While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 31

Ukrainian servicemen load shells for an anti-aircraft gun, near the town of Bakhmut, in Ukraine's Donetsk region. PHOTO: REUTERS

France and Australia to jointly build shells for Ukraine

France and Australia on Monday unveiled plans to jointly manufacture ammunition for Ukraine, as the two countries seek to shore up defence cooperation and move past a row over Canberra’s decision to ditch plans to buy French submarines two years ago.

The relationship hit historic lows in the autumn of 2021 with Paris accusing its allies of stabbing it in the back when Australia opted for nuclear-powered submarines built with US and British technology instead and cancelled a French contract.

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said France and Australia had agreed to cooperate to make “several thousands” of 155-millimeter shells to help Ukraine, which he hoped could start being delivered in the first quarter of this year.

Mr Lecornu was speaking after meeting his Australian counterpart, Mr Richard Marles, the first joint high-level talks since the submarine row erupted.


Taiwan president speaks to Czech president-elect

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen held a telephone call with Czech President-elect Petr Pavel on Monday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties between the two sides and a diplomatic coup for Taipei that is sure to infuriate China.

The two leaders stressed the Czech Republic and Taiwan’s shared values of freedom, democracy and human rights during their 15-minute call, their offices said, and Mr Pavel said he hoped to meet Ms Tsai in the future.

Ms Tsai said she hoped that under Mr Pavel’s leadership the Czech Republic would continue to cooperate with Taiwan to promote a close partnership, and that she hoped to stay in touch with him.


‘They fire, we hire’: Germany seizes on Silicon Valley’s woes

Faced with a tight labour market and a shortage of workers with key software engineering skills, some German companies are looking at thousands of layoffs in Silicon Valley as an opportunity to recruit top talent.

The US West Coast has always been the main destination for ambitious software engineers looking to work in the best-paid, most elite corner of their profession, but the mass redundancies have created a pool of jobseekers that Germany is eager to tap.

“They fire, we hire,” said Mr Rainer Zugehoer, chief people officer at Cariad, the software subsidiary of automaker Volkswagen. “We have several hundred open positions in the US, in Europe and in China.”


US professional skier named as a victim of Japan avalanche

One of two foreign men swept up in an avalanche in Japan while back-country skiing in the central prefecture of Nagano and found without vital signs on Monday was US professional skier Kyle Smaine, an outdoor magazine said.

The men were among five foreigners engulfed in Sunday’s avalanche, which took place at about 2.30pm on the eastern slope of Mount Hakuba Norikura in the ski resort, a Nagano police spokesman said.

Police declined to confirm details about the men, whom the media said were from Austria and the United States, but outdoor magazine Mountain Gazette said in its online edition that the US skier was 31-year-old Kyle Smaine.


Actress Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams, dies at 64

American actress Lisa Loring, who played the child character Wednesday Addams in the original The Addams Family television series in the 1960s, has died. She was 64.

Her death from a stroke, reported by US media, comes a couple of months after the release on Netflix of spinoff show Wednesday, starring Jenna Ortega.

Loring “passed away on Saturday surrounded by her family,” longtime agent Chris Carbaugh told CNN, in a statement on Monday.


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