French and Riviera News Monday 17th February 2020

Local

Fatal road accident in A8 motorway 4 dead - It’s been another fatal weekend on the regions roads after four people were killed on the A8 motorway. The accident occurred at the Fréjus pay toll on Saturday afternoon shortly after 4pm eastbound. Two other people were air lifted to hospital. An investigation has been opened to determine the cause 

Coronavirus - After 14 days of quarantine near Marseilles, some 120 people who had been evacuated from Wuhan in China have been released. Having past tests showing no sign of coronavirus the last people staying in the facility where allowed to leave on Sunday. 35 other people who arrived via London on February 9th are to remain confined until February 23rd in Aix-en-Provence.

Meanwhile the death of an 80-year-old Chinese tourist in a Paris hospital at the weekend was the first known fatality from the virus outside of Asia.

People evacuated following fire in Nice - 20 people have been evacuated following a fire in an apartment block in Nice. The fire service was called to the Saint Roch district on Sunday afternoon after smoke was spotted coming from the underground car park. The cause was allegedly a scooter which had caught fire.

Victims of stadium disaster in Corsica - French MPs have backed a ban on professional football matches ever taking place in France on 5th May. The move comes to honour the victims of a stadium disaster in Corsica 28 years ago.

On 5 May 1992, a stand collapsed at Bastia's Furiani stadium just before their French Cup semi-final against Olympique de Marseille, killing 18 people and injuring more than 2,300.

Organisations and activists representing the victims and their families have been calling for a ban on matches on the anniversary of the tragedy for more than 25 years.

Shortly after the tragedy, then French President François Mitterrand had already suggested "that no match would be played on 5th May".

Protest at ski resorts - Protests have taken place at ski resorts across France as half-term holidays began at the weekend. 

Unions are protesting against unemployment system reforms, set to be implemented on April 1st, which they say will reduce benefits for seasonal workers. The reform will mean that they will have to work six months in a two-year period to qualify for unemployment payouts, against the current four months in the last 28.

The actions saw some ski resorts partially closed. Protesters distributed flyers or chanted by ski chairlifts.

Extended Monaco - Following the launch of Extended Monaco last April officials here in the Principality held a first assessment of the programme after nine months. In the presence of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco the priorities of this Principality's digital transformation program were set - serving the quality of life, offering a new cycle of economic prosperity and increasing the value of public service.

2019 saw around thirty actions implemented as part of the “Extended Monaco” programme, including smart mobility, e-Education and e-Administration.

Solar powered raves - Solar powered raves are on the rise in France as a green way to party. SolarSoundSystem has taken off in France with installations in Marseille, Paris and Biarritz. The solar and bicycle powered parties celebrates its twentieth year this year as Partygoers have been attending the events since 1999, dancing to music all running on renewable energy.

Local elections - The Mayor of Antibes, Jean Leonetti has announced that he is running for a 5th mandate. The Mayor and former minister of Nicolas Sarkozy is facing eight other opposition lists, but a new easy victory seems expected. According to figures Sophia Antipolis currently creates 1,000 jobs each year and the port of Antibes generates 18 million euros each year. However at 71, it’s expected to be his last. 

National

New candidate for Mayor of Paris - French health minister Agnes Buzyn has been selected by President Emmanuel Macron’s party to run for Paris mayor after the previous candidate pulled out over a sexting scandal. Macron suffered a setback on Friday when Benjamin Griveaux, pulled out of the race after it was alleged he sent sexual images to a woman who is not his wife. A story which dominated French media much of the weekend and saw a number of political figures, from both the left and the right, referring distastefully to the “Americanisation” of French politics. French media have traditionally avoided prying into the private lives of people in public life.

Extinction Rebellion - Climate campaign group Extinction Rebellion has posted footage on social media reportedly showing French riot police using pepper spray at activists at an airport protest. Video shows an officer spraying several people as they sit with their arms locked blocking a road at the site in the south-eastern region of Chambéry. The demonstrators were calling for a reduction in flights at the airport. No flights were disrupted, but the protest led to a build-up of traffic.

French President sets out 10-year vision for Europe - French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Europe’s middle classes will only remain reconciled to the European Union if it becomes more integrated, with an effective defence policy, a larger budget and integrated capital markets.  Setting out his 10-year vision for Europe on Saturday, Macron said he still wanted to see the UK involved in defence but urged European countries to recognise that in terms of social welfare, Europe had a different values to the US.

Meanwhile French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian has said it would be tough to achieve Britain's aim of agreeing a free trade deal by the end of the year, with the two sides so far apart on a range of issues.

