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Much ado about nothing? Actress Natalie Portman's boycott of 'Jewish Nobel awards' sparks backlash

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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 : 2012-01-20

Hypocritical Super-Rich or Flagging Giants?

The Independent attacks the "moralising hypocrisy" of the super rich, but the Economist says the corporate elite are not as powerful as we think they are. And as the Keystone XL pipeline deal from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is dropped, the papers wonder if Barack Obama is standing up to Big Oil, or simply putting a controversial plan on hold until the electoral winds blow over.

The Independent says the British public has had enough of corporate greed and bankers blessed with bloated bonuses. But one of its bloggers goes further to attack the super rich for their "moralising hypocrisy." His chief culprit? Bono of U2. They are among the wealthy, he says, who give to charity with one hand and set their companies up in tax havens with the other, depriving governments of the resources they say are crucial to reducing poverty.

But the corporate elite are not what they used to be if you read this week's Economist. Looking at the 2,500 biggest public companies, it says the average job tenure for CEOs has fallen from 8 years in 2000 to just 6 and a half today. And the number of executives who chair their own boards - the equivalent of a schoolboy marking his own exams - fell from 48% in 2002 to less than 12% in 2009. "They are still paid handsomely," continues the Economist, "but it is in part a reaction to rising job insecurity."

Keystone XL was due to build an oil pipeline from Canada's oil sands right through the US, but was stopped in its tracks by the White House. The Huffington Post says Barack Obama is standing up to Big Oil, in defence of the environment. But Canada's conservative daily the National Post says the deal is not done, it's delayed. The Post says the US is far too dependent on crude, particularly from safe, secure and friendly nations like Canada, and it reckons the strong environmental stance may play well in advance of an election. The White House has reportedly said the Canadian company can make a new application for a construction permit when it works out details for a new route.

By Kyle G. Brown

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