French and Riviera News - Thursday 21st April 2022

DEBATE

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have clashed in last night’s live TV debate. The two candidates confronted each other on the cost of living, Russia, climate change and immigration.

Spiralling prices of energy and everyday costs at the supermarkets have dominated the campaign. Ms Le Pen said 70% of the French people believed their standard of living had fallen over the past five years and she would be the president of civil peace and national brotherhood. Mr Macron said France had known unprecedented crisis, with Covid followed by war in Europe, and that he had steered France through those challenges and aimed to make France a stronger country. Sunday's vote, he said, was a "referendum on Europe, on secularism, and a moment of clear choice"

Marine Le Pen was challenged on her close ties to the Kremlin and for taking a Russian bank loan for her party, but she warned strongly that giving Ukraine weapons could make France a "co-belligerent".

On Europe, Marine Le Pen talked about making changes from within, yet the President argued that her idea of a "Europe of nations" would spell the end of the EU and that she was selling a lie". She struck back with a pledge to put money back in the pockets of millions of French made poorer during his five-year presidency.

On the retirement age, Marine Le Pen said Macron’s proposal to raise it from 62 to 65 was utterly intolerable, although she was accused by her rival of making generous promises without explaining how she would pay for it.

On the environment, the two candidates seem to be diametrically opposed on the strategy for renewable energy, with Le Pen accused of neglecting the potential of natural sources like wind turbines and relying too heavily on nuclear energy. Le Pen challenged the President’s dependance on importing good from thousands of miles away, when producing more locally would help tackle global warming.  In one of the more animated exchanges, Le Pen was as accused of being a climate sceptic while in turn Macron was accused of being a hypocrite.

A snap poll conducted for the BFM TV channel showed that 59% of respondents found Macron the more convincing of the two, however it was not clear how that would translate into voting intentions on Sunday

 

Melenchon bids to be prime minister

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has made a bold request to French voters to elect him 'as prime minister'

Speaking for the first time since his 10 April defeat, Mélenchon appeared on BFMTV to launch his campaign to win the election’s “third round” and make him a housemate to the future tenant of the Elysée Palace.

The move, he said, would resolve the paradox for the 49 percent of voters who felt they had no real choice in Sunday's election runoff.  

He urged voters to elect a majority of MPs from his party, La France insoumise,”. Under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, a parliamentary majority would oblige the future President to appoint Mélanchon Prime Minister and share power.

During his TV appearance, which comes five days before the standoff, Mélenchon reminded voters it was the prime minister and not the president who signed off on government decrees.

 

Diplomatic Corps

The announcement by the government that it is getting rid of the diplomatic corps in France as part of its public sector overhaul has sparked concern from diplomats and politicians, especially in light of the Ukraine crisis.

Diplomats will no longer be sourced from the French ministry for Foreign Affairs as is currently the case. Instead, they will be hired from different backgrounds in both the public and private sectors.

Diplomats have also expressed their concern that field intelligence will be lost and the nominations for top jobs will become politicised, as is often the case in the United States.

 

IN LOCAL NEWS

Forth Vaccine Opportunity

The city of Nice has opened up a fourth anti-Covid vaccine dose to those aged sixty years or older. If six months have passed since your last booster shot, you are invited to the city's dedicated vaccination centres to be treated. While Nice has kept its dedicated vaccination centres open, Antibes and Grasse have chosen to administer further doses through the network of doctors and pharmacists.

 

Cannes Film Festival

In Cannes, the Town Hall has begun accepting entries from residents to attend Film Festival screenings. One entry form per person can be registered on the city's website until May 14th, with the draw taking place on May 16th.

 

The Official poster for the 75th Cannes Film Festival has just been released, and it pays tribute to the iconic film « The Truman Show ».

First released in 1998, “The Truman Show” stars Jim Carrey as a man who has spent his entire life unknowingly raised as the subject of a 24/7 reality show. The Cannes poster captures a moment from the climax of the film where Truman escapes from the set of the show, discovering that the sky is a painted wall with a staircase leading to the exit. In the rendition seen on the poster, Truman touches the wall, which features a large 75 in white, reflecting the festival’s anniversary.

An official statement from the festival’s organisers describes The TrumanShow as a modern reflection of Plato’s cave and the decisive scene urges viewers to not only experience the border between reality and its representation but to ponder the power of fiction, between manipulation and catharsis. “Just as Truman escapes falsehood as he rises, the festival, with its famous ascending red carpet, offers viewers the truth of the artists when they enter the theater.”

The Cannes Film Festival will take place on the French Riviera from May 17 to May 28.

