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Non, ce n’est pas une vidéo récente de Bachar al-Assad traversant librement Damas

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Une vidéo censée montrer le président syrien Bachar al-Assad marchant sans escorte à travers une foule joyeuse à Damas circule en ligne depuis le 25 avril. Cependant, il s’agit d’une ancienne vidéo et celle qui montre en fait le président lors d’un événement orchestré dans un lieu sécurisé .

Si vous n’avez qu’une minute

  • Une vidéo censée montrer le président syrien Bachar al-Assad interagissant avec un public apparemment joyeux à Damas circule en ligne depuis le 25 avril.
  • Ceux qui partagent cette vidéo affirment qu’elle est la preuve de la popularité d’Assad en Syrie. Certains d’entre eux ont même affirmé qu’il était plus populaire parmi son peuple que les dirigeants occidentaux, dont le président français Emmanuel Macron.
  • Il s’avère que cette vidéo a été filmée en 2017. En regardant ses coordonnées, nous avons découvert qu’elle avait été filmée dans un endroit sécurisé à Damas lors d’un événement officiel.

La vérification des faits, en détail

Les images qui ont circulé sur Twitter ces derniers temps montrent le président syrien Bashar al-Assad, souriant, serrant la main des passants et posant pour des photos. Au début de la vidéo, il est à l’extérieur, avant d’entrer dans un bâtiment rempli de stands vendant une variété de produits. “Le président syrien Bashar Alassad se promène avec désinvolture sans gardes”, lit-on dans une légende de la vidéo, qui porte le logo TikTok.

Ne croyez rien de ce qu’ils vous disent sur la Syrie, ce ne sont que des mensonges ! lit la légende d’un post présentant la vidéo partagée le 25 avril par un compte qui publie régulièrement de la propagande pro-russe. Il a depuis recueilli plus de 120 000 vues. Les messages affirmaient que cette vidéo était la preuve de la popularité du dirigeant syrien. Certains des messages ont comparé cela aux notes lamentables de certains dirigeants occidentaux.

Le 2 mai, ce compte d’extrême droite a partagé la vidéo d’Assad aux côtés d’une montrant une foule lançant des objets sur Emmanuel Macron.

Ce compte d'extrême droite a partagé la vidéo d'Assad aux côtés d'une autre montrant une foule lançant des objets sur Emmanuel Macron le 2 mai, affirmant qu'Assad est plus populaire en Syrie que Macron ne l'est en France.
Ce compte d’extrême droite a partagé la vidéo d’Assad aux côtés d’une autre montrant une foule lançant des objets sur Emmanuel Macron le 2 mai, affirmant qu’Assad est plus populaire en Syrie que Macron ne l’est en France. © Twitter/@MyLordBebo

Un certain nombre de comptes francophones qui partagent régulièrement du contenu critique à l’égard de Macron ont également repris ce message. Voici deux exemples du 2 mai et du 5 mai.

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Les comptes francophones qui ont partagé cette vidéo ont également comparé le dictateur syrien au président français.
Les comptes francophones qui ont partagé cette vidéo ont également comparé le dictateur syrien au président français. © Observateurs

Une vidéo de 2017 réalisée par l’équipe d’Assad

Pour en savoir plus sur la vidéo en question, nous avons commencé par nous pencher sur la poignée TikTok qui apparaît sur la vidéo.

Il s’avère que ce compte est un compte de propagande qui partage souvent des vidéos faisant la promotion du président syrien et des vidéos soutenant la perspective du gouvernement syrien.

Ce compte TikTok, inactif depuis février, partageait auparavant de nombreuses vidéos de propagande créées par le gouvernement syrien.  Les vidéos sont en anglais et en arabe.
Ce compte TikTok, inactif depuis février, partageait auparavant de nombreuses vidéos de propagande créées par le gouvernement syrien. Les vidéos sont en anglais et en arabe. © TikTok/m.syrie.alassad

Cependant, la vidéo qui circule en ligne n’est pas récente : elle a été publiée sur ce compte TikTok le 5 juillet 2022.

La vidéo qui circule sur Twitter apparaît en effet sur ce compte.  Cependant, la vidéo date en fait de 2022.
La vidéo qui circule sur Twitter apparaît en effet sur ce compte. Cependant, la vidéo date en fait de 2022. © TikTok/m.syrie.alassad

Mais même si le compte TikTok a publié cette vidéo en 2022, il s’avère que l’événement réel a eu lieu bien plus tôt.

Nous avons utilisé l’outil InVid WeVerify (découvrez comment en cliquant ici) pour trouver les instances précédentes de la vidéo mises en ligne, sans le logo et la légende TikTok.

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Un compte Twitter officiel du bureau syrien du président a tweeté la vidéo en juin 2017, expliquant que la vidéo montre Assad en train de faire du shopping lors d’un festival « Made in Syria » ». La vidéo est également apparue dans un nouvelles locales article, partagé le 8 juin 2017.

Il y a aussi d’autres images de cet événement, comme celles qui apparaissent dans ce article par l’agence de presse iranienne Tasnim. L’article explique que l’événement a eu lieu à al-Jalaa Hall dans le quartier de Damas à Mezzeh.

Une visite contrôlée à un événement sécurisé

Grâce à ces informations, nous avons pu retrouver les coordonnées du site visible dans la vidéo. Si vous tapez “صالة الجلاء” (al-Jalaa Hall en arabe) dans Google Maps, vous trouverez un résultat c’est vraiment dans le quartier de Mezzeh.

Il y a une salle al-Jalaa dans le quartier de Mezzeh.  C'est près d'un stade du même nom.
Il y a une salle al-Jalaa dans le quartier de Mezzeh. C’est près d’un stade du même nom. © Observateurs

En ligne, il y a des images à 360° de la salle, qui semble être souvent utilisé pour des événements. Ces photos montrent en effet l’endroit où la vidéo d’Assad a été filmée.

Grâce aux photos disponibles sur Google Maps, nous avons pu déterminer que la vidéo avait bien été tournée dans la salle al-Jalaa.  Dans ces images et dans la vidéo, le plafond est peint aux couleurs syriennes, la peinture verte sur les murs est la même et il y a un portrait géant du père d'Assad, Hafez al-Assad.
Grâce aux photos disponibles sur Google Maps, nous avons pu déterminer que la vidéo avait bien été tournée dans la salle al-Jalaa. Dans ces images et dans la vidéo, le plafond est peint aux couleurs syriennes, la peinture verte sur les murs est la même et il y a un portrait géant du père d’Assad, Hafez al-Assad. © Observateurs

Dans les plans extérieurs, le président syrien marche sous une pancarte indiquant le département d’ingénierie informatique de l’Université arabe internationale.

