French and Riviera News Thursday 24th March 2022

News

Ferry made available to accommodate Ukrainian refugees - In response to a call from the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, a Corsica Linea ferry is to be made available from March 29th in the port of Marseille to accommodate up to 1,600 Ukrainian refugees. On board, specific arrangements will be made to welcome the refugees "in the best conditions". The operation is financed by France’s Ministry of the Interior and is part of several actions of solidarity to help Ukrainian refugees arriving in the region along with projects for education, training and employment.

In mid-March, the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi had called for solidarity, explaining that Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes, is "first department" in France to welcome refugees from Ukraine. More than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine.

French lessons - Meanwhile in Nice almost 800 Ukrainians have been enrolled in French courses. The lessons have been organized in the former Saint-Roch hospital and are for Ukrainian children, adolescents and adults.

Standing ovation – It was on Wednesday that the President of Ukraine was given a standing ovation by the French National Assembly as he began his address to deputies by video link. In his speech Zelensky compared the Ukranian city of Mariupol to the ruins of Verdun in the First World War. He expressed his thanks to France, saying that President Macron "is showing real leadership". He said that he hoped that under the French Presidency, the EU would take a "unique and historic decision" to admit Ukraine. He also named several French companies he said must withdraw from the Russian market as "values are worth more than profits".

TotalEnergies’ - Meanwhile the chief executive of TotalEnergies' said on Wednesday that the French giant could not stop buying Russian natural gas in retaliation for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, arguing it would force a partial economic shutdown in Europe. The company had announced on Tuesday that it would stop buying Russia's oil and petroleum products by the end of this year, the latest of several multinationals to halt or curtail their operations in the country.

In other news

Body of Yvan Colonna repatriated to Corsica – The body of independence activist Yvan Colonna has been repatriated to Corsica, the funeral is scheduled for tomorrow Friday 25th March. After almost three weeks in a coma, Colonna died on Monday evening, at the age of 61, in hospital in Marseille.

Forest fire - A forest fire has broken out in Salernes in the Var. 3,000 square meters of vegetation went up in smoke on Wednesday as firefighters managed to control the blaze by late afternoon.

Covid - France has reported 91 deaths from covid in the past 24 hours as the circulation of the virus is increasing and the number of people being hospitalised stagnates in both the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. Figures published on Wednesday evening by the Public Health France show the daily average of covid cases over one week currently stands at 104,176 rising once again above the 100,000 mark.

Monaco - In Monaco on Wednesday 97 new cases of covid were identified bringing the total number of residents affected to 10,369. Fifteen people are in hospital and 272 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Vaccination - Meanwhile vaccination with the Nuvaxovid vaccine from NOVAVAX has begun in the Principality as the Monaco government invites people who wish to get this vaccine to contact the Covid-19 Call Centre on Monaco 92.05.55.00, which can be reached 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or online on the website: https: //vaccination-covid19.gouv.mc.

Business

Asian markets have fallen this morning and oil prices have risen as investors weighed the latest developments in the Ukraine war and US Federal Reserve officials signalled that the central bank is ready to take more aggressive action to tackle inflation. On Wednesday, the Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the country will now seek payment in roubles for gas sold to what he called “unfriendly” countries. Crude futures rose on the news while the bond market paused for breath retreating from a near 3 year peak overnight. On the currency markets, the yen is still in the doldrums after hitting a 6 year low against the dollar on Wednesday while the euro is steady and the price of gold has fallen slightly.

Oil prices have risen again this morning amid concerns over supply following reports of storm damage at a major export terminal on the Black Sea. Brent Crude was up by 0.9 percent a little earlier to 122 dollars 66 with West Texas Intermediate up 0.7 percent at 115 dollars 68. Both benchmarks have risen steeply this week with Brent up by more than 14 dollars a barrel as fears over supply disruptions intensify coupled with the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Prices jumped by more than 5 percent on Wednesday following reports that crude exports from Kazakhstan’s Caspian Pipeline Consortium had been completely halted as a result of storm damage. Russia warned that the damage could result in oil supplies being stopped for two months. The CPC pipeline carries some 1.2 million barrels of crude per day to a port on the Russian Black Sea coast.

The UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has delivered his Spring Statement amid warnings that living standards will fall to their lowest level since 1956. Mr Sunak announced a 5 pence per litre cut in fuel duty, raised the threshold at which people start paying National Insurance and pledged to cut the basic rate of income tax by 1 penny before the next General Election. The UK economy is forecast to grow by 3.8 percent this year according to the Office for Budget Responsibility -a sharp cut from its previous forecast of 6 percent. The annual inflation rate is running at 6.2 percent and is set to rise to 7.4 percent for the rest of the year. The Chancellor also announced extra help for households installing energy efficient materials such as solar panels and more money for local authorities in the form of the Household Support Fund. Economists and the press have been critical of the new measures with even newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Express giving the Spring Statement the thumbs down. Millions of people are set to experience a sharp fall in their living standards as energy and food prices rise while there’s been no extra help for those claiming benefits.

Sport

Football - Chelsea will be allow to sell tickets again for away fixtures after the British government made changes to the club’s special licence. Chelsea had been ordered to halt all ticket sales after the government imposed sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich but proceeds from tickets will now go to the Premier League and be distributed to the relevant party at a later date. The news comes as the list of bidders who want to buy the club is narrowed down to a shortlist of three. It’s being reported that Chelsea will have the final say on who buys the club and that Mr Abramovich will be allowed to give his opinion.

Wales play Austria in a World Cup qualifier tonight. The semi-final play off comes as Wales bid to reach their first World Cup Finals since 1958.If they win then they’ll face either Scotland or Ukraine in playoff final. The match between Scotland and Ukraine has been postponed because of the war.

Cricket - Australia are in the hunt for victory on day 4 of the third and final Test against Pakistan in Lahore. On day 3 Australia dismissed the home side for 268 in their first innings and had reached 11 without loss in their second innings, a lead of 134.

The third and final Test between West Indies and England starts in Grenada today with the series tied at 0-0. The England captain Joe Root says that he wants the side to turn progress into victories as he looks to put the disastrous tour of Australia behind him. Play starts at 3pm French time this afternoon.

Rugby Union - The England captain Owen Farrell could return to action for Saracens this weekend following a lengthy layoff through injury. Farrell missed the entire 6 Nations and hasn’t played since November after suffering an ankle injury. Saracens play Bristol on Saturday.

Weather

Clear skies with light variable winds. Top temperature 18 degrees. Overnight lows of 6-9 degrees on the coast and 1-4 degrees inland with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Mainly fine with highs of 16-17 degrees.

And Finally

According to Nasa trackers Asteroid 2013 BO76 will hurtle past earth today a staggering 30,000 miles per hour. At up to 450 meters across, it's roughly the same size as the Empire State Building. Fortunately, the speedy object is expected to miss our planet by some distance. It'll fly by at a safe distance of around 3.1million miles, according to data on Nasa's Near-Earth Object database.

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