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French press review 11 October 2016

Is Donald Trump not just racist, sexist and obscene but also a danger to democracy? Should the French president meet his Russian counterpart for talks as the bombs rain down on rebel-held parts of the Syrian city of Aleppo? Should business students tell their university authorities to put a sock in it?


For the second morning in succession, US presidential candidate Donald Trump dominates the front page of Le Monde.

His weekend televised clash with presidential rival Hillary Clinton is being described by American media as "the worst debate in political history". Trump himself is characterised by the Le Monde editorial as "dangerous".

With a venom untypical of the centrist daily, we are reminded that Trump's Republicans have been recently marked by a decline into a sort of ideological sectarianism. Economic difficulties and security worries do that to right-wing political organisations. But Trump is a special case.

Le Monde says he has "sullied, perverted and vulgarised (Republican thinking) to the point of obscenity. This man," we are told, "is a threat to democracy."

Trump has turned ignorance into a virtue, has lied about everything important to the point of creating a virtual universe inhabited by himself and his most determined supporters. He has turned political debate into reality TV. If he gets into the White House, warns Le Monde, there'll be no way to turn him off.

Can he still get there? In an opinion poll published just after the latest sex-tapes scandal, 45 percent of American voters, said they thought Trump should stay in the race.

Perhaps countries do, after all, get the political figures they deserve?

What can you do with Vladimir Putin?

Left-leaning Libération puts the Russian President Vladimir Putin on its front page. Vlad is due here in Paris later this month and is expecting to talk to François Hollande about the Syrian conflict and the Ukranian crisis. But it's not clear that the French president is going to be available.

Yesterday French leaders accused Russian forces of bombing the Syrian city of Aleppo, saying that such action clearly constituted a war crime, adding that those who commit war crimes have to accept responsibility, even before the International Criminal Court.

Does that mean Putin risks being arrested and transferred to the Hague if he shows up in Paris on 19 October?

Conservative poll suggests that Putin will be welcome

Right-wing paper Le Figaro is running a readers' poll on the question whether Hollande should or should not meet Putin in Paris. With 48,000 votes, 78 percent were in favour of the planned meeting going ahead.

Le Figaro's analysis of the situation points to Russia's weekend veto of a French call at the UN Security Council for an end to the bombing of Aleppo, leaving no room for ambiguity about the Kremlin's determination to continue to support Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, whatever the international consequences.

Sell a sock, be a success

Le Figaro also looks at a bizarre situation at the University of Valenciennes, a city in northern France. Business students there have been sent out to sell socks, towels and pyjamas door-to-door. Those who manage to sell 500-euros-worth get 20 out of 20, with their marks diminishing in relation to their sales. Those who fail to reach the 400-euro mark risk being excluded from the second year of the course.

The company which produces the socks, towels and pyjamas kindly gives 21 percent of the sales to the students' union. But critics are wondering about the remaining 79 percent which the company pockets on the back of what some students consider to be slave labour.

Yesterday the university rejected the allegations as dangerous and diffamatory, saying that it would take legal action against its accusers. The statement, however, makes no reference whatsoever to the treatment of first-year business students or the alleged sales targets they have to reach.

The sock company had nothing much to add, beyond the edifying detail that they run similar schemes with several establishments, including secondary schools, suggesting that some of their "salespeople" might be minors. They insist that the schemes are all voluntary, allowing students the chance to put sales theory into practise, and that there is absolutely no pressure to meet targets.

Forced marriage still haunts world's children

Finally, to mark International Girls Day, Catholic daily La Croix gives the front-page honours to the practise of forced marriage, of which millions of girls are each year the victims in the name of tradition, or because of extreme poverty or a frozen view of the role of the wife. Most victims are under the age of 18.

About 700 million women and 150 million men are estimated by the United Nations to have been forced into marriage while still children.

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