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Ce panneau comporte le logo de l'Arab International University, une université syrienne privée.  Il mentionne également le département d'ingénierie informatique.
Ce panneau comporte le logo de l’Arab International University, une université syrienne privée. Il mentionne également le département d’ingénierie informatique. © Observateurs

Il s’avère que ce bâtiment est situé juste derrière la salle al-Jalaace qui signifie que les plans extérieurs ont été tournés juste à côté de la salle, probablement lors de la même visite.

Sur Google Maps, vous pouvez voir que le département d'ingénierie informatique de l'AIU (en blanc) jouxte la salle al-Jalaa (en rose).  Toute la vidéo a été tournée au même endroit.
Sur Google Maps, vous pouvez voir que le département d’ingénierie informatique de l’AIU (en blanc) jouxte la salle al-Jalaa (en rose). Toute la vidéo a été tournée au même endroit. © Observateurs

Cette vidéo ne montre donc pas vraiment Assad errant dans les rues de Damas. Il a été filmé lors d’un événement officiel organisé par la Chambre d’industrie de Damas, selon ce article publié dans les médias locaux.

Le président syrien n’est donc pas dans une rue mais dans une enceinte universitaire et sportive facile à sécuriser. Comme vous pouvez le voir sur ces images sur Google Earth, enregistrées quelques semaines après l’événement, il n’y a que quelques entrées dans la salle.

Ces images satellite prises quelques semaines après la visite d'Assad sur le site montrent qu'il n'y a que six entrées dans la salle al-Jalaa.  Il serait facile de sécuriser les lieux.
Ces images satellite prises quelques semaines après la visite d’Assad sur le site montrent qu’il n’y a que six entrées dans la salle al-Jalaa. Il serait facile de sécuriser les lieux. © Observateurs

De plus, cette zone est située dans une zone extrêmement sécurisée, abritant de nombreux bâtiments officiels, des ambassades et l’aéroport militaire. Même le quartier général du département des renseignements généraux et de l’armée de l’air se trouve dans ce quartier. Le Département des renseignements généraux est l’un des principaux services de sécurité du pays, connu pour ses méthodes brutales et son recours systématique à la torture dans ses centres de détention.

Gardes du corps en civil

Thomas Pierret est directeur de recherche au CNRS et spécialiste syrien. Il dit que ce serait loin d’être la première fois qu’Assad rencontre le “public”, qui s’est avéré être soigneusement sélectionné dans un endroit sûr.

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Les vidéos de ce type font toujours partie de sa stratégie de communication, essayant de créer un récit qu’il est proche de son peuple. Avant la guerre, par exemple, il organisait régulièrement des visites surprises dans des restaurants. Lors de ces événements, la sécurité était toujours renforcée avec des gardes du corps à l’entrée. Et les gens ont été contrôlés à l’avance. Sur cette note, vous remarquerez peut-être qu’il y a très peu de personnes dans cette vidéo.

Les légendes des messages contenant cette vidéo affirment cependant que le président syrien est sorti en public sans gardes du corps.

Cependant, dans la version de la vidéo partagée par le bureau du président, vous pouvez voir un homme qui apparaît deux fois et semble regarder attentivement Assad.

Il y a un homme au comportement étrange, qui se tient à quelques mètres derrière Assad lorsqu'il entre dans la salle al-Jalaa.  Il semble nerveux et garde les yeux fixés sur le président.
Il y a un homme au comportement étrange, qui se tient à quelques mètres derrière Assad lorsqu’il entre dans la salle al-Jalaa. Il semble nerveux et garde les yeux fixés sur le président. © Observateurs

L’homme porte un polo rayé distinctif, avec un col noir, ce qui permet de le repérer dans la version de la vidéo partagée par ce site syrienqui comprend des séquences coupées dans la version partagée par le bureau du président.

Dans cette séquence plus longue, vous pouvez voir que l’homme continue de suivre Assad. S’il est impossible de savoir avec certitude s’il s’agit d’un garde du corps, son comportement et son habitude de se tenir à quelques mètres du président en tout temps font qu’il en est un.

Dans une version plus longue de la vidéo partagée par les médias syriens, on peut voir un homme suivre Assad pendant toute la visite.  Il semble qu'il y ait eu des gardes du corps lors de cet événement.
Dans une version plus longue de la vidéo partagée par les médias syriens, on peut voir un homme suivre Assad pendant toute la visite. Il semble qu’il y ait eu des gardes du corps lors de cet événement. © Observateurs

En conclusion, cette vidéo ne montre pas le président syrien en train d’interagir avec le grand public dans la rue, comme le prétendent plusieurs comptes qui ont partagé la vidéo. Il a en fait été filmé lors d’un événement officiel dans un lieu sûr où Assad était presque certainement sous haute protection.

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Cette vidéo a circulé dans un contexte politique tendu : La Syrie est en train de réintégrer officiellement la Ligue arabe, après avoir été évincé en 2011 lorsque la répression du gouvernement syrien contre un mouvement populaire a conduit à une guerre dévastatrice. Pendant le conflit, le régime d’Assad a été condamné pour nombreux crimes de guerre contre les combattants et les civils.

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From lickable wallpaper to three-course dinner gum: As Wonka hits cinemas, MailOnline reveals the memorable foods from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that are now a REALITY

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It’s been almost 60 years since Roald Dahl wrote his children’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

Yet many of us still daydream about the fantastical treats he imagined for eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka. 

Now, those of you with a sweet tooth will be pleased to hear that many of these treats are no longer limited to our imaginations. 

From lickable wallpaper to rivers of chocolate, food scientists are working hard to make Roald Dahl‘s ideas a reality. 

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As the new Wonka movie hits cinemas this week, MailOnline reveals the incredible Wonka creations that now exist in the real world. 

As the new Wonka movie hits cinemas this week, MailOnline reveals the incredible Wonka creations that now exist in the real world

As the new Wonka movie hits cinemas this week, MailOnline reveals the incredible Wonka creations that now exist in the real world

As the new Wonka movie hits cinemas this week, MailOnline reveals the incredible Wonka creations that now exist in the real world 

Lickable wallpaper

One of the first treats the children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory encounter is the ‘lickable wallpaper’.

‘Lick an orange. It tastes like an orange. Lick a pineapple. It tastes like a pineapple. Go ahead. Try it,’ Gene Wilder’s Wonka encourages the characters. 

While this might seem like fantasy, food scientist Professor Alan Chalmers says this is actually easy to make. 

