While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 6


Trump to press border wall fight in State of the Union speech

President Donald Trump on Tuesday was set to deliver a State of the Union speech challenging Democrats to approve funding for his long-sought border wall, but stopping short of declaring a national emergency over it, at least for now.

At 9pm EST (10am on Wednesday, Singapore time) before a joint session of Congress, Trump likely will stir contention with remarks on immigration policy, after his demand for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) in wall funds triggered a historic 35-day partial government shutdown that more than half of Americans blamed him for, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.

Millions of Americans were expected to watch the address on television, giving the Republican president his biggest opportunity to date to explain why he believes a barrier is needed on the US southern border with Mexico.

The speech was delayed for a week because of the shutdown, which ended on Jan 25.


Taleban hold rare talks with Afghan politicians in Moscow

The Taleban began an extraordinary meeting with high-ranking Afghan politicians – including women – on Tuesday in Moscow, where rivals of President Ashraf Ghani called for an interim government as they negotiated without him.

The unprecedented gathering saw the Taleban outline their vision for Afghanistan – including rules around women and the adoption of an Islamic constitution – before heavyweights, including former president Hamid Karzai, in televised talks.

The Taleban lead prayers and dined with the leaders – some sworn enemies – before sitting down for their most significant engagement with Afghan politicians in recent memory.


British royal Kate shares family photo on school visit

Prince William's wife Kate, Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, went back to the classroom on Tuesday, chatting with pupils and sharing a family photograph on a school visit as part of her work in promoting children's mental wellbeing.

In a classroom at London's Lavender Primary School, Kate took part in a "show and tell" session with young students, taking out a picture of her with her husband and their three children, Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte.

"These are my children and this is my husband," Kate, who married William in 2011, told the pupils as she showed them the photo, which the couple used as the image for their Christmas card. "We like playing outside together and spending lots of time together as a family and that makes me feel happy."


Tomb of Karl Marx vandalised in London

Vandals have smashed and defaced the London tomb of Karl Marx in what the cemetery said appeared to be a deliberate attack against the philosopher's ideology.

A marble plaque with the names of Marx and his family - the moment's oldest and most fragile part - was repeatedly hit with a blunt metal instrument, Ian Dungavell, who runs the cemetery trust, told AFP.

German revolutionary philosopher Marx moved to London in 1849 and lived in the British capital for the rest of his life. He died on March 14, 1883, aged 64.


Tennis: Osaka out of Qatar Open with back injury

World number one and two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has pulled out of next week's Qatar Open because of a back injury, tournament organisers said on Tuesday.

No more details were given about the injury, but Osaka, 21, also withdrew from the Hong Kong Open last October because of problems with her back.

Her withdrawal will come as a blow to organisers in Doha, who also announced on Tuesday that her place as top seed in the Qatar Open will be taken by the woman she recently replaced as world number one, Romania's Simona Halep.