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Riviera and French News Thursday 16th February 2017

UPDATE 18:00

Demonstration - A demonstration in being organised in Nice, against alleged police brutality during an arrest in Paris last week, which caused a week of riots there. This is despite a call from Alpes-Maritimes Deputy Leader Eric Ciotti to ban any protests against police violence. The demonstration, organised by the League of Human Rights, will be held at 3pm this Saturday in Place Garibaldi.

Fire - A fire has completely destroyed a building at Impasse Liserons in northern Nice last night. Five people were rescued and one woman with her two children have been relocated by the city.

Panic Button - Two colleges in Grasse have been issued with panic buttons for principals and teachers to alert authorities of an emergency. When the button is pressed a pre-recorded message is sent allowing police to respond more quickly. It’s envisaged the head teacher of each school in the area will be supplied with a button.

Fillon - Francois Fillons presidential campaign is looking increasingly frail as French prosecutors today say they may charge him over allegations his wife earned thousands of euros of public money as a fake parliamentary assistant. Fillon, whose popularity has plummeted since the start of the affair last month, has refused to step down despite pressure from within his own party.

BUSINESS

Banks have been accused of rigging the price of the Rand by South Africa’s competition watchdog. Global giants including Barclays, JP Morgan and HSBC, are among 17 banks accused of co-ordinating fictitious bids and offers, in order to sway the market. The competition watchdog has called for the banks to be fined 10% of in-country annual turnover.

Food giant Nestlé has said it will steepen its cost-cutting plan after unveiling disappointing results. Net profit for 2016 fell to 8.5bn Swiss francs from 9.1bn a year earlier. Sluggish food inflation in leading markets, and easing demand in emerging markets, saw sales growth slow to 3.2% from 4.2% in 2015.

Austria is to sue Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium over a 2 billion-euro deal to buy Typhoon warplanes. Following an investigation, the Austrian Defence Ministry said they had been misled over the purchase price and could sue the two companies for 1.1bn euros. In response, Airbus said the allegations had taken it by surprise and that it was a political manoeuvre.

SPORT

Formula 1 - Former Ferrari technical director James Allison is to join rivals Mercedes replacing Paddy Lowe as technical director at the reigning world champions. Allison had two spells at Ferrari, including working as chief aerodynamicist during the Michael Schumacher era of 2000-04.

Rugby - Former British and Irish Lions captains Gavin Hastings, Martin Johnson and Brian O'Driscoll have all backed Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones to lead the Lions tour to New Zealand. Jones' credentials put him out on his own, according to Scotland's Gavin Hastings, who led the 1993 tour to New Zealand.

French international centre Maxime Mermoz has just signed to the Newcastle Falcons. He has only just joined Leicester at the start of this month providing short-term injury cover. Mermoz has won the French Top 14 title with three different teams and lifted the European Champions Cup twice with Toulon, as well as representing France 35 times.

Football - After Arsenal’s Champions League hopes were torn in tatters last night by a 5-1 thrashing from Bayern Munich, the club say any decision on the future of manager Arsene Wenger will be made at the end of the season. They say any decision for the Frenchman to stay or leave will be mutual. His current contract with the club expires at the end of the season.

UPDATE 07:00

Suicide - A thirty year old man from the Var has commited suicide by throwing himself off the Artuby bridge  in the Gorges du Verdon. Police were called to the scene on Wednesday morning shortly after 11 o’clock after witnesses saw the man climbing onto the guardrail. The bridge, the highest in Europe is the scene of several suicides each  year.

Electronic Shisha - Four people have been taken to hospital in Antibes after the electronic shisha they were smoking exploded. The incident occurred at 10pm on Tuesday evening. None of those involved were seriously injured however some damage was caused to the apartment.

Nice Carnival - The famous “Serpentine wire bombs” have been banned from the Nice Carnival. Visitors have been informed that the “Serpentine wire bombs” a nostalgic part of the Carnival will not be tolerated due to new security measures which have been put in place at this year’s Carnival. 

Stade Louis II - The football stadium in Monaco, the Stade Louis II has launched a promotional campaign to attract supporters with tickets starting at 2 euros. Monaco football club is top of the league and have scored  46 goals in 13 matches. 

