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Preview A new study that had people watch horror movies while their brains were being imaged has revealed what makes some horror movies so frightening— and has attempted to rank the scariest ever made.
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A new study that had people watch horror movies while their brains were being imaged has revealed what makes some horror movies so frightening— and has attempted to rank the scariest ever made.

Any list of best movies is sure to be controversial—just ask the people who run the Oscars. But this one is brought to you by science – based on a study by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Turku in Finland, published this month in the scientific journal NeuroImage. 

First, they used Rotten Tomatoes, AllMovie and IMDb to come to a list of 100. They then had hundreds of volunteers, many of them horror movie fans, complete a survey asking them to rate the 100 movies on a scale of 1 to 10 for scariness and quality. (Incidentally, if you would like to take part in the survey, it is still active: Part 1 is here and Part 2 here.)

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the movies.

The Conjuring (2013) © Warner Bros. Pictures

The scariest movies, brought to you by science

The authors used a pretty broad definition of horror (Jaws and King Kong are on it) and the list only included movies up to the end of 2016. So what made the list? You can download the full one online, but the top 10, scientifically proven, scariest movies ever are:

  1. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

  2. The Wailing (2016)

  3. The Conjuring (2013)

  4. REC 2 (2009)

  5. Insidious (2010)

  6. The Exorcist (1973)

  7. Goodnight Mommy (2015)

  8. A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

  9. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

  10. Under The Shadow (2016)

There seems to be a bit of recency bias here, but there was only a slight correlation between scariness and year of release, and in any case, perhaps modern horror movies really are a bit scarier than older ones—after all, people had tamer attitudes back in the day and were probably less desensitised to on-screen violence.

But there were plenty of classics there too for the old school fans: Psycho (1960), Rosemary's Baby (1968), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), among others. The oldest film on the list was Nosferatu The Vampire (1922), and the movie that the largest proportion of people had seen was The Shining (1980).

Note that this top 10 was not ordered by quality, only by scariness—but as it happens, the top two movies were the same anyway, with The Devil’s Backbone scoring a perfect 10 for quality. That said, only 4.2 percent of people had seen it, which may have biased the score. Is it really that good?

Under The Shadow (2016) © XYZ Films, Vertical Entertainment

Brain waves: suspense vs. jump scares

But the survey was only part of this study, mainly a way of selecting the films. The researchers went all out on this study, and had 40 volunteers watch horror movies while hooked up to an MRI to scan their brain activity. They watched trimmed-down versions of The Conjuring 2 and Insidious, selected for their high place in the table, but also because they contained over 20 jump scares (or ‘acute threatening events’) apiece.

What they found rings true for any horror movie fan. Essentially, there are separate brain pathways for two main types of movie-induced fear: ‘sustained fear’, or a slow burning increase in tension, and ‘acute fear’, which is a fright or a jump scare. 

During tension-building scenes, for instance when the soundtrack goes quiet and the protagonist is investigating a sinister place, our visual and auditory centres fire up so as to strain for any faint movement or sound in the darkness. Upon a jump scare, however, the threat evaluation and decision-making centres in the brain light up, similar to the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) © Warner Bros. Pictures

Trick of the mind

It is clear that horror movies recreate the feeling of genuine danger in the viewer; the visual and auditory cues are enough to convince our brains that we are in a perilous situation. Since fear has evolved for a perfectly good reason (as a way of “coordinating survival responses during life-threatening encounters,” in the words of the authors) our bodies react as if we were inside the movie; hence the real fear that is only alleviated once the lights go up.

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Our brains know which cues mean what, and prepare for the inevitable threat before it arrives—be it in the form of a jump scare or otherwise. Think about that moment of pure tension as you await something awful finally making itself known—your muscles tense up, you crouch into a ball, you’re sweating. All of these things are practical responses to an actual physical threat—although covering your eyes would probably not help. From these predictable human responses come the tropes of horror movies—good directors know exactly when to ratchet up the tension and when to lighten the mood with a joke. Occasionally, some may choose to break convention in more experimental films.

So there you have it. Now that you know how the magic trick is done, there is nothing to be afraid of anymore, right?

Goodnight Mommy (2015) © RADIUS-TWC Dimension Films

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Chinese telecoms giant Huawei will be allowed to continue participating in building Britain’s future 5G networks but with restrictions, the government announced on Tuesday in a move that could impact UK-US relations.
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Chinese telecoms giant Huawei will be allowed to continue participating in building Britain’s future 5G networks but with restrictions, the government announced on Tuesday in a move that could impact UK-US relations.

In a statement on Tuesday, the government said that Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre has advised that “high risk vendors” be excluded from security critical and sensitive parts of the new fifth-generation mobile networks, including “sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases.” The agency also recommends limiting such vendors to a “minority presence of no more than 35 percent in the periphery of the network, known as the access network, which connect devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.”

