• Trump suggests running for president in 2024, but insists he won't join a new political party.

    Taking the stage for the first time since leaving office, former President Donald Trump on Sunday called for Republican Party unity in a speech at a conservative political conference, even as he exacerbated its divisions and made clear he intended to remain a dominant force in the party. Trump used his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he has been hailed as a returning hero, to blast his successor, President Joe Biden, and try to cement his status as the party’s undisputed leader despite his loss in November. After implying Biden would lose should he stand for election in 2024, he appeared to repeat unfounded claims he won last year's vote, saying: "Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time." “Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage, where his old rally soundtrack had been playing. “I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together ... is far from being over." flipboard mail icon TEXT SIZE AaAa Taking the stage for the first time since leaving office, former President Donald Trump on Sunday called for Republican Party unity in a speech at a conservative political conference, even as he exacerbated its divisions and made clear he intended to remain a dominant force in the party. Trump used his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he has been hailed as a returning hero, to blast his successor, President Joe Biden, and try to cement his status as the party’s undisputed leader despite his loss in November. After implying Biden would lose should he stand for election in 2024, he appeared to repeat unfounded claims he won last year's vote, saying: "Who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time." “Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage, where his old rally soundtrack had been playing. “I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together ... is far from being over." Though Trump has flirted with the idea of creating a third party, he pledged to remain part of what he called “our beloved party." “I'm going to continue to fight right by your side. We're not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It's going to be strong and united like never before.” The event so far at a Hyatt hotel in Orlando, Florida, has been a tribute to Trump and Trumpism, complete with a golden statue in his likeness. Speakers, including many potential GOP 2024 hopefuls, have argued the party must embrace the former president and his followers, even after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They stand in opposition to others who argue the party must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not only the White House but both chambers of Congress in the last elections. “The least popular (leaders) in our party are the ones who want to erase Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s supporters from our party,” said Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, the chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, during a Saturday panel discussion. “And let me tell you, if that happens, we won't win back the majority in 2022. We definitely won’t win back the White House in 2024 if we erase Donald Trump." It is highly unusual for past American presidents to publicly criticise their successors so soon after leaving office, as Trump did with Biden at the Florida event. Ex-presidents typically step out of the spotlight for at least a while; Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation after he departed, while George W. Bush said he believed Obama “deserves my silence" and took up painting.

  • At a socially distant Golden Globes, 'Nomadland,' 'Borat,' and Chadwick Boseman win.

    A socially-distanced Golden Globe ceremony kicked off this year's awards season on Sunday with top gongs going to “Nomadland,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Crown” and “Schitt's Creek.” The 78th edition of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe Awards — hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on different sides of the country — saw homebound nominees appearing by remote video. It also faced criticism over its lack of diversity. The night's top award, best picture drama, went to Chloé Zhao's elegiac road movie “Nomadland," a Western set across economic upheaval and personal grief. Zhao, a China-born filmmaker, became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. She’s only the second woman in the history of the Globes to win, and the first since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl” in 1984. “'Nomadland at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” said Zhao, accepting the awards remotely. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, this is for you." Netflix wins big With a cancelled red carpet and stars giving speeches from the couch, Sunday's Globes had little of their typically frothy flavour. But they went on, nevertheless, with winners in sweats and dogs in laps, in a pandemic that has sapped nearly all the glamour out of Hollywood. Facing scant traditional studio competition, streaming services dominated the Globes like never before — even if the top award went to a familiar if renamed source: Searchlight Pictures, formerly the Fox speciality label of “12 Years a Slave” and “The Shape of Water” now owned by the Walt Disney Co. Amazon's “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” — one of the few nominated films shot partly during the pandemic — won best film, comedy or musical. Its star, guerilla comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, also won best actor in a comedy. Referring to Rudy Giuliani's infamous cameo, Baron Cohen thanked “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius.” “I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping," he said. Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher). “The Queen's Gambit” won best limited series, and best actress in the category for Anya Taylor-Joy. “Schitt's Creek,” the Pop TV series that found a wider audience on Netflix, won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O'Hara also took best actress in a comedy series. Chadwick Boseman, as expected, posthumously won best actor in a drama film for his final performance, in the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — a Netflix release. Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully, emotionally accepted the award. “He would thank God. He would thank his parents. He would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices,” said Ledward. “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring.” Apple TV+ scored its first major award when a sweatshirt-clad Jason Sudeikis won best actor in a comedy series for the streamer's “Ted Lasso.” 'We have our own work to do' The NBC telecast began in split-screen. Fey took the stage at New York's Rainbow Room while Poehler remained at the Globes' usual home at the Beverly Hilton. In their opening remarks, they managed their typically well-timed back-and-forth despite being almost 3,000 miles from each other. “I always knew my career would end with me wandering around the Rainbow Room pretending to talk to Amy," said Fey. “I just thought it would be later.” They appeared before masked attendees but no stars. Instead, the sparse tables — where Hollywood royalty are usually crammed together and plied with alcohol during the show — were occupied by “smoking-hot first responders and essential workers,” as Fey said. In a production nightmare but one that's become familiar during the pandemic, the night's first winner accepted his award while muted. Only after presenter Laura Dern apologised for the technical difficulties did Daniel Kaluuya, who won best supporting actor for his performance as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” get his speech in. When he finally came through, he wagged his finger at the camera and said, “You're doing me dirty!" Pandemic improvising was only part of the damage control for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes. After The Los Angeles Times revealed that there are no Black members in the 87-person voting body of the HFPA, the press association came under mounting pressure to overhaul itself and better reflect the industry it holds sway in. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday's Globes were part apology tour. Fey and Poehler started in quickly on the issue. “Look, a lot of flashy garbage got nominated but that happens,” said Poehler. “That’s like their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.” Within the first half-hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association appeared on stage to pledge change. "We recognise we have our own work to do," said vice president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organisation.” Whether those statements — along with a diverse group of winners — did enough to remedy anything remained unclear. The moment the show ended, Time's Up sent letters to both the HFPA and NBCUniveral demanding more. “The Globes are no longer golden. It’s time to act,” wrote Tina Tchen, the group's president. Track pants and dogs COVID-19 circumstances led to some award-show anomalies. Mark Ruffalo, appearing remotely, won best actor in a limited series for “I Know This Much Is True” with his kids celebrating behind him and his wife, Sunrise Coigney, sitting alongside. Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama “Minari" (a movie the HFPA was criticised for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign-language film while his young daughter embraced him. “She's the reason I made this film,” said Chung. John Boyega, supporting actor winner for his performance in Steve McQueen's “Small Axe” anthology, raised his leg to show he was wearing track pants below his more elegant white jacket. Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") won one of the biggest surprise Globes, for best supporting actress in a film, while, sitting on the couch next her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and with her dog, Ziggy on her lap. Even if speeches sometimes lacked drama without Hollywood gathered in one place, representation was a common refrain. Pointedly referring to the diversity of the HFPA, presenter and previous winner Sterling K. Brown began, “Thank you. It is great to be Black at the Golden Globes,” he said. “Back.” Jane Fonda, the Cecil B. DeMille Award honoree, spoke passionately about expanding the big tent of entertainment for all. “Art has always been not just in step with history but has lead the way,” said Fonda. “So let’s be leaders.” Other awards included Pixar's “Soul” for best-animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for “I Care a Lot"; Aaron Sorkin ("Trial of the Chicago 7") for best screenplay; and, in the night's biggest surprise, Andra Day ("The United States vs. Billie Holiday") for best actress in a drama, besting Carey Mulligan ("Promising Young Woman") and Frances McDormand ("Nomadland"). Despite considerable pre-show backlash, the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. The Academy Awards will be held April 25.