‘This would be quite straightforward to do,’ he explained. 

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‘You simply need to embed the food-safe chemicals for each of the components of the desired flavour into the wallpaper – and as it is licked, so the flavour will be perceived.’

Real-life Willy Wonka, Heston Blumenthal, brought this to life for his 2010 series ‘Heston’s Feasts’.

In the show, Heston extracted the flavours of prawn cocktail using various techniques to create a flavour paste that could be applied to the wall.

One of the first sweets the children encounter in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the lickable wallpaper
Real-life Willy Wonka, Heston Blumenthal, made his own lickable wallpaper with prawn cocktail flavourings

Making lickable wallpaper is surprisingly easy as all it takes is coating a wall with chemicals that mimic the flavour of various foods 

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His guests were then invited to lick the coloured shapes to taste the food.  

In the film, Wonka enthusiastically tells the children: ‘The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!’ 

While there are no snozzberries in the real world, Professor Chalmers says this wouldn’t be a problem.

Using a technique called ‘virtual flavour’, Professor Chalmers says we can extract the chemical components of flavours to dream up entirely new tastes.

Professor Chalmers told MailOnline: ‘Because virtual flavour is a simulation – we can add and subtract to any of the flavour components and move from one point in flavour space  to any other point.’

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He says that we are capable of ‘going on a journey through all the possible flavours until you come to one that you like.’

Chocolate waterfall 

What part of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory could be more iconic than the vast chocolate waterfall?

In the films, Wonka explains that all the chocolate in the factory is mixed by waterfall and is ‘untouched by human hand’. 

However, the real-life version was very much touched by human hand – as it was built into a 32ft climbing wall.

In a promotional event for the Rocky biscuit bar, Alton Towers erected an enormous scratch-and-sniff monolith. 

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The tower included a four-tonne chocolate waterfall, with 70,000 litres of chocolate flowing down it every hour. 

However, real-life chocolate waterfalls wouldn’t be much use in a factory as chocolate must be mixed with additional fats to flow freely at lower temperatures.

Commercially available chocolate fountains require around half a cup of oil per five pounds of chocolate to flow smoothly. 

Willy Wonka claimed that all the chocolate in the factory was mixed by waterfall exclusively
The real chocolate waterfall had 70,000 litres of chocolate flowing down it every hour.

A real-life chocolate waterfall was built in 2012 complete with a 32 ft climbing wall and four tonne flow of liquid chocolate  

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The chocolate waterfall might be a great idea in a fantasy story, but in reality, it is an oily chocolate mess as Peter Andre found at when he attempted to climb it

The chocolate waterfall might be a great idea in a fantasy story, but in reality, it is an oily chocolate mess as Peter Andre found at when he attempted to climb it

The chocolate waterfall might be a great idea in a fantasy story, but in reality, it is an oily chocolate mess as Peter Andre found at when he attempted to climb it

TV chocolate 

In the films, Wonka’s latest and greatest invention is the television chocolate.

The maverick chocolatier uses television cameras to beam a giant bar of chocolate from one end of the room to a TV screen at the other. 

Charlie is then able to reach right into the screen and pull out a perfectly formed, and edible Wonka Bar.

While technology might not quite let you pull food out of the screen, techniques now exist that can allow you to taste it. 

Japanese researchers from Meiji University have developed the Taste the TV (TTTV) which allows you to lick the screen and taste what is being shown. 

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The device contains a carousel of 10 flavour canisters that spray onto a roll of hygienic film that is placed over the screen.

These flavours combine to produce the tastes of foods like milk chocolate or pizza.  

In the films, Charlie was able to reach right into the television and pull out a full bar of chocolate
Japanese scientists have developed a TV that you can taste using chemical sprays

Although scientists aren’t quite able to transfer whole chocolate bars by TV, they are now able to transmit the taste of chocolate 

However, Professor Chalmers says that getting the TV taste exactly right would be a difficult challenge. 

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‘A real flavour is analysed to extract its flavour components including taste, mouthfeel and smell,’ he explained. 

‘There are only 5 basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami and three mouthfeels – oily, astringent and capsaicin.’

Smell is much more complex, Professor Chalmers says, with a single cup of coffee having up to 10,000 different smells as part of its flavour. 

If we just want to approximate the taste, this might take between six or nine smell compounds to get close to the taste of our TV chocolate.

A recipe made up of these chemicals could then be broadcast to TTTV sets around the world for people to taste along with their favourite shows.  

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The Taste the Television project has created a screen that can be coated with flavour chemicals to recreate the flavour of images on the screen for viewers to lick

The Taste the Television project has created a screen that can be coated with flavour chemicals to recreate the flavour of images on the screen for viewers to lick

The Taste the Television project has created a screen that can be coated with flavour chemicals to recreate the flavour of images on the screen for viewers to lick 

Sugar balloons

Of course, not all of Willy Wonka’s secret recipes stayed quite so secret.

In the 2005 Tim Burton film we see how spies from a rival candy maker steal the recipe for Wonka’s candy balloons.

Kids blow up these pink sugar balloons to vast sizes before popping and eating them. 

While the concept might seem air-headed, these inflatable treats have since become quite popular. 

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The edible candy balloon first made an appearance in 2014 when fine dining restaurant Alinea included them on their $210 (£167) tasting menu.

The balloons were completely edible even down to the string which was made of dehydrated green apple. 

For an extra joyful touch, the balloons were even filled with helium so that guests could inhale the gas and enjoy speaking in a squeaky voice. 

In the film, these candy balloons could be blown up to enormous sizes before bursting
Real candy balloons were invented in 2014 by the restaurant Alinea

Just like in the films, the recipe for sugar balloons has spread widely from its original inventor and now appears as a popular party treat 

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Real-life candy balloons use sugar and helium to make a treat that can still bring a sense of childlike joy

Real-life candy balloons use sugar and helium to make a treat that can still bring a sense of childlike joy

Real-life candy balloons use sugar and helium to make a treat that can still bring a sense of childlike joy 

Since then, the treats have left the menus of high-class restaurants and become a popular treat for parties. 

Since the balloons are quite simple to make, they can be created on demand. 

Oxfordshire-based company Lick Me I’m Delicious has even created a mobile cart capable of whipping up these Wonka-esq delights.  

Event manager, Alanya O’Donnell, said: ‘Edible balloons was something Charlie [the company’s founder] had seen being done in Michelin star restaurants out in America. So we thought this would be great to launch a machine that creates edible balloons on en-masse for events.’

The balloons come in six different flavours including, passion fruit, bubble gum, and apple pie.

