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‘Mother Meral’: The woman trying to drive Turkey’s Erdogan from office

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So presidential candidate Meral Aksener is going from town to town collecting these colorful pieces of cloth, known as "yemeni," from her supporters.The 61-year-old is leading what she calls the yemeni revolution to bring an end to the aggression of Turkish politics. If she becomes the one to finally end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's long reign, she will put the headscarves on display in Cankaya, the former presidential palace in Ankara."Turkey has been ruled by a very harsh male for a very long time," she told CNN in the southern city of Adana, on the campaign trail.Some abroad call Aksener Turkey's Iron Lady, but others at home call her Asena, a mythical blue she-wolf that led Turkic tribes away from danger. But there are other names she prefers. "Some people call me sister, but there are many young people who call me 'Mother Meral,' and I like being a mother," Aksener said.Aksener is the only woman running for president in the June 24 elections, but her appeal is not based solely on her gender. Her conservative and longtime nationalist credentials are what make her most likely to lure support from Erdogan's base, even though she polls third. The main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, is in second place and has galvanized his own center-left base. But he is unlikely to split the conservative vote in the way Aksener can.

Aksener's rise

Aksener and her envisaged revolution have been drawing crowds across Turkey. Women at the Adana rally eagerly handed their headscarves up to the candidate on stage. Esra Demirkol, a fervent supporter who waited for hours to get a photo, jumped on stage to hug the candidate."For the future, for our kids, for our country for many reasons, I will vote for Meral Aksener. A woman's touch makes everything better. I want a mother to rule our country," said a breathless Demirkol as she returned from stage.Aksener collects headscarves from women in Adana.Aksener's Iyi Party (Good Party) is new to the political scene, but Aksener is a veteran politician. She served as interior minister for eight months at the height of the dirty war against Kurdish separatists when human-rights abuses were rampant in Turkey. When questioned about those allegations, Aksener is defiant, claiming there was not a single human-rights violation by the government during her time as minister."There was a human rights group at those times, they were publishing lists for missing people. I sent them a signed paper saying, 'Let us search for your missing together.' And they did not have any other publications for the rest of my ministry period," she said.An Aksener rally in the southern Turkish city of Adana.But during her stint as interior minister, she also gained credibilty for standing up to the military, which tried to overthrow the civilian government in the 1997 so-called "post-modern coup."Once again, it is her defiance that is fueling her popularity — Aksener broke with her longtime Nationalist Movement Party, MHP, last year over its alliance with the President.

'We do not have checks and balances'

Aksener, like all the opposition candidates, has vowed to roll back a change to Turkey's political system that Erdogan won last year in a referendum.He was widely accused of a power grab with the vote, in which he sought to change the country's parliamentary system to an executive presidential one, giving himself sweeping new powers. The vote was seen as unfair, as his government has imprisoned dissidents and crushed the free media following a failed coup in 2016. He won by a narrow margin, and a radical change to Turkey's system will come into effect after the election."I have been struggling with Erdogan and his extrajudicial behavior for the last two-and-a-half, three years," Aksener said. "The elections we are going into, it is what Erdogan wants. It is not a presidential system as in Western democracies. We do not have checks and balances."A supporter listens to Aksener speaking at a rally in Gaziantep, Turkey.With Ince polling second, Aksener may not be the opposition candidate to face off against Erdogan, should the vote go to a run-off round. But she has already been instrumental in shaping this election. In the previous presidential vote, opposition parties banded together to back a single candidate to challenge the incumbent. This time around, Aksener refused to join and announced her own candidacy. Soon other opposition parties followed and put forward their strongest candidates, giving more options for people to vote against Erdogan.Opposition parties including Aksener's have committed to support whoever faces off with Erdogan, should the vote go to a second round. People from the small southern town of Samandag welcome Aksener on the street.Mustafa Koseler, a 76-year-old supporter of MHP, Aksener's former party, will back the Iyi Party after decades of loyalty. He fears that Turkey will end up a "one-man dictatorship like Bashar Assad, like Hafez Assad, like (Mohamed) Morsy, like (Moammar) Gadhafi" under Erdogan's rule. He is looking to Aksener to preserve the country's democracy and prevent the change to Turkey's political system. "We do not want one-man rule," he said at the rally in Adana. "We want our republic, democracy and parliament to function as it is today. We want our members of parliament to have a say. In the new system, they won't."What Aksener is promising is a new dawn for her country. Her Iyi Party's blue logo is emblazoned with a golden sun, promising the optimism of a new movement. When voter Guler Yasa in Adana is asked why she supports Aksener, she refers to this logo. "Because she is turning her face to the sun. She will make a new sun rise over our country," Yasa said.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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Water gun can cut through concrete

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This water gun can pierce concrete

How do firefighters put out a blaze when they can't reach the flames?

