French and Riviera News.Thursday July 23rd 2020

Drug fines-The Alpes-Maritimes deputy Eric Ciotti has asked the French Interior Ministry for Nice to be included in an experiment which would see fixed penalty fines handed out for drug use.

Under the scheme ,which is being trialed in several regions of the country ,first offenders caught in possession of or using illegal drugs are being fined 200 euros.

The fine is reduced to 150 euros if paid within 15 days but increased to 450 euros if not paid within 45 days.

Mr Ciotti ,who was speaking on France Bleu Azur Radio on Wednesday said that parts of Nice were being “suffocated” by rampant drug dealing and use.

The fines would apply for limited possession or use of a range of illegal substances from cannabis to cocaine.

 

Fire-Firefighters have been battling to control a blaze that broke out at the Pierre et Vacances holiday residence in Cannes last night.

Emergency services were called out shortly after 10pm last night to the Palme Azur complex at which 800 holidaymakers are staying.

The fire started in a third floor flat and is thought to have been started by a faulty fridge.

5 fire engines attended the blaze and the residents were evacuated safely.

 

New speed cameras- Two new generation speed cameras have been installed and are now being tested in Saint Laurent du Var as part of more determined efforts to cut numbers of accidents and clamp down on dangerous driving.

There are now 8 new generation cameras in the Alpes-Maritimes ,6 of which are on the Moyenne Corniche.

The two just set up at Saint Laurent du Var are on the coast road near the port and will control the traffic in both directions where the speed limit is 70 km/h.

Not only can they detect speeding offences but also not wearing a seat belt ,use of a mobile phone ,non-respect of security distances and the illegal crossing of a continuous white line.

The date when they’re due to come online has not yet been revealed.

 

Road accident- A 60 year old man has been airlifted to hospital after being thrown from his vehicle following an accident on the RD 6085 at Saint-Vallier.

Reports say that the man lost control of his car near the pont de Nans while heading towards Escragnoles with authorities forced to close the road for half an hour while they attended the scene.

The exact cause of the crash is not yet clear.No other vehicle was involved.

 

Fermer la bouche-A survey carried out by Ipsos for Vinci Autoroutes has found that drivers in the south east of France are more likely than anyone else to hurl insults at other motorists.

The survey found that 73 percent of drivers in the PACA region admitted to using colorful language towards other drivers although drivers in the central Paris area were worse with 8 out of 10 admitting to verbal abuse.

Perhaps surprisingly ,drivers in our region are among the best at respecting security distances between vehicles with 7 out of 10 saying that they always or almost always did so.

However on the negative side ,4 out of 10 drivers in the south east admitted to using a mobile phone behind the wheel with 3 of ten saying that they programmed GPS systems while driving.

2 out of 10 said that they had got out of their vehicle to settle a dispute with another motorist and 20 percent admitted to sending or reading texts or emails while on the road.

 

Avoid -Heavy traffic is expected on the region’s roads and around the country this weekend as the busy summer holiday period continues.

Jams are expected to start from Friday morning on busy roads and around major towns and cities and Saturday has been declared ‘red ‘ by the French road monitor Bison Fute.

Routes to Atlantic coast and Mediterranean resorts are expected to see the heaviest traffic and motorists are advised to leave journeys until Sunday if possible.

 

Delays- There have been long delays for motorists after a truck caught fire on the A8 near Nice l’ Ariane on Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency services attended the scene on the eastbound side of the road causing long tailbacks as fire trucks tackled the blaze.

The truck was on a viaduct when the fire started making access difficult for emergency vehicles.

Later on Thursday , a car caught fire on the Voie Rapide in Nice causing long delays for motorists.

 

In National News.

 

Holiday spread- The French Health Ministry says that coronavirus transmission is increasing during the busy summer holiday period.

The Ministry says that there have been increasing numbers of calls to SOS Medecins as well as more frequent visits to A&E hospital departments while hospital admissions have also been ticking up.

Travel and family reunions have been cited as factors that may be increasing transmission of the virus with people reminded about the importance of social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Currently 6,482 people are in hospital with the virus and 455 are in intensive care.

The ‘R’ number currently stands at 1.2 nationally but is much higher in some regions.

 

Masks-The French Health Minister has said that 40 million reusable face masks are to be sent out to some 7 million French people with the most modest means.

Olivier Veran says that the government has no intension of depriving people without the financial ability to purchase masks especially with fines of 135 euros being imposed on people who fail  to comply with the regulations.

The masks are washable and can be used up to 30 times.

The government has reached an agreement with the French post office which will send the masks out free of charge within the next few days.

In addition ,some 2 million people who have existing health problems will receive a 100 percent social security reimbursement when they purchase masks.

 

 

Migrant plight- French human rights groups and NGO’s have reported that several hundred migrants and asylum seekers are living in unsanitary conditions in the northern port city of Calais with little access to drinking water ,food or showers.

