While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Aug 20 edition

Thai bomb suspect spoke foreign language, not English: Police

Thai police said Wednesday the prime suspect in the bombing of a Bangkok religious shrine in which 20 people died was overheard speaking a foreign language other than English.

"Foreign language, not English also," national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said when asked by reporters whether a man seen leaving a backpack in the shrine minutes before Monday's deadly explosion spoke any foreign languages.

Police said earlier they had interviewed two motorcycle taxi riders near the shrine, one of whom gave a ride to the suspect.


Germany expects refugee numbers to hit record 800,000 this year

Germany expects to receive up to 800,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, a new record, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday, as he urged action from Europe on the crisis.

Germany has struggled to accommodate a wave of asylum-seekers from war zones such as Syria but also from countries without military conflict in southeastern Europe, including Albania, Serbia and Kosovo.

Europe’s biggest economy has become the top destination for those fleeing war and persecution but de Maiziere said other European partners must also share the refugee load.


ISIS 'mafias' made $15 million a month in Iraq province: Inquiry

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group made US$11 million (S$15 million) a month from "organised crime" in Iraq's Nineveh province before seizing it and capital city Mosul, a parliamentary report obtained by AFP says.

Before Mosul was overrun on June 10 last year, ISIS members acted like "mafias managing organised crime," and controlled "all the economic resources of the province," said the report, the product of a parliamentary inquiry into the failures that led to the city's fall.

The extremists had "a specific system for collecting money" and imposed "specific rates" on different social groups as part of its highly successful racketeering, according to the report, which has not been publicly released.


Rocking out to Edelweiss at North Korea's first foreign gig

With a 45-minute set that included cover versions of Edelweiss and Do-Re-Mi from The Sound Of Music, the avant-garde Slovenian group Laibach on Wednesday became the first foreign rock band to play a gig in North Korea.

Foreigners who attended the evening concert in Pyongyang said the Slovenian rockers were accorded a warm, if slightly muted, reception by the 1,500-capacity crowd at the capital's Ponghwa Arts Theatre.

"They seemed to really enjoy it. It wasn't an audience pulling faces of distrust or confusion," said Simon Cockerell, general manager of Beijing-based Koryo Tours which arranged a special trip for foreign tourists to see the show.


Extra security for Nicki Minaj waxwork after 'inappropriate' photos

People taking "inappropriate" photographs with a waxwork model of Anaconda singer Nicki Minaj has prompted Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas to lay on extra security for the figure.

Photos appeared online of suggestive poses with the artwork, which is based on the rapper's iconic pose in her Anaconda video - where she's posing in heels on her hands and knees.

Since the Las Vegas museum unveiled it earlier this month, fans have been rushing to be photographed with it.