While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 1

Drones forming the numbers “2020” with Star Island fireworks during the countdown. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Singapore ushers in 2020 with heartland countdown parties, Marina Bay fireworks

At the stroke of midnight, Singapore ushered in a new year with countdown parties in Housing Board heartlands and a spectacular eight-minute fireworks display at Marina Bay.

Revellers thronged the bay area from as early as 3pm on Tuesday to catch the festivities that included live performances at Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, a pets carnival at the Civic District and a 90-minute fireworks musical at The Float @ Marina Bay with 500 drones, 3D light projections and pyrotechnics.

At 10.50pm, the drone performance lit up the night sky at Marina Bay, creating formations such as a spaceship and a whale, and culminating with an eight-minute fireworks display at midnight.

Ms Mary Chen, 35, a tourist from Malaysia, said: "The drones were amazing, we loved the performance and the storyline."


Lucky Plaza accident: Friends, family members attend wake of woman who died

Friends and family members on Tuesday attended the wake of Ms Abigail Danao Leste, one of two women who died after a car crashed into them at Lucky Plaza.

When The Straits Times arrived at the funeral parlour in Geylang Bahru, a woman understood to be Ms Leste's cousin was sobbing by the casket.

A priest from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea conducted Catholic rites for Ms Leste, as part of a 10-minute service arranged by the Centre for Domestic Employees.


Police fire tear gas as Hong Kong rings in New Year

Hong Kong police fired tear gas a few minutes into 2020 as pro-democracy protesters took their movement into the new year with midnight countdown rallies and a massive march planned for Jan 1.

The city has been battered by more than six months of unrest with marches attended by millions, as well as confrontations in which police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets - and protesters have responded with petrol bombs.

Before midnight on Tuesday, thousands of protesters gathered across the financial hub, including along the waterfront of Victoria Harbour and at nightlife hotspot Lan Kwai Fong.


US-China 'Phase One' trade deal to be signed Jan 15

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Apartial new US-China trade agreement will be signed in the middle of next month, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, announcing that he will also then travel to China for continued talks.

Trump's tweet, sent moments before Wall Street opened for the year's final trading day, set a calendar date for an event that had hung in uncertainty in recent weeks as details remained scant.

Washington and Beijing earlier this month announced a "Phase One" trade deal, de-escalating their nearly two-year trade war as Trump reduced or canceled some tariffs while Beijing promised to adopt trade reforms and buy more US farm exports.


Disgruntled Pope Francis pulls himself free from woman's grasp

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A visibly indignant Pope Francis had to pull himself away from a woman in a crowd in St Peter's Square on Tuesday after she grabbed his hand and yanked him towards her.

Pope Francis was walking through the square in Vatican City and greeting pilgrims on his way to see the large Nativity scene set up in the huge, cobbled esplanade.

After reaching out to touch a child, the pope turned away from the crowd only for a nearby woman to seize his hand and pull her towards him.


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