French and Riviera News Tuesday 5th October 2021

News

Bad weather – All weather warnings have been lifted for parts of south eastern France following the bad weather on Monday October 5th. For safety reasons schools remain closed in Marseille this morning as checks are carried out.  On Monday France’s minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, called on "all people in the South" to be "very careful". Firefighters were mobilized carrying out up to 1,500 interventions mainly for flooded roads and cellars, remaining mobilized throughout the day and into the evening.

In Marseille which was placed on a maximum weather alert some residents were evacuated due to the threat of flooding. Parents in the Bouches du Rhone, Var and the Alpes Maritimes were asked to collect their children from schools at midday without putting themselves at danger. In addition to the Bouches du Rhone six departments were on alert; the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the Alpes-Maritimes, the Var, the Vaucluse and the Haute-Corse due to the risk of flooding. Train traffic was interrupted between Marseille and several cities in the region, including Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. The TGV was not affected.

State of natural disaster - Marseille has since called for a "state of natural disaster” to be declared due to damage caused. The mayor of Marseille has written to the Prime Minister to ask him to recognize the city as "a state of natural disaster”. 

Var - In the Var there were more than 180 interventions but "no victims". Var firefighters received 200 emergency calls and carried out 188 interventions.

Alpes Maritimes - In the Alpes Maritimes sixteen interventions were carried out in the west of the department which remained the most affected area by Monday’s heavy rainfall. Emergency services intervened in two hedge fires linked to lightning strikes, seven trees fell to the ground in particular in Pégomas, and several residences were flooded. Firefighters were also called in to rescue people stranded in their cars in Cannes, who were eventually able to extricate themselves on their own. No casualties were reported.

In Saint-Martin-Vésubie, a few people were evacuated as a precaution and housed by the town hall. They were able to return to their homes later in the evening. In the upper valley of the Tinée, very heavy rainfall was also observed resulting in temporary telephone and power cuts.

Strike action - After 18 months of a health crisis which has limited the possibility of large gatherings in France, several unions are calling for demonstrations today Tuesday, October 5th. The protesters are defending wages and purchasing power undermined by inflation and soaring energy prices, as well as protesting the unemployment and pension reform.

Nearly 200 events are planned across France with demonstrators gathering at Place de la République at 2pm in the French capital.  Civil servants are also called upon to strike with possible disruptions in schools and many cities such as Rouen (Seine-Maritime), Dijon (Côte-d'Or), Douai (North), Le Mans (Sarthe), Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin), Marseille (Bouche-du-Rhône) and Bordeaux (Gironde) anticipate disruptions to their public transport network.

According to the SNCF, the circulation of TGV, Thalys, Eurostar and Lyria will be "normal", while the traffic of Intercités, Transilien and TER will be "almost normal", with "possible local disruptions. Timetable changes are already online and can be viewed on the SNCF website. In Paris, the RATP ensures that "traffic will be normal" on the metro. Locally in Nice, the tram network will be disrupted however some bus services will continue to operate. 

Donations to save church steeple - The village of Châteauneuf is calling for donations to restore the steeple of its church. The bell tower of the Saint-Martin church which dominates the village is in need of urgent repair. An emblematic heritage of the town, it can be seen from Opio and Valbonne.

Local election in Saint Paul de Vence validated - The Council of State has validated the last local elections in Saint-Paul de Vence. The result is now definitive. The June 2020 election which resulted in the election of Jean-Pierre Camilla as mayor has just been validated by the Council of State marking the end of the electoral soap opera that has lasted 15 months.

The opposing candidate Corinne Paolini was beaten in the second round on June 28th, 2020 by only 8 votes leading to Paolini bringing the case before the Nice Administrative Court with various grounds for dispute. Among them, a signature which seemed to be non-compliant for 10 ballot papers. In response to the decision the unsuccessful candidate underlined in a press release that "representing 1 voter in 2, will see her remain fully mobilized within the City Council".

Booster dose for all over 18s - The European Medicines Agency has approved the use of a booster dose of the Pfizer covid vaccine for all over 18s. Until now reserved for fragile people in France, the booster dose of the vaccine against Covid-19 could soon concern all major Europeans.

In a statement released Monday, October 4, a group of experts from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those over 18 years of age. Data studied by experts showed "an increase in antibody levels when a booster dose [of Pfizer's vaccine] is given about 6 months after the second dose in people aged 18 to 55”.

The EMA adds that it is studying similar data regarding whether to inject an additional dose of Moderna's vaccine, and promises to release its verdict once the assessment is complete.

Pandora Papers - The "Pandora Papers" have revealed that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has made lucrative tax deals in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. According to the paper, since leaving public life, the former socialist minister has been earning the salary of a CAC 40 boss while playing against fiscal borders.

Car crash in capital leaves several injured two seriously - Several people have been injured including two seriously after a car crashed into a shop window in Paris. The incident occurred on Monday afternoon when two cars collided and one of them was pushed onto the pavement hitting passersby before crashing into a shop window on Boulevard Marguerite de Rochechouart in the 18th arrondissement. The driver was arrested and placed in police custody; an investigation has been opened. 

