What's News: December 25, 2017

Members of the Syria Civil Defenceinspecting the damage at a Roman ruin site in Daraa.
Members of the Syria Civil Defenceinspecting the damage at a Roman ruin site in Daraa.PHOTO: REUTERS


New low in road fatalities

Recent efforts to raise awareness of road safety issues and deter speeding seem to have worked, latest statistics show. If the patterns for the first 10 months of the year hold, 2017 will see a record low in the number of road fatalities. The 97 deaths from January to October are a 17 per cent dip from last year.


Grab to track drivers' habits

Grab is seeking to track its drivers' locations and habits, even when they are not on the job ferrying passengers. Last month, the ride-hailing firm asked its rental fleet partners to install trackers in their cars, which will be used to collect data to generate daily reports on drivers, The Straits Times has learnt.


China may help rebuild Syria

Rebuilding Syria after its civil war could cost US$250 billion (S$336 billion). Western powers are reluctant to fund the rebuilding, and Russia and Iran can't afford the bill. That leaves China.

Mr Qin Yong, vice-president of the China-Arab Exchange Association, said he sees burgeoning interest among Chinese firms.


Catalan leader seeks return

Catalonia's separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has called on Spain's government to allow him to return home in time for the opening session of the Catalan Parliament, so that he can become the region's next president. Mr Puigdemont, who ruled in Catalonia until October, is currently in self-imposed exile in Belgium.


Who pays for Trump's 'gift'?

United States President Donald Trump has likened the new US tax code to a Christmas gift. Why then are many economists less than cheered by it than the markets? Professor Linda Lim explains.


Nerve centre for 995 calls

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Operations Centre is a little-known nerve centre that is the first point of contact for reports of fire, rescue or medical incidents. Last year, the SCDF handled more than 290,000 phone calls, averaging 790 calls a day.


Homecoming at Novena

Getting home in time for Christmas took on new meaning for many Catholics at Novena Church this year. They welcomed their first Christmas in three years back on the church's premises in Thomson Road, after it was closed for a $54 million revamp.


Better bonuses for some

The outlook for private-sector bonuses has brightened on the back of Singapore's better-than-expected economic growth this year. But not every sector stands to gain, say human resource analysts. The few sectors that have cause to celebrate include insurance, manufacturing and technology-related sectors, on the back of robust expansions this year.


Mourinho furious over draw

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho slammed his star players as "childish" after they squandered a slew of chances and committed numerous mistakes in "an easy match to win", before letting in a late equaliser to draw 2-2 at Leicester. Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City are now ahead by 13 points.


Milestone for Clean Bandit

British trio Clean Bandit, who will perform here on Jan 22, will mark their 10th anniversary next year. Asked how they plan to celebrate, Jack Patterson, 32, says: "We will probably get our label to rent us a stretch Hummer and drive around London for a week, drinking champagne and listening to the Spice Girls."


Wintry Woodlands

Carpenter Tan Koon Tat has built a snow machine to entertain his Marsiling neighbours for Christmas. http://str.sg/snow


Volcano guardian

Meet 75-year-old temple guardian Jero Mangku Darma, who prays for protection from angry spirits in the shadow of Bali's erupting Mount Agung. http://str.sg/volcano

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'What's News'. Print Edition | Subscribe