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‘There are a lot of science experiments that go into it to make the perfect mix’, Ms O’Donnell told the Oxford Mail.  

However, just like for Willy Wonka, the exact formula still remains a secret.

Oxfordshire-based Lick Me I'm Delicious has now developed a mobile cart capable of producing candy balloons on demand

Oxfordshire-based Lick Me I'm Delicious has now developed a mobile cart capable of producing candy balloons on demand

Oxfordshire-based Lick Me I’m Delicious has now developed a mobile cart capable of producing candy balloons on demand 

Three-course dinner gum 

Unfortunately, just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, three-course dinner gum isn’t quite ready just yet – but it could be on its way soon. 

In the books and films, this is a special piece of gum that reveals the flavours of each part of a three-course dinner in turn.

First Violet Beauregarde tastes a starter of tomato soup, followed by a main course of roast beef, and finally blueberry pie. 

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Of course, the gum isn’t quite ready and the disastrous side effects see Violet blow up like a giant blueberry.

In real life, the challenges of making the gum work aren’t quite so dramatic. 

Making gum taste like each of the three ingredients separately is no problem.

As YouTuber Bryton Taylor shows, simply powdering or making an extract of each of the flavours can create a gum that tastes of all the parts of a roast dinner.  

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Getting gum to taste like dinner is no problem, but making the flavours come one after another requires advanced nano-technology which isn't quite ready yet (stock image)

Getting gum to taste like dinner is no problem, but making the flavours come one after another requires advanced nano-technology which isn't quite ready yet (stock image)

Getting gum to taste like dinner is no problem, but making the flavours come one after another requires advanced nano-technology which isn’t quite ready yet (stock image)

The difficulty is getting one flavour to come after another in succession. 

However, Professor Dave Hart of the Norwich Institute of Food Research claims to have found a way of making this a reality.

Using nanotechnology, he says it could be possible to create nano-capsules of flavour that would release at different times. 

Professor Hart said: ‘Science and technology is changing the future of food, and these nanoparticles may hold the answer to creating a three-course gourmet gum.

‘The tomato soup capsule would break on contact with saliva, followed by roast beef and blueberry pie in stronger structures providing a sequential taste explosion as you chew harder.’

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So, while it isn’t ready right now, kids of the future could one day be chewing on three-course dinner gum. 

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INVESTING EXPLAINED: What you need to know about LFL (like-for-like)

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In this series, we bust the jargon and explain a popular investing term or theme. Here it’s LFL. 

What does this stand for?

LFL is an abbreviation of like-for-like, a widely used term in the retail sector.

It is a measure of growth in sales – over a set period of one month, six months or over a year – that strips out the impact on turnover of new store space.

LFL numbers began to appear in retailers’ figures in the 1980s. This was against the background of a rapid expansion in the sector in the US and the UK.

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Important: LFL is a measure of growth in sales – over a set period of one month, six months or over a year – that strips out the impact on turnover of new store space

Important: LFL is a measure of growth in sales – over a set period of one month, six months or over a year – that strips out the impact on turnover of new store space

Important: LFL is a measure of growth in sales – over a set period of one month, six months or over a year – that strips out the impact on turnover of new store space

Stores were opening on the High Street and huge shopping centres were being built.A simple metric was needed to assess the underlying performance of the retailer.

Are LFL numbers still important?

Definitely. Almost more so. The LFLs are some of the most closely watched figures in a retailer’s results since they are seen as a guide to the true health of the business, particularly at a time like now when consumers are in a cost of living squeeze.

This week, for example, news of the 5.5 per cent fall in LFLs during the Black Friday period at the stores of fashion retailer Quiz, increased speculation that the loss-making company will be up for sale – although it also sells online. 

By contrast, when Marks & Spencer reported last month that its LFL food sales rose by a better-than-expected 11.7 per cent in the first half, this caused a bounce in its shares. 

In a month’s time, when the Christmas trading updates appear, the City will be paying close attention to the LFLs from the supermarkets as a gauge of the appeal of their festive food offer.

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Any other reason why I am reading about this?

Retailers are increasingly conscious of the need to make clear what is included in their LFL numbers.

This is against the background of a debate over the reliability of LFLs, given the extent of revolution in the retail sector in recent decades.

What are the objections?

The lack of a firm definition of what the LFL should show means that, in some cases, comparisons may be less than valid.

The critics insist that the figure does not reflect such things as a change in product mix that involves a shift to cheaper or more expensive merchandise, or the boost to turnover of a refurbishment that makes a store brighter and more welcoming.

The impact of the move to online purchasing during the pandemic is another factor heightening the debate.

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And how are retailers answering their critics?

Some are providing much more information in annual reports and accounts in an attempt to answer critics.

In its accounts for the year ended January 2023, High Street fashion giant Next gives a breakdown of its LFL figures, based on store location.

During the pandemic, shoppers preferred out-of-town retail parks, with their big car parks, to less spacious city centre stores but this trend has reversed.

Next’s full-price LFL sales in all types have risen by 2.6 per cent since 2019/20.

Supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsbury’s show LFL figures excluding fuel and including fuel, so that investors can get a clear picture of the performance of their food divisions.

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How they REALLY make your airline food: Why spicy menus are best to eat at 30,000 feet, what the cabin crew do with the leftovers and why the pilots NEVER eat the same meal revealed

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Beige, bland, unidentifiable — aeroplane food doesn’t generally enjoy the highest of culinary reputations.

But I’m one of those people who eagerly await the moment on a long haul flight when I peel back the silver foil to discover what’s in store for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

What’s always interested me is how aeroplane food actually gets made. And what goes into producing thousands of meals ready to be heated and served at 38,000 ft in the sky.

To find out, I’m spending the day with British Airways at its sprawling 55,000 sq ft catering facility two miles from Gatwick Airport. It’s run by Newrest Catering, whose 350 employees produce 4,500 meals per day.

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The scale of the 24-hour operation is staggering — and cleanliness is key. I start by changing into chef whites, black steel-cap boots, a striped apron, hairnet, face mask — and head to the industrial-sized metal hand washing sinks.

