French press review 5 July 2012
If you thought French politics was complicated, just wait till you see what the papers make of the murky world of the sub-atomic particle.
Higgs Boson makes the main headline of Le Monde and Libération, even if there's a small remaining doubt about whether it exists at all and allowing for the fact that only half a dozen people worldwide have any chance of really understanding the significance of what has recently been discovered, if, indeed, anything significant has been discovered at all.
Le Monde is having none of this weak-kneed nonsense.
"Matter laid bare" is the paper's ringing headline, with the small print explaining that the discovery of a "Higgs-like" particle by the team running the super-collider in Geneva means we can now explain why things in nature have mass.
It's not because some of them eat too much. It's all because of a particle so small and so elusive that it has taken dozens of the world's brightest scientific brains two decades to find it.
But have they really?
The headline to the Monde article reads "The Higgs Boson discovered with 99.9999% certainty" but the first sentence of the article has already suppressed the margin of error, asserting that, "this time, there's no doubt".
In fact, a tiny particle has been discovered. That's sure. But it remains to be proved beyond a shadow that the new little beastie really is the Higgs.
Catholic La Croix joins in the sub-atomic dance, a brave move when you consider the fact that the particle in question is nicknamed "the God particle". They announce the discovery as the possible end of the search for the "missing link" in the fundamental structure of matter.
And, while we're at it, if you want to impress people at your next dinner party, call the boson by its proper name, which is the Brout-Englert-Higgs Boson. I hope that helps.
A little closer to everyday reality, Libération reports that the former boss of the French national telephone operator is to be tried on charges of harrassment for his alleged responsibility for the deaths by suicide of an alarming number of his employees.
They don't hold with all this sub-atomic nonsense at right-wing Le Figaro.
They have a much more interesting collision to write about, claiming that the far left is unhappy with the way the regular left, ie the government, is handling efforts to reduce the national debt.
Le Figaro points out that Jean-Luc Mélenchon's mates to the left of the lefties abstained from the vote following the prime minister's presentation of the government programme earlier this week.
The Communists didn't vote either. Mélenchon sees this as the beginning of a new left-wing current in the French parliament.
Le Figaro is delighted by all these signs of fragmentation at the extreme end of the socialist spectrum, even if none of it makes a blind bit of difference to a government with an absolute majority.
The same Le Figaro notes that former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is to be dug up in an effort to confirm, or otherwise, allegations that his death, in France in 2004, was caused by poisoning by polonium.
Polonium is a radioactive substance, traces of which have reportedly been found on Arafat's personal belongings. One-millionth of a gramme is a lethal dose of this poison considered to be 250,000 more toxic than cyanide. To produce polonium, you need a nuclear reactor.