Evening Update Thursday 19th October 2023

A storm alert for the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var from Météo France remains in place until tomorrow evening, with heavy rainfall, strong gusts of wind and rough seas set to hit the region tonight and all day on Friday. The so-called Mediterranean episode is a weather phenomenon in which hot and humid air from the Mediterranean generates violent storms, most commonly in the autumn, that can see a large amount of rain fall in just a few hours. The storm could see waves up to four metres high and winds gusting up to 110 kilometres per hour. A spell of intense rainfall began in the Cévennes on Wednesday and is gradually making its way across the Paca region. Between 12 and 15cm of rainfall is possible locally in the Alpes-Maritimes - and snow above 2,400 metres. Heavy rain this morning led to a 23 kilometre traffic jam on the A8 motorway Italy-bound between Mandelieu Est and Saint-Laurent-du-Var. In the event of violent storms, the official advice is to avoid driving and stay at home, stay away from coastal paths, avoid going into cellars or underground car parks and stay informed with your local mairie. The City of Nice has banned access to its parks, gardens, cemeteries and the coastal path. Shops and restaurants have been instructed to close their terraces, secure their outdoor furniture and close any shelters and awnings. The weather is due to calm down again on Saturday.

The Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has banned a rally in support of the people of Palestine that had been planned for this Sunday on Place Masséna in Nice. The prefecture said there was a serious risk of public order disturbances if the rally went ahead. Its organisers plan to appeal to the Council of State, which this week warned the French government against a blanket ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations. The Council of State said prefects had to make a decision on a case-by-case basis whether a ban is justified on public order grounds.

OGC Nice football club has suspended its player Youcef Atal after the Nice prosecutor opened an investigation into claims he condoned acts of terrorism.
The club said in a statement that Atal had recognised he made an error and apologised after he shared a video on Instagram from a radical Palestinian preacher. But, OGC Nice said that given the seriousness of the issue, it had decided to immediately take disciplinary sanctions against the Algerian international, while it awaits news of any possible further action from football or judicial authorities.

An animal rights association says it's planning legal action after a 12-year-old killer whale died suddenly at Marineland water park in Antibes. A post-mortem has been carried out and the first results will be known in the coming weeks. Moana, a male orca, was born in Marineland in 2011. Marineland said in a statement that it was saddened by the sudden and unexpected loss. It said the loss was extremely painful for the zookeepers who had built a special bond with the whale. Last month, the One Voice anti-captivity charity won an appeal at a court in Aix-en-Provence for an independent review to be carried out into the health and wellbeing of four killer whales at the water park. The association said it had warned for several years about the health of Marineland's killer whales. By taking legal action, it hopes to be granted access to the post-mortem findings and ensure the park's three other killer whales are looked after.

An eagerly awaited appeals court verdict is expected tomorrow in the case of two Marseille dentists convicted of mutilating hundreds of patients. Lionel Guedj was jailed for eight years last year for causing injury by carrying out unnecessary dental procedures on 400 patients in a bid to defraud the French social security system. His father Carnot was jailed for five years for his involvement in the scam. Social security officers had become suspicious when they noticed that a single dental practice in Marseille was carrying out 28 times more implants than the national average. Guedj junior had become the highest earning dentist in France, building up an almost 10 million euro property portfolio, a 15-metre yacht and luxury cars. Many of the patients who registered as claimants in the case said they visited the dentist with a simple cavity and came away with botched surgery that left them with permanent damage. An appeals court in Aix-en-Provence will deliver its verdict on Friday.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, will face questions from opposition councillors tomorrow about the cost of being the host city of the 2025 UN Ocean Conference. Nice is currently busy demolishing its convention centre, the Acropolis, and needs to build a new venue on Nice port in time for the summit, including an auditorium capable of seating 2,400 people. A budget line tucked away in the agenda for tomorrow's council meeting suggests the City of Nice has set aside €20 million for the project. Local MP Eric Ciotti said it had been promised that the summit would be 90% financed by the UN - but it now appears that the Nice taxpayer will foot some of the bill.

Monaco's police force will soon have a new recruit - a sniffer dog specially trained in detecting bank notes. The principality is required to have one after, in January this year, a report from the Council of Europe said Monaco's measures against money laundering were inadequate. The principality is coming to the end of a one-year observation phase by the international watchdog the Financial Action Task Force, during which time it is expected to fix the deficiencies set out in the report. Monaco has been busy implementing the required changes over the past year - including the new sniffer dog - to avoid being placed on the OECD's "grey list" of uncooperative tax havens, alongside the likes of Albania, Barbados, Gibraltar and Panama.

BUSINESS

Finnish telecoms giant Nokia is to axe between 9,000 and 14,000 jobs by the end of 2026 to cut costs. The announcement was made as the company reported a 20% drop in sales between July and September. The company blamed slowing demand for 5G equipment in markets such as North America. It currently has 86,000 employees around the world, and has axed thousands of jobs since 2015. Nokia wants to cut costs by between €800m and €1.2bn by 2026. It wants to reduce its headcount to somewhere between 72,000 and 77,000 staff.

Americans hoping to borrow money to buy a house or apartment are facing mortgage rates at the highest levels in more than 20 years. The average interest rate on the typical 30-year, fixed rate home loan rose to 8% for the first time since 2000. The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, has been raising interest rates to try to bring down inflation. That has pushed up borrowing costs. Rates are up by nearly half a percentage point in just the last two weeks.

Amazon will relaunch its delivery drones in the UK next year, the shopping giant has confirmed. The company said it will begin using the unmanned, airborne vehicles for distributing goods from some of its same-day delivery sites - one of which will be in the UK. No location has yet been revealed. It's part of the expansion of the drones within the retail side of the business, which will also be rolled out in Italy and a third state in the US, on top of California and Texas, where the drones already operate. The company previously trialled an early version of the Prime Air delivery system in Cambridgeshire in 2016.

SPORT

Boxing - UFC fighter Conor McGregor won't face charges over a claim of sexual assault at an NBA finals game in Florida in June, prosecutors have said. McGregor was accused of "violently" forcing himself on a woman in a VIP bathroom in the Kaseya Center in Miami. The unnamed accuser also said arena security aided the attack by trapping her in the toilet. The 35-year-old Irishman denied the allegation and his lawyer said the fighter was "pleased" it was now over. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the state attorney's office confirmed that the case had been dropped.

Football - Brazil and Al-Hilal forward Neymar will have surgery after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee while on international duty. The 31-year-old was taken off on a stretcher in tears during the 2-0 defeat by Uruguay on Tuesday. He landed awkwardly after a challenge in the first half of the 2026 World Cup qualifier. It is unclear how long Neymar will be out for but the usual prognosis for recovery from an ACL rupture or tear can be up to eight to 10 months.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's proposed deal to buy a minority stake in Manchester United is unlikely to be ratified at today's board meeting. Ratcliffe is expected to purchase 25 per cent of the Premier League club for £1.3bn in a deal which would give his company, INEOS, control over Man Utd's footballing operations. Thursday's Manchester United board meeting is standard practice and has not been called to specifically discuss this deal. But, Ratcliffe's deal does appear to be getting closer. According to Bloomberg, INEOS will hold a credit update call on Monday at 3pm to update shareholders.

And a minute's silence will be held at all French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 football matches this week - for three different reasons. The pause before each match is in memory of French teacher Dominique Bernard, who was stabbed to death at a school in Arras last week. It's also for the two Swedish football supporters who were killed on their way to a Euro 2024 qualifier in Brussels on Monday, and for all the victims in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
 

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