Evening Update Wednesday 31st May 2023

A motorcyclist is being treated for serious injuries in hospital after a road accident in Nice last night. While the exact circumstances are not yet clear, initial reports suggest the motorbike and a car were involved in a crash on the Avenue de la Californie shortly after midnight. Eight firefighters and paramedics attended the scene. The motorcyclist, a man in his 50s, was seriously injured and taken to Pasteur hospital.

Emergency services were called out to two reported stabbings in Nice overnight. Shortly before midnight, paramedics treated a 16-year-old who had been stabbed in the foot on Avenue Martin Luther King, in the Les Moulins district, a neighbourhood that regularly suffers from gang-related violence, mostly in the context of drug trafficking. A second stabbing occurred in the centre of town, on Rue Trachel near Nice-Ville railway station. Both victims were treated in hospital for minor injuries. National police are investigating. At this stage it's not believed that the two incidents are linked.

Meanwhile, another man has been shot dead in Marseille in what's believed to again be a case of gang-related violence. The man in his 30s was killed in a neighbourhood to the north of the city known for its drug trafficking problems. It brings to 22 the number of drugs-related killings in Marseille since the start of the year.

Four people have gone on trial over a violent armed robbery at a villa in Théoule-sur-Mer back in 2018. The victims, a Latvian couple living in Austria, were spending time at their second home on the Riviera when four hooded and masked men, dressed all in black, burst into their property while they were asleep. They estimate that the thieves made off with jewellery and other luxury goods worth a total of €11 million - a figure that's been disputed by the defendants. The robbers reportedly left in one of the couple's cars and narrowly avoided a passing patrol by gendarmes as they fled the scene. Two of the suspects were arrested a few months later by border police as they returned to France from a holiday in Thailand. The defendants all claim their innocence. The trial continues, with a verdict expected within two weeks.

House prices in France fell in the first quarter of this year for the first time since 2015. That's according to new figures from the French national statistics office Insee. But Nice appears to be defying the nationwide trend. Nationwide, property prices - excluding new-builds - fell by 0.2% in the first three months of this year, compared to the previous quarter. In the Paris region, the price of apartments fell by 1.1% over the same period. However, in Nice, prices are largely remaining stable, and in the case of high-end properties, prices are continuing to rise. The Riviera's international appeal among second home-owners is the explaining factor.

The number of people in France who smoke has stabilised, after a dramatic drop in recent years. According to Public Health France, last year almost a quarter of French people aged 18-75 said they were daily smokers - that's 12 million people. The figure remains stable, at 24%, after a dramatic decline between 2016 and 2019. Seven years ago the figure was closer to 30%. The stats are based on a telephone survey of more than 3,000 adults. Public Health France believes the stress linked to the Covid-19 crisis could have had an impact and halted the decline. Four out of 10 smokers say they have tried electronic cigarettes. And six out of 10 of them say they want to quit smoking.

And a deceased resident of Villeneuve-Loubet has left a legacy of almost half a million euros to the town in his will. The man had no immediate relatives - and so opted to give his €473,000 to local authorities in the town where he had come to retire in the 1990s. The donation does not come with any restrictions on what it can be spent on. But as the donor was a fan of sport, Villeneuve-Loubet plans to use some of it to improve sporting facilities, including at the yacht club in the run-up to next year's Olympics.

BUSINESS

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk is in China, as he makes his first trip to the world's second largest economy in over three years. He arrived in Beijing yesterday and is due to visit Tesla's huge manufacturing plant in Shanghai. The multi-billionaire met China's foreign minister within hours of arriving in the country. He also met China's industry minister and discussed the development of electric vehicles. Musk's trip comes amid tensions between the US and China. In a statement, China's foreign ministry said that Musk was willing to expand the car maker's business in the country, which is Tesla's biggest market after the US.

A group of leading technology experts from across the world have warned that artificial intelligence technology should be considered a societal risk and prioritised in the same class as pandemics and nuclear wars. The statement, signed by hundreds of executives and academics, was released by the Center for AI Safety amid growing concerns over regulation and risks the technology posed to humanity. Global leaders and industry experts – such as the leaders of OpenAI – have made calls for regulation of the technology owing to existential fears it could significantly affect job markets, harm the health of millions and weaponise disinformation, discrimination and impersonation. This month the man often touted as the godfather of AI – Geoffrey Hinton, also a signatory – quit Google citing its “existential risk”. While the letter published this week is not the first, it is potentially the most impactful given its wider range of signatories and its core existential concern.

SPORT

Football - Organisers of the 2023 Fifa Women's World Cup, which starts in 50 days, say they are closing in on one million ticket sales. More than 850,000 have been sold for the event in Australia and New Zealand. Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura said: "2023 is going to be a landmark moment for women's football." The World Cup, which features 32 nations, starts on 20 July with the final on 20 August. A Fifa spokesperson said the one million tickets sold milestone was expected to be reached "over the next few weeks". 2023 is the ninth edition of the Women's World Cup and organisers are targeting a record 1.5 million ticket sales as well as a global television audience of two billion viewers.

Formula One - Lewis Hamilton is producing a Formula 1-inspired movie that will star Brad Pitt. Hamilton is heavily involved in the casting process and says he is ensuring the upcoming Formula 1-inspired movie that he is producing will be "diverse" and make the sport look "how it's supposed to" in the future. The seven-time world champion is a producer on the project, which has attracted a star-studded line-up, including Brad Pitt as the lead actor. Plans are in place for Pitt to take to the track during the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone in July as part of filming, while the F1 paddock is expected to be used for further shooting of scenes at various races during the second half of the season. Lewis Hamilton became F1's first Black driver when he entered the sport in 2007 and has played a leading role in attempting to make the sport more diverse.

Tennis - The Kosova Tennis Federation has accused Novak Djokovic of contributing to the rising tensions between Serbia and Kosovo following his statements at the French Open on Monday. After Djokovic’s straight-sets win against Aleksandar Kovacevic, the 22-time grand slam title winner used the customary act of signing the camera lens to write the message: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop violence” in Serbian. Djokovic then reposted a photo of his message on his Instagram story. The 36-year-old was addressing the recent violent clashes in Kosovo following the local elections in April. 

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