French press review 19 May 2011
Questions without answers on the Strauss-Kahn case. Have Socialist Party bosses covered up for his womanising for some time? Will the Glencore sale make the Rich richer? How spiritual are modern movies? And can l'Humanité save French schools?
Seven Paris papers to hand this morning, four of them continue to pound out the Dominique Strauss-Kahn story, which has changed in the last few hours with the announcement that the man who's awaiting trial in New York on charges of sexual misconduct has resigned from his position as Director General of the International Monetary Fund.
That news comes as no real surprise, since, whatever happens, Strauss-Kahn faces a long legal battle and is clearly in no position to fulfil his functions as IMF director general.
But the timing is a bit surprising since, according to an analyst writing in Le Monde, an offer to resign his job before tomorrow's Grand Jury hearing, could be seen as an admission of guilt, something which the accused has strenuously denied since his arrest.
Why Strauss-Kahn, or his legal team, have made their move now remains something of a mystery.
But then, this case is not short of questions without answers.
Libération's main headline reads "The mystery of Room 2806", a reference to the hotel suite in New York where, under conditions which still remain to be clarified before the courts, Dominique Strauss-Kahn's life changed dramatically last weekend.
Yesterday, the alleged victim of sexual assault gave her testimony behind closed doors.
Her lawyer is categorically sure of certain facts: she did not consent to sex, she does not tell lies, she had no idea who the occupant of Room 2806 was.
The Libé editorial wonders about the responsibilities of various senior figures in the Socialist Party, who are now suspected of a long-standing cover-up of Strauss-Kahn's dubious attitude towards women.
The American press has been asking the same sort of questions recently, but our US colleagues are wondering at the deafening silence of the French media in the face of repeated accusations of conduct that could at least be considered unbecoming, if not downright criminal.
Right-wing Le Figaro's main headline is the stark "Victim confirms accusation of rape", which is an interesting statement in view of the presumed innocence of Strauss-Kahn, with the small print explaining that the defence strategy will be to attempt to discredit the alleged victim by finding contradictions in her testimony. It sounds like they'll have their work cut out for them.
Le Monde sees the affair approaching the moment of truth, though what "truth" will mean when the dust finally settles on this tragic story remains to be seen.
The other headline-worthy stories this morning are . . .
The 60-billion-dollar price tag for the Swiss mining company, Glencore, makes the top of business daily Les Echos. That's a reflection of the ever-increasing value of mined raw materials on world markets, and is likely to make the Glencore founder, the wonderfully-named Marc Rich, even richer.
Catholic La Croix visits the generally uncatholic Cannes Film Festival, stressing the "spiritual" qualities of modern cinema.
According to the Catholic daily, the question of God is increasingly posed by modern film-makers. They cite the huge critical and commercial success last year of "Gods and Men", the story of the tragedy of Tibhérine.
Yesterday, Dom Vladimir, the abbot of Lérins, a monastic settlement just off the coast of Cannes, visited the festival, asking attending stars, producers and movie-shakers to join him in a "Festival of Silence".
Dom Vladimir feels that the modern world is too loud, too much, too often, and he wanted to see if he could create a tiny oasis of calm among those competing for the palme.
The bad, if not too surprising, news is that it didn't work. Only a handful of the curious showed up, and the La Croix front-page photo shows one participant checking his mobile phone. I'm afraid silence is unlikely to catch on, and certainly not at Cannes.
Communist l'Humanité is worried about school, again. The front page of the communist daily is an SOS . . . Save our Schools, if you like, since the government plans to cut 1,500 classes next September.