 

BUSINESS NEWS

 

Tesla Profits Soaring

Tesla profits have soared despite higher costs, rising prices and being forced to temporarily close its Shanghai factory due to COVID restrictions.

Profits at Elon Musk's electric car company soared to $3.3bn in the first three months of the year, as customers proved willing to pay more. The firm's deliveries were up 68% - and would have been higher if not for supply chain shortages.

The firm delivered more than 310,000 cars in the first three months of the year and in a conference call, chief executive Elon Musk predicted the company would produce 60% more cars during the year as a whole compared to last year. Mr Musk also said Tesla expects to mass produce a robotaxi with no steering wheel or pedals by 2024.

The rise in Tesla's stock market value in recent years has made Mr Musk the world's richest man, with an estimated net worth of more than $260bn. That is nearly $100bn more than his closest rival, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

 

Germany’s Energy Strategy

Germany is moving "as fast as possible" to end its reliance on Russian energy, but it will take time, according to Christian Lindner,  the country's finance minister.

By contrast, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had earlier said Germany would end oil imports by the end of the year, with gas following.

Proceeds from the sale of Russian oil and gas amount to around $1bn a day, undermining international efforts to put economic pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

The US has already banned Russian oil imports and the UK plans to phase them out by the end of the year, but EU countries are more heavily dependent on Russian energy, with Germany currently buying around 25% of its oil and 40% of its gas from Russia.

 

Netflix Loss

Billionaire investor William Ackman liquidated a $1.1 billion bet on Netflix yesterday, locking in a loss of more than $400 million as the streaming service's stock plunged following news that it lost subscribers for the first time in a decade.

Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management made an abrupt U-turn, selling the 3.1 million shares it had bought just three months ago as Netflix' shares tumbled 35% to $226.19.

In January, the investor funneled over $1 billion into the streaming service just days after a disappointing forecast for subscriptions pushed the share price lower. Now a second bout of negative news about subscribers prompted the fund manager to turn his back on a company he had showered with praise only weeks before.

In a brief statement announcing the move, Ackman said proposed business model changes, including incorporating advertising and going after non-paying customers, made sense but would make the company too unpredictable in the short term.

 

SPORT

 

Football

Manchester City have returned to the top of the Premier League after a 3-0 win over Brighton. They restored their 1 point lead over Liverpool with 6 games remaining.

Man City play Watford this weekend

 

Arsenal returned to winning ways with a 4-2 win away to Chelsea. Newcastle made sure they would be playing the top league next season after beating Crystal Palace 1-0 and Everton earnt a precious point with a late equalizer to earn a 1-1 at Leicester.

 

AS Monaco have overtaken Nice in the league after a 1-0 victory at the Stade Louis 2. Golovin scored the winning goal at the end of the first half which takes AS Monaco up to 5th place. Both tea  ms are challenging for European qualification.

 

Elsewhere, PSG moved a step closer to regaining the title after a 3-0 away win at Angers, but they were made to wait at least another game for confirmation as their nearest rival Marseille rallied to beat Nantes 3-2.

 

Real Madrid need just four more  points to secure a 35th La Liga title following an eventful 3-1 victory at Osasuna last night, which was achieved despite Karim Benzema missing two penalties inside 10 second-half minutes.

 

Tennis

Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year because of the invasion of Ukraine.

Men's world number two Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women's world number four Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus are the highest-ranked players to be affected.

Explaining its decision, the All England Lawn Tennis Club said it had a responsibility to "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible".

The men's body, the ATP, said it could "set a damaging precedent for the game arguing that discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of their agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP rankings.

Wimbledon runs from 27 June to 10 July.

 

Cricket

England batter Joe Root has been named Wisden's leading cricketer in the world for 2021.

Root,hit 1,708 runs in 15 matches in 2021, the third-highest number of Test runs scored in a calendar year.

His stellar form came despite England winning only four Tests last year, with Root stepping down from the captaincy last Friday. 

 

Basketball

Earvin 'Magic' Johnson has described this season's performance by the Los Angeles Lakers as "disappointing" and "the worst we've probably ever had in Laker history". Led by LeBron James, the current squad were expected to win their division and challenge for the 2022 NBA title, having won the championship in 2020.  However, they lost 49 of their 82 games and failed to make the play-offs.

 

WEATHER

It’s a cloudy start to the day with some spells of rain, but the showers should become less frequent this afternoon.

Winds are moderate towards Monaco with strong gusts from the East along the coast in the Var peaking at 60 km/h late afternoon. Temperatures will rise to 20° near Nice. 18° near St Tropez and 18° inland near Draguignan.

Spells of light rain are expected overnight with moderate winds and temperatures dropping to an overnight low of 11°C.

Friday will be unstable with a risk of showers throughout the day.

