While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 15


US says Russia 'responsible' for spy attack in Britain

The United States said on Wednesday that Russia was “responsible” for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in England, and urged the UN Security Council to hold Moscow accountable.

“The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom, using a military-grade nerve agent,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told an emergency council meeting.

The March 4 attack in the English city of Salisbury left ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in critical condition.

Russia’s ambassador repeated Moscow’s denial at the council meeting and suggested that the attack was a provocation aimed at tarnishing Russia’s image ahead of the World Cup and elections.


US student walkout sends message on gun violence

US students spilled out of classrooms by the thousands on Wednesday, chanting slogans like “No more silence” and “We want change” as part of a coast-to-coast protest over gun violence prompted by last month’s massacre at a Florida high school.

The #ENOUGH National School Walkout was intended to pressure federal and state lawmakers to tighten laws on gun ownership despite opposition by the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun rights advocacy group.

With some students dressed in orange, the colour adopted by the gun control movement, the walkouts began at 10am local time in each time zone and were scheduled to last 17 minutes, though many rallies went longer.


Suspected Florida school shooter silent in court, judge enters not-guilty plea

A Florida judge entered a not-guilty plea for Nikolas Cruz, who faces a possible death penalty for a massacre at a high school last month that killed 17 people and triggered a nationwide walkout of students on Wednesday.

Cruz, 19, chose to remain silent during a hearing in Broward County circuit court.

Cruz, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled at wrists and ankles, sat alone and kept his head bowed in what is normally the jury box while guarded by a dozen deputies.


Horror, bewilderment after bulldog pup dies on United Airlines plane

Shock over a puppy's death on a United Airlines plane has renewed scrutiny over airline handling of pets, after a flight attendant demanded the animal travel in an overhead bin where it apparently suffocated.

A string of calamities linked to pets on planes has inflamed a grim public relations nightmare for United, which in the past year has dealt with the death of a valuable giant rabbit, outrage over its refusal to allow an "emotional support" peacock to board, and now the death of a 10-month old French bulldog.

While travelling from Houston to New York Monday with two children including an infant, Catalina Robledo was told Kokito, the family's black pooch with deepset wrinkles and a squished-in nose, would need to travel in the overhead compartment, as its carrier was partially in the aisle.


Football: Messi hits 100th Champions League goal as Barca make last eight

Lionel Messi scored his 100th Champions League goal as Barcelona defeated Chelsea 3-0 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament, 4-1 on aggregate.

Messi, back in the side after attending the birth of his third child in Argentina at the weekend, reached the landmark with his second goal of the night after 62 minutes at Camp Nou.

He had already put Barcelona ahead after just three minutes, beating Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois at his near post with Ousmane Dembele adding the second on 20 minutes after being set up by Messi.