While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 30 edition

United States fails to stop flow of foreign fighters to ISIS: study

Nearly 30,000 foreigners, including more than 250 Americans, have joined ISIS and other militant groups to fight in Syria and Iraq, double the number a year ago, a congressional study released on Tuesday showed.

The United States is doing too little to stop the flow of fighters, according to the six-month study by Republicans and Democrats on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.

The report called urgently for a nationwide strategy for combating the threat from such fighters, with better information sharing within the United states and internationally. A year ago, authorities estimated there were 15,000 foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, including 100 Americans.

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Japan pledges US$1.5bn for Syria, Iraq refugees, peace efforts at United Nations

 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday pledged US$1.5 billion (S$2.14 billion) in aid at the United Nations to help refugees from Syria and Iraq and to support peace efforts in the Middle East and Africa.

The package includes US$810 million to assist refugees from and people displaced within Syria and Iraq - triple the amount Japan provided last year, and US$750 million for peace building in the Middle East and Africa.

Japan has set aside another US$2 million to assist Lebanon, which hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and US$2.5 million to assist Serbia and Macedonia, through which refugees flee en route to the European Union.

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US President Barack Obama says defeating ISIS 'requires a new leader' in Syria

 US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that defeating ISIS in Syria will only be possible if Bashar al-Assad leaves power, a day after a clash with Russia over the Syrian president's fate.

"In Syria (...) defeating ISIL requires, I believe, a new leader," Mr Obama told a counter-terrorism summit of some 100 leaders, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, using another acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Russia snubbed the summit called by the United States, sending a low-level diplomat to the meeting to take stock of the one-year campaign to defeat ISIS, who control large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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Beatles contract sold for S$790,000 at London auction

The contract that launched the career of the Beatles was sold on Tuesday in London for £365,000 (S$790,000), auction house Sotheby's said.

The document was signed by John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with their manager Brian Epstein on October 1, 1962 - four days before the release of their first single "Love Me Do".

It was the only deal signed by the four final Beatles members with Epstein, who died from an accidental overdose in 1967 and was dubbed the "fifth Beatle" by McCartney.

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Google unveils new Nexus phones aimed at high-end customers

 Google unveiled two new smartphones  on Tuesday for its Nexus line of devices aimed at the high end of the market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

The California tech giant said it was partnering with South Korea's LG for its 5.2-inch screen Nexus 5X, and with China's Huawei for its "phablet" sized 5.7-inch Nexus 6P.

Both handsets will be sold unlocked, with Google hoping to capitalise on a trend in the US and other markets away from smartphone subsidies as part of long-term contracts.

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