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French and Riviera News Thursday 5th April 2018

Local

Rail network - Traffic has almost returned to normal on the regional train network following the two days of strike action by the SNCF with 4 out of 5 trains circulating. The SNCF has announced that there may be some disruption this morning as traffic slowly returns to normal. Further strike action is planned on April 8th and 9th as rail strikes are scheduled for two days out of every five until 28 June.  

The French government has insisted it will stand firm in its reforms planned to transform the SNCF arguing that the heavily in debt SNCF has to be made more efficient before local and national passenger services are opened up to competition under European Union rules.

Air France - Meanwhile the wage dispute at Air France came to a head on Wednesday after unions announced four additional days of strike action. Strike action had already been announced for the 7th, 10th and 11th of April however following the meeting with management an additional four dates have been added the 17th, 18th, 23rd and 24th of April. This means transport will be severely disrupted as the 18th23th and 24th coincide with strikes planned by the train network the SNCF.

Sentence - 74-year-old French gangster Jaques Cassandri has been given a 30-month jail sentence by a Marseille court. The decision given on Wednesday was for crimes including influence peddling, misuse of company assets and undeclared work. The case saw prosecutors unable to find definitive proof of his involvement in a 1976 bank raid which took place in Nice, despite the fact that he claimed to have planned it in his memoirs. Cassandri had claimed to have been the brains behind the robbery in his memoirs published in 2010.

Swimming pool reopens - The public swimming pool in Vallauris has reopened. Following its closure in December 2017 due to an incident where a group of schoolchildren were suspected to have suffered from intoxication the complex underwent 3 months of major renovations. Wednesday saw the pool reopen welcoming pupils from the Gachon primary school in golf Juan.

Beaches covered in tiny blue creatures - The beaches between Marina Baie des Anges and Fort-Carré have been covered in “velelles”. Often mistaken for jellyfish or marine pollution these small, blue, translucent creatures are harmless apart from their unpleasant odor. Passers-by had notified the town hall of Villeneuve Loubet.

National

French government - France's government has announced plans to cut the number of lawmakers by almost a third as part of sweeping reforms of the country's institutions. The changes, considered to be one of the biggest in decades, were agreed between Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and the opposition-controlled Senate. Mr Philippe has also revealed plans to introduce proportional representation to choose 15% of lawmakers. The reforms are in line with President Emmanuel Macron's campaign promises. The changes still need to be approved by both houses of parliament. There are currently 348 seats in the Senate and 577 in the National Assembly.

Border controls - Meanwhile France has decided to extend border checks with countries in Europe's passport-free zone until the end of October. The decision comes due to the persistent threat of terrorism. France introduced border controls after terror attacks that killed 130 people in Paris on November 13, 2015. A European Commission spokesman confirmed France will extend controls for six months beyond the April 30 expiry date.

Business

Trade tensions between China and the US have been ramped up after Beijing responded to US plans for putting new taxes on hundreds of Chinese imports. China said it would place 25% trade tariffs on 106 US goods, including soybeans, aircraft and orange juice. The tit-for-tat action comes hours after Washington detailed about 1,300 Chinese products it intended to hit with tariffs - also set at 25%. According to analysts for S&P Global Ratings China's economy has become less dependent on selling goods abroad in recent years, which is likely to blunt the effect of the US tariffs. In 2016, the US was the destination for about 18.2% of all Chinese exports. American business groups have urged the two sides to try to resolve the issues through talks, expressing concern that threatening tariffs could lead to a dispute that hurts the US economy.

And - Facebook believes the data of up to 87 million people was improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica – which is many more than previously disclosed. According to reports about 1.1 million of them are UK-based. The overall figure had been previously quoted as being 50 million. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said "clearly we should have done more, and we will be going forward".

Sport

Football - Liverpool took a firm grip on their Champions League quarter-final as Manchester City were torn apart by a three-goal burst from Jurgen Klopp's side in the first 31 minutes at Anfield.

And tributes have been paid to former England and Chelsea midfielder Wilkins, who died aged 61 on Wednesday. As a player, Wilkins also had spells with Manchester United, AC Milan, Paris St-Germain, Rangers and QPR during a career that spanned 24 years.

He played 84 times for England, captaining his country on 10 occasions, and after retiring he was a manager with QPR, Fulham and the Jordan national team. He was also Chelsea assistant coach from 2008 until 2010, working alongside Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti.

And in the other Champions league match on Wednesday Barcelona were far from their best but managed to secure a 4-1 first-leg victory at the to take full control of their quarter-final tie with Roma.

Golf – Tom Watson rolled back the years to claim an unlikely victory and become the oldest winner in the history of the Par 3 contest on the eve of the 2018 Masters. The 68-year-old produced a superb performance at the Augusta National. Victory for Watson also ensures that the record of no player winning the Par 3 contest and the main tournament in the same year will continue, as Watson competed in his final Masters two years ago.

Commonwealth Games – Action to watch out for today at the Commonwealth Games which began yesterday are the Artistic gymnastics - England, led by double Olympic champion Max Whitlock, defend their team title that can be seen at 9am local time. Swimming – The women's 400m individual medley final with Scotland's Hannah Miley among the favourites as she chases a hat-trick of Commonwealth titles in this event. The Track cycling will see Wales, led by Olympic champion Elinor Barker - both events are shown at 11.30am local time. And finally in swimming - men's 200m breaststroke. Ross Murdoch of Scotland was a memorable winner of this event in Glasgow four years ago but admits he nearly quit after a disappointing Rio Olympics. That’s being shown at 1.45 local time.

Weather

Mainly fine in the Alpes Maritimes with some passing cloud. Highs of 17 degrees in Menton, 16 degrees in Nice and 18 degrees in Antibes with a moderate variable wind. In the Var clear skies and highs of 21 degrees in Le Luc and 19 degrees in Saint Tropez.

This evening going down to 9 degrees along the coast and 4 degrees in land with clear skies.

The outlook for Friday and the week-end highs of 18 degrees, mainly fine in Nice and Monaco heavy cloud in Antibes and Cannes to begin with and a moderate easterly wind. Saturday becoming increasingly cloudy across the region with highs of 20 degrees in the Var and a moderate north easterly wind and gust of up to 40km/h. Sunday cloudy, highs of 19 degrees and gust of up to 70km/h in the Var. Rain is forecast for the beginning of next week.

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