While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 14 edition

China using 'coercive tactics' in South China Sea: Pentagon

China is using "coercive tactics" as it expands its maritime presence in the South China Sea and elsewhere, while at the same time avoiding actions that could trigger armed conflict, the Pentagon said.

In its annual report to Congress outlining China's military and security developments, the Defence Department shed new light on Beijing's growing global footprint and how it appears willing to foster tensions in the contested South China Sea.

"China is using coercive tactics... to advance their interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict," the report states.


Huge tyre dump fire near Madrid releases toxic cloud

A huge tyre dump near Madrid was ablaze Friday, releasing a black cloud of toxic fumes and forcing the evacuation of nearby residents after what officials suspect was an arson attack.

Firefighters and water-dropping helicopters battled to extinguish the blaze which broke out before dawn at the tyre dump near the town of Sesena, 45km south of Madrid.

“Everything points to the fact that this disaster was deliberate,” Sesena Mayor Carlos Velazquez told Spanish radio, adding that there had been days of rain in the area, making accidental ignition unlikely.


Donald Trump denies posing as his own publicist

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, denied that he repeatedly posed as his own publicist, after The Washington Post reported that he had done so for decades to push his own agenda.

The newspaper obtained a recording from 1991 that features the voice of someone who identified himself as John Miller and returned a call from a reporter at People magazine who was covering Trump's tumultuous love life.

The Post - citing journalists and several of Trump's top aides - said the voice is actually Trump's and that reporters and editors covering his early career often got calls from his Manhattan office with a "John Miller" or "John Barron" on the line.


Prank bids drive US killer’s gun auction to $90 million

Bidding for the gun used by a Florida neighbourhood watchman to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin hit US$65 million (S$90 million), as hoax buyers appeared to jack the controversial sale to astronomical levels.

Nationwide protests erupted over the 17-year-old’s shooting in 2012, in what the watchman George Zimmerman said was self-defence but which the teen’s family and friends claimed was a murder driven by racism. Zimmerman’s trial and subsequent acquittal exposed deep racial fissures in US society.

Bids for the Kel-Tec PF-9, a 9mm pistol, began at US$5,000 on Thursday – already far above the market value of a secondhand weapon – and had reached US$65,039,000 by Friday morning on UnitedGunGroup.com, with more than four days left to go in the sale.


Tennis: Novak Djokovic ousts Rafael Nadal in Rome quarters

World number one Novak Djokovic stretched his winning streak over Rafael Nadal to seven matches with a thrilling 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) victory to book his spot in the Rome Masters semi-finals.

Djokovic, the defending champion, now faces the winner of the Friday's last quarter-final, between Kei Nishikori of Japan and Austrian Dominic Thiem, as he bids for a fifth title in the Italian capital.

Nadal's last win over the seemingly unstoppable Serbian goes back to his victory in the final of Roland Garros in 2014.