French & Riviera News - Thursday, February 1st

FARMERS LATEST

Protests continue across France and disruptions have escalated with over 100 blockades and 10,000 protesters reported.  91 activists have been arrested, after angry farmers managed to break in to a warehouse serving the Rungis market, the world’s biggest food market. According to chief of police, Laurent Nunez, a red line has been crossed.

 

In a separate incident in the Var region, farmers staged a protest in Grand Frais, Cash Vin, and Metro stores in Fréjus, targeting foreign wines and disrupting product displays. Yesterday, over 200 farmers in the Var blocked the Capitou pay station on the A8 motorway, effectively shutting down traffic towards Nice.

 

Today, there will be a slow-moving protest in Nice starting at 8 AM from the Pont de la Manda, moving along route 202 towards the MIN, and then heading to the Promenade des Anglais, ending at the Negresco. Michel Dessus, president of the Agriculture Chamber 06, has hinted at the possibility of further actions next week if their demands are not met.

 

Local supermarkets are stressing that they are still able to supply food & household items despite many delivery trucks being blocked in the protest, but the Post Office and other delivery firms are warning of delivery delays, particularly in the Var. In Toulon, a major relay point has seen a drastic reduction in daily parcel volumes, with some routes receiving as little as 60% of their usual deliveries.

 

 

TEACHERS STRIKE

Teachers in the Alpes-Maritimes and the  Var are set to strike today. The primary grievance is the acute shortage of substitute teachers, a concern that unites educators, unions, and parents alike. The situation has been simmering for weeks, but recent comments by the new Minister of National Education, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, regarding teacher absenteeism have further inflamed tensions. Educators argue that their profession is among the least absent due to illness, contrary to the minister's implications, and emphasize that most absences are for predictable reasons like training, which should allow for replacements. The strike will also highlight broader demands for more resources, respect, and improved working conditions within the educational sector.

This move comes in response to what many see as a lack of attractiveness in the teaching profession, exacerbated by significant cuts in teaching positions over recent years. The government claims to replace the majority of long-term absences but faces criticism for its handling of short-term absences. Unions are united in their opposition to current policies, advocating for better pay, more positions, and improved working conditions.

 

OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY

300000 spectators are expected to attend the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, set for July 26th along the Seine, that’s a significant decrease from the previously announced 600,000. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin shared these revised figures, explaining that there will be 100,000 ticketed seats on the lower banks and over 220,000 free spots on the upper banks. Additionally, residents may host private events along the river. This opening ceremony marks a historic first, as it will take place outdoors on the Seine, featuring a 6-kilometer parade of 115 boats carrying athletes, witnessed by global dignitaries.

 

HEALTH UPDATE

France’s national health body, Santé Publique France has issued an update on the various viruses and contagious diseases circulating in our region.  While bronchiolitis and COVID-19 are showing signs of calming down, the flu epidemic continues to surge across the Alpes-Maritimes and Var regions. The flu has been particularly potent over the last few weeks.

In terms of statistics, the Alpes-Maritimes align with the national average, with 316 emergency department visits per 10,000 inhabitants, while the Var has slightly less with 313.

On a brighter note, the bronchiolitis situation is easing, particularly in the Alpes-Maritimes, showing post-epidemic signs. The Var reports higher bronchiolitis figures but still below the previous season's peak levels. COVID-19 continues its decline, with decreasing positivity rates and incidence rates in both departments, signaling a potential end to the current wave

 

ROAD HOMICIDE LAW

Local MP Eric Pauget is celebrating a significant legal victory with the validation of the new road homicide law, a response to the tragic death of young Noé from Antibes, who fell victim to a reckless driver under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The legislation introduces a specific offense of "road homicide" to address fatalities caused by intoxicated or drugged drivers, marking a shift from the previous categorization as involuntary homicide.

Monsieur Pauget dedicated this achievement to all families affected by road tragedies, emphasizing the law's role in providing justice and acknowledging the gravity of such offenses.