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© pexels.com
Britain reportedly ready to approve limited 5G access to Huawei despite US pressure

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Israel’s attorney general has submitted an indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over three corruption cases after he withdrew his request to be granted immunity against prosecution.
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Israel’s attorney general has submitted an indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over three corruption cases after he withdrew his request to be granted immunity against prosecution.

The indictment was filed to the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday, paving the way for Netanyahu’s trial, Haaretz reported.

The move became possible after the PM officially stopped seeking parliamentary immunity from prosecution earlier that day. The parliament was due to convene on Tuesday to vote on the formation of a committee to discuss Netanyahu’s request.

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FILE PHOTO. Benjamin Netanyahu he sits next to Benny Gantz. ©REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun
Netanyahu withdraws hopeless bid for immunity hours before parliament session, leaving Gantz hanging in mid-air

Netanyahu, who denies all allegations of corruption, argued that he “was not given due process,” while the outcome of the upcoming vote on his possible immunity was “pre-dictated without proper discussion.”

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview The Tories’ much-ridiculed ‘Get ready for Brexit’ campaign – costing £46 million of taxpayers’ money – rolled out last autumn had little impact on UK citizens’ level of preparedness for Brexit, a Whitehall watchdog has found.
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The Tories’ much-ridiculed ‘Get ready for Brexit’ campaign – costing £46 million of taxpayers’ money – rolled out last autumn had little impact on UK citizens’ level of preparedness for Brexit, a Whitehall watchdog has found.

The head of the National Audit Office (NAO), Gareth Davies, said that it was “not clear” that the UK government’s multi-million pound information campaign “resulted in the public being significantly better prepared.”

The campaign was brought to an end on October 28 – three days before the UK was officially supposed to leave the EU – after Brussels granted PM Boris Johnson a further extension to January 31.

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Conservative ministers opted for the most expensive of four campaign options with a total budget of £100 million. The Cabinet Office estimated that it reached nearly the entire population, with every citizen having the opportunity to see the adverts 55 times.

However, critically the NAO said the amount of people looking for information about Brexit did not change significantly – ranging from 32 percent to 37 percent during the campaign, to 34 percent when it was halted.

The seemingly wasteful use of public money on an ineffectual Brexit information campaign has provoked anger on social media. One person tweeted: “I am incandescent with rage at the thought of arrogant fat cats wasting our money.”

Others suggested that the same money could have funded more worthwhile projects like a new state-of-the-art secondary school. 

Gifs were also posted from both those that were unsurprised at the report’s findings and others who ostensibly have taken great pleasure in seeing “Remainiacs” triggered by the cost.

Is anyone actually shocked that the one-liner "Get Ready for Brexit" didn't help people prepare? It gives about as much practical, actionable information as "Brexit means Brexit". Should I be stockpiling? pic.twitter.com/Gt6tNWjzbs

— James Hudson (@JamesHu27021595) January 28, 2020

Cost of preparations for Brexit: £46m. Value of seeing triggered Remainiac bores: priceless. #MoneyWellSpent #GoodbyeEU pic.twitter.com/p508w3DCQ4

— Tania Barnes-Watson (@ADroiteGirl) January 28, 2020

The government's poster and online campaign alerting the public and businesses to the issues they have to face as the Brexit deadline approached was ridiculed on social media. Twitter users gave their own interpretations of what the UK should be ‘getting ready’ for come Brexit day.

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview The Iranian threat to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, moved forward on Tuesday after a motion to do so was filed in the Iranian parliament.
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The Iranian threat to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, moved forward on Tuesday after a motion to do so was filed in the Iranian parliament.

The motion reported by the parliament’s official website brings Iran closer to breaking away from the 1968 treaty which laid the foundation for the nuclear deterrence architecture of the Cold War. The NPT allows only five nations – the US, Russia, China, Britain, and France – to have nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, as well as Israel, which has maintained ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying possession of a nuclear arsenal, are not signatories to the treaty. North Korea withdrew from it in 2003, with a promise to limit its nuclear activities to “peaceful purposes.”

Tehran suggested it could leave the NPT last week after European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal launched a legal process over Tehran’s alleged breach of its terms. Iran has been increasingly downgrading its participation in the agreement known as JCPOA due to Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from it in 2018.

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Iran will leave pact barring it from getting nukes if complaint over 2015 deal filed with UN – Zarif

Tehran said it will maintain its commitment if the Europeans compensate them for the damage done by sanctions reimposed by the US, but was not satisfied with what its counterparts did. The threat comes after the Europeans filed a dispute over Iran’s alleged non-compliance, which may bring the issue to the attention of the UN Security Council, if left unresolved for 60 days.

