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French press review 15 December 2014

Former US president George W Bush and former vice president Dick Cheney are described as “Torturers”. Former French hostage Serge Lazarevic denies media suggestions that he was a spy or a mercenary.

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The front page of left-leaning Libération carries a photograph of former US president George Bush Junior, and his vice president, Dick Cheney, with a headline describing the two men as “Torturers”.

Since there is no longer much doubt about the level of White House involvement in the mistreatment of terrorist suspects in the wake of the September 11 attacks, Libération says many voices are now calling for the trial of the then American leader and his sidekick for crimes against humanity.

As newspaper websites struggle, like the rest of us, to come to terms with the Sydney hostage crisis, Le Monde lists the five other stories to retain from the weekend news.

Former French hostage Serge Lazarevic appeared on national television on Friday, denying media suggestions that he was a spy or a mercenary, but admitting that he believed his release had been secured by the freeing of prisoners from Malian custody, something which has since been confirmed by the authorities in Bamako

The climate talks in Lima went into extra time, but at least a working document emerged at the end. Le Monde says the Lima deal does not amount to much, but is better than nothing since it will continue to provide a basis for putting pressure on governments to slow down their greenhouse gas emissions.

There were more demonstrations over the weekend in the United States by people angry about police violence, especially against black Americans.

The two mainstream French political organisations, the conservative UMP and the socialist party, both launched recruiting drives, with both hoping to grow their paid membership to 500,000 between now and the next presidential election in 2017.

And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saw his Liberal Democratic Party returned to power following snap elections.

Le Monde's front page looks at the cyber attack on the computers of Sony Pictures, describing it as the biggest theft of information in history. Most of the corporation's private data, including internal e-mails and unreleased films were accessed by pirates who have started making them available on internet.

The motive remains obscure, says Le Monde, though there is a suspicion that North Korea could be involved in a revenge attack for a recent Sony film mocking the Pyongyang regime. And, according to the centrist paper's economics section, all big companies should be worried, since not one of them is proof against a similar attack.

Immigration is the main story on the front pages of both right-wing Le Figaro and catholic La Croix.

French president François Hollande will later today make his first major speech on the topic when he inaugurates the Immigration Museum in Paris, itself a controversial establishment, already open for the past seven years, only today getting the official launch.

Le Figaro is worried at the lack of a concerted European policy on immigration. The facts are stark: in the course of 2014, an estimated 207,000 people tried to cross the Mediterranean. In 2011, that number was "just" 70,000. President Hollande is today expected to renew his links with the symbolic values of the left, an initiative that worries Figaro greatly.

In an editorial headlined "Exasperation," the conservative daily wonders just how far Hollande will go. Will he propose to give foreigners the vote; will he try to convince us that immigration is an advantage.

Or will he admit that the only advantage is to the extreme right wing National Front, which has deftly harnessed voter concern about a problem that, for Le Fiagro at least, is already out of control.

Catholic La Croix looks at the immigration success stories, interviewing those who chose France as their homeland and who have done well here. The historian Benjamin Stora, who is the director of the Immigration Museum, says the value of immigration to France can not be overestimated, in terms of population renewal and cultural diversity.
 

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