French and Riviera News Friday 17th March 2023

News

People take to the streets in France after government forces pension reform through the National Assembly - Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Paris, Rennes, Marseille and Lille after the French government deployed the emergency powers of Article 49.3, considered in French political circles as the nuclear option, to force the controversial pension reform through the National Assembly. Speaking to French media on Thursday evening Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, blamed MPs in the Republican party for the last-minute decision saying that “some members played a personal card and went against the group” concluding, that while “the numbers might have been there for the bill to pass, the government couldn’t gamble on it”.

In response to the government’s move unions have called for a nationwide day of strikes on March 23rd and regional demonstrations this weekend. It was barely two hours after the use of 49.3 that many gathered in the French capital with 217 arrest being made as some set fire to bins which were overflowing due to strike action. Incidents also broke out in other cities, in particular in Rennes, where the prefecture reported eight arrests. In Nantes, where around 3,000 people gathered in the early evening, the atmosphere also deteriorated rapidly. In Marseille on the Canebière, masked young people smashed the window of a bank branch and an advertising panel while others set fire to bins yelling "down with the State, police and employers." Several hundred demonstrators were also present in Amiens, Lille, Grenoble, Dijon, Le Mans, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Toulouse, Bordeaux and even Besançon.

This morning Friday 17th March, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is to meet with prefects to “firmly” maintain the protection of ecelted officials following tensions across France in reaction to the use of article 49.3. The pension reform will be considered passed, except in the event of the filing of a “motion of censure” before 3.20pm today.

Investigation after mysterious death of woman in Beaulieu-sur-mer - An investigation has been opened following the mysterious death of a 49-year-old woman in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Police searched a building near the town’s train station on Thursday morning, where the body was discovered after police were alerted by her husband. At this stage, the circumstances of the death remain unclear. The investigation continues.

Valberg to close to skiers this weekend - The region’s ski station Valberg will be closing for skiers this Sunday 19th March due to the lack of snow. The station invites skiers to make the most of the last weekend at the resort, with free access to the ski lifts. Spring temperatures and lack of snow have precipitated the end of the ski season in Valberg. In a statement released on Thursday, March 16, the station announced the closure of its domain on March 19th. The Valberg ski resort had been open since December 17th.

Missing persons appeal - Police in the Var have this morning Thursday 16th March, appealed following the worrying disappearance of 30-year-old Antony Serre who left his home in Six-Fours a few days ago and hasn't been heard from him since. Anthony has brown hair and brown eyes, is 1.88m tall and is of normal build. Anyone with any information is invited to contact Toulon police station on 04.98.00.53.00 (standard) or 04.98.00.54.45 (business hours).

Scam by SMS and email for unpaid parking tickets - The prefecture of the Var has warned of a new scam circulating by email and SMS for unpaid parking tickets. Members of the public are being targeting with a message claiming that you have an unpaid ticket and you are invited to click on a link to pay it immediately to avoid a fine. The aim is to obtain your personal bank details in order to steal them. Firstly, don't reply to the message and if you have already done so and you have transmitted your credit card number you are advised to notify your bank. You can report the telephone number or the email in question, with a screenshot of the message, to 33 700, the platform for combating SMS spam, or on the associative platform Signal Spam. Note that fines must be paid only on the government website amendes.gouv.fr.

Voting for mayor of Monaco - Georges Marsan, outgoing mayor of Monaco has called on young people under 25 to come and vote this Sunday for the municipal elections. Marsan who will run for a sixth term in office this Sunday, is calling for a vote and promising major projects to make everyday life easier.

Charity walk - Congratulations to Jean-Marie Van Butsele, a 73-year-old Belgian has been welcomed by Princess Caroline and Charlotte Casiraghi after completing a charity walk. Van Butsele walked 1,250km raising funds for the local association Jeune J'Ecoute arriving in Monaco on Tuesday.

Research reveals revolutionary result - Scientists have for the first time created eggs using the cells of male mice and obtained seven mice from two fathers. According to a study published on Wednesday and described as "revolutionary" by a researcher the technique tested is still a long way from being used in humans, due, among other things, a very low success rate and numerous ethical questions. The breakthrough, however introduces the possibility for couples of men or even a single man, to have a biological child without the help of a female egg.

The study is the result of research conducted by a Japanese team of developmental biologist Katsuhiko Hayashi of Kyushu University. The technique would theoretically allow a two-man couple to have a child, with one providing the sperm and the other the egg. A single man could even provide the sperm and egg, which according to the scientists would be like cloning, similar to that of the Dolly the sheep Dolly. The first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996.

Business

A group of big US banks has injected $30bn (£24.8bn) into a smaller regional bank, First Republic, which had been seen as at risk of failure. The move came as authorities in the US are trying to quell panic over the health of the banking system, after a series of bank collapses in the US. Worries about the sector have spread globally, raising fears of a crisis.

The technology behind the world's most talked about artificial intelligence (AI) system, ChatGPT, is being added Microsoft 365. Microsoft is calling the system Copilot and says it will be embedded into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The boss of Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, said it would "fundamentally change the way we work." However, the firm admitted Copilot would sometimes make mistakes.

And - Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds is set to rake in over $300m (£248m) after a telecoms firm in the US offered to buy a smaller phone network that he owns a stake in. The co-owner of Welsh football team Wrexham AFC also sold a gin brand he co-owned in 2020 for a reported $610m. He also still appears in films as one of the highest-paid actors worldwide. The Deadpool star is expected to see a major payday after T-Mobile, the second largest mobile phone carrier in the US, agreed to purchase a company that Reynolds has invested in.

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England head coach Steve Borthwick says Henry Arundell has an "incredible future" after handing the wing a first Test start on Saturday.

Ellis Genge has vowed England will "turn up and fight" against Ireland in Dublin this weekend as they look to recover from their dismantling by France.

Genge captained the side in the record 53-10 home defeat by the French at Twickenham. Ireland play England at 6pm French time on Saturday.

Ollie Smith and Blair Kinghorn will start in Scotland's final Six Nations home match against Italy on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Warren Gatland says it has been a challenge to keep his players focused during a troubled Six Nations campaign. After losing their first three games, against Ireland, Scotland and England, Wales have arrived in Paris for the tournament finale on the back of victory against Italy.

And - the Irish are aiming to secure their fourth Grand Slam, having achieved the feat in 1948, 2009 and 2018. However, Ireland have never clinched a Grand Slam in Dublin and Farrell admitted this has been a motivating factor for the squad this year.

Sport

Football - Arsenal have been knocked out of the Europa League at the last-16 stage in a penalty shootout defeat by Sporting Lisbon.

Meanwhile, OGC Nice have beaten Sheriff meaning they will now take part in the first quarter-final of the European Cup since 1960. Nice dominated the match on Thursday evening beating Moldovan club Sherrif 3-1 and reaching the quarter finals for the first time in 63 years. The Gym will know who they will be playing in the quarter final after this afternoon’s draw.

In the Premier League this evening Nottingham Forest are at home to Newcastle.

Formula One - Lewis Hamilton and a number of fellow Formula 1 drivers have made it clear they are uncomfortable about being back in Saudi Arabia. On Thursday's media day, Hamilton initially refused to answer questions about the situation but later added that F1 was "duty bound to raise awareness" of human rights issues.

Weather

Sunny with a moderate breeze and highs of 16 degrees in Nice, Menton and Antibes. 15 degrees in Monaco and 14 degrees in Saint Tropez. This evening going down to 10 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for the weekend remaining fine and sunny with a moderate breeze. Highs of 15-16 degrees.

Sunrise       06.39am

Sunset        06.38pm

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