Macron promises 15 million euros to animal shelters - To mark World Animal Day, French President Emmanuel Macron has promised a further 15 million euros to restore and maintain animal shelters. He also stressed the importance of finding a balance between animal rights and traditional practices such as farming and hunting. On Monday Macron spent part of World Animal Day at an SPA animal shelter for dogs and cats, where he announced increased financial support for centres which take care of abandoned animals. France is one of the worst offenders in Europe for mistreatment of animals and the abandonment of pets. According to the SPA the number of abandoned pets has increased by 7%.

French astronaut takes command for the first time - Astronaut Thomas Pesquet took over the command of the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday 4th October, the first time a French person has done so. He'll be in charge of 6-member crew until his Alpha mission ends in November. Pesquet is to be the 53rd astronaut to have held the rotating role of ISS commander, the fourth European and the first French national.

Business

There was a breakdown for several hours on Monday October 4th affecting social media services Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. All three services are owned by Facebook and could not be accessed over the web or smartphone apps. Nearly 80,000 reports for WhatsApp and more than 50,000 for Facebook were logged as it affected user accounts across the world. Facebook apologised for any inconvenience and said they were “working on getting things back to normal as soon as possible." No official reason for the problem was given.

Windows 11, the latest version of Microsoft's computer operating system, launches worldwide today Tuesday 5th October as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users. The company has just launched a range of its own new hardware devices to coincide with the new Windows version. But users already running Windows 10 do not need to go to this expense if the computer is still working. Windows 10 will continue to be supported and receive security updates until October 2025.

Airlines around the world have pledged to achieve "net zero CO2 emissions" by 2050, announced the International Air Transport Association (Iata), whose members account for 82% of global traffic before the Covid-19 pandemic. To achieve "net zero emissions", the airline industry - whose emissions currently represent some 3% of the world total - relies on renewable fuels, technological advances such as electric or hydrogen-powered aircraft, but also on capture, carbon emissions and offsetting measures.

In an attempt to protect US interests in trading with China, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has promised a new approach in trade relations adding that "all steps necessary" will be taken to protect US interests "to the hilt". Tai said she will seek new talks with Beijing over its failure to keep promises made in the first part of a trade deal struck with Donald Trump. She also did not rule out imposing further trade tariffs. Yet the US will drop a plan to make China reform its "non-market economy".

Sport

Football – Watford have sacked their manager appointing Claudio Ranieri as a replacement. The 69-year-old Italian returns to the Premier League where he famously worked wonders for Leicester, with a win in 2015-2016. Ranieri is charged with improving their league form as they sit 14th after taking seven points from seven games.

Kylian Mbappe says he "asked to leave" Paris St-Germain amid interest from Real Madrid in the summer, but insists he remains happy in the French capital. Real had a £137m bid for the 22-year-old striker rejected by PSG before a second improved offer in August was also reportedly turned down.

Cricket - The England and Wales Cricket Board will meet this week to decide whether the men's Ashes tour of Australia this winter will go ahead. England players were presented with the proposed conditions for the tour on Sunday evening. Some have concerns over whether families can travel, quarantine arrangements and any potential 'bubble' they may have to live in. The first Test begins on 8 December and the series is due to end on 18 January.

Boxing – Tyson Fury has said that Deontay Wilder is an "atomic bomb" of a fighter and the "most dangerous heavyweight out there" ahead of this weekend’s fight in Las Vegas.

Formula One - Lewis Hamilton is launching a scheme that aims to boost the recruitment of black teachers in science, technology and maths (STEM) subjects. The project arises from the Hamilton Commission report addressing the lack of diversity in UK motorsport. The Formula 1 world champion hopes it will "create a framework the wider education industry can implement".

Weather

Cloudy with some sunny intervals this morning - Becoming increasingly cloudy by this afternoon, highs of 23 in Nice and Saint Tropez, 20 degrees inland in Draguignan and 21 in Toulon with a moderate to strong south easterly wind. This evening going down to 15 degrees along the coast and 11 degrees inland.

The outlook for Wednesday and Thursday -  clouds clearing to give way to clear skies and sunshine highs of 23-24 degrees.

And Finally

To avoid working, an employee calls his own number for hours. Teleworking since January 2021, a Swedish employee called his own number for 55 hours to pretend he was working. He now risks dismissal.

In two months, an employee of the Swedish tax authorities called his own number 55 hours to benefit from the “busy” status. The other incoming calls were then transferred to his colleagues.

32 calls forwarded to his own number so as not to work. It was the technique of Andreas, a 28-year-old Swedish tax employee to dodge his missions while he had been teleworking since January 2021, because of the pandemic.

Between March 10th and May 5th, he spent 55 hours calling his personal number, the equivalent of seven effective days in the space of two months, according to the report of the Swedish tax authority.

Instead of taking calls from customers, Andreas called his own personal mobile number, which had the effect of putting it on busy in the system and incoming calls were taken by someone else.

It was these particularly long calls compared to the average tax exchange, which sometimes lasted hours according to the report, that alerted one of his superiors. The employee eventually admitted the facts, even though the internal investigation shows that he later reoffended.

An "extremely low" motivation to work: this is the reason given by this employee to defend himself from his actions. He is now facing dismissal.

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