While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 19

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts his last-minute Brexit deal to a vote in an extraordinary sitting of the British Parliament on Oct 19, a day of reckoning that could decide the course of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Uni
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts his last-minute Brexit deal to a vote in an extraordinary sitting of the British Parliament on Oct 19, a day of reckoning that could decide the course of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Brexit day of reckoning: British Parliament to vote on Johnson's deal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson puts his last-minute Brexit deal to a vote in an extraordinary sitting of the British parliament on Saturday, a day of reckoning that could decide the course of the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.

More than three years since the United Kingdom voted 52-48 to be the first sovereign country to leave the European project, Johnson will try to win parliament's approval for the divorce treaty he struck in Brussels on Thursday.

In a day of Brexit high drama, lawmakers convene for the first Saturday sitting since the 1982 Argentine invasion of the Falklands, while hundreds of thousands of people march to parliament demanding another referendum.

"There have been any number of false dawns. Deadlines for our departure have come and gone," Johnson, the face of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU, wrote on Saturday in Britain's best selling newspaper, The Sun. "Today can be the day we get Brexit done."

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Violent clashes rock Barcelona on fifth day of separatist protests

Hundreds of protesters battled police in the heart of Barcelona on Friday, setting up fiery barricades and hurling rocks at security forces on the fifth day of unrest following the jailing of Catalan separatist leaders.

The violence came after a day of largely peaceful demonstrations as more than half a million people flooded the streets of the Catalan capital to denounce the lengthy jail terms that have sent a shockwave through Spanish politics.

But as night fell, masked youths blocked a broad boulevard close to the city’s police headquarters, setting fire to large garbage bins and throwing a hail of stones, cans and bottles towards massed lines of security forces in full riot gear.

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US ground troops will not enforce Syria safe zone: Esper

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no US troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than US officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.

The truce, announced by US Vice-President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia pull out of the Turkish "safe zone."

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'Not many people have asked if I'm okay': Duchess of Sussex Meghan

Britain's scavenging tabloids have not been kind to Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex - the wife of Prince Harry.

In a new and emotional interview with British broadcaster ITV, Meghan opens up for the first time about life as a new mother and what being under the ever-watchful eye of the British tabloids has done to her mental health.

"Look, any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, so that was made really challenging," she said in an excerpt tweeted by ITV. She added that "it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

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Bye Bye, Bei Bei: US National Zoo panda leaves for China next month

Washington's National Zoo will soon have an empty-nester exhibit on display when Bei Bei, the 4-year-old male offspring of the zoo's giant panda couple, sets out for China next month to help breed more of his species in his parents' homeland.

"Bei Bei is part of our family," Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo, said in a statement. "We're sad he's leaving, but excited for the contributions he will make to the global giant panda population."

The bear and his parents are a favourite among visitors, said a zoo spokesman. Fans have watched Bei Bei grow from a small cub to a 109kg bear over the years.

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