While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 12 edition

Football: Lionel Messi wins FIFA Ballon d'Or award for fifth time

Lionel Messi reclaimed the FIFA Ballon d'Or award for the world player of the year on Monday, after watching his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo walk off with the prize for the previous two years.

The Barcelona and Argentina forward finished ahead of Ronaldo and Brazil forward Neymar as he scooped the award for the fifth time overall, having previously won it four years in a row from 2009 to 2012.

Messi helped Barcelona win a Spanish league, cup and Champions League treble plus the Club World Cup and also led Argentina to the Copa America final, where they lost to Argentina.


Multiple terrorist attacks kill more than 30 in Iraq; ISIS claims responsibility

Extremist gunmen and bombers killed at least 12 people in a busy market area of Baghdad while a double blast at a cafe north of the Iraqi capital claimed another 20 lives.

An attack claimed by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and involving suicide explosions, gunfights and hostage-taking in the eastern neighbourhood of Baghdad al-Jadida wreaked chaos.

"A car came... gunmen came out of it and spread out. They started shooting, killing people, there were lots of dead people," said a witness, Salman Hussein.


Beijing asserts right to flights to South China Sea

Beijing said on Monday (Jan 11) it did not need to notify Vietnam about flights to a disputed reef in the South China Sea, after Hanoi complained to a UN aviation body about the controversial trips.

Vietnam accused Beijing of threatening regional safety by conducting "unannounced" flights through its airspace to a newly built runway on the Fiery Cross reef, which is claimed by both countries.

China has conducted several flights this year to the airstrip, one of several it has built on artificial islands is has constructed as its asserts its claim to nearly all of the disputed waterway.


Sales soar for the late David Bowie's parting gift, his acclaimed new Blackstar album

Sales of David Bowie's last album - released two days before his death of cancer - soared on Monday along with downloads of the greatest hits of his storied career.

In Britain, the Official Charts Company said Bowie's Blackstar album already was headed to the top spot on the charts with sales of 43,000 since its release on Friday.

Bowie's long-time producer, Tony Visconti, called the album the singer's "parting gift".


Florida retirement comes early for Ringling Brothers circus elephants

Ringling Brothers, America's best-known circus, announced Monday it will relocate all of its elephants to a conservation centre in Florida by May, advancing the retirement date for the giant pachyderms by more than a year.

"Feld Entertainment announced today that all of the Asian elephants from their travelling circus units will be moved to their permanent home at the Ringling Brothers Centre for Elephant Conservation in Florida in May 2016," the parent company for the circus said in a statement.

"There they will join the rest of the Ringling Brothers' herd of Asian elephants, for a total of 42 at the conservation centre."