While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 1

US Vice-President Mike Pence (above) will attend summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea in place of Donald Trump.
US Vice-President Mike Pence (above) will attend summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea in place of Donald Trump.PHOTO: REUTERS

Trump to skip Asia summits in Singapore, Papua New Guinea; sending Pence instead

President Donald Trump will skip summits with Asian leaders in Singapore and Papua New Guinea in November, sending Vice-President Mike Pence in his place, the White House announced.

Trump had been invited to attend the US-Asean summit and the East Asia summit in Singapore and also the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea.

He attended these events last November.

Trump will travel to Paris to attend a Nov 11 commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.


US to move ahead with Mexico trade pact, will keep talking to Canada after talks sour

US President Donald Trump notified Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico after talks with Canada broke up with no immediate deal to revamp the tri-nation North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said US officials would resume talks with their Canadian counterparts next Wednesday with the aim of getting a deal all three nations could sign.

The mood soured on Friday, in part because of Trump’s off-the-record remarks made to Bloomberg News that any trade deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms”.


John McCain's 106-year-old mother stoic at son's memorial service

When John McCain's flag-draped casket was carried into the US Capitol on Friday, among those honouring the senator was a woman who lived through the turbulence of his iconic career and life: his 106-year-old mother.

Half a century after she was told her son had been shot down over Vietnam - where he was held prisoner for five years - Roberta McCain cut a stoic figure at the memorial for the statesman, who died last weekend following a battle with brain cancer.

The silver-haired family matriarch kept her composure as she was wheeled into the Capitol Rotunda where she comforted her weeping granddaughter Meghan McCain, holding her hand and whispering in her ear.


Aretha Franklin’s funeral returns to her gospel roots

A Detroit church swelled with gospel music for the funeral of Aretha Franklin, driving mourners to their feet to clap and sing ahead of tributes to the Queen of Soul by former US President Bill Clinton and singer Stevie Wonder.

“Come on, this is a church service, lift your voice!” Bishop Charles Ellis III, the officiant, exhorted the congregation at the Greater Grace Temple, as the choir and orchestra swayed behind him.

The crowd grew louder, its ranks bolstered by singers including Chaka Khan and Ariana Grande, who came to pay musical tribute to Franklin following her death on Aug 16 at age 76. Before the golden casket was closed, Franklin’s body could be seen dressed in gold sequins.


Lady Gaga takes off the make-up for movie role

Lady Gaga, the pop singer rarely seen without strikingly coiffed hair and heavy makeup, said she had to go natural for her first starring role in a movie.

Gaga plays a girl-next-door character who achieves her dream of becoming a famous singer in A Star Is Born, directed by co-star Bradley Cooper.

"He wanted to see me with nothing," Gaga told a news conference ahead of the film's world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.