  • Tiger Woods recovering and in ‘good spirits’ following treatment after car crash

    Tiger Woods is recovering and in “good spirits” after a second day of treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following his horrific rollover solo car smash that left him with serious leg injuries. The golf superstar was transferred to Cedars-Sinai on Wednesday night after undergoing emergency surgery the day before at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to repair compound fractures sustained in each leg in addition to a shattered ankle. “Tiger and his family want to thank you all for the wonderful support and messages they have received over the past few days,” said a statement on Woods’ Twitter account. “We will not have any further updates at this time. Thank you for your continued privacy.” The 15-time major champion Woods was driving alone Tuesday morning in a south Los Angeles suburb when his SUV hit the centre median, crossed into the opposing lane, struck a tree and then rolled over several times. Friday’s statement did not go into detail about what type of follow up treatment Woods is receiving at Cedars-Sinai which is located about 15 kilometres (nine miles) west of Los Angeles and is renowed for treating Hollywood’s rich and famous. Woods’ surgery included the insertion of a rod into Woods’s shin bone and the use of “a combination of screws and pins” to stabilize his foot and ankle. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Wednesday that Woods wouldn’t face charges related to the crash. “This remains an accident. Accident is not a crime. They do happen, unfortunately,” he said. Woods has won the second most major championships in history behind Jack Nicklaus’ 18. He has 82 PGA Tour victories which is tied with Sam Snead for the all-time record.

  • Cecilia Bartoli: A new artistic direction for the Opera de Monte-Carlo

    Cecilia Bartoli and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo have a long-lasting love affair. Together they recently mesmerised audiences in the Garnier Hall with Rossini's final comic opera, “Le Comte Ory”. Bartoli's busy schedule includes stage performances, pulling the strings behind the scenes and now preparing for a new role. In 2023, the legendary mezzo-soprano will become the Opera de Monte-Carlo's new artistic director, the first woman to have this honour. Jean-Louis Grinda is the current director of the Opera de Monte-Carlo. He describes Bartoli as a "legend". They're "appointing a woman who is extraordinarily skilled, an artist who has left her mark on the history of the opera". Bartoli's career Cecilia Bartoli is the daughter of a singing teacher. She made her debut in Rome in 1987 as Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Her talent was immediately recognised and she has now performed in countless locations across the globe, including Salzburg, the Metropolitan Opera New York, London’s Royal Opera House and many more. She has five Grammys and over a dozen Echos and Brit Awards. Her hard work is described by Moshe Leiser, stage director at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, as "going above and beyond". This is maybe one reason why she has won the Polar Music Prize, the Léonie-Sonning-Music Prize and the Herbert von Karajan Prize. Or perhaps she's been so successful because of her passion for her work that stage director, Patrice Caurier, says "she dedicates all her energy to". Cecilia Bartoli herself says her desire was only "to make music together with other musicians". She started off slowly by learning the piano and then some trumpet. She tells us that she never imagined becoming an artistic director, it was a great surprise to her. The Opéra de Monte-Carlo Her new artistic home is an architectural jewel by Charles Garnier, the designer of the Paris Opera. It's a place that she calls magical and "acoustically incredible". All the greatest singers, past and present, have sung there, like Caruso, Beniamino Gigli and Tebaldi. Bartoli tells us it makes "the history of the theatre really important". As for choosing this iconic Mezzo-Soprano as the new artistic director, Jean-Louis Grinda simply says he's "convinced that opera houses should be run by artists. Artists understand all that’s at stake in theatres and artists know how to take these risks". A new artistic direction Some of Bartoli's aspirations for her new position include inviting artists who have never had the chance to perform at the Opera house to sing there. She would also like to "open a door to the world of Baroque and Mozart". She hopes to start this new position by continuing "with a lot of energy and love" because, as she says, "in the end that's what it's all about".

