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  1. [embed_video1 url= style=center] JEDDAH: For years Areej al-Ghamdi could only cheer her favourite football team from home, but everything changed on Friday when Saudi Arabia allowed women into the stadium for the first time. The university student was among around 300 Saudi women who thronged Pearl stadium in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after the ultra-conservative kingdom eases decades-old rules separating the sexes. "I came with my father and my brother -- we´re fans of Al-Ahli," said Ghamdi of the Saudi Premier League club facing off against Al-Batin. The young woman said she always used to cheer her home team from the comfort of her living room. "We love the club very much, and our home would often become an arena for supporters," she said. "This is the first time we´ll be cheering for real, not just in front of the television," said Ghamdi, who wore a black abaya robe and a black scarf with a green Al-Ahli scarf round her neck. "It is so much better here." The game began at 8:00 pm (1700 GMT), but two hours before the historic kick-off enthusiasm was palpable as women supporters began arriving at the stadium. Among the first was a woman accompanied by a younger female and a girl. A boy sat next to them in seats that had been reserved for women who come alone or with members of their families, namely male relatives. The women entered the stadium through a special gate, while male supporters filed in through a separate entrance. ´Historic day´ Saudi Arabia, which has some of the world´s tightest restrictions on women, has long barred them from sports arenas through strict rules that keep the sexes apart in public. Glass panels were set up to separate men supporters from the women and family section of the stadium. "This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future. I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change," Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old fan from the Red Sea city, told AFP. Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, spoke of a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes". "I am proud and extremely happy for this development and for the kingdom´s moves to catch up with civilised measures adopted by many countries," she said. ´Daughters can´t believe it´ Saleh al-Ziadi brought his three daughters to the game. "My daughters still don´t believe this is happening. They have not yet realised they will be cheering their favourite team inside the stadium," he said. The women entering the venue waited in long queues to be searched by women security personnel who wore orange vests over their black abayas, while inside the stadium another team directed them to their seats. Jeddah resident Noura Bakharji was among those who patiently waited for her turn, and for a reason. Bakharji said she always felt bitter when her brothers came home from stadiums to tell her about the excitement of watching football matches in person. "I always watched games on TV while my brothers went to the stadiums... I asked myself repeatedly ´Why I can´t go?´" she told AFP. "Today, things have changed. It´s a day of happiness and joy." Under Saudi Arabia´s existing guardianship system, a male family member -- normally the father, husband or brother -- must grant permission for a woman´s study, travel and a host of other activities. Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman at the Saudi embassy in Washington "rooted for the ladies" in a message on Twitter. "As we speak; Saudi women fans are entering soccer stadiums! This is more than women´s rights: today´s match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, and the ones to follow, are opportunities for families to come together and enjoy KSA´s national sport -- soccer! I´m rooting for the ladies -- enjoy!" Baeshen tweeted. Friday´s match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on Saturday and a third on January 18. And in June, as part of a reforms drive led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, authorities are lifting a ban that prohibited Saudi women from driving. And the result of Friday´s game? A 5-0 defeat for Al-Batin -- and a victory for women in Saudi Arabia.
  2. LOS ANGELES: Sony?s ?Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? handily won the first box office weekend of 2018 over the launch of ?Insidious: The Last Key? and ?Star Wars: The Last Jedi? with $36 million at 3,801 North American locations. The fourth installment of the ?Insidious? horror franchise scared up a surprisingly strong $29.3 million at 3,116 sites for Universal. Disney-Lucasfilm?s ?The Last Jedi? followed in third with a 55% decline to $23.6 million at 4,232 venues for a 24-day total of $572.5 million -- the sixth-largest of all-time. Fox?s third weekend of ?The Greatest Showman? held nicely in fourth, declining only 12% to $13.6 million at 3,342 theaters for a 19-day total of about $77 million. It was followed in fifth by Universal?s third session of ?Pitch Perfect 3? with $10.2 million at 3,458 sites, lifting its 17-day take to a solid $86 million. Fox?s fourth weekend of animated comedy ?Ferdinand? finished sixth with $7.7 million at 3,156 venues, followed by Jessica Chastain?s ?Molly?s Game? from STXfilms, which brought in $7 million after expanding to 1,608 sites from 271. Chastain received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a drama for her work in the film -- whether or not she wins will be determined Sunday. The film also received a Producers Guild Award nomination on Friday for best film, a day after Aaron Sorkin?s script received a Writers Guild nom for adapted screenplay. The ?Jumanji? sequel has taken in $244.4 million in its first 19 days domestically. It?s the first weekend box office win for ?Jumanji? -- which has gone past ?Justice League? as the ninth-largest domestic grosser among 2017 titles. ?Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? is also topping the $500 million mark worldwide. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan star in ?Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,? a sequel to Robin Williams? original, which was a 1995 hit with $262 million worldwide. ?Welcome to the Jungle? follows four high schoolers in detention who wind up as video game characters facing an array of challenges. ?Insidious: The Last Key? came in far above expectations, which had been in the $16 million to $19 million range. It?s the latest horror title from Blumhouse Productions, which delivered low-cost horror hits last year for Universal with ?Split,? ?Get Out,? and ?Happy Death Day.? The franchise dates back to 2010 with ?Insidious,? followed by ?Insidious: Chapter 2? in 2013 and ?Insidious: Chapter 3? in 2015 -- which have grossed a collective $357 million worldwide. Lin Shaye, who has starred in all three films, returns in ?Insidious: The Last Key? as a parapsychologist whose haunted childhood comes to threaten her family and home in a follow-up to the events in ?Insidious: Chapter 3.? It?s produced by ?Insidious? regulars Jason Blum, Oren Peli, and co-creator James Wan and by Sony Pictures (through Stage 6 Films) with Blumhouse. Universal is the U.S. theatrical distributor with Sony releasing in the rest of the world. Overall domestic business was up 18.1% to $165 million, according to comScore -- a welcome sign after 2017 saw a 2.3% decline in total grosses. ?2018 is off to a rollicking start with ?Jumanji?s? unexpected strength boosting the overall marketplace nearly 20% ahead of the comparable weekend a year ago as the box office new year gives the industry cause to celebrate with an incredibly diverse lineup of titles driving patrons to theaters and a red hot awards season in full swing,? noted Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. ?Two years ago was not even as strong with a ?Force Awakens? driven marketplace ringing up sales of $159.1 million for the same weekend in 2016.?
