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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 : 2012-05-04

Chen, China and America

Look! The UK casts an admiring glance at France. A Harvard professor pounces on the diplomatic dilemma that emerged when Chen Guangcheng sought refuge in the US embassy. And a restaurant owner in Georgia uses a big bright sign outside to call President Barack Obama the 'N' word. Local officials say they can't do anything about it.

Voters in English-speaking countries are all too aware of sagging voter turnout, fading interest in party politics, and widespread distrust of the system. 

But a column in The Independent notes politics here in France is alive and well. Turnout in the first round of the French elections was 80%. The internet is abuzz and Twitter is aflutter.

But the Indy tries to debunk a few myths - not least that Francois Hollande would be a raving tax-and-spend Socialist president. No, it says, he has been stressing growth over austerity. But nor should one write off Nicolas Sarkozy just yet - he is known as a political brawler, who won't let this go without a fight. 

Chen Guangcheng is a now-famous Chinese activist who had been jailed and put under house arrest after protesting against enforced sterilisation and forced abortions under China's one-child policy. The Economist says his ability to educate himself as an adult after a childhood in poverty encapsulates the potential of modern China. But the blind activist's detention also exposes the abiding limits of liberty. 

For Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor writing in the Christian Science Monitor, this is further proof that China is to blame for brutally suppressing dissent. And the US ambassador's offer to shelter Chen at the US embassy shows just how devoted the US is to justice. It's a patriotic piece bordering on chauvinistic nationalism, to be taken with a grain of salt. Or two. 

Finally, The Huffington Post reports on a restaurant owner in the US state of Georgia who uses his big outdoor sign to castigate the president.  It reads, "I do not support the N... in the White House." Local officials say they cannot do anything about it. Really?

By Kyle G. Brown

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