French and Riviera News Friday 9th October 2020

Local

Firefighter found dead - The body of one of the two firefighters missing in the October 2nd floods in the Alpes-Maritimes has been found. Contrary to first reports announcing that this was the sixth person to die, authorities have since corrected the figures confirming that it is in fact, the fifth death officially recorded in France following the disaster.

The 49-year-old man was found in the Var river. He was at the time with his colleague on a road in the town of Roquebillière, in the Vésubie valley carrying out rescue operations when their vehicle was swept away by the waves.

Six people remain missing and the whereabouts of 13 remains unknown.

Covid-19 - France’s Minister of Health, Olivier Véran has announced that due to the increase in the circulation of Covid-19 Lille, Grenoble, Lyon and Saint-Etienne are to be placed on a “maximum alert”. Toulouse and Montpellier are currently being watched very closely with a decision being made on Monday as to whether they too will be place on a “maximum alert”. Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand will from Saturday be considered as “reinforced alert zones” with bars having to close at 10pm and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, measures which are already in place in Bordeaux, Nice, Toulouse, Rouen, Montpellier and Rennes.

The Minister of Health also announced a "significant improvement" in the health situation in Nice and Bordeaux, Aix-Marseille and Rennes.

Financial aid - Meanwhile also present at Thursdays press conference France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced measures intended to cushion the economic blow due to the restrictions linked to the coronavirus, in particular an increase in businesses able to claim the solidarity fund. The aid aims to make up for the loss of turnover compared to the same period in 2019 reaching up to 10,000 euros per month.

Several business sectors have been added to the list and will now be able to claim the financial aid they include florists, laundrettes, bookshops, graphic designers, photographers and caterers with in total 75,000 additional businesses being able to benefit.

The fund will also be made accessible to companies with up to 50 employees, up until now it was limited to those with less than 20 employees.

Figures for Covid-19 in France - The latest figures for Covid-19 in France continue to rise with more than 18,000 positive cases, 77 deaths and an increase in the number of patients hospitalized in intensive care. In total, 1,418 people are in intensive care, a new record since May and in the last 24 hours, 77 people have died from Covid, bringing the total of deaths in hospitals or nursing homes since the start of the epidemic to more than 32,521.

Cluster Covid-19 at Marseille hospital - 23 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the hospital of Marseille. The origin of the contamination is not known with certainty.

A source of contamination was detected at the Conception University Hospital with 23 people testing positive for Covid-19 including both caregivers and patients.

The objective of the hospital management is now to "clean the unit as much as possible to put it back into operation as quickly as possible". In the meantime, "all the other patients who did not test positive have been transferred Aix-en-Provence”.

All infected people were placed in isolation. Two of them are currently in intensive care. Visits are now prohibited in the service, as are patients being discharged for at least for two weeks.

Meanwhile forty people have tested positive for covid-19 at a hospital reception centre in Avignon. It's currently the largest cluster in the Vaucluse department.

National

Legal period for abortion in France - France’s National Assembly has voted in favour of a bill that allows the extension of the legal period for abortion, from 12 to 14 weeks. 86 MPs voted for and 59 against in Thursdays vote.

Due to a lack of practitioners and the gradual closure of abortion centers in France, several weeks often elapse between the first appointment and the operation. According to a report published in 2000 each year in France between 3,000 and 4,000 women go abroad to have a “late” abortion.

Hostage released - Sophie Pétronin, known as the only French hostage still held abroad, after a kidnapping in Mali and nearly four years of detention has been released and is to arrive back in France today. 75-year-old Pétronin, will be met by family and the French President Emmanuel Marcon. Following the news Emmanuel Macron expressed the "immense relief".

Sophie Pétronin, who also holds Swiss nationality and worked in humanitarian aid in Mali, was kidnapped on December 24, 2016.

SNCF to cancel several TGVs - Due to the drop in demand the SNCF has announced plans to cancel several TGVs in the coming months to avoid running empty trains. Figures show that the number of weekly commuters is down by by 70% with TGVs to date, losing more than 3 billion euros due to the drop in the number of passengers due to the pandemic.

Business

The World Trade Organisation is set to name the first female boss in its history.

The selection of a new director general for the WTO is now entering its final phase with either the former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela or the South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee set to take over.

Both women have extensive political and international experience and both attended American universities.