  3. US President Donald Trump walks with US Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Gene Gibson ? the commanding officer of the Lake Worth Inlet Station ? during an invitation for Coast Guard service members to play golf at Trump International Golf Course in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, US, December 29, 2017. AFP/Nicholas Kamm WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump weighed in on protests in Iran Saturday, warning that the country's people want change and "oppressive regimes cannot endure forever." Trump posted on Twitter two clips of his speech to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September, wherein he took aim at the Iranian regime, which Washington has held out as its top adversary in the Middle East. "Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice," he tweeted, quoting from the speech. "The world is watching!" Trump's posts ? his second time addressing the subject in as many days ? came as several hundred anti-government demonstrators clashed with police at the University of Tehran in a third straight day of protests. Hundreds of counter-protesters also massed outside the entrance to the university, chanting "Death to the seditionists" in a show of support for the regime. Videos shared by social media users outside Iran but which could not be independently verified claimed to show thousands marching peacefully against the regime in several cities including Khorramabad, Zanjan, and Ahvaz, with chants of "Death to the dictator!" "The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran's people are what their leaders fear the most," Trump said, again quoting from the UN speech. Trump also tweeted in support of the protesters late Friday, prompting Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahran Ghasemi to dismiss his remarks as "opportunistic."
  4. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is seen setting a record high close for a trading year as the final day of trading for the year draws to a close at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York, US, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly NEW YORK: There were no fireworks on Wall Street for the last trading day of the year, as US stocks closed out their best year since 2013 on a down note, with losses in technology and financial stocks keeping equities in negative territory for the session. Major indexes hit a series of record highs in 2017, lifted by a combination of strong economic growth, solid corporate earnings, low interest rates, and hopes for a tax cut from US President Donald Trump?s administration. The benchmark S&P 500 surged 19.5 percent this year, the blue-chip Dow 25.2 percent, and Nasdaq 28.2 percent, as each of the major Wall Street indexes scored the best yearly performance since 2013. The market has also remained resilient in the face of tensions in North Korea and political turmoil in Washington. The S&P 500 only saw four sessions all year with a decline of more than 1 percent while the CBOE Volatility index topped out at 15.96 on a closing basis, well below its long-term average of 20. ?The real question is what happens as we head into 2018,? Sam Stovall ? the chief investment strategist at New York-based CFRA Research ? said. ?There is an awful lot of optimism built into share prices right now that could set us up for disappointment.? Among sectors, the technology index has been the best performer, up 37 percent and led by a gain of 87.6 percent in Micron Technology (MU.O). Telecom services (down 5.7 percent) and energy (down 3.7 percent) were the only two sectors to end the year in the red. The rally is widely expected to extend into 2018, boosted by gains from a new law that lowers the tax burden on US corporations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 118.29 points (0.48 percent) on Friday to close at 24,719.22, the S&P 500 lost 13.93 points (0.52 percent) to 2,673.61, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 46.77 points (0.67 percent) to 6,903.39. For the week, the Dow lost 0.13 percent, the S&P 500 shed 0.36 percent and the Nasdaq lost 0.81 percent. Apple declined 1.08 percent after issuing a rare apology for slowing older iPhones with flagging batteries. Goldman Sachs lost 0.68 percent after saying its fourth-quarter profit would take a $5 billion hit related to the new tax law. Amazon fell 1.4 percent after Trump targeted the online retailer in a call for the country?s postal service to raise prices of shipments in order to recoup costs. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.91-to-1 ratio favoured decliners. The S&P 500 posted 36 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 81 new highs and 20 new lows. Volume on US exchanges was 4.94 billion shares, compared to the 6.4 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
  5. With a record 18 consecutive wins, zero losses and 15 points clear at the top, Manchester City's marauding campaign in the Premier League this season has arguably been one their fans are going to remember for a long time. While everyone is expecting them to drop points, City could be given extra motivation to blitz the league with a record-breaking points tally. In fact, the rampant Pep Guardiola side is on course to lift the title earlier than any side before them in the history of the Premier League. Though Guardiola's shrewd tactics have put City beyond the reach of their rivals, the pin-point accuracy of Kevin De Bruyne in the midfield and the pacy runs on either sides by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling have only added to the woes of their opponents. © Instagram/@dejesusoficial But the talent is not only on the pitch, such has been the performance of the City stars that it has often restricted equally good players in Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus to the bench. With Guardiola currently preferring Aguero over Jesus, the Brazilian star has surely struggled for proper game-time. With not enough full-game opportunities, Jesus recently turned his house into the playing field where his opponent turned out to be none other than his own mother. But it seems that the 20-year-old may have bitten off a little more than he could chew when taking on his mom in a casual kick-about. Vem seca não dona @veraluciadiniz7 ðð A post shared by Gabriel Jesus (@dejesusoficial) on Dec 20, 2017 at 3:20pm PST Enjoying a quick game of football in his front room, Jesus wasn't holding back as he nutmegged his mother, popping the ball through her legs in style. But, while Jesus was probably gloating about the move, his mother - who looked pretty handy with the ball at her feet - came back strong with a brilliant challenge that sent the City forward sprawling to the ground in a heap. © Instagram/@dejesusoficial Thankfully for City and Guardiola, Jesus appeared to be fine after being left red-faced by his mother. For, the other clubs, it seems, Jesus' mother might make a good centre-back to halt the fast-approaching City attack.
