This week, the French press has been fairly focused outwards. After all, shock waves have emanated across the globe politically, from Kiev and commercially, from Silicon Valley and Facebook’s purchase of messaging app WhatsApp. But France wasn’t immune to its own big news either.
Trouble in Independence Square
The eyes of France, like the US are on Ukraine. The crisis in Kiev began last December, when protesters, angered by the cash-strapped government’s propensity for signing deals with Russia, demanded a more transparent rule-of-law type government with closer ties to Europe. On Thursday, police and protesters clashed violently when protesters tried to take back Independence Square. While most French media sources say that 67 people have died, Le Parisien places the count at 100. If you’re thinking “Didn’t they just call a truce?”or “Didn’t protesters receive amnesty?” then Le Figaro has a timeline so that you can catch up.
WhatsApp? The price of a messaging app, apparently.
Users of Le Monde‘s iPhone app received an alert when Facebook acquired messaging app WhatsApp this week. The social network is paying $16 billion for WhatsApp: $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in shares. The founders and 55 WhatsApp employees will also receive $3 billion in shares over the next four years. The acquisition dwarfs Facebook’s purchase of photo sharing app Instagram, for which the 10-year-old social media company paid $1 billion in 2012. Now if only I had a dollar for every so-to-appear think piece about the new tech bubble/apocalypse.
The doctor’s dark side
Meanwhile in France, renowned fertility doctor André Hazout was sentenced to eight years in prison for rape and sexual assault against six of his patients. The prosecutor had recommended 12 years in prison for the doctor. Some journalists wondered why his medical association had not taken harsher measures against him, noting that 20 years passed between his arrest and the first complaint against him. Dr. Hazout has admitted to sexual assault, but insists he never raped anyone.
You call that growth? Why back in my day…
France’s economy grew by 0.3 percent last quarter and you would think it was the new China by the celebrations. But L’Express is asking everyone to hold the applause, at least where French finance is concerned. The four biggest French banking groups all posted profits last quarter, totaling 15 billion euros between the lot of them, but they are still nowhere near their heyday in 2007, right before the crisis (and regulation that followed).