French and Riviera News Wednesday 8th February 2023

News

Turnout against pension reform drops - Following Tuesday’s day of strike action across France against the government’s pension reform, figures have shown that the number of people taking to the streets was down on the previous week of demonstrations. President Emmanuel Macron's bid to raise the retirement age has sparked immense opposition from unions, the left and the wider public, with previous protests on 19th and 31st  of January sparking mass demonstrations and walkouts. But turnout was trending downwards on Tuesday with the hard-line CGT union saying almost two million people protested nationwide compared with its estimate of 2.8 million last week.

There were isolated clashes in some cities, including Nantes, Paris and Rennes, with police using tear gas against protesters. Police said that 17 people were arrested in Paris, where bins were set alight, the fronts of McDonalds restaurants smashed as well as glass bottles and other projectiles thrown.

The National Assembly began debating the reform on Monday, which would see the age for a full pension raised from 62 to 64 and the mandatory number of years of work extended for a full pension. More marches are planned by unions for Saturday.

New measures to prevent minors from accessing porn – New measures are to be announced this week in France to prevent minors from accessing porn websites. France's data protection and media regulators are set to announce their latest proposals to rein in porn websites which are in theory subject to a 2020 law requiring age verification. According to reports under the new proposal, people wanting to access explicit material will need to download a phone application that provides them with a digital certificate and code. The code will be needed to access a porn website under a system "which will work a bit like the checks from your bank when you buy something online”.

President Emmanuel Macron promised to make protecting children from porn a priority during his bid for re-election last year. In September last year, a report entitled "Hell Behind the Scenes" ("l'Enfer du Décor") by French senators concluded that there was "massive, ordinary and toxic" viewing of porn by children. The report found that two thirds of children aged 15 or less had seen pornographic content.

Gironde region warns of a return of fires this summer - Firefighters in the Gironde region which was hit by terrible forest fires last summer have warned of a possible similar situation this spring if the weather is not favourable. The terrible fires ravaged the department during the summer of 2022 and a similar situation is looming for this summer due to the lack of rainfall. Last year from mid-July to September the flames destroyed 32,000 hectares and firefighters say that it “really needs to rain from February to March” to avoid a repeat scenario.

Devastating earthquake - The Monaco government has sent a message of support to the Turkish government after the recent earthquakes in which several thousand people lost their lives. The Monaco government expressed its most sincere condolences to the Turkish Government and people. It also said its thoughts are with the emergency services and those who come to the aid of the injured.

Meanwhile, the Turkish community of Nice and the “Secours Populaire” is mobilising for the victims of the earthquake. People within the Turkish community of the Côte d’Azur are making local collections to help those who have lost everything, and donations can be made on the following website https://don.secourspopulaire.fr/urgence/~mon-don

Town halls move to detect cases of property tax fraud - Private firms are reportedly being used by town halls across France to detect cases of property tax fraud. Tougher actions have been introduced over unpaid taxes concerning pools, extensions and second homes. Homeowners who fail to declare is costing local town halls hundreds of thousands of euros. The move aims to avoid unpaid local property taxes and report intentional cases of fraud.  

Call for urgent action on road safety for cyclists in France - There has been a call for urgent action from France’s federation of cyclists following alarming figures published in a recent report. With a 30% increase in the number of accidents involving cyclists the association deplores an “increasingly aggressive” behaviour from motorists especially in rural areas and calls for a plan for all road users to ensure safety for cyclists.

Motorist picks up valuable gemstone after it falls from transport lorry in Nice - A motorist who picked up a package which fell from the truck of a transport company and contained a gemstone worth 170,000 euros has not been charged by police. The incident occurred last Thursday afternoon when the truck of a Monegasque cash transport company, was driving along the Boulevard du Mercantour in Nice with its side door open. Suddenly, a package fell from the truck under the eyes of the motorist driving behind in a VW Golf. The 32-year-old driver and his passenger 35 retrieved the package and drove off. It was not until early evening that the transporters released their blunder and alerted police. Police who were able to track the vehicle from its numberplate arrested the couple in Saint Laurent du Var. Placed in police custody along with the transporters who were at first suspected of complicity, the driver claimed that he was unaware of the contents of the package when he picked it up and was planning on returning it the next day. The stone was found following a search of their home and was returned to its rightful owner.

Business

An economic think tank has predicted that the UK is likely to avoid a recession this year The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said the economy will grow marginally despite high prices hitting household budgets. But it warned while the UK may not fall into recession, it will feel like one for at least seven million households. The forecast comes ahead of figures showing how well the UK economy is doing, which are due on Friday.

As diplomatic relations today reach a new low, trade between the US and China hit a record high last year. Official figures have shown that imports and exports between the two countries totalled $690.6bn (£572.6bn) in 2022.  Tensions rose between Washington and Beijing in recent days after a Chinese balloon travelled across the US. The world's two biggest economies have been locked in a bitter trade war since 2018 when then-President Donald Trump started imposing tariffs on China.

Zoom, the video conferencing company that became a household name when remote work spiked during the Covid pandemic, is laying off 1,300 staff. The move affects about 15% of its workforce, which has seen user growth slow and profits fall recently. It joins a large number of other tech firms making similar adjustments.

And - Microsoft has announced a new version of its search engine Bing, which incorporates the latest in artificial intelligence. The overhaul deploys OpenAI's ChatGPT technology, which has taken the world by storm since its launch last year. The move is by far the biggest threat Google has seen to its dominance in web search - and marks the beginning of an AI arms race between the companies.

Sport

Football - Turkish goalkeeper Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan has died following Monday's earthquake in his home country. Turkaslan, 28, played six times for Turkish second division club Yeni Malatyaspor after joining in 2021.

In the Premier League this evening Manchester United are at home to Leeds. Kick off is at 9pm French time.

Formula One - Formula 1 president Stefano Domenicali says the sport will "never put a gag on anyone" amid ongoing controversy over freedom of speech. Governing body the FIA is facing a backlash over a new rule that prohibits "personal, religious and political statements" without written consent.

Olympics - The Olympic committees of five Nordic nations have backed calls for the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to be upheld for the Paris 2024 Games. In a joint statement the Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish committees said: "Now is not the right time to consider their return." The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said Russians and Belarusians may be allowed to compete as neutrals. Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Paris Olympics if that plan goes ahead.

Rugby Union - It's been announced that Richard Cockerill will leave his role as England forwards coach after the Six Nations. He's joining French club Montpellier.

Weather

Sunny with strong winds in the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. Highs of 11 degrees in Monaco and Saint Tropez, 12 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Toulon. Reaching 7 degrees inland in Tende. This evening going down to -4 inland and 2 degrees along the coast with clear skies.

The outlook for tomorrow sunny with a moderate breeze. Highs of 11-12 degrees. Going down to -2 degrees at night along the Var coast and -5 degrees inland. Friday sunny with a gentle breeze and highs of 11 degrees.  

Sunrise       07.39hr

Sunset        17.50hr

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