Negotiations for a deal on future EU-UK relations are not due to start until next month, but London and Brussels have already clashed over rules for British financial firms' access to the EU after Brexit.

French Oscars - The entire board of directors behind the "French Oscars" has announced its resignation. It comes amid controversy around Roman Polanski's new movie topping nominations for the Cesar film awards and concerns about how the academy was being run. Their resignation comes just two weeks before the awards ceremony on February 28.

Polanski, embroiled in fresh rape allegations, has had his new film, An Officer and a Spy nominated for 12 Cesars.

Breathing life back into rural areas of France - A French association "Groupe SOS" has raised 200,000 euros for its project which aims to bring back life to rural areas of France. The association will use the funds raised to set up and run local cafes. Currently 26,000 communes are without a local cafe. Volunteers will receive funding and training some of the first to benefit are in the Auvergne Rhône Alpes, the Puy de Dome and Brittany.

Binge drinking on the rise - Binge drinking, which has long been seen as an “Anglo Saxon” habit, is reportedly on the rise in France. According to recent figures published, authorities which consider the habit to be defined as consuming more than six units on an occasion, say 16.2% of adults in France have a least one session a month. Brittany has the most binge-drinkers at 20.5% of adults and the lowest level is in the Île de France. The heaviest drinkers are in Occitanie and Nouvelle Aquitaine the region with the fewest daily drinkers is Normandy.

Business

The boss of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has called for more regulation of harmful online content, saying it was not for companies like his to decide what counts as legitimate free speech.

Zuckerberg was making a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. Citing China, he also warned excessive control risked stifling individual expression. 

Social media giants like Facebook are under increasing pressure to stop the spread of false information. Facebook in particular has been criticised for its policy on political advertising. 

Mr Zuckerberg also admitted Facebook had been slow to recognise the development of co-ordinated online "information campaigns" by state actors like Russia.

And luxury goods makers are anticipating significant losses due to the coronavirus outbreak, while High Street retailers could see new collections delayed by months. 

The global fashion industry brings the UK more than £30bn a year in revenues. According to investment bank Jefferies, Chinese consumers make up 80% of growth in the market. 

The power of the Chinese consumer has grown over the last decade and now accounts for 38% of the global fashion industry.

And until 23 January, sales forecasts for 2020 were looking good. 

Sport

Athletics - Uganda's world 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei has broken the 5km road world record by 27 seconds here in Monaco. The 23-year-old ran 12 minutes 51 seconds to smash the previous record.

France's Jimmy Gressier finished second in Monaco with a European record of 13:18.

The 5km only became an official world record event in November 2017.

Football - It was a good night for Arsenal fans with their team beating Newcastle 4 - 0 in the Premier League on Sunday moving them up to 10th place.  Tottenham beat Aston Villa 3-2 moving them to 5th. The result means Jose Mourinho's side have leapfrogged Sheffield United and are now a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand.

Liverpool's unstoppable charge towards their first top-flight title in 30 years is "outstanding", says Jurgen Klopp after his side edged a narrow victory 1-0 over bottom-of-the-table Norwich.

Liverpool are now unbeaten in 43 league games, closing in on Arsenal's all-time record of 49. They have collected a remarkable 102 points from the past 105 available.

And in what is arguably the biggest story in English football this season. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he feels for Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City players after the club's suspension from Europe. 

Uefa have banned City from European competition for two years for "serious" financial fair-play breaches.

City plan to appeal against the ban and have 10 days  to take the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Cricket - England beat South Africa by five wickets in the third Twenty 20. The victory sees England take a gripping series.

England will celebrate the win and take solace from the fact that South Africa's bowlers fared no better. But improvement is needed with just six games before the Twenty20 World Cup begins in October.

Weather

Light cloud with moderate winds highs of 15 degrees in Nice and Saint Tropez. Possible showers forecast for the end of the afternoon in both the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. This evening going down to 8 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Tuesday and Wednesday cloud clearing giving way to clear skies and highs of 16 to 17 degrees.

This morning the sun will rise here in Monaco at 7.27 and sets this evening at 18.02

Finally 

According to a new study staring at your smartphone for too long can cause eye strain.

Scientists found just two hours a day looking at the screen may cause problems. Eye strain, or visual fatigue, has long been a problem for office workers who spend too long in front of computers.

But increased use of smartphones mean people are looking at screens for hours in their leisure time too.

Researchers  found more than half, 54 per cent, frequently or always suffered at least one problem linked to screens.

Those who looked at smartphones for at least two hours a day were likely to report red eyes. 

People on their computer or laptop for at least one hour a day – including reading, studying or streaming TV – reported difficulty focusing their sight when they looked up across a longer distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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