Evening Update Tuesday 12th December 2023

A major new report has warned that the south of France is one of the regions in the world that is the most exposed to the effects of climate change and potential water shortages. As the COP28 climate summit draws to a close, the Rhône-Mediterranean Water Agency's new climate change adaptation plan sets out 30 priorities that need to be urgently addressed by 2030. Their recommendations include an at least 10% reduction in overall water usage - by households, local authorities and industries, including farmers, winegrowers, hotels and golf courses. The report warns that in the Paca region in particular, soils are drying out, water quality is deteriorating and river flows are in decline. The Water Agency is releasing €65 million in emergency funding to secure the region's drinking water supply - including reducing leaks and promoting better water use.

Meanwhile, yesterday was the warmest 11th December on the French Riviera since records began, according to new stats from Météo France. A weather station in Cannes recorded 23.7°C at 3pm yesterday, with 23.5°C in Valbonne. The previous record for this time of year was 35 years ago - an abnormally high 23.4°C recorded in 1988.

Authorities in Monaco have warned of a sudden spike in scam telephone calls, with more than a thousand malicious calls being detected in the space of just a few days. The calls typically come from a hidden or private number. Scammers mainly target elderly people and try to obtain financial information by posing as a police officer or other person in a position of authority. The Monegasque government is urging all residents to be vigilant, not to answer calls from private numbers and above all not to engage in any unusual requests for personal or financial details.

A former bank manager who's accused of embezzling €400,000 from wealthy clients has had her trial delayed again. The suspect was in charge of the Caisse d'Epargne in Antibes when she was dismissed in 2017 for gross misconduct after several customers complained of missing money. She denies the accusations. The victims of the alleged fraud have all since been reimbursed by the Caisse d'Epargne. The trial has already been delayed several times since last year. Now, defence lawyers pleaded for the trial to be postponed again pending a request for more documents.

Municipal police officers around France are planning to go on strike on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Unions are calling for better pension rights. They say the difference between a municipal police officer's pension and that of a national police officer or firefighter amounts to several hundred euros per month. The unions also say that municipal police deserve better recognition, given that they'll play an important role during next summer's Olympic Games not just in Paris, but also in Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Nice and Marseille. The strike will mean that municipal police will not carry out routine patrols or stand guard outside buildings on 24th or 31st December. They'll still respond to emergency calls.

A hospital in the Var has inaugurated a centre of excellence providing care for patients with autism - the first of its kind in France. The new facility, at the Henri-Guérin hospital complex in Pierrefeu, will provide support for a broad range of autism spectrum disorders. A multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, psychologists and therapists can accommodate 15 patients per day.

If you have any old paper Lignes d'Azur bus and tram tickets, you have until the end of this month to use them up before they become obsolete. The Nice public transport operator has been gradually phasing out paper tickets in favour of contactless cards. The validating machines on buses and trams will stop accepting paper tickets on 1st January. It's a case of use it or lose it - it's not possible to exchange them for an electronic alternative.

And a big recruitment drive is under way to hire 200 staff for the new Palm Beach resort in Cannes, which is due to open in time for the film festival next May. Construction work on the €200 million project is progressing well, on the site of the former Casino Partouche on the Cap de la Croisette. It'll feature several restaurants, a hotel, shopping arcade, cabaret, nightclub, beach and swimming pool. A broad range of job profiles are being sought: from waiters and reception workers to bartenders, security guards and IT staff. Management are accepting speculative job applications - and a jobs fair will also be planned for next spring.

BUSINESS

The maker of popular video game Fortnite has won a US court battle against Google, with a jury deciding that the search giant had operated an illegal monopoly. Epic Games sued Google in 2020, accusing it of unlawfully making its app store dominant over rivals. Hundreds of millions of people use the store to install apps for smartphones powered by Google's Android software. Google has said it would challenge the outcome.

US toy giant Hasbro says it is cutting more jobs as it struggles with weaker sales in the build-up to Christmas. The maker of Transformers action figures and Monopoly will lay off about 1,100 workers globally - close to 20% of its staff. The job cuts come as the toy industry generally is facing a slowdown in demand for its products.

Zara has pulled advertising which some claimed contained pictures resembling images from the Israel-Gaza war. Zara said it regretted a "misunderstanding" about the pictures, saying some customers "saw in them something far from what was intended when they were created". One image showed the model holding a mannequin wrapped in what appears to be white plastic. The UK advertising watchdog said it had received 50 complaints about the ad. Zara said that the campaign was "conceived in July and photographed in September". Zara's campaign - called "The Jacket" - contained a series of images in which the model was pictured against a background of cracked stones, damaged statues and broken plasterboard. Some on social media suggested they were similar to images emerging from Gaza.

Marmite-maker Unilever is being investigated over its environmental claims, amid concerns shoppers are being misled. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says Unilever may be overstating how "green" certain products are. Unilever makes household names such as Cif, Dove and the deodorant brand Lynx. The CMA said it was worried consumers are being misled by "so called 'green' products that aren't what they seem". It comes as part of a wider investigation into green claims made in advertising for goods such as toiletries, cleaning products, food and drink.

SPORT

Football - Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 50th goal in 2023 as Al-Nassr beat rivals Al-Shabab 5-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Saudi King Cup. Three days ago, the former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward played the 1,200th professional match of his career in a 4-1 win against Al-Riyadh.

One in five players at this year's Women's World Cup were the targets of online abuse, FIFA has found - with more than half of the comments being of a sexual, homophobic or sexist nature. New data published by FIFA found 152 players out of 697 whose social media accounts were actively monitored received targeted discriminatory, abusive or threatening messaging during the finals. Players at the finals in Australia and New Zealand were found to be 29 per cent more likely to be targeted for online abuse than their counterparts at the men's finals in Qatar.

Tennis - Steve Simon will relinquish his role as chief executive of the WTA Tour but will become executive chairman once his successor has been appointed. Simon has been both chief executive and chairman since 2015, but the roles will be split to create "greater focus" on the WTA's goals. His position has been under scrutiny since last month's season-ending WTA Finals in Cancun, where world number two Aryna Sabalenka said she felt "disrespected" by the way the event was organised. The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova also said it might be time for new leadership.

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