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What the papers said 4 May 2018

rfi English, May 4

Apparently, if everyone lived like the French, there'd be no food or drink left on the planet after tomorrow; who are the people accused of being behind the Paris May Day violence; and will we ever know what's really happening in Syria?

Le Monde's top story offers food for thought. If everyone on the planet was to live like the French, global renewable resources for the year would be completely used up by tomorrow. From Saturday 5 May until 1 January 2019 there would simply be nothing left for us to eat or drink. And the planet couldn't cope with our leftovers. It's a sobering thought.

The calculations have been made by the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Footprint Network, who hold one country each year to particular scrutiny. Each year they estimate the deadline day on which the ecological impact of the human race in terms of carbon emissions, use of agricultural land and water resources, exceeds the planet's capacity to absorb human greenhouse gas output.

Le Monde accepts that the index is far from perfect. It is too focused on carbon emissions, for example, and fails to take into account the loss of biodiversity, pollution or the ever-increasing pressure on resources of fresh water.

But it does allow for a year-on-year comparison, and the trend is not good.

In 1970 humanity was still living inside the productive capacities of planet Earth.

By 1975 we had reached the deadline day by 1 December. A decade later, we were living on credit from 5 November. Last year it was 2 August. This year, if we all consumed like the average French citizen, it would be tomorrow.

As things currently stand, we need 1.7 earths to provide for the annual requirements of the world's 7.5 billion human inhabitants.

The human beings under the hoods

Right-wing Le Figaro continues to tremble in the wake of the violence on the margins of this week's May Day march in Paris.

Six of those arrested on 1 May appeared before judges yesterday, accused of joining a group with the intention of causing violence and destruction. One of them also faces the charge of attacking public officials for throwing a bottle at two police officers.

Le Figaro is perturbed that, bereft of their black uniforms and gas masks, they don't look all that scary.

Five men, one a minor, one woman. No previous police records. They have all worked in voluntary associations for the environment, or helping migrants. The youngest is studying anthropology. Their lawyers say the charges are disproportionate for youngsters who simply took part in a public demonstration.

The case has been deferred to the end of the month.

Thirty-four cases were heard on Friday. Forty-three other suspects have had their time in police detention extended.

Le Figaro describes the overall profile of those arrested as "anchored in the anarcho-libertarian movement or coming from the side-lines of the extreme left."

Some of them appear to face condemnation because they have been active on militant sites on the internet. Eighty percent of those arrested have no previous police record. One-third of them are students. And one-third are women.

Inside Russia's fake news factory

Left-leaning daily Libération devotes its main story to Russian efforts to ensure that the rest of us know very little about what's happening in Syria.

Libé says that the Kremlin has inundated global media with false information in the wake of the 7 April chemical weapons attack on the rebel stronghold of Douma.

The paper quotes a French diplomat as saying the Russians are now better - perhaps I mean worse - at sowing doubt than they were during the Cold War. Various ministers and government spokespeople are capable of making totally contradictory assertions.

The day after the most recent attack, for example, the Kremlin said the claim that chemical weapons had been used in Douma was an invention. The same day the foreign affairs ministry in Moscow said subsequent American air strikes would destroy all evidence of chemical attack. The contradiction doesn't matter. The essential point is to create confusion.

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