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Riviera and French News Friday 24th March 2017

UPDATE 18:00

Le Pen - Marine le Pen is in Moscow today for a meeting with Vladamir Putin. At the meeting, the Russian President said the Kremlin does not meddle in French politics. Le Pen have visited Moscow on many occasions and has called for closer ties with Russia.

A380 - The worlds largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, will soon be regularly seen over the Riviera as Emirates announced it would be using the aircraft to service it’s Nice-Dubai route. The double-decker “superjumbo” will arrive from July. Meanwhile, it’s two years today since a GermanWings airplane was deliberately crashed into the French Alpes by its co-pilot. As commemorations take place at the scene, the father of the co-pilot said he refused to believe his son committed suicide.

Music - The headliners for this summers Jazz in Juan festival have been announced. They include Macy Gray, Sting and Tom Jones. The festival takes place in July.

BUSINESS

Eurozone businesses grew at the fastest rate in nearly six years during March according to the PMI Index. Much of the growth was fuelled by a strong performance in France, where growth has risen above that seen in Germany. Despite the elections remaining  a worry, PMI say the business mood in France and across much of Europe is very positive.

Deutsche Bank has committed to moving to a new office in London, at a time when most banks are considering the opposite. Germany's biggest lender is in talks for a 25-year lease on a new building, which the CEO says underlines the bank's commitment to the City of London.

SPORT

Football - Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson has been called up to the England squad for the first time. He’ll join Gareth Southgate's team for Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley. Tonight, the Republic of Ireland play Wales, in a game Wales need a win to close the gap on Ireland, who currently top the group on 10 points.

Formula 1 - This weekend see’s the first Grand Prix of the new season on Melbourne with Lewis Hamilton saying he was surprised how good his Mercedes felt during today’s practice. Hamilton was 0.547 seconds clear of the field after a dominant performance and looks a strong favourite this weekend. Qualifying for the race is at 7am French time tomorrow with the race at 7am on Sunday.

Rugby - Stuart Hogg has been voted the Six Nations Player of the Tournament for the second year in a row, with Ireland flanker CJ Stander coming in second, France’s Louis Pica.moles in third.

UPDATE 07:00

Meningitis - A case of meningitis has been reported at Garbejaîre elementary school in Antibes. Parents were informed on Wednesday. Local authorities have said that whilst no other cases have been reported, it has reminded parents that since 2010 there does exist a vaccination for meningococcus C which is recommended for all children, adolescents and young adults.

Westminster Attack - Prince Albert has written to Queen Elizibeth to express the condolences of the people of Monaco with the United Kingdom following the terror attack in Westminster on Wednesday."It was with a deep emotion that I learnt of the criminal attack on Westminster’s bridge and Houses of Parliament. The People of Monaco, my Family and I wish to express our most heartfelt and sincere condolences to Your Majesty and the People of the United Kingdom at these somber times. Let me assure Your Majesty of our deep sympathy and our prayers for the victims and their families." Seven arrests have been made in raids following the Westminster Attack that left five dead, a 75 year old man, a woman in her 40’s, a man in his 50’s, PC Keith Palmer and the attacker. 29 other people were injured and seven are in a critical condition.

Terror Attacks - Access to the centre of Aix-en-Provence has been restricted following the attacks in London and all sporting and cultural events have been placed under high surveillance. Many cities across France which have a lower police presence than regional capitals have been forced to take similar security measures. 

Airbus A380 - Nice International airport will be welcoming the “superjumbo” Airbus A380 as early as July making the Riviera airport the second in France to host the largest airliner in the world after Paris Charles-de-Gaulle. The daily connection Nice to Dubai will offer a 44% increase in its seating capacity thanks to the A380.

Electrosmart - Researcher Arnaud Legout from Sophia-Antipolis has launched the Electrosmart application. The new app measures our exposure to electromagnetic waves which are in today’s society everywhere. Legout hopes that the app will teach us more about this new kind of pollution and the impact on our health.

National

Westminster Attack - The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has visited three French schoolchildren who were wounded in the attack in London on Wednesday. They were among a group of 36 pupils from years 11 and 12 at the Lycée Saint-Joseph school in Brittany who were walking along the pavement from the parliament buildings to Westminster Bridge when they were struck by a car driven by the attacker. Terrorism had already claimed a former pupil of the school, which is in the fishing and tourism town of Concarneau when 89 people lost their lives in the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall during the Paris terror attacks.

