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French press review 9 February 2011

3 min

The front page of today's Le Figaro re-uses a Le Monde headline from a few days back: it reads "Egypt prepares for life after Mubarak". As the small print makes abundantly clear, Mubarak seems to have every intention of being a key part of the Egyptian set-up "after Mubarak", and may prove as difficult to dislodge as, say, Laurent Gbagbo.


Le Monde's main story looks at the French judicial system.

The legal profession is unhappy because of a very tragic case: the principal suspect in the recent murder of a French girl was out on probation at the time of her killing, and was supposed to be under judicial control. The Prime Minister condemned the failure of the probation system as a failure of French justice, and that's when the legal types started getting hot under their starched collars. Already angry with the government's cost-cutting measures which are closing little used court-rooms and may do away with a whole sub-species of investigating judge, peculiar to the French criminal system, the lawyers feel the Fillon government is bashing their profession in an effort to milk public sympathy from a tragic case, and at the same time ignoring the crucial evidence of a real, and recurring, failure to supervise certain types of criminal on supposedly limited release.

If you are due in court here in France tomorrow, you better be prepared to conduct your own defence, since your lawyer will probably be down on the picket line, mixing with the forces of law and order. There'll be no judge either, so you can probably find yourself "not guilty".

According to Le Figaro, American researchers have discovered that people whose family name begins with the letter "A" are much less rapid in reacting to bargain offers than are people whose family name begins with the letter "Z". And this is because of conditioning in schools, where everything happens in alphabetical order, with the "A's" typically having the best places, the cleanest second-hand books, first shot at everything.

They get used to a life of ease and grow up to be lazy consumers.

Whereas their disadvantaged brothers lower down the alphabet learn early that you need to be sharp to overcome a name like Wuffleburger, or Zilch Minor or Shaunessey. And these alphabetically challenged kids grow up to be demon shoppers, scooping up an extra helping here, a free five per cent there, always at the front of the queue.

The researchers have shown a 25% difference in the reaction times of the two groups to a commercial stimulus like a special offer.

And if you find all this hard to believe, that's probably because of your name too, since those in the early part of the alphabet don't realise just how lucky they have been, nor how determined are the disadvantaged others to make up the difference.

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