While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 28 edition

US Federal Reserve keeps interest rates steady

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday and said it was "closely monitoring" global economic and financial developments, but maintained an otherwise upbeat view of the US economy.

The central bank's decision was widely expected after a month-long plunge in US and world equities raised concerns that an abrupt global slowdown could act as a drag on US economic growth.

The Fed last month raised its key overnight lending rate by a quarter point to a range of 0.25 per cent to 0.50 percent.


Al-Qaeda affiliate claims Swiss woman's kidnap in new video

Al-Qaeda's north Africa affiliate has claimed the kidnapping of a Swiss woman in Mali in a video seen by AFP on Wednesday, with an English-accented militant listing conditions for the hostage's release.

Beatrice Stockly, who was previously abducted by Islamists in northern Mali's Timbuktu in 2012, was taken for the second time on Jan 7 by armed men who stormed her home in the country's fabled city.

The eight-minute video includes triumphant montages of militants brandishing weapons and a masked speaker with an English accent who claims responsibility for the abduction on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).


Astronomers spot widest solar system: Study

Astronomers have found the widest-known solar system, with a huge planet so far from its star that it takes nearly a million years to complete an orbit, according to a new study.

Long thought to be a free-floating or lonely planet without a solar system "home", scientists have now linked it to a star about a trillion kilometres away.

They were observed to be moving through space together, and both are about 104 light years from our Sun - implying an association.


China aims for football supremacy with record Ramires deal

Brazilian midfielder Ramires on Wednesday moved from Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning for a reported US $35 million making him the biggest ever signing by a Chinese club.

Chelsea said that a "permanent transfer" for the 28-year-old had been agreed, without giving details of the fee. British media said Jiangsu had paid at least £25 million (S$50.85 million).

The Ramires deal is a new sign of the financial power of Chinese football clubs in the international transfer market.


Joseph Fiennes picked to play Michael Jackson in new movie

If you thought King of Pop Michael Jackson had a strange life, things are about to get even weirder now that he's long gone.

Britain's new Sky Arts production company has cast a white British actor, Shakespeare In Love's Joseph Fiennes, to play the black superstar in a new movie.

The film's plot is as bizarre as the casting, telling of a road trip taken by Jackson and movie legends Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor supposedly when all flights in the United States were cancelled following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.