That's the challengefirefighters confronted in 2008, when a B-2 Stealth Bomber crashed on the runway at an American airbase in Guam.

The crew successfully ejected, but the hugely expensive aircraft was completely destroyed by a fire that burned deep within its wreckage.

"The firefighters had difficulty getting through the composite layers of the aircraft skin to fight the fire," U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Scott Knupp told CNNMoney.

The loss of the aircraft prompted the Air Force to search for a solution.

"We were looking for some type of technology out there that would help us penetrate through [to] hard-to-reach spaces to get water onto the fire," said Knupp.

Air Force firefighters now use a system called PyroLance — a firefighting "gun" that can blast through steel, brick or concrete walls, and even bullet-resistant glass.

pyrolance water gun
The PyroLance uses ultra-high pressure technology.

The hand-held device uses a mixture of pressurized water and granite material to pierce a six millimeter-wide hole throughobstacles.

Once the ultra-high pressure spray penetrates the surface, the PyroLance nozzle continues to pump a fine mist of micro droplets into the enclosed space, lowering the temperature from around 1,500 F to 200 F in less than a minute.

Using ultra-high pressure (UHP) technology to put out fires isn't new in itself. The Air Force Research Laboratory at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida began researching and testing UHP in the mid 2000s.

It found that water pumped at higher pressuresproduces millions of micro water droplets. This spray extends across a greater surface area, helping extinguish fires faster while using less water.

But PyroLance president Scott Alexander said his company is the only one that uses the technology to penetrate a barrier and extinguish a fire.

PyroLance began supplying the U.S. Air Force five years ago and the technology has also been adopted by the U.S. Navy, as well as numerous airports and fire services around the world.

The system costs from $15,000 to $80,000, and the company hopes to sell 350 units at home and abroad over the next year.

Alexander said that one of the biggest challenges his company faces is convincing firefighters that it isn't trying to eliminate their jobs or "take the fun out of firefighting."

He said the company wants to reduce firefighters' exposure to intense heat,deadly backdrafts and toxic smoke environments.

"The reality is we're trying to keep them safe,"he said.

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Russian opposition leader had called for rallies on ‘rigged elections’

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Navalny wrote that he was released until a court hearing, but did not provide details on when the hearing would be held. He also thanked demonstrators who had gathered near the detention center where he was being held. Navalny, a longtime critic of President Vladimir Putin, was arrested earlier Sunday during nationwide rallies protesting what the opposition leader calls rigged presidential elections set to take place on March 18. "I've been detained. This doesn't matter. Come to Tverskaya (Street). You are not going there for me, it's for you and your future," Navalny tweeted after his arrest.Within minutes of arriving at Pushkinskaya Square, where hundreds of protesters had gathered, Navalny was wrestled into a patrol van by police, in dramatic footage posted on Youtube.Moscow Police said Navalny was taken to a police station for arraignment on charges of illegally organizing a protest. If found guilty, he faces 30 days in detention and a fine. Hundreds of demonstrators fill Pushkinskaya Square in central Moscow.Coordinating protests in the largest country in the world by land mass is no small task, and the Russian Interior Ministry said events coordinated with local authorities were held in 46 places.Demonstrations have ranged from gatherings of a few dozen in remote areas to about a thousand people in central Moscow–which the Interior Ministry described as an "uncoordinated mass demonstration." Protesters also turned out in arctic areas of the country, where the temperature during winter is around -40 degrees, said CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.Elsewhere, there were 600 demonstrators in Russia's third-most populous city, Novosibirsk, and 550 protesters in Nizhny Novgorod in western Russia, the ministry said.Around 1,000 protesters gathered in the Moscow area Sunday, police said."I am proud of all those who joined us today in any capacity: from Magadan to Sochi. From the FBK office to the headquarters in Kemerovo. From Krasnodar to Yakutsk, where the meeting took place at -40. These are real citizens," Navalny said in a Facebook post."Be real citizens. Go out to the demo in your city."

