French and Riviera News Friday 18th March 2022

News

Emmanuel Macron calls for merger of Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis with the Department - In his programme presented on Thursday afternoon French President and candidate for the elections in April, Emmanuel Macron has called for the merger of the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis with the Department. Macron outlined a wide range of measures to adopt if he is re-elected as President. He said that he wanted to reform the pole emploi to become a "one stop shop" for jobseekers. As regards to education, he said that he would like to offer more freedom for educational establishments and more transparency for students and parents. He added that he wishes to gradually increase the retirement age to 65, which he said was a normal result of increased life expectancy. 

Former head of municipal police of Nice charged - The former head of the municipal police of Nice has been charged for unduly receiving 230,000 euros. Last October Richard Gianotti was at the time head of the municipal police and in charge of 450 agents. He was suspended from his functions accused of having improperly perceived his salary as a member of the national police, a position he had not held since 2017. In his defence, Gianotti explained that he had reported the error to the Ministry of the Interior which had failed to act.

Crisis exit protocol drafted by Corsican nationalists - A crisis exit protocol drafted by Corsican nationalists has been submitted to the Minister of the Interior. The official document puts in writing the commitments of the State concerning the reconciliation of two detainees, accomplices of Yvan Colonna in the assassination of the prefect. The document was given to the minister before he ended his official visit to the island on Thursday.

France’s Foreign Minister says Russia is pretending to negotiate with Ukraine - Speaking on the war in Ukraine on Thursday France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that Russia is pretending to negotiate with Ukraine, while pursuing the invasion of its neighbour in line with a brutal strategy it has used elsewhere. Le Drian said that European aid to Ukraine, including weapons deliveries, would not be deterred by the threats from the Russian leader concluding that for now “there is one urgent matter – ceasefire, ceasefire, ceasefire”.

Motorcyclist airlifted to hospital - A motorcyclist has been airlifted to hospital after an accident on the road from Vence to Gattières. The driver, in his twenties, suffered multiple fractures and was airlifted to hospital in Nice on Thursday afternoon. Police have opened an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Cannes Film Festival - It's been announced that Tom Cruise will be at the Cannes Film Festival this year. His film "Maverick: Top Gun" will be screened at the festival and the actor will be honoured with a career retrospective event. The festival is taking place from 17 to 28 May.

Business

Asian markets have fallen back this morning after several days of gains and commodity prices have ticked up again due to a lack of progress in Russia Ukraine peace talks. Oil prices have risen and US futures are down with investors concerned about supply chains and the availability of commodities such as wheat and sunflower oil from Russia and Ukraine. Wheat and corn futures have jumped sharply and the dollar is lower while the euro has remained stable. Markets are being rattled by the seeming impasse in peace talks with both sides signalling that an agreement remains some way off. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned that the war could cut global growth by 1 percent in the first year after the invasion and the impact could cause a deep recession in Russia if it’s sustained. The OECD has also warned that the conflict could push global food prices up by 2.5 percent.

Long queues have been forming outside Russian banks as people desperately try to withdraw cash. Many ATMs are out of order and people are being forced to try several banks before they’re able to access cash. Fears over sanctions and the availability of food are two of the reasons why Russian citizens are looking to hold large amounts of cash. Credit and debit cards have stopped working and dollars and euros are the favoured hard currencies instead of the rouble which has plunged in value since the invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February. Meanwhile, reports in the West say that some creditors have received payment in dollars of Russian bond coupons which fell due on Wednesday. The development means that Russia may have avoided what would have been its first external bond default since 1917.

Oil prices are up again this morning on news of little progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Brent crude futures jumped by 2.3 percent earlier this morning to 109 dollars 07 cents with West Texas Intermediate up 2.7 percent to 105 dollars 73. On Thursday, crude prices surged by 9 percent following a speech by the Russian President Vladimir Putin during which he warned that “traitors and scum” at home who had helped the West would be “spat out like gnats”. A Kremlin spokesman also said that reports of major progress in peace talks with Ukraine were “wrong” adding to market jitters.

Sport

Formula 1 is back with the first Grand Prix of the new season being held in Bahrain on Sunday. News from the paddock suggests that Red Bull have another strong car this season while improvements at Ferrari and McLaren are also forecast. Mercedes could be off the pace although the German team has a history of downplaying its chances before a new season. Max Verstappen is the world champion but Lewis Hamilton will be out for revenge as he seeks a record breaking 8th drivers’ championship to eclipse the achievement of Michael Schumacher. First practice is at 1pm this afternoon with qualifying at 4pm tomorrow and the race at 4pm on Sunday.

Rugby Union - France will be at full strength when they play England in Paris tomorrow looking for their first 6 Nations Grand Slam since 2010. France have no injury concerns while England have made a number of changes in the backs and Ben Youngs comes in at scrum-half. Kick off at the Stade de France is at 9pm.

Also tomorrow, Wales play Italy at 3.15 and Ireland host Scotland at 5.45.

There are three games in the Gallagher English Premier League tonight. Bristol play Bath, London Irish host Harlequins and Newcastle play Leicester.

In the United Rugby Championship Bulls play Scarlets and Glasgow play Edinburgh.

Football - Everton have got what could be a vital 3 points in their fight against relegation from the English Premier League as they scored an injury time winner against Newcastle at Goodison Park. Alex Iwobi scored the winner in the 9th minute of added time which gives Everton a little breathing space at the foot of the table.

In the Europa League last night West Ham beat Sevilla 2-1 to go through to the quarter finals 2-1 on aggregate, Rangers lost 2-1 at Red Star Belgrade but go through 4-2 on aggregate but Monaco are out. They were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Sporting Braga and lose the tie 3-1 on aggregate.

In the English Premier League this weekend Wolves play Leeds tonight. On Saturday Aston Villa host Arsenal and on Sunday Leicester play Brentford and Spurs face West Ham.

It’s FA Cup quarter finals weekend in England. Middlesbrough play Chelsea tomorrow while on Sunday Crystal Palace play Everton. Southampton play Manchester City and Nottingham Forest play Liverpool.

Cricket - England are in a commanding position heading into day 3 of the 2nd Test against West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados. On day 2 England declared their first innings on 507-9 which included 153 from Joe Root and a typically swashbuckling 120 from Ben Stokes. At stumps West Indies had reached 71-1 in reply.

Weather

Cloudy with some bright spells this afternoon and moderate north easterly winds. Top temperature 17 degrees. Overnight lows of 10-13 degrees with partially cloudy skies.

The weekend - Partially cloudy with highs of 14-16 degrees.

And Finally

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