French and Riviera News Wednesday 17th February 2021

News 

Covid - According to figures published by Public Health France there were 19,590 new cases of Covid identified on Tuesday 16th February with 1,857 new admissions to hospitals. There are currently 3,338 patients in intensive care including 323 who were admitted on Tuesday. In addition, there were 352 new deaths bringing the total to 82,812 deaths since the start of the epidemic (including 58,578 in hospital).

Defence Council Meeting - Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron will chair a new Defence Council at the Elysee today. The government claims that while there is still great concern over variants of Covid in France in particular Brazilian and South African, the pandemic seems, for the moment, stable.

Monaco travel restictions - The Princely Government has in a press release taken note of the announcement by the French authorities of the easing of health controls for residents of the Principality of Monaco who travel to the Var. As for the Alpes-Maritimes, residents of the Principality of Monaco can go to the Var department without a PCR test, as long as the trip is for less than 24 hours. The measure is in line with the request from the Monaco government to French authorities and in return the Monegasque Government has announced that it is applying reciprocity with residents of the Var.

Anyone coming from France to Monaco must present a negative PCR test of less than 72 hours. Commuter workers, schoolchildren and students, as well as residents of the Alpes-Maritimes and Var coming to the Principality for less than 24 hours are exempt from this measure.

The Princely Government will continue constructive dialogue with the French authorities in order to lift the 24-hour deadline which limits travel in the Var department as well as in the Alpes-Maritimes which constitute Monaco's catchment area.

Intern charged for manslaughter - An intern who worked at the Lenval pediatric hospital in Nice has been charged for manslaughter following the death of a high school student from Nice of meningitis in 2019. The investigation was opened on August 14th two months after the death of the 17-year-old student from the Sasserno high school in Nice. At the time the young girl had left A&E being told she was suffering from sunstroke. The next day she collapsed. The family’s lawyer states that “at the time the victim was only examined by an intern”. With nearly 60,000 A&E visits per year Lenval is the third pediatric emergency department in France. The public prosecutor's office on Tuesday 16th February announced that "At the beginning of February, a doctor from Lenval was accused of manslaughter and non-assistance to a person in danger.” The collective "Together against meningitis" has in recent years raised the alarm and asked health authorities to better inform the public and doctors about meningitis, recommending strengthening the initial and continuing training of general practitioners, as well as emergency services.

National Union of French Airlines recommends set prices - The National Union of French Airlines (UNCAF) has recommended that the French government set price floors for air tickets on national flights. In a press release published on Monday, February 15th, the union recommended that the government "impose minimum fares on air carriers" and set "prices per ticket so that companies stop selling at a loss”. The union proposes "a minimum price of 350 euros for a round trip plane ticket on national flights, including taxes and "450 euros including all taxes for a round trip from or to Europe", and "550 euros including all taxes for a round trip from or to all other destinations ". With significant environmental issues and the aviation sector suffering from the coronavirus crisis, the National Union of French Airlines (UNCAF) claims that the pricing policy would be "a real, immediate, green strategy and a support for the economy, putting an end to the "fierce appetite" of low-cost airlines for the French market.

State council confirms decision to suspend rental ban - France's highest administrative court the State Council, has confirmed its suspension of the municipal decree prohibiting seasonal rentals in Nice from February 6th to 20th to limit the spread of Covid-19 saying that "In the absence of a compelling reason linked to specific local circumstances, the ban by the mayor of Nice on seasonal rentals is an unlawful infringement of the right to property and the freedom of trade and of the industry." The decision was announced on Tuesday 16th February.

Former mayor of Marseille part of judicial investigation - The home of the former mayor of Marseille Jean-Claude Gaudin has been searched by police. Gaudin is part of a judicial investigation which opened on June 11th last year for the embezzlement of public funds with accusations that “relatives of Jean-Claude Gaudin worked for the town hall when they had passed retirement age”. The investigation continues.

French government calls for pre-poll voting at next election, a first in France - The French government has put forward an amendment to the Senate allowing “pre-poll voting for the 2022 presidential election” which would be a first in France if accepted. The amendment, added at the last minute to a text on the technical organization of the presidential election, would allow pre-poll voting in certain offices, via a voting machine, on a "date fixed by decree, during the week preceding the election". According to the text voters will be able to vote in another municipality of their choice from a list of municipalities decided by the Minister of the Interior". The amendment will be examined today Wednesday 17th February.

French reggae singer dies aged 53 - The French reggae singer Tonton David has died at the age of 53. Considered as the pioneer of raggamuffin in France, Tonton David was most famous for his hit “Chacun sa route” in 1996 recorded with Manu Katché and Geoffrey Oryema for the film Un Indien dans la ville, which recounted the adventures of a young Amazonian Indian in Paris.

The heat is on - The Cote d’Azur is heating up with average temperatures over the past decade one full degree above normal. Latest statistics from IMSEE in Monaco show three of the four hottest years on record taking place in 2020, 2019, 2018. The average temperature last year was 17.8°C, while the average temperature for the decade was up 1.33°C.

