While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 27


In a first, Trump makes surprise visit to US troops in Iraqs

President Donald Trump made a surprise Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq on Wednesday, his first trip to a conflict zone nearly two years into his presidency and days after announcing a pullout of American troops from neighbouring Syria.

Air Force One touched down at the Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad after an overnight flight from Washington with First Lady Melania Trump, a small group of aides and Secret Service agents, and a pool of reporters.

He stayed for a little more than three hours.

Trump has drawn fire from some in the US military for not having visited US troops in conflict zones since taking office in January 2017, particularly after he cancelled a trip to a World War I cemetery in France last month due to rain.


Fed chair's job is not in jeopardy: White House

The head of the US Federal Reserve faces no risk of losing his job and President Donald Trump is happy with his Treasury secretary, a White House official said, in an apparent attempt to calm Wall Street nerves frayed by Trump's criticism of the Fed.

Asked on Wednesday if Fed chairman Jerome Powell's job was safe, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told reporters: "Yes, of course, 100 per cent."

Trump blasted the Fed on Monday as the US economy's "only problem," and investors have closely followed reports the president had privately discussed the possibility of firing Powell.


Frenchman, 71, sets sail across the Atlantic in a plywood barrel

A 71-year-old Frenchman set sail across the Atlantic on Wednesday in a barrel-shaped orange capsule, hoping to reach the Caribbean within three months thanks to ocean currents alone.

Measuring 3m long and 2.1m across, Jean-Jacques Savin's vessel is made from resin-coated plywood, heavily reinforced to resist waves and potential attacks by orca whales.

Inside the capsule, which weighs 450kg when empty, is a 6 sq m living space which includes a kitchen, sleeping bunk and storage. A porthole in the floor allows Savin to look at passing fish.


Football: Liverpool open up six-point lead as Man City lose again at Leicester

Liverpool moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League as the leaders eased past Newcastle 4-0 at Anfield and Manchester City were beaten for the second time in five days, 2-1 at Leicester.

Tottenham leapfrog City into second after thrashing Bournemouth 5-0, while Manchester United's perfect start under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued with Paul Pogba scoring twice in a 3-1 win over Huddersfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has tried in recent days to stress that it is still far too early for his side to be talking of ending a near three-decade wait to win the title in December.


Alleged victim of Kevin Spacey sexual assault filmed part of incident

A young man who accused Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting him at a seaside restaurant near Boston in 2016 filmed part of the incident, according to court filings obtained by AFP.

The 59-year-old star of the House Of Cards series, who has won two Oscars, is due to be formally charged on Jan 7 on the island of Nantucket with "indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 years of age".

If found guilty, Spacey could face up to five years in jail.