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Increasingly human-like robots spark fascination and fear

Sporting a trendy brown bob, a humanoid robot named Erica chats to a man in front of stunned audience members in Madrid. She and others like her are a prime focus of robotic research, as their uncanny human form could be key to integrating such machines into our lives, said researchers gathered this week at the annual International Conference on Intelligent Robots. "You mentioned project management. Can you please tell me more?" Erica, who is playing the role of an employer, asks the man. She may not understand the…

Real fans in Madrid dreaming of ‘la decimotercera’

MADRID: With just hours before kick-off in Saturday's Champions League final in Kiev, supporters of Real Madrid began to converge on the Santiago Bernabeu in the hope of witnessing "la decimotercera", a 13th European Cup title. Near to their stadium, which will be packed out with fans watching the match against Liverpool on a giant screen, were hundreds of Real supporters, many with flags in the team's colours draped over their shoulders or fastened around their waists. "We are the kings of Europe", chanted one fan…

Ousted Catalan leader says ready to stand in snap regional election

MADRID/BRUSSELS: Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who left Spain for Belgium after his government was sacked following a declaration of independence, said on Friday he was ready to stand in a snap election in the region next month. Puigdemont ignored a court order to return to Spain on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds relating to Catalonia’s independence push. Nine members of his dismissed cabinet were ordered to be held in custody on Thursday pending an…

Sacked Catalonia leader calls for opposition to Madrid’s rule

MADRID/BARCELONA: Sacked Catalonian president Carles Puigdemont on Saturday called for peaceful “democratic opposition” to the central government’s takeover of the region following its unilateral declaration of independence from Spain. Puigdemont, whose regional government was dismissed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday, accused Madrid of “premeditated aggression” against the will of the Catalans. Rajoy removed Puigdemont, took over the administration of the autonomous region and called a new election…

Spain seizes control of ‘independent’ Catalonia

MADRID: Spain moved on Saturday to assert direct rule over Catalonia, replacing its executive and top officials to quash an independence drive that has pushed the country into uncharted waters and sent shock waves through Europe. As thousands rallied in Madrid in support for Spanish unity, a government notice officially deposed regional leader Carles Puigdemont and his deputy Oriol Junqueras. The announcement placed Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria in charge of administering the region. It is the…

Zidane insists Madrid aren’t taking La Liga triumph for granted

MADRID: Zinedine Zidane insisted his Real Madrid stars don't feel like champions yet, as his side close in on a potential double. A victory against Celta Vigo on Wednesday at Balaidos would put Madrid three points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table before the season finale on Sunday. They have also secured a place in the Champions League final against Juventus on June 3 in Cardiff. However, Zidane was cautious and says nobody at the club believes they have won anything yet. Asked about the club's chances of…

Madrid to ban half of cars from roads to fight pollution

Madrid said on Wednesday all privately-owned cars with even-numbered registration plates will be banned from the Spanish capital's roads on Thursday to curb rising air pollution. The move follows a dry, sunny stretch of weather which sent levels of nitrogen oxide, a poisonous gas which can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, soaring above European-Union-set limits. The restriction could alternate between odd and even number plates for as long as high levels of contamination persist, the city government said.…

VIDEO: Spain’s popular bakery sealed after rats filmed crawling over sandwiches

MADRID: A popular bakery chain in Spain’s capital has been forced to shit after couple of rats was filmed crawling over sandwiches. Passers-by were shocked to have creepy sight on the edibles. They took video of the rodents before calling police who ordered the temporary closure of the business until town hall chiefs carry out an inspection. The rats got stuck in at a food display at Granier Bakery’s Pueblo Nuevo in Madrid, which has branches around the world including Woolwich and Wood Green in London. The company…