French and Riviera News Friday 26th April 2024

Europe faces big decisions, says Macron in major speech - French president Emmanuel Macron has called for stronger, more integrated European defences as he outlined his vision for a more assertive European Union on the global stage. In a major speech at the Sorbonne university, Macron warned that military, economic and other pressures could weaken and fragment the EU. He said Russia must not be allowed to win in Ukraine, and he called for a boost in Europe's cybersecurity capacity and closer defence ties with Britain. Macron said there was a risk that the Europe we know today could die - and warned that the EU was not adequately equipped to face the risks. The French president has long called for more European autonomy and less reliance on the United States. Thursday's speech was billed by Macron's advisers as France's contribution to the EU's strategic agenda for the next five years. 

16-year-old charged over suspected terror attack plan - 16-year-old boy in Antibes has been placed in pre-trial detention and charged on suspicion of preparing a major terror attack at a secondary school. The teenager, who has a history of mental health issues, had been under surveillance by police for two months after discussing plans for a mass killing with his psychiatrist and with a 17-year-old girl online. The Grasse public prosecutor's office said the boy was arrested this week as fears grew of what it called "an imminent act of a murderous nature". During a search of the boy's home in Antibes, police found swastikas drawn on the walls of his bedroom and seized several knives, a bulletproof vest and notebooks with descriptions of his plans and sketches. A recent psychiatric report warned that he had a fascination with the history of mass killings and held Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views. He's been charged with criminal conspiracy.

Toulon bus strike during Olympic torch parade - Bus drivers in Toulon are planning to walk out on strike on Friday 10th May - the day that the Olympic torch is due to pass through the city. About 500 drivers working for the Mistral public transport network are calling for better working conditions. The timing of their planned strike could make it difficult for thousands of spectators who are expected to line the route to enjoy the torch relay. The Olympic torch is due to pass through Hyères, La Garde, Toulon and La Seyne-sur-Mer.

Olympic committee inspect Nice venues - After visiting the French Alps and Mercantour ski resorts, members of the International Olympic Committee were in Nice yesterday to inspect the proposed venues for the 2030 Winter Games. They visited the Allianz Riviera stadium, which is proposed to be turned into a temporary ice rink to host the men's ice hockey competition, and Nice port. If the French candidacy is accepted by the IOC, and the stadium is used as a venue, OGC Nice football club will have to find an alternative stadium for some of its home matches.

Food influencers attend Riviera awards - Instagrammers, Tweeters and TikTokkers from all over France are converging on Saint-Paul-de-Vence this weekend for this year's Food Influencers Awards. Organised by a lifestyle magazine, the ceremony will see a dozen judges choose the best social media content-makers who shine a positive light on gastronomy.

BUSINESS

Ministers from four leading economies have suggested that the world’s 3,000 billionaires should pay a minimum 2% tax on their fast-growing wealth to raise funds for the global fight against poverty, inequality and climate change. In a sign of growing international support for a levy on the super-rich, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and Spain say a 2% tax would reduce inequality and raise much-needed public funds after the economic shocks of the pandemic, the climate crisis and military conflicts in Europe and the Middle East. They are calling for more countries to join their campaign, saying the annual sum raised - about €300 billion - would be enough to cover the estimated cost of damage caused by all of last year’s extreme weather events.

Shares in Meta - the owner of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram - fell sharply after it announced higher than expected spending on artificial intelligence. Share prices went down more than 15% in after-hours trading in New York despite the tech giant revealing strong earnings figures. Boss Mark Zuckerberg said it would take some time before its huge AI investment increased revenues. Meta also said its X rival, Threads, now has more than 150 million monthly active users. Zuckerberg also said Meta stood to gain from TikTok's possible sale or ban in the US - a development that the app has vowed to fight.

And new data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that shoplifting offences in the UK increased by 37% last year, to 430,000 recorded offences, up from 315,000 in 2022. It's the highest figure since current police recording practices began in 2003. Last October, John Lewis chairwoman Sharon White warned that “organised gangs” of shoplifters were targeting high-value items such as bottles of spirits.

SPORT

Football - Barcelona coach Xavi will remain at the club until at least the end of his contract in June 2025 after changing his mind that this would be his last season. The 44-year-old announced in January he would step down as boss this summer. But, with president Joan Laporta keen for him to remain, the former Barcelona and Spain midfielder has performed a U-turn. Xavi took charge in November 2021 after leaving Qatari club Al Sadd and guided Barcelona to the Spanish title in his first full season in charge in 2022-23. However, the side are 11 points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid with six games left to play in the current campaign. Barcelona exited the Champions League last week following a quarter-final defeat by Paris St-Germain.

In the Premier League this weekend, on Saturday, West Ham host Liverpool in the lunchtime match, kick-off at 1.30pm French time. At 4pm, Crystal Palace head to Fulham, Manchester United face Burnley, Newcastle play Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers host Luton Town. At 6.30pm French time, it's Everton vs Brentford and Chelsea are away at Aston Villa with a 9pm kick-off. On Sunday, Brighton and Hove Albion travel along the coast to Bournemouth and Tottenham face Arsenal in the North London derby - both of those matches kick off at 3pm French time. Then at 5.30pm, Manchester City are away at Nottingham Forest.

Motorsports - Finally, the first of three motor-racing highlights in Monaco is happening tomorrow, with the seventh edition of the Monaco E-Prix, ahead of next month's Historic and Formula 1 Grand Prix. The fan village on Quai Antoine 1er opens on Saturday at 9am, and entry is free even to those without a ticket for the race. The first practice session starts at 9.10, second practice is at 10.40, qualifications at 2.30pm and the race gets under way at 4pm. Tickets for the race are still available, from €30, and children under 16 go free.

WEATHER

It looks set to be an overcast day across the Riviera with some showers this afternoon on the Alpes-Maritimes coast and in western parts of the Var, a gentle breeze and temperatures not getting above 13 degrees celsius. It's forecast to remain cloudy tonight, with overnight temperatures broadly the same as this afternoon - 13 degrees celsius on the coast, but going down to 10 degrees tonight inland. The outlook for the weekend: Saturday begins with sunny spells but it'll cloud over after lunch, staying dry though but windy with gusts up to 60 kilometres per hour and temperatures reaching 17 degrees celsius tomorrow afternoon on the coast and up to 19 inland. There's rain forecast overnight on Saturday and on Sunday morning, too. The rest of Sunday should be dry but still overcast and windy, temperatures on Sunday afternoon around 19 degrees celsius.

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