While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 14 edition

Hostages appeal in video for halt to Philippine military operations

Two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Filipino woman have appealed by video to the Philippines to stop military operations and to Canada to negotiate for their freedom with Islamist militants who abducted them.

The four were snatched at gunpoint by 11 gunmen, believed to be Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants, at an upmarket resort on Samar island in the Philippines on Sept 21 and taken to an unknown location in the south.

"Please, stop all these operations so that negotiations can start," said a man, who introduced himself as John Ridsdel on the clip circulating on YouTube, while a machete was brandished behind his head by a militant, who was also holding him.


Singapore passport still among Top 5 to enjoy visa-free access to countries around the world

The Singapore passport has retained its place among the top five most welcomed passports by countries around the world.

This year's Visa Restrictions Index ranked Singapore alongside Austria, Ireland and Switzerland in fifth position. It shared the same spot with New Zealand and Switzerland in 2014.

Holders of the Singapore passport currently have unrestricted access to 169 of the 218 countries surveyed worldwide - down slightly from 170 out of 219 countries last year.


Chinese middle class now the world's largest

China's middle class has overtaken the United States to become the world's largest, Credit Suisse said Tuesday in its latest report on global wealth.

Asia will be the scene for the greatest expansion of the world's middle class, it predicted.

The Swiss bank said with 109 million adults "this year, the Chinese middle class for the first time outnumbered" that in the United States at 92 million.


Football: Dutch fail to qualify for Euro 2016 as Czechs top group

The Netherlands’ hopes of a dramatic rescue act in Euro 2016 qualification evaporated as they conceded two first-half goals and eventually lost 3-2 at home to 10-man Czech Republic on Tuesday.

The Dutch, third at the World Cup in Brazil last year, had to win their final qualifier and hope Turkey lost at home to Iceland to sneak into third place in Group A and book a slot in next month’s playoffs.

However, defeat consigned the Netherlands to fourth spot behind the Turks, who won 1-0 to secure a place at the finals as the best third-placed team, while the Czechs topped the group.


Jennifer Lawrence says she's finished being 'adorable' over Hollywood pay gap

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence says she's had it with trying to be "adorable" when it comes to sexism in Hollywood and equal pay for women.

In a no-holds barred attack on the Hollywood wage gap on Tuesday, the Hunger Games star said that in the past she worried about being labelled a spoiled brat when negotiating movie deals.

But men do not have that problem, she said in an essay for the Lenny newsletter produced by Girls writer and director Lena Dunham.