While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 10

US President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, on Dec 7, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Biden infuriates eastern Nato allies with his offer to Russia of talks

East European countries have reacted critically to a US proposal that a handful of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies could meet with Russia to discuss its military build-up along Ukraine's borders.

One government in the region is furious and seeking immediate clarification on what exactly President Joe Biden is planning, according to a diplomat from the country who declined to be named speaking on a confidential issue.

Another diplomat was more specific. The unease among the eastern flank, where countries that were once dominated by the Soviet Union now find themselves on the front lines against an aggressive Russia, centres on just what kind of concessions the talks might lead to in terms of political guarantees and curbs on Nato's freedom of movement and its ability to carry out actions.

"Russia should under no circumstances be given a say in who may or may not be a member of Nato," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said at a news conference on Thursday.


EU watchdog says Omicron 'mostly mild'; WHO warns on vaccines


The EU medicines watchdog said on Thursday the Omicron variant of Covid-19 may cause milder disease, as the World Health Organisation warned against a re-run of vaccine hoarding by rich nations as the new strain spreads.

The tentative judgement from the European Medicines Agency comes after the WHO said this week there was some evidence that Omicron causes less severe disease than Delta, the currently dominant variant.

The EMA echoed the finding, but said more investigation was being done.


China's Uighur population control was genocide, says expert panel


China committed genocide in the Xinjiang region by preventing births in the Uighur population, a London panel probing alleged human rights abuses concluded on Thursday.

Nine lawyers and human rights experts published their opinion after hearing allegations of torture, rape and inhumane treatment at two evidence sessions this year.

The tribunal was set up at the request of the World Uighur Congress, the largest group representing exiled Uighurs, which lobbies the international community to act against China over the alleged abuses.


Swimming: Double Olympic champion arrested after rape claims


French swimmer Yannick Agnel, who won two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, was taken into police custody on Thursday as part of an investigation into the rape of a minor, the Mulhouse prosecutor's office told AFP.

The 29-year-old was arrested in Paris and placed in police custody in Mulhouse in eastern France, the city's public prosecutor, Edwige Roux-Morizot, told AFP.

The prosecutor said a complaint had been filed for incidents "around 2016" including the "rape and sexual assault on a 15-year-old minor".


Reality TV personality convicted over child sex-abuse images


Former reality television personality Josh Duggar was convicted by a jury in Arkansas on Thursday on federal charges relating to downloading and viewing photos and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, the US Justice Department said.

Duggar, known for the TLC reality TV show 19 Kids And Counting that focused on his parents and their 19 children, was convicted on two criminal charges.

The 33 year old tried to hide his actions by using a password-protected partition on the hard drive of a desktop computer he kept at his used car sales lot, prosecutors said.


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