French and Riviera News Monday 12th December 2022

News

Corruption scandal - Four people have been charged in an investigation into suspected bribery at the European Parliament by a Gulf state. Greek MEP and European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili was among those previously arrested in the case. Prosecutors suspect the Gulf state tried to influence parliament decisions with donations of money or gifts. Local media have reported that the accused country is Qatar, which the Qatari government has denied. Watchdogs and opposition MEPs have said it could be one of the biggest corruption scandals the European Parliament has ever seen. Up to €600,000 of cash was seized by Belgian police in 16 searches in Brussels. Computers and mobile phones were also taken in order to examine their contents. A total of six people were detained for questioning, two of whom have since been released.

Clashes with police following Morocco’s qualification into the semi-finals of the World Cup - At least 170 arrests have been made in France on Saturday evening following Morocco’s qualification for the semi-finals of the World Cup. About 20,000 people had gathered on the Champs-Élysées, according to the Paris police headquarters. Of the 100 people arrested, 80, including 23 minors, were taken into custody in the capital. According to police, 19 police officers were slightly injured. Elsewhere in France, 70 people were arrested.

Ukraine support conference - French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken on the phone this Sunday with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, ahead of the new “Ukraine support conference” to be held in Paris on Tuesday. The international conference will bring together officials from 47 different countries and the UN Secretary General and plans to meet Ukraine's needs to get through the winter, and work with French companies that are involved in the reconstruction of the country.

The conference comes after the remarks of Emmanuel Macron who underlined at the beginning of December that it would be necessary to give "guarantees" to Russia to find a good balance, once the war in Ukraine is over. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that an agreement would be necessary "ultimately" to end the conflict in Ukraine, while expressing doubts about the "trust" that Moscow can grant. Meanwhile according to the Washington Post, the United States has asked Ukraine to remain open to peace negotiations.

Body of a young man discovered in Villeneuve-Loubet - The body of a young man has been discovered in Villeneuve-Loubet. Police discovered the man lying dead on his scooter on the edge of a path between the railway and the RN7, not far from the Parc de Vaugrenier on Sunday afternoon shortly after 1pm. An investigation has been opened, police believe that it could have been a hit and run incident.

Landslide on road to ski resorts - The region’s road to local ski resorts remained closed on Sunday due to a landslide in the Tinée on Friday evening. There was disappointment for many wishing to head off on Friday for the opening of the ski resorts this weekend following the landslide. Work is still in progress to reopen the road, in what has been described by authorities as a “complex operation”. In the meantime to secure the area, diversions have been set up to access the ski resorts of La Colmiane, Isola 2000 and Auron, adding an extra hour and a half to your journey. Buses are running leaving from the Arenas tram stop in Nice.

Eric Ciotti is elected as president of the Republican party - Local MP Eric Ciotti has been elected as the new president of the Republican party. Ciotti reacted to his election on Sunday evening by saying that “only the right-wing Republican party can redress France" and called for "a right of intelligence opposing communication which has until now lacked any action."

Crime is in sharp decline in the Alpes-Maritimes - Crime in the Alpes-Maritimes is in sharp decline. That's according to the latest official figures presented by interior minister Gérald Darmanin on a visit to Nice and Cannes. According to the stats, over the past three months, incidents of theft and violence are down by 10% and violence on public transport is down by 40%. That's in sharp contrast to the national figures, which show a 16% increase in violence.

Monaco urges transport users to wear a mask - The Monegasque government has urged public transport users in the principality to wear a mask again. Masks are strongly recommended on Monaco's bus network and on trains. The government said the recommendation was not just to protect each other against coronavirus, but also flu and brionchiolitis, all of which are spreading rapidly at the moment.

French Grand Prix - It appears that the possibility of a return of the F1 French Grand Prix in Le Castellet in the Var is over, as the company responsible for promoting the F1 French Grand Prix will be dissolved in the coming days. The prospect of seeing the Var event replace the Chinese Grand Prix in 2023, or in alternation with other events, is therefore unlikely. Speaking to French media on Sunday evening the boss of the French Grand Prix Eric Boullier said it “was the end of any era”. For five years, the South region has held the event however according to reports Turkey and Portugal are now in the running to replace China in 2023.

Lock of Napoleon’s hair up for auction - A lock of Napoleon’s hair is to go on auction in Monaco. The Monte-Carlo auction house is organizing an auction of furniture and works of art next Wednesday. Among them, a lock of the famous French emperor, estimated at between 4,000 and 6,000 euros.