Police interrupt broadcast

Earlier Navalny said police forced their way into his Moscow office hours before the protests were due to take place. A Russian police officer stands outside Alexei Navalny's Moscow office on Sunday.He said police sawed through the door of the office's studio during a YouTube broadcast Sunday morning."In order to take down our broadcast, the police cut out the door to the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) office, and then began to saw the door to the studio right in the middle of broadcast," he said in a Facebook post."Do you know the formal reason? Dmitry Nizovtsev, the host, was accused of planting a bomb (without actually going off air, we must assume), and it was necessary to cut the doors ASAP in order to find this bomb."And then they detained him. Watch it, it's a good example of what the Russian police has become."CNN contacted the Moscow police, but officials there said they "have no information regarding the raids."Service members gather at Triumfalnaya Square ahead of an opposition rally calling for a boycott of March 18 presidential elections.Eight staff members from Navalny's Moscow offices were detained in the raid and were among 185 people arrested across the country, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. They included the head of Navalny's Moscow headquarters, Nikolay Lyaskin, who was grabbed by police on his way out of the office, according to Navalny press secretary Kira Yarmysh.During the raid, police also seized computers and cameras from the office, tweeted the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, Roman Rubanov.One protester in Moscow brandishes a placard saying: "Demand lawful election."

Navalny's weapon of choice

Putin controls and dominates Russian State TV, where there has so far been no mention of the demonstrations.Instead, Navalny and his supporters have turned to YouTube to get their message out, with over 50,000 people watching his live feed as of Sunday morning.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

Navalny, Russia's best-known opposition leader, was barred from running in the upcoming elections after a 2017 criminal conviction for embezzlement. The Russia threat is real -- and it mattersCritics say the case against the 41-year-old was politically motivated.In an exclusive interview with CNN at his Moscow headquarters last week, Navalny accused the Putin administration of being "built on corruption" and warned of growing impatience for political change. "Putin has been in power for 18 years now," he said. "People are not ready to wait another six years, then another six, then another."The Kremlin has rejected allegations of widespread, high-level corruption and has condemned Navalny as a dangerous influence whose calls for protests could plunge Russia into chaos.

CNN's Antonia Mortensen, Fred Pleitgen, Carol Jordan and Dakin Andone contributed to this report

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Spain’s PM announces couples allowed short walks together and children can play outside from May 2

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Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced an easing of lockdown restrictions on Saturday, as children prepared to go outside for the first time in six weeks and figures confirmed a daily coronavirus death toll running well below the peak seen early this month.

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In a televised address Sanchez said Spaniards will be allowed out to exercise alone from May 2 if the coronavirus toll continues to fall. People living together will be permitted to take short walks together.

He also laid out the government's wider plan to loosen the lockdown at different speeds across different regions, depending on whether they meet with criteria established by the World Health Organization.

"We will not suddenly recover activity across all sectors," he said. "The deescalation has to be gradual and asymmetric… We won't all advance at the same pace but we will follow the same rules."

Spain's lockdown for children to be lifted May 2

Sanchez said the plan, which the government has been preparing with experts for three weeks, will be rolled out through May and "we will see what happens" in June. He said he will hold a virtual meeting with regional leaders on Sunday to discuss the plans, which the cabinet is set to approve on Tuesday.

His government's handling of the crisis has met with fierce criticism and on Saturday residents across Madrid came to their balconies to bang pots and pans in protest.

Similar protests earlier in the week prompted the government to reverse an earlier decision and let under 14s leave their homes for the first time since the state of emergency was declared on March 14.

From Sunday they will be allowed one hour of supervised outdoor activity per day between 9am and 9pm, staying within one kilometre of their home.

Adults can accompany up to three children, who will not be allowed to use playparks and must adhere to social distancing guidelines, remaining at least two metres from other people.

Sanchez urged parents be responsible and follow the guidelines with the "maximum safety precautions", while top police officials cautioned that children must stick to the rules.

Spain's Health Ministry said 378 more people had died after being diagnosed with the coronavirus, up slightly on Friday's 367, the lowest in the past month, but well down on the high of 950 seen on April 2.

Cumulative deaths rose to 22,902 while the overall number of cases rose to 223,759 from 219,764 the day before.

On April 13 sectors including construction and manufacturing were allowed to reopen, but with most people still confined to their homes except for essential reasons, shops, bars and public spaces remain closed.

Deconfinement plan

Catalan Regional President Quim Torra announced the region's own plan to ease lockdown measures, including stipulatingRead More – Source

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11 of Budapest’s best festivals

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(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and this city definitely knows how to put on a show.Barely a month goes by when the Hungarian capital isn't playing host to some sort of event celebrating food and drink, music, dance or the arts.

