The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences endu

  red a series of missteps leading up to the telecast, beginning with the proposal to introduce a “popular film” category. That id

ea was quickly scuttled, as was a subsequent plan to move four awards into the commercial breaks to help st

reamline the ceremony, which prompted a rebellion from Academy members.

  In between, Kevin Hart was chosen to host the awards, before the resurfacing of homophobic socia

l-media posts prompted the comic to withdraw. After a period of confusion, it was finally co

nfirmed the awards would be mounted without a host, the first time that’s happened in 30 years.

  Much of the tumult surrounding the 91st annual Oscars can be traced back to la

st year’s awards — and more specifically, a precipitous ratings decline, fall

ing to an all-time low. Shortening the ceremony to three hours, or close to it, has been among the solutions that host net

work ABC has advocated as a means of stopping the bleeding from a Nielsen standpoint.

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Xi stresses role of finance in serving real economyBEIJING

general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, underscored that China should deepen supply-side

structural reform in the financial sector and strengthen the sector’s ability to serve the real economy.

Xi made the remarks when presiding over a group study session of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau Friday afternoon.

The country should keep a fine balance between maintaining growth and forestalling risks and deal with risks in key areas

in a targeted and effective manner, he said, adding that China should deepen opening-up of the financial sector.

Xie Duo, Party secretary and chairman of Silk Road Fund Co., Ltd, briefed on the issue and made suggestions.

Xi pointed out that finance is a core competitiveness of a country, financial security is an im

portant part of national security, and the financial system is a major fundamental system in the process of economic and social development.

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In their article, the Conservative ministers warned that econom

  national security, and peace in Northern Ireland would be compromised in the case of a no-d

eal Brexit, and added the scenario would risk inflaming the nationalist sentiment in Scotland.

  ”Far from Brexit resulting in a newly independent United Kingdom, stepping boldly into t

he wider world, crashing out on March 29 would see us poorer, less secure and potentially splitting up,” they write.

  Rudd, Clark and Gauke also cautioned members of the European Research Gro

up (ERG), a Parliamentary alliance whose members advocate for a no-deal Brexit and have previously voted do

wn May’s deal, that their lack of cooperation would be responsible for a postponement in the Brexit process.

  ”It is time that many of our Conservative parliamentary colleagues in the ERG recognized that Parliament will stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit on Mar

ch 29. If that happens, they will have no one to blame but themselves for delaying Brexit,” they wrote.

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly rejected exte

  Article 50 — the legal process under which an EU member state can leave — and refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

  The UK Parliament is due to debate the divorce again on Wednesday when May is expected to update lawmakers on any pr

ogress made in talks with European counterparts on the divisive issue of the Northern Irish backstop.

  This weekend she will meet European Council President Donald Tusk on the margins of

the EU-League of Arab States Summit in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

  Three Conservative MPs have quit Theresa May’s party over Brexit

  By Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

  Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT) February 20, 2019

  Ex-Conservative MPs Heidi Allen, second left, Anna Soubry, center, and Sarah W

ollaston, right, arrive for a press conference in Westminster in London on Wednesday.

  Ex-Conservative MPs Heidi Allen, second left, Anna Soubry, center, and Sarah

Wollaston, right, arrive for a press conference in Westminster in London on Wednesday.

  (CNN)Three lawmakers walked out of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party on Wednesday, joini

ng a new group in Parliament that has blown up the British political landscape in less than three days.

  The trio’s dramatic decision to join a group of eight independent MPs, who split fro

m the opposition Labour Party earlier this week, caused consternation at Westminster. They

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Because of sanctions, Iran’s health sector is struggling to

  keep up with soaring prices of medications and medical instruments, doctors tell CNN.

  European banks, fearing secondary US penalties, are reluctant to do business with Iranian companies even those not blacklisted b

y the US. Medical companies have had to resort to paying intermediaries exorbitant sums to secure ne

eded supplies, including imported medicines and medical instruments which have more than tripled in value du

ring Iran’s rapidly dropping currency, health professionals explain.Sanctions is the first problem in our country and in ou

r system. We can’t transfer the money and make the preparations for surgery. It’s a big problem for us,” says Dr. Mo

hammad Hassan Bani Asad, managing director of the Gandhi Hotel Hospital. “We have the procedures, but we don’t hav

e the instruments. It is very difficult for patients and maybe leads to death of some patients.”

  Though most of Iran’s medicines are domestically manufactured, much of the primary materials, m

any of them imported, are in short supply. And while the state provides universal healthcare, so

me of the treatment needed for critical cases cannot be covered by state insurance.

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Patients and their families are doubly affected by plum

  meting purchasing power across the country. It’s a situation, Emami says, that has made a lot of treatable cases lethal.

