US and Cuba talking again –
After 53 years of diplomatic estrangement, diplomatic relationships between the US and Cuba have been re-established. The deal was aided by a personal appeal from Pope Francis, who persuaded Cuba’s president, Raúl Castro, to agree to the freeing of the American aid worker Alan P. Gross. The pope, officials said, acted as a “guarantor” that both sides would live up to the terms of a deal reached in secret. Alan P. Gross
Smelling the money –
Fragrances from stars such as Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Jay Z are outselling established fragrance brands such as Hugo Boss and Gucci in some UK stores. Britney’s perfumes outsell DKNY by three to one at UK store Superdrug, and Hugo Boss by two to one. Jay Z’s Gold is the best selling celebrity fragrance. Britney Spears
Interview cancelled –
“The Interview” the film that is possibly the catalyst in the Sony Pictures hacking scandal has had its Christmas Day release cancelled after major cinema chains decided not to screen it in the US.
Michael Garcia resigns from FIFA –
Fifa’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia has quit in protest over the handling of his report into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Garcia said he lost confidence in the independence of judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, an ethics committee colleague after his report was summarised.
Winning tickets in the nearly $1.6-billion Powerball lottery were sold in California, Florida and Tennessee, officials said on Thursday, leaving at least three people to split the record-setting jackpot. California Lottery officials confirmed that the winning six numbers had been purchased at a convenience store outside Los Angeles, as well as at locations in Florida and Tennessee. The identity of the winners was not yet known. Lottery officials said it could be several hours before it is known whether there are other winners in the 44 states, Washington, D.C. and two U.S. territories where Powerball is played. In Chino Hills, a suburb east of Los Angeles, crowds descended on a 7-Eleven store where the winning ticket had been bought, snapping pictures and congratulating staff. The store will receive a $1-million bonus for selling the ticket. The odds of picking a winning combination were 1 in 292 million. [Daily Mail]
Three winning Powerball lottery tickets are sold in the U.S. states of California, Florida, and Tennessee. Each will share the estimated jackpot of US $1.6 billion dollars, the largest lottery jackpot in world history. (ABC News)
Subtropical Storm Alex is located 785 miles (1,260 km) south-southwest of the Azores. Alex is one of just four tropical or subtropical storms to occur in January since 1851, the first year records were kept. The hurricane season begins on June 1 of each year. Alex is expected to hit the Azores on Friday with average rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches. (The Washington Post)(NHC)