French weekly magazines review 23 August 2015
Is the debate about pork in school dinners turning the French into fools? One million youths live below the poverty line in France and Greece gets ready to sell a family jewel as the privatisation tsunami hits the bankrupt country.
We start with the very strange anxieties over pork in this revolution-minded nation. Le Point is so irritated by the twist the issue of substituted meals in school canteens has taken that it dedicated an entire article to it. For the publication, this is a typical example of the manner in which societal issues are being exploited by politicians.
For Le Point, under the pretext of secularism, the question of substituted menus has become so ridiculous to the point where one is bound to wonder if this is not a deliberate expression of hostility towards Muslims.
Le Point is a conservative publication and that makes the position it is taking on the issue all the more surprising. For example it argues that a unique menu was the order thirty years ago not just in school canteens but also in hospitals and even on flights.
But as it puts it, that shouldn’t be the case today, when we have the technical means to satisfy individual choices and caprices and even to respect religious traditions of people regarding the consumption of pork, kosher, halal or ideological choices of vegetarians, low calorie diets and low sugar as well as medically prescribed dishes for people suffering from allergies.
Hence Le Point’s argument that in modern schools where self-service canteens offer professional choices, there shouldn’t be any stigmatisation of individuals. For the weekly, the mere fact that in 2015 politicians are trying to impose a unique menu for schools means that they are either out of touch with their time or demagogues.
What parents expect, according to Le Point, are intelligent proposals about the quality of school dinners such as a ban on sodas, and limitations to sugar and salt consumption in order to fight the growing problem of obesity. And for the magazine, schools should remain a place of learning, not the battle ground for ideological wars.
Le Point concludes by inviting its readers to look beyond France’s borders that they will see that the problem of education is not pork. The journal makes its point: France, which was once the cradle of intellectuals, should not become the home of the most stupid people in the world.
Le Figaro's magazine is preoccupied by the catastrophic levels of poverty in France. The right-wing weekly publishes a recent study by the public Observatory of Inequalities which found out the more than a million young people aged between 18 and 29 live below the poverty line with less than 977 euros per month. That represents 13.2 per cent of France’s target group as opposed to just 7.9 per cent in 2002.
Moreso, according to the right-wing journal, this is coupled with an all-time high 25 per cent rate of youth unemployment far above the overall national jobless rate of 10 per cent.
And speaking of unemployment, Le Canard Enchaîné uncovered a stockpile of job seekers it claims has been concealed by Pole Emploi, the National Employment Agency. According to the satirical weekly, the group is missing from the portfolios of job advisers.
Officially each of them handles an average 56 files but the actual figures could reach 246 in some job centres in the north if extra portfolio job seekers are included.
As the people of Greece prepare for slap polls following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ resignation, Marianne exposes the “tsunami of privatisations” that has hit the country. The left-leaning publication reports that 14 of the country’s regional airports serving preferred touristic destinations such as Thessalonica, Cordu, Rhodes, Kos or Santorin are now the property of German firm Fraport Sientel.
Marianne underlines that the facilities were acquired at a giveaway price of 1.3 billion euros under the gigantic 50 billion-euro economic bailout plan imposed by Greece’s European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors. The weekly recalls that the harsh terms were negotiated by the former right-wing government long before Tsipras was forced to swallow it.
The question now, according to Marianne, is: Whose turn is next? It wonders whether it will be the seaports, the state-owned railway corporation or other multinationals. For the magazine, one thing is clear in everyone’s minds: Greece will never be able to pay the colossal 232 billion euros Athens contracted from its eurozone partners.