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

CIA chief acknowledges some 'abhorrent' terror interrogations

US spymaster John Brennan admitted Thursday that some CIA interrogators had used unauthorised and "abhorrent" tactics and said he believes torture tends to lead to false intelligence.

In a rare news conference, broadcast live from the agency's Langley headquarters in what is believed to be a first in CIA history, Brennan mounted a stout defence of his officers.

But, in the wake of a damning Senate report into its treatment of Al-Qaeda suspects that triggered global revulsion, he confirmed that some had gone beyond their orders and abused prisoners.

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Sony says sorry to Obama over Django, 12 Years A Slave remarks, amid leaked e-mails storm

Beleaguered studio Sony Pictures apologised on Thursday for racially insensitive remarks about President Barack Obama in company e-mails, the latest in a series of leaks that have left Hollywood reeling.

The unflattering leaks - including a producer labeling Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" - have thrown Sony into damage control mode, amid few signs they are going to stop any time soon.

The latest leaks reportedly include an e-mail exchange in which Sony co-chairwoman Amy Pascal asks film producer Scott Rudin what she should ask Obama at a "stupid" fund-raising breakfast.

"Would he like to finance some movies?" joked Rudin, to which Pascal replied: "I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?" - a reference to Quentin Tarantino slave movie Django Unchained.

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Government shutdown deadline looms over US spending Bill

With the threat looming of a midnight government shutdown, the fate of a US$1.1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) US spending Bill was thrust into doubt on Thursday by Democratic objections over a provision to roll back part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives delayed a Thursday afternoon vote on final passage to shore up support after the measure cleared a procedural hurdle by only two votes.

With current spending authority for federal agencies expiring at midnight on Thursday, the House was also planning to pass a two-day extension to avoid a shutdown and allow more time for the Senate to consider the 1,603-page funding package, Republican aides said.

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Brazilian admits killing 41 people 'for fun'

A Brazilian man accused of stabbing a woman to death in a Rio suburb has confessed to have murdered 41 people, almost all of them women, "for the fun of it," police said Thursday.

The man was identified as Sailson Jose das Gracas, a 26-year-old whom police describe as a psychopath.

They said they were checking his statements against past investigations, and so far they tally with the evidence.

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Formula One: Bernie Ecclestone rules out being reined in by new chairman

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed talk of a new chairman trying to "rein him in" and says he plans to continue running the company as if he owned it.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the 84-year-old billionaire made clear it was business as usual.

Ecclestone said he was back on the board of Formula One, after standing down during a bribery trial in Germany that was eventually settled, and only the board could remove him as chief executive. "I'm happy here as long as the board are happy with me. When I think I can't deliver any longer, I shall retire," he said.

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