Evening Update Friday 16th February 2024

There are widespread cancellations to rail services around France today as conductors go on strike - with the strike action set to continue all weekend long. Only half of TGVs are running, bringing chaos to many people's half-term holiday plans. There may still be some knock-on disruption to services on Monday. But the SNCF has assured customers that "all service to the Alps will be maintained." Unions representing conductors have called the strike in protest over slow progress to implement a previously agreed deal on pay and working conditions.

A man is being treated in hospital after a fall at an AirBnB holiday rental in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Neighbours found the man in his 50s in a pool of blood, with serious head injuries, in what appears to have been a fall. The incident happened at an apartment on the Avenue Paul Doumer in Roquebrune. His injuries are not said to be life-threatening. A police investigation is under way.

Alpes-Maritimes MP Eric Ciotti has written to Air France urging the airline to rethink plans to stop running flights from Nice to Paris Orly airport. By 2026, Air France plans to consolidate most of its domestic French routes at its Charles de Gaulle hub, affecting flights from Nice, Toulouse, Marseille and France's overseas territories. Only flights from Corsica would continue to serve Orly - and flights operated by Air France's budget subsidiary, Transavia. Eric Ciotti said he was firmly opposed to the move.

Police in Fréjus have seized counterfeit clothing and two illegally imported exotic birds during a series of raids this week. During a routine road-side check on a vehicle, police found 100 grams of cannabis resin and arrested the car's three occupants, all aged between 18 and 21. Then, during searches at their homes, police seized almost €7,000 in cash, bags full of counterfeit clothing and two exotic birds that had been illegally imported from Tunisia.  The birds will probably be transferred to the Parc Phoenix in Nice in the coming days.

Staff at a secondary school in Nice have gone on strike to protest about overcrowding. Teachers at the Collège Jean-Giono in the Saint-Roch district say that, with a record 742 pupils, each person has just one square metre of space to themselves. A petition by staff and parents has attracted 200 signatures. They say noise levels, especially in the playground, are unbearable and several students have reported suffering from stress as a result of the cramped conditions.

And Monaco residents with bulky household waste to get rid of are being invited to take part in the 3rd edition of Monacollecte this week. A mobile rubbish dump and recycling park has been set up on the Quai Antoine 1er. The collection is for special household waste that cannot go in regular bin bags, including batteries and lightbulbs, paint cans and old electronic equipment. Several charitable associations will also be present to collect donations of clothing, bedding and toys. Monacollecte is open until 7pm tonight and again tomorrow between 9am and 7pm.

BUSINESS

Japan has unexpectedly fallen into a recession after its economy shrank for two quarters in a row. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.4% in the last three months of 2023, compared to a year earlier. It came after the economy shrank by 3.3% in the previous quarter. The figures from Japan's Cabinet Office also indicate that the country has lost its position as the world's third-largest economy to Germany.

Russia’s central bank has held interest rates at 16%, after five hikes in a row since last summer. Russia’s interest rates have been volatile since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Bank of Russia doubled rates to 20% in March 2022 to support the rouble, but then lowered them through 2022 to 7.5%, before starting to hike in summer 2023.

A former Goldman Sachs employee has been jailed for 22 months after being convicted of insider trading and fraud. Mohammed Zina, 35, was found guilty by a London jury yesterday. He had used information obtained at Goldman Sachs to trade in stocks including semiconductor designer Arm, ahead of its takeover by SoftBank, and pub company Punch Taverns. Zina had been employed by Goldman Sachs International in its conflicts resolution group in London.

SPORT

Cricket - Ben Duckett's scintillating century led a breathtaking England counter-attack on the second day of the third Test against India. Duckett was unbeaten on 133 from 118 balls at the close, with 21 fours and two sixes. England are 207-2 from only 35 overs, 238 runs behind India's 445.

Football - Jurgen Klinsmann has been sacked as head coach of South Korea after just 12 months in the role and following the country's Asian Cup semi-final defeat. The German was appointed in February last year and had a contract until the end of the 2026 World Cup. The Korea Football Association (KFA) criticised Klinsmann's leadership and said a change "is necessary".

France striker Kylian Mbappe has told Paris St-Germain he intends to leave the club at the end of the season. The 25-year-old's deal with the Ligue 1 champions is scheduled to expire and he has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid. Mbappe's future was the subject of a major stand-off with PSG last summer. At one point, Mbappe was exiled from the first-team squad and left out of the club's pre-season tour of Asia.

In the Premier League action this weekend. Tomorrow the lunchtime game will see Brentford play at home to Liverpool. Kick off is at 1.30pm French time. With a 4pm kick off French time; Burnley are at home to Arsenal, Fulham face Aston Villa, Newcastle are at home to Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest play West Ham and Tottenham face Wolves. The last match of the day sees Manchester City at home to Chelsea with a 6.30pm kick off. There are two games on Sunday with Sheffield United at home to Brighton and Luton Town play Manchester United.

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