To find out how airline food gets made, Harriet Sime (pictured with the Christmas food she helped make) spent the day with British Airways at its sprawling 55,000 sq ft catering facility two miles from Gatwick Airport

To find out how airline food gets made, Harriet Sime (pictured with the Christmas food she helped make) spent the day with British Airways at its sprawling 55,000 sq ft catering facility two miles from Gatwick Airport

To find out how airline food gets made, Harriet Sime (pictured with the Christmas food she helped make) spent the day with British Airways at its sprawling 55,000 sq ft catering facility two miles from Gatwick Airport

I'm assisting the team in putting together British Airways' Christmas menu (pictured), which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings

I'm assisting the team in putting together British Airways' Christmas menu (pictured), which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings

I’m assisting the team in putting together British Airways’ Christmas menu (pictured), which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings

I’m assisting the team in putting together British Airways’ Christmas menu, which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings. Even under my face mask, the festive aromas are unmistakeable as chefs’ chop, peel, stir and wheel gargantuan quantities of food around.

First up are the roasted parsnips which I drizzle with honey using a slotted spoon as big as a spade before moving on to the cranberry compote station. More than 50kg of Brussels sprouts bubble away by my side in a giant silver vat as I mix bright red berries with sugar, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg.

Every few minutes, a cavernous oven signals that the food is ready with a Christmas jingle before it’s transported in towering trolleys to vast chiller rooms to avoid anything overcooking.

British Airways is expecting to serve 380,000 Christmas dinners (including 600,000 sprouts) in the sky over the festive period.

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My final stop is the ‘plating room’, where dozens of workers wearing thermals and woolly hats underneath their blue hairnets (the room is kept at a cool 8c) and long blue plastic gloves prep meals with impressive precision for Business Class passengers.

Everything is done by hand and the employees work along assembly lines, carefully adding vegetables one by one.

At the end of each shiny silver station, a ‘golden sample’ sits in an oval china bowl to demonstrate how each dish should look. I keep a close eye on it as I place three tiny but perfectly roasted carrots on top of the parsnips, followed by a dollop of the cranberry sauce I made just hours earlier.

‘We take a long time designing our menus and test them time and time again until they’re up to standard,’ Newrest’s development chef, Andy Bailey, 53, tells me.

The catering facility (pictured) is run by Newrest Catering, whose 350 employees produce 4,500 meals per day.

The catering facility (pictured) is run by Newrest Catering, whose 350 employees produce 4,500 meals per day.

The catering facility (pictured) is run by Newrest Catering, whose 350 employees produce 4,500 meals per day.

Harriet carefully rolled the sausages into bacon as she made pigs in blankets for the Christmas dinner

Harriet carefully rolled the sausages into bacon as she made pigs in blankets for the Christmas dinner

Harriet carefully rolled the sausages into bacon as she made pigs in blankets for the Christmas dinner

So how long do these dishes sit around before they reach passengers? For British Airways, the food we’ve prepared will be served on board the following day.

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Around 90 per cent of the meals at this facility are produced for British Airways (the remaining are for Air Mauritius, Air Transat, Delta and Vueling). Each week, Newrest provides BA with 52,000 bread rolls, 47,000 desserts, as well as 20,000 bottles of sparkling wine, 45,000 of red wine and 20,000 cans of beer.

‘The perception of aeroplane food is changing,’ Mark Brega, BA’s executive chef, tells me later as we sample a Christmas roast as though we were on board. Celebrity chefs are involved and passengers now have much higher expectations.’

Indeed, as the aviation space becomes more crowded and competition fierce, airlines are now funnelling huge amounts of money into their meal service to set themselves apart. 

Cathay Pacific introduced Michelin-starred meals to first and business class passengers flying out of Hong Kong earlier this year, while Etihad offers seven-course tasting menus for those turning left. But this higher standard of food is not just for those in the posh seats.

Harriet made cranberry sauce (pictured above) for British Airways' Christmas dinner

Harriet made cranberry sauce (pictured above) for British Airways' Christmas dinner

Harriet made cranberry sauce (pictured above) for British Airways’ Christmas dinner

Harriet Sime (pictured) assisted the team in putting together British Airways' Christmas menu, which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings

Harriet Sime (pictured) assisted the team in putting together British Airways' Christmas menu, which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings

Harriet Sime (pictured) assisted the team in putting together British Airways’ Christmas menu, which includes a traditional Turkey roast with all the trimmings

Qatar Airways serves passengers in all classes (including economy) a popular mezze of hummus, muhammara, tabouleh and Arabic bread.

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Interestingly, I learn how our tastebuds don’t function as well when in the sky as the plane air is dryer, dehydrating our nasal passages and making our tastebuds less sensitive and able to detect flavours.

‘You lose about 30 per cent of your tastebuds so we have to factor this into our cooking,’ says Mark. ‘Generally, British food is very good, but it has a light flavour profile so spicier, more aromatic dishes tend to work better. Buttered chicken or chicken tikka masala are among our most popular dishes.

‘The same goes for wine; some of which taste brilliant on the ground but can taste awful in the air so it needs to be tested.’

The scent of food is also carefully considered when designing meals. ‘Fish like the smell of red mullet can fill up a cabin so have to be avoided. But the aroma of bread is hugely appealing, and signals to passengers that they’re in for a nice meal.’

Generally, 70 per cent of the meals on board will be meat or fish, with the remaining being vegetarian, vegan or special dietary dishes (the team have to cater to 11 different ‘dietaries’). But this can change depending on the route. Flights to India, for example, will require most meals to be vegetarian.

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And what about the crew? The flight attendants eat what’s left over after service, while the captain and co-pilot dine on different meals in case either gets ill.

After my eight-hour shift, I’ll be quite happy not to see another Brussels sprout until the big day. But, more important, the next time I’m asked ‘chicken or fish?’, ‘beef or vegetarian?’, I’ll think about Andy and his colleagues — and tuck in with extra relish.

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The pesky gene that could make you 20kg heavier: Leading expert reveals how mutation can leave you addicted to junk food… but insists getting dealt a ‘bad hand’ doesn’t mean you’re destined to be fat

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Every day we choose what meals, snacks and drinks we’d like to tuck into.

But rather than this choice being completely within our control, genes could be dictating what, and how much, we eat.

One in particular, called MC4R, is vital for regulating body weight.

While everyone has two copies of it, some people who have a mutated version find it much harder to resist the urge to eat.

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Studies suggest that people who carry the variant weigh nearly 20kg (3st 2lbs) more than their peers.

One gene in particular, called MC4R, is vital for regulating body weight. While everyone has it, some people who have a mutated version find it much harder to resist the urge to eat

One gene in particular, called MC4R, is vital for regulating body weight. While everyone has it, some people who have a mutated version find it much harder to resist the urge to eat

One gene in particular, called MC4R, is vital for regulating body weight. While everyone has it, some people who have a mutated version find it much harder to resist the urge to eat

Melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) have been linked to obesity since the 1990s.

When it works properly, it produces a protein that signals to the brain’s appetite sensors when the body has enough fat stored and, therefore, when it is full, experts say.

