French and Riviera News Friday 20th October 2023

News

Red alert for the Alpes Maritimes - Météo France has placed the Alpes-Maritimes on a red weather alert this Friday morning, with heavy rain and possible flooding. Eleven other departments in the South-East are on an orange alert. Several roads have been closed due to rockfall or as a precaution. In the early hours of this morning three landslides have been reported in La Turbie and in Breil-sur-Roya. Due to a risk of flooding, the roads: RD 52 (Menton), 327 (Menton), RM 6007 (Èze) are closed for an indefinite period. Previously cut due to a rock fall, the RD 6204 (Saorge) has been reopened in both directions of traffic since 20/10/2023 at 5:37am At 5.30am this morning it was reported that there was no electricity in parts of Saint-Martin-Vésubie. Three years after storm Alex, of which the devastation is still apparent in areas of the hinterland, the Alpes-Maritimes was placed on alert from 4am to 10am this morning. A second orange alert for strong winds and high waves along its coastal areas is also in place until 9pm this evening.

Due to the bad weather, all educational establishments in the department, including universities, are closed for the day and the principality of Monaco has taken similar measures for its schools and nurseries. Around fifty residents of the valleys affected in October 2020, were evacuated on Thursday evening, as well as all the students of a boarding school in Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée. Several roads still under construction since storm Alex have also been closed, as a precaution.

The City of Nice opened a crisis centre overnight to monitor the worsening weather conditions. It has ordered the closure of the Promenade, all parks, gardens, cemeteries and coastal paths until further notice. The Alpes Maritimes préfecture is asking people to work from home today wherever possible. Lignes d'Azur bus services around Nice are not running this Friday morning - but trams are unaffected. In Grasse, public transport operator Sillages has cancelled all of its morning bus services as a precaution. Train services will continue to run along the coast, with possible delays, but trains into the Roya valley and the Train des Pignes will not run. 

In Monaco, along with the closure of schools all outdoor activities have been cancelled which means the opening of the Monaco funfair on Port Hercule will be postponed until Saturday. The City of Nice has told shops and restaurants to close their terraces and secure their outdoor furniture.

Embezzlement of public funds - Meanwhile, it was on Thursday October 19th, that the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, spoke to local media about the investigation currently underway concerning the “embezzlement of public funds intended for the reconstruction work following Storm Alex”. Estrosi claimed that the “preliminary investigation has greatly progressed”. It was at the end of February that a report led to the opening of a preliminary investigation and in April, certain construction sites in the Vésubie and Tinée valleys were suddenly shut down. This was followed by the suspension of fifteen metropolitan agents and accusations of “serious failures to respect the rules of public accounting” reported to the Nice prosecutor”.

The judicial investigation currently underway targets “offenses of embezzlement of public funds by a person holding public authority, fraud, forgery, use of forgery and are punishable with a ten-year prison sentence and a million euro fine”. While there is no definite outcome as of yet, the mayor of Nice assured that things were “moving forward” and that those who have made the “metropolis victims of an 8 million euros loss” will be held responsible.

Rally banned - The Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has banned a rally in support of the people of Palestine that had been planned for this Sunday on Place Masséna in Nice. The prefecture said there was a serious risk of public order disturbances if the rally went ahead. Its organisers plan to appeal to the Council of State, which this week warned the French government against a blanket ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations. The Council of State said prefects had to make a decision on a case-by-case basis whether a ban is justified on public order grounds.

2025 UN Ocean Conference - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, will face questions from opposition councillors today Friday 20th October, about the cost of being the host city of the 2025 UN Ocean Conference. Nice is currently busy demolishing its convention centre, the Acropolis, and needs to build a new venue on Nice port in time for the summit, including an auditorium capable of seating 2,400 people. A budget line tucked away in the agenda for tomorrow's council meeting suggests the City of Nice has set aside €20 million for the project. Local MP Eric Ciotti said it had been promised that the summit would be 90% financed by the UN - but it now appears that the Nice taxpayer will foot some of the bill.

New recruit - Monaco's police force will soon have a new recruit - a sniffer dog specially trained in detecting bank notes. The principality is required to have one after, in January this year, a report from the Council of Europe said Monaco's measures against money laundering were inadequate. The principality is coming to the end of a one-year observation phase by the international watchdog the Financial Action Task Force, during which time it is expected to fix the deficiencies set out in the report. Monaco has been busy implementing the required changes over the past year - including the new sniffer dog - to avoid being placed on the OECD's "grey list" of uncooperative tax havens, alongside the likes of Albania, Barbados, Gibraltar and Panama.

Music Awards cancelled in France - The 2023 MTV Europe Music Awards have been cancelled in France, due to the “volatility of world events” and the Israel-Hamas war. The annual ceremony, which celebrates music and artists from across the globe, was due to be held in Paris on 5th November, but will now be rescheduled for November 2024.

