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Evening Update 13 Feb

National Service - Young people will once again be subject to compulsory military service in France, as the government confirmed today that the requirement, promised during Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, is coming and will be mandatory.  Final plans, being drawn up at the moment, are expected to be announced in April, with the minimum mandatory service being one month. Macron has billed the military service as a way to build social cohesion and patriotism, by bringing young people from different backgrounds together in a barracks.

Layoff - The owners of the Castorama and Brico Dépot DIY stores, have announced over 400 jobs are to be cut between now and the end of the year. They say improvements in computer technology, and the use of a shared services centre in Poland, mean they no longer require as many staff.

Security - As part of the continuing operation to secure the Principality, work has begun today on a new perimeter around the market at Place d’Armes. It will include retractable bollards, which will allow access to Place du Marché, by emergency and authorised vehicles. The work is expected to last six months without any disruption to traffic.

Court - Disruption to the court service is expected this Thursday, as unions have called on public servants at the Nice Court, to stage a day of action. The two main unions involved are planning a protest rally on the steps of the courthouse at 10am.

Mardi Gras - Today is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday. Traditionally, it is the last day before Lent, when Christians are supposed to abstain from meat, eggs and sugary foods for forty days, which is why crepes or pancakes are so popular today. However, these days, Mardi Gras marks the beginning of the carnival season, with the most famous one in the country being in Nice. The second most popular is in Dunkerque, where it’s traditional to throw fish into the crowd.

BUSINESS

Some of the world's biggest fund managers are competing to buy £5.5bn of mortgage loans, taken over by UK taxpayers, during the banking crisis. A line-up of premium buyers is broadly reflecting an earlier £12bn sale, to Blackstone and Prudential last year.

Apple are to delay new software features, over a concern too many updates are causing programmers to leave bugs in code. The company remains committed to an annual software update, but this autumn's will lack a number of features, including no re-design for the iPhone's home screen, nor an update to the photos app.

Facebook has pledged to improve its service after Unilever warned it would pull advertising, if the company allowed their platform to breed division. The social network said Unilever's commitment to tackling online racism, sexism and terrorism, was a great thing, and that it was up to Facebook to make sure they deliver on those expectations.

SPORT

Winter Olympics - Germany still top the medals table with four gold medals, followed by the Netherlands and Norway with 3 gold medals each. France are in sixth place, with two golds and two bronze. Overnight tonight, there are another eight golds on offer, with events including cross country skiing, short-track speed skating and the women’s Luge.

Football - UEFA has reminded referees to protect players by punishing serious fouls in European club competitions. It comes after Manchester City boss urged English officials to take care of players after Leroy Sane was injured in the FA Cup win at Cardiff in January.

Six Nations - World Rugby has admitted that a mistake was made by the television match official in Wales 12-6 defeat to England. Wales Head Coach acknowledged it was good the error was confirmed, but that the team were concentrating on their next game against Ireland.

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