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French press review 17 March 2015

Le Monde gives the top of the front page to the catastrophe on Vanuatu, the group of Pacific islands virtually destroyed by a tropical cyclone last weekend. The centrist paper sees this latest disaster as a further warning that human-induced climate change is, indeed, far beyond crisis point.


How close to crisis point is Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu?

The front page of this morning's left-leaning Libération says "Bye, bye Bibi," but the headline has a question mark at the end. Most opinion polls have suggested that ordinary Israelis are fed up with Netanyahu's beligerent bellowing, and are more worried about their supermarket bills and the lack of affordable housing than they are about the threat posed by Iran. As Libé's editorial puts it, Israel needs dispensaries, not protective walls.

There could be as many as eleven political parties in the in-coming Israeli parliament, meaning that the business of post-electoral coalition building is not going to be easy.

Yanis Varoufakis doesn't have to worry about elections, for the moment anyway. He's the Greek finance minister which, you might be forgiven for thinking, is more than enough to be worrying about. Full stop. He's interviewed by communist paper L'Humanité, and he sounds quite optimistic, though that may be the fault of the translator.

Yanis certainly talks the talk. He's against austerity. He claims that, for every five euros loaned to Greece at the height of the crisis, the state got one euro, while the banks and the finacial institutions hoovered up the rest. He says Greek popular dynamism has been smothered by the dead weight of a ruling elite determined to protects its own interests. And Yanis hopes that Athens can remain inside the European community and the monetary union . . . he wants to improve the EU, not contribute to its collapse.

Yanis Varoufakis come across as the sort of guy you'd be happy to drink a few beers with. As to who'd end up paying for the beers, well, times are hard.

Le Monde reports that it could soon be against French law to be too thin!

The debate on new health and safety regulations includes two ammendments intended to protect adolescent girls from the pressure to be skinny exerted by media and the fashion industry.

According to Le Monde, one proposition is to make it illegal for model agencies to employ girls whose body mass index puts them in the malnourished category. If you are 1.75 metres tall and weigh 55 kilogrammes or less, you look like a skeleton, you put your life at risk every time you walk over a grating, and you are medically in the same state as unfortunates in some of the world's poorest regions.

The other ammendment would make it a crime to encourge anorexia, the eating disorder estimated to affect between 30 and 40,000 French teenagers.

The deputy pushing the two ammendments says he wants to stop the fashion industry from promoting an image of feminine beauty which involves the virtual disappearance of the victim through starvation.

The perfect body mass index is 19.5, though I'm unsure whether that's fashion industry perfect or medically perfect: the average French woman comes in at around 23, and the average model at a miserable, if well-paid, 18.

The new law is probably not the best answer, but something obviously needs to be done.

Le Figaro looks at another proposed law, this one intended to help fight terrorists by giving the police extended powers to spy on and infiltrate suspect groups. Human rights organisations aren't going to like it.

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