National

Brexit - A cross-party report from the French state has underlined the scale of Britain’s task in negotiating a successful Brexit. The report states that the UK must not be allowed to leave the EU in a better-off position than it is now, and if necessary a withdrawal without an agreement has to be considered. The document is the product of an eight-month inquiry chaired by the former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. It also states that talks on the UK’s future relationship with the EU cannot start until the terms of the divorce have been completed.

Eurostar - Eurostar has installed electronic passport gates with facial recognition technology for passengers travelling from Paris a year after the same technology was introduced at the London end. Passengers with biometric passports scan the document at a first gate and then proceed to a second gate where a camera compares their features with their passport picture before allowing them through to the departure lounge. Over half a million passengers have used the e-gates at St Pancras station in London since they were installed in mid-2016.

Business

The White House nominee for US Labor Secretary has withdrawn his name from the running amid concerns that he would not be able to gain enough votes from the Senate to be confirmed. Reuters reports that Andrew Pudzer’s decision to withdraw is a blow to the Trump administration and signals that the White House is still battling to control the fallout from Monday’s abrupt resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn. Mr Pudzer has been at the centre of a number of allegations in recent weeks,notably that he and his wife had employed an undocumented housekeeper.He’s also facing a series of complaints and legal cases brought by workers at his business and its franchises.

The UK and Germany are seeking to safeguard jobs if the proposed merger between the PSA Group and Opel goes ahead. Ministers in both countries have raised concerns about the potential deal which would see the manufacturer of Peugeot and Citroen cars take over General Motor’s loss making European operation Opel and its UK subsidiary Vauxhall. The UK Business Secretary Greg Clarke said that he’d be making a strong case for the firm to keep manufacturing in Britain while the German Economy Minister  said that it was “unacceptable” that Opel and the PSA Group had not consulted ministers or unions before going ahead with the talks.

And-Reports this morning suggest that Verizon Communications is close to a revised deal to buy Yahoo’s core internet business for a reduced price of between 250 and 350 million dollars. Verizon has been trying to persuade Yahoo to amend the terms of the deal in light of the internet firm’s revelations about data breaches last year. Sources close to the matter say that the deal could be announced before the end of this week and would involve both firms taking joint liability from potential lawsuits related to the data breaches.

Sport

Football-Arsenal’s European Champions League hopes are in tatters this morning after they were thrashed 5-1 at Bayern Munich in last night’s round of 16 first leg game. Things were going ok for the Gunners as they went into half time at 1-1 but Bayern let rip in the second half and scored 4 goals in the space of 35 minutes to leave Arsene Wenger’s side a mountain to climb in the second leg. The other tie last night ended Real Madrid 3 Napoli 1. There are 16 round of 32 first leg ties in the Europa League tonight with Manchester United at home to Saint-Etienne and Spurs visiting Gent. There was 1 game in the Scottish Premier League last night.Aberdeen thrashed Motherwell 7-2 to move up to second place in the table.

Rugby Union-The Scotland captain Greg Laidlaw has been ruled out for the rest of the 6 Nations because of an ankle injury. The 31 year old scrum half picked up the injury in the first half of Scotland’s match against France last Sunday and left the stadium on crutches. Scotland Rugby says that Laidlaw has sustained ligament damage  and that he’ll be seeing a specialist before the end of the week to assess the full extent of the injury.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate westerly or variable winds.

Top temperature 17 degrees Celsius.

Overnight lows of 9 degrees on the coast and 7 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Mainly fine with a high of 15-16 degrees.

Finally

A UFO has been spotted hovering over Normandy in France. Footage of the sighting released by UFO Today on YouTube shows the lit up object with orange lights - perhaps in two parts - and possible joined flying in the sky above the coastal town.

UFO Today said: "One of my contacts in France sent me this video from Normandy.

"He claims the footage is real and a lot of people saw it. The object hovered above the village for a couple of minutes until it simply vanished".

But some commenters doubted the footage. One said: "Fires on a hillside, obscured by mist/fog/haze.´╗┐"

The video has been viewed more than 20,000 times.