  • Park Lane Club Casino Claim Rejected, High Roller Cannot Collect Affirmed Incentives

    A lawsuit filed against London’s Park Lane Club by a high roller who claimed he was owed incentives has been dismissed.Located in the swanky Mayfair district amid London’s five-star hotels, the private Park Lane Club was sued by guest Juste Puharic last November. A businessman originally from Croatia, attorneys representing Puharic alleged that he was promised incentives for his high-stakes gaming escapade that ran some five days. Puharic argued he was “contractually entitled” to around £243,000 (US$340,000). This week, a judge in the High Court said he was not. Winners Can’t Be Losers Park Lane denied that it ever promised Puharic any sort of incentive to gamble at the luxurious club. It hasn’t been disclosed whether Puharic was a member or guest at the club. Park Lane’s membership includes many of London’s most elite residents. The casino said in court that it quite frankly didn’t care whether Puharic gambled there or elsewhere. An attorney said Park Lane was “not particularly interested” in Puharic’s business. Puharic says he was lured to gamble larger stakes. Following his five days of gambling, he finished on the winning end. He quit ahead roughly £1.5 million (US$2.1 million). In his dismissal, High Court Judge Gavin Mansfield said there was no physical contract showing Puharic was owed an incentive. The claimant was paid his winnings. This claim concerns an additional amount: a bonus or incentive,” the judge reasoned. “In my judgment, there was no concluded agreement reached between the parties about bonuses or incentives.” Even if there were a physical contract, the legal case would have been weak, as casino incentives are typically used against losses. Park Lane Club attorney Guy Olliff-Cooper told LADBible, a UK media outlet, that incentives tend to come in the form of free hospitality, including dining, drinks, and lodging. Any offered commission is to be credited against losses. “Casinos use a variety of incentives to attract customers,” Olliff-Cooper explained. “The defendant’s position is simply that it never made him this offer.” “This action should be dismissed,” Judge Mansfield finished. Park Lane Opening Park Lane’s luxury boutique indoor casino and terrace gaming patio have been dark since it was once again forced to shutter on government orders effective December 16. But in UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reopening plan unveiled this week, high street betting shops and casinos are able to resume operations beginning April 12. While that date could change, it’s welcomed news to England’s gaming industry, which has been heavily damaged by the pandemic. Park Lane’s casino has 20 slot machines, and a limited number of table games, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat and three card poker.

  • Best Looks at Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2021

  • Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's daughter publics a selfie after saying father saved her

    Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's daughter took to social media to share a rare selfie with her followers. Isabella Kidman Cruise is rarely seen in the spotlight after swerving the very public lives that her parents lead. Artist Bella, 28, usually posts pictures of her stunning artwork on Instagram. But she recently treated her fans to a rare photograph of herself. She looks beautiful in the black-and-white snap which sees her standing on a snow-covered train platform, wrapped up warm in a winter coat, hat and scarf. She captioned it: "Same face, new prints now available on the shop" One fan told her: "BEAUTIFUL FACE!!!!" While another commented: "Nice to see you Bella" A third penned: "and such a pretty face it is" Bella was adopted by Tom and Nicole in 1992 while they were married, and her younger brother Connor, 26, was also adopted by the A-list couple three years later. She recently spoke about how her famous dad had saved her from her problems. She had appeared in a marketing ad to credit the Church of Scientology for providing the missing piece in her life. Bella undertook extensive training to become an auditor. And she said she was "drowning in problems" before qualifying for the role in an email shared with London-based Scientologists before being shared on blog The Underground Bunker. She wrote: "It turned out it was exactly what I needed. I dragged out the testing and correction, just made it through the drilling and then finally began my auditing adventure, and wow, I wasn't prepared. "This IS what I had been searching for. The missing piece." The artist, who lives in Croydon, credited her dad and her aunt, Cass Mapother, as well as various members of the church for helping her work through her issues during her training. She continued: "Thank you to my Dad for everything. To Cass. To Tash. I would have drowned in my own problems if you hadn't been there to sup me or get me through the preliminaries."

  • Vaccine certificates would be accessible in three months. European Commission President

    EU vaccine certificates could be ready to use within three months, according to the European Commission President. Ursula von der Leyen was speaking at a press conference in Brussels Thursday, after a virtual meeting of the continent's leaders, where she said that a document saying whether citizens have been inoculated or not could be put to use soon. "The time frame, the three months is regarding the technical development, so we do need at least three months for the technical development of an interoperable system on the European level. There is lots of work to do by the Commission on the European level and lots of work to do technically for the member states on the national level," von der Leyen explained. The certificate will be for those who have received their jab, a negative PCR test or who already have antibodies. And according to Guntram Wolff, Director of think-tank Bruegel, it should be quite straightforward. "We have vaccination passes already now and these vaccination passes are used as proof when you travel to countries, for example, for yellow fever. So yes there might have to be a bit of adaptation of these kinds of passes, but at the end of the day, I’m sure this is no rocket science, it is something very simple and it should be implementable," Wolff told Euronews. EU nations divided While southern European countries dependent on tourism, like Greece and Spain, support certificates, northern EU nations like Germany have so far been sceptical on whether such a system would work. “First it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview published Thursday in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.” "I feel that there is a lot of confusion sometimes on this subject," said French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking at a press conference after the summit on Thursday. "If we manage to reopen certain places, we cannot condition their access to vaccination, even though we would not even have opened vaccination to the youngest." 'Speeding up production and delivery' EU heads of state and government were meeting to take stock of the epidemiological situation on the continent, where they also agreed to prioritise increasing the production and delivery of vaccines, saying that they will work with the pharmaceutical industry to facilitate the process. "Our top priority now is speeding up the production and delivery of vaccines and vaccinations across the European Union and it is why we support the Commission’s efforts to work with industry to identify bottlenecks, guarantee supply chains and scale up production and we want more predictability and transparency to ensure pharmaceutical companies comply with their commitments," European Council President Charles Michel said Thursday. He also said that the 27-member bloc must continue to invest in vaccine research, in order to fight against any new COVID-19 variants that may arise. EU leaders will hold another videoconference call tomorrow to discuss security and defence, as well as relations with the Southern Neighbourhood countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

