French Press Review 13 December 2017

Saving the planet, saving the French language from sexism, and why French far-right leader Marine Le Pen failed to show up for the official ceremony to honour the late rock star Johnny Hallyday.


What happened at this week's One Planet summit?

Well, according to Le Monde, the idea was to have a get-together of political leaders, business chiefs and international organisations to thrash out just how the world is going to finance the struggle against global warming.

French President Emmanuel Macron set the tone by telling participants that the human race is losing the battle. The problem is that we're doing too little, too late. And we're not doing it well.

But at least we can still make promises. The rich countries taking part in this week's Paris wind farm have offered a further 100 million dollars to help the poor nations deal with the effects of climatic change to finance weather alert systems, flood barriers, the protection of homes against rising sea levels and so on.

The poor countries would presumably like to spend that money on food, medicine, schools and roads. But they can't because we can't get the soaring, not to say searing, global temperature down by the 2.0°C promised at the last Paris climatic gabfest.

The Paris meeting was attended by one well-known US official, former secretary of state John Kerry, Barack Obama's climate man. President Donald Trump, of course, doesn't believe in climate change and so didn't send anybody.

Kerry described the new administration's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate deal as a "self-destructive disgrace".

François Fillon loses case against Chained Duck

You remember Penelope Fillon, the hard-working wife of François Fillon, who last year thought he was going to be the next French president?

Well, a Paris court yesterday decided that Penelope was, indeed, paid for working for a Paris financial body between January 1980 and July the following year. Part of a longer period when Penelope did not appear to be working at all. François Fillon said that was a lie and he sued the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné for the publication of false information. That claim was thrown out yesterday.

According to Le Canard Enchaîné, clearly rather pleased at the outcome, the court investigation confirmed the claims made by the weekly.

The Fillon couple's working behaviour and the state and private-sector salaries allegedly paid to Penelope for doing nothing between 1986 and 2013 are currently under police investigation. Mr and Mrs are suspected of misappropriating public funds.

When the lads discuss language and sexism

Tomorrow, that august institution the Académie Française will have its first weekly meeting on the question of gender in the French language.

At the end of October the academy issued nothing less than a solemn warning against the dangers of "inclusive" spelling under which the masculine and femine forms of a professional occupation would always be printed together.

Some of the old duffers who doze in the academy's numbered armchairs are worried that feminists will insist that the literary classics of the French language have to be rewritten. They think that the effort to make women more visible in the language is nothing less than a "fatal danger", describing the gymnastics required by the proposed spelling reform as either a "ridiculous limping stammer" for the speaker or a "sort of printed eczema" for the reader.

There are currently just four women members of the 40-seat academy. The rest are either men, or dead.

Le Pen not welcome at Hallyday ceremony

Right-wing Le Figaro wonders how French far-right MP Marine Le Pen was kept away from last weekend's official ceremony in honour of the late rock singer Johnny Hallyday.

Le Pen received her official invitation, like every other member of the French National Assembly. Her spokesman, Sébastien Chenu, officially confirmed that Le Pen, Chenu himself and the two other National Front MPs would attend. But they got no official reply.

Instead, they were informed by a mysterious source in the security division that the singer's family were opposed to the far-right leader's presence at the event.

Chenu and Ludovic Pajot, both National Front parliamnetarians, showed up and were accommodated like any other MP. Marine Le Pen cancelled her plans to attend. She even issued a tweet saying that the important thing was to give Johnny a decent send-off, that nothing else mattered.

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