French weekly magazines review
Taxes, girls in skirts, the Queen and dream vacations - the French press throws a mixed bag of news our way on this Sunday.
Let’s talk about money!
Could France be considered a tax heaven for the ultra-rich? This is the accusation the left-wing Marianne puts on its cover. The weekly’s lead article takes a hard look at yet another French paradox. The fact is, says the weekly, that it is the wealthiest households and the biggest companies that pay the least taxes.
In 2010, 256 of the wealthiest households in France only paid 15 per cent of their income in taxes. “It is especially not fair in a country that has inscribed 'equality' on the front of its city halls and schools," says the article.
The extremely well-documented report lists some of the 470 tax loopholes and 68 other payroll deductions available to the richest individuals and the biggest companies. They cost the French budget a whopping 104 billion euros a year in lost revenue. Talk about fiscal discipline.
This week’s L’Express investigates the shadow war between Iran and Israel. According to the weekly, assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists are carried out by proxies that Israel's intelligence agency Mossad hires from the Iranian opposition or the Sunny rebels.
But some in the Israeli security establishment are sceptical about the real impact of the assassinations on the Iranian nuclear program. Those killed "are replaced by dozens of others who continue their task,” laments a former Israeli intelligence officer.
However, notes the article, the covert war of mutual assassinations and cyber attacks risks having perverse effects. The report argues that this might only reinforce the determination of the Iranians to complete their program. The only hope for stopping the Iranian nuclear program, conclude the authors, is “last chance” negotiations in Istanbul next month.
Do you think that wearing a skirt is indecent or taboo in modern French society? Left-wing Marianne tells a shocking story of the lowering of public moral standards. On International Women’s Day, three dozen schoolgirls in a small village in the southeast of France decided to wear skirts.
According to the weekly, it provoked a massive backlash. Some schoolboys called them “prostitutes.” One of the teachers told the girls that “a skirt is not right for schoolwork.” The school’s deputy headmaster, worried that the situation could worsen, ordered them to change.
“Before, the girls could not wear trousers and now they want us to stop wearing
skirts at school. We should be respected even if we wear skirts,” the girls complained to journalists.
Have you ever dreamed of being irresistibly convincing? If so, you must read the portrait of the man “to whom nobody can say no” in the conservative Le Point. Jacques Paget is a magician with a twist. He teaches the art of convincing people. The article paints a fascinating picture of the ex-lawyer turned magician, who invented a set of methods that allow you to convince anybody of anything.
And if this sounds a bit much, the article gives an impressive list of the man’s clients, among whom are some of France’s biggest companies who buy Paget's training seminars at a whopping 6,000 euros a day.
Now, have I got your attention? Here are a few free-of-charge negotiation tips, given by Mr. Paget: stay silent as long as possible, be calm and don't try to be agreeable. Believe it or not, says the article, these recipes work wonders.
The left-wing Le Nouvel Obs marks the Royal Jubilee with a touching portrait of the Queen, as she marks 60 years on the throne. The article defines her as both “royal and rural.” Despite her Majesty’s 370 million euro personal fortune, she leads a modest, almost provincial life, says the weekly.
I was astonished to discover that The Monarch reads a selection of 200 to 300 letters everyday, of people asking for her help. Here’s an interesting thought: “Obsessed by the fear of a faux pas, the Royals are cautious. They know that they can be fired like servants.” The weekly concludes the portrait by saying that "Queen Elisabeth saved the monarchy by her discretion.”
And finally, this week’s "Style" section of L’Express takes us away from politics, war and economic troubles. It lists "Ten Dream Destinations.” The article and beautiful visuals take us across the world. The first destination is the famous city of Syracuse in Sicily,
with its black marble roads and dozens of sumptuous palaces.
The city became a household name in France thanks to the song by the crooner Henry Salvador.
Or you could choose to go to Pondichery in India, famous for its colonial style architecture and its “dolca vita” -- the good life.
But you could also just soak in the sun, sip exotic cocktails on the white sand beaches of the Marie Galante island in the Caribeean, or in Zanzibar. The only limits are your imagination and your purse. Bon voyage!