  6. Actors Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill pose for photographers as they arrive for the European Premiere of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi', at the Royal Albert Hall in central London, Britain December 12, 2017. REUTERS/file Disney-Lucasfilm?s ?Star Wars: The Last Jedi? is showing plenty of force at mulitplexes worldwide with $745.4 million globally as of Sunday. The North American take has hit $365 million in its first 10 days as of Sunday with the studio projecting another $32 million on Christmas Day on Monday - making it the third highest domestic release in 2017 following ?Beauty and the Beast? with $504 million and ?Wonder Woman? at $412 million. ?Stars Wars: The Last Jedi? has totaled $380.3 million in international box office. It is already the top grossing film of 2017 in both Denmark and Sweden and the fourth highest grosser in the overall European market. The U.K. is the top market with $67.4 million, followed by Germany with $40 million, France with $29.3 million and Australia with $26.9 million. ?The Last Jedi,? which picks up following the events of 2015?s ?Star Wars: The Force Awakens,? is so far the 87th highest worldwide grosser of all time, trailing 2016?s ?Suicide Squad? by $1.4 million. Rian Johnson directed with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong?o and Domhnall Gleeson reprising their roles. It?s the final screen role for Fisher, who died a year ago. Sony?s ?Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle? and Universal?s ?Pitch Perfect 3? have also opened solidly while Fox?s ?The Greatest Showman? is drawing respectably at the domestic box office. But moviegoers are showing little interest in Paramount?s ?Downsizing? and Warner Bros.-Alcon?s ?Father Figures.? ?Star Wars: The Last Jedi? opened with the second-largest North American launch ever in its first weekend with $220 million. It faced competition for the first time on Dec. 20, with Sony?s action comedy ?Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,? which is leading the rest of the pack with $34 million at 3,765 sites for Friday-Sunday and a six-day total of around $64 million. Josh Greenstein, Sony?s president of worldwide marketing and distribution, pointed to the A- Cinemascore as an indication that ?Jumanji? is attracting all demographics. ?We have incredible momentum as we go into the biggest moviegoing week of the year,? he added.
  7. Nepal banned the practice of performing bears in 1973 but it still lingers on in parts of its southern region. Photo: AFP Nepali authorities have rescued the country's last known "dancing bears", officials said Sunday, in a major step towards ending the medieval tradition of abuse of the beasts for entertainment. The Himalayan nation the practice of performing bears back in 1973 but the tradition, an occupation for some street performer communities, lingered on in parts of its southern region. Police and animal charities said they spent more than a year hunting the captors of the two sloth bears before they were traced to the Rautahat district near the border with India on Tuesday. "We received information that they were in our area and managed to rescue the bears," district police chief Yagya Binod Pokharel told AFP. Dancing bears are captured and bought as cubs and taught to dance on their hind legs. Their snouts are pierced with a heated rod so they can be controlled by the tug of a rope or chain. Animal activists said the rescued bears ? 19-year-old male Rangila and Sridevi, a 17-year-old female ? showed signs of trauma such as cowering, pacing and paw-sucking. "We are thrilled that the last two known Nepali dancing bears have been rescued from their lifetime of suffering... our hard effort and dedication has helped to bring an end to this illegal tradition in Nepal," said Manoj Gautam of the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, which worked with the police and World Animal Protection to rescue them. The bears were located by tracking the owners' mobile phones. The bears are being cared for by the Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Nepal's largest such reserve. Dancing bears on the Indian subcontinent date back to the 13th century, when trainers belonging to a tribe that enjoyed royal patronage and performed before the rich and powerful. In neighbouring India, the practice came to an end in 2012, decades after an official ban in 1972. Sloth bears, a critically endangered species, are found in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. But shrinking habitats and rampant poaching have reduced their numbers, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The IUCN has put them on its red list of threatened species and their total estimated population is 20,000. They can grow up to 1.8 metres (six feet) tall and weigh up to 140 kilograms (310 pounds).
  8. It took everything 'The Force' has to make me watch this movie. After sitting through 2 hours and 33 minutes of agony and a few entertaining trailers for movies which seemed like much more fun, the only thing I can say is, a literal fight between stars would have been more entertaining. Okay, that's perhaps a bit too harsh. There are some memorable space battle scenes in the movie. But, is there anything in this movie that makes it different from being a rehash of 'The Empire Strikes Back?' I really didn't find anything. Here are 4 reasons why you just shouldn't bother wasting your time or money watching 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi': Character Growth When you have a trilogy, you'd expect the main character(s) to grow as the series progresses, right? But, what do you see Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo/Ben (Adam Driver) do throughout the movie? The same stuff they did in the Force Awakens. © Lucasfilm Ltd. Okay, they do find different ways of doing it, but they're still stuck in the same rut. Remember how they stretched out 'The Hobbit' into 3 movies? Looks like they're doing the same thing here. © Lucasfilm Ltd. But, to give credit where credit's due, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) have pretty decent character growth in this movie. Lightsabers When you're going to watch 'Star Wars', you want to see tons of lightsaber action, right? 'Rogue One' barely had any lightsabers but then they gave us an epic minute or so of Darth Vader slaughtering rebels and all was forgiven. © Lucasfilm Ltd. If the same happened here, if Luke stood up to a battalion of First Order troops and 'Forced' the shit out of them, all would have been forgiven. Instead, we get some poorly choreographed battles that probably had George Lucas dreading his decision of selling to Disney. Porgs This is actually one of the few things that the movie has going for it. So, why is it one of the reasons not to watch 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi?' Well, when one of the main reasons to watch a movie about space battles looks like this © Lucasfilm Ltd. It's not great news now is it? (The next point contains spoilers so if you want to see the movie first, go and do that before reading any further.) Skywalker The original trilogy focused on Luke Skywalker. The prequels focused on Anakin Skywalker. This trilogy focuses on 'Rey from nowhere'. While this would have been fine if Rey was a flawed character or a character who we could grow with. But, when you're so deep into Star Wars, there are hardly any secrets left. We loved Luke even more when we learnt that Darth Vader was his father. We didn't really care for Rey much when we learnt her parents were nobodies. © Lucasfilm Ltd. The Skywalker name is synonymous with Star Wars. Where are they now? Thanking their lucky stars they don't have anything to do with this new trilogy anymore. But, you don't have to take our word for it. Here's Mark Hamill talking about how disappointed he is with the new Luke Skywalker: I'm not necessarily saying that this is a bad movie. It's a good movie. Critics seem to love it too. But, is it a Star Wars movie? Of course not! Just ask any hardcore Star Wars fanboy what they thought of the movie. In fact, they hated the movie so much someone actually started a petition to get it remade. © Lucasfilm Ltd. The petition has since been removed but it had more than 45,000 signatures before that happened. As for Disney, they've already earned well over $500 million from the movie within a week so I don't think they're going to be phased by what I have to say anyway.
