While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 4

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei embraces a relative of killed Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani in Teheran.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei embraces a relative of killed Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani in Teheran.PHOTO: AFP

Soleimani was planning attacks on Americans, says US special envoy for Iran

Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was “plotting imminent attacks in the region against Americans in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that could have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people,” Mr Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran said in an interview, the day after a US air strike killed Soleimani at Baghdad airport.

The aftermath of the strike reverberated through Washington on Friday, with stocks down and oil prices up, and analysts warning of the danger of a plunge into war.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a series of phone calls to foreign governments and interviews on cable TV networks, insisted the assassination was justified, and that the US was still committed to de-escalation.

Mr Hook elaborated on the message in an interview with The Straits Times. “The President’s first responsibility is the safety of the American people,” he said. “When somebody like that is plotting large scale attacks against Americans it would have been negligent to take no action.”


Stalemate remains in US Senate over how to proceed with Trump impeachment trial

The US Senate remained at a stalemate on Friday over how to proceed with the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, as the chamber's leaders continued a dispute over whether top White House aides will be called as witnesses.

After a two-week holiday recess, there was still no clarity about when Trump's impeachment trial might begin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said the trial could not begin without the articles of impeachment, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet sent to the Senate.


French police shoot dead man near Paris after fatal stabbing

French police shot dead a man near Paris on Friday after he went on a rampage with a knife in a park, killing one person and wounding two more, prosecutors said.

Religious documents including a copy of the Quran were found among the man’s belongings, but there was no evidence the man had been influenced by radical Islamists, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

The attacker had a history of mental illness, had been admitted to hospital a few months ago, and was undergoing a course of psychiatric treatment, the spokesman said.


Climate strike but no cake for Greta Thunberg as she turns 17

"I'm not the kind of person who celebrates birthdays," Greta Thunberg said as she turned 17 on Friday, marking the occasion in inimitable style - with a seven-hour hour protest outside the Swedish parliament.

The climate activist braved winter conditions in her native Stockholm to continue the weekly Friday School Strike for the Climate campaign that helped catapult her to international fame.

"I stand here striking from 8am until 3pm as usual ... then I'll go home," Thunberg, Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, told Reuters. "I won't have a birthday cake but we'll have a dinner."


Football: Klopp counts injury toll ahead of FA Cup tie with Everton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he has some tough decisions to make ahead of Sunday's FA Cup meeting with Everton after the injury toll mounted for the Premier League leaders.

Midfielder Naby Keita became the latest player to be added to the injured list, having sustained a groin problem before Thursday's 2-0 win over Sheffield United, which restored Liverpool's 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

With defenders Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne, midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and forward Rhian Brewster all out, Klopp finds himself down to just 12 senior outfield players, plus new signing Takumi Minamino and a number of youth team members for the Merseyside derby.