French Presidential - Socialist French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has announced his support for centrist Emmanuel Macron instead of his own party's presidential candidate. Mr Le Drian said the move was necessary because victory for far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the forthcoming election would be a "danger to France". He is the most senior government member to endorse Mr Macron so far. The latest polls suggest Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen are neck and neck in the first round next month. She had been projected to win the first round but then lose a run-off vote. Meanwhile French Presidential candidate Francois Fillon has accused French President Francois Hollande of running a “black cabinet” following claims made in a book published on Thursday. The right wing candidate has asked for an inquiry to be open into the allegations which were made in the book referring to it as a “State Scandal”. 

Business

Twitter is considering introducing a paid membership option for businesses and ‘power users’. The micro-blogging service,which has been struggling to make a profit and grow its user base says that it’s carrying out surveys to “assess interest” in the idea. Paying members would get enhanced access to Tweetdeck-the firm’s interface that offers more functionality than twitter.com. No indication has been given that regular users of Twitter would be charged for the service. A premium membership scheme could offer Twitter an alternative revenue stream at a time when users are increasingly turning to other networks such as Snapchat. Twitter’s active user base has plateaued and advertising revenues are in decline.

Royal Bank of Scotland is closing 158 branches,most of them NatWest outlets with the loss of up to 362 jobs. RBS,which is 73 percent owned by the UK taxpayer says that the move is due to customers spurning the traditional branch counter service in favour of internet and mobile phone banking. A number of banks have said that they’re shutting branch outlets over the past few months including HSBC,Yorkshire building society and Lloyds. 770 staff will be affected by the closures with 300 moving to other jobs. RBS says that it must change the way it serves customers as customers change the way that they bank.

And-Oil prices have edged up in Asian trade this morning supported by a cut in Saudi exports to the US. Overall,markets remain under pressure as a result of a continuing supply glut with increasing US inventories and drilling adding to the problem. A short time ago,Brent crude was trading up 7 cents at 50 dollars 63 cents with US West Texas Intermediate up 12 cents at 47 dollars 82. Traders say that unless Opec makes bigger cuts to production,oil prices are at risk of falling further.

Sport 

Formula 1-Lewis Hamilton was quickest in first practice for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The Mercedes star set a fastest time of with team-mate Valtteri Bottas second quickest and the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen third and fourth fastest. Hamilton was more than a second quicker than the two Ferraris of Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. In second practice the two Ferraris have been at the top of the leader board for the first hour but Hamilton is lurking and is looking good as he attempts to set the fastest time in both practices. Qualifying is at 7am French time tomorrow with the race at 7am on Sunday.

Football-There are a number of World Cup qualifiers this weekend including tonight in Group D with the Republic of Ireland playing Wales.Wales need a win to close the gap on the Republic who currently top the group on 10 points.Wales have 6 points. Tomorrow,France travel to Luxembourg in Group A while Northern Ireland are at home to Norway in Group C on Sunday  and England play Lithuania in Group F. Scotland host Slovenia in the same group.

Rugby Union-Stuart Hogg has been voted the 6 Nations player of the tournament for the second year in a row. The Scotland star received almost 25 percent of the public vote with the Ireland flanker CJ Stander coming in second place and the France number 8 Louis Picamoles in third place. There’s 1 game in the Aviva Premiership tonight.Bristol host Gloucester while in the Pro 12 Scarlets host Edinburgh and Newport Gwent Dragons play Ulster.

Golf-Rory McIlroy is out of the World Golf Championship Match Play in Austin Texas. The world number two needed to beat Gary Woodland in the group stage to have any chance of making it through to the last 16 but he was forced to pull out,leaving Soren Kjeldsen needing to only halve his match against Emiliano Grillo to progress. Kjeldsen won the match  4&3 to knock McIlroy out of contention.

Weather

Overcast with rain-brightening in the late afternoon with a strong easterly wind developing.

Top temperature 16 degrees Celsius.

Overnight lows of 14 degrees on the coast and 12 degrees inland with partially cloudy.

The weekend-Sunshine and showers to start on Saturday with more persistent rain in the afternoon.Fine and sunny on Sunday with highs of 16-18 degrees.

Finally

A recent study suggests that children should be taught how to communicate with their future spouses to prevent divorce later in life.

Improving the way we speak and listen to partners could help reduce the divorce rate - and breakdowns of couples living together, researchers claim.

The lessons should form part of sex and relationship education in schools - which when they do occur - mostly focus at present on avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, it was claimed.

Learning to ignore bleeping phones and screens to talk honestly and listen to your partner might be a useful suggestion, the authors said.