French and Riviera News Thursday 9th February 2023

News

Ukrainian President pays stop over visit to French capital - For the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Paris on Wednesday evening. Zelensky met with French President Emmanuel Macron and was joined by the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The stop over visit to the French capital had been preceded by a visit to the UK and a meeting with both the British Prime Minister and King Charles III where Zelensky thanked the “UK government and personally thanked the British people for their support”. In Paris the Ukrainian President was given the Legion of Honour by President Emmanuel Macron, the highest distinction that a president can give to his counterpart. Zelensky will today Thursday 9th February head to Brussels to meet with EU leaders, as the EU has committed to finding a way to fast-track Ukraine’s accession to the bloc.  

Angry farmers in French capital - Angry farmers from across France have driven their tractors into the heart of the French capital on Wednesday morning to denounce "constraints" on their profession.  The National Federation of Farmers Union (FNSEA) said at least 500 farmers came by tractor, creating what authorities said were traffic jams spanning some 420 kilometres. The protest comes following a government decision on January 23rd  to definitively close a loophole allowing sugar beet farmers to continue using harmful neonicotinoids, which have been banned in the EU since 2018. France is the world’s second-largest producer of sugar beets. Neonicotinoids disrupt the central nervous system of bees, causing memory loss and paralysis that make it impossible for them to return to their hives. Repercussions for human health have also been documented.

Further strike action announced for 16th February - As French unions announced another day of industrial action planned for Thursday 16th February, in addition to the day of action already scheduled for this coming Saturday, a recent survey has shown that 72% of French people want protests against the pension reform to continue.  In addition, more than 4 out of 10 French people (41% of those questioned) even want the movement to harden, in the form of greater mobilization, blockades and renewable strikes. Meanwhile, 28% want it to stop.

Journalist attacked on side-lines of demonstrations in Nice – Meanwhile, TV station BFM Nice Côte d'Azur has said that one of its journalists was attacked on the side-lines of the demonstration against the pension reforms in Nice yesterday. In a post on social media Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi offered his support to the journalist, saying that "demonstrating is a right" but "no violence against journalists, security or emergency services can be tolerated".

Flu epidemic - The number of hospitalizations for flu in France has increased by 93% during the week of January 30th to February 5th. In its latest weekly bulletin published this Wednesday, Public Health France notes a "rebound in the epidemic": 11 of the 13 regions of metropolitan France are now classified in the epidemic phase. Only Normandy and the Hauts-de-France regions are not in the epidemic phase. The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côtes d'Azur regions are however, the most affected.

Apartment fire - A 70-year-old man is in serious condition after an apartment fire in Vallauris. The victim was taken to Pasteur hospital in Nice after a fire broke out in his apartment in Vallauris, avenue Clair Soleil on Wednesday evening. The cause of the blaze remains to be determined by the firefighters.

All change at Place Garibaldi Nice - Traffic is down to one lane on Place Garibaldi in Nice and it’s planned to stay that way. Work has started on Place Garibaldi and as part of the extension of works from Rue Cassini from now on traffic will be restricted to one lane on the square. The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, explained on October 17th, 2022 when presenting the Cassini project to local residents that the overall objective was to "calm traffic and vegetate as we do and will do in all areas of the city". The total cost amounts to 3.176 million euros, including 3 million financed by the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis.

King of Nice Carnival unveiled - The king of the Nice Carnival 2023 has been unveiled and was seen in the streets of Nice outside of the hanger where it has been created, for the first time on Wednesday. From Saturday February 11th, until Sunday February 26th, he will reign over Nice as part of the 150th anniversary of the Nice Carnival.

Letter up for auction - A letter written by American actor Marlon Brando to a French dancer and actress and Monegasque resident, with whom he appeared to be romantically involved is up for auction in the US. Described by the auction house as a "rare early 'breakup' letter" from Brando, the letter was sent to Solange Podell sometime in the late 1940s and reveals some of the iconic actor's thoughts on a little-known relationship early in his career. Podell, treasured the letter in Monaco until her death in 2020 and it has now reappeared at an auction in the United States. Podell, who lived in the Principality for nearly 50 years, died at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre on March 3, 2020, at the age of 92. Marlon Brando died on July 1st, 2004, at the age of 80.

Business

The chief executive of Disney has said that he is cutting 7,000 jobs as part of a major shake-up of the entertainment giant. The layoffs are part of a plan to save $5.5bn in costs and make the Disney+ streaming service profitable.

Some Twitter users were unable to tweet on Wednesday after the website experienced technical problems. Account holders received a message saying: "You are over the daily limit for sending Tweets." The outage-tracking website DownDetector reported the glitch at just before 22:00 GMT. Elon Musk has slashed Twitter's workforce over the last few months since he acquired the platform last October for $44bn (£36.5bn).

Netflix has announced it is introducing limits on password sharing in four more countries: Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain. Customers in those countries are being asked to pay an extra fee if they want friends and family who don't live with them to share their subscription. The move follows a crackdown on password sharing in South America. The media giant estimates 100 million people around the world use shared accounts.

And - Google is searching for ways to reassure people that it is still out in front in the race for the best artificial intelligence technology. And so far, the internet giant seems to be coming up with the wrong answer. An advert designed to show off its new AI bot, showed it answering a query incorrectly. Shares in parent company Alphabet sank more than 7% on Wednesday, knocking $100bn (£82bn) off the firm's market value. In the promotion for the bot, known as Bard, which was released on Twitter on Monday, the bot was asked about what to tell a nine-year-old about discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope. It offered the response that the telescope was the first to take pictures of a planet outside the earth's solar system, when in fact that milestone was claimed by the European Very Large Telescope in 2004 - a mistake quickly noted by astronomers on Twitter.

Sport

Football - Manchester United drew 2-2 against Leeds in the Premier League last night. The result moves Leeds a point clear of the relegation zone and above West Ham into 16th.

Cricket - Coach Brendon McCullum says he is "in awe of how good" the players in his England squad can be. McCullum is preparing to lead England in two Tests in his native New Zealand.

Formula One - Motorsport boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem says he will take a step back from direct involvement in Formula 1. The 61-year-old's move comes after a series of controversies since he became president of governing body the FIA in December 2021.

Rugby Union - Experienced scrum-half Ben Youngs has been left out of England's 29-man squad to face Italy in the Six Nations on Sunday. England head coach Steve Borthwick will confirm his matchday 23 on Friday afternoon.

Golf – England’s Justin Rose has said that the Ryder Cup "will not be devalued" if LIV Golf players are not allowed to compete in this year's event in Rome. The United States have already said their 12-man team will not feature any players competing on the LIV tour.

Athletics - Great Britain's Keely Hodgkinson set the fastest women's indoor 800m time of the year at a meeting in Poland Wednesday.

Weather

Sunny with moderate winds. Highs of 10 degrees in Monaco, Nice, Antibes and Cannes. Sunny with just 9 degrees in Saint- Tropez and the Var. This evening going down to 2 degrees along the coast.

The outlook for tomorrow and heading into the weekend. Sunny with a gentle breeze and highs of 11-12 degrees.

Sunrise       07.37hr

Sunset        17.51hr

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