Cannes 2021 - The Cannes film festival has opened at the Palais des Festivals nearly two months later than originally planned owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The rescheduled Festival represents a huge step forward for the film industry after 18 months of closed cinemas and uncertainty because of the pandemic. Last night’s world premiere was the Sparks musical “Annette” starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard and directed by Leos Carax. The lineup for this year’s event is particularly strong after many film-makers held back their work when the Festival had to be cancelled in 2020.
Today’s Palme d’Or competition films are “Ha’barech” or “Ahed’s knee” by Nadav Lapid and “Tout s’est bien passe” or “Everything went fine” by Francois Ozon. Another film to watch out for is “The Story of my Wife” from Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi. It’s based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Milan Fust and is a romantic drama starring Léa Seydoux. Although the film is a Hungarian production, most of the dialogue is in English. The Story of my Wife will be screened for the first time next Wednesday the 14th of July.
Covid 19 - With the delta variant of coronavirus spreading rapidly in France, more and more people are asking whether there’s any chance of fresh restrictions or partial lockdowns being imposed before the summer comes to an end. The French Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that he’s concerned that a 4th wave of the pandemic may start “before the end of July” but some experts including scientists from the Pasteur Institute in Paris don’t expect cases to start increasing rapidly again until the autumn.
Previously the government used a measurement of 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants as the level where restrictions or local lockdowns would need to be implemented. On the second of July, the national infection rate was recorded at just 23. There have been 3,033 new infections involving the delta variant over the past 24 hours and bed occupancy in intensive care units across France is at 21 percent of capacity.
New variants - The World Health Organisation has raised concerns about two new variants of coronavirus. The Epsilon variant which follows on from the Delta name in the Greek alphabet was first detected In California and the Lambda variant has been picked up in Peru. The WHO says that both variants need to be watched as they are more transmissible and could put up greater resistance to some vaccines. No cases of either of the variants have been picked up yet in France but the Lambda variant has been detected in 30 countries around the world including the U.K. and Germany.
Custody death - Reports from central France say that a man has hanged himself while in police custody. Authorities say that they arrested a man for drink driving in Poitiers late on Monday night and that he was discovered hanging from cell bars where he’d been placed to sober up in the early hours of Tuesday. It’s understood that he’d used his shoe laces to make a noose. An enquiry is underway but local police say that the man had not shown any signs of agitation or depression when he was arrested and had gone through the usual process of being fingerprinted and providing a blood sample.
‘Copter crisis - The town hall at Ramatuelle in the Var says that it’s “disappointed” to have lost a legal case to limit the number of private helicopters flying over the area. The prefecture of the Var set the limit to 50 rerun flights a day this year, up from the 40 permitted last year. Some locals say that the real number is more like 90 a day and residents are becoming increasingly angry about the noise. The town hall says that residents in the picturesque village which includes the famous Pampelonne beach have the right to live in “a balanced environment with respect for their health”. For well heeled clients with property or a yacht in the Gulf of St Tropez, a helicopter is the obvious choice to avoid the daily, worsening traffic jams and a flight from Nice Airport takes only around 15 minutes.
Robo-Pizza - A new pizza joint has opened in Paris, staffed entirely by robots. In a shape of what could be to come, the restaurant kitchen which is enclosed in glass is staffed by a team of robots that build, bake and then box up your pizza. Customers order at a self service terminal and can then watch as the robo-chefs put the pizza together. The kitchen can make up to 80 pizzas an hour and it takes just a few minutes for one pizza to be built, cooked and then boxed up for delivery.
US business lobbying groups are reported to be drawing up battle plans to fight President Biden’s corporate tax hikes. Although US business mostly cheered Mr Biden’s 1.2 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure deal, many large firms are less than happy about the associated tax increases which Democrats plan to pass without Republican votes. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and other lobby groups say that their members are deeply concerned about the effects of a steep corporate tax hike on their businesses. They say that higher taxes equate to fewer jobs and the policy is the wrong way to finance government spending. Mr Biden wants to use corporate tax increases and more taxation on rich Americans to pay for 4 trillion dollars in spending on new transportation, communications research, renewable energy, childcare, housing, education and healthcare. Lobbying groups maintain that tax hikes are not the way to treat businesses that are just starting to emerge from the pandemic.
