While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 10


Wildfires in Northern California wine country kill at least one, destroy hundreds of buildings

Fast-moving wildfires raged across several counties in Northern California on Monday (Oct 9), killing at least one person, forcing the evacuation of up to 20,000 people and destroying hundreds of buildings, authorities said.

Firefighters were battling blazes in eight counties - Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte - officials said.

Janet Upton, a deputy director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said that at least 14 fires had destroyed an estimated 1,500 residential and commercial structures and had burned over 57,000 acres since late Sunday night. 


US risks sparking North Korea 'escalation', warns Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday (Oct 9) warned his US counterpart Rex Tillerson that Washington risks sparking an unacceptable escalation in tensions with North Korea.

In a phone call with US Secretary of State Tillerson, Lavrov "stressed the unacceptability of an escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula, which the American military preparations in the region are leading to", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia's top diplomat "called for resolution of differences exclusively through diplomatic methods".


Donald Trump to repeal major Obama-era carbon emissions rule

The Trump administration announced Monday (Oct 9) that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama's signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of the United States' efforts to tackle global warming.

At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalised in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favour of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions.

"The war on coal is over," Pruitt said. "Tomorrow in Washington, DC, I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Kentucky."


American Richard Thaler wins Nobel for economics, plans to spend it 'irrationally'

 US economist Richard Thaler was awarded a Nobel prize Monday for his work showing economic and financial decisions are not always rational, but mostly human.

So it seems fitting that he says says he wants to spend his US$1 million winnings "as irrationally as possible".

In awarding the prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences praised Thaler, 72, for bringing behavioural economics into the mainstream - exploring the impact of psychological and social factors on individual or group decisions in the economy and financial markets.


Judi Dench, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep speak up on Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment claims

Meryl Streep led an increasingly vocal Hollywood chorus condemning the reported sexual misconduct of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on Monday, issuing a carefully worded statement released to HuffPost. She decried the behaviour as "disgraceful" and "inexcusable," yet also pleaded ignorance about it, writing: "Not everybody knew."

Streep's statement seemed to have opened the floodgates, with Glenn Close and Judi Dench, among others, soon voicing their own dismay and disgust about Weinstein.

In recent days, after The New York Times released a scathing investigation Thursday chronicling accusations that Weinstein had sexually harassed employees and actresses, many people called for reactions from Hollywood's A-list players, and especially Streep, a longtime champion of women's causes who worked with Weinstein on films like August: Osage County and The Iron Lady, for which she won an Academy Award.