While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 16 edition

Gun and bomb attack threat closes Los Angeles schools in likely hoax

Los Angeles shut more than 1,000 public schools over a threatened attack with bombs and assault rifles, sending hundreds of thousands of students home as city authorities fended off criticism that they over reacted to what federal officials later said was most likely a hoax.

The federal officials, who asked not to be identified, echoed an assessment by New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton that the decision in Los Angeles was an “over reaction” and that New York had received a similar threat.

The emailed threat was “routed through Germany”, but authorities said it was likely more local in origin.


EU mulls age limit for social media use

The European Union was mulling the possibility on Tuesday of setting an age for parental consent, perhaps as high as 18, for users of social media such as Facebook, EU sources said.

Officials from the European Council of member states, the European Commission and the European Parliament were meeting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg to finalise details of a long-awaited data protection package but the talks were overshadowed by the age limit issue.

One of the sources said the issue was being blown out of proportion but media interest was intense given the massive use and growth in social networks - and concerns about their possible negative impact on the young.


US actor Edward Norton raises $600,000 for Syrian refugee

US actor Edward Norton has raised more than US$425,000 (S$600,000) as of Tuesday for a Syrian refugee whom he read about on a popular blog and whose tragic story moved him "to tears."

The Syrian, a scientist who lost seven members of his family in a bombing two years ago - including his wife and a daughter - was featured on the website "Humans of New York" earlier this month.

He is living in Istanbul but will soon move to Troy, Michigan. "We survived but we're dead psychologically. Everything ended for us that day," he told the blog, which captured him in a series of photos, one of which shows him sitting on a couch between a son and daughter.


Arctic air temps highest since 1900: Report

The Arctic is heating up, with air temperatures the hottest in 115 years, and the melting ice destroying walrus habitat and forcing some fish northward, according to a global scientific report.

Air temperature anomalies over land were 2.3 deg Fahrenheit (1.3 deg C) above average, "the highest since records began in 1900," said the 2015 Arctic Report Card, an annual peer-reviewed study issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Meanwhile, the annual sea ice maximum occurred Feb 25, about two weeks earlier than average, and was "the lowest extent recorded since records began in 1979."


US women as likely as men to play video games: Study

Despite widespread belief, women are just about as likely as men to have ever played video games, a Pew Research Centre survey released on Tuesday revealed.

The Washington-based social research institute reported that 60 per cent of those surveyed believed video game players were more likely to be men.

But Pew said "data showed that a nearly identical share of men and women report ever playing video games," at exactly half of men and 48 per cent of women.