While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 4, 2017

An EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft landing at the US Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, after North Korea launched a suspected ICBM, on Nov 29, 2017.
An EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft landing at the US Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, after North Korea launched a suspected ICBM, on Nov 29, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Korea tensions rise ahead of US-South Korea joint military drill

Tensions were on the rise on Sunday (Dec 3) ahead of the largest ever US-South Korea air exercise, with Pyongyang calling it an "all-out provocation" that could lead to nuclear conflict as a US lawmaker warned of a growing likelihood of "pre-emptive war" on the divided peninsula.

The five-day Vigilant Ace drill - involving some 230 aircraft including F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters - begins on Monday, five days after the North test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile believed to be capable of hitting the US mainland in a new challenge to President Donald Trump.

The North's ruling party Rodong newspaper slammed the upcoming drill.

"It is an open, all-out provocation against the DPRK, which may lead to a nuclear war any moment," it said in an editorial on Sunday, using the North's official name.

"The US and South Korean puppet warmongers would be well advised to bear in mind that their DPRK-targeted military drill will be as foolish as an act precipitating their self-destruction," it said.


Donald Trump denies asking FBI to drop Flynn probe as obstruction questions loom

US President Donald Trump denied on Sunday (Dec 3) having asked then FBI director James Comey to stop investigating ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, as the Russia meddling probe darkened what would otherwise have been a victorious week for the Republican president.

Trump appeared to be backtracking furiously from a tweet on Saturday that deepened suspicions that he engaged in obstruction of justice - an impeachable offence - in the Russia scandal haunting his presidency.

In that Twitter post, Trump said he had fired Flynn in February for lying not just to the vice-president but also to Comey's FBI, which was probing Flynn over his pre-inauguration contacts with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions imposed by Barack Obama against Russia for interfering in the US election.


House Republicans prepare contempt action against FBI, Department of Justice

US House Republicans are drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, claiming stonewalling in producing material related to the Russia-Trump probes and other matters.

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and other committee Republicans, after considering such action for several weeks, decided to move after media, including the New York Times, reported on Saturday (Dec 2) on why a top FBI official assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russia-Trump election collusion had been removed from the investigation.

Republicans, including US President Donald Trump, pointed to the reports as evidence that the entire probe into Russian meddling has been politically motivated."Now it all starts to make sense," Trump said on Twitter on Sunday.


Christmas market scare was blackmail, not terror: German police

Those responsible for a suspicious package that prompted the evacuation of the Christmas market in Potsdam were attempting blackmail, not terrorism, German authorities said on Sunday (Dec 3).

"It was not an act of terror but a common crime," said Heinrich Juncker, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation.

The device, discovered late on Friday at a pharmacy just off the market in central Potsdam, a picturesque city near Berlin, revived fears of a repeat of last year's deadly terror attack at a Christmas market in the German capital.


Football: Late Silva goal extends Manchester City's winning run to 13 games

David Silva scored a late goal as runaway leaders Manchester City won their 13th successive Premier League game and restored their eight-point lead with a 2-1 victory against West Ham United on Sunday (Dec 3).

Silva converted Kevin de Bruyne's brilliant pass from close range in the 83rd minute as City maintained their blistering form this season.

Nicolas Otamendi had converted substitute Gabriel Jesus's cross in the 57th minute to equalise after defender Angelo Ogbonna had headed West Ham into the most unlikely lead at the end of a first half in which the hosts dominated.