While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 20 edition

US House votes to suspend Syria refugee programme

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to ban Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States until tougher screening measures are in place, a move some slammed as giving in to xenophobia after the Paris attacks.

The Republican legislation, the first congressional response to last week’s attacks, passed overwhelmingly, 289 to 137, with nearly four dozen Democrats going against their president to support the measure.

The Bill now heads to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain, but it sets up a clash with President Barack Obama, who has threatened to veto the Bill and has criticised Republicans for “hysteria” and falling short of their humanitarian duty to take in the oppressed.


US approves genetically modified salmon for consumption

US health regulators on Thursday cleared the way for a type of genetically engineered salmon to be farmed for human consumption in the first-ever such approval for an animal whose DNA has been scientifically modified.

After five years of deliberations, the Food and Drug Administration said it had determined that genetically modified salmon was safe to eat and as nutritious as conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon, which means the new product will not require special labelling.

Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies developed the salmon by altering its genes so that it would grow faster than farmed salmon, and expects it will take about two more years to reach consumers’ plates as it works out distribution.


Paris attacks: Even family members of 'mastermind' prayed for his death

Even Abdelhamid Abaaoud's own family prayed for his death, and on Thursday they got their wish when the Belgian behind the Paris attacks was confirmed killed in a French police raid.

Abaaoud was a one-time school bully and petty criminal from the Brussels immigrant district of Molenbeek who graduated to become a leading Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant with ties to a series of plots in Europe.

The 28-year-old of Moroccan origin had recently boasted of evading police dragnets in Europe, and taunted European authorities from what was assumed to be an ISIS base in Syria.


Why diets don't work: Healthy foods vary by individual

A healthy food for one person may lead to weight gain in another, according to a study out Thursday that suggests a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting is fundamentally wrong.

For instance, one woman in the study repeatedly experienced a spike in blood sugar after eating tomatoes, which would generally be considered a low-fat, nutritious food.

"The first very big surprise and striking finding that we had was the very vast variability we saw in people's response to identical meals," said researcher Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.


Russian tourist stabbed in Hollywood

A Russian on holiday with his family was stabbed several times in the tourist heart of Hollywood by a man wielding a kitchen knife, before two off-duty police officers rushed in to overpower the attacker.

The unidentified victim, who is in his 30s and was recovering in hospital, was standing on a sidewalk close to where the Oscars are usually held when a man approached and began stabbing him on Wednesday afternoon.

The attacker, identified as Donald Offerman, 54, was subdued by two off-duty New York police officers who happened to be in the area.