After a US drone strike killed top Iranian military chief Major General Qassem Soleimani at the beginning of January, Iran rolled back the last constraints it agreed to impose on its nuclear program under the 2015 deal, but announced that the enrichment would be limited by “technical needs.” Tehran also promised to continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

While Iran breaking away from the NPT would be a significant development, Tehran previously insisted that it never had plans to go nuclear and that its atomic program was always peaceful in nature.

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FILE PHOTO: Weaponry and military equipment put on display in Tehran © AFP / ATTA KENARE
Iran ‘not interested’ in having nukes, will stick to JCPOA once given benefits in return – UN envoy

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Russia's tourism industry will be badly hit by the outbreak of the new Chinese coronavirus. That's according to Sergey Shpilko, head of Russian travel industry union RUT.
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Russia's tourism industry will be badly hit by the outbreak of the new Chinese coronavirus. That's according to Sergey Shpilko, head of Russian travel industry union RUT.

Speaking to Interfax, he explained how China is the single largest source of tourism for the Russian market. With almost two million visitors every year, the country accounts for around 18% of tourists to Russia, excluding the former USSR.

Shpilko forecast that the virus could reduce this figure by a factor of five, leaving a "significant number" of hotel rooms empty.

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The grim prediction comes a day after it was revealed that Russian tour operators have temporarily stopped accepting tourist groups from China. However, Chinese holidaymakers who have already arrived in Russia can remain inside the country.

According to RUT Vice President Yuri Barykin, the suspension will last "until the situation normalizes." The organization has tentatively timetabled this scenario for the end of February.

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If the projection is correct, the ban could be devastating for the tourist industry in Russia. In the first quarter of last year, 130,000 Chinese vacationers visited Russia, providing a vital source of business during the ‘off-season’. Travel industry insiders had predicted that this number would increase in 2020.

The decision to suspend tours from China was announced after the number of fatalities, from the new coronavirus, reached 106. It has now spread to at least 13 countries across four continents, but as yet there are no confirmed infections in Russia.

Last Friday, Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism recommended that Russian tourists refrain from traveling to China. While many Russian airlines are still flying there, Ural Airlines, based in the city of Yekaterinburg, has canceled all flights to its only Chinese destination – Hainan Island.

Anna Popova, head of Russia's consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, told news agency TASS that passengers on over 20,000 flights have been checked for the coronavirus. Over 100 were highlighted as potentially infected, but as yet none of these tests has proven positive.

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview More than 1,400 people were moved from an outdoor migrant camp in northern Paris and relocated to temporary accommodation amid a government clampdown on illegal migration.
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More than 1,400 people were moved from an outdoor migrant camp in northern Paris and relocated to temporary accommodation amid a government clampdown on illegal migration.

The operation in the city’s 19th arrondissement began at 5:30am on Tuesday as police descended upon the labyrinth of tents and shacks at the Porte d’Aubervilliers. Some 249 people in families and 1,187 single men were taken to temporary accommodation in nearby gymnasiums or to 17 reception centers in Ile-de-France.

Eyewitness video from the scene shows the extent of the evacuations, as well as the police efforts to ensure that another camp doesn’t simply spring back up in its place once authorities leave.

#Aubervilliers #migrants 😭 pic.twitter.com/t40nNV8JvY

— Nina (@ninanina93444) January 28, 2020

Tous les migrants sont partis en bus !!! J’aurais plus d’info dans la journée!
Maintenant ils démolissent tout! #aubervilliers #migrants pic.twitter.com/Sqsx3ZHnNG

— Nina (@ninanina93444) January 28, 2020

“I’m relieved by this operation because it was getting hard to bear the cold,” Yssouf, a 29-year-old man from Côte d’Ivoire, told AFP. “I’m happy to be offered housing, even though I know it will not last long. It’s better than nothing.”

🔴 Les #migrants du bidonville de la porte d:'#Aubervilliers évacués, ce matin à #Paris18. Des centaines de personnes vont être expulsées, puis mises à l'abri. Nombreuses forces de l'ordre déployées. Les préfets Didier #Lallement et Michel Cadot sont sur place. En direct ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/UplJCmfzY8

— actu Paris (@actufrparis) January 28, 2020

After the ‘jungle’ migrant camp in Calais was closed in 2016, migrants and asylum seekers moved to Paris, putting additional strain on the city’s resources. 

Following Tuesday morning’s operation, Paris police chief Didier Lallement vowed that the area “will not fall back into the endless cycle of evacuations and resettlements.” However, a new camp has already emerged in the nearby Porte de la Villette.

Porte d'#Aubervilliers : une grande partie du camp est remplie d'hommes et de consommateurs de crack. Selon des assos, "il n'y a pas de quoi les prendre tous en charge". Les habitants du quartier, excédés, veulent "que les migrants soient mis à l'abri et les toxicos soignés". pic.twitter.com/4tLMREtTOY

— actu Paris (@actufrparis) January 28, 2020
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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Reactions to CNN panelist Rick Wilson’s mockery of Trump voters are boiling over with the US president himself slamming the segment, and the guest using the attention to promote his book.
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Reactions to CNN panelist Rick Wilson’s mockery of Trump voters are boiling over with the US president himself slamming the segment, and the guest using the attention to promote his book.

