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What the papers said - 23 August

rfi English, Aug 23

Have changes to France's labour laws gone far enough? US coal and the melting ice cap. Victory in Syria for Assad, Moscow and Tehran. And speed cameras; an aid to road safety or money-spinners?

The financial paper Les Echos leads with what it headlines "Job creation: the mirages of the labour law."

The paper notes that the text reforming the Labour Code was promulgated on Tuesday. But for many economists its impact is uncertain and, in any case, will only be felt in the long run.

This is because, the paper says, the government has been forced by its opponents to drop significant reforms.

On the plus side - clarification of the rules on redundancy is likely to have positive consequences by making full-time employees more attractive to businesses. Under current rules it is hugely difficult to fire full-time staff - such that employers often offer only short-term contracts lacking in job security.

Great if you've a job for life. Not great if you haven't.

However, Les Echos notes that Alexandre Saubot, vice president of Medef, France's largest employer federation, has criticised these compromises which, according to him, will limit the impact of the reform package on employment.

The Macron administration promised a brave new world. Evidently, it will not include the robust hire-and-fire culture favoured by some other English-speaking countries.

Trump shaken

Centrist Le Monde leads with the latest twist in the continuing pantomime surrounding US President Donald Trump, saying he's been shaken by the legal setbacks suffered by two of his close associates.

If you are as sick and tired of the shenanigans in Washington as I am, you won't mind if we leave it at that.

Coal and climate change

The Catholic daily La Croix devotes its editorial to what it calls "Coal versus the Ice Cap."

Signs of climate change are multiplying across the planet, the paper says. The latest example is northern Greenland, where rising temperatures and wind have opened up water channels in the longest and thickest perennial pack ice in the Arctic.

Meanwhile Donald Trump has just given the go ahead for the revival of the US coal industry. La Croix reminds us that coal produces more greenhouse gases than any other energy source.

The likely consequences are rather more worrisome than his latest legal squabble.

Assad prepares final offensive

The front page of conservative daily Le Figaro declares that "After seven years Bashar al-Assad is the new master of Syria."

The paper reflects on this in an editorial headlined "Global Mess."

Assad is preparing the final act of his reconquest of Syria, it opines. In days or weeks the regime will take Idlib, last bastion and refuge of the rebels.

"In 2012, as the Syrian regime was on the verge of collapse, Iran and its Revolutionary Guards took action to keep it alive. From 2015 Russian forces have enabled Assad to recover territory. Firmly settled in Syria, Moscow and Tehran are the main winners of this war alongside Assad. Their ambitions in the Levant will not stop there," the paper warns.

Le Figaro blames what it calls "the resignation of a West that allowed Assad to violate its red lines with impunity". It does not suggest what the West might have done differently.

Speed limit change sparks vandalism rise

Popular daily le Parisien does what it does best - cover issues that touch the daily lives of ordinary people.

Today its front-page story is about the anger excited by a change to a speed limit on secondary roads.

"Since the announcement of the change from 90 to 80 km per hour the number of vandalised radars is increasing," the paper tells us.

The radars are roadside devices which clock the speed of vehicles, record the number plate of those over the limit triggering fines and, if you offend often enough, suspension of your driving licence.

Le Parisien says the state is thinking about mounting the radars higher or wrapping them in black plastic film to prevent their being damaged.

It quotes a representative of the biggest motorists' association saying vandalised radars are the sign of the exasperation caused by the new speed limit.

"Drivers do not see them as a tool for road safety but as money-spinners," Pierre Chasseray told the paper.

The government response has been to publish an online radar map, more reliable and up-to-date than those circulating on motoring forums and apps.

The map makes it possible for drivers to locate the 3,275 roadside radars throughout France. The hope is they'll slow down as they approach them rather than smash them.

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