While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 3

In a photo released by Australia's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on Jan 2, 2020, smoke is seen rising from wildfires burning in East Gippsland, Victoria. PHOTO: AP

Australian navy races to rescue thousands as new fire threat looms

The Australian navy was racing on Friday to rescue thousands of people stranded on the east coast of the fire-ravaged country as a searing weather front was set to whip up more blazes across the states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW).

The premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, declared a state of disaster for the first time ever, giving authorities broad powers to compel people to leave their properties and take control of services.

Wildfires have already killed two in the state and 17 are missing with grave fears for their safety.

NSW also issued a state of emergency as tens of thousands of holidaymakers were urged to leave national parks and remote tourist areas.


Trump far outpaces Democratic rivals in election fundraising

Donald Trump's re-election team on Thursday revealed that he sits atop a staggering campaign war chest, underlining the scale of the challenge facing the US president's Democratic rivals at the start of an election year.

The sprawling Democratic field meanwhile lost another candidate when Julian Castro, the only Hispanic in the 2020 field, announced he was ending his bid.

Trump's campaign now has an impressive US$102.7 million in cash on hand.


Carlos Ghosn says family played no role in escape from Japan

Carlos Ghosn, the former automotive titan who fled criminal charges in Japan, said his wife Carole and other family members played no part in his escape to Lebanon.

"I alone organised my departure," Ghosn said in a brief statement issued through a public relations firm. "My family played no role."

It's still a mystery how Ghosn, one of the most recognisable foreigners in Japan, sneaked out of the country despite round-the-clock surveillance - an escape befitting a Hollywood thriller.


Catalan separatists to break Spain's political deadlock

A Catalan separatist party said on Thursday it would abstain during the Spanish parliament's upcoming vote to confirm Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as prime minister, potentially ending the prolonged national political deadlock.

Spain was without proper government for most of 2019 after two inconclusive elections and Sanchez's Socialist Party needs the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya to at least abstain to secure his confirmation in office.

The investiture vote is due between Jan 4 and 7.


Golden Globes will serve plant-based meal at awards ceremony

The Golden Globes, known as the "party of the year," is going with a meatless menu for its 77th annual awards show.

Guests will be served a 100 per cent plant-based meal just ahead of showtime Sunday.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association said Thursday that it wants the initiative to raise environmental awareness about food consumption and waste.


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