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French Press Review 10 January 2018

It's a tough job, being US president. Just ask Donald Trump. Has the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sex saga dealt a serious blow to the women's movement? Can the latest research by cognitive and other brain scientists help kids learn faster and better? Is peace about to break out on the Korean peninsula?


How hard does Donald Trump work? That question is posed this morning by French centrist paper Le Monde.

According to Sarah Hucakebee Sanders, a member of the team surrounding the very stable genius, the current president of the United States is one of the hardest-working American leaders ever seen, putting in long hours, long days, nearly every day of the week, all year long.

According to the anti-fake-news website Axios (which was strangely blocked and unavilable when I tried to check it earlier this morning), Trump rarely makes it to the Oval Office before 11.00am, frequently leaves his advisors talking among themselves while he heads back to the White House living quarters, and knocks off definitively for the day around six in the evening. He spends a lot of time watching television. Sending out Twitter messages. And playing golf. Preferring Florida or New Jersey to Washington, the Donald is hardly ever at home at the weekend.

Nice work if you can get it.

Don't call me a poor little thing!

Women, you'll be pleased to learn, are not poor little things. That's confirmed on the front page of Le Monde, with a follow-up inside signed by a collective of more than 100 women, including actresses, writers, journalists, intellectuals and political figures.

The point of the whole initiative is that, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal, a new form of puritanism is emerging. And feminism is in danger of being perverted into "a hatred of men and sexuality", according to the statement.

The signatories want to underline the distinction between the chat-up artist, who may be clumsy, over-insistent and annoying, but is not a criminal. And they want to remind us all that gallantry is not the same thing as macho aggression.

Women need to be protected against powerful predators but it won't help if they are chained to the status of eternal victims, the statement says.

Neuroscience in the classroom

Right-wing Le Figaro devotes its editorial to praising efforts by French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer to bring the latest neuroscientific discoveries into the classroom.

What better way to end the decades of dispute between educationists and conservatives? By using the current understanding of the way the brain functions, the teaching of reading and maths will become, well, child's play.

Of course, we'll have to rewrite all the textbooks and retrain all the teachers. But let's not get too technical here. We're talking revolution.

So, already, are the nation's teachers who view with a jaundiced eye the arrival of a bunch of jargon-spouting technocrats who are going to tell them how to do their job.

Le Figaro hopes that the teachers, traditionally conservative, won't get in the way of a profound change in the way we educate our children.

Koreans are back on speaking terms

The same Le Figaro wonders how justified is the current excitement generated by the fact that North and South Korean are back on speaking terms.

Speaking is better than snarling, agrees Le Figaro, and there's been a lot of that over the past two years. So, yes, these Winter Olympics talks are good news. But the crucial problem is that the North's nuclear programme is not part of the agenda.

There is a long, difficult and frequently disappointing history of talks between North and South since the end of the Korean war in 1953, Le Figaro says.

And we've seen Olympic-inspired dawns before. Remember that the two nations showed up for the summer Games in 2000 and 2004 under the same flag, wearing the same uniforms. But, two years later, in 2006 the North tested its first nuclear weapon. And the gap has widened since, damaging economic, touristic and diplomatic links, leaving the North ever more isolated.

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