For those keen to go and join the party, we've rounded up some of the most entertaining festivities happening in Budapest throughout the year.

Rosalia Festival

Rosalia Festival is dedicated to rosé wines, sparkling wines and champagnes.

Courtesy Rosalia Festival

Each year, Budapest jumps the gun on summer over a weekend in May for the Rosalia Festival.

Created by the organizers of September's wine festival, it's Hungary's only event dedicated to celebrating rosé wine, as well as champagne and sparkling wines.

Taking place over three days, it features a Rosé Garden, tastings, jazz concerts, Hungarian food stalls and special events for children.

Dates: May 31 to June 2, 2019

Sziget Festival

Sziget Festival

One of the biggest music festivals in Europe — Sziget Festival takes place every August.

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

For more than 25 years, the week-long Sziget Festival has been taking over the Danube river island of Óbudai-sziget every August, showcasing more than 1,000 performers and drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

It's one of Europe's biggest music festivals, attracting performers including 2019 headliners Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Revelers soak up the lively ambience as dance artists put on theatrical performances on the site and everyone goes for a dip in the Danube along the sandy beach.

Dates: Aug 1 to 13, 2019

Budapest Summer Festival

Held throughout June, July and August, the Budapest Summer Festival brings some of the world's top classical musicians and ballet dancers to Margaret Island, located in the heart of Budapest.

There's a varied program of opera, ballet and classical music — with a bit of jazz and pop thrown in for good measure — most of which takes place in the enchanting setting of the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage.

Look out for the performances held in the open-air stage set up in the shadow of Margaret Island's historic water tower.

Dates: June to September

Budapest Summer Festivals, Open-Air Theatre, 1122 Budapest, Városmajor; +36 1 375-5922

Budapest Christmas markets

Budapest winter activities

The Christmas market on St. Stephen's Square is one of Budapest's top draws in winter.

Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office

Prepare to be utterly charmed by Budapest's Advent Christmas fair, which is held annually in the square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica.

From late November to early January, the area is filled with market stalls selling trinkets, toys, crafts and plenty of irresistible Hungarian food and drink.

Those who visit on Sunday can watch the Advent candles being lit.

To top it all off, there's a small but perfectly formed ice rink in the center, adding a further dollop of festive magic.

Even more treats are on offer at Vorosmarty Square, where the city's main Christmas market is held.

There are more than 100 stalls selling gifts and food — all of which have been personally vetted by a jury — ensuring the quality is high.

Budapest Wine Festival

Every September, Buda Castle becomes one giant civilized party in the late summer sun when scores of wine producers show off their latest vintages in a relaxed, yet convivial atmosphere.

Buy a glass and take it round for tastings at the various stalls, picking up Hungarian snacks along the way.

Four festival stages take turns with music and entertainment throughout the four-day event and there's also a Harvest Parade around Buda Castle celebrating folk music and dancing.

Dates: September 5 to 8, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival

Budapest Fish Festival

Traditional Hungarian cuisine meets international creations at the Budapest Fish Festival.

Courtesy Budapest Fish Festival

Hungarians spend the winter months keeping warm with a dish called halászlé — a red hot fisherman's soup brimming with paprika and river fish.

When early March comes round, many head to the three-day Budapest Fish Festival to feast on this spicy dish and plenty of other types of fish.

Heroes' Square is the setting for cooking contests, wine tastings, folklore music and fun for the kids — not to mention stall after stall of mouthwatering dishes.

Dates: March 2, to 4, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival, Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146

Danube Carnival

The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage and a host of other open-air venues around the Danube become filled with color during this week-long festival of folk dance in June.

Several hundred international dancers and musicians bring their own cultural sounds and dances to mingle with traditional Hungarian styles at the annual event.

The Carnival Parade that goes along the Danube Promenade to Vorosmarty Square is one of the festival's main highlights.

Dates: TBC

Festival of Folk Arts

Festival of Folks Arts

Festival of Folk Arts brings top Hungarian craftsmen to Buda Castle.

Janos Peter photography

Craftspeople from all around Hungary descend on Buda Castle every August for a three-day celebration of crafts made in the country for hundreds of years.

Visitors can take part in workshops and watch the experts in action as they spin, weave, carve, paint, demonstrating skills that have been handed down over the generations.

