Evening Update Tuesday 12th July 2022

A major summer campaign against counterfeit goods has been launched on the Riviera. The city of Cannes will be the focal point for the annual operation, with posters going up along the Croisette and local markets warning of the potential fines. Customs officers, police and gendarmes throughout the Alpes-Maritimes will be carrying out spot checks at markets, at Nice Côte d'Azur airport and on the A8 motorway. Last year, more than 170,000 counterfeit items were seized across the Alpes-Maritimes. That's up more than 50% on previous years. The biggest seizure last year was a truck containing almost 7,000 pairs of fake brand-name trainers, with an estimated value of more than €600,000.

A homeless man in Nice has been jailed for six months for beating a dog to death.  The court in Nice also banned the 22-year-old Romanian man from ever keeping an animal or carrying out any activity relating to animals. He was found guilty of killing the dog, which belonged to the woman who was providing him with temporary accommodation in the Gairaut district of Nice last month. Neighbours alerted police when they heard the dog was in distress. The man first claimed he had been bitten by the dog, and then that the animal had refused to be put on a lead. An autopsy on the animal found multiple broken bones and damaged organs.

The Bouches-du-Rhône prefecture has announced a reinforced police presence in several neighbourhoods this summer in the fight against gang violence and drug-related crime. An extra 550 CRS officers and gendarmes have been deployed, with a focus on some of the housing estates around Marseille. In just three days, more than 45 police operations have been carried out - with thousands of spot checks. About 50 vehicles that weren't legally compliant were impounded, a dozen stolen vehicles were found and several kilos of cannabis.

Lignes d'Azur bus drivers in the west of Nice have complained of unbearable working conditions, with air conditioning on some older vehicles regularly breaking down. The complaints mainly concern bus line 22, which is run by the private firm Transdev on behalf of Lignes d'Azur. Buses on the line from Carros to the Centre Administratif are showing signs of age, with technical faults including a lack of working air conditioning.

Motorway operator Vinci Autoroutes has announced a 10% discount on tolls this summer when paying with holiday vouchers - chèque vacances. 4.5 million French people receive holiday vouchers as part of their pay package. The discount applies if you use an electronic toll badge in your car. You can deposit up to €250 on your account with holiday vouchers to receive a maximum €25 discount. The measure comes into force on July 14th and will apply to trips made until mid-September. Vinci Autoroutes is making the goodwill gesture to help drivers' budgets as fuel prices soar. The firm says it too is facing soaring costs to maintain the motorway network, while tolls only increased by 2% this year.

Staff working for the Train des Pignes have agreed to suspend their summer-long strike. They'd been striking for the past month every Sunday and Monday amid concerns about the viability of the service. In a discussion between unions and management this week, it was agreed that a transport plan would be drawn up to safeguard the long-term future of the line from Nice to Digne-les-Bains. Negotiations on the future plan will begin in September.

French health authorities are issuing an urgent appeal for blood donors in the coming weeks. With the summer getaway, regular donors are in short supply - and holidaymakers often don't know where or how to give blood while they're away from home. The next two weeks are critical for blood supplies. You can find an interactive map showing all the available blood donation centres around France here: https://mon-rdv-dondesang.efs.sante.fr/
Just a reminder that if you lived in the UK at any point between 1980 and 1996, you're not allowed to give blood in France.

A popular attraction in the Mercantour that has been cut off since Storm Alex is finally accessible again by car. The Sanctuary of La Madone de Fenestre sits almost 2,000 metres above sea level about 12 kilometres near Saint-Martin-Vésubie. It's a popular pilgrimage site and the starting point for many a mountain walk. Several kilometres of the access road were severely damaged by the storms that hit the Riviera in October 2020. Repair works began this spring and the road reopened this week - but heavy vehicles are still banned. The site will be accessible all summer, until mid-September, when access will be closed again to continue the reconstruction work.


Authorities in China's Henan province say they will start releasing money to customers who have had their funds frozen by several rural banks. The announcement came just a day after a rare protest in Henan's capital, Zhengzhou, turned violent. Payments will be made in batches from this Friday, local regulators say. The four banks that were the focus of the protests are believed to have frozen a total of 39bn yuan ($5.8bn; £4.9bn) of deposits.

India's top court has sentenced tycoon Vijay Mallya to four months in jail for disobeying an earlier court judgement linked to the collapse of his airline. India has previously made efforts to extradite the former billionaire, who is believed to still be in London. He made his fortune selling beer under the Kingfisher brand before branching out into aviation and Formula 1 racing. Kingfisher Airlines was India's second largest domestic carrier before it collapsed a decade ago. On Monday, India's Supreme Court found Mr Mallya guilty of contempt, as it said he failed to disclose his assets after defaulting on a loan.

Train drivers in the UK are "very close" to going on strike and could walk out within weeks, according to their union. Drivers at eight rail companies voted on Monday in favour of industrial action in a row over pay. Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said  strike action could happen in the coming weeks if talks over wage rises stall. He pointed out that the union had received a strong mandate from its members to take industrial action with drivers voting overwhelmingly for strikes.


Football - Senior Manchester United figures have flown to Barcelona in a bid to break the impasse over the club's pursuit of Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The 25-year-old is new manager Erik ten Hag's summer transfer priority. However, any potential deal is being hampered by a contractual issue involving De Jong and Barcelona. The problem centres on wages De Jong deferred during the pandemic which are due to be repaid over four years. De Jong delayed receiving the funds to help the financially troubled Catalan club and the money would have been given back over the course of a new four-year contract which is about to take effect. De Jong is reluctant to leave Barca given what he feels he is owed.

Sir Mo Farah was brought to the UK illegally as a child and forced to work as a domestic servant, he has revealed. The Olympic star has told the BBC he was given the name Mohamed Farah by those who flew him over from Djibouti. His real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin. He was flown over from the east African country aged nine by a woman he had never met, and then made to look after another family's children, he says. The long-distance runner has previously said he came to the UK from Somalia with his parents as a refugee.

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