While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 5

Britain, EU fail to reach deal, trade talks paused

Britain and the European Union failed on Friday to secure a trade agreement, saying talks would be paused so negotiators could talk to politicians to get better guidance on where to go next.

With less than four weeks left until Britain leaves the EU’s orbit on Dec 31, both sides have said the talks are stuck on three areas, with each calling for the other to compromise to secure a deal governing almost US$1 trillion (S$1.3 trillion) of annual trade.

“After one week of intense negotiations in London, the two chief negotiators agreed today that the conditions for an agreement are not met, due to significant divergences on level playing field, governance and fisheries,” they said in a statement.

“On this basis, they agreed to pause in order to brief their principals on the state of play of the negotiations. (European Commission) President (Ursula) von der Leyen and Prime Minister (Boris) Johnson will discuss the state of play tomorrow afternoon.”


Trump to withdraw most troops from Somalia, part of global pullback

President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of most American troops from Somalia, the Pentagon said on Friday, part of a global pullback before Trump leaves office next month that will also see him drawdown forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States has about 700 troops in Somalia focused on helping local forces defeat the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgency.

The mission has received little attention in the United States, but is considered a cornerstone of the Pentagon’s global efforts to combat Al-Qaeda.


Hollywood ‘Con Queen’ suspect appears in British court

A suspected con artist from Indonesia who allegedly impersonated top female Hollywood executives to swindle wide-eyed aspiring stars out of hundreds of thousands of dollars was remanded in custody on Friday when he appeared at a central London court.

Dubbed the “Con Queen of Hollywood”, suspect Hargobind Tahilramani, 41, led investigators on a years-long, global manhunt so improbable it has even been optioned for a book deal.

Among the Hollywood moguls he allegedly impersonated were Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, former Sony movie chief Amy Pascal and ex-Paramount boss Sherry Lansing.


Indian jeweller’s ring sets world record with 12,638 diamonds

An elaborate floral-shaped ring sporting 12,638 tiny diamonds has earned a place in the Guinness World Records – but its Indian creator has no plans to sell his priceless design just yet.

Called “The Marigold – The Ring of Prosperity”, the chunky circular band weighs a little over 165 grams.

“It’s wearable and comfortable,” said 25-year-old Harshit Bansal, who described his audacious creation as a dream project.


Formula One: Hamilton sub Russell upstages Bottas in Sakhir practice

George Russell upstaged his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and impressed everyone else on Friday (Dec 4) when he topped the times in both sessions of a record-breaking day’s practice at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Substituting for coronavirus victim seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, the 22-year-old Briton outpaced all of his rivals with a dazzling display of pace and poise on the high-speed short-lap “outer loop” at the Bahrain International Circuit.

His time of just 54.713 seconds represented the briefest lap of the season and was well within the time set by Niki Lauda with the fastest lap pole time in Formula One, set at the 1974 French Grand Prix.


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