  9. Workers had cleared all the wrecked train cars blocking a major West Coast highway by Wednesday morning, two days after the Amtrak train derailed in Washington state while speeding onto a bridge, state transportation officials said. It took about a day longer than hoped, but crews had carted off the biggest chunk by the afternoon: the 270,000-pound (122,470-kg) locomotive involved in the Monday morning rush-hour crash in the city of Dupont, which killed three train passengers and sent about 100 people to hospitals. The affected southbound stretch of Interstate 5, which runs from the Canadian border to Mexico, will remain closed indefinitely, the Washington State Department of Transportation has said. Workers were clearing debris and may need to make repairs to the road surface, the department said. Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are seeking answers about the crash?s cause in interviews with the train?s engineer and a trainee conductor who were in the locomotive?s cab. NTSB members say they are focused on whether the engineer was distracted, but are timing their interviews with the crew this week around their recuperation from injuries. Investigators are also examining the wrecked train cars, which have been taken to a nearby US military base. ?The debris is being taken to the same place where all the rail cars are and I am sure it will be inspected just as if it is evidence,? Washington State Patrol Captain Dan Hall told a news conference. ?There is still some debris down there that is significant in size.? The accident occurred during the train?s inaugural run on a new, slightly quicker route between Olympia and Tacoma, with 86 people aboard, 80 of them passengers, Amtrak said. It was traveling at 80 miles (129 km) per hour, more than twice the speed limit for the curved portion of track leading to the bridge. NTSB investigators have found that the train?s emergency brakes were automatically activated during the derailment rather than being engaged manually by the engineer. They also said a safety system known as positive train control, which automatically slows trains if they go too fast, was not installed on the rail line. Congress had extended a mandatory deadline for having the system installed on all passenger railways to 2018. The derailment placed Amtrak, the country?s main passenger rail service, under renewed scrutiny following a series of fatal incidents. At least two of the three people killed in the derailment were transit enthusiasts who wanted to ride the inaugural run along the new route. The Pierce County Medical Examiner?s Office identified the third victim through fingerprints as Benjamin Gran, 40, of Auburn, Washington, on Wednesday afternoon.
  10. KUALA LUMPUR: The last surviving female Sumatran rhino in Malaysia is seriously ill, a wildlife official said Wednesday, with vets racing to save the critically endangered creature. Iman is one of just two Sumatran rhinos known to still be alive in Malaysia. She lives in a wildlife reserve on Borneo island, where she is part of a captive breeding programme with the last surviving male, Tam. But the female, who was captured several years ago from a jungle-clad valley, is suffering severe bleeding from a tumour in her uterus, said Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga. She has emerged from her mud wallow at the reserve in Sabah state and is being treated by experienced vets, but is only drinking and has refused to eat, he told AFP. "We hope to be able to treat the illness," he added. Iman has suffered from the same problem before but in the past vets managed to deal with it more easily, Tuuga said. In June another female rhino at the same reserve was put down as she was suffering from skin cancer, leaving Iman and Tam as Malaysia?s only surviving Sumatran rhinos. The smallest of the rhino species and the only Asian rhino with two horns, the creatures were declared extinct in the wild in Malaysia in 2015. There are fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild in neighbouring Indonesia, existing in tiny herds on Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo. Their numbers have fallen dramatically due to the rapid expansion of agricultural plantations, which has devastated their natural jungle habitat, and as they have been increasingly targeted by poachers for their horns and hide. Sumatran rhinos are born covered in shaggy, reddish-brown fur, earning them the nickname "hairy rhino".
  11. "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" soared to $220 million on its North American opening weekend, data released Sunday showed, backing up months of hype and earning critical praise even as early audiences didn't quite feel the Force. The latest instalment of the epic space opera was bettered only by 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the first movie in the saga's sequel trilogy which took $248 million on its debut weekend and a total gross of $937 million. But despite a "certified fresh" rating of 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and lofty comparisons to "The Empire Strikes Back," widely seen as the best film in the franchise, 95,000 movie-goers were less enthused, bestowing it a 56 percent average that was colder than the ice planet Hoth. The numbers could still converge, but the discrepancy so far is unusual. By comparison, "The Force Awakens" received a 93 percent critic score and 88 percent audience rating, while 2016 spin-off "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" got 85 and 87 percent respectively. "The Last Jedi" sees the return of the characters introduced in J.J. Abrams's first entry in the rebooted trilogy, and is also the last outing for character Leia Organa, played by Carrie Fisher, who died last December. Box office figures are a poor measure of a film's popularity compared to older releases because they do not take inflation into account. "The Last Jedi" was followed in second place by "Ferdinand," a computer-animated comedy about a bull with a big heart often mistaken for a dangerous beast, which took $13 million on what was also its debut weekend. Last weekend's number one "Coco," a colourful Pixar movie set in Mexico, was beat out to third place with $10 million. It has now earned $150.8 million in North America since its release four weeks ago, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Feel-good film "Wonder" starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay slid to fourth, taking $5.4 million. The movie tells the story of a determined fifth-grade boy with a facial deformity who must deal with rudeness and bullying by schoolmates. Warner Bros. superhero film "Justice League," featuring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Jason Momoa as Aquaman, plus Ciaran Hinds as a supervillain, fell to fifth with $4.2 million. The figures from Exhibitor Relations are industry projections released prior to the conclusion of the weekend. Rounding out the top ten were: "Daddy's Home 2" ($3.8 million) "Thor: Ragnarok" ($2.9 million) "The Disaster Artist" ($2.6 million) "Murder On The Orient Express" ($2.5 million) "Lady Bird" ($2.1 million)
  12. Praetorian Guards on the red carpet. Photo: Reuters LOS ANGELES: ?Star Wars: The Last Jedi,? the new film in the beloved space saga, opened with massive ticket sales that put it on track to ring up around $200 million at domestic theaters over the weekend, distributor Walt Disney Co said on Friday. The movie brought in $45 million in the United States and Canada on Thursday night, second only to the $57 million from 2015?s ?Star Wars: The Force Awakens.? That film went on to generate more than $2 billion worldwide. ?Last Jedi? is the eighth movie in the saga created by George Lucas in 1977. It picks up from the end of ?Force Awakens? with the scavenger Rey asking Luke Skywalker to come out of seclusion to help fight the evil First Order. The new film features actress Carrie Fisher?s final performance as Leia, the famous princess who has become a general leading resistance forces. Fisher died of a heart attack in December 2016. Fans? love of the franchise, and Fisher, is expected to drive heavy ticket sales for ?Last Jedi? over the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, according to box office analysts. ?Last Jedi? began rolling out on Wednesday in international markets, where it has brought in $60.8 million in its first two days, Disney said.
