French and Riviera News Thursday January 20th 2022

News

Nice shooting - A police officer is being held in custody following a fatal shooting in the centre of Nice on Wednesday.
Shots were heard in the rue de la Buffa shortly before lunchtime during a police operation during which a 22 year old man was fatally wounded and later died. Reports say that police officers rushed to a local pharmacy to get a defibrillator in an attempt to save the man but he died at around 12.30.

The Nice State Prosecutor says the fatal shooting happened during a “botched” police operation. Xavier Bonhomme says that the police operation was being carried out in connection with the murder of a man in the Las Planas area of Nice on Christmas Eve. He said that several suspects had been arrested and that the officer in custody is being held on suspicion of “voluntary homicide”. No weapon was found on the body of the dead suspect.

Winter respiratory illness - French health experts say that a bronchiolitis epidemic which has been affecting the country in recent weeks appears to have peaked but that cases of flu are continuing to grow. Numbers of young children, mostly under the age of two receiving hospital treatment at accident and emergency departments across France fell last week but cases of flu are increasing markedly in some regions including the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur.
Bronchiolitis, which is highly contagious causes breathing difficulties for young infants and leads to painful coughing. In most cases, children make a full and rapid recovery but some require hospital treatment including oxygen. Flu cases, although rising are not anywhere near what might be normal for this time of year, in part due to the success of mask wearing and other coronavirus restrictions.

Covid fraud - A chemist from the Paris region is being held in custody after being charged with fraud in connection with the fabrication of fake Covid-19 tests which have cost the French health insurance body “several million” euros. The news was revealed on Wednesday by judicial sources  after the man was arrested on the 17th of December. The Canard Enchaine newspaper which first reported the story says that the fraud was picked up by a doctor who told authorities that he had been charged for “thousands of tests” which didn’t exist. Prosecutors say that the suspect vastly inflated the numbers of testing kits sold to doctors in a deliberate operation to defraud the Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie ( CPAM).

Actor killed - The French actor Gaspard Ulliel has died following a skiing accident at La Rosiere in the Savoie. Gendarmes say that Mr Ulliel who’s 37 was critically injured after colliding with another skier and was taken to hospital in Grenoble where he died from severe brain trauma. An investigation has been started into the exact circumstances of the accident. Gaspard Ulliel was first recognised as a rising star of French cinema in 2005 after appearing alongside Emmanuelle Beart in the film “Les Egares”. He won the Cesar award for best upcoming male acting and for best actor in a film in 2017 and had also been gaining international recognition. He’ll be appearing in Marvel’s new TV series Moon Knight and had a stack of other acting projects in the pipeline.

Candidate no more - The left wing politician Arnaud Montebourg has announced that he is pulling out of the French Presidential Election contest. Mr Montebourg, who was only being given around 1 percent of the first round vote said he was pulling out to “reduce the confusing number of left wing candidates” who are standing in the election. Mr Montebourg refused to back any of the remaining candidates and maintained that his policies are the right programme for the country. 5 candidates from the left remain in the contest but progressive politics in France is in serious decline and it’s doubtful whether any of them will make the second round runoff which most polls suggest will be contested between the Emmanuel Macron and either Marine Le Pen or the Republican Party candidate Valerie Pecresse.

Homeless man found dead - A well known local homeless man has been found dead in Roquebrune Cap Martin. Authorities say the man, who was being cared for by the French Red Cross in Menton was discovered dead near the Victoria roundabout on the promenade de Cap Martin. Many local people knew the dead man, who was called Luigi but was known as “Merci-Merci” because he always said thank you when he was given money or food. He died from a suspected heart attack.

Monte Carlo Rally - The 2022 World Rally Championship is underway with the Monte Carlo first round taking place from today until Sunday. Hybrid vehicles are taking part this year as the FIA aims for the sport to be carbon neutral by 2030. Sebastian Ogier of France is the world champion and has 8 titles to his name but there could be some surprises as hybrid electric powertrains come to the fore on the new Rally 1 cars.