However, if one or both copies of this gene are faulty, it can incorrectly flag to the brain that it is lacking in fat stores — fuelling a desire to overeat.

NHS genetic tests for severe early-onset obesity can detect the mutation and some online tests, costing up to £800, claim to spot it as well. 

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A 2021 study by researchers at the University of Bristol and the University of Cambridge revealed just how much of an impact this genetic quirk can have.

They looked at the data of 5,724 children born in Bristol between 1990 and 1991.

What is melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R)?

Melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) have been linked to obesity since the 1990s.

Everyone has two copies of the gene.

When it works properly, it produces a protein that signals to the brain’s appetite sensors when the body has enough fat stored and, therefore, when it is full, experts say.

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However, if one or both copies of this gene are faulty, it can incorrectly flag to the brain that it is lacking in fat stores — fuelling a desire to overeat.

A Cambridge University study suggests that three in 1,000 people have the mutation.

This group were 17.8kg (39lbs) heavier by age 18, on average, than those who did not have it, according to the findings.

They also had a BMI score that was 4.8 points higher and carried 14.8kg more fat. 

However, studies also show that there are nine mutations to the MC4R gene can help people stay skinny and dodge type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Around six per cent of people are thought to be carrying these. 

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Results showed 17 (0.3 per cent) had mutations in one of their copies of MC4R, which caused their brains to sense that they had less body fat than they actually did.

At the age of 18, those with the mutation were 17.8kg (39lbs) heavier, on average, than those who did not have it, according to the findings. 

They also had a BMI score that was 4.8 points higher and carried 14.8kg more fat.

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The scientists, who shared their results in the journal Nature Medicine, warned that those who carry the variant risk entering adult life with a ‘substantial burden’ of excess fat. 

They suggested that the so-called obesity mutation may affect up to 200,000 Brits and 1million Americans.

Professor Giles Yeo, a geneticist who studies obesity at the University of Cambridge and co-author of that study, discussed the research this week at a Royal Society conference.

He said: ‘You can’t magic energy into your body and you certainly can’t magic the energy away. 

‘The only way you’re going to be able to gain weight is to eat more than you burn, and ergo, the only way to lose weight is to burn more than you eat. Clearly your body weight is a function of physics — but that is the how.

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‘Where the biological variation lies, where the interesting things that we can do and think about lies, comes in the why — why do people behave so very differently around food?’

He said genetic modifiers, such as MC4R mutations, run through the entire process of food intake, which is controlled by the brain.

Discussing whether obesity is a choice, he said: ‘Am I giving anyone any excuse? Hopefully the answer is no. 

‘But I think you’ve got to consider your genes like a hand of cards — you get bad hands.

‘And the only people you can blame are your parents because that’s where it’s come from. But you can win with a bad hand, it’s just more difficult.’

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Professor Yeo said: ‘We do not lose or gain weight overnight. We just don’t. Any given meal, no matter how big, is not going to perceptibly change your body weight. Your body weight is a function of thousands of different feeding events over the past few years. 

‘But imagine if because of your genetic hand of cards, you’re a few percentage points less likely to say no [to overeating] — five per cent. 

‘Five per cent over thousands of eating events is hundreds of thousands of calories.’

He added: ‘Until we in society understand that for people with obesity, it’s always going to be more difficult, they’re fighting their biology, we’re never going to be able to fix the problem.’ 

A separate study suggested that mutations in the MC4R gene fuels unhealthy food choices. 

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Researchers at Cambridge recruited people who had a healthy weight and were obese, with some of the latter having MC4R mutations.

They were offered three bowls of chicken korma and three bowls of Eton mess — each of which either had a low, medium or high fat or sugar content — and told to pick the option they liked the most and eat as much as they wanted.

Those with the mutation ate almost twice the amount of high-fat curry than their slimmer counterparts and 65 per cent more than others who were obese but did not have the genetic quirk. However, they ate significantly less of all Eton mess variations compared to the other two groups.

The team concluded that those with the gene prefer high-fat food without realising it, a habit which contributes to their weight problem. 

They suggested that the MC4R mutation may be a way of the body protecting against starvation by encouraging the consumption of high-fat food.

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Research has also suggested that MC4R is involved in the development of obesity-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Scientists believe this is down to the molecule having a role in maintaining healthy insulin levels and blood pressure.

Yet, being obese can lead to both conditions and may be a simpler explanation. 

However, studies also show that there are nine mutations to the MC4R gene can help people stay skinny and dodge type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Around six per cent of people are thought to be carrying these.

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International

OPEC urges members to block action on fossil fuels at COP28

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French Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said Saturday she was “stunned” after the oil cartel OPEC urged its members to thwart any deal targeting fossil fuels at the COP28 conference. 

Issued on:

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“I am stunned by these statements from OPEC+. And I am angry,” she said from the climate conference in Dubai, adding that “OPEC+’s position endangers the most vulnerable countries and the poorest populations who are the first victims of this situation”.

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The minister said she was “counting on the presidency of the COP not to be influenced by these declarations, and to reach an agreement which affirms a clear objective of phasing out fossil fuels”.

OPEC+ Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais sent a letter to the group’s 13 members and 10 Russian-led allies this week after negotiators at talks in Dubai released a draft deal that included calls for a phase-out of fossil fuels.

In the letter sent Wednesday, Ghais urges the group to “proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions”.

The letter has drawn anger from activists and the High Ambition Coalition, a broad group of nations ranging from Barbados to France, Kenya and Pacific island states.

Spain’s ecology transition minister Teresa Ribera called the move “disgusting”.

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(AFP)

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International

WWE star Charlotte Flair suffers a nasty knee injury after slipping and getting ‘caught on the ropes’ – before being helped out of the ring at SmackDown

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  • Flair was facing Asuka at the SmackDown Tribute to the Troops special
  • The 37-year-old could be seen yelling ‘my knee’ to referee Charles Robinson
  • Flair struggled to complete the match before being helped out of the ring 

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Charlotte Flair had to be helped out of the ring after suffering a knee injury during her match with Asuka at WWE SmackDown on Friday. 

The 37-year-old was noticeably favouring her right leg as the bout concluded before shouting ‘my knee’ as referee Charles Robinson and medical personnel attended to her after the match. 

Flair struggled to complete the fight and limped in the final moments of a match that came to an abrupt end following interference from Bayley which allowed Asuka to pin her down. 

According to PWInsider, the WWE superstar picked up the injury when she was ‘setting up for a move but slipped and got caught on the ropes’, with the outlet noting ‘wrenched her knee’.