The short video aired by the news network on Saturday may well be the most cringeworthy of the 2020 election cycle, but don’t hold your breath for apologies.

The arrogance, the dismissiveness, the smug cackling, the accents.

If Donald Trump wins re-election this year, I’ll remember this brief CNN segment late one Saturday night in January as the perfect encapsulation for why it happened. pic.twitter.com/8kQ6zN9AZV

— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) January 28, 2020

“Donald Trump’s the smart one, any y’all elitists are dumb!” said former Republican strategist Rick Wilson in a heavy southern accent, as CNN host Don Lemon and the other guest, New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali, burst into laughter.

“You elitists with your geography and your maps and your spelling!” said Ali joining in on the mockery.

“Your math and your reading!” Wilson responded. “All those lines on the map!”

The exchange came as the panel discussed the spat over Ukraine between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly. They argued over whether the majority of Americans cared about it, with Pompeo allegedly asking Kelly to show him Ukraine on the map. Wilson’s comedy routine started with a suggestion that President Trump himself would not be up to the geography task and neither would his base, or the “credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump,” as he put it.

Former CNN digital producer Steve Krakauer highlighted the segment on Twitter, saying if Trump wins re-election it would be “the perfect encapsulation for why it happened.”

The US president himself responded to the clip in typical fashion on Twitter, calling Lemon “the dumbest man on television (with terrible ratings)”.

Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television (with terrible ratings!). https://t.co/iQXCc7lvCt

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2020

Trump campaign director Brad Parscale shared the video with a comment: “Deplorables. This Deplorable is ready,” a reference to the insulting name given to Trump supporters by his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.

While Trump supporters cry foul and say the panel has finally made it clear what “the Left” thinks about half of the country, Wilson, the initiator of the exchange, has doubled down over his behavior.

“The best part is how they’re repeating the now-classic #UCrane bit and amplifying a line that clearly made @realDonaldTrump furious,” he tweeted. Wilson also seized the opportunity given by a surge of public attention to advertise his recently published book, the Trump-bashing ‘Running Against the Devil.’

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview While the action heats up on the court at the Australian Open, tennis fans online have been waxing lyrical about one of the officials maintaining fair play during the tournament – Serbian umpire Marijana Veljovic.
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While the action heats up on the court at the Australian Open, tennis fans online have been waxing lyrical about one of the officials maintaining fair play during the tournament – Serbian umpire Marijana Veljovic.

Usually, the official sat in the umpire's chair receives little attention, until a debatable line call or a warning is issued and a player starts to remonstrate with them.

And, sure enough, the umpire in Roger Federer's quarter-final win over Tennys Sandgren found herself the target of attention after the usually-unflappable Swiss star was handed a warning for a verbal obscenity during his come-from-behind win.

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But it wasn't the umpire's officiating of the match that caught the imagination of the fans. Put simply, fans were falling over themselves to declare their admiration, or indeed love, for Veljovic.

(🎥@Eurosport_RU ) pic.twitter.com/h85DOrQwFW

— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 28, 2020

Didn’t think I’d ever say this but I’m in love with an Australian Open chair umpire. pic.twitter.com/wYYVXNRWTQ

— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) January 16, 2019

Neither Roger Federer nor Tennys Sandgren seemed to run out of reasons to go talk to this Australian Open chair umpire. pic.twitter.com/ssN6rnPUHZ

— Joe Mulder (@JoeMulder) January 28, 2020

☺️(🎥@Eurosport_RU ) pic.twitter.com/czCpZ9iWuk

— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 28, 2020

It wasn't just the fans who noticed the striking figure sat in the umpire's chair. Women's tennis star Genie Bouchard – who has received plenty of online attention herself – tweeted to say: "The umpire in this Roger/Tennys match is super pretty."

the umpire in this roger/tennys match is super pretty 😍

— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) January 28, 2020

Yo, can they alert us when Marijana Veljovic is the umpire for tennis matches?! I think I’m in love. #AusOpen #AustralianOpen2020 #AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/vbZHmP0pRa

— Joe Mastoloni (@JJMast1) January 28, 2020

But, behind her striking looks is a dedicated, determined official who has worked tirelessly to reach the top of her profession.

Veljovic earned her umpire's gold badge in 2015 and has been a regular face at the big tournaments on the tour. She officiated the women's final in the 2018 Australian Open and had the honor of umpiring the 2019 Wimbledon women's singles final. Last year, she umpired the Fed Cup final.

"I never expected that I was going to be doing this for a living," she said in an interview with the International Tennis Federation.

