French press review 1 July 2017


Left-leaning Libération remembers Veil as “A fighter”.

The Libé editorial celebrates a career which culminated in the presidency of the European parliament, which was dedicated to Franco-German cooperation, to the rights of women to control their own fertility, their destinies.

“She was a woman on the side of freeedom,” says the left-wing paper’s editor, Laurent Joffrin.

Right-wing Le Figaro says Veil marked the history of her times.

Tabloid Le Parisien simply says “Merci Madame”. A headline which needs no translation.

Business daily Les Echos sees Simone Veil as the daughter of recent European history, in the best and worse senses. The normally staid financial paper remembers the also normally staid president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing saying in 1979, as Veil left her job as French health minister, “we’re going to miss your smile”.

She was, says Les Echos, a model of dignity and charm, her gentle looks concealing a determination forged in the horrors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.

Nice-Matin, the daily in the southern city where Veil was born, speaks of the exceptional destiny of a woman who survived the Nazi death camps, fought to have the right to abortion written into French law and defended European unity with calm, determined intelligence.

Communist L’Humanité says a powerful voice in French politics has been silenced.

Even the Catholic daily La Croix, for whom the question of abortion remains difficult, salutes Veil’s “moral authority”, saying her tragic destiny as a survivor, her commitment to post-war reconciliation and to women’s rights earned her a special place in the hearts of the French nation.

Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders have all regretted the passing of a woman for whom hatred and exclusion were the antithesis of humanity.

Can South Africa’s ruling party survive the Zuma era?

South African President Jacob Zuma gets a going-over this morning in Le Monde.

The French centrist daily takes yesterday’s opening of the ruling ANC’s policy conference to look at the various scandals and accusations that have dogged the South African leader and now look likely to divide a party which has to elect his successor.

That choice won’t be made for another six months but this week’s policy talk-shop is seen as the symbolic opening of hostilities in the presidential battle.

Zuma comes trailing quite a few difficulties.

The South African leader is suspected of having allowed the rich and influential Gupta family infiltrate the decision-making process at the highest level, allowing them to win lucrative state contracts and even influence certain key government appointments.

Cyril Ramaphosa, current deputy president and one of the challengers to replace Zuma at the head of the ruling party, then of the nation, says the president has allowed the country to be robbed blind. That’s blunt. And clear.

In this, as in other cases, Zuma has shown an extraordinary capacity for survival. His opponents have to ask what dislodging him a few months before his natural departure after serving two terms would cost them personally and also what such a move would do to the troubled ruling party.

The policy conference continues behind closed doors in Johannesburg.

NY’s turnstile jumpers no longer risk jail

It’s no longer a crime to travel on the New York subway without a ticket, Le Monde reports. You used to risk one year in jail and a 1,000-dollar fine for jumping the turnstiles. Last year, 10,000 cheaters were caught, 60 percent of them appeared before the courts, the rest simply vanished without trace.

That posed two problems: the courts and the police have a lot of more serious crimes to deal with and people were losing their jobs and homes because some employers and landlords won’t tolerate people who’ve been given prison sentences. Illegal immigrants travelling without subway tickets risk been expelled form the United States.

The new rules don’t mean that trains in the Big Apple are now free. Just that ticket cheats will be punished differently – by taking part in civic workshops, volunteering to work for the transport network to repay their debt or by accepting psychological counselling.

It is hoped that the resulting freeing up of police resources will help to reduce more serious crime.

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