  13. For some reason, expectations from horror movies are always set high and unfortunately, only a handful of them are up to the mark. But when it comes to the'Insidious' franchise, fans have never been left disappointed. While the first three parts of the franchise managed to scare the crap out of almost everyone, the fourth part looks even more promising and the first trailer, that dropped in September this year was enough proof of the same. © Blumhouse Productions However, it looks like the makers will do anything and everything to fulfill the human want of being shit scared. They dropped a new trailer of the fourth installment 'Insidious: The Last Key' and it is worse (or should we say better?) than the first one. © Blumhouse Productions Safe to say that the first trailer was a little slow-paced as compared to this one which is a little too fast-paced for us to even absorb. The new trailer will literally make you gasp and jump of out seat or bed or whatever it is you are sitting on because it is filled with some classic jump scares. © Blumhouse Productions In case you aren't familiar with the storyline, let us enlighten you. Lin Shaye plays Dr. Elise Rainier, a parapsychologist who helps other people get rid of whatever paranormal activities are taking place in their abode. But this time around, she will face her most personal haunting yet: in her own family home. The new trailer adds another element to her investigation: a haunting whistle. © Blumhouse Productions In order to save her family, Elise will go to any lengths to fight the supernatural entities who basically like to appear suddenly and scare the crap out of the characters as well the audience. (What else do you expect from a horror film?). 'The Last Key' will pick up right where the events of Chapter 3 left off. And in a nutshell, it looks like the movie will compel us to sleep with our lights on. Watch the new trailer below: 'Insidious: The Last Key' is coming to theatres on January 5, 2018.
  14. The moviegoers are all set to enter a galaxy far, far away. And we bet all you Star Wars fans are pretty excited about this weekend. The coolest sci-fi- saga is finally here and we have all the exclusive details that you need to know. © Disney 'The Force Awakens' introduced the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her journey to find her place in the galaxy with the help of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and maybe even Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and 'The Last Jedi' will continue with the storyline. Something that we have been waiting for with bated breath. The man at the helm of it all, Director Rian Johnson reveals all the new characters, creatures and effects we will see in the film!! New Worlds Rian: “There are two new planets that we see. One is the planet Cantonica that the city, Canto Bight, is on. And this is kind of the Monte Carlo of the Star Wars universe. It's where the galaxy's one percent hang out. We've seen luxury before, in the prequels, and that design, so there's some precedent for it, but it was a fun challenge trying to figure out what it was going to look like. And then the other big new world is Crait, which is a mineral planet. I had a really specific visual idea for Crait from the very start, which was that it would be white, like a thin white layer of salt actually, but like a top soil. © Disney And then under that would be this ruby red sort of crystal foundation. I liked the whole notion of what a battle on a planet like that would look like. It just felt like it gave incredible possibilities in terms of graphic design for an environment that we hadn't seen before.” About The Amazing Star Wars Sets Rian: “It's an insane amount of sets. We shot for like 100 days, and I think we had 114 sets or something like that. It was crazy. An amazing amount of practical builds for this movie. We shot at Pinewood Studios, which was great. But the entirety of Pinewood was just us, every single stage. And even with that, there was a huge amount of shuffling around. Chris Lowe, who worked with Rick Heinrichs on the production, had the job, basically, to make sure that everything went smoothly from set to set. © Disney It was like a big Tetris game in terms of, okay, you're done shooting with this set, so we instantly tear it down and build another while you're shooting here. We only had a limited amount of stages, even though we were using all of them. It was this big shell game of finding space for everything. But it's really worth it. When you watch the film, it gives that sense of everything being grounded in the real world.” Creatures Of Star Wars Rian: “So Neal Scanlan, who ran the Creature Department and was in charge of all the practical creatures, had a huge task in this movie. We created a lot of creatures, especially for the Casino sequence on Canto Bight. Entering his workshop was like walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. It was my favorite place to go and review stuff because his team would first design these creatures with sketches, and then we would land on a design. Then the design was translated first into a sculpture, and then a working puppet that physically could operate. You could get six inches away and look into its eyes, and it looked like a real, living creature. It was just absolutely extraordinary.” The Porgs! © Disney Rian: “The porgs were everybody's favorite creature on set. We loved the porgs. Every time they would come out, our First AD, Jamie Christopher, would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the porgs.” We always said they shouldn't be in this movie; they should be out playing gigs. They're really adorable little creatures that Neal Scanlan and his team designed and then cooked up.” New Locations Rian: “We did some travelling. The big location was Ireland. A big chunk of the movie takes place on Luke's island, which is Skellig Michael, an uninhabited, tiny island off the southwest coast of Ireland. But it's a bird sanctuary, and it's a UNESCO Heritage Site. It is quite inaccessible. We could only get there for two days to shoot, so we had to really pick our battles in terms of what we could actually shoot on Skellig. The vast majority of the scenes set on the island were shot on the southwest coast of Ireland, County Kerry, and up the coast a little bit, which was great because it very naturally shared a lot of the same feel and look of Skellig, but was more accessible for the crew. We had so much fun shooting in Ireland. It was also that we were weirdly blessed in terms of weather when we were there. There were days when we were literally sitting there in Ireland waiting for clouds. © Disney Also our Irish crew was amazing. They built the set that Luke is living in. We actually built it cantilevered out over a massive cliff, just outside of Dingle. They built this huge practical set that's actually just there. It was absolutely amazing. They even had to build a temporary road for everyone to get up to it. It was a massive, massive project. But then you're up there, and you're sitting there and you're looking out at the ocean, and you're just there. And the actors are just there, so you just point, turn the camera on, and you're in the scene. Technically, we could have just set up a green screen and built a set, but when you watch it, you can tell it is actually real. It was incredible.” © Disney The eighth part in the Star Wars hits the screens on December 15, 2017 and we have absolutely no doubts in believing that it will blow our brains away!
