French and Riviera News Thursday 8th December 2022

News

New draft immigration law - Under pressure from his far-right opponents French President Emmanuel Macron is set to make a second attempt at increasing expulsions of illegal immigrants. Macron's government have unveiled the outlines of a new draft immigration law that will be debated formally in parliament in early 2023. It comes just four years after a 2018 law with similar objectives, passed during Macron's first term in office, which also aimed to take the heat out of an explosive political issue. France’s Interior Minister and Emmanuel Macron have linked immigration to delinquency in recent weeks, with both saying that around half of petty crimes committed in Paris are by foreigners. Figures from the Interior Ministry show that France currently expels around 10 percent of migrants who have been ordered to leave the country and the rate has never been higher than 20 percent. 

Border force staff in the UK announce strike action - In the UK the PCS union has announced that border force staff are going on strike for eight days over Christmas at Heathrow, Gatwick and several other airports. About 75% of passport control staff are PCS members - and Heathrow has warned checks may take longer on strike days. The union said that the strikes would "escalate" unless the government "put money on the table now". About 1,000 Border Force staff are expected to walk out on eight days between 23 December and New Year's Eve at Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Gatwick, Heathrow (terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5) and Manchester airports, as well as at the port of Newhaven.

Foie gras in short supply this Christmas - As the festive season approaches the French delicacy foie gras is in short supply and prices per kilo are rising. Successive waves of bird flu have seen some 16 million birds slaughtered between November 2021 and June 2022. The lack of ducklings has seen farmers force-feeding mostly female ducks which gain less weight than males and are less profitable for the first time. The reduced stocks have seen foie gras prices, which are still climbing, shoot up by more than 10 euros a kilo in a matter of weeks. 

Covid - The number of patients in intensive care with coronavirus in the Alpes-Maritimes has doubled in the past fortnight from 18 to 36. That's the highest level since March this year. The ninth wave of the virus is well under way on the Riviera, with the number of detected new cases growing rapidly since mid-November, and experts say the peak has not yet been reached. Public Health France is urging the most fragile in society, who have not had a booster vaccine any time in the past six months, to have one now.

Pipeline project - The hydrogen pipeline project between Barcelona and Marseille, nicknamed "BarMar" will be discussed tomorrow Friday 9th December on the side-lines of a summit in Spain between the southern countries of the European Union. The project is considered essential for energy sovereignty from Europe. The "BarMar" submarine pipeline should make it possible to transport "green" hydrogen gas from Spain to France and the north of the European Union. The primary objective is to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas. Spain and Portugal have 40% of the European Union's regasification capacities but are poorly connected to the rest of the member countries of the Union. Above all, the pipeline will ultimately make it possible to accelerate the decarbonisation of European industry, by giving it access to clean energy produced on a large scale. The exact route of the pipeline has not yet been communicated, but "the most logical" would be that it "follow the coast", in order to avoid too deep underwater areas. But according to the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB), a network of operators in the sector, one kilometre of underwater hydrogen pipeline costs between 3.7 and 4.8 million euros, which suggests an investment of around two billion euros. Paris, Madrid and Lisbon hope to finance this project largely with European funds.

Hotel industry in Monaco - The Association of Monegasque Hotel Industries has set out plans to try to attract more people to come and work in the principality's numerous hotels. Faced with a labour shortage after the coronavirus shutdowns, the hotel industry in the principality has been working to make the job more attractive. A recent agreement between hotels and unions has seen an improvement to salary scales - the first of its kind in more than 20 years. The association says that someone choosing to work in a hotel in Monaco can expect to take home about 25% more than in a hotel over the border in France, and benefit from more generous social security coverage.

Route du rhum 2022 - French sailor Charles Caudrelier has won the “Route du Rhum 2022”. Caudrelier completed the race in 6 days, 19 hours, 49 minutes and 25 seconds. The race was officially over at 6pm on Wednesday with five skippers failing to reach the finish line in time. During this year’s race 103 sailor finished the race, 30 had to abandon the race and five were unclassified.

Speeding - A man has been arrested by police after being caught speeding at 248 km an hour and driving with a blue flashing light. The incident occurred on the A10 motorway in the Loiret and in addition to being well over the speed limit of 130km/hr the car, a Mini cooper sports model was equipped with a flashing blue light, an accessory which led to an additional fine of 750 euros for the motorist, in addition to the fine of 1,500 euros for speeding and a license withdrawal. To justify the use of a blue flashing light, normally reserved for emergency services, the driver explained that it was because he was "afraid of lorries".

Business

France’s consumer affairs and fraud watchdog has announced plans to fine online retail giant Amazon 3.3 million euros over its use of third-party sellers. In a statement, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) said the fine came after Amazon failed to respect a December 2021 order to modify a “significant imbalance” in its contracts that favoured the Amazon.fr platform over third-party sellers. The company’s France subsidiary had been given a 22 March deadline to comply with the order. In 2019 Amazon was fined €4 million by the Paris Commercial Court over the conditions in its contracts with third-party sellers. 

