While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 22 edition

Millions brace for massive US snow storm

The eastern United States braced on Thursday for a blizzard that could bury Washington under more snow than it has seen in nearly a century, before moving on to New York.

Washington and neighbouring cities including Baltimore could see up to 61cm of snow accumulate in a short time as a result of the monster storm, which was also expected to generate fierce winds and icy rain in some area, forecasters said.

Heavy snow was expected across at least 15 states, according to the Weather Channel.


Davos elites fear weakened European Union

Fear of a severe weakening of the European Union is the hot topic in the corridors and executive suites of Davos this year with business leaders and politicians at the World Economic Forum alarmed at closing borders and the risk of a British exit.

For three years from 2010 to 2012, bankers and corporate chiefs fretted about the danger of a break-up of the single currency at the heart of the 28-nation bloc, until the European Central Bank said it would do whatever it took to preserve the euro.

Now, it is the European Union itself that is seen at risk, buffeted by a sea of crises over migration, security, rising anti-European populism, illiberal trends in central Europe and a highly uncertain British referendum on continued membership.


US high school calls police after teen's ISIS pledge

Officials at a Connecticut high school called police after a teenage student referenced the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group during a morning recitation of the US Pledge of Allegiance, an attorney for the school district and local media said.

The police department in Ansonia, Connecticut, in turn handed the matter over to the federal Department of Homeland Security, the Connecticut Post reported.

The 15-year-old boy, who was not identified due to his age, was not charged but was removed from classes at the school after substituting "ISIS" for the words "the United States of America" during the pledge.


'Indecent' Snow White book removed from Qatar school

A book based on Disney's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs has been removed from a Qatar school library after it was deemed to contain "indecent" illustrations, local media reported.

Officials from Qatar's Supreme Education Council intervened after a complaint from the father of a pupil at the Spanish SEK International School, based in the Gulf state's capital Doha.

The father claimed the book contained illustrations and phrases that were "indecent" and contained "sexual innuendo," the Al-Sharq newspaper reported.


Will Smith to stay away from Oscars in diversity protest

Will Smith on Thursday joined director Spike Lee and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith in deciding not to attend the 2016 Oscars ceremony in February in protest over the absence of actors of colour among the nominees.

Smith, star of football head trauma movie Concussion, was the highest-profile black actor to be snubbed by Oscars voters when nominees were announced last week.

"My wife's not going... We've discussed it. We're part of this community. But at this current time, we're uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK," Smith told ABC television's Good Morning America.