Evening Update Wednesday 20 March

It’s been confirmed that Yellow Vest demonstrations will be banned in Nice this weekend, according to reports. The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has requested the Interior Ministry to ban the so-called Act 19 protests after the violent scenes in Paris last weekend.  Security will be high in the area as President Macron is also meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beaulieu-sur-Mer this weekend. Reports say that the Ministry of the Interior is allowing the prefecture of the Alpes Maritimes to determine a security perimeter, which may be a restricted area or the whole department. Meanwhile, the French government has announced that Operation Sentinel anti-terrorist personnel from the army will be mobilised in what it calls “a reinforced way” against yellow vest protestors this weekend. The government said that the aim was to protect official buildings and other “fixed points” and to free up police resources.  Operation Sentinel involves the use of soldiers to protect sensitive locations such as airports, religious sites and tourist locations from acts of terrorism.


The French National Police have arrested two brothers in connection with an incident in Nice yesterday.  A man was stabbed on the boulevard Henri-Sappia and a car was then driven at firefighters as they attempted to treat the victim. The two men were arrested last night and are now in custody.

Seven unions representing French civil service workers have called for a day of strike action on the 9th of May. They are also calling for protests at prefectures and in central Paris on the 27th of March.
A new report shows that so far this year 21 people have been killed on the roads of the Var compared to 3 last year for the same period. Speeding, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol and /or narcotics are the main causes of road accidents. In response to the report, authorities have announced that there will be an increase in the number of spot checks on motorists by police as of today in the Var.

Two million employees in France have received an exceptional tax-free bonus of, on average, 450 euros from their employer, according to the government. The measure had been introduced in December in response to the “yellow vest” crisis. The bonus was granted "in more than 200,000 establishments", and "more than 40% of the total amount paid was in companies with less than 50 employees", The figures provided by the government are not final, however, since companies have until March 31 to sign a collective agreement on the payment of the bonus.


The SNCF has today announced a new service which will make it possible for passengers to book and buy train tickets via Facebook Messenger. Users will be able to interface with Ouibot, the SNCF’s conversational robot. Ouibot was created on Messenger in 2016 without the booking and purchase function.

 

BUSINESS

Google has been fined €1.49bn by the European Union for blocking rival online search advertisers. The EU accuses Google of abusing its market dominance by restricting third-party rivals from displaying search ads between 2006 and 2016.

Veronique Laury,​ the boss of struggling DIY group, Kingfisher, which owns B&Q and Screwfix in the UK, is to step down amid worsening profits. Profits fell 13% over the last year. Kingfisher also owns Castorama and Brico Dépôt in France.

BMW has warned that pre-tax profit will fall by 10% this year. It’s announced a major cost cutting program.

Toyota has confirmed that it will start manufacturing hybrid cars for Suzuki at its factory in Derbyshire.  It’s part of a global deal to share resources, which was announced by the car makers. The new car will have engines made in Wales and electrical components from Japan.


Fedex has warned investors that profits will be weaker than expected - for the second time in three months. The company blamed a slowdown in international trade for the profit warning. In addition, the launch of a six-days-per-week operation in the US, created additional costs.


In the UK, consumer price inflation edged higher in February to 1.9% from 1.8% in January, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics released today.

 

SPORT

Football…There are two international friendly games tonight ahead of a raft of Euro 2020 qualifying matches over the next few days. Germany play Serbia and Wales face Trinidad and Tobago.
Sunderland striker Will Grigg has been ruled out of Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus with an ankle injury. He’s returned to Sunderland and will miss the matches at Windsor Park tomorrow and Sunday.
And Kieran Tierney will miss Scotland's opening Euro 2020 qualifying opener in Kazakhstan tomorrow with a hip problem.

Rugby Union… Harlequins are to sign Leicester flanker Will Evans and Newcastle second-row Glen Young in the summer. Evans has played 11 times for the Tigers this season and has played for England Under-20s. Young is a former Scotland Under-20s forward.

Baseball.. Los Angeles Angels player Mike Trout is reportedly set to agree the most lucrative deal in sport - a 12-year extension worth $430m. If agreed, the contract for Trout would amount to $35.83m per year until 2031.

 

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