While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 27 edition

Muted US response to China plan to boost naval reach as officials sidestep questions

Senior United States administration officials largely skirted the issue of a new Chinese military white paper on Tuesday, with State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke saying that he was aware of the document but had not read it.

If the Chinese document released earlier on Tuesday outlining an intention to project its military power further beyond its maritime borders had raised any alarms in the State Department or the White House, officials seemed determined to play it down.

"We are aware of the white paper and we continue to monitor China's military development carefully," he said during daily press briefing at the State Department, but added that he was not going to offer a judgement on it.

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Storms kill at least nine in Texas and Oklahoma, including a homecoming queen

Torrential rains have killed at least nine people in Texas and Oklahoma, including a homecoming queen returning from her school prom.

In Houston, floods turned streets into rivers and led to about 1,000 calls for help in the fourth-most populous US city, officials said on Tuesday.

The death toll is set to rise with numerous people missing in Texas after the storms slammed the states during the Memorial Day weekend, causing record floods that destroyed hundreds of homes and swept away bridges.

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World already reaping benefits from United Nations ozone treaty: study

The United Nations treaty to protect the ozone layer has prevented a likely surge in skin cancer in Australia, New Zealand and northern Europe, a study published on Tuesday said.

If the 1987 Montreal Protocol had never been signed, the ozone hole over Antarctica would have grown in size by 40 per cent by 2013, it said.

Ultra-violet levels in Australia and New Zealand, which currently have the highest mortality rates from skin cancer, could have risen by between eight and 12 per cent.

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Tennis: Novak Djokovic sees off Jarko Nieminen in entertaining French opener

Tournament favourite Novak Djokovic beat Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-5 6-2 on Tuesday, kicking off his quest for a first ever Paris trophy to add to his eight other grand slams.

He wobbled in the second set, having to pull out some of his sliding, rubber-limbed best to avoid going 5-1 down against the 33-year-old who had one previous victory against the Serb.

Once he saved a break point with a carved volley after a long exchange he reeled in his opponent who gave full value in an entertaining first-round encounter.

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Film legend Omar Sharif has Alzheimer's: agent

Egyptian-born film legend Omar Sharif, star of Oscar-winning classics such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, his agent said Tuesday.

The 83-year-old is being looked after by relatives in Egypt, where he lives.

"He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a while ago," agent Steve Kenis said adding: "It's a serious disease and he hadn't been been able to take any work for many months."

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