The Socialist Party’s trials and tribulations are again the focus of the French papers this morning. It has fast become France’s favourite real-life soap opera. Le Parisien’s front page has a photo of Jack Lang with the title, “The ideas of Jack Lang for the Socialist Party.” Most notably, he says it must undergo a massive effort to up it’s membership. A party with just 100,000 members, he says, will not produce France’s answer to Obama. In Libération, an article entitled, “5 ideas for primaries in the Socialist Party”, suggests that the real problem with the Socialists is the process for choosing a leader. There is a crisis of leadership in the party which leads to a perpetual primary, an endless battle of egos because the leader is often disputed; there is no rallying around the person eventually chosen. This was the case after Ségolène Royal became the presidential candidate; it is again the case with Martine Aubry as party leader. These five proposals were made by a coalition that includes Arnaud Montebourg and Ségolène Royal (even though she doesn’t sign her name to it). They suggest a vote where some 4 million people would cast a ballot in favour of the eventual leader allowing a real contest, real competition and a real victor. This vote would be open to other parties in the left too. Le Figaro says that the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe has come to the support of the beleagured leader of the party, Martine Aubry, telling all the mavericks such as Manuel Valls to respect her legitimacy. Valls had a clash with Aubry last week where they sent open letters to each other.
Also in Libération, Amazon is being accused of Orwellian, Big Brother-like behaviour. Amazon software known as ‘Kindle’ allows users to buy e-books. The concept is that purchasing an e-book is akin to purchasing a hard copy – you’re not renting the material, you become the owner of the work. However, some customers were shocked to discover that their copies of Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 were quite simply erased from their computers by Amazon. One student in Seattle had written annotations and comments on his 1984 e-book – all of which disappeared. Not alone was his personal copy of the book taken back by Amazon but his own personal work was too. This is eerily similar to what actually happened in 1984 where government censoring erased all traces of articles the government considered worrisome. What gives Amazon the right to gain access to my computer and take this product back, say the customers? Would you be able this with a regular copy of a book you had purchased? Clearly not! The issue is one of copyright where Amazon discovered they did not have the right to sell the book in the U.S. until 2044. The company says it’s a once off and won’t happen again. They also underline that all customers were reimbursed.
Le Parisien is doing a ‘summer series’ at the moment on dream jobs. Yesterday they covered the famous job recently advertised in Australia for a caretaker on a paradise island. Today, the series continues with another cushy job – testing holiday resorts. Virginie appears in the photo. Her husband gets to come along for free. She is essentially a spy for travel agencies and reports back on how she found the service and the facilities. It’s not a full time job however and isn’t terribly well paid. She is already an employee of the agency Nouvelles Frontieres and they offer this gig to some lucky staff members. The paid holidaymaker earns a maximum of €350 for a week in a resort of the agency’s choosing.
Returning to Libération for one last story – if Paris can’t go to the beach, then bring the beach to Paris! This is the 8th year of “Paris Plage”, organised by the French capital’s local authorities. It’s not exactly Rio or Saint Tropez but three different beaches have been created with deck chairs, palm trees and of course sand! Two of the beaches are on the banks of the Seine and another is along a Canal in the north east of Paris. It will last until the 20th August. Word on the street is that the beach along the Canal at Bassin de la Villette is much nicer, more spacious and less crowded.