While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 9 edition

Europe marks World War II victory under shadow of new threats

Europe on Friday marked 70 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany with sombre ceremonies overshadowed by modern day threats, such as the war in Ukraine and Islamic extremism.

The Victory Day commemorations in Europe were muted compared with Moscow's planned display of its military might at a parade on Saturday, which is being snubbed by Western leaders over the crisis in Ukraine.

In Britain, the anniversary provided a chance for a show of national unity after a dramatic general election which returned David Cameron's Conservatives with an outright majority and left the opposition in tatters.

Flanked by his trounced rival, Labour leader Ed Miliband (above left), and his former deputy, Liberal Democrat chief, Nick Clegg (centre), Cameron laid a wreath at the Cenotaph war memorial in London. Both Miliband and Clegg had quit shortly before the ceremony over their parties' drubbing.

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Britain's election: Cameron keeps Osborne as finance minister

Prime Minister David Cameron reappointed George Osborne as his finance minister on Friday and gave him a bigger Cabinet role after Britain’s economic recovery helped their party to an unexpectedly big election victory.

Osborne will have a freer hand in his purge of Britain’s public finances after the Conservative Party won an outright majority on Thursday, meaning it no longer has to seek consensus with its former Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

As well as keeping Osborne in charge of Britain’s economy, Cameron named him first secretary of state, making him the most senior member of Cabinet after the prime minister.

Osborne served as finance minister throughout Cameron’s first five-year term. During that time, he oversaw a recovery of the economy from the damage wrought by the financial crisis.

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Border scan reveals eight-year-old boy hidden in woman's suitcase

Police found an eight-year-old Ivorian boy hidden in a suitcase that was smuggled across the border into Spanish territory in north Africa, an official said on Friday.

A 19-year-old woman took the case through a pedestrian crossing from Morocco into the small Spanish-governed territory of Ceuta on Thursday, a spokesman for the Civil Guard police force said.

"When they put the suitcase through the scanner, the operator noticed something strange, which seemed to be a person inside the case," he told AFP. "When it was opened they found a minor, in a terrible state."

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China ramps up pace of land reclamation in disputed waters: US official

China has dramatically ramped up its land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea this year, building artificial islands at an unprecedented pace to bolster its territorial claims in the disputed area, US officials said Friday.

The rapid construction of artificial islands in the strategic waters comes to 800 hectares, with 75 per cent of the total in the last five months, officials said.

The United States did not endorse land reclamation by any of the countries with territorial claims in the South China Sea, but “the pace and scale of China’s land reclamation in recent years dwarfs that of any other claimant,” a US defence official said.

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Jewish actress Natalie Portman nervous about living in Paris

Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman says she feels nervous as a Jew living in France, where she moved last year, two months before the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the 33-year-old said living in Paris has made her realise how "deeply culturally different" it was.

"It's been really interesting... I've been to Paris so much in my life that I felt (at first) like it's very similar," the Oscar-winner told the trade journal, in an interview conducted in Los Angeles. "And then when you live in a place, you start realising how culturally different we are, deeply culturally different," she said in the cover story interview.

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