French and Riviera News Wednesday October 21st 2020

Posthumous award-France is to bestow the country’s highest honour posthumously on the 47 year old teacher who was barbarically murdered outside the school where he taught last Friday.

Samuel Paty is to be awarded the Legion d’Honneur and his life is to be marked at a special ceremony at the Sorbonne University in Paris later today.

Mr Paty ,a history and geography teacher was decapitated by an 18 year old radicalised Chechen refugee after the end of class last week after he’d used a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad as part of a school curriculum freedom of expression lesson.

The murder has sparked horror across the country and the government has moved to crack down on online Islamist extremism.

9 people are still being questioned in police custody in connection with the murder.

Meanwhile ,a source close to the investigation has told French media that the father of one of the students in Mr Paty’s class who called for social media protests against him had exchanged text messages with his killer.

BFMTV says that the messages were exchanged on WhatsApp but the contents have not been divulged.

 

Mosque closed-French authorities have moved to close a mosque in northern Paris as part of efforts to clamp down on Islamist extremism.

The mosque ,which regularly attracts around 1,500 worshippers had posted a Facebook video about Samuel Paty a few days before he was murdered.

The video is heavily critical of the dead teachers decision to show his class caricatures of the prophet Muhammad after giving Muslim students the chance to leave if they felt uncomfortable.

The mosque is to be closed for 6 months on the orders of the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

 

Change in the law ? -French government officials have met with senior executives from Facebook ,Twitter and Snapchat with a view to combatting what the Interior Ministry has described as “cyber-Islamicism”.

The junior Interior Minister Marlene Schiappa has suggested that Samuel Paty’s murder  should act as a catalyst for new legislation in France and possibly across the entire EU to make social media companies more accountable for the content that they allow to be published.

More than 240 people in France have died from Islamist violence in France since 2015 prompting opposition politicians to accuse the government of taking tough but failing to act decisively.

 

Storm Alex- The cost of flooding to private property in the south east of the country during Storm Alex on the 2nd of October has been given a provisional price tag of 210 million euros.

The French Federation of Insurers says that 14,000 claims have been made but it’s too early to say what the final cost will be.

Large areas of the Roya ,Tinee and Vesubie valleys suffered extensive flood damage during the storm and the claims made are all from private property holders, businesses and farmers.

72 percent of claims made concern damage to property with 25 percent coming from business and agriculture and 3 percent from vehicle owners.

The limit for making an insurance claim from damage sustained during the storm has been extended until the 15th of November as some areas are still inaccessible so the final bill is likely to be substantially higher.

The estimate does not take into account damage sustained to public buildings and infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

 

Curfew fines-French police have issued more than 3,000 fines since a curfew was imposed in Paris and several other large cities on Saturday.

Some 20 million French people are subject to the emergency regulations which will be in force for at least a month and require people to stay at home between the hours of 9pm and 6am.

The Interior Ministry says that people are by and large respecting the rules with police issuing fines of 135 euros for those who break the curfew with penalties rising to up to 3,750 euros for repeat offenders as well as 6 months in prison.

There have been warnings that Nice and other towns in the Alpes Maritimes could see a curfew imposed soon if cases of Covid-19 continue to rise.

The Mayor of Nice ,Christian Estrosi has said that hospital intensive care beds in the Alpes-Maritimes are rapidly filling up and he fears the department will soon be placed in the red zone for Covid-19 infections.

 

Road deaths-The number of people killed on French roads fell by 11.3 percent in September compared with figures from the same period in 2019.

275 people died in road accidents last month compared with 310 in September 2019.

All accidents were up though by 0.9 percent to 6,320.

Numbers of cyclists killed in fatal accidents rose alarmingly last month though to 37 compared with  22 in September 2019.

Cycling has been becoming increasingly popular this year as the penny drops about climate change and also as a result of a lack of public transport during lockdown.

83 cyclists have been killed in road accidents so far this year.

 

Storm Barbara-12 departments in the south west of France are on weather alerts as Storm Barbara sweeps across the region bringing winds of up to 200 km/h in places.