  ”I have a patient upstairs … I diagnosed him with brain cancer. The cost of biopsy, the chemotherapy and medication is

very high. So, the family asked me if I could leave him be,” says Emami. “Every day, we see this story here.”

  Even when families can afford medical equipment they often join long waiting lists. Cardia

c pacemakers are in short supply in the country, and patients must abandon their regular lifestyles, an

d become admitted to hospitals where they are hooked up to a cardiac machine.

  Emami tells CNN that some families are opting out of paying for feed

ing tubes for relatives with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Without the feeding tubes, the pat

ients spend the rest of their days wired to machines in hospitals, instead of receiving home care.

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When the morality police personnel were issuing a wa

  rning to two ladies with improper hijab, people in the area surrounded them and prevented them from driving the two ladies a

way,” the police source told IRNA. “After the two ladies got off the police van, the crowd dispersed and that was the end of the incident.”

  Threatened with acid, rape, abuseotesting Iranmpulsory hijab law

  Threatened with ‘acid, rape, abuse’: Protesting Iran’s compulsory hijab law

  Video of the incident showed people honking their car horns in apparent protest. A man is

heard shouting “Let her go!” as a group of people surround the van. The sound of gunshots is then heard.

  The headscarf, or the hijab, has been a mandatory part of women’s dress in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution led to clerical rule of the country.

  But in recent years, some women have mounted opposition to headscarf rules by stagi

ng sporadic street demonstrations, some of which have gone viral on social media.

  Many women have also observed the dress rules more loosely in recent years. While signs instructing women to wear hijab ad

orn the walls of nearly every shop and restaurant, many wear short scarves which only slightly cover their heads.

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The world looks longingly at a post-Trump eraon is CNN’s intern

  If Europe’s leaders, diplomats and security professionals had a vote in the 2020 US presidential elections, it doesn’t see

m likely they’d give it to President Trump. At least, that’s how it seemed at the 2019 Munich Security Conference.

  Hundreds of dignitaries crammed into tight corridors, moving between the modest meeting halls of Munich’s Bayerischer Hof Hotel.

  The event has grown in recent years. As prime ministers and presidents rub shoulders wit

h CEO’s and policy wonks, conversations straddle global differences and attempt to shape the world order.

  Biden says US should remain committed to its allies abroad

  It is an odd, almost old-fashioned mix. It’s rare at global summits these days that repo

rters can mingle with the people they cover and even engage them in casual conversation.

  NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg surprised me, praising my sturdy weather-beating boots and trou

sers. He laughed when I told him he was lucky inside. I was outside, the sun was blazing and, frankly, I was baking.

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uventus beaten at Atletico to leave Ronaldo on brink

  Cristiano Ronaldo was supposed to be the final piece in the Juventus Champions League winning jigsaw.

  For so long, Juventus has dominated in Italy, winning seven successive league titles with an eighth almost inevitable.

  But it is the Champions League crown that it craves. Ronaldo was s

upposed to be the man to deliver for a club that has lost out twice in the final in the past four years.

  When Juventus turned to Ronaldo, a five-time winner, chasing a record-equ

aling sixth Champions League title, it was to inspire the team on nights like Wednesday.

  Only Sevilla (27) and Getafe (23) have conceded more goals to Ronaldo than Atletico Madrid.

  Yet, on a Wednesday night in Madrid, the city where he enjoyed such success with Re

al, he was unable to add to his career tally of 22 against the former neighbor.

  For Atletico Madrid, a team that has felt the full force of Ronaldo’s irrepressible scor

ing record during his time at Real, this 2-0 victory in the first leg of the last 16 tie was particularly sweet.

  Two second-half goals from Uruguayan defensive duo Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin secured the advantage for Diego Simeone’s side.

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hinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the US on Thursday and

Friday to continue high-level trade negotiations. His new title as Chinese President Xi Jinpi

ng’s special envoy indicates the importance and authoritativeness of the talks. As pre

paration for the event, consultations at vice-ministerial-level between China and the US were recovered on Tuesday.

The world’s stock markets surged Monday due to the optimistic prospects on the deals that Beijin

g and Washington are expected to make. US President Donald Trump praised “big progress” in the

trade deal on Twitter. His words further stoked the stock markets of the US, which reached the highest in two m

onths and so increased pressure on the Trump administration to close the deal with China.

Analysts believe that if the two countries couldn’t come to an agreement, and as a result the US imposes more tariffs on Chinese prod

ucts while China responds with fiercer countermeasures, it would be a catastrophic strike to global stock markets.

In terms of avoiding such blows, the Trump administration is probably the most pres

sured. Thus in general, by the end of the trade negotiations, China and the US have become more psychologically equal.

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