  • Paris 'will propose' a three-week city lockdown to check COVID-19 spike

    Paris will propose a three-week city lockdown to the government in a bid to curb a recent spike in coronavirus infections, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire told the broadcaster France Info on Thursday. The announcement comes as the French capital was placed under increased surveillance due to deteriorating coronavirus indicators, along with more than a dozen other regions. French Prime Minister Jean Castex, speaking before Grégoire, said additional measures, such as weekend lockdowns, could be implemented in Paris and 19 other regions if the situation continues to worsen. It comes after regions around Dunkirk and Nice were this week placed on weekend lockdowns to push back against a spike in coronavirus cases. Paris will propose a three-week city lockdown to the government in a bid to curb a recent spike in coronavirus infections, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire told the broadcaster France Info on Thursday. The announcement comes as the French capital was placed under increased surveillance due to deteriorating coronavirus indicators, along with more than a dozen other regions. French Prime Minister Jean Castex, speaking before Grégoire, said additional measures, such as weekend lockdowns, could be implemented in Paris and 19 other regions if the situation continues to worsen. It comes after regions around Dunkirk and Nice were this week placed on weekend lockdowns to push back against a spike in coronavirus cases. "I asked the prefects to start consulting with elected officials in order (...) to consider, in all or part of these areas, protection measures similar to those implemented in Nice and Dunkirk," Prime Minister Castex said on Thursday afternoon. The new restrictions, if confirmed, would enter into force on the weekend of March 6, he added. But Grégoire said that the Paris City Hall preferred a short, full-scale lockdown with "the prospect of reopening everything in three weeks" rather than a weekend lockdown. The latter would be "very restrictive in terms of societal impact and not very effective in terms of health," the Deputy-Mayor said. “The health situation of our country has worsened in recent days,” Castex said, citing the circulation of new variants as the main reason. The so-called British variant now makes up “about half” of positive cases, up from 40% last week. On Wednesday, authorities reported another 31,519 new cases of COVID-19 - a steep rise from the 25,018 cases from a week ago and a record high since mid-November. New figures released on Thursday evening were not as alarming, with 25,403 new infections according to a French government website. France has so far managed to avoid a third national lockdown, opting instead for border restrictions and a 6 pm to 6 am curfew.

  • Elon Musk loses world's richest title

    Tesla boss Elon Musk has lost his title as the world's richest person after a recent slide in the electric carmaker's shares, the main driver of his wealth. Tesla shares have tumbled more than 20% since hitting a high of more than $880 in early January. They suffered especially steep falls this week, tied to the firm's recent risky $1.5bn (£1bn) investment in Bitcoin. The drop returned Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to the top spot on the rich list. The risk of being associated with the notoriously volatile Bitcoin - which has fallen sharply in recent days - may have prompted some Tesla investors to sell their shares, even if the firm has not been hurt by the declines, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said. "By Musk and Tesla aggressively embracing Bitcoin... investors are starting to tie Bitcoin and Tesla at the hip," he said. "The recent 48-hour sell-off in Bitcoin and added volatility has driven some investors to the exits on this name in the near-term." What is causing the Bitcoin sell-off? Bitcoin's value jumped nearly 50% in the weeks after Tesla revealed it had purchased $1.5bn of the currency and planned to accept it as payment. But since climbing above $57,000 on Sunday, the cryptocurrency has dropped nearly 20%. It was trading at less than $48,000 on Tuesday - still higher than when Tesla disclosed its bet. Why is the richest man in the world talking about Bitcoin? Bitcoin keeps hitting new highs after Tesla backing Just as Mr Musk was credited with helping to fuel Bitcoin's rise, he may also have himself to blame for some of the recent Bitcoin declines. In an exchange on Twitter over the weekend Mr Musk wrote that the price of Bitcoin did "seem high lol". Also driving the cryptocurrency lower were comments from US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who sounded a warning on Bitcoin on Monday. She called it an "extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions". The comments follow a recent surge of interest in Bitcoin, after major US firms such as Mastercard and Bank of NY Mellon followed Tesla's lead in announcing plans to incorporate the digital currency into their operations. What else is affecting Tesla? Mr Musk's attention to Bitcoin comes as Tesla faces other challenges. The firm recently halted most sales of the lowest-priced version of its Model Y SUV, with Mr Musk citing a desire to improve the car's range. Earlier this month, Chinese regulators summoned the firm over safety and quality issues, after reports of battery fires and abnormal acceleration. Rival carmakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen have also stepped up their focus on electric vehicles in recent months. The struggles follow an astonishing rise in Tesla shares in 2020, when prices leapt from less than $90 to more than $700. The increase propelled Mr Musk past Amazon boss Jeff Bezos in the world's richest rankings for the first time in January, while also raising questions about whether that value made sense for a firm that produces a fraction of the cars of its rivals. The two billionaires have been vying for the top spot in the weeks since. The more than 8% decline in Tesla's share price on Monday was the biggest since September and wiped more than $15bn off Mr Musk's net worth, according to Bloomberg. Shares fell a further 2% on Tuesday. Mr Musk's tweets have also famously triggered sharp moves in Tesla shares, including last year when the firm lost $14bn in market value after he wrote that its share price was too high.