  15. In the age of masked, smoke-breathing men in New Delhi, there's hardly anything in control of our hands. Nothing that's changing or affecting our lives today is tamable with ordinary measures at bay. Take for example, Rakhi Sawant's inexplicable Instagram videos or Saif Ali Khan's revolution of shortened torsos. While Mika's equally-irrelevant ex can be dealt with a later date, 'Stache Khan is the one we need to talk about right now. Who, lately, has been forgetting his belt home, wearing his trousers too high and heeling up his dress shoes like nobody's business. Frankly, whether it's a PR move to bring the attention to himself (rather than Taimur), mood swings or his-way-of-dressing-because-he's-a-goddamn-Nawab, the point remains—he appeared a little too waist-ed last evening. ©Viral Bhayani Love the man or hate the man, he's really a great dresser otherwise. His style sensibilities could be unexplained to some, but all in all, he bears every quality of a fashion maven. He dresses for the occasion, holds his fit imperative and wears his Kolhapuris whenever he damn wants. He's exactly the guy who sticks to his personal style. So much so, that when it comes to his dressing abilities, we might call him as stubborn as Rahul Gandhi. Only difference—you won't think he's stupid. ©Viral Bhayani Here's what we think: instilling a personal flavour into any outfit you sport, is obviously a great way of standing out from the crowd. However, you can't add personality and oppose cardinal rules in the process. Doing this won't ever bring you fortune. All your life, if you've been told to wear your trousers at the high hip bone area, you rather relent—it's for your own good. Or wait, are these high-waist trousers on Saif? We can only wonder. On the other hand, while a slight heel to dress shoes is great for elevation, Saif has gone a little overboard here. But since this dress shoe type has been a constant with him, we're letting this pass. Including his missing belt on the trousers, that's more of a personal call to take. Whether to wear it or not, is completely upto you. ©Viral Bhayani Let's just say, we're 100% down for shaking things up. But if you're doing anything wrong, even mama won't come save you.
  16. (L-R) Director Lee Unkrich, Anthony Gonzalez, who plays the voice of Miguel, co-director/screenwriter Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson attends Disney-Pixar's U.S. premiere of "Coco" in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 8, 2017. REUTERS LOS ANGELES: With anticipation building for ?Star Wars: The Last Jedi,? Disney-Pixar?s animated comedy ?Coco? handily won its third straight crown at a moderate North American box office with $18.3 million at 3,748 sites. ?Coco? joined ?The Hitman?s Bodyguard,? ?Fate of the Furious? and ?Split? as 2017 titles to top the domestic box office for three weekends in a row. The major studios have held off on any new openings since the Thanksgiving holiday but that changes on the evening of Dec. 14 when previews start for Disney-Lucasfilm?s ?The Last Jedi? amid expectations of an opening weekend in the $200 million range. ?Coco,? a colorful celebration of Mexico?s Day of the Dead, showed impressive holding power with a 33% decline from its second weekend to lift its 19-day total to $135.5 million. It?s performed similarly to Disney?s animated ?Moana,? which opened at the same time last year and had totaled $144.7 million after three weekends. There was a single wide opening this weekend with Broad Green Pictures? final movie, ?Just Getting Started,? showing little traction with moviegoers with $3.2 million at 2,146 locations. ?Just Getting Started,? an action comedy starring Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, wound up in 10th place behind A24?s sixth weekend of awards contender ?Lady Bird? with $3.5 million at 1,557 venues. The fourth weekend of Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment?s superhero team-up ?Justice League? finished with about half of ?Coco? with $9.6 million at 3,508 locations. ?Justice League? has taken in $212.1 million in 24 days and is the 10th biggest movie of 2017 -- but it?s also the lowest performer among the five DC Extended Universe movies. ?Wonder Woman? had hit $318 million domestically at the 24-day point in June. ?Justice League? has gone past $600 million worldwide with an international total of $401 million. Its performance pushed Warner Bros. past the $5 billion mark worldwide for 2017. The studio announced Sunday that it?s become the first studio to cross the $2 billion mark for the year, led by ?Wonder Woman? with $412 million and ?It? with $327 million. Lionsgate?s third weekend of inspirational drama ?Wonder? finished in third place with $8.5 million at 3,519 North American sites with a 35% decline. ?Wonder? became the 27th movie of the year to cross the $100 million mark -- and one of the least costly among that group, given its $20 million budget. Production companies on the Jacob Tremblay vehicle are Mandeville Films, Participant Media, Walden Media and TIK Films. A24?s expansion of James Franco?s comedy-drama ?The Disaster Artist? took in a solid $6.4 million at 840 venues, up from 19 last weekend. That edged the sixth weekend of Disney-Marvel?s ?Thor: Ragnarok? with $6.3 million at 3,047 sites, which put its domestic total above $300 million. The third Thor movie was a key factor in November?s box office staying ahead of the same month last year.
  17. Sevilla stuttered into the last 16 of the Champions League after being held to a 1-1 draw by Group E?s bottom side Maribor. Liverpool?s convincing victory over Shakhtar Donetsk - the Spanish team?s rivals for second place - ensured that even after dropping points to Maribor, they progressed to the knockout stage. Marcos Tavares stunned the Spaniards with the opening goal after 10 minutes, heading home Martin Milec?s cross from close range. But in a one-sided second half, Sevilla breached the stubborn home defence when goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic failed to keep out substitute Ganso?s low shot following good work by Joaquin Correa. Maribor, the Slovenian champions, were already consigned to bottom place after scoring two goals in five group matches before this, their third draw in the competition.
  18. LONDON: Fernando Llorente scored his first goal for Tottenham Hotspur as they rounded off their impressive Champions League group stage campaign by strolling to a 3-0 home win over APOEL Nicosia on Wednesday. Tottenham, who were already guaranteed to finish top of Group H ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, ended with 16 points and five wins from six games. APOEL finished bottom with two points. Llorente, who joined Spurs from Swansea City in the summer, opened his account for the club in the 20th minute when he beautifully controlled a low cross from Serge Aurier and swivelled before firing into the net. Tottenham, who made eight changes to the team that started against Watford on Saturday, doubled their lead after 37 minutes when Son Heung-min curled the ball into the far corner and Georges-Kevin N?Koudou made it 3-0 with 10 minutes remaining.
