French press review 5 August 2010

Not one single French newspaper has the same cover stories today: the options range between Russia’s deadly summer fires, France's unpopular involvement in Afghanistan and a forecast increase in car insurance prices. However, some positive and amusing news does transpire. Expect Obama pep-talking youth from the African continent, women digging red and economic history, as well as a newspaper-versus-labour-minister squabble.


La Croix is quick to remind us that Obama remains faithful to US diplomatic methods, by calling for development founded on trading and liberal investments as well as transparency and anti-corruption measures, freedom of the press and so on.

Meanwhile conservative Le Figaro also features an article on Obama and his desire to mould history. Le Fig' compares him to one of France's best known 20th-century heads of state, General Charles De Gaulle, and says that De Gaulle, like Obama, viewed his country's future and development through the generations to come.

Over on the front page of Le Figaro, underneath leads about fires eating away at Russia and controversy over a mosque project on Ground Zero, l’histoire du jour - or story of the day - has the catchy title, "Women prefer men in red".

Apparently an American study for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded that women found men who wore red attractive, stronger and more sexually desirable. A test was carried out on 288 women who looked at photos of 28 men wearing various shades, and basically it appears that the female unconscious is moved by the sight of the colour red.

Apparently birds and shell fish share the same attraction to red. Although I am glad RFI's logo is red, I do hope our female listeners, as well as all living creature of this world, are attracted to us for more than just our colour.

A slightly more heavyweight story about the female gender in today’s French press can be found in business daily Les Echos, which is doing a special series on women who played a part in the development of economics.

Today's contribution is about Eliza Pinckney, also known as "the queen of indigo", who at the tender age of 17 became the head of a plantation in South Carolina. Thanks to her knowledge of botany, she was able to develop the production of indigo in the then New World. This was back in the mid-18th century, a time where women weren’t able to vote and seldom had access to education. Between 1744 and 1750 production in the region went from 150,000 pounds to four million. Check the full story to find out all about the educated, determined woman whose production of indigo soon broke the Indian monopoly of the market.

Oh and remember indigo is a shade of purple… Not red.

Dossier: The Bettencourt scandal

Things have turned personal between leftist paper Libération and Labour Minister Eric Woerth. He's accused the newspaper of fiddling with the documents it printed regarding his involvement in the Bettencourt case.

On Tuesday, the paper had printed documents highlighting supposed interventions he had made related to the L'Oreal heiress's alleged tax evasion. Woerth's cabinet accuses the newspaper of unacceptable and relentlessly fierce attacks. Today you can read Libé's three-page defense, which can basically be summarised as Woerth "prefers to attack the press rather than accept an independent judicial investigation".

To be continued...

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