 

MOTORWAY TOLLS

Starting today, drivers in France face an increase in toll prices. The A8 motorway on the French Riviera is among the routes to see one of the steepest increases. Specifically, the A8 will see increases from 3.8% to 4.44% in the Var and Alpes-Maritimes regions, with tolls between Toulon-West and Mandelieu rising to €13.50 and Nice-Airport to Menton jumping to €4.70. However, the toll at Saint-Isidore will remain unchanged at €1.50.

 

DEAD DOLPHIN

A sad discovery was made on the Plage du Midi in Cannes, where a dead dolphin was found washed ashore on Monday evening. The local police quickly cordoned off the area until firefighters arrived. The dolphin is now under the care of a veterinary team and has been taken to a laboratory in Sophia-Antipolis for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

On a brighter note, numerous live dolphins have been spotted in the Bay of Cannes in recent years, a common occurrence in winter as they come closer to the shore, moving away in summer to escape the busy boat traffic.

 

STOLEN MONKEYS

More on the saga of the 14 monkeys stolen from a zoo in La Londe last month. A national alert has since been triggered as the monkeys (as squirrel monkeys) are a protected species. Customs and veterinary services have been briefed across France to intercept any attempts to transport these animals across borders. However, for the time-being, there is still no sign of the missing animals.

Besides the monkey theft, customs regularly seize other wildlife, such as elegant goldfinches, often smuggled from Italy or further afield, and animals like Hermann's tortoises and puppies without proper documentation. The seized animals are usually entrusted to zoos, parks, or licensed individuals for care and potential release back into the wild.  

 

ID EFFICIENCY

Gone are the days of waiting endlessly for identity documents! The city of Nice has made significant strides in reducing the wait time for identity cards and passports. Just a year ago, residents had to wait up to ten weeks, but now, it should take no more than ten days to get these essential documents processed. This improvement comes after the city introduced 12 new biometric stations across various local offices since last June, even extending service hours at the Corvésy office for better accessibility. With over 43,000 applications for both identity cards and passports last year, this efficiency boost is a welcome change, likely spurred by increased travel interest post-Covid and the new ID card format.

 

NICE CARNIVAL

Preparations are underway for this year’s Nice Carnival, which is happening from 17 February to 3 March and this year’s theme is “King of Pop Culture”. Two weeks of festivities bring the city of Nice to life with the “Corsi” Carnival Parades day and night, and the elegant “Flower Parades”. There’s musical entertainment as well, all in a colourful, festive, family atmosphere. Tickets are available now on https://www.nicecarnaval.com/en/

 

SPORT

 

Football

Conor Bradley produced a memorable display by scoring his first Liverpool goal and grabbing two assists as the Reds beat Chelsea 4-1 to maintain their grip on first place in Premier League.

Julian Alvarez scored 2 goals as Manchester City strolled to a 3-1 victory against Burnley.

City are five points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, and level with third-placed Arsenal as they pursue an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title.

Tottenham Hotspur moved back into the Premier League top four with a thrilling and at times chaotic 3-2  home victory over Brentford.

 

Cricket

England spinner Jack Leach is out of the second Test against India in Visakhapatnam on Friday because of an injury to his left knee.

Left-armer Leach was hurt in England's superb 28-run win in the first Test and did not train yesterday.

His absence could lead to a debut for 20-year-old off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.

Following the second match in the five-Test series, there is a nine-day break when the England team will travel to meet their families in Abu Dhabi.

 

Basketball

There was a wiun for Monaco’s basketballers yesterday in the Euroleague. La FRoca Team beat Partisan Belgrade  85-70. Tomorrow they welcome Fenerbace, with the match starting in Fontvieille at 8.30pm

 

BUSINESS NEWS

 

BOEING

Boeing's CEO Dave Calhoun has acknowledged that the company is facing a "serious challenge" following an incident where a panel from a 737 Max 9 jet detached mid-flight, sparking renewed safety concerns. This comes five years after two fatal crashes involving a different version of the plane. Boeing is under scrutiny as the Federal Aviation Administration investigates its manufacturing processes, halting production expansion of the 737 series.