Pétanque challenge - The “Club Bouliste du Rocher” will be organizing the Denis Ravera International Pétanque Challenge this weekend at the Rocher bowling club here in the Principality. 14 nations from five continents will be represented: Monaco, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Puerto Rico, Bulgaria, Mexico, USA, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Morocco and Slovakia. The announced favourites are France, Slovenia and Croatia. The finals are scheduled for this Sunday between 3 and 4 p.m.

Marseille -Cassis race - Finally, around 20,000 runners are getting ready for the Marseille-Cassis race which takes place on Sunday 29th October. The event brings together professional and amateur athletes. For its 44th edition the 20 kilometres race will start at 9 a.m. from the Orange Vélodrome stade in Marseille. The runners will set off for 20 kilometers before crossing the finish line on the heights of Cassis. A unique aspect of this race which attracts all ages from all parts of the world is that for 12 kilometers, runners explore the Calanques National Park and pass through a magnificent natural landscape. To find out more and sign up for the race go to https://www.marseille-cassis.com/

Business

TikTok and Meta have been formally told to provide the EU with information about the possible spread of disinformation on their platforms relating to the Israel-Gaza conflict. Last week both social media platforms along with Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, were given 24 hours to provide answers to the EU in response to their concerns. This request however did not carry any legal force, whereas the latest demand does. Both firms have a week to respond. Under its new tech rules, the EU can open a formal investigation if it is unsatisfied with their responses. The EU is concerned about the possible spread of terrorist and violent content, and hate speech, after Hamas' attack on Israel.

Meanwhile as reported on Thursday in our business news there have been reports that Mr Musk is becoming “increasingly frustrated” with the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA) and may be considering pulling the plug on Europe although nothing has of yet been confirmed. According to recent data Europe accounts for 9% of X’s global monthly active user base. However, daily usage of X has dropped singnifincaly in recent months, not just in the EU but worldwide as well.

Three high-profile cryptocurrency firms have been accused by US prosecutors of defrauding investors of more than $1bn. Gemini, a crypto exchange, is believed to have lied to customers about the risks of an investment account it offered, which paid high interest rates on crypto. Genesis, a crypto lender, and its parent company Digital Currency Group were also involved in the programme. Halted last November leading to cutting off customer access to funds Genesis, filed for bankruptcy a few months later. Digital Currency Group (DCG) and Gemini each said they would fight the claims.

Humanoid robots have been given a trial period in an Amazon warehouse in the US. The move marks the latest sign of the tech giant automating more of its operations. Amazon said their intention was to "free employees up to better deliver for their customers". It said it was testing a new robot called Digit, which has arms and legs and can move, grasp and handle items in a similar fashion to a human. But Digit may not be welcomed amongst other members of staff as one union member for Amazon said that the company had "been treating their workers like robots for years". As pressure has grown to cut costs Amazon has ramped up its use of robots in recent years.

Sport

Rugby World Cup – In this evening’s Rugby World Cup semi-final Argentina play New Zealand kick off is at 9pm French time at the Stade de France in Paris. Although both teams have experienced defeat already in the tournament, it is fair to say that they have timed their top form for the right time of the competition. Speaking ahead of this evening’s game Argentine coach has said that rain may lead to some game plan tweaks. Tomorrow in the other semi-final England play  South Africa. Kick off is at 9pm French time. 

Football - Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in hosting the 2035 Women’s World Cup according to the technical director of the country's women's team. The Gulf Kingdon has already lodged a formal bid to host the 2034 men's World Cup. The Saudi Arabia women's team were formed in 2022 and have not played in a competitive tournament.

And - New Birmingham City boss Wayne Rooney has called rumours of his reported salary "a load of rubbish" as he prepares for his first game in charge. It has been reported that Rooney, is earning £1.5m a year - three times as much as predecessor.

In the Premier league at the weekend, tomorrow Saturday 21st October – Liverpool are at home to Everton in the lunchtime game, kick off is at 1.30pm French time. With a 4pm kick off French time, Bournemouth play Wolves, Brentford are at home to Burnley, Manchester City face Brighton, Newcastle play Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest are at home to Luton. With a 6.30pm kick off French time, Chelsea are at home to Arsenal and Sheffield United play Manchester United, kick off is at 9pm French time. On Sunday Aston Villa are at home to West Ham.

Formula One - The FIA has announced a raise in the possible fine that can be imposed on drivers to 1m euros. The news has been met with shock from leading Formula 1 drivers with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc saying, "I have no idea what deserves a 1m euros penalty," adding that the rise was a "huge amount of money" and commented: "Some drivers are making less than that." The FIA made the decision to raise the fine at a meeting of its legislative body the world motorsport council on Thursday.

Weather

The Alpes Maritimes is on a red “rain-flood” alert today Friday 20th October. The warning is in place until 10am. Strong winds and thundery showers with highs of 22 degrees in Monaco, Nice and Cannes. 21 degrees in Saint-Tropez and 23 degrees in Toulon and Marseille. This evening going down to 18 degrees.

The outlook for the weekend. Mainly fine with a fresh breeze and highs of 21-22 degrees.

Sunrise       07.50am

Sunset        06.39pm

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