  • Angela Merkel warns of third wave of covid-19

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that her country could be caught in a third wave of Covid-19 if it lifts its lockdown too quickly. Her comments come as daycare centers and elementary schools were reopened in 10 of the Germany's 16 states this week, and as the nation mulls ways to lift the heavy restrictions that have shuttered the country's non-essential businesses for more than 10 weeks. "Because of (variants), we are entering a new phase of the pandemic, from which a third wave may emerge,'' Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an interview published on Wednesday. "So we must proceed wisely and carefully so that a third wave does not necessitate a new complete shutdown throughout Germany." Much of Europe is recording cases of newer Covid-19 variants, particularly ones that first emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Both are believed to spread more rapidly than previous variants. In Germany's staggered approach to reopening, hairdressers are due to resume business on March 1, while most other businesses must stay shut until March 7. There are currently around 61.7 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in Germany, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country's public health authority. Merkel has said the goal is to reduce that incident rate to 35 per 100,000 in order to reopen the economy in a meaningful way. Merkel defended the states' decisions to reopen schools, saying that districts achieving the 35 in 100,000 rate could do so without having an impact on other areas. She added that widescale testing would be rolled out in line with the country's staggered reopening. "An intelligent opening strategy is inextricably linked with comprehensive quick tests, as it were as free tests," Merkel added. "I cannot say exactly how long it will take to install such a system. But it will be in March." Germany has been able to slow the Covid-19 infection rate with its lockdown, which included the closure of its borders with Austria and the Czech Republic. Czech health authorities are now confirming record daily infection cases, with its death toll climbing to one of the world's worst per capita, pushing its hospitals to the brink of collapse. Germany, like many European Union nations, is struggling to roll out a widespread vaccination program that would aid a more rapid reopening of its economy. The European Union is distributing its vaccines equally among its 27 member states, proportionate to their populations, but it has received tens of millions fewer doses than it expected. The European Parliament is expected to grill pharmaceutical companies in a public hearing Thursday, demanding answers around failures to deliver on agreed numbers of vaccine doses. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has warned that restrictions in his country are starting to lose their impact, highlighting the urgent need of a boost to the bloc's vaccine stocks. "The objective situation in Austria was simply that after six weeks the lockdown had lost its effect. People have adhered to it less and less, there have been more and more shifts to the private sector, and a lockdown where no one participates, of course, makes little sense," he told German newspaper Bild. He will push the European Union on Thursday to instate a "green passport" system to allow people who have been vaccinated to travel within the bloc. As Germany and several other European nations consider how to lift their restrictions, France -- which resisted a new national lockdown as new variants emerged -- is imposing new ones. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce new measures on Thursday. The French Riviera has been placed under weekend lockdowns, for the next two weeks, while the region around the northern port town of Dunkirk will begin weekend lockdowns on Saturday.

  • Philharmonic orchestras accused of discrimination, how one violinist hit back at the comments

    Time and again philharmonic orchestras are accused of discrimination. Zhang Zhang, a member of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, spoke out on the 23 February about the latest accusations made by musician Ibrahim Maalouf. It all started on the 1 January 2021. A twitter post by trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, accusing the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra of “a lack of ethnic diversity”, sparked a controversial debate, after Zhang Zhang responded to the tweeted accusations. The media quickly picked up on the tensions, inviting Ibrahim Maalouf for a television interview on the programme “C à Vous”. Before going on air with tv channel France 5, the other musician involved in the debate was never confronted or asked to share their side of the story with the public. Zhang Zhang has her say in Le Figaro Internationally renowned violinist, Zhang Zhang, took to the French newspaper Figaro to have her say on the matter. She sought to remind the public about the methods in place to avoid any kind of bias during the audition process for a place in the orchestra. A screen separates the jury from the candidates meaning “the artists are chosen for their musical talent, [not] for the colour of their skin, their gender or their ethnicity.” By being unable to see the candidates, the jury makes up their mind solely by listening to their performances. Zhang Zhang, who also runs the charity ZhangomusiQ, went on to praise the music produced by the orchestra, which brings together all kinds of people, from all different backgrounds. She finished her article by asking Ibrahim Maalouf to “leave art out of [his] sordid political agenda.”

  • Crypto Exchange Asks Customers To Return Bitcoin After Selling It At 88% Discount

    What Happened: The largest crypto exchange in Southeast Asia, Philippines-based PDAX, experienced a technical failure that led to Bitcoin trading at $6,000 – an 88% discount to its current price. Following the incident, PDAX asked its customers to return their Bitcoins, threatening legal action, a local news outlet Bitpinas has reported. According to the exchange’s CEO, the system error was not due to a hack but a technical “glitch” caused by a massive surge in trading activity. Why It Matters: The initial outage is said to have taken place on February 18; however, since then, reports have surfaced on social media of customers being locked out of their exchange accounts and being asked to “return their Bitcoin.” “After almost 24 hours, they sent me a demand letter and SMS, requesting me to transfer back the BTC, or they “may” be compelled to take legal actions against me.” said one trader who believed his purchase was well within his rights without violating any laws or regulations of the trading platform. Rafael Padilla, an attorney representing the affected users who are currently locked out of their accounts, commented on the issue on Facebook. “Our client’s trade transaction was legitimate under applicable laws, decided cases, and of course according to PDAX’s very own terms and conditions/user agreement.” According to Padilla, PDAX has opted to lock users out of their accounts because it cannot unilaterally reverse the transactions. An official statement from PDAX claims that 95% of accounts have been restored, but according to the report, many users are still locked out of their accounts. “It’s very understandable that a lot of users will feel upset they were able to buy what they thought an order was there for Bitcoin at very low prices. But unfortunately, the underlying Bitcoins were never in the possession of the exchange, so there’s never really anything there to be bought or sold, unfortunately.”, said PDAX CEO Nichel Gaba in a press conference earlier today.

