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

Mourners carry the coffin of Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani during his funeral in Karbala, Iraq, on Jan 4, 2020.
Mourners carry the coffin of Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani during his funeral in Karbala, Iraq, on Jan 4, 2020.PHOTO: AP

Rockets fired after day of mourning for slain Iranian commander Soleimani

Thousands of militiamen and other supporters chanting "America is the Great Satan" marched in a funeral procession Saturday in Baghdad for Iran's top general after he was killed in a US airstrike, as the region braced for the Islamic Republic to fulfill its vows of revenge.

General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force and mastermind of its regional security strategy, was killed early Friday near the Baghdad international airport along with senior Iraqi militants in an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump.

The attack has caused regional tensions to soar and tested the US alliance with Iraq.

Iran has vowed harsh retaliation, raising fears of an all-out war, but it's unclear how or when it might respond. 


Austria's Greens clear final hurdle for government with Kurz

Members of Austria's Green party voted Saturday to join a new government led by conservative former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, clearing the final hurdle for a previously untested left-right alliance at the national level.

A clear 93 per cent majority of Green delegates backed the coalition pact that was already approved by their party leadership and Kurz's Austrian People's Party earlier this week.

Werner Kogler, the leader of the Greens, had urged delegates to put aside concerns about entering into a coalition with Kurz's conservatives and recognize the opportunity to achieve progress on issues such as cutting child poverty, increasing government transparency and combating climate change.


Thousands march against pension reform in Paris

Thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday against French President Emmanuel Macron's proposed pension reforms which have sparked a month-long transport strike.

Some protesters donned the yellow vests which over the past year have become symbolic of opposition to Macron's attempts at reforms he says will rationalise France's 42 separate pension regimes into a single points-based system.

Unions reject the scheme saying it would require millions of people to work beyond the official retirement age of 62.


Manchester United held by Wolves in FA Cup stalemate

Spluttering Manchester United were forced to settle for a dour 0-0 draw at Wolves in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's troubled side didn't manage a single shot on target in the latest in a growing list of underwhelming displays.

Easily beaten by Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday, United once again struggled to find any momentum and now face an unwanted replay at Old Trafford later in January.


Neutral pronoun 'they' chosen as word of the decade

The neutral pronoun "they" has been voted word of the decade by US language experts, beating out other contenders that included "climate" and "meme".

"They" is used in English by a growing number of non-binary individuals, people who do not identify as either male or female. They prefer the plural neutral pronoun to bypass the traditionally male "he" or female "she".

The recognition comes after US dictionary Merriam-Webster in December named "they" its word of the year.