Organisers are warning spectators to keep well back from the action as there is increased danger in the event of a crash or other incident due to the high- voltage electric current generated by the cars.
There are 17 stages in this year’s Monte Carlo Rally starting this evening around the Col de Turini. The course around Luceram, Lantosque, La Bollene-Vesubie and Moulinet will be driven in the darkness on unforgiving mountain roads.

Business

Global inflation is now running at its highest rate since 2008 with food and fuel prices responsible for much of the increase. Oil prices which slumped at the start of pandemic have now shot up to 7 year highs on increased demand amid supply concerns and the price of gas has skyrocketed causing extra expense for both business and households. There is also a shortage of materials with manufacturers struggling to keep up with consumer demand and the price of steel, timber and concrete all rising. The automotive industry is being hamstrung by a shortage of chips which are also a vital component for computers and a range of household appliances and gadgets. The cost of shipping goods has also risen dramatically forcing retailers to increase prices. Wages are also rising as employers report problems in hiring workers with many people deciding to either change jobs or retire early during the pandemic.

The US banking giant Morgan Stanley has beaten Wall Street estimates after announcing record full year profit and revenue. The bank has capitalised on deal making and fees earned managing assets for wealthy clients, sending its shares 5 percent higher in New York trade. Morgan Stanley advised on some of the world’s biggest mergers in 2021 and announced a 37 percent surge in net income to 15 billion dollars with revenue up 23 percent to nearly 60 billion dollars. The results round off a mixed reporting season for US banks that cashed in on merger and acquisition activity but were dragged down by weak trading and higher expenses.

The consumer staples giant Procter and Gamble has raised its sales forecast amid a hike in prices and increased growth in cleaning products on the back of a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Strong quarterly sales managed to offset the twin blows of annual freight and commodity costs. Sales of cleaning and home care products which include Tide washing liquid and powder and Mr Clean rose by 7 percent as the Omicron variant of coronavirus pushed consumers to buy more of the firm’s products. A rise in flu cases also led to a 20 percent increase in sales of personal health care products.

Sport

Tennis - It’s day 4 of the Australian Open in Melbourne and Britain’s Dan Evans is into the 3rd round after his second round opponent Arthur Rinderknech was forced to withdraw with a wrist injury. Diego Schwartzman of Argentina is out. He was beaten in straight sets by home favourite Christopher O’Connell while the all American clash between Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe ended in a straight sets win for Fritz.

In the women’s event, Britain’s Heather Watson is out-beaten in straight sets by Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia while Sammy Stosur of Australia was beaten by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-2 6-2.

Football - There were two games in the English Premier League last night. Leicester lost 3-2 at home to Spurs and Manchester United were 3-1 winners at Brentford.

There were two games in the English Championship. Hull City beat Blackburn 2-0 and Reading lost 2-0 at home to Luton Town.

The second leg of the English League Cup semi final between Arsenal and Liverpool is being played tonight. The scores are tied at 0-0 after the first leg.

Rugby Union - The England coach Eddie Jones says that fly-half Marcus Smith could have a big future but he will need the guiding hand of Owen Farrell. Jones says that Smith will need Farrell to “run the game for him” adding that every brilliant 10 in the game has been accompanied by a stable 12. Farrell has been named as captain for the 6 Nations with no place for George Ford.

Michael Lowry and Mack Hanson have been named in Ireland’s 6 Nations squad. Both backs are uncapped but have been in impressive form for Connacht and Ulster respectively.

The Scotland coach Gregor Townsend says that in form players and improved depth will give his squad a “big opportunity” to challenge for the 6 Nations title. There are 5 uncapped players in the 39 man squad with Cameron Redpath returning from long-term injury but no places for Adam Hastings, Huw Jones, Sean Maitland or George Horne. Townsend says that he thinks that Scotland has “a really strong squad”. 

Weather

Clear skies with light to moderate variable winds. Top temperatures 12-14 degrees. Overnight lows of 4-7 degrees with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Clear skies with highs of 10-14 degrees.

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