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French press review 1 March 2018

A call from French MPs for a law on euthanasia. A series of weather warnings. A look at what's happening to conservative politics in France. And the decline of the New York murder.

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Le Monde's print edition gives its main headline to the call by 156 French MPs for a law which would allow the terminally ill to decide their own destiny.

One hundred and twenty-two of the signatories of the appeal come from the Republic on the Move party founded by French President Emmanuel Macron. They claim that a majority of parliamentarians are in favour of the legalisation of euthanasia and they want a law this year.

Batten down the hatches!

Le Figaro goes for a front page weather report, telling us that southern France has disappeared under a snow drift and that the transport situation is confused.

As things stand, 27 departments are on alert for snow and ice, two have the same warning level because of violent winds and two others are on the second-most serious level of alert because of the danger of torrential rain and flooding.

And this is the first calendar day of Spring!

God bless us, and our guns!

Le Figaro also reports from the United States where a church in Pennsylvania yesterday welcomed hundreds of worshippers equipped with automatic weapons.

The ceremony was to bless the faithful and their guns. The right-wing daily points out that such a gathering can hardly be relegated to the status of harmless stupidity in the wake of the latest mass murder in Parkland.

The church is in a rural area called Newfoundland which voted 68 percent in favour of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.

Carving up the vanishing French right wing

Left-leaning Libération looks at the way French right-wing support is being carved up between the supposedly moderate Republicans and the far-right followers of Marine Le Pen.

As everyone prepares for next year's European elections, Libé says Laurent Wauquiez, the head of the mainstream conservative Republicans, is trying to occupy the space left in the wake of Le Pen's disastrous presidential campaign.

Le Pen has lost supporters because of her incompetence in the television debate with Emmanuel Macron, but those supporters are no less anti-European, anti-immigrant, anti-system than they ever were.

And Wauquiez has shown, in his recent performances before students in Lyon and at the Paris Farm Fair, that he's prepared to talk the right-wing talk. Which may very well earn him a few extra National Front voters but at the cost of how much traditional right-wing support? Libération says a great many voters who respect the social, Christian, moderate traditions of French conservativism are now flocking to the exits.

Worse, warns Libé, as Wauquiez relentlessly targets the lame, not to say dead, duck that is Marine Le Pen, he may find to his cost that the real danger is slumbering in the form of her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen.

New York murder rate takes the plunge

In what sounds like a case which would have interested British writer George Orwell, Le Monde reports the decline of the New York murder.

The city which is home to 8.5 million people saw its murder rate decline to just 3.3 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants last year, the lowest level since the 1950s. The situation is far worse, for example, on the French island of Corsica, where five people in every 100,000 were murdered in the course of 2017.

Last year's 290 New York murders compare to the 314 violent deaths in the city in 1957, the year the gang-war musical - complete with murder - West Side Story was first performed. And that's a lot quieter than 1991 when an all-time record of 2,245 murders were recorded in the Big Apple. Most of those were associated with gang wars too, without the singing and dancing. These guys were killing one another for control of the city's drugs market.

At the time, there were 20,000 inmates in New York's prisons. Today there are fewer than 9,000 and arrests are at an all-time low.

Better policing is the explanation offered by the police. Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

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