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Riviera and French News Friday 14th April 2017

Fire victim - A young woman is in a critical condition this morning following a fire at a student residence in Nice on Thursday. 140 students were evacuated from their accommodation at the block on the avenue de Bornala after fire spread through the building. The 20 year old victim was rushed to hospital after suffering life-threatening burns. 8 more people including an 18 month old baby were injured in the blaze. The cause of the fire is not yet clear although fire fighters suspect an electrical fault might be to blame.

Marseilles - The body of a man has been found in a garden in the 14th arrondissement of Marseilles.  It's believed that the man either fell or was pushed from a 4th floor appartment. Police are currently trying to establish the circumstances surrounding the death.  The husband and wife who apparently live in the 4th floor appartement have reportedly been questioned but later relaeased.

Traffic - It's expected to be a busy weekend on the region's roads with many holidaymakers arriving and local residents leaving for Easter.  Today is a bank holiday in Italy and traffic on the A8 motorway coming from Italy is expected to be especially heavy. Restrictions have also been placed on trucks travelling on the region's motorways both in France and Italy over the Easter weekend.

Cannes Film Festival - Nicole Kidman is set to be the star of this year’s Cannes Film Festival with two of her movies in competition for the Palme d’Or. Both the films also star Colin Farrell and Kidman has two more movies which will be screened during the Festival. There’s also keen interest in a documentary about the refugee crisis directed by the actress Vanessa Redgrave and entitled ‘Sea of Sorrow’. The Cannes Film Festival runs from the 17th to the 28th of May.

Fall - An 81 year old man is in a serious condition in Toulon hospital this morning after falling from the coastal path at Le Lavandou in the Var. The accident happened as the man who was on holiday with two friends,moved out of the way to let a group of schoolchildren past on the narrow path.He slipped backwards and fell several meters onto the rocks below. Emergency services arrived quickly on the scene and were able to stabilise the victim before he was airlifted to hospital.

Internet fraud - A man has been released on bail pending accusations that he defrauded users of the ‘Boncoin’ second hand good website to the tune of 200,000 euros. The man is said to have been making 2,500 euros a month by selling fake ‘licenses IV’ permits which allow establishments to sell alcohol. The City of Nice is reported to be one of many organisations to make a complaint to the police.Enquiries continue.

Drug seizure - Police in Valluris have seized 150 kilos of cannabis and other illegal drugs after intercepting two speeding cars on the Chemin de St Bernard. Officers spotted the speeding vehicles during a late-night routine patrol and set off in pursuit. The drivers of both cars attempted to evade arrest.One man was arrested after crashing into a security barrier on the Route de la Valmasque.The drugs were found inside his car. The two occupants of the other car were arrested later in Cannes. All three men have been remanded in custody.

You’re beautiful - Nice Airport is waiting to find out if it’s been judged the most beautiful place in the world to land. Nice last held the award in 2014 but lost the title to Queenstown in New Zealand in 2015 and missed out last year to Malta. The rankings are put together by the website PrivateFly.com.

Election kick-about - The French Presidential race has taken a local twist after pictures of the candidates posted outside several polling stations in Nice were replaced by images of football players from OGC Nice. Jokers pasted photos of the club’s players over the existing images of Francois Fillon.Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen but left their campaign slogans in place. Several other election posters are also reported to have been replaced with images of Disney characters,the Smurfs and Kartman.

National News

FN fire - A small fire broke out at the Front National headquarters on Thursday with an anti-racist organisation claiming responsibility. Little damage was caused by the arson attack which burned a door at the building. Responsibility for the blaze has been claimed by the ‘Combattre le xenophobie’ group which has warned that it will continue to attack Front National property ‘every day’ until the election.

Vine decline - French wine production fell by 3.5 million hectolitres last year according to statistics from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine OIV. France is the world’s second largest producer of wine after Italy and the decline is being mainly put down to bad weather which affected some areas of the country in 2016. Globally,wine production fell by 3.2 percent last year for variety of reasons including the weather and drought. Italy,France,Spain,Turkey and China together make up more than half of the world’s total number of vineyards.

