French weekly magazines review 13 August 2017


The Commentators reserved their sharpest remarks for President Macron who marks his first one hundred days in office this week.

The satirical Le Canard Enchaîné says he is likely to spend his summer vacation on the shores of unpopularity and his opinion rating fell to 37 percent, the lowest and fastest plunge by any President since 1995.

The weekly says the exploit has not escaped the attention of Macron’s two predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande who didn’t miss the opportunity of cracking a fine joke about it.

Le Canard says that the Elysée Palace has obviously tried to minimise the setback, with explanations such as Macron will not hide the country’s difficulties from the French people and is paying for it.

Yet the publication says Macron in private blamed it all on the inexperience of his party’s lawmakers, his ministers’ failure to face the press and his Prime Minister’s failure to make his mark on public opinion.

The New French Observer l’Obs, identifies the government’s refugee policy as one of the early flops of the Macron administration.

The left-leaning magazine recalls Macron’s statement on his election in which he spelled out the need for France to “welcome her own share of refugees”, calling it a duty and an honour.

Yet as l’Obs observes, France has registered only 85,000 asylum applications against 720,000 for Germany, a situation which it claims exposes France’s hypocrisy which consists of doing a strict minimum in order not be to seen as inhuman.

Le Canard Enchaîné also flays President Macron’s presumptuous initiative to create several asylum treatment centers on Libyan soil.

It describes the plan as one of Macron’s great illusions, considering that France will need to provide protection for officials of the French agency for the protection of refugees who would be charged with the task of screening between 800,000 and a million applications, according to Macron’s own estimates.

Le Point also takes up the dilemma facing Paris as city officials ordered the evacuation of hundreds of migrants who had been living in shacks under flyovers near the city center to a newly created humanitarian center while calling on other cities across the country to set reception and orientation hostels to help contain the influx.

Le Point commends Paris City council for the innovative scheme but doubts that other cities in France and elsewhere in Europe would follow suite.

Rwanda’s President for 23 years Paul Kagame, re-elected this week for a third five year term of office, is the subject of scorn from some of the French magazines.

Le Canard Enchaîné says the strongman who ended the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, won re-election by a record 98.6 percent of ballots cast.

This, on his record of 7 percent economic growth rate for 10 years running, security and for extending life expectancy in the country by 15 years since 1994.

But the weekly notes that while Rwandan experts would be half fascinated by Kagame’s economic record, they are half frightened by the number of his opponents who have disappeared including his former intelligence Chief Patrick Karegeya assassinated in his hotel room in Johannesburg.

According to Le Canard, Kagame could still have achieved his excellent economic results without imposing such a terrible dictatorship on his country.

Marianne argues that Kagame’s strength has been his ability to bring stability to the country once described as ungovernable and for his success in getting the world to overlook his alleged role in the blood-letting that has tainted his country’s history.

And the record 222 million euro transfer of Brazilian football superstar Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain remains a hot issue for debate in the French papers.

Right-wing Le Point brought out its calculator to see how much the 25 year old is set to pay as taxes to the French treasury.

If he sees through his five year contract it will be a whopping 150 million euros which the magazine equates to 10 colleges with a capacity of 600 students each, 21 kilometers of express way, 300 hundred football pitches and salaries for 1250 college teachers for five full years.

Marianne however warns that the French taxman will be one of the victims of the master dribbler despite the excitement expressed by Public Accounts Minister Gérald Darmanin about the windfall awaited.

Le Canard Enchaîné satirises about the very tiny desert country which has offered the immense Neymar to giant France. The publication wonders if the talented youngster is aware that he holds the future of the Middle East on the toe of his boots.

This is as Qatar fights off a boycott by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf for Doha’s alleged sponsoring of terrorism.

With the Neymar Miracle, the weekly argues, Qatar are desperate to prove that it exists and radiates, its sole target being next the European Champions league where he will be busy shooting penalties and not missiles.

In its own cover story this week, l’Express wonders if we need to be excited or worried about the crazy designs of a group of hyper wealthy and hyperactive moguls, so, passionate about transforming our lives and Planet Earth.

They range from Elon Musk dreaming of colonising planet Mars, and turning humans into cyborgs.

The supplement also profiles other Silicon Valley “demi Gods” such as Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Palentir’s Peter Thiel and Dmitri Itskov of Initiative 2045 researching ways of conquering death with their billions, driven by the conviction that “if death is natural then fighting it should also be”.

L’Express also has an amazing piece on PayPal co-founder and Chef Peter Thiel who has pumped some of his millions into modern meadow research with the objective of inventing beef and leather from laboratory-grown animal cells.

According to l’Express, some of these billionaires are convinced that we live in a hologram which can soon be proven.

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