While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sun 12 Nov edition

Protestors wear Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) before a demonstration called by pro-independence asociations asking for the release of jailed Catalan activists and leaders in Barcelona, Spain, on Nov 11, 2017.
Protestors wear Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) before a demonstration called by pro-independence asociations asking for the release of jailed Catalan activists and leaders in Barcelona, Spain, on Nov 11, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

Protesters flood Barcelona demanding release of separatist leaders

Hundreds of thousands of Catalan independence supporters clogged one of Barcelona’s main avenues on Saturday (Nov 11) to demand the release of separatist leaders held in prison for their roles in the region’s banned drive to split from Spain.

Wearing yellow ribbons on their lapels to signify support, they filled the length of the Avenue Marina that runs from the beach to Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church, while the jailed leaders’ families made speeches. 

Catalonia’s two main grassroots independence groups called the march, under the slogan “Freedom for the political prisoners,” after their leaders were remanded in custody on charges of sedition last month. 

The protest is seen as a test of how the independence movement’s support has fared since the Catalan government declared independence on Oct 27, prompting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire its members, dissolve the regional parliament and call new elections for December. 

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Trump probably can't be swayed to stay in climate pact: Al Gore

Germany, Japan and other US allies are unlikely ever to persuade President Donald Trump to drop his plan to quit the Paris climate agreement, former US vice president Al Gore predicted on Saturday (Nov 11).

Gore, speaking on the sidelines of a 200-nation meeting on global warming in Germany, dismissed Trump's stated willingness to re-engage in the 2015 pact if he won better terms for US taxpayers and businesses as a "smokescreen".

"It's a classic political effort to have things both ways. He's made his decision but he wants to give the other side a faint hope that ... that he might yet change his mind," he told Reuters.

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Bots battle for the ball, and the globe, in Robot Olympiad

The World Robotics Olympiad, being held in Costa Rica this weekend, shows human athletes still have little to worry about: Sweat and glory do not compute well when relegated to faceless automatons.

But the same may not be true for workers, especially those in menial or transport activities where robots are steadily taking over. Think factory assemblers and sorters, or even self-driving cars.

Some of the technology behind the robot revolution could be seen in the Olympiad, which gathered more than 2,500 people from more than 60 countries in a vast hall on the outskirts of Costa Rica's capital San Jose - the first time the event, now in its 14th year, has been held in the Americas.

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Mexican toddler weighing 28kg baffles doctors 

Like any other 10-month-old, Luis Manuel Gonzales babbles and touches anything within reach. But he stands out in a stunning and perhaps life-threatening way: He weighs 28 kilos.

He might need medical treatment costing a fortune, but his father earns a little over US$200 (S$272) a month. And doctors do not yet know why young Luis Manuel is so huge.

Mexico leads the world in childhood obesity and diabetes, and Gonzales is an extreme example of this unwelcome distinction.

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Formula One: Bottas grabs pole while Hamilton crashes out

Valtteri Bottas took pole position for Mercedes at the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday (Nov 11) while team mate and newly-crowned four-times world champion Lewis Hamilton will start at the back after crashing out. 

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will join the Finn, who is 15 points behind him in the championship, on the front row with his Finnish team mate Kimi Raikkonen third and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen fourth. 

The pole was the third of Bottas’s career and he did it with a track record time of one minute 8.322 seconds at a damp Interlagos. 

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