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

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Maria strengthens into 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 hurricane as it bears down on battered Caribbean

Maria rose in power Monday (Sept 18) to become an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane as it barreled toward the Caribbean island of Dominica, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the "major hurricane" had intensified as it approached the French territory of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands devastated by Irma this month.

Islanders on neighbouring Martinique, which is also part of France, were ordered to stay indoors under a maximum-level "violet" alert.


China a threat to world trading system, says US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

US Trade Representative Mr Robert Lighthizer on Monday (Sept 18) in Washington zeroed in on China, calling it an unprecedented threat to the world trading system.

And asked about Asia, he said the US prefers bilateral agreements based on the assumption that with a US$ 18 trillion economy ($24.3 trillion) it can do a better job negotiating and enforcing bilateral rather than multilateral trade agreements.

"The policy will be to engage countries (in Asia) in bilateral agreements; we have to determine when we're going to do it and what the order will be," Mr Lighthizer, a trade hawk, told an audience at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC.


US President Donald Trump calls for bold reforms in the UN

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United States President Donald Trump in his first appearance at the UN General Assembly called for "truly bold reforms" in the United Nations.

"In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement," he said, opening a session on reform.

The UN's budget had increased and its staff had more than doubled since the year 2000 but "we have not seen the result of this investment," he said.


Carbon 'budget' may be bigger than thought: study

An ambitious goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still within reach, said researchers Monday (Sept 18) who calculated humanity may have a larger allowable "budget" for burning carbon than previously thought.

While this amounted to rare "good news" in the generally doom-and-gloom domain of climate science, it was no cause for complacency, said the authors of a study in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Instead, it should revitalise efforts towards a target many had already abandoned as too onerous.


Ohio father who donned clown mask to punish his 6-year-old is arrested, charged

An Ohio man who tried to discipline his six-year-old daughter by chasing her around in a clown mask has been charged after the little girl ran screaming to a stranger's apartment - prompting that neighbour to fire a gunshot into the air, police say.

The incident occurred just before 10 pm Saturday (Sept 16), when 25-year-old Vernon Barrett Jr donned a clown mask and began chasing his young daughter outside their apartment in Boardman Township, a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio.

It was supposed to be a prank, Barrett later told police, a way to get the child to behave without resorting to spanking. A police report did not specify why he was trying to discipline his daughter that day.


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