Evening Update Wednesday 24th May 2023

The Var has again been placed on a yellow weather alert by Météo France this afternoon. Storms are forecast in the region around Brignoles, Barjols and Saint-Maximin. The alert is in place from midday until midnight this Wednesday.

Three men were arrested in Cannes after the gas supply was cut off to businesses in the vicinity of the Palais des Festivals yesterday lunchtime. The three arrested, all of whom were in the possession of knives, were employees of gas network operator GRDF and energy supplier Enedis. The gas cut-off affected about 100 restaurants, cafes and beach bars around the Croisette and Place Général de Gaulle. Several restaurant-owners said they were furious that they had to turn customers away. Some also said that gas distribution firm GRDF communicated poorly and was too slow to reconnect their supply. It remains unclear at this stage whether it was a case of sabotage or an accidental interruption to the gas supply. The CGT trade union had promised a range of actions to coincide with the 76th Cannes film festival. Festival organisers have equipped themselves with extra generators, after the CGT warned it could cut off the power supply to the event. On Tuesday, Cannes’ central police station had its power briefly cut off. Earlier in the day, management at electricity supplier Enedis thwarted an attempt to cut off the supply at the Cannes-la-Bocca sub-station, which supplies power to a large part of the city.

Meanwhile, a man suffered a heart attack after being taken by surprise by a smoke bomb at a CGT trade union protest outside Cannes railway station yesterday. The victim, in his 60s, was passing by the noisy demonstration against France’s pension reforms and was not involved in the protest itself. About 160 trade union activists had gathered at the station on Tuesday morning - outside of the perimeter where protests are banned during the Cannes film festival. The man was resuscitated by a CRS riot police officer at the scene and recovered in hospital.

Staying in Cannes, police have renewed their appeal to festival-goers to be extra-vigilant with their personal belongings. Every year, the festival brings with it a surge in incidents of pickpocketing, jewellery snatching and bag thefts from under the chairs and tables of restaurants. Police caught a group of thieves in the act on the Rue d'Antibes on Friday night, who approached their victims and tried distracting them with conversation, such as asking for directions or a cigarette lighter.

Police have evacuated a municipal building on Nice port that had been taken over by squatters. The building on Avenue Jean-Lorrain had been illegally occupied by about 30 people for several months. Police carried out the raid in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Twenty of the residents were taken to the Auvare police station for identity checks. It's not yet clear what options they'll be offered for rehousing.

An appeals court has upheld the conviction of a former Marseille MP in two separate cases relating to embezzlement of public funds and conflict of interest. Henri Jibrayel was a socialist MP for the city until 2017. In November 2021, he was sentenced to two years in prison, 15 months of which were suspended, ordered to pay fines totalling €40,000 and handed a five-year ban from public office. Prosecutors had accused him of using part of his parliamentary allowance to gamble at a casino and buy a car. He was also found to have misused public subsidies, via several local associations, to offer mini-cruises to elderly residents in his constituency. The appeals court in Aix-en-Provence not only upheld the original verdicts - but it toughened the sentencing. Jibrayel must now serve three years in prison, of which 21 months are suspended.

And a popular set of islands off the coast of Hyères in the Var will impose a cap on visitor numbers this summer to try to protect the natural environment. Visitors to the Port-Cros national park, which includes the islands of Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Levant, will be limited to 6,000 per day for the third consecutive summer. The measure comes into effect at the end of June and runs until 31 August. As well as protecting nature, the limit also aims to make the visitor experience more pleasant, with fewer crowds. The islands have suffered for years from a severe lack of drinking water, with the Var authorities having to transport tankers of water out from the mainland to cope with demand each summer.

BUSINESS

Apple says it has struck a multi-billion dollar deal with chipmaker Broadcom to use more US-made parts. Under the multi-year agreement, the two US companies will develop components for 5G devices that will be designed and manufactured in America. Apple says the deal is part of a plan it announced in 2021 to invest $430bn in the US economy. The move comes as a trade row centred on the technology industry intensifies between Washington and Beijing. The long-running dispute has seen the US impose a series of measures against China's chip making industry and invest billions of dollars to boost America's semiconductor sector. In recent months, US tech giants have come under increased scrutiny from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers over their reliance on Chinese manufacturers and components. Apple has been gradually diversifying its supply chains, with more of its devices now made in countries like India and Vietnam.

Sir Richard Branson's rocket company Virgin Orbit has shut down, just months after a major mission failure. The firm's converted jet and leases on properties have been sold for $36m, just a fraction of the $3.7bn the company was valued at in 2021. In March, Virgin Orbit said it would make most of its workforce redundant after failing to secure new investment. The California-based firm filed for bankruptcy protection in the US early last month. It came just weeks after the company paused operations in an apparent attempt to shore up its finances. Earlier this year, a Virgin Orbit rocket failed to complete the first ever satellite launch from UK soil.

SPORT

Football - Valencia have been fined €45,000 and will have to close the stand where Vinicius Jr was racially abused for five games after a ruling by the Spanish FA. The Mario Kempes stand, where the chants targeting Vinicius originated in Valencia's 1-0 win on Sunday, will be closed for Valencia's one remaining home game this season and the first four matches of next season. Vinicius' red card, issued in the wake of the abuse suffered in Valencia's victory over Real Madrid on Sunday night, has also been overturned by the Spanish FA (RFEF). In its full report, the RFEF found that Vinicius was subject to racist abuse when the Real Madrid bus first arrived at the Mestalla. During the game, it added he had objects thrown at him in the 71st minute from the Kempes Stand, before racist chanting followed in the 73rd minute - when the referee first alerted the match delegate to make an announcement over the PA system.

Olympics - Paris 2024 organisers have been planning to install the Olympic flame on the Eiffel Tower, according to Reuters. A source said that the flame would not be put at the top of the Eiffel Tower, for technical reasons, and it was not clear whether it would stay on the monument throughout the Games but the combination of two such iconic images would be a dramatic backdrop to the July 26 - Aug. 11 event. The flame cannot be at the top of the tower because of the antennas already installed there The flame will arrive in the port city of Marseille on May 8 by boat - the three masted tall ship "Belem" - after a 10-day journey across the Mediterranean from Greece.

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