Calhoun apologized and stressed the importance of safety and quality over speed and costs. However,  he announced no formal financial guidance for 2024 due to the current focus on addressing these issues.

The incident has led to calls for leadership changes within Boeing, with safety advocates expressing frustration over repeated safety lapses. Despite the turmoil, Boeing reported a 10% revenue increase to $22 billion, with reduced quarterly losses of $283 million.

 

AI DISAPPOINTMENT

Investors have shown disappointment with Microsoft and Alphabet as the returns from their AI investments haven't met high expectations, causing their stock prices to drop by 1% and 6% respectively.

Despite reporting increases in cloud revenue for the December quarter, the high costs associated with developing AI technologies have concerned investors. Both tech giants are investing heavily in servers, data centers, and research to compete for customer dollars, but the financial burden has tempered the initial enthusiasm in their stock value.

Analysts emphasize the need for these companies to demonstrate more significant contributions from their AI ventures to justify their market valuations and sustain investor interest.

 

US INTEREST RATES

US interest rates remain at a 23-year peak of 5.25%-5.5%, continuing the central bank's efforts to combat inflation. Despite expectations of eventual rate reductions, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has indicated that cuts are not imminent, particularly not by March as some had hoped. The decision reflects a cautious approach towards ensuring inflation steadily moves towards the Fed's 2% target.

The U.S. economy has shown resilience, with a 3.3% growth rate in the last quarter and a low unemployment rate of 3.7% in December. Although inflation has decelerated to 3.4%, the Fed seeks more evidence before easing monetary policy.

 

eBAY

eBay has agreed to pay $59m over claims it sold equipment that can manufacture illegal drugs. The US justice department had alleged that thousands of pill presses and encapsulating machines were sold on the site, including to people who were later convicted of drug-related crimes. The equipment can be used to make counterfeit pills, including those laced with fentanyl, a major issue amid the US opioid crisis.

The settlement comes as authorities emphasize the role of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills in the overdose epidemic, with drug overdoses causing over 110,000 deaths in the US in 2022. eBay, denying the allegations, aims to avoid litigation costs and has committed to better compliance with the Controlled Substances Act. This includes enhanced monitoring to maintain a safe marketplace.

 

ADIDAS

Adidas has announced plans to sell off the remaining Yeezy sneakers from its discontinued partnership with Kanye West, aiming to at least cover production costs. The decision follows the brand's separation from West in 2022 due to his controversial comments. Despite challenges, including a significant financial hit from currency fluctuations and the need to reduce stockpiles, Adidas reported a €268 million operating profit in 2023 and anticipates a near doubling of this figure in 2024.

The move to sell the remaining Yeezy stock is part of Adidas's efforts to recover from the partnership's end, which left it with substantial unsold inventory. Additionally, the company faces ongoing financial pressures from the recent devaluation of the Argentine Peso, impacting profits as Adidas has a long-standing relationship with Argentina's national football team.

 

DISNEY

A US judge has supported Florida Governor Ron DeSantis against Disney, dismissing the entertainment giant's lawsuit that accused DeSantis of "government retaliation." The conflict arose after Disney criticized a Florida law limiting discussions on sexuality in schools, prompting the state to increase control over Disney's theme park operations. The judge stated that the legislative changes, which diminished Disney's longstanding autonomy over its special tax district since 1967 and allowed DeSantis to appoint board members, were legal. Despite Disney's claims of potential harm and free speech violations, the court found no immediate threat to the company.

 

WEATHER

Some cloudy spells  today, but still plenty of sunshine overall and no rain expected.

Light winds

Highs 15° along the coast around Monaco and Cannes (still warmer than average for this time of year), reaching 16° towards St Tropez. Cloudy inland as well reaching 15° around Grasse and Draguignan.

 

Tonight, light winds and lows of 5°

 

It’s looking good for the weekend in AM despite some cloudy spells inland and haze and fog on Sunday morning along the coast. In the Var, it will be more cloudy on Saturday with extended sunny spells on Sunday

 

Sunrise 7:50

Sunset 17:39

 

Sea Temperatures 14°

 

 

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