Evening Update Tuesday 19th March 2024

A couple have gone on trial in Nice accused of animal abuse, after 150 cats were found in their 70-square-metre apartment last summer. Police arrested the pair, aged 51 and 72, last July after they were called out to a dispute between the couple and their neighbours. Several animal protection associations stepped in to take care of the malnourished cats, and several puppies, living in the cramped conditions. Almost 20 associations have registered as civil claimants in the case, seeking damages for the cost of looking after the animals. The couple face charges of "voluntary abandonment of a domestic animal". If found guilty, they could face up to four years in prison and a €60,000 fine. The trial continues.

Schools and other public services have been disrupted by a nationwide day of strike action today. Eight trade unions representing French civil servants jointly called for today's walkout, which is in protest over pay. Many schools on the Riviera have provided a minimum level of service today, with after-school care and canteen services cancelled. Creches have also been disrupted. Demonstrations were held this morning in Marseille, Digne-les-Bains and Nice.

A man has been airlifted to hospital after suffering a fall while skiing at Isola 2000. The 22-year-old suffered multiple fractures to his legs. He was treated by paramedics and taken by helicopter to Pasteur 2 hospital in Nice.

Authorities in Nice and Antibes are taking legal action after hundreds of posters started appearing on lamp-posts for second-hand car dealers. The businesses responsible for the posters claim they will make an offer to buy any vehicle, regardless of its condition. Antibes and Nice have both filed complaints for illegal advertising. The potential penalties are €200 per day per poster. They also warn of potential scams. Unscrupulous buyers have been known to use fake cheques or provide fake proof of a bank transfer, or fail to declare the change of ownership to the préfecture, meaning the seller is still legally responsible for the vehicle in the event of an accident.

Two men have been sentenced in Toulon for running an unusual drug dealing operation from a high-rise tower block. Police discovered a zip line for delivering drugs, connecting a 13th floor apartment with a hole drilled in the wall of the third floor of a neighbouring building.  Police seized €1,700 in cash and 18 grams of cannabis from the apartment. One of the arrested men was jailed for 18 months. Another received a 12-month suspended prison sentence.

Air France has announced three new seasonal routes from Nice airport this summer. The airline will fly four times a week from Nice to Bordeaux in July and August, in competition with easyJet. Five flights per week will run between Nice and Athens, and two flights per week to Algiers - again in July and August. The new routes are in addition to the regular flights operated by Air France from Nice to Paris Orly, Charles de Gaulle, Lyon and London.

And after we recently mentioned job fairs in Monaco, Menton and Nice, here's another opportunity to find work this summer. The Oceanographic Museum in Monaco is looking to fill 22 vacancies ahead of the peak tourist season - a mix of seasonal, fixed-term and permanent contracts. Jobs on offer include working at the ticket office, accompanying educational visits, accounting and some technical roles. The museum is holding a recruitment day on 12th April and anyone interested can register beforehand at oceano.org

BUSINESS

Unilever is to cut 7,500 jobs globally as part of an overhaul aimed at saving about €800m over the next three years. The consumer goods company, whose brands range from Marmite to Dove soap and Lynx deodorant, employs 128,000 people worldwide. Unilever said staff would be consulted about the cuts, but did not reveal where they would be made. The firm also announced plans for a demerger of its ice-cream business, which has annual revenues of almost €8 billion. The division makes five of the world’s top-selling 10 ice-cream brands, including Wall’s, Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s.

Britain's car industry has insisted that an unprecedented 2,000% increase in vehicle exports to Azerbaijan has nothing to do with Russia and is explained by the fact that the former Soviet state is a "flourishing market in its own right". An investigation by Sky News found that the British car sector sent another £40m worth of cars to Azerbaijan in the first month of this year, raising questions about whether those cars were being sent there to circumvent sanctions on Russia. Since sanctions were imposed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Azerbaijan has jumped from about 80th to become the 12th biggest foreign market for British-made cars, above Switzerland, Canada and Spain. A spokesman from Britain's motoring lobby group, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said it had detected no evidence the vehicles being sent to Azerbaijan were destined for Russia.

SPORT

Cricket - Australia have withdrawn from their men's T20 series against Afghanistan in August because of continued restrictions on women and girls in the country under the ruling Taliban. The three-match series was scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates. Cricket Australia says government advice is that conditions for women and girls "are getting worse". It is the third time Australia has declined to play Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in 2021.

Football - The UK government will establish an independent football regulator when the Football Governance Bill is introduced in Parliament today. The legislation will grant powers to a body, independent of both government and football authorities, to oversee clubs in England's top five tiers. The government announced plans to appoint a regulator in February 2023, following a fan-led review in 2022.

Tennis- Britain's Emma Raducanu has withdrawn from this week's Miami Open in the United States. The 21-year-old, who is continuing her comeback from an injury-disrupted 2023 season, is reportedly suffering from a lower back issue. Raducanu was due to play China's Wang Xiyu in the first round today/ She was beaten in straight sets by Belarusian world number two Aryna Sabalenka in the third round at Indian Wells last week.

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