  19. Shakhtar Donetsk booked a Champions League knockout-stage berth after first-half goals by Brazilians Bernard and Ismaily gave the Ukrainian side a 2-1 win over Manchester City in Group F on Wednesday. City, who suffered their first defeat of the season in any competition, finished top with 15 points, three more than Shakhtar and nine ahead of third-placed Napoli who dropped into the Europa League after a 2-1 defeat at bottom team Feyenoord. With one eye on Sunday?s Premier League Manchester derby against United, City coach Pep Guardiola rested his entire first-choice back four and Shakhtar took advantage as they romped into a 2-0 lead before halftime. Needing only a draw to be sure of qualifying, the home side launched waves of attacks instead of sitting back as Bernard curled a superb shot from 15 metres past City keeper and compatriot Ederson in the 26th minute. Ismaily added the second six minutes later, capitalising on Ederson?s error and beating him to a long ball by Marlos before stroking it into an empty net to delight a full house in Kharkiv, where Shakhtar played their group home fixtures. Taison twice fired narrowly over the bar either side of the break as Shakhtar kept up the pressure before late substitute Sergio Aguero netted a stoppage-time penalty for City. Aguero blasted his spot-kick past keeper Andriy Pyatov but it was scant consolation for City coach Pep Guardiola, who had little to cheer on his 100th Champions League appearance as manager. The draw for the last 16 is in Nyon, Switzerland, on Monday and Premier League leaders City will head a pack of five English teams in the knockout stages, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur also through.
  20. Manchester United reached the Champions League last-16 as Group A winners after coming from behind to beat CSKA Moscow 2-1 at home and finish ahead of Basel who also went through with a 2-0 win at Benfica on Tuesday. The result left United top of the section on 15 points, three more than second-placed Basel and six ahead of third-placed CSKA who will carry on in the second-tier Europa League after the winter break. Having missed a string of good chances in the opening period, United fell behind to a freakish Vitinho goal, heavily deflected off Alan Dzagoev, on the stroke of halftime before Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford struck within a minute to turn the match on its head. Rashford hit the post in the fourth minute and saw a shot from a tight angle saved by CSKA?s busy keeper Igor Akinfeev, who also kept out a Luke Shaw volley as United?s left back enjoyed a fine evening after making his first start since April. CSKA struck out of the blue as Mario Fernandes broke down the right and set up Vitinho, whose miscued shot struck Dzagoev in the back and bounced into the net. United piled the pressure after the break and Akinfeev parried another fierce Rashford shot before the home side?s siege finally paid dividends. Lukaku used his physical strength to steer in the equaliser in the 64th minute, as he got on the end of a probing Paul Pogba pass despite being tugged by CSKA centre back Viktor Vasin. Rashford got his reward for tireless work less than a minute later, drilling in a sublime Juan Mata chip with a fierce left-footed shot from 13 metres which gave Akinfeev no chance. Needing to match CSKA?s result to go through, Basel quickly established their grip on a knockout stage berth as Mohamed Elyounoussi headed the Swiss side into an early lead in Lisbon after Michael Lang?s inch-perfect cross. Another close-range header by striker Dimitri Oberlin doubled Basel?s lead midway through the second half as Benfica finished bottom of the group with zero points from six games.
  21. Juventus claimed a place in the Champions League last 16 as Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi secured a 2-0 win at Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus and second place in Group D on Tuesday. The Serie A side, runners-up in last year?s competition, needed a win to ensure progression to the knockout round was not threatened by Sporting who were in action at Barcelona. The result, coupled with Barca?s 2-0 win over Sporting, meant Massimiliano Allegri?s Juve side finished as group runners-up, three points behind the Spaniards. Juventus took the lead after 15 minutes with Cuadrado set up by an Alex Sandro cross for an easy tap-in to score his first Champions League goal this season. The Italians controlled most of the match but were indebted to stand-in goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny who saved Uros Djurdjevic?s downward header shortly before halftime. Bottom side Olympiakos, playing only for pride, pushed forward in the second half but the contest was effectively ended in the 90th minute by Bernardeschi who cut in from the right and fired past goalkeeper Silvio Proto with his left foot.
  22. Shashi Kapoor passed away at the age of 79 after a years-long illness Bollywood stars paid their last respects to screen legend Shashi Kapoor at his funeral Tuesday, as tributes poured in for the multiple award-winning actor who died after a long illness. Veteran Indian cinema icon Amitabh Bachchan, who starred alongside Kapoor in several hit Hindi films of the 1970s, and actor Shah Rukh Khan were among mourners at the ceremony in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood. Kapoor appeared in more than 150 films and was a member of Indian cinema´s most famous acting dynasty. He died on Monday aged 79 after a years-long battle with kidney disease. Actors and directors from across the Hindi movie industry paid tribute to Kapoor who was one of the first Indian actors to work abroad, appearing in several Merchant Ivory films. He often played the role of romantic action hero and was known for his suave good looks. In a blog post on Tuesday Bachchan described Kapoor as an "incredibly handsome man" with a "devastating smile complementing the twinkle in his eyes". Shashi was the youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, a pioneer of Hindi film and theatre. His eldest brother Raj Kapoor, who died in 1988, was also a famous Hindi movie star. Shashi's most memorable roles were in such films as "Jab Jab Phool Khile" (Whenever The Flowers Bloom, 1965), "Kabhi Kabhie" (Sometimes, 1976), and "Kalyug" (Age of Downfall, 1981). He was also adored for his role opposite Bachchan in the hit movie "Deewaar" (The Wall, 1975) in which he delivered one of Hindi cinema's most famous lines -- ´Mere paas maa hai´ (I have a mother). Shashi appeared in the Merchant Ivory films "The Householder" (1963), "Heat and Dust" (1983) and "Shakespeare Wallah" (1965). In 1972 he starred alongside actress Simi Garewal in the American film "Siddhartha". Garewal said she was "deeply saddened" by Kapoor´s death. "The last of that generation of Kapoors is gone. A gentleman and friend is gone. All that remain are his memories," read a post on her Twitter page. Acclaimed director Karan Johar described Kapoor as "the most charming and enigmatic actor ever... a gentleman movie star!" "His legacy in film and theatre is exceptional...thoughts and prayers with the family....his work will always live on..." Johar wrote on Twitter. "Innumerable Bollywood dreams came to life watching your iconic dialogue, 'Mere paas maa hai'," tweeted actor Akshay Kumar, adding: "Your tremendous contribution to cinema will always be remembered. RIP #ShashiKapoor ji". Aamir Khan paid tribute to the legend with a written note. ?The man who made nice look so so cool?,? said Kajol. Others also posted heartfelt messages of grief at the legend?s death. Shashi Kapoor was married to English actress Jennifer Kendal for 26 years until her death in 1984. He won numerous acting prizes and in 2011 was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, one of India´s highest civilian awards. Shashi´s nephew Rishi Kapoor and Rishi´s son, Ranbir, both also famous actors, attended Tuesday´s funeral held in unseasonal rain brought by Cyclone Ockhi off India´s west coast.