The popular social media app TikTok has been sued by the US state of Indiana for violating the state's consumer protections laws. Two lawsuits were filed on Wednesday. The first one claims the app exposes young users to inappropriate content. According to court documents "TikTok is a wolf in sheep's clothing”.

The New York Times is facing its first major work stoppage since the 1970s, after staff demanding better pay and benefits declared a 24-hour walkout. The firm said it was disappointed by the decision but was prepared to serve readers "without disruption". The stand-off comes at a time of heightened labour unrest in the US, as the cost of living continues to rise. Union members say the company can afford their demands, despite challenges in the wider news business.

And - Elon Musk owner of Twitter and CEO of Tesla has briefly lost his title as the world's richest person to Bernard Arnault on according to Forbes. On Wednesday Musk's fortune dipped to $185.3 billion, falling just behind the $185.4 billion personal wealth of Arnault, the chief executive of luxury brand Louis Vuitton's parent company LVMH, and his family. It was the first time since September 2021 that Musk was knocked out of first place on the Forbes' Real Time Billionaires list, which is constantly updated based on stock prices.

World Cup

Fifa says it has been "deeply saddened" following the reported death of a migrant worker at a World Cup facility in Qatar. The Filipino national fell to his death while carrying out repairs at a resort used as a training base by the Saudi Arabian team. Football's world governing body said it had been made aware of an accident, without giving details of the incident. It added it was in touch with the local authorities to request more details.

England’s centre-back Harry Maguire says that the three lions "really believe" they can win the World Cup, unlike in 2018.  Gareth Southgate's side reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and face world champions France in the last eight on Saturday. Victory would see them then take on Portugal or Morocco for a place in a first World Cup final since 1966.

Action on the pitch returns tomorrow Friday 9th December with the quarter finals between Croatia and Brazil, kick off is at 4pm and the Netherlands and Argentina, kick off is at 8pm French time.

Sport

Football - Belgium playmaker Eden Hazard has retired from international football at the age of 31. Hazard, who is an attacking midfielder or winger, made his Belgium debut in 2008 at the age of 17, and went on to win 126 caps, scoring 33 goals. His decision comes after Belgium were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages.

Cricket - England are considering sticking with Ollie Pope behind the stumps for the second Test against Pakistan starting on Friday. If Pope keeps the gloves, it will make room for fit-again paceman Mark Wood. Pope stood in for the ill Ben Foakes for the thrilling first Test, which England won by 74 runs.

Tennis - The Lawn Tennis Association has been fined £820,000 by the ATP for banning Russian and Belarusian male players from this summer's grass-court events. The ban was imposed in reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The governing body has also been warned it could lose its ATP membership if a similar decision is made next year. The LTA says it is "deeply disappointed" and has accused the ATP of showing a "surprising lack of empathy for the situation in Ukraine."

Formula One - The Grands Prix in Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the USA and Brazil are the six races Formula 1 has chosen to host 'sprint' events in 2023.The list was agreed after analysis of which tracks would be best suited and discussions of commercial terms with the race organisers. The number of sprint events is doubling because F1 says they increase revenue and television audiences. The format of the event will remain the same as the sprint weekends this year.

Weather

Light rain and a moderate breeze across the region. Highs of 14 degrees in Nice and Toulon, 13 degrees in Saint Tropez and Monaco and 12 degrees in Marseille. This evening going down to 7 degrees along the coast and 0 degrees inland with cloudy skies.

The outlook for Friday showers are set to continue with highs of 13-14 degrees. Thundery showers are forecast for Saint Tropez. Saturday - cloudy along the coast with sunny intervals inland highs of 14 degrees. Sunday sunny intervals in the Alpes Maritimes and Nice with highs of 12 degrees. In the Var strong winds and sunny highs of 10 degrees.

Sunrise       07.51hr

Sunset        16.53hr

And Finally

In the UK a lottery player is set to lose an eye watering fortune - and their biggest Xmas present ever. Time is running out on a £7.4 million fortune - and the winning ticket holder has just one week left to claim it. The winning ticket was bought in Wolverhampton for the Lotto draw on June 18. But with the six month deadline to claim or lose the prize just days away, no one has come forward with a valid claim to scoop the life changing sum. The last date to claim is ten days before Christmas on December 15th. The winning numbers in the draw were 11, 14, 36, 39, 42 and 59 - and the single ticket holder matched all six balls. The jackpot was £7,440,150. Camelot, the lottery operator, urged all ticket holders to check their numbers and look down the back of sofas and through pockets for old tickets in a bid to find the mystery winner.

 

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