While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 19 edition

China seen posting slowest economic growth in 25 years as policy risks grow

China is expected to report its weakest quarterly economic growth in nearly seven years on Tuesday, adding pressure on policymakers to take bolder steps to ward off fears of a sharper slowdown that are jolting global financial markets.

Chinese leaders have been struggling to put a floor under the economy, even as a fresh plunge in its stock markets and yuan currency have stoked worries from Washington to Wellington that conditions may be rapidly deteriorating.

Fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to slow to 6.8 per cent from a year earlier, down from 6.9 per cent in the third quarter and the weakest since early 2009, according to analysts polled by Reuters.


Iran boosts oil output, foreign firms keen to seal deals

Iran ordered a sharp increase in oil output on Monday to take immediate advantage of the lifting of international sanctions, and some foreign firms raced to snap up deals as Teheran emerges from years of international isolation.

Others were more wary, mindful of the risk of falling foul of residual US penalties despite the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions on Saturday by the United States, European Union and United Nations.

Those measures were scrapped as part of a landmark deal between Iran and world powers, rewarding the Islamic Republic for scaling back its atomic energy programme in ways that US President Barack Obama said would prevent it from getting its hands on a nuclear bomb. 


Morocco arrests Belgian with 'direct links' to Paris attackers

Morocco said Monday it had arrested a Belgian man of Moroccan descent who it said was directly linked with some of those behind the extremist attacks in Paris in November.

The interior ministry said in a statement that the suspect, arrested on Friday in the port city of Al-Muhammadiyah near Casablanca and Rabat, had "direct links with some" of the Paris attackers.

The statement said the man had travelled to Syria along with one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up in the northern Paris district of Saint-Denis near the Stade de France national stadium.


NBA: LeBron James, Stephen Curry head USA Olympic basketball squad

 NBA superstars LeBron James and Stephen Curry were named in a 30-man provisional squad on Monday from which the final United States Olympic basketball squad will be chosen.

Curry was one of five players from the NBA champion Golden State Warriors included in the squad, joining Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

Cleveland Cavaliers star James and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans are three-time Olympic medalists aiming to head to Rio de Janeiro in August for a fourth Games.


Director Spike Lee, actress Jada Pinkett Smith boycott Oscars over all-white acting nominees

 African-American director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith said on Monday they will boycott next month's Academy Awards ceremony because black actors had been shut out of the Oscar nominations.

The Oscar acting nominees announced on Thursday lacked black performers for the second year in a row. The lack of African American nominees led to the revival of the Twitter feed #OscarsSoWhite, which had emerged in 2015.

Lee, the director of such films as Do the Right Thing and 2015's Chi-Raq, said he was coinciding his boycott announcement with the national holiday commemorating slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.