DEBATE

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen have clashed in last night’s live TV debate. The two candidates confronted each other on the cost of living, Russia, climate change and immigration.

Spiralling prices of energy and everyday costs at the supermarkets have dominated the campaign. Ms Le Pen said 70% of the French people believed their standard of living had fallen over the past five years and she would be the president of civil peace and national brotherhood. Mr Macron said France had known unprecedented crisis, with Covid followed by war in Europe, and that he had steered France through those challenges and aimed to make France a stronger country. Sunday's vote, he said, was a "referendum on Europe, on secularism, and a moment of clear choice"

Marine Le Pen was challenged on her close ties to the Kremlin and for taking a Russian bank loan for her party, but she warned strongly that giving Ukraine weapons could make France a "co-belligerent".

On Europe, Marine Le Pen talked about making changes from within, yet the President argued that her idea of a "Europe of nations" would spell the end of the EU and that she was selling a lie". She struck back with a pledge to put money back in the pockets of millions of French made poorer during his five-year presidency.

On the retirement age, Marine Le Pen said Macron’s proposal to raise it from 62 to 65 was utterly intolerable, although she was accused by her rival of making generous promises without explaining how she would pay for it.

On the environment, the two candidates seem to be diametrically opposed on the strategy for renewable energy, with Le Pen accused of neglecting the potential of natural sources like wind turbines and relying too heavily on nuclear energy. Le Pen challenged the President’s dependance on importing good from thousands of miles away, when producing more locally would help tackle global warming.  In one of the more animated exchanges, Le Pen was as accused of being a climate sceptic while in turn Macron was accused of being a hypocrite.

A snap poll conducted for the BFM TV channel showed that 59% of respondents found Macron the more convincing of the two, however it was not clear how that would translate into voting intentions on Sunday

 

Melenchon bids to be prime minister

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has made a bold request to French voters to elect him 'as prime minister'

Speaking for the first time since his 10 April defeat, Mélenchon appeared on BFMTV to launch his campaign to win the election’s “third round” and make him a housemate to the future tenant of the Elysée Palace.

The move, he said, would resolve the paradox for the 49 percent of voters who felt they had no real choice in Sunday's election runoff.  

He urged voters to elect a majority of MPs from his party, La France insoumise,”. Under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, a parliamentary majority would oblige the future President to appoint Mélanchon Prime Minister and share power.

During his TV appearance, which comes five days before the standoff, Mélenchon reminded voters it was the prime minister and not the president who signed off on government decrees.

 

Diplomatic Corps

The announcement by the government that it is getting rid of the diplomatic corps in France as part of its public sector overhaul has sparked concern from diplomats and politicians, especially in light of the Ukraine crisis.

Diplomats will no longer be sourced from the French ministry for Foreign Affairs as is currently the case. Instead, they will be hired from different backgrounds in both the public and private sectors.

Diplomats have also expressed their concern that field intelligence will be lost and the nominations for top jobs will become politicised, as is often the case in the United States.

 

IN LOCAL NEWS

Forth Vaccine Opportunity

The city of Nice has opened up a fourth anti-Covid vaccine dose to those aged sixty years or older. If six months have passed since your last booster shot, you are invited to the city's dedicated vaccination centres to be treated. While Nice has kept its dedicated vaccination centres open, Antibes and Grasse have chosen to administer further doses through the network of doctors and pharmacists.

 

Cannes Film Festival

In Cannes, the Town Hall has begun accepting entries from residents to attend Film Festival screenings. One entry form per person can be registered on the city's website until May 14th, with the draw taking place on May 16th.

 

The Official poster for the 75th Cannes Film Festival has just been released, and it pays tribute to the iconic film « The Truman Show ».

First released in 1998, “The Truman Show” stars Jim Carrey as a man who has spent his entire life unknowingly raised as the subject of a 24/7 reality show. The Cannes poster captures a moment from the climax of the film where Truman escapes from the set of the show, discovering that the sky is a painted wall with a staircase leading to the exit. In the rendition seen on the poster, Truman touches the wall, which features a large 75 in white, reflecting the festival’s anniversary.

An official statement from the festival’s organisers describes The TrumanShow as a modern reflection of Plato’s cave and the decisive scene urges viewers to not only experience the border between reality and its representation but to ponder the power of fiction, between manipulation and catharsis. “Just as Truman escapes falsehood as he rises, the festival, with its famous ascending red carpet, offers viewers the truth of the artists when they enter the theater.”

The Cannes Film Festival will take place on the French Riviera from May 17 to May 28.

 

BUSINESS NEWS

 

Tesla Profits Soaring

Tesla profits have soared despite higher costs, rising prices and being forced to temporarily close its Shanghai factory due to COVID restrictions.

