French and Riviera News Tuesday 15th March 2022

News

13,500 refugees already welcomed in France - According to figures from France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin 13,500 refugees have already been welcomed in France as French President Emmanuel Macron visits today Tuesday 15th March, Ukrainian refugees at a centre in the Maine et Loire. The Head of State will meet Ukrainian families who have arrived in recent days.

Interior Minister to visit Corsica - Meanwhile Darmanin is to visit Corsica tomorrow and Thursday after the recent violent demonstrations on the island. The minister said that he "strongly condemns" the violence and gives his full support to the police officers and gendarmes who have been injured as well as to the State services concerned. He called for a return to calm without delay, without which he said, "no dialogue can begin".

French Prime Minister launches wind farm projects - In other news, French Prime Minister Jean Castex has launched a call for investments in two floating wind farm projects in the Mediterranean Sea which could supply electricity to one million people and be operational by 2030. During the presentation on Monday Castex announced that one of the projects would be located 20kms from Fos-sur-Mer in the Bouches-du-Rhone.

Meeting in Nice in the run up to presidential elections - In the run up to the Presidential elections in France, French President and candidate Emmanuel Macron is to hold a meeting in Nice on Wednesday March 23rd at the Palais Nikaia. Organisers say that five to six thousand people are expected to attend the rally orchestrated by the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi who intends to take an active part in the campaign of the outgoing president, participating in several meetings across France in the coming days. In addition to Christian Estrosi, Édouard Philippe, former Prime Minister and founder of the Horizons party and France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran will also be in attendance. It is not yet confirmed if Macron will be present all depending on the situation in Ukraine.

Price of petrol – Meanwhile the Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has welcomed the announcement from the French government on Monday that the price of fuel at the pumps will be reduced by 15 cents per litre for four months from April 1st. The mayor called it "an exceptional and common-sense measure that must be accompanied by a similar effort from companies". The price reduction is expected to cost the French government about two billion euros.

Record sells for the Art world - According to an annual report published on Monday the Art market reached a new world record in 2021. Driven by contemporary art, fine art auction sales reached a new record in 2021, at $17.08 billion, an increase of 60% compared to 2020 and 28% compared to 2019. For two years, "the health crisis has dramatically accelerated the dematerialization of the art market. 87% of the 6,300 auction houses monitored by Artprice now have all the back-office facilities to conduct online auctions". With a total of 5.95 billion dollars in sales, China (mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong) represents 35% of the world art market overall, just ahead of the United States which totals 5.79 billion dollars, i.e. 34% of the market and with 91,699 works sold, France ranks second after the United States, exceeding for the first time the billion dollars.

Karim Benzema overtakes Thierry Henry - Footballer Karim Benzema has overtaken Thierry Henry to become the top French scorer in history with 413 goals. The international striker scored twice in Real Madrid's victory in Mallorca (0-3) on Monday on behalf of the 28th day of the Spanish championship.

Snowfall greatly welcomed – Up to 40cm of snow has fallen in the region’s ski resorts. After several weeks of dry weather, the snowfall at the weekend was greatly welcomed by the resorts of Auron, Isola, Valberg and La Colmiane to end the season with a smile.

Sand dust from the Sahara – Meanwhile, France is expecting sand dust from the Sahara today Tuesday 15th March, which could give a particularly orange tint to the sky in certain regions. It’s expected to affect western and northern France, as well as Spain, Belgium, Germany and Austria.

Business

Asian markets have slipped again this morning as China reported a spike in Covid-19 cases adding to concerns about the war in Ukraine and the prospect of higher US interest rates. Despite talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations on a cease fire reaching no agreement on Monday, there are still hopes that an agreement may reached when discussions resume today. Oil prices have fallen again on the news but negative sentiment on the economy are increasing after China reported rising numbers of Covid-19. Analysts say that China’s growth in the first quarter could be closer to zero than a previously forecast 5.5 percent. Investor focus today will shift to Washington and Wednesday’s meeting of the US Federal Reserve which is expected to trigger the first rise in interest rates in three years. Yields on the 10 year US Treasury note rose to 2.1419 percent compared with its close of 2.14 percent on Monday. Gold has fallen back slightly this morning while the dollar continues to strengthen.