"Tennis was always my passion, I had a great love for the sport. As I was playing tennis as a young kid my dream was basically to go to Wimbledon, even as a spectator. So for me being selected first of all for Wimbledon was somethine amazing and incredible.

© Getty Images / Cameron Spencer

But just being an umpire wasn't enough for Veljovic, who wanted to not just make it as a woman, but make it to the very top of the sport, on her own merit. But she also said that she is happy to see tennis offering equal opportunities for women that previously weren't available.

"Whether you are a girl or a guy, if you do well and they think you're good enough to do the biggest matches like a Davis Cup final or a Grand Slam, it feels amazing that our sport is allowing us that," she said.

"Are going to determine is she good enough really, because it's 'only' a female? Can she really do it? If we start thinking from that side I don't think it's fair and it's good, so yeah, I feel that tennis is giving us the right opportunities."

© Getty Images / Hannah Peters

Clearly, with Veljovic taking charge of some of the biggest matches in the sport, she has risen to the very top of her profession, and she's happy to be a female role model for other aspiring female officials.

"It can be tough, you're away from home and things aren't always going a good way," she said.

"But the experience overall, I think it's a great experience, a great life experience. So yes, I would definitely recommend it."

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Since the beginning of the year, Russian bond sales have raised more than $1 billion from foreign investors, Kommersant daily reported, citing reports by Bank of America and BCS Global Markets.
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Since the beginning of the year, Russian bond sales have raised more than $1 billion from foreign investors, Kommersant daily reported, citing reports by Bank of America and BCS Global Markets.

According to the reports based on Emerging Portfolio Fund Research (EPFR) data, four Russian issuers have already placed $1.6 billion worth of Eurobonds in 2020. The Finance Ministry has placed 145 billion rubles ($2.3 billion) worth of ruble-denominated OFZ federal bonds.

Last week, an unknown buyer purchased 58 billion rubles (US$932 million) worth of ruble-denominated sovereign debt, which, according to the ministry, was one of the largest fulfilled bids in history.

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Russia among Europe’s top performing stock markets in 2019

“Onlookers are debating who the mystery buyer is. Consensus says it’s a domestic financial institution—otherwise the ruble-dollar rate would’ve moved, yet it barely reacted,” BMB Russia reports.

In the week ending January 22, Russian assets saw $420 million of inflows from combined equity and bond fund flows compared with $470 million the preceding week.

“While markets were welcoming the year-end Santa rally and January EM (Emerging Markets) optimism, the Coronavirus fears with potential impact on China, the dominant EM, may have already seriously damaged sentiment in the last few days – much depends on further developments,” BCS Global Markets said.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview The Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen has demanded an apology from Danish newspaper Jyllands-posten for publishing a Chinese flag with the coronavirus on it.
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The Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen has demanded an apology from Danish newspaper Jyllands-posten for publishing a Chinese flag with the coronavirus on it.

The image by Niels Bo Bojesen featured the Chinese flag with the yellow stars replaced with pictures of the novel coronavirus. The newspaper published the cartoon in their ‘Today’s Cartoon’ section with a disclaimer saying that the cartoon represented the artist’s personal interpretation, which may differ from the position of the paper.

Dagens tegning: Coronavirus https://t.co/mUSBoiOk81

The Chinese people demand immediate deletion

— Cristiano Gloria (@CristianoGlori3) January 28, 2020

Despite this, the Chinese Embassy in Denmark called on Jyllands-posten and Bojesen to immediately apologize to the Chinese people. The embassy spokesman reminded the paper that the outbreak has so far killed over a hundred people in China, and that all efforts are underway to fight the epidemic. This “satire drawing,” he added, is an insult to China and hurts the feelings of the Chinese people.

Without any sympathy and empathy, it has crossed the bottom line of civilized society and the ethical boundary of free speech and offends human conscience.

The novel coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, central China, in December 2019. Beijing has so far confirmed 4,515 cases of the virus, with 106 dead and many cities in central Hubei province where the virus originated on lockdown.

This is not the first time that Jylland-posten has offended people abroad. In 2005, the paper published a series of cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed, which sparked riots in the Muslim world. The Danish prime minister at the time called it Denmark’s worst international relations incident since WWII.

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Canadian 11-time world champion canoeist Laurence Vincent Lapointe has been cleared of doping charges after it was determined that a banned substance entered her body through sex with her ex-boyfriend.
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Canadian 11-time world champion canoeist Laurence Vincent Lapointe has been cleared of doping charges after it was determined that a banned substance entered her body through sex with her ex-boyfriend.

The 27-year-old athlete, who failed a drug test on the eve of the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Canoe Sprint World Championships last July, faced a four-year ban and the prospect of missing this summer’s Olympics in Japan if found guilty.

READ MORE: ‘That killed all my dates after that’: 37-year-old US athlete Lolo Jones says being open about virginity was a mistake

However, the Canadian champion managed to avoid the harsh punishment after persuading a tribunal that traces of steroid-like substance ligandrol detected in her system were a result of bodily fluid contamination from her ex-boyfriend.