Ms Okonjo-Iwela ,who also has US nationality ,has had two spells as Finance Minister and was also Foreign Minister for a short period. She has spent much of her career as an economist at the World Bank ,eventually rising to the position of managing director.

Yoo Myung-hee is much more of a trade specialist  and has been involved in some of South Korea’s key trade negotiations including with China and the United States.

The new director general will be appointed at a difficult time for the WTO with China and the United States embroiled in a bitter dispute  and Washington refusing to allow the appointment of new members to the body that handles trade disputes.

Hurricane Delta has slammed into the Gulf of Mexico ,halting most of the region’s offshore oil production.

Energy firms raced to shut wells and drilling platforms and evacuate staff from rigs before the bad weather hit.

Delta is expected to intensify further over the Gulf’s warm waters and become a major hurricane with winds of up to 115 mph before making landfall in southwest Louisiana sometime on Friday evening.

Energy prices have risen as a result with US crude futures up 3 percent at 41 dollars 21 and natural gas and gasoline prices up by 2.6 percent.

Weather forecasters say that Delta is going to be a large ,powerful storm adding to difficulties being faced by oil producers in  what has already been an unusually active hurricane season.

And-US listed shares of major cannabis producers have surged after the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris pledged that marijuana would be decriminalised at a federal level under a Biden administration.

Harris also said that a new administration would expunge the criminal records of people convicted of cannabis-related offences in the past.

The major cannabis tracker rose by 5.5 percent on the news-it’s highest level since June  while the stock of several producers rose by between 10 and 19 percent.

Although many US states have already legalised the use of cannabis ,banks and other financial institutions have so far largely refused to work with the growing industry as the drug is still a classified substance at federal level.

Sport

Tennis-The women’s final at the French Open will be between Sofia Kenin and the Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

The teenage sensation needed only 70 minutes to beat Nadia Podoroska of Argentina 6-2 6-1 to reach her first major final while Kenin beat Petra Kvitova 6-4 7-5.

It’s men’s semi finals day today with Stefanos Tsitsipas up against world number one Novak Djokovic and Diego Schwartzman against Rafael Nadal.

Formula 1-First practice for Sunday’s Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in Germany takes place at  11am this morning with second practice at 3pm.

Qualifying is at 3pm tomorrow with the race at 2.10pm on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers’ championship by 44 points from Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas won the last race and will be looking to put pressure on the 6 time world champion as Hamilton seeks a record equaling 7th world championship.

Football-In European Championship qualifying last night.Scotland drew 0-0 with Israel but came through on penalties to make the playoff final.

Nothern Ireland beat beat Bosnia Herzogovina on penalties and go on to meet Slovakia in the playoffs.

Slovakia beat the Republic of Ireland on penalties.

England beat Wales 3-0 at Wembley in a friendly international.

Rugby Union-There’s one game in the Guinness Pro 14 tonight.Dragons play Zebre and it’s the semi final playoffs in the Gallagher Premiership in England tomorrow with Wasps against Bristol and Exeter against Bath.

Golf-Tyrrell Hatton of England shares the lead following the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Hatton fired a first round 6 under par 66 to share the lead with Justin Harding of South Africa and Adri Arnaus of Spain.

A cluster of players are on five under including Shane Lowry and Eddie Pepperell with Justin Rose on 4 under and Ian Poulter on 3 under.

Cycling-Arnaud Demare of France has won stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia in a sprint finish at the end of the 188 kilometer stage from Castrovilliari.

Joao Almeida of Portugal still holds the leader’s Pink Jersey with a 43 second advantage over Pello Bilbao of Spain.

Weather 

Partially cloudy with light variable winds.

Top temperatures 21-22 degrees.

Overnight lows of 14 degrees on the coast and 11 degrees inland with clear skies.

The weekend-Fine tomorrow ,scattered thundery showers on Sunday.Highs of 20-22 degrees.

And Finally 

If you keep finding your way to the biscuit tin it might not completely be your fault and may be out of your control. A recent study has shown that  humans are better at remembering the location of high-calorie foods rather  than healthy snacks because of our 'hunter-gatherer instincts' to avoid starvation

Researchers found that test subjects could more accurately recall the location of high-calorie foods than their lower-calorie counterparts.

This rule applied regardless of whether the experimental participants liked the food in question, or how familiar they were with the item. 

The findings indicate that part of our memory,  which allows us to remember the relative locations of objects, has evolved to prioritise high-calorie foods.

 

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