French and Riviera News Tuesday 1st December 2020

News 

Rail network following Storm Alex - The rail network between Breil-sur-Roya and Tende will resume service before the end of January. Damaged by Storm Alex, the state announced on Monday that it has released more than 10 million euros to restore the line. Estimated at a cost of 20 million euros, the works will be financed with 10.5 million euros from the state, 7.5 million euros from the region and 2 million euros from the department of the Alpes-Maritimes.

In October, Storm Alex left nine dead and nine missing in the hinterland of Nice and Menton. The floods had also caused extensive damage in the north of the Alpes-Maritimes department, especially in the Roya valley, where the road network was partly destroyed.

Meanwhile train services were disrupted along the coast on Monday morning after the railway station in Cannes was evacuated. Firefighters were called after smoke was apparently seen inside the station. The all clear was given shortly afterwards and it's believed that discarded cigarette butts may have set off a smoke alarm.

Vaccination in France - The High Authority for Health (HAS) has this morning announced its recommendations for the vaccine strategy in France. Recommending that first, residents of nursing homes and health professionals in direct contact with patients be vaccinated. According to an Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche published on Sunday, only 41% of French people intend to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Liberal health professionals hope to be entrusted with the responsibility of organizing vaccination at the local level, in conjunction with local authorities.

Monaco Covid-19 vaccine - Meanwhile in Monaco which has recently announced the success of the seasonal flu vaccination campaign with 12,100 people responding compared to 4,500 last year, the Prince’s government has also said that it has already ordered Covid-19 vaccines and has obtained a marketing certification adding that “as far as prescribing and carrying out vaccines is concerned, all information will be communicated when the time comes”.

Cancer treatment - Meanwhile the Regional Health Agency for the Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur region is drawing attention to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the treatment of cancer. The agency says that there is "no doubt" that the pandemic has had an impact on cancer patients, in particular with delays in screening, access to diagnosis and treatment. It pointed out that delaying cancer treatment for even a month has a significant impact on the risk of patient mortality. The agency said that it is doing everything possible to ensure that the impact is minimized.

Local businesses - The Prefect of the Var has reminded local businesses and associations about the phone number established to provide information on the emergency measures put in place to support them. The number, which is available to businesses and organisations nationwide, not just in the Var, is 08 06 00 02 45 and is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 12 noon and from 1pm to 4pm.

Security bill - France’s national assembly has dropped a key provision of a controversial bill that would have restricted the right to film police officers during their work. The draft bill had sparked widespread protests across France, with tens of thousands of people demonstrating in Paris calling for the government to drop the proposed law. The bill had been criticized by press freedom watchdogs and civil rights activists who said it would stop reporters and others from being able to document police misconduct, as well as undermine efforts to record instances of police brutality. 

“Charter of Republican values” - France's Muslim Council is due to meet President Emmanuel Macron this week, to confirm the text of a new "charter of Republican values" for imams in the country to sign. The plan is for the CFCM to create a register of imams in France, each of whom would sign up to the Charter, in return for accreditation.

Sarkozy trail - Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has complained of being the victim of six years of "slander", in his first remarks to the court at his landmark corruption trial on Monday. The former Head of State became France’s first modern President to appear in the dock last week, going on trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling. He risks a sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of one million euros if convicted.

Carla Bruni - Meanwhile model, singer and former French first lady and wife of Nicolas Sarkozy has released her new self-titled album alongside her new single “Un grand amour”. Back after seven years, speaking to French media describing her new album Carla said  "I make songs that comfort me".

Business

China has introduced tough new trade sanctions that limit the export of “controlled items” and that will give US President Joe Biden an increasingly tough challenge when he enters the White House on January the 20th. In a continuing tit-for-tat escalation of the trade war between the two nations, China has banned the export of US military technologies and other products that it says will harm its national security. The controls are widely thought to be in response to similar actions by Washington. President Trump has introduced executive orders against a range of Chinese firms on claims that they could share data with the government in Beijing. Among the most recent US exports to be banned are AI and algorithms which seems to be in direct response to Washington’s ban on TikTok. The new export control law has established several categories of controlled items which include nuclear, military kit and dual use products that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group has entered administration with 13,000 jobs at risk. The group which includes brands such as Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton has hired the administrators Deloitte following a severe drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. The firm said that no redundancies would be announced immediately and that stores will continue to trade normally as Deloitte considers all the options available. Sir Philip’s firm which operates 444 stores across the UK, failed to secure emergency funding to pay its debts following a slump in sales. Administration will give Arcadia some breathing space from its creditors while a buyer is sought for all or parts of the company. The online fashion retailer Boohoo has been linked with some of Arcadia’s big name brands such as Topshop.

The consumer goods giant Unilever is exploring a 4-day working week in New Zealand with a view to possibly expanding the practice more widely in the future. Staff will be given the chance to cut their working hours by 20 percent without their pay being affected. Unilever, which makes a host of brands from Dove soap to Ben and Jerry's ice cream says that the old ways of working are outdated and the goal of the trial is to measure performance on output and not time. Previous trials have shown some success in reducing working hours. In 2019 Microsoft Japan reported a sales boost of 40 percent when it reduced the working week.

Sport

Football - There were two games in the English Premier League last night with Leicester missing out on the chance of going level on points at the top of the table after being stunned 2-1 at home by struggling Fulham. West Ham are up to 5th after beating Aston Villa 2-1 at the London Stadium

The draw has been made for the 3rd round of the FA Cup in England with 8th tier Marine picking a prize home tie against the Premier League leaders Spurs. Non league Morcambe get a lucrative away tie at Chelsea while another non-league outfit Chorley play Derby County. The holders Arsenal will face Newcastle and Liverpool visit Aston Villa. Ties to be played between the 8th and 11th of January.

There’s more European Champions League action tonight with Manchester City away at Porto in Group C while Marseille who can’t qualify for the knockout phase are at home to Olympiakos. In Group D, Liverpool need to avoid defeat against Ajax to make it into the last 16.

Rugby Union - The Argentina captain Pablo Matera has been sacked and thrown out of the squad for making “discriminatory and xenophobic” tweets. The offensive comments which dated back to 2013 came to light after the Argentina team had failed to make a proper tribute to the country’s national football hero Diego Maradona ahead of last weekend’s Rugby Championship game against New Zealand. The All Blacks had dedicated their pre-match Haka to the former Argentina captain. The Argentina Rugby Union said that it forcefully rejected the comments and that disciplinary action had been taken against Matera and other members of the Puma’s squad.

There were two games in the Guinness Pro 14 last night. Ulster were 43-14 winners at Edinburgh and Munster thrashed Zebre 52-3.

Cricket - England will attempt to make it a series whitewash when they meet South Africa in the third T20 in Cape Town later. The match at Newlands starts at 5pm French time this afternoon.

Weather

Mainly overcast with outbreaks of rain and maybe some thunder late in the afternoon. Moderate north westerly winds and a high of 14 degrees. Overnight lows of 9 degrees on the coast and 3 degrees inland with more outbreaks of rain.

Wednesday and Thursday - Partially cloudy with highs of 12-13 degrees.

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