While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, April 26


Sri Lanka lowers attacks death toll from 359 to 253

Sri Lankan officials revised the death toll from Easter Sunday bombings down by about 100 on Thursday, blaming the difficulty in identifying body parts at bomb scenes for the earlier inaccurate number.

The new official figure was 253, down from an earlier 359, Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said.

He blamed inaccurate data provided by morgues for the discrepancy.

Anil Jasinghe, the director-general of Sri Lanka's health services, told Reuters any figure was an estimate: "It could be 250 or 260. I can't exactly say. There are so many body parts and it is difficult to give a precise figure."


France's Macron launches 'yellow vest' fight back with tax cuts

At the first major news conference of his presidency, Emmanuel Macron pledged to cut taxes on Thursday and said the French would have to work longer as he outlined his response to months of anti-government protests that have shaken his authority.

Speaking in a gilded hall at the Elysee Palace, seated behind a white desk with the French tricolour and European Union flags flanking him, Macron took reporters' questions for nearly two-and-a-half hours, part of an effort to redress the rocky relationship he has developed with the media.

He apologised - not for the first time - for his sometimes sharp tongue and cutting comments, which have earned him a reputation for arrogance and contributed to a deep slump in his popularity ratings, which are showing some signs of recovery.


North Korea asked US to pay US$2 million for caring for Otto Warmbier

North Korea issued a US$2 million bill (S$2.7 million) for the hospital care of comatose American Otto Warmbier, insisting that a US official sign a pledge to pay it before being allowed to fly the University of Virginia student from Pyongyang in 2017.

The presentation of the invoice - not previously disclosed by US or North Korean officials - was extraordinarily brazen even for a regime known for its aggressive tactics.

But the main US envoy sent to retrieve Warmbier signed an agreement to pay the medical bill on instructions passed down from President Donald Trump, according to two people familiar with the situation. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the matter publicly.


US FAA, global aviation regulators to meet May 23 on grounded Boeing 737 Max

The US Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday it is inviting top civil aviation officials from around the world to a May 23 meeting to discuss the now-grounded Boeing 737 Max.

The aircraft has been involved in two deadly crashes since October.

The FAA said the meeting "is intended to provide participants the FAA's safety analysis that will inform its decision to return the 737 Max fleet to service in the US when it is made."


Rami Malek to play Bond villain in Daniel Craig's final 007 film

Rami Malek, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, is to play a villain opposite 007 star Daniel Craig in his final James Bond film, the US actor said on Thursday.

"I'm very much looking forward to joining the cast and crew very soon, and I promise you all I will be making sure that Mr Bond does not have an easy ride of it in his 25th outing," Malek said in a video statement.

The still-untitled film, which is about to start production under US director Cary Fukunaga, will star Craig as the sophisticated secret agent for a fifth and final time, producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said.