  • Simon Cowell's Son Compared Him to Ironman After Breaking His Back

    Simon Cowell reflected on the aftermath of his painful back injury and his son’s reaction for the first time since the August 2020 accident “It could have been a lot worse,” the former American Idol judge, 61, told Extra on Wednesday, February 24. “When I saw the X-ray, I really nearly could have smashed my spine to pieces. So, I literally wouldn’t have been able to walk. I knew I’d broken my back the minute I landed. It was really, really kind of sudden and it hurt.” Cowell explained how “you’re not supposed to move” in situations like that, but he wanted to do the exact opposite at the time. “I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to get back into the house because I can’t lie there’ and made myself kind of get carried into my bedroom, which is right there at the beginning of the house,” he recalled. “And I’m lying there and I’m kind of passing out … It was surreal.” Us Weekly confirmed in August 2020 that the U.K. native was hospitalized in Los Angeles after falling while testing his electric bicycle outside of his Malibu home. A spokesperson for Cowell told Us that he was “doing fine” and was “under observation” before undergoing surgery. “Some good advice … If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time,” the TV personality tweeted at the time. “I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages. And a massive thank you to all the nurses and doctors. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. Stay safe everyone.” The X-Factor creator told Extra on Wednesday what the “hardest thing” was about his return home from the hospital. “I was so embarrassed about coming home looking about 100 because I couldn’t walk, and I have these metal rods in my back and these screws,” he shared. “I said [to my girlfriend Lauren Silverman], ‘Lauren, I just don’t know how to explain it to [our son Eric].’ She obviously said something to him because he came in … and I was lying in bed and he said, ‘Daddy, you’re like Ironman,’ and I thought that was the sweetest thing and it meant a lot.” Cowell noted that “the helplessness” was hard for him to go through, adding, “I’ve never been in this situation in my life where you literally can’t move. The pain was off the charts, but you’ve got to stay positive. I made a promise to myself I’d be fitter than I was before I had the accident. Sure enough, that’s what happened.” The businessman was one of the judges on America’s Got Talent at the time of his accident. Kelly Clarkson, in turn, temporarily filled in for Cowell amid his absence. He tweeted his appreciation at the time, writing, “Thank you @kellyclarkson. Miss all of you. What a Great Show. #AGT.” When Cowell returned home from the hospital, a source told Us that he was “in good spirits” while under Silverman’s care. “His back is well on the mend,” the insider continued. “The surgery he had needs to heal right, so he’s taking care to make sure that happens properly and will make a total recovery on it. As bad as the accident was, he’s incredibly grateful because he knows it could have been much worse.” A second source told Us in October 2020 that Cowell had been “up and walking since day two” of being home, while a third insider revealed that “he’s doing 10,000 steps a day and swimming regularly.”

  • The Principe Government was holding a press conference today to give an update on the health situation

    Initially, a comparison of the virus incidence rate between the Maritime Alps, the Principality and France was presented: the Monegasque incidence rate, although still worrying, is considerably lower than that found in in the neighbouring French department .. - Illustration 1 (Legend: Green / Monaco - Blue / France - Red / Alpes-Maritimes) Immunization campaign figures were then reported: as of 23 February, 8028 people were immunized in the Principality, equivalent to 21,13 % of the population. - Illustration 2 Finally, the Government has stressed the prudence of rigor in this school holiday season where relaxation is legitimate. Strengthening border controls, as well as Monaco railway station, has been put in place. However, the partial lockdown on the weekends, as well as the closure of businesses, are not contemplated by the Principe Government, which nevertheless insists on the importance of respecting barriers.- Illustration 3 Source : Gouvernement Monaco

  • Beach volleyball stars allowed to wear bikinis as ‘standard uniform’ in Qatar after tournament boycott threats over ‘work clothes’

    Organizers of a major volleyball tournament in Qatar have backed down over the wearing of bikinis, potentially ending a row that saw two German players vow to boycott the event over an apparent ban on skimpy teamwear. German stars Karla Borger and Julia Sude said they would skip the competition after being prohibited from donning their regular sports uniform in Qatar in order out of “respect for the culture and traditions of the host country.” The players had lambasted the clothing restrictions and expressed their anger at the tournament organizers who they felt had demanded to “tell them what to wear.” “We are there to do our job but are being prevented from wearing our work clothes,” Borger said. “This is really the only country and the only tournament where a government tells us how to do our job – we are criticizing that." The world silver medalists questioned the FIVB’s choice of a host country where they would not be allowed to play in bikinis during severe heat. “We are asking whether it’s necessary to hold a tournament there at all,” Sude said. Event organizers softened their stance on the bikini rule on Monday, saying that there would be no restrictions regarding player clothing. The Qatar Volleyball Association said it was “not making any demand on what athletes should wear at the event.” “The FIVB believes strongly that women's beach volleyball, as all sport, should be judged on performance and effort and not on uniform,” the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) said. “Therefore, during the competition in Doha, should players request to wear the standard uniform, they will be free to do so.”

  • German investigators seize 23 tonnes of cocaine in record European haul

    Investigators have seized 23 tonnes of cocaine in a record haul of the drug in Europe, with a street value of billions of euros, German customs said Wednesday. The 28-year-old owner of an import company in Rotterdam was arrested early Wednesday in the Netherlands over the illicit cargo, as Dutch police searched two premises—one in the port city and another in a nearby village. The drugs intercepted were all bound for “the same destination in the Netherlands,” Dutch police said. “The seized mega shipments to the Netherlands together form an absolute record. Never before has so much cocaine been intercepted at once,” they said in a statement. German officers had first discovered 16 tonnes of cocaine hidden in containers from Paraguay at the port of Hamburg on February 12, following a tip from a company based in the Netherlands. Joint investigations into the stash led authorities to swoop on another 7.2 tonnes in cocaine at the port of Antwerp in Belgium, German customs said. The stash in Belgium was hidden in a container full of wooden blocks, investigators said. “The find counts among the world’s top five,” Hamburg customs office chief Rene Matschke told AFP. ‘Clear irregularities’ Customs officers at the busy Hamburg port took a closer look at the Paraguayan containers as they noticed “clear irregularities” with its contents—tin cans that were meant to be filled with putty. Ordering the containers unloaded, they found that “beyond a layer of genuine goods packed just behind the container door, numerous tin cans were in fact filled with other goods.” In all some 16 tonnes of cocaine were eventually found in over 1,700 tin cans. “We are estimating a street sales value of between 1.5 billion and 3.5 billion ($1.8 billion-$4.3 billion) for the 16 tonnes ,” Matschke told AFP, noting the higher value if the drug was sold “cut” or diluted with other substances. In all, 102 tonnes of cocaine headed for the European continent were intercepted last year by an international law enforcement project co-implemented by the UN. The bulk of the cargo arrived at Europe’s second biggest port Antwerp, where an all-time record of 65.5 tonnes were seized in 2020. The drugs come from Latin America—principally Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador—and are usually found hidden away in cargo containers offloaded from ships.


