While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 12 edition

John McCain calls on Pentagon to clarify South China Sea patrol

The chairman of the influential US Senate Armed Services committee has called on the Pentagon to clarify publicly the legal intent of a US patrol last month within 12 nautical miles of an island China has built in the South China Sea.

US officials said last week that the US Navy avoided military drills that could have further inflamed tensions with Beijing during the Oct 27 patrol by the destroyer USS Lassen in the Spratly islands - an approach, that experts said, could reinforce rather than challenge China's sovereignty claims.

Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a Nov 9 letter to US Defence Secretary Ash Carter that it was vital there should be no misunderstanding about US objectives.


World nations reach landmark deal on using satellites to track flights

World nations struck a landmark deal on Wednesday on using satellites to track flights, which could prove key to preventing a repeat of the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 in March 2014.

Countries reached an accord at a conference hosted by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that aimed to improve on the current civilian flight-tracking system which relies on ground-based radars.

An ITU statement made clear the deal was driven by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which was lost en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people onboard.


'Blue Moon Diamond' sells for world record $68 million: Sotheby's

The extremely rare and flawless"Blue Moon Diamond" sold for 48.6 million Swiss francs (S$68 million) to a Hong Kong buyer on Wednesday, setting a world record for a gemstone at auction, Sotheby's said.

The cushion-shaped diamond, mounted on a ring, has the top grading of fancy vivid blue and weighs 12.03 carats.

It had a pre-sale estimate of US$35 million to US$55 million (S$50 million to S$78 million).


Cockroach's bite packs 50x more power than body weight

The mighty cockroach packs a powerful bite, thanks to jaws that can grind five times stronger than a human, or with 50 times more force than the bug's body weight, researchers said Wednesday.

The creatures don't always chomp so ferociously.

Only if they need to chew through tough materials like wood will they activate certain slow twitch muscle fibres in their jaw in order to launch a force boost that is necessary for a repetitive, heavy-duty task, said the study in the journal Plos One.


Andy White, 'fifth Beatle' from band's first hit, dies at 85

Andy White, a session musician who played drums on the first Beatles hit but spent his life on the edges of fame, has died, colleagues said Wednesday. He was 85.

The Scotland native, who had lived for years in the United States where he taught Scottish-style pipes and drums, died this week in his adopted home of New Jersey, the New York Metro Pipe Band said on Facebook.

White performed on only one single of The Beatles - the American version of Love Me Do - but it was enough to make him a mythic "Fifth Beatle" in the lore of the Fab Four.