The festival includes folk dances and performances and — this being Hungary — plenty of food stalls offering delectable traditionalRead More – Source

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It claims that the deal is likely to be ‘against the public interest’

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Murdoch-Trump and the Disney-Fox deal

A U.K. regulator is recommending that the government block Rupert Murdoch's planned $16 billion takeover of Sky TV in its current form.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in a statement Tuesday that the proposed deal by Murdoch's 21st Century Fox(FOX) is likely to be "against the public interest" because it would give the mogul too much control over British media.

"Media plurality goes to the heart of our democratic process. It is very important that no group or individual should have too much control of our news media or too much power to affect the political agenda," said Anne Lambert, chair of the regulator's investigations group.

The CMA's recommendation is provisional. Its final report will be submitted to U.K. Culture Secretary Matt Hancock by May 1. He will then have to decide whether to block Murdoch.

If he does, Disney(DIS) — which is buying most of 21st Century Fox — would end up owning Fox's existing 39% stake in Sky. Disney would then have to decide whether to make its own offer for the remaining 61%.

The CMA proposed steps 21st Century Fox could take to address its concerns, including spinning off Sky News.

The British government asked the regulator in September to examine the Sky takeover because of concerns that the deal would concentrate too much power in the hands of the Murdoch family.

Murdoch already owns three of Britain's biggest newspapers: The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

Related: Disney is buying itself a messy TV deal in Europe

21st Century Fox said in a statement Tuesday that it was "disappointed" by the CMA's provisional findings and would continue to engage with the regulator.

6 of the best concert halls in Budapest

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(CNN) — Budapest has proved a first-class sanctuary for music aficionados throughout the years, drawing some of the finest musicians from around the world.

Today, the Hungarian capital embodies the remnants of its rich musical history, with grand concert and music halls honoring the likes of composers Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel.

The breathtaking Hungarian State Opera House is one of the finest examples of neo-Renaissance architecture in the world, while the juxtaposing Béla Bartók National Concert Hall stamps a modern and contemporary feel onto the city's imposing skyline.

From the wondrous interior of the Liszt Music Academy to the flamboyant Vigadó, here are six of the best concert halls in Budapest when you travel here:

1. Vigadó Concert Hall

The oldest of the major music venues in Budapest, Vigadó Concert Hall is a typically Hungarian mix of Moorish, Gothic and romantic styles.

It was built by architect Frigyes Feszl, who started work on the building in 1859 and completed it in 1865.

Since the very first premiere took place here, names such as Johannes Brahms, Johann Strauss Jr., Sergei Prokofiev and Gerhard Richter have graced its stage, and the grandeur of its interior decoration makes up for any weaknesses in its acoustics.

Located in the center of the city, overlooking the River Danube, the Vigadó opened its doors after a ten-year refurbishment in March 2014, and has remained one of the city's most popular music venues ever since.

2. Hungarian State Opera House

The Hungarian State Opera was designed by Miklós Ybl, one of Europe's leading 19th century architects.

Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office

Constructed to rival Vienna's similar-looking opera house, the Hungarian State Opera House is a tumultuous neo-Renaissance affair with added Baroque features.

Completed in 1884, it boasts a grand chandelier that weighs three tons and almost three kilograms of gold was used to gild the cherubs and nymphs of its sumptuously ornate interior.

The venue's former directors have included Gustav Mahler and Otto Klemperer and while some of its more recent productions have caused controversy, there's no denying the quality of its acoustics or the ability of the performers and musicians that grace the stage here. The ballet productions get top marks, too.

What's more, the price of tickets won't break the bank, so you can treat yourself to a seat in the stalls or a glass of fizz on the balcony overlooking Andrássy Avenue, Budapest's Champs-Élysées style boulevard.

Please note, the Opera House is closed for refurbishments until 2020, but tours of the building are still available. In the meanwhile, shows are being performed at the Erkel Theatre.

3. Liszt Music Academy

Founded by Franz Liszt himself — a statue of the composer presides over its entrance — this prestigious concert hall and music conservatory is housed in a magnificent Art Nouveau building .

Liszt Music Academy reopened in 2013 after a two-year renovation that revived the gold, pink and black hues of its original 1907 interior.

The building's frame was also strengthened, and a sophisticated air-conditioning system was installed — cunningly concealed behind the laurel leaf decoration on the ceiling.

Its backstage facilities are second to none, while the seats in the concert hall allow for ample legroom.

Liszt Music Academy, Liszt Ferenc tér 8, 1061 Budapest, +36 1 462-4600.

