While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 18

US President Donald Trump walks to the Oval Office at the White House on Dec 17, 2019. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Trump accuses Democrats of 'attempted coup' on eve of impeachment vote

On the eve of his expected impeachment in the US House of Representatives, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of pursuing an "illegal, partisan attempted coup" and declaring war on American democracy as they seek to remove him from office for pressing Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

Trump's remarks came in a letter he signed addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, released as House lawmakers met to set the rules for debate ahead of Wednesday's planned vote on two articles of impeachment - formal charges - against Trump.

"This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth," Trump's letter stated, alluding to the 2020 US presidential election in which he is seeking another four years in office.

The Democratic-led House is expected to pass two articles of impeachment charging the Republican president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for his dealings with Ukraine.

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Joe Biden, 77, is healthy and fit to serve as US president, his doctor says

Former vice-president Joe Biden is healthy enough to undertake the duties of the US presidency, his doctor said on Tuesday in a health report released by the Democrat's campaign.

Biden, 77, is one of 15 Democrats seeking their party's nomination to run against Republican US President Donald Trump next year in a battle in which the incumbent and the top three of his would-be opponents are all septuagenarians.

Biden, who suffered a brain aneurysm in 1988, has no symptoms of similar problems, and while his heart beats irregularly, he is "completely asymptomatic," said Dr Kevin O'Connor.

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Italians in denial over racism, says leading academic, amid row over ape artwork

The use of an artwork depicting three apes to launch an anti-racism campaign by Italy's Serie A soccer league shows the country remains in denial about the problem, according to a senior lecturer in human geography at Loughborough University.

Italian soccer has long been blighted by racist incidents and the choice of the artwork for the league's headquarters was met with shock and disbelief.

Simone Fugazzotto, the artist commissioned for the work, defended his piece on Tuesday but Italian clubs Roma and Milan have both criticised the work while anti-racism campaign group Fare described it as a "sick joke".

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US permits sale of cigarettes with 95 per cent less nicotine

US health officials on Tuesday endorsed a type of cigarette that could help ease the addictive grip of smoking by delivering very low levels of nicotine.

The Food and Drug Administration will allow 22nd Century Group to begin selling the first low-nicotine cigarettes reviewed by federal health regulators.

The products contain roughly 95 per cent less nicotine than standard cigarettes, according to the FDA.

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Football: Villa beat Liverpool's kids to reach League Cup semis

Aston Villa beat Liverpool's youngest-ever side 5-0 with a double by Jonathan Kodjia helping them into the League Cup semi-finals on a strange night at Villa Park on Tuesday.

With Premier League leaders Liverpool playing in Fifa's Club World Cup 24 hours later in Doha, they fielded a starting lineup consisting mainly of reserves and youth team players with an average age of 19.4, a club record.

Despite their inexperience Liverpool's youngsters acquitted themselves well and matched a Villa side, showing 10 changes from their weekend Premier League defeat by Sheffield United, for much of a game that did not reflect well on the League Cup.

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