The incident was not shown during the broadcast. There has been no update on her condition following the SmackDown Tribute to the Troops special.

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Charlotte Flair told referee Charles Robinson that she had injured her knee before being helped out of the ring on Friday

Charlotte Flair told referee Charles Robinson that she had injured her knee before being helped out of the ring on Friday
The WWE superstar was in a lot of pain after the incident which was not broadcast

The WWE superstar was in a lot of pain after the incident which was not broadcast

Charlotte Flair told referee Charles Robinson that she had injured her knee before being helped out of the ring on Friday 

Flair is a 14-time world champion and has won the WWE Raw Women's Championship a record six times

Flair is a 14-time world champion and has won the WWE Raw Women's Championship a record six times

Flair is a 14-time world champion and has won the WWE Raw Women’s Championship a record six times

Flair was appearing in her first event in two months after her loss to Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania 39.

She has gone on to become caught up in a rivalry with Damage CTRL, getting support from Shotzi as they recently teamed up with Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair against Bayley, Asuka, Kairi Sane and current WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky.

Flair’s fans will be hope her injury is not too serious with the Royal Rumble just on the horizon. 

The event takes place is seven weeks and marks the beginning of the Road to WrestleMania. 

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Guatemalan electoral court says election ‘unchangeable’ after prosecutors seek to annul results

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Guatemala’s electoral court insisted Friday the results of elections won by anti-graft candidate Bernardo Arevalo were “unchangeable”, after the prosecutor’s office sought to annul them amid accusations of an “attempted coup.”

Issued on: Modified:

3 min

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Political outsider Arevalo, who is slated to assume office on January 14, has faced an onslaught of legal challenges since his surprise second-round election victory in August, including attempts to suspend his political party and stop him from taking power.

The 65-year-old’s triumph and his pledge to fight graft are widely seen in Guatemala as alarming to the establishment political elite.

On Friday, prosecutor Leonor Morales said investigations have concluded that the election of Arevalo, his vice-president and parliamentarians was “null and void” due to counting “anomalies” in the first round in June.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) responded by saying “the results are validated, formalized and unchangeable.”

TSE president Blanca Alfaro told reporters the elected officials must assume office in January as planned or else there would be “a breach of the constitutional order.”

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In Washington, the Organization of American States secretariat in a statement said it “condemns the attempted coup d’etat by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Guatemala.”

“The attempt to annul this year’s general elections constitutes the worst form of democratic breakdown and the consolidation of a political fraud against the will of the people,” the statement added.

The OAS urged outgoing president Alejandro Giammattei, the constitutional and supreme courts and Congress “to defend the institutions and constitutional order of the country by taking action against the perpetrators of this attack in order to preserve democracy in Guatemala.”

‘Ongoing coup’

Arevalo, speaking at a news conference, called the actions of the prosecutor’s office an “absurd, ridiculous and perverse coup d’etat.”

He called on Guatemalans to “energetically defend” the country from efforts by Attorney General Consuelo Porras and senior prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche to impede his taking power.

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“The coup perpetrators are trying to destroy the democratic regime and put an end to the basic right of Guatemalans to live in freedom,” he said.

Porras, Curruchiche and Judge Fredy Orellana — who had ordered the suspension of Arevalo’s Semilla (Seed) party — are all on a US list of “corrupt actors.”

Curruchiche was present at Friday’s press conference, saying “the information that was recorded in the closing and counting act at all polling stations should be annulled.”

This “criminal information” would be submitted to the TSE, he said, for a final decision.

The tribunal has already certified Arevalo’s election, but last month it suspended his party for a second time over alleged irregularities with its registration. That investigation is led by Curruchiche.

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On Friday, Judge Alfaro said the prosecutor’s office had no authority to make the TSE annul an election.

This could only be done through an order from the Constitutional Court.

“Our president is… Bernardo Arevalo and our vice president Karin Herrera,” said Alfaro.

The moves against Arevalo and his party have ignited mass protests by Guatemalans demanding the resignation of the three officials.

Arevalo pulled off a major upset by advancing to the runoff after a first round marked by apathy among voters.

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Thousands took part in a 'March for Democracy' in Guatemala.
Thousands took part in a ‘March for Democracy’ in Guatemala. © Carlos Alonzo, AFP

Poverty, violence and corruption push thousands of Guatemalans abroad every year in search of a better life, many to the United States.

The United States, European Union, UN and Organization of American States have all expressed concern over the events in Guatemala.

The top US diplomat for Latin America, Brian Nichols, said on social media that Friday’s actions by prosecutors were “another blatant, unacceptable attempt to defy the will of Guatemalans.”


“Such actions jeopardize Guatemala’s market-friendly reputation & will be met with a strong US response.”

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Rights groups have increasingly expressed concern over what they say are efforts to crack down on prosecutors and journalists in an apparent bid by the government to protect a corrupt system benefiting those in power.

(AFP)

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Nigel Farage’s girlfriend Laure Ferrari, 44, wears her arm in a sling after a surfing accident as she joins the I’m A Celebrity star’s loved ones to greet evictee Marvin Humes

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NIGEL FARAGE

NIGEL FARAGE

NIGEL FARAGE

Claim to fame: Former leader of the UK Independence Party  and leader of the Brexit Party.

Phobias: Nobody likes rats, snakes and I am dreading anything to do with heights.

Biggest misconception you want to dispel?: I have been demonised over the years and so it will be nice to show people I am not nasty. 

Role in camp: Lead on starting up plenty of campfire discussions. 

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Aside from your family, what will you miss the most whilst in camp?: A pint in the pub and the news. 

Best & worst attributes: I hope to cheer people up when they are down. Worst? I am impatient and I do snore. 

Dream camper: As a controversial political media figure, I never name names… But I am looking forward to meeting interesting people from all different fields 

DANIELLE HAROLD - VOTED OUT!

DANIELLE HAROLD - VOTED OUT!

DANIELLE HAROLD – VOTED OUT!

Claim to fame: EastEnders actress.

Phobias: Rats. I hate them! 

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Biggest misconception you want to dispel in the jungle?: I can be a little ditzy at times but I am definitely not a ‘dumb blonde’. I want to show I can do the trials, challenges and get stuck in. 

Role in camp: Shoulder to cry on, help others if they are feeling low in camp. 

Aside from family, what will you miss most whilst in camp?: Snacking. I am a little muncher and I am going to miss my morning cup of tea, too! 

Best & worst attributes: I’d like to think I will be good if people are really struggling. I am not, however, very good at being bored, nor am I a morning person either. 

