While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 18

People wait in line to vote in the Australian fedral election outside the Malvern Early Voting Centre in Melbourne, on May 17, 2019.
People wait in line to vote in the Australian fedral election outside the Malvern Early Voting Centre in Melbourne, on May 17, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Aussies head to the polls in climate-dominated election

An estimated 17 million Australians go to the polls Saturday (May 18), capping a close-run election race that may be the first anywhere decided on climate policy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative Liberals have closed the gap on Labor on the eve of the vote, but differences over climate may prove the difference between the two parties.

A season of record floods, wildfires and droughts has brought the issue has been front and centre of the campaign.

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Missouri, latest US state to restrict abortion

The Missouri House passed a bill on Friday (May 17) banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, making it the latest US state to pass restrictions on ending a pregnancy.


Abortion rights activists protest at the State Capitol in Jefferson City after the Missouri House passed a bill on May 17, 2019. PHOTO: NYTIMES

The bill, overwhelmingly approved by the Republican-led legislature and expected to be signed by the Midwestern state's Republican governor, would ban abortions from about eight weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors who perform abortions could be subject to prison sentences of between five and 15 years.

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US agrees to lift steel, aluminium tariffs for Canada, Mexico: Reports


Removing the tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada and Mexico could help the three countries' trade pact secure ratification in the US Congress. PHOTO: AFP

US officials have agreed to remove tariffs on steel and aluminium imported from Canada and Mexico in 48 hours, paving the way for the three North American countries to enact a new trade pact, the Washington Post and Politico reported on Friday (May 17).

The reports come after US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the tariffs earlier on Friday, according to Trudeau's spokesman.

Trudeau is scheduled to speak to reporters at 1:30 pm Eastern Time (1730 GMT) when he meets with steel workers at the Stelco Holding Inc, his spokesman said on Twitter.

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Tough talk from China leaves trade talks with US in limbo


A Chinese employee works on manufacturing products that will be exported to the US at a factory in Binzhou in China's eastern Shandong province on May 17, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday, suggesting a resumption of talks between the world’s two largest economies would be meaningless unless Washington changed course.

The tough talk capped a week that saw Beijing unveil fresh retaliatory tariffs, US officials accuse China of backtracking on promises made during months of talks and the Trump administration level a potentially crippling blow against one of China’s biggest and most successful companies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked about state media reports suggesting there would be no more trade negotiations, said China always encouraged resolving disputes with the United States through dialogue and consultations.

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Venice targets prostitutes, drunk tourists in public order crackdown


Venice hosts around 25 million tourists a year, of whom 14 million spend just one day there, crowding the alleys and the Renaissance churches around the canals. PHOTO: REUTERS

Venice city council has approved rules to stop prostitutes plying their trade along the streets and canals of the tourist-packed lagoon city.

Fines will also be imposed on people drinking alcohol outside pubs during night hours and on tourists caught diving into canals or walking through the city bare-chested or clad only in a bikini.

The rules are part of a public order crackdown by the centre-right council.

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