4. Erkel Theatre

Erkel Theatre, Budapest

Erkel Theatre became part of the Hungarian State Opera in 1951.

Attila Nagy

The Erkel Theatre houses the largest auditorium in Hungary and has been the Hungarian State Opera's second performance venue since 1951.

Although it was opened as the People's Opera in 1911, very little of the original design remains following several rounds of renovations over the years.

But despite its drab 1950s exterior, a visit to the Erkel Theatre is still quite an experience. Some great shows are performed here throughout the year and the acoustics are exceptional.

As for the interior, it's beautifully decked out in Art Deco simplicity, with light walls set against dark wood.

Erkel Theatre, II Janos Pál papa tér 30, Budapest; +36 1 814-7100

5. Béla Bartók Concert Hall

Perhaps the finest acoustics in the city — some say the whole of Europe — are found in the Béla Bartók Concert Hall, positioned south of the city center in the Palace of Arts (or Müpa, to give it its popular Hungarian abbreviation).

Opened in 2005, the 1,500-seat venue takes its name from the great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, and boasts a sleek modern interior devised by the world's top concert hall designers.

The result is superb — the local joke is that you can hear the mistakes better too, which is enough to make any musician nervous.

While Béla Bartók Concert Hall hosts major international orchestras, it also has folk, pop and jazz on its program.

6. Budapest Music Center

Budapest Music Center

Budapest Music Center features a 350-capacity concert hall, and a jazz club and restaurant.

Courtesy Budapest Music Center

The newest concert hall in the city since moving to new premises, Budapest Music Center is an intimate chamber music venue with just 350 seats.

Opened in 2013, its headquarters are housed in a former residential building, preserving the old neo-classical shell of the exterior.

However, inside is a very different story, with carefully engineered acoustics and a decor that's modern without being ostentatious.

A very satisfactory blend of old and new, the venue also houses the Opus Jazz Club, part of the same complex.

Nathan Kay is a well-traveled freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in print and online journalism. His interests lie in tech, news and travel writing.

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Meet the world’s most life-like robot

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Written by Stephy Chung, CNNHong Kong

This story is part of "Smart Creativity," a series exploring the intersection between high-concept design and advanced technology.The field of robotics is fast-growing. Robots can now perform complicated movements with elegance — back-flipping, practicing parkour moves, even "carving" classical sculptures.

Then there's Sophia, a robot whose widespread appeal lies not in big, dramatic actions (her torso is often fixed to a rolling base), but rather an unsettling human-like appearance, compounded with the complex ability to express emotions.

"We're not fully there yet, but Sophia can represent a number of emotional states, and she can also see emotional expressions on a human face as well," explains David Hanson, the founder of Hanson Robotics.

The firm has developed a number of Sophias at their small research and design laboratory in Hong Kong, where parts and pieces of Sophia 20, 21 and 22 remain strewn across the facility.

Meet Sophia: The robot who smiles and frowns just like us

According to Hanson, Sophia now has simulations of every major muscle in the human face, allowing her to generate expressions of joy, grief, curiosity, confusion, contemplation, sorrow, frustration, among other feelings.

"In some of the work we're doing, she will see your expressions and sort of match a little bit and also try to understand in her own way, what it is you might be feeling," says Hanson.

New technologies have enabled Sophia, a robot developed by Hanson Robotics, to generate an astounding number of human-like facial expressions. Credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Besides deep learning and a pre-programmed set of expressions, Sophia's face is constructed using the latest developments in material technology, meaning it appears softer, more supple and therefore, more realistic. The lab also studies the neurobiology and biology of human facial expressions to help inform how mechanical ones can behave.

"She is a tool for science in studying human to human interaction, and she's now a platform for allowing AI to express natural-like human emotional state(s), which is something we're developing. True emotive AI," says Hanson.

Universal appeal

When Hanson first began sculpting Sophia, he wanted her form to resonate with people from around the world. To that end, he looked to old statues of Nefertiti, ancient Chinese paintings, Audrey Hepburn and even his wife as inspiration. But he also wanted to maintain something of a robot sensibility, too.

"It was very important that she represent this intersection of humanity and technology, with the intuitive idea that technology can enhance humanity, help us actualize to higher states of being," says Hanson.

"At the same time, (technology can) provoke these questions: What does it mean to be human? What is real, what isn't real? What is the reality of our future which does not yet exist?"

Sophia on stage at the RISE Technology conference in Hong Kong.