Profits at Elon Musk's electric car company soared to $3.3bn in the first three months of the year, as customers proved willing to pay more. The firm's deliveries were up 68% - and would have been higher if not for supply chain shortages.

The firm delivered more than 310,000 cars in the first three months of the year and in a conference call, chief executive Elon Musk predicted the company would produce 60% more cars during the year as a whole compared to last year. Mr Musk also said Tesla expects to mass produce a robotaxi with no steering wheel or pedals by 2024.

The rise in Tesla's stock market value in recent years has made Mr Musk the world's richest man, with an estimated net worth of more than $260bn. That is nearly $100bn more than his closest rival, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

 

Germany’s Energy Strategy

Germany is moving "as fast as possible" to end its reliance on Russian energy, but it will take time, according to Christian Lindner,  the country's finance minister.

By contrast, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had earlier said Germany would end oil imports by the end of the year, with gas following.

Proceeds from the sale of Russian oil and gas amount to around $1bn a day, undermining international efforts to put economic pressure on President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

The US has already banned Russian oil imports and the UK plans to phase them out by the end of the year, but EU countries are more heavily dependent on Russian energy, with Germany currently buying around 25% of its oil and 40% of its gas from Russia.

 

Netflix Loss

Billionaire investor William Ackman liquidated a $1.1 billion bet on Netflix yesterday, locking in a loss of more than $400 million as the streaming service's stock plunged following news that it lost subscribers for the first time in a decade.

Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management made an abrupt U-turn, selling the 3.1 million shares it had bought just three months ago as Netflix' shares tumbled 35% to $226.19.

In January, the investor funneled over $1 billion into the streaming service just days after a disappointing forecast for subscriptions pushed the share price lower. Now a second bout of negative news about subscribers prompted the fund manager to turn his back on a company he had showered with praise only weeks before.

In a brief statement announcing the move, Ackman said proposed business model changes, including incorporating advertising and going after non-paying customers, made sense but would make the company too unpredictable in the short term.

 

SPORT

 

Football

Manchester City have returned to the top of the Premier League after a 3-0 win over Brighton. They restored their 1 point lead over Liverpool with 6 games remaining.

Man City play Watford this weekend

 

Arsenal returned to winning ways with a 4-2 win away to Chelsea. Newcastle made sure they would be playing the top league next season after beating Crystal Palace 1-0 and Everton earnt a precious point with a late equalizer to earn a 1-1 at Leicester.

 

AS Monaco have overtaken Nice in the league after a 1-0 victory at the Stade Louis 2. Golovin scored the winning goal at the end of the first half which takes AS Monaco up to 5th place. Both tea  ms are challenging for European qualification.

 

Elsewhere, PSG moved a step closer to regaining the title after a 3-0 away win at Angers, but they were made to wait at least another game for confirmation as their nearest rival Marseille rallied to beat Nantes 3-2.

 

Real Madrid need just four more  points to secure a 35th La Liga title following an eventful 3-1 victory at Osasuna last night, which was achieved despite Karim Benzema missing two penalties inside 10 second-half minutes.

 

Tennis

Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year because of the invasion of Ukraine.

Men's world number two Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women's world number four Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus are the highest-ranked players to be affected.

Explaining its decision, the All England Lawn Tennis Club said it had a responsibility to "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible".

The men's body, the ATP, said it could "set a damaging precedent for the game arguing that discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of their agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP rankings.

Wimbledon runs from 27 June to 10 July.

 

Cricket

England batter Joe Root has been named Wisden's leading cricketer in the world for 2021.

Root,hit 1,708 runs in 15 matches in 2021, the third-highest number of Test runs scored in a calendar year.

His stellar form came despite England winning only four Tests last year, with Root stepping down from the captaincy last Friday. 

 

Basketball

Earvin 'Magic' Johnson has described this season's performance by the Los Angeles Lakers as "disappointing" and "the worst we've probably ever had in Laker history". Led by LeBron James, the current squad were expected to win their division and challenge for the 2022 NBA title, having won the championship in 2020.  However, they lost 49 of their 82 games and failed to make the play-offs.

 

WEATHER

It’s a cloudy start to the day with some spells of rain, but the showers should become less frequent this afternoon.

Winds are moderate towards Monaco with strong gusts from the East along the coast in the Var peaking at 60 km/h late afternoon. Temperatures will rise to 20° near Nice. 18° near St Tropez and 18° inland near Draguignan.

Spells of light rain are expected overnight with moderate winds and temperatures dropping to an overnight low of 11°C.

Friday will be unstable with a risk of showers throughout the day.

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