"It's pretty incredible," Vincent Lapointe's lawyer Adam Klevinas said at a news conference. "It took months to get results, and then at the end, we got the idea to analyze the hair of her ex and to test a product he finally admitted to taking."

Début de la conférence de presse Laurence Vincent Lapointe. Tout sourire étant blanchis. Très heureuse de la décision de la Fédération internationale. pic.twitter.com/QnoJYwoQ2p

— André Beauchesne (@ABeauchesneRDS) January 27, 2020

The ICF, which investigated the case, accepted the evidence presented by the renowned canoeist, allowing her to return to action with no sanctions imposed.

"After taking into consideration scientific expert evidence provided by Ms Vincent Lapointe's legal team, and also the minuscule traces of ligandrol found in the athlete's sample, the ICF has accepted that Ms Vincent Lapointe did not knowingly take the illegal substance," the ICF said.

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"The ICF has accepted Ms Vincent Lapointe's evidence, which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination, and has cleared her to return to training and competition immediately."

The verdict, however, can be challenged by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if it disagrees with the ICF ruling.

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20

American warplanes dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2019 than at any other time in at least a decade, according to the US Air Force. In 2019 alone, the US dropped 7,423 separate munitions on targets in Afghanistan, where the US has been fighting several militant groups since it invaded the country following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The figure was published by US Air Forces Central Command and represents a dramatic surge in bombings in Afghanistan compared to the peak of President Barack Obama’s ‘surge’ in 2009, when 4,147 bombs were dropped.

Since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 the US has ramped up bombing runs over Afghanistan as the White House removed earlier restrictions that provided greater oversight over air raids aimed at preventing civilian casualties, AFP said.

The UN and rights groups have said the increase in airstrikes across the country by US and Afghan forces have resulted in a major upswing in civilian casualties.

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview As China fights the worsening coronavirus outbreak, residents under quarantine in Wuhan have shared videos online of their battle against cabin fever, showing how they are lifting each other’s – and the nation's – spirits.
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As China fights the worsening coronavirus outbreak, residents under quarantine in Wuhan have shared videos online of their battle against cabin fever, showing how they are lifting each other’s – and the nation's – spirits.

The city, home to roughly 11 million people, was the epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak which has now spread across the globe. Residents have been told to remain in their homes as authorities fight to bring the outbreak under control, but many have grown understandably restless waiting for the crisis to end. 

The best medicine? Song, apparently, with rousing eyewitness video posted on Twitter showing people singing the national anthem and chanting "Wuhan, you can do it!" from their apartment balconies.

#wuhancorona #WuhanChina #WuhanVirus #WuhanLockDown View from our son's apartment this evening. Citizens of Wuhan sing National Anthem and Wuhan Come On from balconies and windows after many days stuck indoors. pic.twitter.com/Ja1Fh0skJr

— Robert Riggs (@GardeningRob) January 27, 2020

Beautiful moments coming out of #Wuhan tonight. Citizens sang together out their windows, songs of unity to raise spirits. #coronavirus #china #prayforWuhan pic.twitter.com/HWI8JL4I8C

— 𝒫𝓇𝒶𝓎 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝒲𝓊𝒽𝒶𝓃 (@plantsNbabes) January 27, 2020

武汉加油! come on Wuhan!!! We can make it!! From 外国人(foreigners)❤️❤️❤️#武汉加油 #武汉 #WuhanOutbreak #WuhanLockDown #WuhanQuaranted #wuhanpnemonia pic.twitter.com/891mbozQ9B

— Aurélie🇲🇺🇨🇳 (@__AurelieW) January 27, 2020

Videos circulating on WeChat and Weibo of people in #Wuhan shouting "Wuhan, add oil" out their windows and singing the Chinese national anthem together. A message going around asking ppl to do it together starting at 8pm. pic.twitter.com/U0xSINd5nW

— Rachel Cheung (@rachel_cheung1) January 27, 2020

The total number of confirmed  '2019-nCoV' coronavirus cases in China had surged to 4,515 as of January 27, while the death toll jumped to 106 as the number of new infections in one day almost doubled.

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang wearing a mask and protective suit speaks to medical workers as he visits the Jinyintan hospital where the patients of the new coronavirus are being treated following the outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 27, 2020. © REUTERS / cnsphoto
China’s PM calls for ‘resolute fight’ against coronavirus outbreak as death toll climbs to 106 with over 1,700 new cases

China has taken extraordinary measures to curb the outbreak, including the aforementioned quarantine of the entire city of Wuhan, as well as the construction of an entirely new hospital to house the infected, which is expected to be completed by February 3.

The government has also urged citizens to refrain from travelling abroad, while extending national holidays with the aim of keeping people at home to reduce the likelihood of further contamination "in order to protect the health and safety of Chinese and foreign people."