Sophia on stage at the RISE Technology conference in Hong Kong. Credit: ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Since her activation in 2016, Sophia has since graced the covers of fashion publications and starred in a recent Moncler campaign. During an event at Shanghai Fashion Weekend, Sophia wore 3-D copper arm cuffs and sculptural garments designed by British artist Sadie Clayton.

"The reason I was interested in working with Sophia is because being an artist, it fuses fashion, art and technology. This was the most natural, organic way of me developing my process," says Clayton.

"I think she is so stunning in her right. And the expressions that she gives, it's a really beautiful, warm feeling."

Sophia, a robot created by Hanson Robotics, was named by United Nations Development Programme as its first non-human Innovation Champion in November 2017.

Sophia, a robot created by Hanson Robotics, was named by United Nations Development Programme as its first non-human Innovation Champion in November 2017. Credit: PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Besides modeling, she has made appeared on talk shows and spoken at conferences about issues ranging from artificial intelligence to the role of robots. Controversially, she was even granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, becoming the first robot to have a nationality.

"She's the one robot of the dozens of robots I have designed, that has become really internationally famous," says Hanson.

"I don't know what it is about Sophia, that speaks to people, but I hope that we can develop our AI and robots in a way that makes a deep emotional connection."

Watch the video above to find out more about Hanson Robotics.

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Lavrov berates US for ‘destabilizing’ world

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Lavrov dedicated the opening of his annual press conference Monday to castigating the US, which is expected to soon issue a fresh round of sanctions against Russia over its interference in the 2016 US election. Russia has long denied meddling in the vote. Lavrov criticized the US for issuing regular "threats" in relation to events in North Korea and Iran, saying they had "further destabilized" the global situation.He did not mention President Donald Trump by name, but the US President has issued stern threats to North Korea and Iran, sending a series of fiery Twitter posts attacking the leadership in both nations.Trump has openly ridiculed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear testing and threatened military intervention. He recently lambasted the Iranian leadership for being repressive, "brutal and corrupt," and supported anti-government protesters challenging the government in six days of rallies. Lavrov accused the US of provoking tensions on the Korean peninsula. "The United States quite plainly says that the military confrontation is inevitable, however, everyone understands the catastrophic consequences of such recklessness," he said.He also criticized the US for expanding its military exercises around North Korea, "which provoked a new escalation of tensions," while others were working through diplomatic channels to resume talks with Pyongyang.

Lavrov warns US on Iran deal

Iran's Rouhani says Trump 'failed' to kill off nuclear dealLavrov warned the US not to back out of the Iran nuclear deal. Trump had vowed to tear up the 2015 agreement, brokered by the Obama administration, alongside several European allies, Russia and China. The deal obliges Iran to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for eased sanctions.Trump signed a waiver on Iran sanctions Friday under the deal, but signaled that he would not do so again. He has been under pressure from foreign allies and, according to US officials, his own national security team to stick to the deal. The day he signed the waiver, however, Trump also announced new separate sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and entities, in a move that has rattled Tehran.Lavrov said that US threats to walk away from the deal would undermine any future agreement with North Korea."It's sad that United States once again gives a reason to doubt their ability to be reliable contract partners," he said. "And if this agreement is being taken aside and Iran is being told — you stay within the frame of agreements but we will return the sanctions — well, put yourself in place North Korea's place. They are being promised that sanctions will be lifted if they say no to their nuclear program, what if they do it but sanctions are still there?"Relations between Moscow and Washington deteriorated in 2017, as several US investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election got underway. The US tightened sanctions against Russia and closed several of its diplomatic compounds in the country, while Moscow forced the US to cut back on its diplomatic staff in Russia. Lavrov laughed when CNN asked if he regretted Trump's ascension to the presidency, given the diplomatic tumult, and whether he might now prefer it if Hillary Clinton had won the election."This is not what diplomats do — regret something that has happened. We work with facts, and facts are what we have today, so we just do what needs to be done to advance Russia's interests under the current circumstances," he responded.US officials have not publicly responded to Lavrov's comments.