French baguette - The famous French baguette is being considered as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status next year. The Ministry of Culture announced on Tuesday that it is considering putting forward the baguette or the rooftops of Paris, with a final decision to be made next month.

Business

Benchmark ten-year US Treasury yields have risen to their highest level since February last year in Asian trade this morning as investors figured that short-term monetary policy will remain accommodative as the world bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic. The prospect of improved risk-free returns has weighed on stocks with a hunch that a stimulus-fueled global recovery will eventually lead to rising inflation. The gap over two-year yields has also opened to its widest in nearly three years on a sense that things are gradually returning to normal. The bond selloff has now added nearly 40 basis points to 10 year yields this year as investors price in heavy government borrowing for stimulus spending. Gold and the Japanese yen have been falling as a result of the rise in bond yields but the dollar has picked up some momentum. Oil prices have risen to 13 month highs this morning as a result of the cold snap in Texas that has shut down around a 5th of crude production.

Bitcoin has risen to a new record high of 50,000 dollars with regulators still warning that investing in the cryptocurrency is still risky. The rally is being driven by signs that Bitcoin is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and large corporations. The value of the cryptocurrency has increased by some 67 percent this year with most of the gains coming after the electric carmaker Tesla said it had bought 1.5 billion dollars worth. The move by Tesla was the latest in a string of large investments that have seen Bitcoin jump from the margins of finance to company balance sheets and Wall Street. Supporters say that Bitcoin can act as a store of value like a digital version of gold but critics say that with no intrinsic value and the growing prevalence of other cryptocurrencies there is a risk that investors could lose big or be a victim of a scam or hack.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway firm has announced two major new investments in the phone giant Verizon Communications and the oil company Chevron. The investments, which were revealed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday show that Berkshire has taken an 8.6 billion dollar stake in Verizon and has pumped 4.1 billion into Chevron. The firm has reduced its stakes in some other companies to make room for the new investments including in Apple although its 121 billion dollar holding in the iPhone maker remains by far its largest common stock holding. The filings reflect where Berkshire sees value with analysts saying that they carry all the hallmarks of Warren Buffett’s investment style.

Sport

Football - There were two rounds of 16 Champions League 1st leg ties last night with Liverpool getting a much needed boost with a 2-0 win over Leipzig while PSG had a fantastic 4-1 away win at Barcelona. There are two more ties tonight. Porto play Juventus and Seville host Borussia Dortmund.

In the English Premier League tonight Burnley play Fulham and Everton host Manchester City.

In the English Championship last night Watford were 1-0 winners at Preston. Stoke beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0. Reading were 2-0 winners at Bristol City. Middlesbrough beat Huddersfield 2-1. Derby were 2-1 winners at Wycombe Wanderers and Cardiff were 2-0 winners at Luton.

Tennis - The Czech 25th seed Karolina Muchova has stunned world number one Ashleigh Barty by putting her out of the Australian Open at the quarter final stage. Muchova came through in three sets 1-6 6-3 6-2 and will now play Jennifer Brady of the United States who beat fellow American Jessica Pegula. The other women’s semi final will be between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.

In the men’s event defending champion Novak Djokovic will face the Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the semi finals while the second semi will be between the winners of the quarter final ties between Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedez and Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal.

Cricket - Moeen Ali will fly back to the UK and miss England’s final two Tests against India. The all rounder returned match figures of 8 for 226 in the second Test and also played an entertaining cameo innings as England crashed to a heavy 317 run defeat in Chennai to leave the series tied at 1-1. Captain Joe Root said that Moeen had just wanted to “get out of the bubble” and that it had been a difficult tour for him since he contracted coronavirus at the start of the trip to Sri Lanka. The third Test which is a day-night encounter starts in Ahmedabad on March 4th.

Rugby Union - The Scotland prop Zander Fargerson will miss the rest of the 6 Nations following his red card against Wales. Fargeson was penalised for a dangerous clearout after his shoulder connected with the head of Wyn Jones at the breakdown. He’s been banned for four weeks.

Weather

Mainly fine with light easterly winds. Top temperature 14-16 degrees. Overnight lows of 6-8 degrees with  cloudy skies.

Thursday and Friday - Partially cloudy with highs of 13-15 degrees.

And Finally 

A new scientific study has revealed that the extinction of the dinosaurs would have been caused by a comet and not by an asteroid. 66 million years ago, a huge object struck the Earth, causing the extinction of much of life, including that of dinosaurs and a new theory suggests, much against popular believe until now, that it was not an asteroid but actually a fragment of a comet, which came from the far reaches of the solar system. According to the study published on Monday the fragment would have come from the explosion of a comet from the Oort cloud, "a cloud of debris" located very far at the limit of the solar system. The authors of the study calculated that a fragment of a comet could strike the Earth at a frequency of several hundred million years. Therefore, statistically not a short-term threat, especially compared to asteroids.

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