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DECEMBER 26, 2005

The riots that swept across France ended over a month ago but the country is still calculating the psychological and financial damage.

On the front page of the Paris daily, LE PARISIEN, the Bishop of Saint-Denis - where some of the riots took place - tells France to open its heart. He says the authorities don't understand the gravity of the situation and describes their response as "mini-measures." A cartoon features the Bishop jumping up and down and shouting "get to work guys" at Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

But the world forgets that not all the young people in the French suburbs are burning cars and smashing shop windows. LE MONDE, France's newspaper of reference, runs a report on highly successful young people from immigrant families in Saint-Denis. They have become magistrates, heads of companies, teachers and accountants. According to the article, the role of parents has been the decisive factor in their lives.

Who is going to pay for the vast destruction of the French riots - 230 buildings and thousands of cars? A LE MONDE article examines the legal hair-splitting that will determine who foots the bill, insurance companies or the government. If the courts rule that the destruction was a form of protest and/or premeditated, the French State is off the hook.

A French military court in Paris has opened an inquiry into an unidentified person or group of persons for "complicity in genocide," reports LE MONDE. It has taken 11 years, for a French military judge to examine evidence of French atrocities.

The French troops were part of Operation Turquoise, operating under a United Nations mandate to create a secure humanitarian area in south-western Rwanda.

Pascal Boniface - director of France's Institute of International and Strategic Relations - says the army has nothing to fear from an investigation. His remarks appeared in an interview in LE JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE. The French investigation compares favourably, he points out, to the American Army's refusal to assign high-level responsibility for events at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

It's still not certain that the French military will cooperate with all aspects of the investigation. The army refused to guarantee the safety of magistrate Brigitte Raynaud when she went to went to Kigali last month to gather evidence.

Yesterday, for Christmas, the French gorged themselves on a record amount of tropical fruit. Not just bananas and pineapples but everything from Madagascar litchis to South Africa's green lemons.

But prices vary dramatically. How can a mango cost three times as much from one shop to the next? An article in JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE explains: The expensive ripe mango arrives by air while the cheap green one travels in the hold of a ship.

Brent Gregston


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