CNN's Emma Burrows and Lindsay Issac reported from Moscow. Angela Dewan wrote from London. Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

Original Article

‘Mother Meral’: The woman trying to drive Turkey’s Erdogan from office

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So presidential candidate Meral Aksener is going from town to town collecting these colorful pieces of cloth, known as "yemeni," from her supporters.The 61-year-old is leading what she calls the yemeni revolution to bring an end to the aggression of Turkish politics. If she becomes the one to finally end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's long reign, she will put the headscarves on display in Cankaya, the former presidential palace in Ankara."Turkey has been ruled by a very harsh male for a very long time," she told CNN in the southern city of Adana, on the campaign trail.Some abroad call Aksener Turkey's Iron Lady, but others at home call her Asena, a mythical blue she-wolf that led Turkic tribes away from danger. But there are other names she prefers. "Some people call me sister, but there are many young people who call me 'Mother Meral,' and I like being a mother," Aksener said.Aksener is the only woman running for president in the June 24 elections, but her appeal is not based solely on her gender. Her conservative and longtime nationalist credentials are what make her most likely to lure support from Erdogan's base, even though she polls third. The main opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, is in second place and has galvanized his own center-left base. But he is unlikely to split the conservative vote in the way Aksener can.

Aksener's rise

Aksener and her envisaged revolution have been drawing crowds across Turkey. Women at the Adana rally eagerly handed their headscarves up to the candidate on stage. Esra Demirkol, a fervent supporter who waited for hours to get a photo, jumped on stage to hug the candidate."For the future, for our kids, for our country for many reasons, I will vote for Meral Aksener. A woman's touch makes everything better. I want a mother to rule our country," said a breathless Demirkol as she returned from stage.Aksener collects headscarves from women in Adana.Aksener's Iyi Party (Good Party) is new to the political scene, but Aksener is a veteran politician. She served as interior minister for eight months at the height of the dirty war against Kurdish separatists when human-rights abuses were rampant in Turkey. When questioned about those allegations, Aksener is defiant, claiming there was not a single human-rights violation by the government during her time as minister."There was a human rights group at those times, they were publishing lists for missing people. I sent them a signed paper saying, 'Let us search for your missing together.' And they did not have any other publications for the rest of my ministry period," she said.An Aksener rally in the southern Turkish city of Adana.But during her stint as interior minister, she also gained credibilty for standing up to the military, which tried to overthrow the civilian government in the 1997 so-called "post-modern coup."Once again, it is her defiance that is fueling her popularity — Aksener broke with her longtime Nationalist Movement Party, MHP, last year over its alliance with the President.

'We do not have checks and balances'

Aksener, like all the opposition candidates, has vowed to roll back a change to Turkey's political system that Erdogan won last year in a referendum.He was widely accused of a power grab with the vote, in which he sought to change the country's parliamentary system to an executive presidential one, giving himself sweeping new powers. The vote was seen as unfair, as his government has imprisoned dissidents and crushed the free media following a failed coup in 2016. He won by a narrow margin, and a radical change to Turkey's system will come into effect after the election."I have been struggling with Erdogan and his extrajudicial behavior for the last two-and-a-half, three years," Aksener said. "The elections we are going into, it is what Erdogan wants. It is not a presidential system as in Western democracies. We do not have checks and balances."A supporter listens to Aksener speaking at a rally in Gaziantep, Turkey.With Ince polling second, Aksener may not be the opposition candidate to face off against Erdogan, should the vote go to a run-off round. But she has already been instrumental in shaping this election. In the previous presidential vote, opposition parties banded together to back a single candidate to challenge the incumbent. This time around, Aksener refused to join and announced her own candidacy. Soon other opposition parties followed and put forward their strongest candidates, giving more options for people to vote against Erdogan.Opposition parties including Aksener's have committed to support whoever faces off with Erdogan, should the vote go to a second round. People from the small southern town of Samandag welcome Aksener on the street.Mustafa Koseler, a 76-year-old supporter of MHP, Aksener's former party, will back the Iyi Party after decades of loyalty. He fears that Turkey will end up a "one-man dictatorship like Bashar Assad, like Hafez Assad, like (Mohamed) Morsy, like (Moammar) Gadhafi" under Erdogan's rule. He is looking to Aksener to preserve the country's democracy and prevent the change to Turkey's political system. "We do not want one-man rule," he said at the rally in Adana. "We want our republic, democracy and parliament to function as it is today. We want our members of parliament to have a say. In the new system, they won't."What Aksener is promising is a new dawn for her country. Her Iyi Party's blue logo is emblazoned with a golden sun, promising the optimism of a new movement. When voter Guler Yasa in Adana is asked why she supports Aksener, she refers to this logo. "Because she is turning her face to the sun. She will make a new sun rise over our country," Yasa said.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

Original Article

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