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

US asks Vietnam to stop helping Russian bomber flights

The United States has asked Vietnam to stop letting Russia use a former US base to refuel nuclear-capable bombers engaged in shows of strength over the Asia-Pacific region, exposing strains in Washington's steadily warming relations with Hanoi.

The request, described to Reuters by a State Department official, comes as US officials say Russian bombers have stepped up flights in a region already rife with tensions between China, US ally Japan and South-east Asian nations.

General Vincent Brooks (above left), commander of the US Army in the Pacific, told Reuters the planes had conducted "provocative" flights, including around the US Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, home to a major American air base.

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Apple apologises over worldwide online services outage

Apple apologised to users Wednesday after a nearly 12-hour outage of some of its major online services, affecting customers worldwide.

The tech giant's status page showed the App Store, iTunes, iBooks store and Mac App store went down from 9am GMT (5pm Singapore time) and were offline until around 8.30pm GMT (4.30am on Thursday, Singapore time).

The Next Web, the international technology news site, said it had reports of outages affecting more than 40 countries.

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One Direction's gig the shrillest one to be held at National Stadium

The National Stadium on Wednesday night hosted what was possibly its shrillest crowd to date - 30,000 mostly young female fans of British boyband One Direction screamed and cheered their way through a 100-minute show.

The gig was the band's first in Singapore and was one of the largest shows by a Western pop act here in recent times.

The five members came on at 9pm, one hour later than scheduled, and performed songs such as Clouds and Steal My Girl from their latest album, Four, as well as signature hits including What Makes You Beautiful.

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Million-dollar inn up for grabs for 200 words and $170

A 200-word essay and US$125 (S$170) is all it will take to become the proud owner of a bucolic New England inn, says its owner, who won the establishment in the same way.

For more than two decades, Janice Sage has run the Center Lovell Inn, a majestic bed and breakfast nestled in western Maine, famous for its cross-country skiing and mountain vistas.

Now, 68-year-old Sage plans to retire, and she's ready to give away the inn, valued at nearly a million dollars, for next-to-nothing.

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Florida golfers undeterred by large alligator on putting green

Golfers at a course in Florida on Wednesday were careful to putt around a large alligator, days after the beast was photographed lounging on the edge of the green in an image that went viral on Facebook.

A women's tournament went on as planned at the Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood, on Florida's west coast, as the alligator, estimated at 3.6m to 4m in length, reposed in full view of about 100 participants, said Mickie Zada, the club's general manager.

"If we stopped playing because of alligators, we'd never have golfers," Zada said.

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