French and Riviera News Wednesday 8th May 2019

Local

Air-traffic control strike - It’s been announced that hundreds of flights are set to be cancelled, and many more delayed, due to the first French air-traffic control strike of the summer.  Controllers and engineers have planned to stop working from 7pm this evening until 6am on Friday. The biggest impact is likely to be in the Marseille Area Control Centre.

The 35-hour stoppage is part of a wider national protest by public servants in France against President Macron’s plans to reform their working conditions. Civil service unions have called for a day of action for Thursday, May 9th with more than one hundred protest meetings planned throughout France. The day of action is to oppose civil service reforms and job losses.

Customs officers - Meanwhile customs officers have staged a demonstration in connection with Brexit in Marseille. Officers gathered in the city on Tuesday in protest about what they say is a lack of preparation for Brexit by customs management.  They are also asking for the recruitment of additional personnel to deal with customs changes after the anticipated departure of the UK from the EU.

Film - A film production company which is making a remake of a masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock “Rebecca” has announced that it is looking for extras. With eight days of filming scheduled in Nice the Netflix production directed by Ben Wheatley is looking for men and women of all ages for scenes to be shot in Nice from May 31st to June 8th. For details write to castingrectangle@gmail.com.

French cinema – Meanwhile, while the number of cinema goers in France has decreased by 4% for 2018 there has been an increase in the number of people attending screenings of French films. In 2018 eleven French films were released with three of them seeing more than 4 million admissions, Les Tuche 3, La Ch’tite family and Le Grand bain. According to figures the French are the first cinema goers in Europe ahead of Britain, Denmark and Spain and the Germans are the ones who least go to the cinema.   

Bring me sunshine - According to a recent study by Météo France Nice ranks 4th as the sunniest city in France, behind Marseille, Toulon and Ajaccio. With 147 days of sun, Nice averages 2724 hours of sunshine a year.

Sheep - Fifteen sheep have been symbolically signed up as the latest recruits at a primary school in the French Alps after parents feared falling pupil numbers would see some classes closed. Following the announcement the school in Crêts en Belledonne, a village at the foot of the Alps, introduced some 50 sheep, 15 of whom were “officially” registered after showing their birth certificates.  In a comic ceremony watched by children, parents and teachers, added to the  register was a pupil called “Baa-bete” and another called “Saute-Mouton”.

National

Suspected plot to attack security forces - French police have arrested a 16-year-old teenager in Strasbourg as part of an investigation into a suspected plot to attack security forces and possibly the presidential Elysee Palace. The teenager is the fifth person to be arrested in relation to the investigation. According to French media, he is believed to be a high school student of Chechen origin and was arrested at his parents' home. His arrest comes after three adults and another teenager were taken into custody on 26 April. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner says they would have carried out an "extremely violent terror attack".

Hostages - Four women have been held hostage in a newsagents in Blagnac in the Haute Garonne near Toulouse. A man held the women hostage for several hours on Tuesday before releasing them by early evening. The French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner praised security forces for their intervention. The man reportedly took the employees hostage shortly after 4.30pm firing shots into the air. It was later reported that he was known to police for theft and his participation in “Yellow Vest” demonstration but was not classified as dangerous his motive remains unknown as the investigation continues.

France Telecom - During the France Telecom trial which began on Monday its former CEO Didier Lombard has “rejected any responsibility”. Lombard who was CEO from 2005 to 2010 made the claim in response to accusations that “moral harassment” from management resulted in a wave of suicides by employees. Former employees are reported to be “disgusted” by his reaction.

Business

Stock markets around the world have slumped following US President Donald Trump’s threat to impose fresh tariffs on Chinese exports.

Mr Trump has said that he’ll double tariffs on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods this Friday amid claims that Beijing is trying to renege on a trade deal.

Investors sought shelter in safer government bonds and the Japanese yen on Tuesday  with the market falls coming after a period of strong first quarter earnings  for US firms.

The Chinese Vice-Premier is still scheduled to arrive in Washington for a fresh round of trade talks on Thursday but the discussions are being overshadowed by the latest row and the prospect that the trade war between the two countries may now escalate.

 

The mining giant BHP Billiton  is facing a 5 billion dollar  claim for a dam collapse in Brazil in 2015.

The law firm SPG which is representing more than 200,000 Brazilian claimants said that the BHP Billiton had “known of the risks” at the Sanmarco mine in Minas Gerais State.

The claim was served at Liverpool’s High Court on Tuesday  and is the largest in UK legal history.

BHP rejects the claims  and said that the firm would  “defend itself vigorously”.

The Sanmarco mine is co-owned by BHP and the Brazilian firm Vale.

Both companies have faced big fines in Brazil  and have had to pay millions of dollars into compensation programmes.

 

And-The German sports car maker and Volkswagen subsidiary Porsche is to pay a 535 million euro fine over diesel vehicles that emitted more harmful levels of pollutants than allowed by law.

The fine was levied by the Stuttgart prosecutor’s office in Germany on Tuesday for negligence in quality control.

The prosecutor’s office added that Porsche had decided not to contest the punishment.

The fine is the latest in a string of penalties to be imposed against Volkswagen in relation to the “dieselgate” scandal.

Sport

Football-Liverpool have pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in European history after coming from 3 goals down to beat the Catalan giants Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate and qualify for the Champions League final for the second consecutive season.

Nobody was giving Liverpool much hope going into the second leg of the tie after they lost 3-0 in the first leg but a 4-0 victory on the night sent Anfield wild and means that they’ll face either Ajax or Spurs in the final later this month.

That second semi final second leg between Ajax and Spurs is being played tonight with the Dutch side leading 1-0 from the first leg.

Formula 1-Ferrari are introducing an upgraded engine two races early at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix in a bid to close the gap on Mercedes.

Mercedes have finished 1-2 in all four races this season so far with reliability problems and poor strategic decisions as well as driver errors affecting Ferrari.

The new engine will use a new fuel which also increases performance  and the car will have some aerodynamic upgrades.

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto says that they’re “pushing hard” to make up the ground.

Cricket-England play Pakistan in the first one day international today.Play at the Oval starts at 2pm French time.

Scotland are playing Afghanistan at the Grange in Edinburgh.Play there starts at noon.

Rugby Union-James Haskell has announced that he’s retiring at the end of the season.

The 34 back-rower was capped 77 times for England  and won three 6 Nations titles including a Grand Slam.

He’s been dogged  with various injury problems this season and has only made four appearances for Northampton.

Weather

Overcast with outbreaks of rain and moderate easterly winds.

Top temperature 16 degrees Celsius.

More rain overnight with a low of 12 degrees on the coast and 10 degrees inland.

Thursday and Friday-Clear skies with highs of 19-22 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

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