French and Riviera News Monday 28th March 2022

News

French President warns against an “escalation of words and actions in Ukraine” - French President Emmanuel Macron has warned against an "escalation of words and actions in Ukraine", after the remarks of the American President Joe Biden, who called the Russian president Vladimir Putin a "butcher". Speaking to French media on Sunday, Macron emphasised the need to “stop the war, without going to war” and the “importance to not escalate the situation with words or actions". The French head of state is due to speak with the Russian President today or tomorrow concerning the evacuation of residents in the city of Mariupol, which has been under siege and bombardment for weeks.

Investigation into death of elderly couple at their home in Pégomas - Police have opened an investigation after a retired couple were found dead at their home in Pégomas on Sunday afternoon. Emergency services discovered the bodies of two elderly people at their home on avenue de Grasse.

Two people injured in quad accident - Two people have been seriously injured in a quad bike accident in Draguignan, in the Var. The accident occurred shortly after 4.30pm on Sunday afternoon when the two men in their forties riding a quad, fell about 20 meters below a main road. Police have opened an investigation to determine the cause.

Fire destroys apartment - One person has been slightly injured in an apartment fire in Hyères in the Var. The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon completely destroying the ground floor apartment located on Rue Fangerot in the old town of the city. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Forest fires - Several forest fires have broken out in the region due to the dry conditions. Firefighters intervened in Utelle, Saint-Vallier, Gorbio and Valdeblore. The fires saw Canadairs deployed in the region for the first time this year.

A return to wearing a mask recommended in the region’s schools - Schools in the region have recommended pupils and staff to wear a mask, following a rise in the number of covid cases. Despite an easing of restrictions, the epidemic is still greatly affecting school life with more and more students as well as teachers testing positive and classes being forced to close due to the lack of replacements.

In Monaco at the weekend, 40 new covid cases were identified bringing the total number of people affected to 10,530. Eighteen people are currently hospitalised and 251 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Presidential elections - Far right candidate for the Presidential elections in France, Eric Zemmour has held his last major meeting ahead of the first round at the Place du Trocadéro on Sunday. During his speech in Paris, Zemmour strongly criticized Emmanuel Macron's record during his presidential term. When discussing insecurity, the public chanted, for about ten seconds, the phrase "Macron assassin!" a chant which has since been condemned by the far-right candidate.

Poor air quality in the Paris region - Due to poor air quality in the Ile-de-France region motorists will be subject to speed restrictions on the A86 motorway. The warning issued at the weekend remains in place today Monday 28th March, with only vehicles classed 1 and 2 with the Crit’Air sticker allowed to circulate.

Business

Asian markets have slipped this morning as the latest Coronavirus lockdown in China rattled confidence in global supply chains and the yen continued to plummet after the Bank of Japan acted to keep local bond yields near zero. In Shanghai-the Chinese government has ordered half of the city’s 26 million people into a strict lockdown and told all firms to halt manufacturing or make people work from home in a two stage lockdown over the next 9 days. Elsewhere, risk sentiment has improved on hopes of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks which are being held in Turkey this week. On Sunday, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that his country was prepared to accept a neutral status as part of a peace deal although he stressed that such a move would be subject to a referendum. However, he said that some issues would be off the table including a demilitarisation of Ukraine adding that no peace deal would be possible without a ceasefire and troop withdrawals. Oil prices have fallen back this morning and the dollar and euro are up. Gold has fallen although it’s still up by 2 percent for the month.

Bitcoin has risen by 4 percent today following reports that Russia and some of its major oligarchs are increasingly using the virtual currency to carry out major financial transactions. The move, which is seen as an attempt to circumvent Western sanctions on Russia has seen Bitcoin increase in value by 41.1 percent since its year low of 32,950 dollars 32 cents on the 24th of January. Last night, the virtual currency was trading at 46,499 dollars 29 with reports that affluent Russians are using it to pay for villas and apartments as well as luxury cars in Dubai and other countries where sanctions are not being applied. Dubai real estate agents and car dealers are reporting a boom in sales with bitcoin being used in the majority of transactions. Reports also say that oligarchs are using shell companies to purchase property in order to remain anonymous to authorities while residency permits in Dubai are available at the bitcoin equivalent of around a million dollars each.

Canada has said that it can provide more oil, gas and uranium to help tackle the global energy crisis. Prices have soared since the invasion of Ukraine as a result of Russian supplies being squeezed as a result of sanctions. On Sunday, the Canadian natural resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that the country would export an additional 100,000 barrels of natural gas and an extra 200,000  barrels of crude by the end of the year. Canada is the world’s 4th largest oil producer and is also a leading producer of uranium which it also processes for use in nuclear power stations. The Minister said that the industry has “capacity to spare” and much more of the radioactive material can be mined and processed.

Sport

Formula 1 - Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in the Ferraris as Lewis Hamilton could only manage 10th in an underperforming Mercedes. Verstappen made a late pass on Leclerc to grab the lead and take the race after an intriguing dual. Leclerc had looked to have it wrapped up after a safety car gave him the advantage but Verstappen hunted him down to stamp his world champion status on proceedings. The event was mired in controversy as the high speed track which has been labelled as dangerous by some of the drivers resulted in crashes in both qualifying and the race itself and with safety concerns further raised following a missile strike on an oil depot near the track on Friday. There are also major concerns among the drivers about Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record with Lewis Hamilton saying that he was glad the event was over and that he “couldn’t wait to leave”. Charles Leclerc leads the drivers’s championship with 45 points with Carlos Sainz second with 33 points and Max Verstappen third with 25 points. The next race is the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on the 10th of April.

Cricket - Joe Root insists that he still wants to “lead England forward” despite his side’s embarrassing 10 wicket defeat at the hands of West Indies in the third and final Test in Grenada. England lost the series 1-0 after slumping to 120 all out in their second innings on Sunday leaving West Indies just 28 to win the match. England have now lost 4 consecutive Test series and haven’t won in 9 matches.

Football - Canada have qualified for their first World Cup finals in 36 years after beating Jamaica 4-0 in Toronto on Sunday. The victory means that Canada are assured of finishing in one of the top three places in the final stage of Concacaf qualifying and will play in the finals in Qatar. The last time they qualified for the finals was in 1986 in Mexico where they finished bottom of their group without scoring a goal.

Rugby Union - There was one game in the Gallagher English Premiership on Sunday.Leicester were 22-17 winners at Exeter.

Golf - Scottie Scheffler has beaten Kevin Kisner to win the WGC Match Play and take the world number one spot in the process. Scheffler replaces Jon Rahm at the top of the rankings. He was too strong for his fellow American opponent Kisner and won 4&3 at the Austin Country Club in Texas. He’s now one of the favourites to win the Masters at Augusta which starts on the 7th of April.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperature 21 degrees. Overnight lows of 9-12 degrees on the coast and 6-9 degrees inland with partially cloudy skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Hazy sunshine tomorrow with a high of 18. Some rain on Wednesday with a high of 15 degrees.

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