While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 21

Chinese residents wear masks while waiting at a bus stop in Wuhan, China, on Jan 20, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WHO to hold emergency meeting as Sars-like virus spreads in Asia

The World Health Organisation said Monday that a key emergency committee would meet this week to discuss a new Sars-like virus spreading across China after it reached three other Asian countries.

The WHO panel will meet in Geneva on Wednesday (Jan 22) to determine whether to declare the outbreak "a public health emergency of international concern" - a rare designation only used for the gravest epidemics.

The decision came as a Chinese government expert said Monday that the virus, which has so far killed three people, was contagious between humans, fuelling fears of a major outbreak as millions travel for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The World Health Organisation has meanwhile said an animal source seemed to be "the most likely primary source" with "some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts".


Trump rejects impeachment charges in legal, political defence

US President Donald Trump on Monday rejected Democratic-led House of Representatives' impeachment charges as an affront to the US Constitution in a pre-trial brief that was as much a political case against removing him as it was a legal defence.

The 13-page executive summary sought to undercut charges the Republican president abused his power and obstructed Congress and it constituted Trump's first comprehensive defence before his Senate trial begins in earnest on Tuesday.

"The Senate should speedily reject these deficient articles of impeachment and acquit the president," it said.


Johnson defeated on Brexit legislation for first time since election

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government was defeated in Parliament on Monday for the first time since a December election, with the upper chamber voting in favour of a move to protect the rights of EU citizens in Britain after Brexit.

Johnson's Conservatives won a large majority in the lower chamber, the House of commons, at the Dec 12 vote and lawmakers there quickly approved the legislation needed to ratify his exit deal with Brussels earlier this month.

The legislation is now passing through the House of Lords, where the government does not have a majority. While the upper chamber is not expected to block passage of the Bill, it is seeking to make changes.


Huawei executive's extradition hearing begins at Canadian court

A Canadian court on Monday began hearing the case of a senior Huawei executive who is fighting extradition to the United States, and whose arrest in Vancouver led to a breakdown in Canada-China relations.

Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer and eldest daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, is wanted by US authorities for alleged fraud.

In order to secure her freedom, the "princess of Huawei" must convince a Canadian judge that the US charges - linked to alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran - would not stand up in Canada and are politically motivated.


Guardiola targets second place as 'extraordinary' Liverpool march on

Manchester City will target second place in the Premier League and focus on cup competitions with unbeaten league leaders Liverpool too far ahead to reel in, manager Pep Guardiola said on Monday.

Defending league champions City are 16 points behind Liverpool - who have a game in hand - and Guardiola said he could not afford to be distracted by Juergen Klopp's side who have recorded the best run of form in Premier League history.

"We cannot deny that Liverpool are extraordinary in terms of football and results," Guardiola told reporters.


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