French and Riviera News Tuesday October 20th 2020

Terrorism crackdown- French police have raided the homes of scores of Islamist activists who have been commenting on social media in response to the barbaric decapitation of a teacher near Paris last Friday.

Samuel Paty was beheaded by a radicalised Chechen refugee for showing his students a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a French school curriculum class on freedom of expression.

A crackdown of suspected Islamist militants and those who have been active on social media in recent days was ordered by President Macron following a meeting of the National Security Council.

The Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says that more than 80 separate investigations have been started against online hate speech following the murder of 47 year old Mr Paty who’d been the subject of internet abuse.

Mr Darmanin says that the government is conducting its biggest ever drive against what he described as “rampant Islamism” on social networks.He said that not all those targeted by police are necessarily connected with last Friday’s murder.

15 people are now in police custody being questioned about the incident.

 

The final reel ? - French cinemas in Paris and other cities affected by the current curfew say they’ll go bust unless urgent exemptions are agreed to save the industry.

With some 20 million people around the country required to be off the streets between 9pm and 6am , cinemas are facing a critical struggle to survive.

The film distribution industry has been facing increasing financial difficulties since the start of the pandemic with the release of many new blockbusters being delayed and customers staying away from cinemas because of health concerns.

Since lockdown measures were eased in May ,cinemas have been increasingly relying on 7pm showings to draw in customers but with a 9pm curfew in place receipts are drying up again.

The government has said that no exceptions can be made for screenings ending after 9pm but that it would distribute appropriate aid to the culture sector to help it through the curfew period.

 

Alpes-Maritimes restrictions-Covid-19 restrictions issued by the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes will remain in force until at least the 2nd of November.

Bernard Gonzalez says that cases of the virus are still increasing with the infection rate at 124 cases per 100,000 residents on the 16th of October. That’s way above the 50 cases per 100,000 required to trigger a public health alert.

Face masks must be worn in public spaces unless specifically stated otherwise and bars and restaurants must close at 10pm. The sale of alcohol in shops and supermarkets is banned after 8pm and gyms and sports clubs must remain closed. The chance of a curfew being introduced in Nice is now said to be ‘very likely’.

The prefect of the Var has also extended restrictions until the end of the half term school holidays with the infection rate running at 101 per 100,000 residents.

France 3 television says that 93 percent of intensive care beds in the department are currently occupied.

 

 

Residency portal - There’s been a positive response to the French government’s new online residency portal for British nationals living in the country full-time.

The portal ,which went live on the interior Ministry website on Monday is described as being easy to use ,quick and efficient.

All full time British residents in France must apply for a new withdrawal agreement carte de sejour before the end of June next year and the government has tried to make the process as easy as possible and has even included an English section for those who may be struggling with the French language.

Everyone will be required to make one trip to their local prefecture at some point during the process to submit biometric details and provide a recent passport photo for the new card.

Upon completion of the online process ,a receipt will be issued and applicants will be invited to attend the local prefecture by appointment at a later date.

The website address for applications is  http://invite.contacts-demarches.interieur.gouv.fr/BREXIT

 

Storm Alex - The Mayor of Tende in the Alpes-Maritimes has said that villagers feel “completely abandoned” more than 2 weeks after Storm Alex caused extensive damage to the area.

In an interview with the Nice Matin newspaper ,Jean Pierre Vassallo said that  many residents are still without drinking water 17 days after the storm and that those who did have supplies are only being given access between 7pm and 10pm.

The Mayor says that the local baker is unable to make bread as he doesn’t  have enough water for the dough and that refuse and sanitation services has stopped with rubbish piled up in a local field.

He’s called on regional authorities to restore services as soon as possible.

The village of Saint-Dalmas is in a similar situation as are several neighboring hamlets with more than 2,000 people affected.

 

First lady self-isolating-The French First Lady Brigitte Macron is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone suffering from Covid-19.

A statement from Mrs Macron’s office said that she had had come into contact with someone who’d contracted the virus and was showing symptoms on the 15th of October and had gone into self-isolation for 7 days on Monday.

The French President’s wife is not suffering any symptoms and has so far tested negative for the virus.She won’t be attending any public functions for the next week.

 

Storm alert- The south west of France could be in for a battering as Storm Barbara sweeps across the region from today.

The arrival of the storm ,two weeks after Alex caused such devastation to the south east of France has put people on their guard with winds of up to 150 k/ph forecast and the risk of flooding.

The arrival of the storm marks the end of what has been the coldest October in the south west of the country since 1988 and some areas could get up to two months worth of rainfall between now and Thursday.

The tail end of Barbara could reach our region at the weekend.

 

Business.

 

British retail groups have accused Visa and Mastercard of “cashing in” during the coronavirus pandemic by charging excessive fees.

Reports say that fees charged by payment firms have almost doubled in the past two years with retailers warning that they’ll be forced to pass the extra costs on to customers with credit card bills forecast to rise by an extra 40 pounds a year.

The British Retail Consortium says that it’s “vital” that the government takes action to tackle excessive card costs adding that it was an “abuse of dominant market position”.

The BRC is calling on the Competition and Markets authority to investigate.

Both Visa and Mastercard say that they deliver some of the most secure and innovative payment solutions available anywhere in the world and that card-based payments continue to grow in popularity with consumers.

 

IBM has edged past Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue ,bolstered by higher demand for its cloud services.

Revenue at the firm’s cloud business rose by 19 percent  to 6 billion dollars in the third quarter ,offsetting weakness in much of its other units.

The boost from the cloud business underlines IBM’s move to focus on high margin open hybrid cloud and AI  which together account for more than half of revenue.

The firm’s total revenue fell by 2.6 percent to 17.56 billion dollars-slightly above analysts’ estimates.

Shares in IBM fell by 3 percent on the news as the firm refrained from issuing a forecast for the current quarter citing global uncertainty in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

And-General Motors is expected to announce that its to make significant investment to expand production of electric vehicles and a factory in Tennessee and potentially other sites as well.

On Monday ,GM said that it would be making “a major US manufacturing investment announcement” later today with reports saying that plans include construction of an electric SUV at the Spring Hill Tennessee plant.

The firm could also shift electric production to other plants resulting in fresh investment in a number of locations.

General Motors has pledged to invest 20 billion dollars in electric vehicle and battery production by 2025.

 

Sport.

 

Football-There were 2 games in the English Premier League on Monday night.

West Brom and Burnley shared a 0-0 draw while Wolves were 1-0 winners at Leeds United.

 

The group stages of the European Champions League get underway tonight with 8 games in groups E ,F,G and H.

In Group E Chelsea host Sevilla while Paris St Germain host Manchester United in Group H.

 

Rugby Union-Wasps’ appearance in Saturday’s English Premiership final is in doubt after 3 more players tested positive for coronavirus.

Four players and three staff members tested positive for the virus last week and the club now has a total of 7 players who are self isolating and unavailable for selection.

A decision over whether the club can make the final against Exeter will be taken tomorrow after another round of testing today.

Bristol will replace Wasps in the final if they are ruled out.

 

Golf-Jason Kokrak of the United States has won the CJ Cup in Las Vegas with Xander Schauffle second and England’s Tyrrell Hatton tied for third.

It was Kokrak’s first PGA Tour title as he fired a final round bogie-free final round of 64 which included 8 birdies. He ended on 20 under par ,two shots clear of Schauffle.

 

Weather.

 

Mainly fine with light to moderate south easterly winds.

Top temperatures 19-20 degrees.

Overnight lows of 14 degrees on the coast and 12 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Wednesday and Thursday-Mainly fine but becoming windy from the south east. Highs of 20-21 degrees.

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