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


Trump starts withdrawal of US forces from Syria, claims victory

President Donald Trump has begun what will be a total withdrawal of US troops from Syria, declaring on Wednesday (Dec 19) they have succeeded in their mission to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and were no longer needed in the country.

A decision to pull out completely, confirmed by US officials, coincides with the roughly 2,000 US troops finishing up a campaign to retake territory once held by Islamic State militants.

But it could leave the United States with few options to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. It could also undercut US leverage in the region and undermine diplomatic efforts to end the Syrian civil war, which is now in its eighth year.

News of a of a full withdrawal drew immediate criticism from some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, who said that leaving strengthened the hand of Russia and Iran, which both support Syrian President Bashar al Assad.


Facebook sued for failing to protect users' data in Cambridge Analytica scandal

The attorney-general for Washington DC said the US capital city had sued Facebook for allegedly misleading users about how it safeguarded their personal data, in the latest fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The world's largest social media company has drawn global scrutiny since disclosing earlier this year that a third-party personality quiz distributed on Facebook gathered profile information on 87 million users worldwide and sold the data to British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Washington DC Attorney-General Karl Racine said Facebook misled users because it had known about the incident for two years before disclosing it.


US Federal Reserve raises lending rate; signals slower pace ahead

The US Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate, a move sure to anger President Donald Trump, but it also sent a clear signal it expects to slow its rate increases next year.

The Fed's fourth rate increase of the year, which sent Wall Street tumbling in mid-afternoon, moved the central bank squarely into the crosshairs of the president, who said a rate hike would be "foolish."

Asked about the dangers of Trump's twitter rants, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters political considerations played "no role whatsoever" in the central bank's decisions.


George H.W. Bush secretly sponsored Filipino boy, letters reveal

To the boy in the Philippines, his American benefactor and source of kind letters and gifts was known simply as "G. Walker." To the Christian charity helping him keep his benevolence secret from the world, he was George Herbert Walker Bush - the 41st president of the United States.

Compassion International, which helps poor children around the world through a network of local churches, has revealed for the first time that the late president, who died last month, had quietly sponsored a Filipino boy named Timothy for 10 years.

The organisation released a number of Bush's heartwarming letters to his young charge.


Football: Hat-trick hero Bale fires Real Madrid into Club World Cup final

Gareth Bale hit an 11-minute hat-trick as Real Madrid strolled into the Club World Cup final by beating Kashima Antlers 3-1 in Abu Dhabi.

Bale scored in the 44th, 53rd and 55th minutes at the Zayed Sports City Stadium to put Madrid within touching distance of a record fourth success in this competition, and their third triumph in a row.

Real are currently tied with their La Liga rivals Barcelona, having each won it three times before, but it would be a major surprise if the European champions were not hoisting the trophy again on Saturday, when they face hosts Al Ain in the final.