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

Fireworks fill the air as the clock strikes 12 at the River Hongbao. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Large crowds welcome in the Year of the Dog

It may be the Year of the Dog, but the 160,000-strong crowd at River Hongbao on Friday welcomed in the Chinese New Year with a lion's roar.

Fireworks filled the air as the clock struck 12, and the crowds cheered their way into the Year of the Dog.

Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools), was guest-of-honour during the countdown at the annual River Hongbao event, held at the Marina Bay floating platform.

Mr Ng wished the crowds a happy new year, and said in Mandarin: "I wish for peace and prosperity for our country and its people."


Donald Trump laments 'terrible violence' in Florida shooting

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President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would make school safety a top priority when he meets with the nation's governors later this month, following one of the deadliest school shootings in modern US history.

In the address to the nation, he also said he planned to visit the grieving South Florida community where a gunman killed 17 students and adults at a local high school. But he pointedly avoided any mention of gun control.

"We are here for you - whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain," Trump said, calling the deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland a "scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil."


Immigration Bills fail in Senate

The Republican-led Senate on Thursday blocked both President Donald Trump's immigration plan and a bipartisan alternative, a failure that cast doubt on whether Congress will ever resolve the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants.

In a series of afternoon votes, senators failed to muster enough votes for a Republican plan backed by Trump that would have granted legal status to 1.8 million young immigrants and spent at least US$25 billion (S$32 billion) to bolster security along the US-Mexico border.

It also would have made changes to family-based legal migration programmes and ended a diversity lottery system used by immigrants from smaller countries.


No plan for 'bloody nose' North Korea strike, say US officials

The senior US diplomat for Asia, Susan Thornton, said on Thursday she understood the Trump administration had no strategy for a so-called bloody nose strike on North Korea, but Pyongyang would be forced to give up its nuclear weapons "one way or another".

President Donald Trump's administration says it prefers a diplomatic solution to the crisis over North Korea's development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States.

But US officials have told Reuters and other media that Trump and his advisers have discussed the possibility of a limited strike on North Korea that would neither knock out its programme nor overthrow leader Kim Jong Un's government.


Jeffrey Tambor out of Amazon's Transparent TV series

Jeffrey Tambor, the award-winning star of Amazon Studios television series Transparent, is exiting the show, Amazon said on Thursday, following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Tambor, 73, who denied the accusations when they surfaced last November, will not be returning for the upcoming fifth season of the show, Amazon said.

Tambor played the lead role of Maura Pfefferman, a divorced father who transitions to a woman late in life.


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