French press review 25 May 2017


Le Monde reports that 51 million Americans will be without health insurance by the year 2026, if Donald Trump’s proprosed adjustments to the Obamacare programme are accepted by the Senate.

The figures come from the normally reliable Budget Bureau of the US Congress.

The impact of the revised law will be almost identical to that of a previous Trump attempt to abolish Obamacare, which had to be abandoned in March for lack of Republican support.

A White House official is quoted by Le Monde as saying that Obamacare was “a disastrous law” and that history had shown that the Budget Bureau was incapable of accurately predicting the impact of legislation on insurance coverage.

The revised bill has already been accepted by a narrow margin in the lower House of Representatives and will become law if voted by the Senate.

The Budget Bureau of the US Congress calculates that, if accepted, the Trump legislation will reduce the American public debt by 106 billion euros by 2026.

Egypt blacks out several websites

The authorities in Egypt have blocked access to several internet sites, including that of the Qatari-based TV channel Al-Jazeera.

Egypt has consistently accused Al-Jazeera of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Arab-language version of the American Huffington Post site was also blocked. The site regularly publishes articles critical of the Egyptian administration. Since last night it has been impossible to connect to the independent anti-corruption site El Mada Masr.

The security ministry in Cairo said a total of 21 sites had been blocked.

Trump criticised for Yad Veshem comments

On his trip to Israel earlier this week US President Donald Trump visited the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem outside Jerusalem.

Afterwards he was invited to write his thoughts in the memorial’s visitors’ book.

The tweet-meister got the job done in less than 140 characters. The full inscription reads: “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends. So amazing. Will never forget.”

Le Monde says several commentators have expressed shock at the tone and brevity of the message, given the nature of the memorial and the events it commemorates.

Barack Obama, when he visited Yad Vashem in 2008, before he became president, filled a page of the same visitors’ book with his careful, measured prose.

Obama suggested that the site was a powerful reminder of man’s capacity for evil but also of the human ability to recover from tragedy and rebuild the world.

Trump makes no mention of the reason for the existence of the site, despite finding it “great” and “amazing”.

George W Bush visited Yad Vashem in 2008 and was even briefer than Trump. Bush signed the book and simply wrote “God bless Israel”. Fourteen characters!

Does France need to extend emergency regulations again?

As the aftermath of Monday’s Manchester Arena terrorist attack continues to dominate French front pages, right-wing daily Le Figaro worries about the wisdom of extending for a sixth time the state of emergency that was first brought in after the Paris terror attacks in 2015.

Due to expire on 15 July next, the emergency provisions notably give the police extended powers of search and arrest.

The conservative paper quotes the right-wing MP Georges Fenech as saying he fully understands the role such an extension would play in reassuring the public but he stresses that the state of emergency is no longer helping to dismantle terrorist networks.

Even some Socialist politicians are sceptical about a further extension, saying that the impact of such an emergency measure is obviously diminished the longer it stays in force.

This is already France’s longest uninterrupted state of emergency since the Algerian independence war in the 1960s. President Emmanuel Macron wants parliament to prolong the measure until 1 November.

Another Socialist MP, Patrick Mennucci, makes the point that parliament does not have access to the same level of security information as the president. Mennucci will support a further extension of the emergency regulations on the basis that, if the executive says we need such laws, parliament must show confidence in those better informed.

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