Dream camper: Ed Sheeran. If he brings his guitar into camp, he can sing for us.

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FRED SIRIEIX - VOTED OUT!

FRED SIRIEIX - VOTED OUT!

FRED SIRIEIX – VOTED OUT!

Claim to fame: First Dates star.

Phobias: I am scared of everything. I am dying to find out how vile the food will be! 

Biggest misconception you want to dispel in the jungle?: I don’t think there is anything but I am looking forward to learning more about myself during my time in the camp. 

Role in camp: I will definitely muck in with all the jobs. I don’t mind cooking or cleaning the toilets. 

Aside from your family, what will you miss the most whilst in camp? My bed. It’s super comfy. I will also miss a cup of coffee in the morning. 

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Best & worst attributes: I like to have fun but I do snore and I am impatient! 

Dream camper: It’s going to be nice to meet everyone but I’d love to see Dolly Parton, The Rock or Snoop Dog in there.

NELLA ROSE - VOTED OUT!

NELLA ROSE - VOTED OUT!

NELLA ROSE – VOTED OUT!

Claim to fame: YouTuber and Catfish UK star. 

Phobias: I am fearful of everything! 

Biggest misconception you want to dispel in the jungle? I am a pretty open book. 

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Role in camp: Keep the morale and humour high.

Aside from your family, what will you miss the most whilst in camp? My phone… I am always on it! 

Dream camper: Alison Hammond or Adele. 

NICK PICKARD - VOTED OUT!

NICK PICKARD - VOTED OUT!

NICK PICKARD – VOTED OUT!

Claim to fame: Hollyoaks star. 

Phobias: I am a bit scared of the dark. When you go to the House of Horrors at Halloween and things jump out at you, I am not very good when I can’t see! 

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Biggest misconception you want to dispel in the jungle: It will be nice to go in as me and not as my Hollyoaks character. 

Role in camp: Grafter or chef, I am quite good at cooking. But I’ve never cooked on a fire before. Aside from family, what will you miss most whilst in camp: Football and my creature comforts. 

Best & worst attributes: I’d like to think I am a nice person and a good team player. I am not lazy but I do have a few bad habits like picking my nose. My girlfriend has been trying to train me to stop! 

Dream camper: Sir Alex Ferguson or Neil Warnock. 

FRANKIE DETTORI - VOTED OUT!

FRANKIE DETTORI - VOTED OUT!

FRANKIE DETTORI – VOTED OUT!

Claim to fame: Champion Jockey

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Phobias: I am not sure as I don’t walk across rooftop planks in the middle of the day nor do I have any snakes or rats in the house!

Biggest misconception you want to dispel in the jungle: None. I’ve lived in the public domain for as long as I can remember so I’d hope everyone knows me well.

Role in camp: To have fun with everyone, I am a happy-go- lucky person.

Aside from your family, what will you miss the most whilst in camp? Travelling. I have spent my whole life at airports and I’ve got to like it!

Best & worst attributes: I am outgoing and I am a fighter. Worst? I can’t sit still and I am impatient.

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Dream camper: Robbie Williams would be fun.

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🔴 Live: Iran warns of ‘explosion’ after US vetoes UN ceasefire resolution

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Iran warned on Saturday of the threat of an “uncontrollable explosion” of the situation in the Middle East, after the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the two-month war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. Follow our live blog for the latest developments on the Israel-Hamas war. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

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AI could provide the ‘ultimate second opinion’ as scientists say it is just as good as doctors at analysing X-rays

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  • AI software can scan X-rays as soon as they are taken with at least 94% accuracy
  • Study believes AI could assist doctors and help with NHS staff shortages

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Artificial intelligence could provide the ‘ultimate second opinion’ as it is just as good as doctors at analysing X-rays, scientists have claimed.

Tests using AI software on millions of old scans diagnosed conditions at least as accurately as radiologists 94 per cent of the time.

The joint study by Warwick University and King’s College London suggested it could prove vital in avoiding human error when checking patients’ results.

The AI software, which can scan X-rays as soon as they are taken, is able to understand the seriousness of each condition and flag the more urgent ones immediately.

The study’s authors suggested it could be used to screen X-rays, freeing up time for busy doctors to focus on more critical patients and helping deal with chronic NHS staffing shortages.

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Researchers first fed the AI model - called X-Raydar - nearly three million historic chest scans from 1.5million patients and then taught it to check for 37 possible conditions (Stock image)

Researchers first fed the AI model - called X-Raydar - nearly three million historic chest scans from 1.5million patients and then taught it to check for 37 possible conditions (Stock image)

Researchers first fed the AI model – called X-Raydar – nearly three million historic chest scans from 1.5million patients and then taught it to check for 37 possible conditions (Stock image)

A recent survey by the Royal College of Radiologists found a lack of specialist staff was leading to longer wait times and delays in treatment at nearly all UK cancer treatment centres.

Researchers first fed the AI model – called X-Raydar – nearly three million historic chest scans from 1.5 million patients and then taught it to check for 37 possible conditions.

The software – which flags any abnormalities with a percentage chance of them being present – was found to be ‘just as accurate or more accurate than the doctor’s analysis’ for 35 out of 37 conditions.

Dr Giovanni Montana, professor of data science at Warwick, and lead author, said: ‘This programme has been trained on millions of X-rays and is highly accurate.

Dr Giovanni Montana (pictured), professor of data science at Warwick suggested the tool could also be used as a screening tool - allowing radiologists to focus on the more challenging and critical tests instead.

Dr Giovanni Montana (pictured), professor of data science at Warwick suggested the tool could also be used as a screening tool - allowing radiologists to focus on the more challenging and critical tests instead.

Dr Giovanni Montana (pictured), professor of data science at Warwick suggested the tool could also be used as a screening tool – allowing radiologists to focus on the more challenging and critical tests instead.

‘It eliminates the elements of human error, which is unavoidable, and bias. If a patient is referred for an X-ray with a heart problem, doctors will inevitably focus on the heart over the lungs.

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‘This is totally understandable but runs the risk of undetected problems in other areas. This AI eliminates that human bias – it’s the ultimate second opinion’.

With half of X-rays finding no abnormalities, he suggested the tool could also be used as a screening tool – allowing radiologists to focus on the more challenging and critical tests instead.

Co-author Professor Vicky Goh of King’s College London said: ‘AI programmes available to us in the NHS only have a limited scope. Comprehensive AI programmes like this will be the future of medicine, with AI acting as a co-pilot for busy doctors.

‘With the acute shortage of radiologists in the UK, programmes like this will facilitate interpretation and reduce delays for diagnosis and treatment.’

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