Business

The chief executive of Credit Suisse and the board of directors have offered to cut their bonuses by 40 percent ahead of its annual general meeting. The bank has also offered to keep board pay at the same level as in 2015 and 2016. The development comes following pressure from Swiss lawmakers and the bank’s shareholders to address what’s seen as excessive executive pay. Credit Suisse has posted two straight years of losses but its top 12 executives were awarded 78 million Swiss Francs in pay this year. Chief executive Tidjane Thiam earned a total of 12 million Swiss Francs last year.

Profits at two of America’s largest banks rose strongly in the first quarter,buoyed by higher interest rates. JP Morgan Chase profits rose by 17 percent to 6.45 billion dollars while Citigroup also announced a 17 percent increase in first quarter profits to 4.1 billion dollars. Meanwhile,Wells Fargo,which has been working to contain the fallout from a scandal related to fake customer accounts,said that it earned 5.5 billion dollars in the first quarter,largely unchanged from a year ago.

Reuters reports that the technology stocks rally will be on the line next week as Netflix kicks off first quarter earnings season in a sector that currently accounts for more than a fifth of the value of the US stock market. Surges in Apple,Facebook and other Silicon Valley heavyweights have pushed the S&P 500 technology index 10 percent higher so far this year-more than double of the S&P’s broader index which is up by 4 percent. Netflix will report after the bell on Monday and is expected to quintuple its earnings per share and its stock has soared by 43 percent in the past 6 months. However,Reuters says that the real test is yet to come as the valuation has been based more on sentiment rather than on fundamentals. Momentum in many tech stocks has been driven by ambitious expectations for earnings  but analysts say that even the slightest negative would likely lead the market down again with rewards going only to outstanding results.

Sport

Formula 1 - First practice takes place for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix at 1pm French time this afternoon as the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel resumes. Ferrari think that they could have had the better of the Mercedes star at last week’s Chinese Grand Prix if it hadn’t been for the opportunistic tyre changed carried out under the safety car by the triple world champion and many think that the Italian outfit have the faster car this season. Second practice is at 5pm this afternoon with qualifying at 5pm on Saturday and the race at 5pm on Sunday.
Meanwhile Jenson Button looks set to replace Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix while the Spaniard competes in the Indianapolis 500 instead. The move has the full backing of McLaren and Button is still contracted to the team as reserve driver although his participation is yet to be officially confirmed.

Tennis - The Monte Carlo Rolex Masters gets underway at the Monte Carlo Country Club tomorrow with qualifying and first round matches. Most of the world’s top stars with the exception of Roger Federer are taking part. For ticket information go to www.montecarlotennismasters.com

Football - Manchester United could only manage a 1-1 draw at Andelecht in their Europa League quarter final first leg game last night. In the other ties Ajax beat Schalke 2-0,Celta Vigo beat Genk 3-2 and Lyon beat Besiktas 2-1.
In the English Premier League this weekend Spurs play Bournemouth in the lunchtime game and then it’s Crystal Palace against Leicester,Everton against Burnley,Stoke versus Hull,Sunderland play West Ham,Watford host Swansea and Southampton play Manchester City. On Sunday West Brom host Liverpool and Manchester United play Chelsea. Middlesbrough play Arsenal on Monday.

Rugby Union - There’s 1 game in the Aviva Premiership tonight.Harlequins play Exeter while in the Guinness Pro 12 Glasgow play Zebre.

Weather

Partially cloudy with moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 22 degrees Celsius. Overnight lows of 13 degrees on the coast and 10 degrees inland with partially cloudy  skies. The Easter weekend-Partially cloudy tomorrow, fine on Easter Sunday with highs of 19-23 degrees.

And finally

Estonian troops have vacated their barracks for a tented camp in order to give visiting NATO allies a roof over their heads. Hundreds of conscripts of Estonia's First Infantry Brigade are being moved out of their barracks in Tapa, the country's major army town, for tents in nearby Lasna to free up space for allied personnel. NATO is sending hundreds of troops to Estonia to bolster the country's defences on NATO's eastern border and, according to the British Army, " to confront threats to global security". The UK is sending 800 members of the 5th Battalion The Rifles Battlegroup to Estonia, to join soldiers from France and Denmark.