The U.K. Office for Budget Responsibility has said that the government faces an “increasingly risky” situation as debt soars and the cost of Covid mounts. The OBR says that government debt now stands at around 2.2 trillion pounds or 99.2 percent of GDP. The alarmingly high debt to GDP ratio hasn’t been seen in the U.K. since the early 1960s and comes as greater spending on health and transport is already underway. The OBR says that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing a “difficult trade-off” and will have to decide where to spend now to prevent risks and threats that he knows about versus keeping his powder dry and keeping debt low so that he can deal with threats that he can’t anticipate.
Tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter have threatened to quit Hong Kong if the city moves forward with plans to impose penalties on users who publicly release identifying information about individuals or organisations. The Asia Internet Coalition which represents the three tech giants as well as Apple and LinkedIn has written to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner to warn that the new laws are not aligned with “global norms and trends”. Hong Kong saw a huge amount of ‘doxing’ - or the spread of private information online during the mass pro democracy protests in 2019 with police, politicians, journalists and activists targeted as well as their families. The city’s chief executive Carrie Lam says that the new laws would only target illegal ‘doxing’ and that the privacy commissioner would be happy to meet tech firms if they had concerns.
Euro 2020 - Italy are through to the final of Euro 2020 after beating Spain at Wembley in a penalty shootout. The score was tied at 1-1 at the end of extra time and Italy won the penalty shootout 4-2 to keep them on track for their first European Championship success since 1968.
Tonight’s second semi final, also at Wembley sees England trying to reach the final of a major competition since the World Cup in 1966. Denmark are the opponents who have their own reasons for wanting to reach the final as the squad continues to play for team-mate Christien Erikson who suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening group game but is now slowly recovering. Kick off at Wembley is at 9pm and there will be around 60,000 spectators in the stadium which is around three-quarters of full capacity. The winner to play Italy in the final at Wembley on Sunday night.
Tennis - Aryna Sabalenka is into the semi final of Wimbledon after beating Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-4 6-3. She’ll play Karolina Pliskova in the last four on Thursday. She beat Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-2. The other semi is between Angelique Kerber who beat Karolina Muchova in straight sets and Ashleigh Barty who beat fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-3.
It’s men’s quarter finals day today. Matteo Berrettini plays Felix Auger Aliassime. Roger Federer faces Hubert Hurkacz. Novak Djokovic is up against Marton Fucsovics and Karen Khachanov plays Denis Shapovalov.
Cycling - Mark Cavendish has moved to within one Tour de France tour stage win to equalling the all-time record of Belgian legend Eddy Merckx. The 36-year-old held off the challenge of Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen to win stage 10 from Albertville to Valence. It was his 33rd Tour de France stage victory. Race leader Tadej Pogacar finished safely in the peleton. Today’s 11th stage is 198.9 kilometres between Sorgues and Malaucene with two big climbs in a double ascent up the dreaded Mont Ventoux.
Cricket - England have been forced into naming a new 18 man squad for the one day series against Pakistan after 3 players and four coaching staff tested positive for coronavirus. The rest of the original party must now self isolate and the new squad includes 9 uncapped players. The first one day international is due to be played in Cardiff tomorrow.
Rugby Union - The British and Irish Lions play the third match of their tour of South Africa later as the main Springboks squad is isolating again because of a positive coronavirus case. The Lions play Cell C Sharks at Ellis Park, Johannesburg with kickoff at 7pm. The Lion’s tour match on Saturday against Vodacom Bulls has been called off because of a coronavirus outbreak in the host’s camp.
Partially cloudy with light variable or easterly winds. Top temperatures 26-30 degrees. Overnight lows of 20-22 degrees with clear skies.
Thursday and Friday - Clear skies in coastal areas, some thunder in the mountains tomorrow and highs of 26-31 degrees.