazine explains that young French people are actually dressing up when to go out at night.

Bow-ties and suits for men are in, jeans out.

For women, black dresses and suits are making a come back.

Marion Laporte, a fashion specialist, says this trend might be linked to the crisis.

"Our very individualistic society pushes us to invent a new identity," she explains. "This is done by self-stylisation as a way to become the heroes in our own life-stories."

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