    37 th Primo Cup - Credit Suisse Trophy (J / 70, Smeralda 888 and Dragon) About sixty crews divided into three series (J / 70, Smeralda 888 and Dragon), will invest the Monegasque waterway for the traditional Primo Cup - Credit Suisse Trophy, organized from March 4 to 7, 2021. Launched in 1985 under the leadership of HSH Prince Albert II, President of the YCM, this regatta equipped with technical clothing from the equipment supplier Slam has established itself as the largest European gathering of winter regattas in the Mediterranean. . The passion for racing Whether they are simple enthusiasts, experienced sailors or professionals, all take pleasure in participating in this international regatta at the start of the season, which in J / 70 constitutes the final act of the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series. Very active in the Principality, the J / 70 class will also see its world championship organized in the Principality in 2022. Also, many very experienced international crews, like the Italians of Petite terrible-Adria Ferries, reigning European J / 70 champions, will be keen to set out to conquer the Monegasque waterway. It will also be necessary to rely on the experience and mastery of local racers such as Giangiacomo Serena di Lapigio ( G-spot ) or Ludovico Fassitelli ( Junda-Banca del Sempione ) from the YCM Also note the participation of young racers from Nacra 15, Optimist and Laser from the Sports Section of the Yacht Club de Monaco. Mixture of elegance, finesse and power, the Dragons will also come to follow the edges. This Marconi sloop, which turns 92 this year, requires a certain touch of the bar and opens the prospect of great maneuvers in which the president of the series Jens Rathsack, also a member of the YCM, will participate. Smeralda 888: the gentlemen at the helm The meeting marks the start of the series championship, won three times by Timofey Sukhotin ( Beda ). The defending champion will be keen to support his domination against Botta Dritta led by Francesco Vauban or Prince Charles de Bourbon of the Two Sicilies ( Vamos mi Amor ), president of the class and 6 times winner of the championship. From this weekend (Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 February), the “smeraldists” will participate in Match Race training, the format of the challenges of the America's Cup. Prevention above all Like the last act of the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series organized last January, the crews will have the opportunity to perform antigenic tests organized by the J / 70 Monaco Class Association. A willingness to assist foreign crews to come and participate in the meeting in compliance with health regulations when returning to their country. In order to avoid groupings on the billboard, the organizers have also set up a system for transferring information digitally. 37 th Primo Cup Program - Credit Suisse Trophy (subject to change) Thursday March 4, 2021: 2:30 p.m. Training regatta Friday March 5, 2021: 12 p.m. Regatta (first warning signal) Saturday March 6, 2021: 11:00 am Regatta (first warning signal) Sunday March 7, 2021: 11:00 am Regatta followed by the award ceremony Press contacts: Tel: (377) 93 10 64 09 - E-mail: [email protected] Source : Yacht Club de Monaco

  • Edvard Munch Authored Mysterious Writing on ‘The Scream,’ New Analysis Reveals

    In 1904, a Danish critic took a close look at Edvard Munch’s The Scream and noticed something startling: faint handwriting in the far corner of the canvas that reads, “Can only have been painted by a madman.” Since then, the origins of the inscription baffled curators, some of whom assumed it was graffiti by a spectator or a jab at the famously anguished artist. But a new analysis of the painting by Norway’s National Museum has revealed the words were added by Munch himself. In the run-up to the inauguration of its renovated museum, now slated to open in Oslo in 2022, a new study conducted in collaboration with the Munch Museum has shed new light on the original 1893 version of The Scream. Using infrared technology to analyze the handwriting and compare it with Munch’s diaries and letters, researchers determined that Munch was indeed the short text’s author. He likely wrote the phrase in 1895 or shortly after that in response to particularly cutting criticism received after exhibiting The Scream for the first time in his native Kristiania. Viewers were repulsed by the painting’s palpable agony, and some openly speculated that the screaming figure at its furious center must be the artist. During a discussion of the work at the Students Association, a young medical student Johan Scharffenberg even claimed that the work proved that Munch was not of sound mind. Munch returned to the incident again and again in his letters and diaries. “We know that he we was very upset when critics of his work questioned his sanity and called his paintings a disgrace,” National Museum curator Mai Britt Guleng told ARTnews. “Mental illness was a sore point for Munch because there was a history of mental illness in his close family.” Both Munch’s father and sister suffered bouts of depression, and the latter was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. By his own admission, Munch had neither a happy childhood nor a smooth adult life. “Disease, insanity, and death were the angels that attended my cradle, and since then have followed me throughout my life,” he once wrote. Exacerbated by his alcoholism, Munch was finally hospitalized after a nervous breakdown in 1908. He explicitly wrestled with depression, loss, and anxiety in his paintings, which often featured phantoms of lost love and family. According to a diary entry, Munch conceived of The Scream while walking out at sunset in Kristiania where, upon viewing the blood red clouds, he sensed an “infinite scream passing through nature.” Between 1893 and 1910, Munch made four versions of the scene—two paintings and two pastels—as well as a number of prints of the same subject. Reflecting on his masterpiece, Munch said his goal was “the study of the soul, that is to say the study of my own self.”

  • Unpublished Dalí Drawings Shed Light on Surrealist’s Connections to Works by Old Masters

    New research has revealed a close link between Salvador Dalí and Leonardo da Vinci. According to a report by the Guardian, a previously unpublished preparatory drawing of Dalí’s 1955 painting The Sacrament of the Last Supper was likely inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s famed 15th-century mural. The Dalí drawing shows Christ, as in Leonardo’s painting, at the center of the composition. Though Dalí’s final painting, which is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., depicts a dreamy scene that takes place along the Catalan coast, the work borrows its basic structure from Leonardo’s depiction, which hews much closer to its original biblical source in subject matter. This and two additional unpublished drawings “are important in that they reveal the creative process of the artist,” art historian Jean-Pierre Isbouts told the Guardian, adding, “They reveal Dalí as a meticulous artist, contradicting his image as an exuberant surrealist who just paints whatever comes into his mind.” Other drawings for Dalí’s paintings Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), 1954, and Skull of Zurbarán (1956) reveal how those works were influenced by pieces by the 16th-century mathematician and architect Juan de Herrera and the 17th-century artist Francisco de Zurbarán. All three sketches are owned by Christopher Heath Brown, an American collector of Dalí’s works on paper, and these and other pieces are featured in a forthcoming book co-authored by Isbouts and titled The Dalí Legacy: How an Eccentric Genius Changed the Art World and Created a Lasting Legacy.

