While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Aug 11


Russia tells Washington curbs on its banks would be act of economic war

Russia warned the United States on Friday it would regard any US move to curb the activities of its banks as a "declaration of economic war" and would retaliate, as new sanctions took their toll on the rouble and US lawmakers threatened more.

The warning, from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, reflects Russian fears over the impact of new restrictions on its economy and assets, including the rouble which has lost nearly 6 per cent of its value this week on sanctions jitters.

Economists expect the Russian economy to grow by 1.8 per cent this year. If new sanctions proposed by the US Congress and the State Department are implemented in full, which remains uncertain, some economists fear growth could weaken to almost zero.

President Vladimir Putin discussed what the Kremlin called "possible new unfriendly steps by Washington" with his Security Council on Friday.


Erdogan tells Turks to buy crumbling lira, as Trump turns screws

President Tayyip Erdogan told Turks on Friday to sell their gold and dollars to support the crumbling lira, with the currency in free fall as President Donald Trump escalated a feud with Ankara by doubling tariffs on metals imports.

The lira has long been falling on worries about Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and worsening relations with the United States. That turned into a rout on Friday, with the currency diving as much as 18 per cent at one point, the biggest one-day drop since a 2001 financial crisis in Turkey.

Reverberations spread through global markets, with European stock markets especially hit as investors took fright over banks’ exposure to Turkey. US stocks were also rattled.


Nasa counts down to launch of first spacecraft to 'touch Sun'

Nasa counted down on Friday to the launch of a US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion) spacecraft that aims to plunge into the Sun's sizzling atmosphere and become humanity's first mission to explore a star.

The car-sized Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to blast off on a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida early on Saturday.

The 65-minute launch window opens at 3.33am (3.33pm Singapore time), and the weather forecast is 70 per cent favourable for takeoff, Nasa said.


California wildfire said to have been set by arsonist threatens community

A Southern California wildfire - which authorities say was set by an arsonist with a grudge against a neighbour - doubled in size overnight into Friday as crews built fire lines and fought to protect thousands of homes in a lakefront community.

The Holy Fire, which broke out on Monday in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, has already destroyed 12 structures and was only 5 per cent contained as of Friday.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, who owns a cabin in Holy Jim Canyon, was arrested earlier this week after a standoff with police and charged with arson, making criminal threats and resisting arrest.


Football: Pogba leads Man United to winning Premier League start

Paul Pogba assumed the responsibility of captain handed to him by Jose Mourinho to help Manchester United get off to a winning start in the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Leicester City on Friday.

Less than a month since Pogba scored in the World Cup final to help France lift the trophy, he was thrown straight into action by Mourinho despite just returning to pre-season training this week.

Pogba's third-minute spot-kick settled the hosts' nerves as United allayed some of the doom and gloom predicted by Mourinho after failing to land a series of targets before Thursday's transfer deadline.