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An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2011-03-10

"I'm still young, I have to live"

INTERNATIONAL PAPERS, Thursday, 10th March 2011: papers are covering unrest in the Middle East with debate raging about the pros and cons of a possible "no-fly zone" in Libya. One specialist in the Arab press argues certain Arab countries have the fighter power needed.

The Guardian headlines: “Libya’s war intensifies as the west holds fire”. A photo shows rebel fighters taking cover as smoke billows over the eastern Libyan town of Ras Lanuf. One of its articles quotes a man – Gerbil – in Benghazi saying: “If Gaddafi wins, we’re dead”. The paper reports his parents have served in prison for opposing the regime. Gerbil says: “He will kill us,” adding that he would flee: “I am still young, I have got to live,” he says.

The Guardian’s editorial looks at the debate about a possible “no fly zone” with the headline: “An illusion of force”. It says the moment Britain, France or the US got militarily involved, Gaddafi would present the conflict as a battle against the colonial powers and it “would cease to be Gaddafi versus his own people”.

The London-based pan-Arab paper Al Hayat has an editorial by a military specialist in Abu Dhabi, Ryiad Kawaji, who argues that a united Arab force could impose a no fly zone. He argues Gulf Countries and Egypt would be able to do it as they have the F16s and other fighter aircraft.

To Morocco, where people are wondering whether a domino effect of unrest, a tsunami of change could be heading their way. Morocco’s Le Matin reports on the King’s TV address to the nation. Mohammed the 6th pledged major constitutional reforms including an elected prime minister instead of a royal appointee, as well as a free judiciary. The paper publishes the entire speech. There is no mention of unrest in other countries.

Still with the Middle East, papers are also looking at Egypt and a return to violence there. The Lebanese paper L’Orient Le Jour headlines: “The unending suffering of Egypt’s Coptic Christians.” It covers the protest by a thousand Christians in Cairo, several people were killed and dozens injured in clashes between Muslims and Christians.

The International Herald Tribune looks at violence, too, in Egypt, this time against women. A piece on the comment pages by Cairo-based New Zealand journalist Glen Johnson is called: “The Other Side of Tahrir Square”. He says hundreds of reactionary Egyptian men trampled women underfoot as they demonstrated on International Women’s Day two days ago. The writer says “a real revolution should entail widespread social reform”, and that includes addressing women’s rights.

Unrest in the Middle East is having an impact outside the region. Chinse government reaction to the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and events in Egypt has included restricting internet access. The International Herald Tribune has a cartoon showing a Chinese leader on the Great Wall shouting down to the democratic hordes: “We don’t do imports”.

China’s Communist apparatchiks are currently meeting for their National People’s Congress in Beijing. The China Daily reports that the government has announced it is planning to build ten million homes and beef up medical care to people suffering severe disease.

The South China Morning Post has a comment piece headed: “Sand in the growth engine”. The writer Robert Clarke argues Chinese leaders will need sharp antennae to prevent the Communist apparatus becoming sand in the country’s economic motor, if they are not going to OK western-style reforms.

And, after so much grim news, a bit of cheer. A chuckle a day keep the doctor away. That’s official, according to the UK’s Daily Mail. It headlines: “Laughter really is the best cure”. Researchers have established that laughing helps counteract poor blood circulation. It quotes the British Medical Journal saying the best prescription for patients with leg ulcers is a belly laugh.

By Nicholas RUSHWORTH

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