  • Harry Potter video game designer outed as ‘far right YouTuber,’ but cancel culture calls met with pushback

    A lead designer for the Harry Potter video game ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ has found himself embroiled in controversy after old right-leaning videos were uncovered by social justice warriors. The designer, Troy Leavitt, is currently working with development studio Avalanche Software on the highly anticipated video game, but many on social media appear to want him nowhere near the project now that his past has been put under the spotlight. Leavitt’s YouTube videos have included titles like “The Injustice of Social Justice,” “In Praise of Cultural Appropriation,” and “Are Thoughtcrimes Becoming Real?” First highlighted by Did You Know Gaming contributor Liam Robertson, Leavitt was accused of being a “far-right YouTuber” making “anti-fem[inist]” videos. While there have been plenty of social media users denouncing Leavitt for his personal YouTube page, there has also been a quick response from cancel culture critics who are spinning Leavitt’s controversy into a good thing. “Where can I pre-order?” asked one Twitter user, echoing similar statements from numerous others. Leavitt’s YouTube channel is personal, but it is promoted on his Twitter page. In one video, he claims his employers, Avalanche and Warner Bros, are aware of his output and did not object to it when it came to their attention. “I’m happy to say that, even though I disclosed my YouTube channel to WB Games, it didn’t appear to be an issue for them,” Leavitt said. Warner Bros, however, felt forced to distance the game from the creator of the franchise after the criticisms, updating the game’s site to say Rowling is not “directly involved” in the project. The pushback trend could also be seen in the case of Gina Carano recently, as well. The MMA-fighter-turned-actress was dismissed from the popular series ‘The Mandalorian’ by Disney after angered liberals took issue with multiple right-leaning social media posts, one in particular comparing modern political discourse in the US to Nazi Germany. Shortly after her firing, Carano signed a movie deal with the Daily Wire. Founder Ben Shapiro promised to “uncancel” the star and others through his new film distribution wing.

  • ‘We didn’t quite understand’: Medvedev shared Djokovic confusion over Australian Open booing, says he does not want Covid vaccine

    Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev has described the reaction to the tournament closing ceremony, when an organizer refenced politics and a Covid-19 vaccine, as "strange" – and said that he would not choose to have a jab. ATP Tour Finals winner Medvedev missed out on his first Grand Slam before taking part in a ceremony that courted confusion as speaker Jayne Hrdlicka was greeted with occasional boos. Jeers from the lively crowd were first audible when Tennis Australia boss Hrdlicka spoke of her optimism about the emergence of vaccines, and the boos grew louder when she praised politicians in the Victoria region during a week when a snap lockdown had been introduced. “Even Novak and I didn’t quite understand what was being discussed,"said Medvedev, who has risen to number three in the rankings despite his 20-match winning streak coming to an end against the world number one. "When you are standing on the court, it is hard to hear what is being said into the microphone – especially when the audience is making noise. There were two strange reactions there." Djokovic endured criticism for questioning whether vaccines should be mandatory last year, and Medvedev shared his opinion that free choice should be allowed. "If we talk about vaccination, we have not discussed this much with our fellow tennis players," he said. "As for me personally, I will not be vaccinated for medical reasons related to vaccines. "Naturally, I believe that this should be everyone's choice. It is never really known what the conditions will be in different countries in connection with the tournaments, how serious it will be. "But in principle, everyone on the tour should probably be treated in such a way that it just should be everyone's choice." There has been speculation that athletes who take part in the Olympic Games, which are scheduled to run from July the 23rd until August the 8th in Tokyo, could be fast-tracked for vaccines in an attempt to reduce the risk of the virus spreading among the traveling competitors. "If the Olympics are held, it will be on my calendar," said Medvedev, who could be prioritized to take part in the tournament as one of the top 56 players in the world. "I have always dreamed of playing at the Games." Aslan Karatsev, the Russian whose heroic charge from qualification to the semifinals also ended at the hands of dominant Djokovic, has leapt from 114th in the world to 42nd as a result of his remarkable run in Doha and Melbourne.

  • France's 'out of control' Nice braces for new Covid curbs

    The French Riviera city of Nice was on Sunday preparing to face a new set of local restrictions against Covid-19 to combat an outbreak described as out of control and spreading much faster than elsewhere in France. Health Minister Olivier Veran said after visiting a Nice hospital this weekend the measures could include a stricter form of the curfew imposed nationwide in France or a weekend lockdown in the city. A decision was expected later Sunday or on Monday, with Nice recording 700 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants, three times the national average. "Consultations will be conducted over the weekend to take additional measures to stem the epidemic, ranging from a reinforced curfew to local lockdown at weekends," Veran said. France has so far avoided imposing a third nationwide lockdown to fight the virus, in contrast with some of its neighbours, in what analysts see as a risky gamble by President Emmanuel Macron to allow the economy to gain some steam. If agreed, the new restrictions would likely extend over all the southern Alpes-Maritimes region which includes Nice, but not beyond. Senior French hospitals official Remi Salomon described the epidemic on BFMTV as "out of control" in the region and said measures taken in recent weeks have not been sufficient. Local right-wing MP Eric Ciotti told the Nice Matin newspaper that the decision appeared to have aready been taken and a weekend lockdown was on the cards. This measure has long been urged by Nice's high-profile Mayor Christian Estrosi, also a member of right-wing party The Republicans, even if his opinion is not shared by all fellow mayors along the coast. Currently mainland France has a nightly curfew beginning at 6 pm. The only part of the country with a lockdown in place is the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte where the measure has been in effect since February 5. The curfew has been credited with keeping a lid on infection rates but government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on French TV late Saturday the latest trends were "not good". After a slow start, France's vaccination campaign has gained some momentum with more than 2.5 million people receiving a dose and, of those, over 1.1 million have had both doses.

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