While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 29

Federal employees return to work at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC, on Jan 28, 2019.
Federal employees return to work at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC, on Jan 28, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

US shutdown subtracted $14.8 billion from GDP: Congressional report

The five-week US government shutdown subtracted US$11 billion (S$14.88 billion) from the economy, about twice the amount President Donald Trump sought to fund a border wall, a congressional body said on Monday (Jan 28).

However, all but US$3 billion, or 0.02 per cent of GDP, will eventually be recovered as the government resumes operations, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report.

"Underlying those effects on the overall economy are much more significant effects on individual businesses and workers," the report said.


US imposes sanctions on Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA

The Trump administration on Monday (Jan 28) imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, the toughest US financial measure so far against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. 

The sanctions were announced to ratchet up pressure against Maduro and demonstrate US support for Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who proclaimed himself interim president last week and was immediately recognised by the United States and a host of other countries. 

“We have continued to expose the corruption of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures they can no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people,” US national security adviser John Bolton told reporters at a White House briefing. 


Race for 'hypersonic' weapons heats up as France joins fray 

World powers are vying to develop so-called "hypersonic" weapons that travel several times the speed of sound, with France the latest to join a field led so far by Russia and China.

Hypersonics are like missiles that travel at over five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), but are able to manoeuvre in mid-flight, making them much harder to track and intercept than traditional projectiles.

France is the fourth of the five permanent UN Security Council members to join the so-called "stealth by speed" contest, after China, Russia and the United States.


Brazil President Bolsonaro has successful surgery

Brazil's new president, Jair Bolsonaro, underwent surgery Monday (Jan 28) to successfully remove a colostomy bag attached after suffering a serious abdominal wound in a knife attack while campaigning last year, his office said.

The leader, who took office at the beginning of January, will have two days of absolute rest then resume his duties from his hospital ward in Sao Paulo until he more fully recovers, something expected to take between a week and 10 days.

Bolsonaro, 63, was stabbed by a mentally unstable lone assailant on Sept 6 while he was campaigning in a crowd in a street in the southeast state of Minas Gerais.


Football: ‘Emotional breakdown’ as Japan stun imploding Iran at Asian Cup

Japan cashed in on a defensive mix-up and a controversial penalty as they stunned favourites Iran 3-0 in the Asian Cup semi-finals to move one win away from their fifth title on Monday (Jan 28). 

Yuya Osako put Japan 1-0 up after half-time when the Iranian defence fatally stopped to remonstrate with the referee, and then stroked home the penalty awarded after a replay for Morteza Pouraliganji’s accidental hand ball. 

Genki Haraguchi then scored in stoppage time to complete a rout which had been wholly unexpected against a free-scoring Iran side which had banged in 12 unanswered goals en route to the semis.  It was the last hurrah for Iran’s long-serving coach Carlos Queiroz, who is leaving the team after nearly eight years at the helm, a reign that has included two World Cups.