  23. Holders Barcelona eased into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey by thrashing Real Murcia 5-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to complete an 8-0 aggregate victory. Already leading 3-0 from the first leg, Barca boss Ernesto Valverde made 10 changes from Sunday's top-of-the-table clash at Valencia with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez among those to drop out. Paco Alcacer kept up his fine strike rate this season with his fourth goal of the campaign from just over 400 minutes on the field when he headed home Aleix Vidal's pass on 16 minutes. Barca had to wait until 10 minutes into the second-half to double their advantage when captain for the night Gerard Pique tapped into an empty net from another Vidal cross. Vidal then completed a fine team move himself when he headed home Nelson Semedo's cross. And fine finishes from Denis Suarez and Jose Manuel Arnaiz rounded off the scoring. Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice in the opening six minutes as Sevilla cruised past Cartagena 4-0 to seal a 7-0 aggregate win in the absence of coach Eduardo Berizzo. Berizzo underwent surgery on a cancerous tumour of the prostate on Tuesday with his assistant Ernesto Marcucci taking charge whilst he recovers. Paulo Henrique Ganso and Joaquin Correa were also on target for the five-time winners. Third tier Lleida pulled off a stunning comeback and the upset of the Cup so far by overcoming a 2-0 deficit on the night and 3-0 on aggregate to oust Real Sociedad on away goals. Diego Llorente and Juanmi put the La Liga side in a commanding position before half-time, but second-half goals from Aitor Nunez, Manu Molina and Bojan Radulovic handed Lleida a famous win. The returning Gareth Bale helped Real Madrid overcome a scare of their own to reach the last 16 on Tuesday despite being held 2-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu by Fuenlabrada in a 4-2 aggregate win. Celta Vigo, Leganes, Levante and Numancia have also sealed their places in the last 16.
  24. SYDNEY: An Australian ambulance crew carrying a dying woman to hospital took a detour to grant her final wish -- to visit the beach one last time. "Tears were shed and the patient felt very happy," the ambulance service posted on its Facebook page alongside a photo showing a paramedic beside a stretcher facing the ocean at Hervey Bay, on Australia´s east coast. "A crew were transporting a patient to the palliative care unit of the local Hospital and the patient expressed that she just wished she could be at the beach again," the service said in the message posted on Thursday. "Above and beyond,the crew took a small diversion to the awesome beach at Hervey Bay to give the patient this opportunity," it added of the crew´s actions on Wednesday. "Sometimes it is not the drugs/training/skills - sometimes all you need is empathy to make a difference!"
  25. The Argentine navy raised the possibility on Thursday that a navy submarine missing in the South Atlantic suffered an explosion, heightening concerns over the fate of the 44 crew members. An abnormal sound detected underwater by an international agency on the morning of Nov. 15, around the time that the ARA San Juan sent its last signal and in the same area, was ?consistent with an explosion,? navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told reporters. The navy did not have enough information to say what the cause of the explosion could have been or whether the vessel might have been attacked, Balbi said. He was commenting on information the navy received on Thursday from the Comprehensive nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), an international body that runs a global network of listening posts designed to check for secret atomic blasts. The Vienna-based agency, which has monitoring stations equipped with devices including underwater microphones that scan the oceans for sound waves, said in a statement that two of its stations had detected an unusual signal near where the submarine went missing. But the agency was more guarded about whether this was caused by an explosion. A huge sea and air hunt is being conducted for the San Juan, a German-built, diesel-electric powered submarine that was launched in 1983, as crew members? relatives wait anxiously for news more than a week after the vessel disappeared. The relatives, camped out in a naval base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, have been largely optimistic until now, but they shed tears and insulted authorities after being briefed on the news of the possible explosion. They were told about it before the public announcement. Balbi said that the news of the abnormal sound was consistent with a separate report received Wednesday of an ?acoustic anomaly? in the same area and around the same time. The San Juan was some 430 km (270 miles) off the Patagonian coast when it sent its last signal. ?This is very important because it allows us to correlate and confirm the acoustic anomaly from the US report yesterday,? Balbi said. ?Here, we?re talking about a singular, short, violent, non-nuclear event, consistent with an explosion.? In Vienna, CTBTO hydroacoustic engineer Mario Zampolli said the signal his agency had detected, ?could be consistent with an explosion but there is no certainty about this.? Speaking to Reuters, he agreed with Balbi?s description of the signal as unusual and short, adding that the cause was non-natural. The submarine was en route from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, to Mar del Plata, some 400 km (250 miles) south of Buenos Aires, when it reported an electrical malfunction shortly before disappearing. The vessel had seven days of oxygen supply, meaning the crew would be running low if it had not been able to surface. HOPE FADING The news of the possible explosion prompted some family members to fear the worst, and many criticized the authorities? response to the crisis. ?They kept us here for a week. Why did they not tell us?? Itati Leguizamon, the wife of a crew member. ?I do not have any more hope, it is over.? Some relatives have questioned authorities for letting the crew navigate on an ageing submarine - criticism that has highlighted the armed forces? dwindling resources since the end of a military dictatorship in the 1980s. Authorities have said the level of maintenance, not the age, was what mattered, and that the vessel was in good condition. It received a major mid-life upgrade in 2009, in which its four diesel engines and electric propeller engines were replaced, according to specialist publication Jane?s Sentinel. Earlier on Thursday, a US embassy spokeswoman said an object detected by a US Navy plane near the area where the submarine sent its last signal turned out not to be the missing vessel. The plane, a P-8A Poseidon, was one of dozens of Argentine and foreign boats and planes involved in the hunt.