French and Riviera News Tuesday 21st February 2023

News

Zelensky says Macron is wasting his time trying to establish a dialogue - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that French President Emmanuel Macron is wasting his time trying to establish a dialogue with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who for him is lost in "the dream of rebuilding the former Soviet empire". Zelensky’s comments, reported in Italian media on Monday, come after it was reported in French media on Sunday, that Emmanuel Macron had said it was “essential to defeat Russia in the Ukraine war, but without humiliating Moscow, proposing a negotiation with Vladimir Putin”. Zelensky went on to say "dialogue is useless, Macron is wasting his time adding that he has come to the “conclusion that we are not going to change the Russian attitude by talking”.

It was also on Monday that the EU’s foreign policy chief warned China against providing weapons to Russia for the war in Ukraine. Beijing has rejected US claims that China was considering sending arms to Russia reacting angrily on Monday against the US claims. While the EU issued warnings to Beijing, the bloc is currently weighing up plans to speed up its production and delivery of much-needed ammunition to help Ukraine’s fight.

Meanwhile, American President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday, promising new weaponry and "unwavering" support for his Ukrainian ally. Today Russian leader Vladimir Putin is to give a speech at 10am French time a year after the start of the war.

Man drives at ridiculous speed to escape customs on A8 motorway - A motorist has been stopped by customs after fleeing a control at the motorway pay toll in La Turbie. The 26-year-old man from the Var, already known to authorities, pretended to comply before speeding off at 180km hour on the A8 motorway. He was eventually stopped at the Antibes pay toll where he was found to be in possession of twenty cartons of contraband cigarettes.

Drones stolen from customs - Meanwhile, three high-tech drones costing 50,000 euros each have stolen from a customs car in Nice. The high-tech equipment was stolen from an unmarked customs car parked last week in the Jean-Bouin car park in Nice, under the ice rink. Three suspects have been arrested however the drones are still missing. Considered as "sensitive" material. It was not specified whether they were aerial or underwater drones, used by customs in their surveillance missions. The investigation continues.

Two women attack police officers - Two women aged 27 and 25 have appeared in court for having violently attacked three police officers from the Principality while under the influence of alcohol. The incident occurred on January 29th at around 3.30am outside the Rascasse establishment on the port of Monaco. According to local media the women chased the officers into the Antoine 1er car park violently attacking them. They have been given a two-month suspended sentence as well as a fine and banned from bars and clubs in Monaco for 2 years.

Woman in A&E after spider ends up in her ear - A woman from Antibes has ended up at A&E after a black tarantula managed to hide itself in her ear. The 60-year-old patient arrived at the hospital after the spider had managed to take refuge in her ear, stinging her several times and refusing to come out. Doctors managed to eventually remove the spider which measures between 2 and 4 centimetres and is one of the most toxic. Several spiders of this type have been identified all over France, nestled in plants or trees, including olive trees, imported from Spain.

SBM job opportunities - The SBM here in Monaco is preparing for its next recruitment session at the One Monte Carlo on March 1st. From receptionist, security, catering to valet parking 900 positions need to urgently be filled. After an interview with the representatives of Human Resources of the SBM, candidates will be met by the managers of different departments. The Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) recruitment day, on Wednesday March 1st runs from 9am to 7pm.

Claude Monet exhibition - The Grimaldi Forum here in Monaco is welcoming the works of Claude Monet this summer and nearly a quarter of the paintings to be exhibited were painted on the shores of the Mediterranean. Tickets for the exhibition are already on presale at half price. The exhibition will run from July 8th to September 3rd and will reveal in particular the Impressionist work painted on the French and Italian Riviera.

Business

Banking giant HSBC says its quarterly profit has almost doubled, boosted by rising interest rates around the world. The London-based firm reported profit before tax of $5.2bn (£4.3bn) for the last three months of 2022, up 92% from the same time a year earlier. However, pre-tax profit for the year as a whole fell by $1.4bn to $17.5bn, as it absorbs the cost of selling its French retail banking operations. HSBC is also in the process of selling its business in Canada. The bank said it planned to use the money raised from that sale to make pay-outs to shareholders once the deal is completed.

Figures have suggested that Russia's economy shrank last year by less than had been expected given its invasion of Ukraine. The economy contracted by 2.1%, according to the country's statistics agency, but this was less than an earlier prediction of a 12% fall. While questions have been raised about the reliability of the data, many commentators have been surprised at the Russian economy's resilience. High oil prices and military spending have helped to support the economy.

The world's biggest trial of a four-day working week has been hailed a success - with most of the companies involved saying they would continue offering a shorter week. A total of 61 companies across several sectors in the UK were involved in the pilot, which ran for six months from June last year.

In the UK, tomatoes are in short supply due to bad weather in Europe and Africa. The UK relies on countries such as Morocco and Spain for tomatoes during the winter. But in Morocco, growers have struggled with cold weather, heavy rain and floods. Spanish crops have also been affected by bad weather in the past three or four weeks.

Sport

Olympics - The United Kingdom is among more than 30 countries that have pledged support to an ongoing ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in international sporting events amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It follows a summit involving all the nations earlier this month. The International Olympic Committee is “exploring a pathway” for Russians and Belarusians to compete as neutrals. UK culture secretary Lucy Frazer said the IOC's plans were "not credible".

Ukraine, which was not part of the summit, has threatened to boycott the 2024 Paris Olympics if the IOC allows Russian athletes to compete.

Football - Liverpool owner John Henry says he is not selling the Premier League club but does expect some investment. Henry's Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which bought Liverpool in 2010, said in November it "would consider new shareholders" in the Reds.

Formula One - Honda says it is considering a formal return to Formula 1 to coincide with the new engine regulations that will be introduced in 2026. The company officially pulled out of F1 at the end of 2021, although its engines are still used by the two Red Bull teams and will be called Hondas again in 2023.

Weather

Light cloud and a gentle breeze. Highs of 15 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Antibes. Saint Tropez and the Var coast, sunny highs of 14 degrees. This evening going down to 9 degrees and cloudy.

The outlook for tomorrow and Thursday, light rain highs of 15 degrees.

Sunrise       07.20hr

Sunset        18.07hr

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