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French and Riviera News Monday 18th December 2017

181217

Local news 

Kidnapping charge - A second person has been charged with kidnapping a Nice hotel owner who was found tied up in the back of a van in October 2016. Jacqueline Veyrac who’s 76 was snatched as she was getting into her car. She was found tied up and gagged by a passer by 48 hours later. 5 people were arrested and questioned about the incident last week. A total of 16 have been implicated in the case and 9 have been jailed. The former owner of a Nice restaurant is suspected or ordering the kidnap because of a grudge he held against Madame Veyrac. Jacqueline Veyrac co-owns the Grand Hotel as well as La Reserve. A previous kidnap attempt was made in 2013 by the same man according to police investigations.

Avalanche risks - Winter sports fans are being advised to take it easy on the slopes and not to go off-piste in the coming days. Recent heavy snow at Isola in particular has resulted in a very high risk of avalanche. Some controlled explosions have been taking place to reduce the risk but skiers are warned to exercise prudence.

Amnesty arrest - The head of the Nice branch of Amnesty International is to appear in court in January charged with people smuggling. Martine Landry is accused of helping two 15 year old minors from Guinea to enter France from Italy. She could face a maximum jail term of 5 years and a fine of 30,000 euros.

Cigarettes - Some tobacco manufacturers are cutting the price of their cigarettes from the second of January which will take 20 cents of the price of a packet of 20. A spokesman for British American Tobacco has said that the price cut is a “normal adjustment” but the move has been criticised by anti-smoking groups who say the cuts are an attempt by tobacco firms to circumvent the government’s tax increases. The price cuts will be short lived with the state forcing an increase of 1 euro 10 cents on a packet of 20 in March as the campaign to  encourage people to stop smoking continues.

Crowd trouble - 4 police officers have been injured following crowd trouble after the first division football match between Saint-Etienne and Monaco. A crowd of some 200 people gathered outside the stadium in Saint-Etienne after Monaco won the match 4-0. Police intervened after property was damaged and stones were thrown. 2 officers required hospital treatment and one will be off work for three weeks.

National News

40 up ! - President Macron has been celebrating his 40th birthday over the weekend at the Chateau of King Francois 1 in the Loire Valley. Mr Macron spent the weekend at the picturesque Chateau de Chambord with his wife and extended family. He’s been criticised for being ‘cut off from the people’. The Chateau has 440 rooms and several four star guest houses. The Elysee Palace stressed that the Macrons had used private funds to pay for the trip. The President will be 40 on Thursday.

Record breaking sailor - The French sailor Francois Galbert has set a new record for the fastest solo round-the-world navigation. Galbart finished his non-stop voyage more than 6 days quicker than the previous record in a time of 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds. He set off on his journey on the 4th of November,arriving at the finish line at the western limit of the English channel before turning for home. The record is yet to be verified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

Business

The crypto-currency Bitcoin has taken another step towards mainstream investing with the start of trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange financial futures market. The development comes as Bitcoin approached the 20,000 dollar level on Sunday before slipping below 19,000 dollars. Last week,Chicago’s CBOE exchange started trading Bitcoin futures but the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is much bigger. On Sunday, the chairman of UBS joined the chorus of warnings over the crypto-currency. Axel Weber said that Bitcoin “is not money” and urged regulators to intervene.

Ryanair pilots have suspended a proposed one day strike in the run-up to Christmas. Unions say that Irish-based pilots have agreed to meet Ryanair management tomorrow ahead of the planned action on Wednesday. Last Friday, Ryanair decided to recognise unions in a bid to avert strikes across its European operations. Unions in other countries have already shelved strike action but Irish-based pilots are reported to want further clarification.

The US software firm Oracle has made a bid to buy Australia’s Aconex for 1.2 billon dollars. Aconex says that its directors immediately recommended the offer to shareholders with a vote on the bid due to take place next March. Aconex is a cloud-based project management firm which specialises in software that allows input from different teams. It’s technology has been used on global projects including the Panama Canal extension.

Sport

Cricket - It’s day 5 of the 3rd Ashes Test between Australia and England in Perth. Play was delayed for two hours at the start owing to persistent showers and a damp section of the pitch with England looking to save the match and Australia trying to win the series. When play did start after lunch, Jonny Bairstow was out for 14 as England slumped to 134-5 still requiring 125 to make Australia bat again. Further rain delays are possible but Australia will be confident that they can take the final 5 England wickets.

Football - There were two games in the English Premier League on Sunday.Manchester United were 2-1 winners at West Brom and Liverpool were 4-0 winners at Bournemouth.
There’s 1 game tonight.Everton play Swansea.
Celtic’s 69 match unbeaten run in the Scottish Premiership has come to an end after they were beaten 4-0 by Hearts on Sunday. The gap at the top of the table is now just two points with Celtic on 41 and Aberdeen on 39 points.

Rugby Union - There were 4 games in the European Champions Cup on Sunday. Wasps beat La Rochelle 21-3 in Pool 1. Ospreys were 32-15 winners over Northampton in Pool 2 while Clermont Auvergne beat Saracens 24-21. In Pool 4 Munster were 25-16 winners at Leicester.

Athletics - Sir Mo Farah has been voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The World 10,000 meters champion becomes the first long distance runner to win the award since Paula Radcliffe in 2002. The World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea finished in second place with two-time Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock third.

Weather

Cloudy with some bright spells this afternoon and a moderate south westerly wind  across the Var. Top temperature 11 degrees. Overnight lows of 6 degrees on the coast and 2 degrees inland with clear skies. Tuesday and Wednesday-Partially cloudy with a high of 11 degrees.

And finally

They may not be able to call on the services of Ben Stokes this winter but, in the over-70s category at least, the England cricket selectors are hoping they have found a new Ashes star. At the age of 69, Pembrokeshire pace bowler Peter Betterley is preparing for "the trip of a lifetime" down under. He is the only player from Wales to be picked for the England over-70s squad. The team will play a five-match series against their Australian counterparts. Mr Betterley will spearhead the England bowling attack in the series of 50-over, one-day internationals to be played at grounds in several major Australian cities, including Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. While Mr Betterley is 69, he is eligible to represent the over-70s side because he turns 70 during the year of competition.

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