A BBC investigation has uncovered new evidence about the suspected corrupt deals that made the fortune of the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. The Corporation’s Panorama Programme has reported that Mr Abramovich made billions of dollars after buying an oil company from the Russian government in a rigged auction in 1995. The programme says that the billionaire paid around 250 million dollars for Sibneft before selling it back to the Russian government for 13 billion dollars in 2005. BBC Panorama said that it had obtained the evidence from a document that’s thought to have been smuggled out of Russia. Mr Abramovich has already admitted in a London court that he made corrupt payments to help get the Sibneft deal off the ground. In 2012, at a trial during which he was being sued by his former business associate Boris Berezovsky, he said that the original Sibneft auction was rigged in his favour and that he had given Mr Berezovsky 10 million dollars to pay off a Kremlin official. His lawyers say that there is no basis for alleging that he had amassed his huge fortune through criminality.

The International Monetary Fund has said that the Ukrainian economy could shrink by more than a third this year if the war with Russia continues. The IMF says that Ukraine is already facing a 10 percent downturn due to the invasion which has hit major cities, destroyed airports and driven a refugee crisis. The IMF has recently sent 1.4 billion dollars to the country in emergency funds, the maximum allowed under its rules. It says that billions more will be needed with a deep recession and large reconstruction costs expected.

Sport

Golf - Cameron Smith of Australia has won his biggest prize yet after holding off England’s Paul Casey to win the Players Championship at Sawgrass Florida. Smith holed 10 birdies in a six under par final round to reach 13 under and claim the 3.6 million dollar prize. Anirban Lahari of India finished second on 12 under with Casey who’d been pushing Smith for much of the final round ended on 11 under. The Championship had to be completed on Monday after bad weather prevented it from being completed on Sunday.

Football - English Premier League leaders Manchester City were held to a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace last night and the gap to Liverpool is now 4 points with City having played a game more. City dominated the match and hit the woodwork twice but couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net, reviving Liverpool’s chances of getting back in the title race.

In the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup last night Celtic were 3-0 winners at Dundee United.

There are two round of 16 second leg ties in the European Champions League tonight. Ajax play Benfica with the scores tied at 1-1 after the first leg while its all square at 1-1 as Manchester United host Athletico Madrid.

Cricket - It’s day 4 of the second Test between Pakistan and Australia in Karachi with the tourists in a commanding position. Australia bowled Pakistan out for just 148 in their first innings having previously made a massive 556-9 declared in their own first innings. Australia had moved on to 97-1 in their second innings midway through the first session of the day, a lead of 505.

Formula 1 - A human rights group has accused the sport of ignoring government abuses in Bahrain just a few days ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season. The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy says that Formula 1 has “abandoned those who’ve been tortured and imprisoned” partly as a result of criticism of the race. The group has written a letter to the sport’s president and chief executive officer Stefano Domenicali saying that claims that Formula 1 takes “violence, abuse of human rights and repression very seriously” are not true. Formula 1 says that it takes its responsibilities on rights very seriously and sets high ethical standards for counter-parties and those involved in its supply chain.

Weather

Mainly fine with moderate to strong easterly winds. Top temperature 16 degrees. Overnight lows of 7-10 degrees with clear skies.

Wednesday and Thursday - Partially cloudy with moderate to strong easterly winds and highs of 15-17 degrees.

And Finally

According to recent research, seagulls remember where they ate fish and chips from and travel dozens of miles to visit specific shops. Scientists claim that the birds remember where they last dined on fish and chips and flock back from dozens of miles away. Researchers found herring gulls make a beeline for a specific chip shop in the town of Troon on Scotland’s west coast.

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