A letter has been sent to the French Interior Minister calling for immediate action to improve the situation.

Gerald Darmanin visited Calais last week to announce a fresh joint crackdown with British authorities on human traffickers exploiting migrants trying to reach the UK.

Medecins sans Frontiers ,Amnesty International and several French charities say that the situation is critical for many migrants in the area and the Interior Minister needs to get a grip.

 

Business.

 

Prosecutors have searched Fiat Chrysler offices in Germany ,Italy and Switzerland as part of a probe into vehicle emissions fraud.

Raids were carried out across parts of Europe on Wednesday as part of an enquiry led by German authorities after engines used by Fiat ,Alpha Romeo and Jeep as well as Iveco trucks were found to contain potentially illegal engine management software to mask excessive pollution levels.

Prosecutors in Frankfurt have stopped short of naming Fiat Chrysler as under German law only individuals and not firms can face legal action.

Reports say that 9 individuals working for an “international carmaker” had been targeted with the probe focused on potential roles in putting vehicles with illegal emissions software on Europe’s roads.

Fiat Chrysler and CNH Industrial which makes Iveco trucks are both controlled by Exor ,the holding company of Italy’s Agnelli family.

 

Sales of existing US homes rose by the most on record in June boosted by historically low mortgage rates but the outlook for the market is being hampered by low inventory and high unemployment.

The US National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes jumped by 20.7 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in the largest gain since 1968 when tracking began.

Data for May came in at 3.91 million units , the lowest level since October 2010.

June’s increase ended three straight months of decline although sales remain below their pre-coronavirus pandemic level.

Existing home sales make up some 85 percent of the US housing market and fell by 11.3 percent on a year-on-year basis last month.

The 30 year fixed mortgage rate is at an average of 2.98 percent ,its lowest level since 1971.

 

And-The work messaging platform Slack has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft after claiming that the software giant’s rival app Teams has an unfair advantage in the market.

Slack says that Microsoft’s practice of bundling Teams within Office 365 software is “illegal and anti-competitive” and that the firm is abusing its market dominance.

The complaint will now be reviewed by the European Commission.

With millions of extra people working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic ,rivalry over the technology for remote services is intensifying.

Microsoft Teams users grew from 44 million in March to 75 million in April and Slack has also seen a big increase in customers in recent months.

 

Sport.

 

Football-Liverpool have been handed the Premier League Trophy on the Kop at Anfield to confirm them champions of the division.

The trophy awarding ceremony took place at a near empty Anfield and marks the first time that Liverpool have won the top flight title for 30 years.

On the pitch Liverpool shared an 8 goal thriller with Chelsea -coming out 5-3 winners.

Last night’s other match ended Manchester United 1 West Ham 1.

 

The results mean that West Ham are safe from relegation and Manchester United move into third place in the table above Chelsea.

It’s all to play for in the final round of games this weekend with one of Manchester United ,Chelsea or Leicester missing out on a Champions League place.

At the bottom of the table ,Norwich will be joined by two out of Bournemouth ,Watford or Aston Villa in being relegated.

 

In the English Championship ,West Brom joined Leeds in automatic promotion following the final round of games while Brentford ,Fulham ,Cardiff and Swansea make the playoffs with Nottingham Forest missing out.

At the bottom ,Hull City ,Wigan and Charlton are all relegated to League 1.

 

Formula 1-Ferrari have restructured their technical team as they look to close the gap at the front following a disappointing start to the season.

The head of aerodynamics Enrico Cardile will lead a newly created performance development department with a more prominent role for Rory Byrne who was chief designer when the team dominated in the early 2000s.

Ferrari say that they want to “speed up the design and development” of the car.

The team has recognised that its design structure is flawed leaving them trailing front runner Mercedes badly.

 

Rugby Union-World Rugby has proposed new dates for the 6 Nations Championship to be completed.

The sport’s governing body has offered a new temporary international window for northern hemisphere sides between the 24th of October and the 5th of December.

World Rugby says that the dates should be able to accommodate outstanding games in both the men’s and women’s 6 Nations.

If approved ,6 Nations unions will announce their international fixtures with respective international competition owners sometime before the end of the month.

 

Golf-David Law of Scotland leads following the first round of the British Masters at Close House.

Law fired a first round bogey free 64 to reach 7 under par with Oliver Fisher and Garrick Porteous of England and Renato Paratore of Italy on 6 under.

The  British Masters is the first of 6 events being held in the UK over the summer as the European Tour continues following its break for the coronavirus crisis.

 

Weather.

 

Fine in coastal areas-some thundery showers inland this afternoon.

Moderate westerly winds across the Var and highs of 27-31 degrees.

Overnight lows of 22 degrees on the coast and 18 degrees inland with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend-Fine in coastal areas with some showers inland.Highs of 27-32 degrees.

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