Evening Update Wednesday 17th May 2023

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has lost his appeal against a prison sentence for corruption. However, the Paris appeals court ruled that he could serve his time at home wearing a tag instead of going to jail. In 2021 Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison - including two suspended - for trying to influence a judge in a separate case. The 68 year-old was the first former French president to get a custodial sentence. He was convicted of attempting to secure information about a case in 2014 - after he had left office - by suggesting he could secure a prestigious job for the judge. He has been banned from holding public office for three years. It is one of a number of corruption cases involving the former president, who denies the allegations.

A new report suggests that anti-LGBT sentiment remains "anchored" in French society, with activists claiming there has been an increase in gay and trans people reporting physical attacks in France. SOS Homophobia said in a report that it received just over 1,500 reports of homophobic or other discriminatory behaviour in 2022 via its website and hotline - around the same number as the previous year. But there was a 28% increase in reports of physical attacks, to 184, or roughly one every two days. In its report, the group said violent acts against gay and trans people included "ambushes set up using dating apps". Reports of discrimination included estate agents refusing to sell or rent to LGBTQ couples or families, and public spaces such as shops and libraries refusing entry to non-binary or trans individuals.

In other local news, train services were severely disrupted this morning between Nice and Cannes after a truck crashed into a railway bridge near Cros-de-Cagnes station. Speed restrictions had to be put in place while the SNCF carried out emergency checks to ensure the line was safe. 

The City of Nice is planning to crack down on nuisance caused by street performers. With the tourist season well under way, the city's streets are often used as performance spaces for singers, dancers and acrobats. The city has drawn up a charter with stricter regulations on the use of public spaces for performance arts. Amplifiers and sound systems will be banned and performers who are found to be causing a nuisance could have their permits withdrawn.

A new report claims that the Paca region is one of the worst in France for reckless behaviour by drivers. The 13th annual report by Vinci Autoroutes, which is based on a public poll, found the most common complaints from fellow drivers on the Riviera were tail-gating, unnecessary use of horns and the use of mobile phones. In the poll, only four in 10 of the drivers questioned said they considered themselves to be calm behind the wheel. A large majority also admitted to driving while tired and not taking necessary breaks.

Antibes is ready to begin an experiment into the use of recycled waste-water to keep the town's streets clean, in what's believed to be a French first. After last summer's drought measures, the city has decided to take action and stop using precious drinking water to hose down streets and water municipal gardens and trees. Some of the water from Antibes's treatment plant, instead of being pumped into the sea, is now going through an extra level of chemical treatment and is then used to fill up the tanks of street-cleaning trucks. A first experiment took place yesterday and the scheme is due to properly begin at the start of June. Antibes estimates that it could save up to 70 million litres of water per year.

BUSINESS

One of the world's biggest carmakers has called on the government to renegotiate part of the Brexit deal or risk losing parts of its car industry. Stellantis, which owns Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat, had committed to making electric cars in the UK, but says that is under threat. It said it can no longer meet Brexit trade rules on where parts are sourced. The government is "determined" that the UK will remain competitive in car manufacturing, a spokesperson said. It is the first time a car firm has openly called on the government to renegotiate the terms of the Brexit trade deal.

Siemens raised its full year sales and profit guidance on Wednesday after the German engineering and technology group beat sales forecasts during its second quarter. The maker of products ranging from trains and industrial software now expects comparable revenue growth of 9% to 11% in the 12 months to the end of September, up from its previous outlook for an increase of 7% to 10%.

SPORT

Football - Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani has made a dramatic fourth bid for Manchester United, with an improved offer of no more than £5.5bn which includes the clearance of the £1bn debt and a fund solely for the club and surrounding community. More than two weeks have passed since Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the Ineos owner, each submitted what were supposedly final bids for United. The Qatari banker’s offer then was close to £5bn for 100%, while Ratcliffe’s was thought to be for a stake of a little over 50%, leaving Avram and Joel Glazer, two of the siblings who collectively own a majority share, with a 20% stake. But Sheikh Jassim’s intent on becoming United’s next owner moved him to increase his price by around £500m while clearing the debt and creating a fund solely for the club and surrounding community as he seeks to become the Glazers’ preferred bidder. The family originally valued the club at £6bn after it went on the market.

Two mass brawls broke out and four players were sent off in a chaotic men's football final at the Southeast Asian Games. Indonesia beat Thailand 5-2 after extra time in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Fighting broke out between the teams' benches after Thailand scored a stoppage-time equaliser and again when Indonesia took a 3-2 lead in the first minute of extra time. Thailand finished the game with eight players on the field.

Golf - Rory McIlroy insists he is making “good strides” in his game and is putting “less expectations” on himself as he looks to bounce back from his Masters disappointment at the PGA Championship. The Northern Irishman finished no lower than eighth in all four majors last year and topped the season-long standings on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, then opened this campaign with victory at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic before a noticeable drop in form in recent months. McIlroy saw his bid to complete the career Grand Slam end with a shock early exit at The Masters, with the four-time major champion then skipping the RBC Heritage the following week to focus on his "mental and emotional wellbeing".
 

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