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Evening Update 02 Feb

Helicopter - A mid-air collision between two military helicopters over the Var has left five people dead. It’s understood the crash happened during a training exercise near Brignoles and that both helicopters were based at the army training centre at Le Cannet des Maures near Fréjus. The disaster is one of the worst in recent years.

Taxes - Despite a statement from Christian Estrosi to Nice City Council, saying there will be no increase in property and residential taxes this year, the taxes may rise anyway. This is because the tax is not only based on local rates, but also on the national rate of inflation. However, last year inflation was just over 1%, so any increase will be minor.

H&M - Four women, working as cleaners at H&M in Marseilles, have been accused of stealing up to €100,000 worth of clothes from the store. Police say the women were captured on security cameras stealing clothing, underwear and cosmetics, while they were alone during early morning cleaning shifts. The four have been taken into police custody.

Whale - Marineland in Antibes has become just the third park in Europe, to be given an award from American Humane. The organisation are the world’s largest certifier of welfare and humane treatment of animals, making sure facilities meet the highest standards of animal care.

Candlemas - And finally, if you’re wondering why your crepes have a coin in them today, it’s because it’s Chandeleur day. This is a superstitious day, celebrated 40 days after Christmas, where a coin on your crepe is thought to bring you good luck. Alternatively, if you can carry a candle from your local church to your home, without it blowing out in the wind, that means you’ll live for another year!

BUSINESS

Sony's chief executive Kazuo Hirai is stepping down, and handing the reins over to the company’s Head of Finance. Under the two men’s guidance, the Japanese giant sold off its struggling PC & television businesses, and launched the successful PlayStation, which has sold more than 60 million units to date. Mr Hirai said he considered this to be the ideal time to pass on the baton of leadership, but will remain on as Sony’s chairman.

Apple sold slightly fewer iPhones in the final three months of 2017 than it did the year before, but higher prices compensated for the dip, as the firm announced a record $20bn in quarterly profits. However the tech giant also issued a weaker-than-expected sales forecast, which appears to reinforce investor concerns, that demand for Apple products may be dipping.

Digital currency Bitcoin has fallen 30% this week, dipping below $8,000 on the Bitstamp exchange. Although this is far short of the $19,000 it reached in November, it is still a huge leap over the $1,000 level at which Bitcoin started trading last year.

SPORT

Football - Some of Europe’s biggest football clubs have been blasted by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who says the game is being destroyed by clubs with huge financial power. The Frenchman pointed to Paris St-Germain are 11 points clear in Ligue 1, Bayern Munich have a 16-point advantage in the Bundesliga, and Manchester City who are 15 points ahead at the top of the Premier League. Wenger said the huge financial power of these clubs is destroying competition and taking away all sense of unpredictability.

Golf - England's Lee Westwood shot a ‘10-under-par 62’ to move into contention at the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur. That puts him one shot behind Nino Bertasio of Italy while former Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke shot a ‘four-under-par 68’ to make his first cut at a European Tour event since the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Rugby - The Six Nations Championship starts this weekend and is one of the most eagerly awaited contests in recent years. Many think that England and Ireland will battle it out for the Championship, but there’s great interest in Scotland, under new coach Gregor Townsend, while Wales can never be written off. France have a new coach too and Italy have been making great strides under Connor O’Shea. The tournament kicks off in Cardiff at 3.15 tomorrow with Wales against Scotland, followed at 5.45 by France against Ireland in Paris. Then on Sunday, Italy host England in Rome at 4pm.

American Football - This weekend see’s the 52nd Super Bowl take place between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, with the Patriots the odds on favourite to win. The game kicks off just after midnight on Sunday night French time, and in Monaco, can be seen live at Stars’n’Bars on Port Hercule.

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