French and Riviera News Friday 4th June 2021

News

Investigation opened into deaths linked to breakdown of emergency numbers in France - A two-year-old boy has died in the Vendée, during the massive breakdown of emergency numbers in France. An administrative investigation will be carried out by the regional health agency of the Pays-de-la-Loire. Meanwhile in the Morbihan the public prosecutor's office has also opened an investigation after the death of a 63-year-old man.

Referring to the breakdown, which made it impossible to access emergency services in France on Wednesday June 2nd, the Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, described the situation as "serious and unacceptable” speaking of at least three deaths potentially linked to the incident.

According to network provider Orange, the return to normal began at midnight on Wednesday, but the network remained "under surveillance" on Thursday morning. This morning a return to normal has been confirmed in some emergency call centers, in some departments, including the Alpes-Maritimes.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex is to hold a press conference this morning ahead of a second crisis meeting with the network provider Orange and government officials.

Alpes Maritimes extends obligation to wear a mask - The prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes has announced its decision to extend throughout the department, the obligation to wear a mask until July 5th in public spaces. Wearing a mask remains optional in parks, gardens, urban green spaces and on all beaches in the department. However, the prefecture recalls that "wearing a mask is likely to limit the risk of the virus circulating in public space characterized by a concentration of people", wherever you are.

Two people arrested in Mougins - Police in Mougins have arrested two individuals on Thursday night during a police check. The two were found to be in possession of nearly a kilo of cannabis hidden in their vehicle and were stopped for circulating during the curfew.

Strike action - National strike action is being taken by civil service unions in France. The industrial action is expected to affect many schools today, Friday June 4th.

French disapprove of President’s tour of France - According to a survey published by Oxoda on Thursday nearly 6 out of 10 French people disapprove of Emmanuel Macron's current Tour de France. The survey also indicates that 61% of French people do not want the current head of state to represent himself for the upcoming presidential elections in 2022. The French President has said that he plans to make "difficult" decisions this summer and has again refused to confirm if he will seek another five-year term in what he expects to be a hotly contested presidential election.

The president has repeatedly remained secretive about running for the 2022 election, even as rivals including far-right leader Marine Le Pen and right-wing heavyweight Xavier Bertrand announced their candidatures. It is still remains to be seen if other candidates, including former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe are to enter the campaign for the presidential election.

Poll shows majority of French want government to re-examine pension reform - Meanwhile, a second poll by Ifop has shown that a majority of French want the government to re-examine the pension system. The reform of France’s pension system has in the past led to widespread crippling strikes, before the health crisis. The reform consisted of a raft of measures including raising the retirement age by two years to 64. Speaking on Thursday the Head of State said that the “reform cannot go ahead as originally planned”.

Women’s rights march - A women's rights march is taking place in the centre of Nice this Saturday. Organizers say that about 5,000 people are expected to attend the demonstration, many travelling from other areas of France and other parts of Europe. It’s scheduled to begin at 11.00am at the Place Massena.

A first in French tennis - For the first time in the history of French tennis there are no French players through to the 3rd round of Roland-Garros this year. None of the 28 French representatives at Roland-Garros 2021 managed to get past the second round.

Business

President Biden has signed an executive order that bans US entities from investing in dozens of Chinese companies with alleged ties to defence or surveillance technology. The Treasury Department will enforce and update a fresh list of some 59 companies which prohibits buying or selling publicly traded securities in target companies and replaces an earlier list from the Department of Defence. The order prevents US investment firms from supporting the Chinese military industrial complex as well as military, intelligence and Security research programmes. Mr Biden said that the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside of the People’s Republic of China and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuse constitute unusual and extraordinary threats. The move is part of the US President’s steps to counter China including reinforcing alliances and pursuing large domestic investment to bolster American economic competitiveness.

The US cinema chain AMC has issued a warning to small investors as it launched a new share sale. AMC warned against buying its shares unless people are “prepared to incur the risk of losing all or a substantial portion of their investments”. On Thursday, AMC unveiled plans to sell up to 11.6 million shares on the back of surging prices in its stock which has been popularised on social media. AMC stock was trading lower by more than 20% at the end of Thursday. A number of Wall Street analysts have said that the firm is already heavily overvalued and many institutional traders say that they are steering clear of the stock which is the latest target of a number of small time traders using Reddit and other social media.

Apple wants its employees to return to offices by September. A company-wide memo says that workers must return to their desks for at least three days a week with some staff being given the option to work the remaining two days remotely. Apple also told staff they will be able to apply for the chance to work remotely for two weeks a year. Chief executive Tim Cook said that despite a smooth transition to remote working, it was not an adequate replacement for in person collaboration. Apple has performed strongly during the pandemic with its overall revenues jumping 50% year on year, largely because of a surge in iPhone sales. The firm has been more conservative on its working from home policy than other tech giants.

Sport

Tennis – World number one Ashleigh Barty has been forced to pull out of the French Open with a hip injury. The 2019 champion said that she felt it was unsafe to continue during her second round match against Magda Linette. There are now only five top 10 seeds left in the women’s draw. On Thursday there were second round wins for defending champion Iga Swiatek and the 5th seed Elina Svitolina.

In the men’s event, Rafael Nadal set up a third round meeting with Cameron Norrie of Great Britain after beating Richard Gasquet in straight sets while 39-year-old Roger Federer beat Marin Cilic in four sets. Novak Djokovic is also through to round three after beating Pablo Cuevas in straight sets.

Cricket