Evening Update Thursday 8th February 2024

A man has been questioned by police after 117 dead cats were found on his property in La-Roquette-sur-Siagne. During a raid on the home yesterday, animal welfare officers found another 40 cats in a chicken coop, alive but in deplorable conditions, including several kittens and their lactating mothers. The dead cats were found in a freezer and buried underneath the paving tiles on a terrace. Neighbours had alerted authorities to a foul smell and the frequent noise of cats fighting or in pain. Animal welfare charity SPA had already seized 58 injured and ill cats from the 60-year-old man's home in 2019. Local vets said the man would frequently come to them with injured creatures that were between life and death. He will be summoned to a court hearing in June. The Grasse public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation.

A couple in their 80s have died in a fire at their home in Grimaud, in the Var. Firefighters were unable to rescue the victims, who were in their bed in a ground floor room. An investigation has been opened.

Ten people who were taken to hospital after poetentially being exposed to chlorine fumes at their school have been discharged and allowed to return home. Part of the Collège Charles III in Monaco was evacuated yesterday morning after a chemical reaction occurred while technicians carried out maintenance on the swimming pool, generating potentially toxic vapours. About 40 firefighters attended the scene and eight students and two members of staff were taken to hospital as a precaution, after complaining of discomfort such as difficulty breathing or irritation to the eye. The school has been closed until Monday as a precautionary measure to allow further tests to be carried out.

Firefighters in the Var have been out on strike today. Unions are calling for better guarantees from the interior ministry regarding safe working conditions and regular medical check-ups. They want several types of cancer, which can be caused by exposure to toxic smoke, to be recognised as occupational diseases for firefighters. The strike notice runs until the end of March. During this period, firefighters will still respond to emergency calls but other non-urgent work, such as prevention in schools for example, may not go ahead.

A new report by France's top auditor of public spending, the Cour des Comptes, has issued criticism of some of the Riviera's ski resorts. The 150-page audit of 42 ski resorts around France includes an assessment of public aid given to Auron and Isola 2000. The Cour des Comptes found that, nationally, a large number of ski resort operators are operating at a loss. It forecasts that, with climate change, only a handful of ski stations around France will be able to continue operating beyond 2050. Locally, the Cour des Comptes says Auron is only surviving due to substantial public aid from the Nice metropolitan authorities and the Alpes-Maritimes department. However, the report also praised Auron for work it had done in recent years to save energy, notably by making ski lifts more efficient. Meanwhile, according to the Cour des Comptes, Isola 2000 is not profitable enough, despite record attendance last year. It says customers are not contributing enough to the service and that the price of day passes should be increased. Isola was, however, also praised for its work adapting to climate change.

Authorities in Marseille say some tram services in the city centre will remain disrupted until at least mid-April following a suspected arson attack at an underground car park last month. A fire broke out in the early hours of 22nd January at the République car park in the second arrondissement, destroying four cars. This has had a knock-on effect on Marseille tram lines 2 and 3, which pass above the damaged structure. A tram shuttle bus will run instead. Marseille city hall says it is using this opportunity to make lasting repairs and improvements to the tram infrastructure, rather than making a short-term emergency fix.

And an auction house in Monaco is offering a free valuation today of any jewellery that you might be thinking of selling. Christie's is interested in hearing from anyone with jewellery, precious stones and pearls. The auction house says people often aren't aware of the value of items that they may have owned for a long time or had passed down through generations. The evaluation open day is today only and Christie's Monaco can be found in the Mirabel building at 4 Avenue des Citronniers.

BUSINESS

Disney's chief executive, Bob Iger, has announced a series of moves which he hopes will bring "significant growth" to the entertainment giant. The plans include streaming an exclusive version of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert movie on Disney+. The firm will also invest $1.5bn in Epic Games, the maker of the hugely popular video game Fortnite. Disney has been under pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, who has called for a shakeup of the business. The US billionaire wants Disney to boost profits from its streaming business as well as improve the box office performance of its films. Last year, a number of Disney films failed to ignite the global box office. In its results for the three months to 31 December, Disney said that its streaming service had shed 1.3 million subscribers following a price increase in October. However, Disney still expects its streaming business to reach profitability by September this year.

And the UK's Labour party is reportedly ditching its policy to spend £28bn a year on environmental schemes. Labour will scale back its flagship green investment plan, but the policy will not be dropped altogether. The party has put the decision down to uncertain public finances.

SPORT

The Ukraine Olympic Committee claims some athletes should not be allowed to compete at the Paris Games because of their support for "Russian aggression". Russian and Belarusian individuals who qualify for the 2024 Olympics are permitted to take part as neutrals. But they must compete without flags, emblems or anthems of their country. In a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the UOC said several Russian athletes "support or justify aggression against Ukraine". The UOC provided what it believes is evidence of several athletes attending rallies, taking part in competitions designed to support Russia and social media posts expressing support for the war in Ukraine. In order to compete in Paris the neutral athletes must meet certain conditions, which includes not showing support for the war.

Football - The British culture secretary will hold talks tonight with the Premier League and its 20 clubs amid the continuing impasse over a financial redistribution deal for English football. Lucy Frazer will attend a dinner this evening with executives from the top-flight clubs, as well as Alison Brittain, the Premier League chairman, and Richard Masters, its chief executive. The talks come midway through a Premier League summit with clubs to address a number of new proposals aimed at delivering financial sustainability. The meeting is taking place shortly before the British government publishes legislation that will pave the way for the establishment of an independent regulator for English football with far-reaching powers to scrutinise and intervene in clubs' finances.

In local football tonight, AS Monaco are away at Rouen in the final 16 of the Coupe de France, while OGC Nice are away at Montpellier.

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