While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 15

Muslim men hold a banner during a rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 27, 2019.
Muslim men hold a banner during a rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec. 27, 2019. PHOTO: AP

China carrying out 'intense' global attack on rights, says HRW report

China is using its economic and diplomatic might to carry out the "most intense attack" ever on the global system for protecting human rights, a leading campaign group said on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch made the allegation in its annual report, launched in New York two days after executive director Kenneth Roth was barred from entering Hong Kong to release it there.

The NGO accuses President Xi Jinping's government of overseeing "the most brutal and pervasive oppression that China has seen for decades," including building a "nightmarish surveillance system" in Xinjiang province.

To fend off global efforts to hold it to account, Beijing has "significantly increased" efforts to undermine the international institutions created in the mid-20th century to defend human rights, HRW said.

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One dead after chemical factory explosion in Spain's Tarragona

One person died after an explosion on Tuesday at a chemical factory in northeastern Spain that was most likely caused by a chemical accident, local media said, citing rescue services.

The person was killed when a building collapsed as a consequence of the shockwave generated by the explosion in Tarragona province, media including La Vanguardia and El Pais newspapers said on their websites.

Another person was missing, TVE broadcaster said.

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Some 17 children, 6 adults being treated after plane dumps fuel on US school

Firefighters were treating 17 children and six adults for minor injuries on Tuesday (Jan 14) after a commercial airliner landing at Los Angeles International airport (LAX) apparently dumped fuel on their school playground, county fire officials said.

"(Firefighters) working to confirm substance dropped by aircraft although initial reports stated smell of jet fuel in area," the Los Angeles County Fire Department said on Twitter.

The department said in a second tweet that "70 firefighters and paramedics on-scene and committed to providing care for those injured."

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French priest recounts how he abused boy scouts over decades

A former priest detailed on Tuesday how he systematically abused boys over two decades as a French scout chaplain, and said his superiors knew about his "abnormal" behaviour as far back as the 1970s.

The shocking testimony of Bernard Preynat is likely to further shake up the French Catholic Church as it reckons with sexual abuses that were long covered up.

His account in court on Tuesday suggested as many as five cardinals were aware of his behaviour over the years, but did not report it to police or prosecutors.

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Spike Lee to be first black head of Cannes film festival jury

American director Spike Lee was named president of this year's Cannes film festival jury on Tuesday, becoming the first black head of the panel.

The maker of Malcolm X and Do The Right Thing is the first person of black African descent to preside at the world's biggest film festival, which is held in May on the French Riviera.

Lee, 62, said he was "shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time" to make history.

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