Meteo France says that the storm is already being felt in the Pyrenees and is set to hit the Massif Central today.

Some areas could see flooding with up to 2 months worth of rain forecast in 24 hours.

The worst of the weather should pass by this evening.

 

Business.

 

The US Justice Department has filed charges against Google in the biggest legal challenge mounted by authorities against a major tech firm in years.

Google is accused of violating competition laws to preserve its monopoly over internet searches and online advertising.

The charges come following more than a year of investigations and come as Google and other large tech firms are facing increased scrutiny over their practices both in the US and overseas.

Google has called the case “deeply flawed” and maintains that the tech sector remains intensely competitive and that its practices put customers first.

The charges ,which have been filed in Federal court have been brought by the US Department of Justice and 11 other states.

The lawsuit focuses on the billions of dollars that Google pays each year to ensure that its search engine is installed as the default option on browsers and devices such as mobile phones.

 

Shares in Netflix have fallen sharply after the streaming giant reported its lowest  number of new subscribers for several quarters.

Netflix says that it added 2.2 million new subscribers in the three months to the end of September as demand for its services prompted by the coronavirus pandemic cooled.

The firm had warned of a slowdown but the figure came in below its July forecast of an extra 2.5 million subscribers.

The firm has reminded investors that it’s still on track for a record number of 34 million new subscribers in 2020 or more than 200 million overall.

 

And-A Bank of England policymaker has said that UK unemployment could climb higher than current forecasts as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit jobs.

Gertjan Vlieghe ,who’s a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee warned that the jobless total could exceed the Bank’s predicted peak of 7.5 percent.

He said that not all of the currently 2 million furloughed workers would be able to return to their jobs and the risks are skewed towards even higher unemployment.

The government’s furlough scheme is to be stopped at the end of the month and replaced with a new job retention programme which gives less guarantees to employees and businesses.

 

Sport.

 

Football-The Group stage of the European Champions League got underway last night with Chelsea and Sevilla sharing a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge in Group E and Manchester United picking up a great 2-1 away win at Paris St Germain in Group H with Marcus Rashford scoring the winner.

 

There are 8 more games tonight including Manchester City against Porto in Group C and Ajax against Liverpool in Group D.

 

In the English Championship last night Middlesbrough were 1-0 winners at Bristol City.Coventry and Swansea drew 1-1.Huddersfield beat Derby 1-0.Millwall beat Luton 2-0.Norwich were 1-0 winners over Birmingham.Nottingham Forest and Rotherham drew 1-1 and Reading beat Wycombe 1-0.

 

And-in the Scottish Premiership Aberdeen beat Hamilton 4-2.

 

Formula 1-Organisers of the Australian Grand Prix say that they expect to host the opening race of next season in its normal mid-March slot.

This year’s race in Melbourne was cancelled after a McLaren team member tested positive for coronavirus.

The Australian Grand Prix chairman Andrew Westacott says that Melbourne will once again host the traditional start to next year’s season and that the race would form a significant part of the recovery of major sports and events in the State of Victoria.

 

Rugby Union-The England coach Eddie Jones says that the uncapped Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence can provide the power needed at Test level.

Lawrence is part of a 32 man England training squad and is in contention to make his first appearance for the national side against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.

Jones says that the 21 year old has a “great attitude” and knows what he has to do to be a Test player.

 

Cycling-Chris Froome struggled on the opening stage of the Vuelta e Espana as the defending champion Primoz Roglic took the opening accolades.

Froome was dropped on the penultimate climb and is more than 11 minutes behind the leader.

The 35 year old says that he’s unsure about his fitness as he continues to recover from a horrific crash that ruled him out of both last year’s Tour de France and Vuelta.

 

Weather.

 

Mainly fine with moderate to strong south easterly winds.

Top temperatures 20-21 degrees.

Overnight lows of 17 degrees with cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday-Mainly cloudy tomorrow and  windy from the south east.Rain on Friday. Highs of 19-20 degrees.

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