"Reducing people's cross-border movement helps to prevent and control outbreaks," the National Immigration Administration said in a statement.

For now, at least, the city of Wuhan remains a ghost town, with only the haunting song of its quarantined residents left to lift the city’s spirits.

Timelapse: 3 minuten filmen op autosnelweg in #Wuhan, geen enkele auto te zien. #coronavirus #spookstad pic.twitter.com/9ZEwJHkX53

— leen vervaeke (@leenvervaeke) January 28, 2020

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview It was anything but easy, but Roger Federer showed he still has plenty of fighting spirit as he battled back from the brink to defeat Tennys Sandgren and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
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It was anything but easy, but Roger Federer showed he still has plenty of fighting spirit as he battled back from the brink to defeat Tennys Sandgren and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Roger Federer staged a dramatic rearguard action as he saved SEVEN match points before eventually defeating America's world number 100 Tennys Sandgren in Tuesday's quarter-final clash.

Federer took the win 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 in a rollercoaster of a match that saw Sandgren produce some outstanding tennis to come back from a set down to find himself on the brink of a memorable victory. But, for the second time this week, Federer produced a sprited fightback to eventually defeat his man and move into the final four of the men's draw.

Federer finds a way 🇨🇭@rogerfederer saves seven match points to def. Tennys Sandgren 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3 and reach the #AusOpen semifinals for the 15th time.#AO2020 pic.twitter.com/B3Biy3q1Ez

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2020
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RT
Australian Open 2020: Rafael Nadal battles past gritty Nick Kyrgios to reach quarter-finals in Melbourne (VIDEO)

Earlier in the week Federer had already endured a marathon five-setter against Australian John Millman and won six points in a row from 8-4 down in the final-set tiebreaker to scrape through.

And the Swiss superstar was in even worse trouble against Sandgren, before somehow finding the form to save a plethora of match points before converting his own to reach the semis.

"You've got to get lucky sometimes," said a smiling Federer after the match.

"I tell you that because, in those seven match points, you're not in control.

"I was just hoping that maybe he wasn't going to smash a winner, if he misses one or two, who knows what's going to happen? I think I got incredibly lucky today.

"I don't deserve this one but I'm still standing here and I'm obviously very, very happy."

The strain on Federer was clear to see during the match, as he was handed a warning for an uncharacteristic verbal obscenity, then engaged in an argument with umpire Marijana Veljovic before leaving the court for a medical time out for a supposed groin injury.

The interruption didn't appear to affect Sandgren, who went on to win the set, but the American was unable to convert his 2-1 set lead into a victory as Federer staged his dramatic comeback.

"(The) draws are not getting easier. With these lucky escapes, you might play without expectations because you know you should be skiing in Switzerland," said Federer.

"(I'm) lucky to be here, (so I) may as well make the most of it. I better feel better than today (in the semis), otherwise I am really going skiing."

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RT
Australian Open 2020: Stanislas Wawrinka battles back to eliminate Daniil Medvedev in five-set epic (VIDEO)

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview The first billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas has been supplied by Gazprom via the newly completed TurkStream pipeline to Turkey.
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The first billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas has been supplied by Gazprom via the newly completed TurkStream pipeline to Turkey.

“About 54 percent of this volume was delivered to the Turkish gas market and around 46 percent — to the Turkish-Bulgarian border,” Gazprom said.

The 930km pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea became operational on January 1. The Russian and Turkish presidents officially opened the pipeline a week later.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the launch of one of the “largest construction projects in modern history” marks a “historic day” for the world energy development as a whole.

The two-string pipeline, which was created as an alternative to the South Stream pipeline (after Bulgaria ditched the project in 2014), boasts a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters. One of the lines supplies Russian gas to Turkey, and the other one for southern and southeastern European nations.

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FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan during a ceremony in Istanbul to mark the completion of a portion of the TurkStream gas pipeline.
TurkStream is a matter of ‘national & energy security’ for Turkey & EU… and US can’t derail it now

Russia, which remains the main gas supplier for Turkey, is also involved in another massive energy project in the country, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which is set to become operational later this year.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview Australian No. 1 seed Ash Barty avenged her quarter-final defeat to Petra Kvitova in last year's tournament by returning the favor in Tuesday's 2020 rematch, defeating the Czech in straight sets to reach the Australian Open semis.
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Australian No. 1 seed Ash Barty avenged her quarter-final defeat to Petra Kvitova in last year's tournament by returning the favor in Tuesday's 2020 rematch, defeating the Czech in straight sets to reach the Australian Open semis.

Barty was hammered 6-1, 6-4 by Kvitova at the same stage of the tournament last year as the Czech went all the way to the final. But this time it was Barty who had the upper hand throughout as she turned the tables on her rival to reach the final four in Melbourne.

