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IN THE PRESS

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 : 2011-06-27

Paula the Octopus 0, Germany 1

Today's review of the world papers for Monday, 27th June 2011 goes from "one of the silliest economies in Christendom" to Paula the Octopus fluffing her first prediction in the Women's Football World Cup. There's also moving testimony from the son of a former Syrian President and what the Cambodian press is saying about the Khmer Rouge trial now underway.

The Wall Street Journal’s Europe edition leads “French Banks Offer Plan on Greece Woes”. The initiative centres on long-term quality reinvestment of maturing Greek bonds. French banks are keen on a solution because of their high exposure to Greek debt. Two of them, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole, also have controlling stakes in Greek banks.

The WSJ Europe has a comment piece by Holman Jenkins Jr. called “What The Greeks are Teaching”. He argues the real story with the Greek debt crisis is that the euro is working. He says Europeans, when the euro came in a decade ago, were told that it was all about being a good European and were not told that it was really about forcing competitiveness on welfare states and labour markets. Along the way, Jenkins is not kind to Greece itself, saying it is “one the most corrupt, crony-and-patronage ridden, inefficient and silly economies in Christendom”.

The Lebanese paper L’Orient Le Jour leads on events in Syria, where an unprecedented meeting of opposition intellectuals and activists in Damascus is taking place today. The head of the Syrian Human Rights association is quoted as saying the gathering will not become the mouthpiece of the protests on the streets.

More broadly, I was struck by a comment piece by Mohammed Ali Atassi in The International Herald Tribune entitled: “My Syria, awake again after forty years”. Mohammad Ali Atassi is the son of Nureddin al-Atassi, who was Syrian President from 1966 to 1970 and ousted in a coup by Bashar al-Assad’s father. He uses the image of a perfume bottle, saying the Assads kept the bottle shut for forty years but now “the scent of freedom has finally been dispersed, it cannot be drowned by the smell of blood”. His father died in exile in Paris, in 1992. His inheritance? His father’s suitcase from prison smelling of damp. Mohammed Ali Atassi concludes that “Assad tried to stifle history, but it won’t stay bottled up”.

As former Khmer Rouge figures stand trial, The Bangkok Post is asking: “Can Cambodia find justice?” It argues that “more farce lies ahead”, saying Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has “personally arranged for most of his ex-Khmer Rouge comrades to live in peace, isolated but comfortable”. The paper says the trial of the four is the exception and therefore a slap in the face to the survivors of the killing fields.

Another English-language daily The Phnom Penh Post interviews relatives of the four Khmer Rouge leaders on trial. Ly Kimseng, the wife of Khmer Rouge Number two Nuon Chea, says she will not attend, saying a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. The trial “is unfair and a kind of revenge,” she says.

And after the Paul the Octopus at the last World Cup in South Africa, we now have Paula the Octopus at the Women’s Football World Cup which kicked off on Sunday. The Calgary Herald, over the weekend, reported that Paula had predicted a triumph for Canada in Sunday’s opener. But the prediction was wrong. The Hamburger Morgen Post this morning hailed Germany’s Super Girls who beat Canada two goals to one. So much for octopus - or should I say octopussy - clairvoyance.

By Nicholas RUSHWORTH

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