Happy Birthday Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella - Finally, a very happy belated, “happy birthday” to Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella who celebrated their 8th birthday on Saturday here in Monaco. The twins blew out their candles on Saturday in the privacy of the Prince's Palace with their parents, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene. Prior to this, they had made a public family appearance on the roof of the Oceanographic Museum, to witness the departure for Senegal of 46 turtles born in Monaco. On Instagram, Princess Charlene posted the message "Happy Birthday my loves", accompanied by a slideshow of unpublished images.

Business

Twitter's paid-for verification feature is rolling out once again after it was put on pause last month, having been swamped by impersonators. It is still $8 per month but, there is now an increased fee of $11 for those using the Twitter app on Apple devices. The platform says that blue-tick subscribers will also see fewer ads, have their tweets amplified above others, and be able to post and view longer, better quality videos. Previously a blue tick was used as verification tool for high-profile accounts as a badge of authenticity. It was given out by Twitter for free - but only the firm itself decided who got one. Mr Musk argues that this was unfair.

Disgraced crypto boss Sam Bankman-Fried says he hopes to start a new business to make enough money to pay back victims of the FTX collapse. The 30-year-old faces several federal investigations into his former company's handling of funds. Speaking in a luxury complex in the Bahamas, the former billionaire denies fraud but says he was "not nearly as competent as he thought he was". The FTX crypto exchange allowed customers to trade normal money for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

In the UK, all flights have been suspended at Stansted Airport after it was forced to close its runway due to bad weather. Heathrow and Gatwick also cancelled or delayed flights after snow, ice and freezing fog swept the UK. A yellow weather warning remains in place for Scotland, London and south-west England until this morning, with the disruption set to continue. Trains have also been delayed and drivers warned to take care after several motorway accidents.

World Cup

Captain Harry Kane said England would use their defeat by France to be "mentally and physically stronger for the next challenge" as they headed home from the World Cup. England were beaten 2-1 in the quarter-finals, with Kane missing an 84th-minute penalty, having earlier equalled England's scoring record of 53 goals.

Meanwhile England manager Gareth Southgate says he is "conflicted" about his future, having "found large parts of the last 18 months difficult". The 52-year-old has said he would "review and reflect" before deciding whether to carry on.

Morocco have lit up the World Cup and their fans got their reward by witnessing their side becoming the first from their continent to reach the semi-finals. However, Portugal’s captain Cristiano Ronaldo was coy about his international future as he responded to his side's World Cup exit following defeat by Morocco. The 37-year-old forward was in tears as he walked back to the dressing room after the 1-0 quarter-final. He wrote on social media "to win a World Cup for Portugal was the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career, unfortunately, yesterday [Saturday] the dream ended."

Tomorrow in the semi-final Argentina will play Croatia, kick off is at 8pm and on Wednesday 14th in the other semi-final France play Morocco, kick off is also at 8pm French time.

Sport

Cricket – Day four of five in the Test march series continues today between England and Pakistan. Pakistan resumed on 198-4, needing 157 more to win. England need six wickets to win Test and series.

Formula One - Billionaire Hong Kong businessman Calvin Lo is exploring a plan to set up a Formula 1 team for 2026. Lo, chief executive of insurance broker RE Lee International, said he was assessing the financial requirements. Lo said his "ideal" would be to start a new team, but he was also considering buying into an existing one.

Rugby Union - England captain Owen Farrell says the Rugby Football Union's decision to sack Eddie Jones as head coach was "unbelievably disappointing". Jones was sacked a week ago after only five wins from 12 Tests in 2022. The 62-year-old won three Six Nations titles in his seven years in charge and led the team to the 2019 World Cup final, which they lost to South Africa. Farrell said the run of poor results in 2022 "doesn't happen because of one person, it's everyone".

Weather

Sunny intervals in Nice, Cannes and Antibes with highs of 12 degrees and a moderate breeze. 11 degrees in Monaco and Saint Tropez. 13 degrees in Toulon. This evening going down to 6 degrees in Nice, 5 in Monaco and 8 degrees in the Var with clear skies.

The outlook for tomorrow and Wednesday. Light cloud in the Var highs of 14 degrees. Drizzle is forecast for Nice and the Alpes Maritimes tomorrow with highs of 12 degrees.

Sunrise       07.54hr

Sunset        16.53hr

And Finally

Chris Rea’s driving home for Christmas is the UK's favourite song for the festive season. In a poll, the 1988 classic claimed 47 per cent of the vote. In a very close second place was Fairytale of New York by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, with 46 per cent and Wizzard’s 1970s smash hit I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday was third, with 39 per cent.

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