Roared on by a supportive crowd at the Rod Laver Arena, Barty battled back and forth with Kvitova in a tight, tense opening set that went all the way to a tiebreak, which the Aussie won.

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RT
Kicked to the Kerb: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stuns Angelique Kerber to reach Australian Open quarter-finals (VIDEO)

The euphoria of taking that crucial opening set took over in the second stanza as Barty hit top form to dominate Kvitova and blast her way into the semi-finals, 7-6, 6-2.

"It's been absolutely incredible, I knew I had to bring my absolute best against Petra," said Barty after her victory.

"I think Petra, in my eyes, is the perfect competitor.

"Regardless of whether she wins or loses she's always got a big grin on her face.

"I absolutely love testing myself against her."

Despite dominating the second set, Barty had to overcome a brief wobble when she faced two break points while serving for the match. But, in a display of championship form, she then smashed four first-serves, back to back, with an emphatic ace to finish as the Australian crowd rose as one to hail their hero, who became the first Australian female player to reach the semis since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

She will face America's No. 14 seed Sofia Kenin, who defeated Tunisia's Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day to punch her ticket to the semis.

"Obviously she's having an incredible run, she's really developed her game over the last 12-18 months," said Barty when asked about the Moscow-born American.

"It's about me trying to get my running shoes on again.

"I'm going to have nothing but a massive smile on my face when I walk out here on this beautiful court."

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20
Preview In an 11th-hour decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his request to parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution. The move apparently undermines his rival Benny Gantz’s US visit.
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In an 11th-hour decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has withdrawn his request to parliament to grant him immunity from prosecution. The move apparently undermines his rival Benny Gantz’s US visit.

Netanyahu, who is facing prosecution on several corruption charges, sought immunity from the parliament, but the bid didn’t have the necessary support to pass. The motion was expected to be defeated on Tuesday, but hours before the session the PM announced he was withdrawing his petition.

The statement was published as Netanyahu visited the United States, where President Donald Trump is scheduled to unveil his long-expected ‘Deal of the Century’, an arrangement that will reportedly bring numerous benefits to Israel and support its policies on Palestine.

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© Reuters / Kevin Lamarque
‘Makes a lot of sense’: White House to unveil ‘deal of the century’ Mid-East peace plan Tuesday as Trump receives Netanyahu

The high-profile event will be a boost to Netanyahu, who is facing an unprecedented third snap general election in less than a year, standing against former general Benny Gantz. Washington gave a surprise public relations boost to Gantz – who may become the next Israeli prime minister, should his Blue and White party break the deadlock with Netanyahu’s Likud in March – by offering him a separate meeting with Trump on Monday.

Netanyahu waited until Gantz was on his flight back to Israel to participate in the immunity talks in the Knesset before announcing that he is withdrawing his immunity request.
This was done so Gantz wouldn't participate in the Peace Plan announcement today.

— Mannie (@manniefabian) January 28, 2020

It's 3am in Washington. Amit Segal reports Netanyahu waited to make sure Gantz was already on the plane so couldn't cancel and re-invite himself to the White House for the unveiling of the Trump plan before dropping this bombshell.

— Eylon Levy (@EylonALevy) January 28, 2020

The news about Netanyahu’s withdrawal of the immunity bid reportedly came after Gantz boarded a plane to fly back to Israel to participate in the parliamentary session. He apparently preferred the opportunity to attack his opponent over alleged corruption at home to participating in the unveiling ceremony in Washington, where he would only get a spot subordinate to Netanyahu. But the shrewd veteran PM seems to have outmaneuvered his rival.

Gantz responded to Netanyahu’s move, saying the PM is now going to trial.

“Israeli citizens have a clear choice: a prime minister who will work for them or a self-employed prime minister. No-one can run a state and simultaneously run three serious criminal cases for bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” he said.

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Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20

The US did not hold consultations with Moscow on a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia has said.

“We were not consulted, we don’t know what this plan consists of,” he said in response to a question from a reporter.

Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon, meanwhile, said that his country was looking forward to the unveiling of the plan, TASS reported on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump previously announced that the White House would unveil a plan for peace in the Middle East on Tuesday.

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20

The Health Ministry in the southern state of Bavaria has confirmed Germany’s first case of the new coronavirus which emerged in central China. Officials said late Monday that the man from Starnberg, south of Munich, is “in a clinically good condition.”

They said the man is being medically monitored and isolated, AP reports. Persons who were in close contact with the man are being informed about possible symptoms and hygiene measures. The ministry added that it considers the risk to the general population in Bavaria to be “low.”

Germany is the second European country to report a confirmed case of the virus. Authorities in France confirmed three cases in recent days, all were Chinese citizens who recently returned from travels there.

It was not immediately clear whether the Bavarian case involved recent travel to China. The new type of coronavirus has infected thousands of people in China.

Author: RT
Posted: 28-01-20