Vaccination - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has said that people in France could begin receiving the coronavirus vaccine from the last week of December if the European Union's regulator approves the jab next week. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister and France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran presented the government's plans for vaccine distribution to the National Assembly, a campaign which has been met with both mistrust and impatience by the French. The proposals will be debated in the lower house of parliament before being presented to the Senate later today. According to a November survey by the French public health agency only 53 percent of French people want to be vaccinated, compared to 64 percent in July – among one of the lowest confidence ratings in the world.
Covid-19 figures - Meanwhile figures for Covid-19 published on Wednesday by Public Health France have shown that France is still far from reaching 5,000 new cases of contamination, which the government had hoped to reach in mid-December. 17,615 cases of Covid-19 were registered on Wednesday in 24 hours, compared to 11,532 the day before.
“Extended Monaco for Business” - The Monaco Government has adopted a series of measures to facilitate the economic recovery plan using the “Extended Monaco for Business” platform. In order to support economic recovery and help companies succeed in their digital transition, the Government has defined an action plan based on three flagship instruments: The Extended Monaco platform for Businesses, the Blue Fund and the Digital Workshops. The health crisis has demonstrated the importance of digital technology in helping the economy here in the Principality to rebound.
Monaco Christmas - Meanwhile on Wednesday HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco accompanied by their children HSH Prince Jacques and HSH Princess Gabriella handed out Christmas presents in Monaco. The royal family also attended the traditional Christmas tree ceremony.
January 2015 attacks - A Paris court has found 14 people guilty of involvement in the 2015 terror attacks. The January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine, a policewoman and a Jewish supermarket left 17 people dead. All 14 accomplices were found guilty on various charges, ranging from belonging to a criminal network to direct complicity in the January 2015 attacks. Terrorism charges were dropped for six of the 11 defendants in court who were found guilty of lesser crimes.
Coucscous - Couscous has been classified as an intangible world heritage by Unesco. The dish has been eaten since the Middle Ages and was introduced in France at the beginning of the 20th century by the first Algerian workers, then with the Pieds-Noirs during the independence of Algeria. According to the polls it is considered to be one of the favorite dishes of the French.
Coca-Cola to launch alcoholic drink in France - The American soft drink brand Coca-Cola is to launch its first alcoholic drink in France in spring 2021. An alcoholic sparkling water Topo Chico is expected to hit supermarket shelves in France in April and will be available in three flavors. After Mexico in September, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria and Greece in November, it will soon be on offer for the French to taste.
Euromillion winner claims jackpot - The lucky winner is finally known. Less than a week after a historic EuroMillions draw of 200 million euros, the winner has presented himself at the Française des Jeux after several days of silence. The new millionaire, whose identity has not been revealed, had validated his grid online with the payment being made in the coming days. The amount won is a record jackpot in France, but also in Europe since the creation of lottery in 2004. Previously, the highest win was held by two Britons who, in 2012 and 2019, had won 190 million euros.
The Chair of the US Federal Reserve has said that the prospects for the economy have brightened but warned that the coming months will be “particularly challenging”. Speaking at the end of the Fed’s two day policy meeting in Washington, Jerome Powell said that growth of around 4.2 percent is expected next year, better than previously forecast and that unemployment should fall from 6.7 to around 5 percent. Mr Powell warned however that businesses and the unemployed are facing deepening hardship and called on the government to do much more to support those affected. He said that he was hopeful that widespread distribution of coronavirus vaccines would enable a strong rebound in the second half of 2021. The Fed said that it expected to keep interest rates at near zero and would continue with additional stimulus until it saw “substantial” progress towards recovery.
The British Parliament will go into Christmas recess this evening but MPs and peers have been warned that they could be recalled over the festive break if they’re required to vote on a Brexit deal with the European Union. With talks continuing in Brussels, ministers had considered stipulating that Parliament should sit on Monday and Tuesday of next week to allow any legislation implementing a deal to be passed rapidly. However, it’s now been decided that as a deal is not expected to be finalised imminently, the recess should start today. There are growing signs of progress and compromise in the talks but reports say that fishing remains the outstanding stumbling block. On Wednesday, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen warned that the issue of fish could still scupper the talks and said that an agreement was “so close but yet so far away”. A spokesman for the UK opposition Labour Party said that “Boris Johnson should get on with delivering the “oven-ready” deal that he had promised, rather than dragging the country to the wire”.
Bitcoin has hit an all time high by breaking through the 20,000 dollar barrier. The virtual currency has gained more than 170 percent in value this year amid stock market turmoil. Bitcoin rose by 4.5 percent on Wednesday to 20,440 dollars buoyed by demand from large investors who are keen on its potential for quick profits. There are also expectations that the crypto-currency will gain more traction as a payment method for retailers such as Starbucks and Microsoft. A previous rally in 2017 saw Bitcoin come close to the 20,000 dollar mark before it crashed back to 3,300 dollars in 2018.
Football - There were 6 games in the English Premier League last night with Liverpool moving three points clear at the top of the table following a 2-1 win over nearest rivals Spurs at Anfield. Firmino scored a last minute winner to give Liverpool the points and a major boost to their hopes of retaining the title heading into the busy Christmas period. In the other results Arsenal and Southampton drew 1-1. Leeds beat Newcastle 5-2. Leicester slipped to 4th in the table after losing 2-0 at home to Everton. Fulham and Brighton drew 0-0 and West Ham and Crystal Palace drew 1-1. There are two games tonight. Aston Villa play Burnley and Sheffield United host Manchester United.
In the English Championship last night Derby beat Swansea 2-0. Cardiff were 3-2 winners over Birmingham. Middlesbrough beat Luton 1-0. Blackburn were 2-1 winners over Rotherham. Coventry and Huddersfield drew 0-0 and Norwich were 2-1 winners at Reading.
In the quarter finals of the Scottish League Cup Livingston beat Ross County 2-0 and Rangers were surprisingly beaten 3-2 away by St Mirren.
Cricket - It’s day one of the first Test between Australia and India. It’s a day/night Test at the Adelaide Oval with India winning the toss and deciding to bat. Mitchell Starc snapped up the wicket of Shaw for a duck and the tourists had reached 29-1 after 15 overs.
Rugby Union - Exeter’s European Champions Cup game at Toulouse on Sunday has been called off because of a Covid-19 outbreak at the English club. Glasgow’s home game against Lyon on Saturday has also been called off because the Scottish team played at Exeter last week. The tournament organisers are set to meet to decide the outcomes of the games with reports suggesting that the matches can’t be rearranged because of fixture congestion.
Boxing - Promotor Eddie Hearn has said that Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury may consider dropping their four combined world heavyweight titles to ensure that they can fight each other. Hearn apologised to the respective governing boxing bodies but said that the fight between the two British heavyweights “eclipses all belts”. Under the heavyweight division protocols Anthony Joshua is due to fight mandatory WBO challenger Oleksandr Usyk next while Fury is facing a legal challenge from Deontay Wilder for a rematch. The boxing world wants to see Joshua and Fury square up to each other and large sums of money could come into play in a bid to persuade their respective challengers to step aside.
Mainly cloudy with some bright spells and light variable winds. Top temperature 15 degrees. Overnight lows of 10 degrees on the coast and 8 degrees inland with cloudy skies.
Friday and the start of the weekend - Partially cloudy tomorrow with a high of 14. Rain on Saturday with a high of 13 degrees.