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2006/04/08

Pasqua Indicted in the Oil-for-Food Scandal? Hardly a Big Deal, N'est-ce pas?

While Corine Lesnes' two articles on Bush's so far informal troubles, regarding Plamegate as well as the war against terror (articles using harsh words and expressions filled with emotion and whose only domestic quotes come from opponents of the president, quotes which effectively end the article), take up two thirds of a page in the foreign affairs section on page 4; Gérard Davet's single straight-forward, matter-of-fact, ho-hum article on Pasqua's formal indictment in the oil-for-food scandal (Le Monde seems to have waited two or three days after the indictment before printing the piece) is relegated to a sixth of a page (it takes up a quarter page only if you count the Pessin cartoon) in the Politique & Société section on page 14.

A large bulk of the text is filled with quotes by the former interior minister, fellow defendents (and companies implicated, such as Total), and their lawyers (justifications, denials, accusations of witch-hunts, etc).

Okay, okay, so we've reported it. See? See how fair we are? Okay, enough already. Now that that's done — and over with (will you get over it, already?!) — let's get back to serious matters: castigating that horrendous Halliburton, castigating that awful Dubya (i.e., see the top Corine Lesnes article), and castigating that unforgiveable support that Bush has extended to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

"Les Français sont en train de scier la branche sur laquelle ils sont assis et s'accrochent alors même que l'arbre est en train de pourrir"

When a law gets enacted by the president of the land, but he says it must not be applied, what is this called?
asks Meg Bortin.
"Abracadabrantesque" is a word the French are using to describe the odd situation facing the country now that President Jacques Chirac has signed his government's youth employment contract into law, while at the same time instructing employers not to use it to hire anyone.

The law has been in effect since Sunday. On Monday, Labor Minister Jean- Louis Borloo caused more bemusement by sending a letter to 220 employer organizations repeating that they should not use the new law for hiring, and informing them that his ministry would not be printing any contracts of the type authorized by the law.

Never the sort to bow to authority, the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné announced Wednesday on its front page that it had nonetheless hired a 25-year-old fellow under the new First Employment Contract, known here as the CPE.

"Nothing could be simpler," it said. "No form, no paperwork to fill in, it can be done in a split-second."

The newspaper also printed a catalog of words commentators have used to describe France's current predicament: "absurd," "incomprehensible," "surreal," "calamitous" and many more.

"Abracadabrantesque," which made the list, was used after Chirac addressed the nation on television Friday night to try to resolve the crisis, which has brought more than a million people into the streets. The head of the opposition Socialists' parliamentary group, Jean-Marc Ayrault, called Chirac's plan an "abracadabrantesque construction" concocted "in the singular aim of reconciling the diktat of his prime minister with the refusal of the French."

The Czechs and Slovaks don't seem to feel much sympathy for the "anachronistic" worries of the French or for "frigid", "sclerotic", and "lazy" France, write Martin Plichta and Anne Rodier, while Jean-Pierre Langellier interviews Chris Patten.
Le problème, c'est qu'ils résistent de plus en plus aux changements qui affectent, surtout, la qualité de vie de certains groupes bien protégés. Les étudiants défendent leur droit à un emploi à vie même si cela maintient au chômage beaucoup d'autres gens. C'est une manière excessivement conservatrice d'envisager la solidarité sociale.

La majorité des étudiants veulent être fonctionnaires. Il est admirable que les Français continuent d'être aussi fiers de servir leur Etat. Mais leur manque d'esprit d'aventure, cette volonté de faire la même chose toute leur vie, je trouve cela assez déprimant.…

On a dit aux Français pendant des années que leur modèle social était parfait. Il est donc difficile de changer de message, à moins d'expliquer clairement le but à atteindre. D'un autre côté, je ressens une certaine sympathie pour un premier ministre qui essaie d'améliorer ce modèle. Dans ce genre de situation, il y a toujours des gens qui disent, après coup, qu'ils s'y seraient mieux pris.

Oui, peut-être… M. de Villepin a au moins essayé. Le pire pour la France et pour ses nombreux jeunes chômeurs serait de renoncer purement et simplement aux réformes.

Pour moi l'essentiel, c'est d'expliquer de manière intellectuellement convaincante que la France ne peut opérer, avec son économie sophistiquée, derrière une sorte de ligne Maginot. L'Europe a besoin d'une France forte et confiante. Sans cela, on est condamné à une croissance chancelante, et on ne pourra résoudre les vrais problèmes démographiques qui nous assaillent.…

D'une personne à l'autre, les styles politiques diffèrent. Mais les syndicats ont-ils vraiment le rôle de faire descendre périodiquement les gens dans la rue pour empêcher les réformes? C'est économiquement inepte et politiquement égoïste.

Will the French ever learn? Don't bet on it. Acknowledging European scepticism, Alain Touraine uses a "but" to come down in favor of French sensibilities. As for the Czechoslovak story, by the use of their vocabulary, typically, the MSM reporters spin it in a favorable way for …the French (the few "solidaristic Czechs", those who are "understanding" and show "sensitivity", are mentioned by Plichta and Rodier, as opposed to the Slovak press which …"went wild").