French and Riviera News Tuesday 17th October 2023

News

France increases controls at Belgian border - France’s Interior Minister has announced that France is to increase controls at the Belgian border after two Swedish nationals were shot dead and a third person injured in Brussels, in an attack which prosecutors are treating as terrorism. The Belgium-Sweden Euro 2024 qualifier football match being played in the city was abandoned. Brussels is on its highest terror alert as the gunman, who appeared to have an assault rifle, remains at large. French President Emmanuel Macron, who was on a visit to Albania, said: "Europe has been shaken." A man claiming to be the attacker had said in a video on social media he had been inspired by the Islamic State group. The video shows an Arabic-speaking man saying he carried out the attack in the name of God and that he killed three people.

Psychological support for pupils - Pupils and staff at secondary schools in the Alpes-Maritimes are being offered psychological support if they've been moved by recent events including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the killing of a teacher in Arras last Friday. Schools are providing access to a dedicated phone line where a psychologist will be on call. The Nice academy has also announced strengthened security at school entrances, including random bag checks, and thorough ID and vehicle checks for visitors.

ALERTE Paca warns of humanitarian crisis - The association ALERTE Paca has warned of the "the shortcomings of public policies" in the reception of migrants and today alerts the public of the "humanitarian crisis which is playing out" in the region. “Alerte Paca” points out that associations are finding it increasingly difficult to make up for the State's shortcomings on their own. In Briançon, for example, the situation has been particularly tense since the summer. The commune of the Hautes-Alpes, close to the Italian border had to face an unprecedented migratory influx, with 2,000 arrivals in the month of August alone. In September, military controls were reinforced to turn back migrants at crossing points. But they continue to take risks to cross the border from Turin. Created in 1904, the Alerte Paca collective, which brings together around twenty regional associations denounces "public policies based on a repressive/security approach to the detriment of fundamental rights and living together".

Art gallery owners questioned by police - Two art gallery owners in Nice and Saint-Paul-de-Vence have been questioned by police on suspicion of selling counterfeit paintings. The arrests were made as part of a major investigation into contemporary art trafficking, led by officers in Marseille and Fréjus. Investigators believe the two galleries knowingly sold fake works by the likes of César and Andy Warhol. An art expert in Paris has also been questioned on suspicion of providing fake certificates of authenticity to convince buyers. During the arrests at the galleries on the Riviera, gendarmes seized five vehicles, a boat, five luxury watches and €90,000 in cash. If found guilty, the suspects could face up to 10 years in prison.

Draft law - Monaco is planning a draft law that would raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18. The bill would also propose banning the sale of disposable electronic cigarettes, or vapes - but not a ban on their use.

Limited-edition - There are red faces in Sanremo after a limited-edition coin that was supposed to show the Italian town was engraved with a picture of Menton instead. It appears that after having Googled "Sanremo" a picture of the seafront and arches of Menton came up in the results and thinking it looked nice was promptly engraved on 9,000 coins. A local association has since alerted Sanremo's culture department to the mix-up. However, the coin’s value has almost doubled, with collectors paying up to €130 to own one.

MEPs accidently end up in Disneyland Paris instead of Strasbourg – Finally, a French train with hundreds of MEPs and their teams onboard, has ended up in Disneyland Paris. Monday morning saw the train leave Brussels and accidently end up at Marne-la-Valée, the stop for Disneyland Paris, due to a rail signalling error, which had diverted the train which was on its way to Strasbourg. With the diversion causing a 45-minute delay one MEP joked “we are not a Mickey Mouse parliament”.

Business

Country Garden's entire offshore debt will be deemed to be in default if China's largest property developer fails to make a $15 million coupon payment today, Tuesday 17th October, which marks the end of a 30-day grace period. Non-payment is set to trigger cross defaults in other bonds.

According to reports Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, may turn down his invitation to a major UK summit on artificial intelligence. The UK government is hosting the event aimed at tech leaders, academics and political leaders to discuss AI safety on 1st November. The agenda will focus on specific future threats posed by the rapidly evolving tech, such as cyber security. The two-day meeting is due to bring together leading politicians as well as independent experts and senior execs from the tech giants, who are mainly US based.

Meanwhile the Writers Guild of America’s labour deal with Hollywood studios was billed as a big win for writers, but industry experts fear the agreement’s artificial intelligence guardrails won’t be enough. As it stands, the industry faces several questions about AI and writing now that the deal is ratified, particularly about copyright law, detection of AI usage and how studios will behave. Writers and actors have long feared the increasing prominence of AI, primarily due to concerns that the technology could replace the need for them in Hollywood.

Netflix's crackdown on password-sharing appears to have boosted subscribers by about 6 million in the third quarter. The streaming pioneer is expected today to set the stage for price increases when it reports earnings. Netflix has curbed password-sharing outside households to tap the more than 100 million viewers who use its service without subscribing.

And - LinkedIn owner Microsoft has announced a fresh round of job cuts, with around 670 roles set to go. The social network company says the jobs affected are across its engineering, talent and finance teams. It comes after LinkedIn axed 716 jobs in May and follows cuts at other big tech firms.

Sport

Football - Belgium's Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden has had to be abandoned at half-time for security reasons after two Swedish people were shot dead in Brussels. The killings happened in the city hours before the game and are being treated as terrorism. The gunman is at large. Fans and players were ordered to stay in the stadium for their own safety, before being evacuated. The Sweden team were given a police escort to the airport, while Sweden fans were accompanied by the police into the city.

This evening amongst the European Championships qualifying matches, in Gorup C England play Italy and in Group H, Northern Ireland face Slovenia. The International friendlies this evening will see France play Scotland.

Rugby Union – France’s Antoine Dupont has criticised the standard of refereeing after France crashed out of their home World Cup with a heartbreaking single-point defeat to reigning champions South Africa in Paris. The Springboks edged an epic contest at Stade de France 29-28 to set up a semi-final showdown with England. France captain Dupont suffered major disappointment on his highly publicised return from a fractured cheekbone and felt substandard officiating was partly to blame.

Weather

Cloudy with sunny intervals and a gentle breeze. 22 degrees in Nice, Monaco, reaching 24 degrees in Menton. 20 degrees in Saint-Tropez. This evening going down to 17 degrees along the coast and 5 degrees inland in Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée with clear skies.  

The outlook for tomorrow and Thursday, showers are forecast with the wind picking up on Wednesday afternoon and gusts of 50km/hr in the north and the east of the region. Highs of 21 degrees along the coast and 18 degrees inland.

Sunrise       07.46am

Sunset        06.44pm

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