Migrant row - The French Interior Minister has accused the U.K. Home Secretary of plotting “financial blackmail” and violating international maritime law as the row over efforts to prevent migrants from crossing the English Channel by boat deepens. Gerald Darmanin says that British plans which were announced on Wednesday night to send back boatloads of migrants into French territorial waters would not be accepted by the government. He said that “France will not accept any practice that breaks maritime law or any financial blackmail”. The U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel has threatened to withhold some of the 62.7 million euros that Britain promised earlier this year to fund policing and extra patrols in northern France unless more is done to prevent migrant crossings.
Meanwhile, the United Nations special rapporteur on migrant rights has said that the UK’s plans would affect children and prevent the right to seek asylum. Felipe Gonzalez Morales described the development as “very worrying” and said that it would prevent the exercise of the right to seek asylum and other internationally recognised human rights.
Moulins shots - A man has been arrested after shots were fired in the troubled Moulins district of Nice on Thursday afternoon. Police sealed off an area near the place des Amaryllis following the incident and an arrest was made. There are no reports of any injuries. Extra police have been on duty in the Moulins area since a shooting in broad daylight outside a supermarket in the summer of 2020. The district has a high profile drugs problem with rival gangs fighting a turf war for control of the supply.
EMA - The European Medicines Agency has said that the new Mu variant of the coronavirus is “potentially preoccupying”. The Mu variant or B1621 to give it its scientific name was first reported to be of concern by the World Health Organisation and was detected in January for the first time in Colombia. The spread of the delta variant is still causing the most concern in Europe but the agency says that attention is now being given to both the Lambda and Mu variants amid reports that they may be vaccine resistant. In Colombia, the Mu variant is accounting for 39 percent of all new cases and there has been some limited infection in Europe. The EMA says that it is working closely with vaccine developers to produce products that offer more protection against a number of variants including delta and Mu.
Taxing - The French tax declaration website has been suffering major technical problems over the past few days. Self-employed people in particular have been experiencing delays in declaring revenue with around a million people affected. The Direction Generale des Finances Publiques also says that a fire at one of its offices has resulted in some computer damage but that services should be up and running normally again by the start of October.
Gotcha - A cargo ship which jettisoned plastic waste into the sea off Saint Jean Cap Ferrat has been impounded in the Italian port of Salerno. The incident was reported by the occupants of a small yacht who saw two large bags of plastic waste being dumped over the side of the vessel on the 21st of August. The cargo ship which is flying a Panamanian flag was located and tracked thanks to close cooperation between French and Italian authorities. The captain has been interviewed and will go on trial in France where he faces a maximum fine of 200,000 euros and a year in prison.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly 18 months last week suggesting that job growth has been hindered by labour shortages rather than cooling demand for workers. The weekly unemployment claims report published by the Labor Department on Thursday also saw the number of people on state benefits falling to levels last seen in March 2020 when the economy was reeling in the midst of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday’s reports followed on the heels of data on Wednesday showing job vacancies rising to a new record high in July. Some analysts are saying that the latest data could put pressure on the Federal Reserve to announce when it intends to start scaling back its massive monthly bond buying programme. There are even suggestions that an interest rate hike could be on the cards in the early part of 2022.
Wall Street is widely forecasting that President Biden will renominate Jerome Powell for another four year term as chair of the Federal Reserve. Mr Powell who was first nominated by Donald Trump in 2017 has proved to be positive for risk assets with the S&P 500 gaining 71% since his appointment on February the 5th 2018. President Biden’s administration is actively discussing who should run the US central bank from next year and the consensus appears to be that Mr Powell should keep the job. Betting markets give Mr Powell an 89 percent chance of renomination followed by an 8 percent chance for Fed Governor Lael Brainard.
The budget airline EasyJet says that it has rejected a takeover approach and announced plans to raise £1.2 billion from shareholders to help its recovery from the pandemic. The airline says that the unsolicited bid undervalued the company and the unnamed suitor is now no longer interested. Bloomberg has reported that the bidder was rival Wizz Air but there has been no official comment. EasyJet says that the fundraising will allow it to accelerate its post-COVID-19 recovery plan. The firm is also planning to raise $400 million in debt. EasyJet has lost more than £2 billion as many flights were grounded during the pandemic and it slumped to the first ever loss in its 25 year history as a result.
Tennis - The story of the year continues to unfold with 18-year-old Emma Raducanu through to the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows. The new British number one dispatched Maria Sakkari of Greece in straight sets 6-1 6-4 and will now play another teenager, 19 year old Leylah Fernandez of Canada who beat Aryna Sabalenka in three sets 7-6 4-6 6-4.
The first men’s semi final is being played later today between Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada and Daniil Medvedev. The second semi is between Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic.
Football - The English Premier League is back in action this weekend following the international break. On Saturday Crystal Palace play the leaders Spurs. Arsenal host Norwich. Brentford play Brighton. Leicester face Manchester City. Manchester United play Newcastle. Southampton host West Ham. Watford play Wolves and Chelsea play Aston Villa. On Sunday Leeds play Liverpool and Everton play Burnley on Monday.
There’s one game in the English Championship tonight. Birmingham play Derby.
Cricket - The 5th and final Test between England and India starts at Old Trafford today with the tourists leading the series 2-1. Jos Buttler returns behind the stumps for England after missing the 4th Test to attend the birth of his second child while there are fitness concerns over James Anderson and Ollie Robinson. The match is set to go ahead despite some positive coronavirus tests in the Indian camp. Play starts at noon French time but the weather is looking grim with rain forecast for much of the day.
Formula 1 - First practice for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza takes place at 2.30 this afternoon and the new sprint event being used for the second time since its introduction at Silverstone. Qualifying for Saturday’s sprint race is between 6pm and 7pm this evening and the final positions in the short event will decide the grid lineup for Sunday’s Grand Prix. As well as gaining pole position for the main event, the winner of the sprint race is also awarded an extra three points in the drivers’ championship which could come in very handy in what’s expected to be a tight battle right to the end of the season. Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton by 3 points heading into the weekend but the Monza track may favour Mercedes.
Rugby Union - Rugby Championship leaders New Zealand host Argentina bright and early tomorrow morning at 9.05 French time.
On Sunday South Africa play Australia on the Gold Coast at the even earlier time of 7am.
Partially cloudy with moderate easterly winds. Top temperature 26 degrees. Overnight lows of 19-21 degrees with clear skies.
The weekend - Clear skies with highs of 26-28 degrees.
A 14-year-old girl has been left in a critical condition following a fire which ravaged an apartment in Marseille. The fire broke out on Monday shortl... Read More