While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 12

A damaged boat is seen at the Dinner Key marina after Hurricane Irma passed through the area on Sept11, 2017 in Miami, Florida. PHOTO: AFP

Florida reels after Irma's heavy punch, leaving about 7.3 million without power

Displaced Florida residents started heading back to their homes on Monday (Sept 11) as a weakened Hurricane Irma advanced inland, flooding several cities in the northeast and leaving about 7.3 million homes and businesses without power - possibly for weeks.

Downgraded to a tropical storm early on Monday, Irma had ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes recorded, ripping roofs off homes as it hit a wide swath of Florida on Sunday and Monday.

Authorities said the storm had killed 38 people in the Caribbean and one in Florida, a man found dead in a pickup truck that had crashed into a tree in high winds on the Florida Keys over the weekend.


Some 400 traumatised Hurricane Irma survivors arrive in France, Netherlands

About 400 exhausted and traumatised survivors of Hurricane Irma, which pummelled Caribbean islands last week, arrived in France and the Netherlands on Monday (Sept 11) aboard military planes.

A plane with 278 aboard landed in Paris, while another 100 people flew into Eindhoven in the southern Netherlands from the Guadeloupe capital Pointe-a-Pitre.

Both the French and Dutch governments have come under criticism over delays in their responses to the crisis and in particular over how they handled outbreaks of looting on St Barthelemy and St Martin, an island with both French and Dutch sectors.


'Goodbye Spain': Thousands rally for Catalan independence before vote

Thousands of Catalan separatists rallied on Monday (Sept 11) to demand their region break away from Spain, in a show of strength three weeks ahead of an independence referendum banned by Madrid.

Draped in red, yellow and blue separatist flags - with one banner reading "Goodbye Spain" - they marched through central Barcelona in what many hope will be the last protest before independence.

"If there is huge mobilisation, they can't do anything in Madrid," says Jordi Calatayud, a 21-year-old economics student of the October 1 vote. "Catalan people will make independence possible, if there are a lot of us, they can't stop us."


From refugee camp to runway, hijab-wearing model Halima Aden breaks barriers

Roughly one year ago, Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, received a phone call from 19-year-old Halima Aden asking if she could compete in the contest wearing her hijab. "Her photo popped up and I remember distinctly going, 'Wow, she is beautiful,'" Wallace said.

The Somali-American teen made headlines as the first hijab- and burkini-sporting contestant in the history of the pageant. The bold move catapulted her career to new heights involving many "firsts", including being the first hijabi signed by a major modelling agency. "I wear the hijab everyday," Aden, who was in New York for Fashion Week, told Reuters.

The hijab - one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture - is going mainstream, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.


Volkswagen to electrify entire range by 2030

German carmaker Volkswagen doubled down Monday (Sept 11) on efforts to clean up its image tarnished by the dieselgate scandal, vowing ahead of the IAA auto industry show to electrify its entire range by 2030.

By the end of next decade, VW vows to offer "at least one electrified version of each of the 300 or so group models", the firm said in a statement.

The Wolfsburg-based group owns a stable of 12 brands ranging from VW, Seat and Skoda to Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini - as well as truck and bus makers MAN and Scania and Ducati motorbikes.


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