French press review 17 October 2012
Timid US economic recovery raises Europe's hopes. Where does nationalism end and crime begin in Corsica? Will France hang onto its old masters but lose its young lions? Can business get on with the Socialists? And why aren't more children going to school?
Business daily Les Echos is happy to report that the US economy is, once again, showing vague signs of life. The quarterly statistics for consumer spending, housing sales and manufacturing output are all slightly, but definitely, improved.
That, says Les Echos, will come as much needed good news for outgoing president, Barack Obama, still closely tagged in most opinion polls by the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. And it will also be welcomed in Europe as a sign that, perhaps, the cold winds of the crisis are just about ready to blow themselves out.
The news is less good in Libération where the front page is dominated by yesterday's murder of a lawyer in Corsica.
The dead man represented the Corsican nationalist, Yvan Colonna, who was himself accused of the earlier murder of the highest government official on the island and is currently serving life for a crime he denies committing.
Yesterday's victim certainly had close links to nationalist figures, says Libé, adding that the boundaries between nationalism, crime and politics have always been blurred and now appear to have completely dissolved.
One line of enquiry being followed by the police investigating yesterday's killing suggests that the motive might have been business-related. Libération notes that the dead man managed to have a beach property in a nature reserve reclassified as building land. He then sold it to a local heavyweight for a small fortune, only for the reclassification to be annulled, making the property worthless.
Whatever the motive, yesterday's assassination brings to 15 the number of murders in Corsica since the start of the year and earns the Mediterranean island the unwelcome title of Europe's most deadly territory.
Right-wing Le Figaro is happy to report several Socialist tweaks to the tax regime. You need no longer fear that your priceless works of art will be included in the calculation of your personal fortune.
Rejecting an amendment which would have made art worth more than 50,000 euros taxable, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault yesterday told parliament that the proposal would simply encourage the transfer of important works out of France, impoverishing the nation culturally for a relatively small financial return.
What a shame, laments Le Figaro in a front-page editorial, that the prime minister did not apply the same logic to proposals to tax the rich and bright individuals who are the young masters of the economy. By forcing them into tax exile, France may well find itself with plenty of old art but no new talent.
The other good news is that those lucky enough to own two houses and two television sets will not have to pay for a second TV licence.
La Croix attempts to analyse the reasons for the current tension between the government and the bosses. It all comes down to a huge misunderstanding for the Catholic paper.
The men and women who own French businesses distrust the country's Socialist leaders, in particular, they dislike proposals to increase the way in which the profit made by selling a business is taxed.
And there's also the ideological clash between the left and the business community, which is predominantly right-wing.
But, says La Croix, it is a mistake to put all the bosses in the same boat. One of the problems for those who run French businesses is finding a common voice, even the agreement of a common policy, such is the gulf between the huge international companies at the top of the pile and little local businesses.
Sadly, according to Le Monde, the number of children who go to school has stagnated worldwide.
Huge progress was made in the early years of the last decade, with the number of those who have never been to school cut from 108 million in 1999 to 61 million 10 years later. But that 61 million figure has been frozen ever since and has actually risen in sub-Saharan Africa.
Says Unesco, governments need to decide between the creation of an elite and the development of their populations.