Evening Update Monday 16th October 2023

Pupils and staff at secondary schools in the Alpes-Maritimes are being offered psychological support if they've been moved by recent events including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the killing of a teacher in Arras last Friday. Schools are providing access to a dedicated phone line where a psychologist will be on call. The Nice academy has also announced strengthened security at school entrances, including random bag checks, and thorough ID and vehicle checks for visitors.

Meanwhile, France's association of mayors asked town halls around the country to consider organising a minute's silence today in memory of the teacher who was stabbed to death at a secondary school in Arras last week. All schools held a minute’s silence at 2pm. In Toulon, a minute's silence was also observed on the port this afternoon at 2pm. In Nice, teachers called for a gathering on Place Garibaldi at 5.30pm. A vigil will also be held outside the Préfecture in Marseille this evening. The demonstrations will be held without flags or slogans, with the education inter-union urging participants to refrain from any political form of expression.

A crash involving a police car and a motorcycle in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin has killed one person and injured another five, one of whom seriously. The accident happened on the Avenue de la Côte d'Azur at about 6am on Sunday. No further details have been released at this stage.

A woman's in a serious condition in hospital after her car plunged 50 metres down a ravine in Isola 2000 on Saturday afternoon. The car rolled over several times as it fell from the road. The 39-year-old driver was airlifted to hospital in Nice.

Two art gallery owners in Nice and Saint-Paul-de-Vence have been questioned by police on suspicion of selling counterfeit paintings. The arrests were made as part of a major investigation into contemporary art trafficking, led by officers in Marseille and Fréjus. Investigators believe the two galleries knowingly sold fake works by the likes of César and Andy Warhol. An art expert in Paris has also been questioned on suspicion of providing fake certificates of authenticity to convince buyers. During the arrests at the galleries on the Riviera, gendarmes seized five vehicles, a boat, five luxury watches and €90,000 in cash. If found guilty, the suspects could face up to 10 years in prison.

Fifteen people were evacuated from their homes after a forest fire broke out in the hamlet of Bouyon, in the hills behind Nice, on Saturday night. It took about 50 firefighters until the following morning to fully bring the fire under control and stop it spreading to about a dozen nearby homes. No one was injured. Eight hectares of vegetation were destroyed.

An OGC Nice footballer has apologised after he re-posted a video on Instagram which some described as inciting hatred in relation to the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Youcef Atal had shared a video of an incendiary speech from a Palestinian preacher. A local Jewish association had threatened to file a formal complaint against the footballer. After deleting it, Atal said in a follow-up message that he firmly condemned all forms of violence. He said he was aware that his original post had shocked several people and that this had not been his intention.

Monaco is planning a draft law that would raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18. The bill would also propose banning the sale of disposable electronic cigarettes, or vapes - but not a ban on their use.

A former butcher's shop in the centre of Grasse has been taken over - by two vegans. A Franco-British couple have turned the butcher's on Avenue Isnard into a vegan cafe. Kezia Campbell, who previously ran a vegan cookie business in London, and her partner Franck Vidal inaugurated Poulpi Place this weekend. The premises had been a butcher's shop for more than a century before turning vegan.

And there are red faces in Sanremo after a limited-edition coin that was supposed to show the Italian town was engraved with a picture of Menton instead. The Italian mint released the special Sanremo €5 coin to mark the centenary of the birth of Italian writer Italo Calvino, with his portrait on the front and a view of Sanremo on the back. It appears the mint Googled "Sanremo" and a picture of the seafront and arches of Menton came up in the results. They thought it looked nice, so it was engraved on 9,000 coins. A local association alerted Sanremo's culture department to the mix-up. The phone there hasn't stopped ringing in recent days with interview requests. Since then, the coin’s value has almost doubled, with collectors paying up to €130 to own one.

BUSINESS

The former chairman of the Bank of China has been arrested over suspicions of bribery and giving illegal loans. Liu Liange, chairman of the state-owned bank from 2019 to 2023, had resigned from his position in March this year. Weeks later, authorities announced Mr Liu was facing corruption charges. The 62-year-old is one of the most senior bankers to be ensnared in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption probe into China's $60 trillion financial sector. The push to weed out corruption from the country's financial industry appears to be ramping up, with officials in April warning that the crackdown was far from over. Several high profile financial executives from state-owned banks have already been fined, jailed, or under investigation.

Australia internet safety watchdog has slapped a A$610,500 ($386,000) fine on Elon Musk's X for failing to cooperate with a probe into anti-child abuse practices. It comes after Musk in a post last November said that "removing child exploitation is priority #1". The eSafety Commission criticised the firm's "empty talk" on the issue. Under Australian laws that took effect in 2021, the regulator can force internet companies to give information about their online safety practices or face a fine. If the fine is not paid, the regulator can pursue the company in court.

SPORT

Football - Manchester United are holding a board meeting on Thursday, which could turn out to be significant. With Sheikh Jassim out of the race to buy United, the way is now clear for Sir Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS Group to secure a 25% stake in the Old Trafford club. Some of the details are sketchy, not least where the 25% is coming from. Sir Jim Ratcliffe's 25% offer is reported to be worth an estimated £1.3bn. The British billionaire is thought to be increasingly confident of securing what he hopes will be the first stage of an eventual buyout. If it goes ahead, it would be the most significant change in the club's ownership structure since the Glazers took control in 2005. Given the Glazer family hold over 90% of the voting rights, the proposal would automatically be passed if it comes up for discussion at Thursday's meeting.

Rugby Union - Antoine Dupont criticised the standard of refereeing after France crashed out of their home World Cup with a heartbreaking single-point defeat to reigning champions South Africa in Paris. The Springboks edged an epic contest at Stade de France 29-28 to set up a semi-final showdown with England. France captain Dupont suffered major disappointment on his highly-publicised return from a fractured cheekbone and felt substandard officiating was partly to blame. The scrum-half said he was disappointed with the performance of New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe.

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