French press review 16 October 2013
Security is a concern for the editors of both centrist Le Monde and communist l'Humanité this morning, while Le Figaro is worried abotu cattle-rustling, which leads us to temptation and why the Lord's Prayer is being changed.
Le Monde assures readers that the electromagnetic waves broadcast by mobile phone relay stations pose no apparent health risk to either humans or farm animals. This has been established by the National Health and Safety Agency on the basis of 300 international studies. The report does, however, recommend that the whole business be seriously reexamined in light of the fact that new and more powerful transmitters are being installed to accommodate the next generation of mobile communication.
Communist L'Humanité looks at railway security, claiming that 10 per cent of the French national rail network is outdated and dangerous and that the practice of subcontracting maintenance to private companies is leading to accidents, some of them fatal.
L'Huma laments the decline in the overall number of rail employees, especially marked in the route maintenance division. And this has led to a more than tripling of the number of kilometres of track subject to speed restrictions because of safety concerns. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that the body supposed to supervise the safety of the nation's railways does not have enough cash or other resources to do its job properly.
French farmers are angry, according to the front page of right-wing Le Figaro. This is because organised gangs have perpretrated no fewer than 8,000 thefts since the start of the year, stealing cattle, farm machinery and crops. The police believe that the stolen items are then sold elsewhere in Europe and in north Africa. The farmers have begun to organise their own patrols.
Catholic daily newspaper, La Croix, announces an important change to the wording of that most popular prayer, the Our Father.
Up to now, along with a plea for daily bread and the capacity to forgive those who get up our noses, the faithful have intoned the words "and lead us not into temptation". This has worried theologians, since it seems to imply that it is our father, God Himself, who is the source of the temptation. Impossible! So, from next year at the earliest, French Catholics will instead ask for fatherly aid to keep themselves out of temptation, thus stressing that badness is nobody's fault but your own.
How theologians reconcile the independent existence of such evils as temptation in a universe entirely created by an all-powerful being is one of the toughest nuts in a sack not short of tough ones. A new translation of the Bible will also soon see the light of day, following 17 years of work.
Speaking of our daily bread, this is World Food Day. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation would like us to stop wasting food. We currently throw out 1.3 billion tonnes of perfectly good grub every year, more than four times the amount needed to feed the 842 million people who still suffer from hunger worldwide.
The eurozone is perking up. According to business daily Les Echos, the austerity diet imposed by the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the debt-riddle denizens of Ireland, Spain and Portugal (three-quarters of the Pigs, if you like) is finally paying dividends. As and from the start of next year, the central banks of these three countries are expected to be able to borrow money on the commercial markets again, a sure sign of economic health.
As for the remaining Pig, Greece, there are signs that things are getting less bad but it will be some time yet before the lads in charge of such things in Athens are given back their credit card and cheque book.