While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Sept 29 edition

Evidence of flowing water found on Mars: NASA

Liquid water has been observed on the planet Mars, the US space agency NASA said Monday.

"Mars is not the dry, arid planet we thought of in the past," Jim Green, NASA's planetary science director, told a press conference. "Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars."

Scientists have long believed that water once flowed freely across the Red Planet and was responsible for forming its valleys and canyons.


Chinese President Xi Jinping throws support behind UN peacekeeping

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a raft of measures at the United Nations on Monday to support global development and peacekeeping, as he sought to underline China's role of a global power.

Making his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, he announced that China would set up a 10-year US$1 billion (S$1.43 billion) UN peace and development fund to support the assembly's work; join the new UN peacekeeping capability readiness system, and "take the lead" in setting up a permanent peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops .

He also pledged some US$100 million worth of military assistance to Africa over five years to help the African Union establish the African standby force.


US President Barack Obama willing to work with Iran, Russia to end Syria conflict

The United States is willing to work with Iran and Russia to try to end the Syrian conflict, US President Barack Obama said on Monday but insisted there could not be a return to the status quo under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Obama described Mr Assad as a tyrant and as the chief culprit behind the four-year civil war in which at least 200,000 people have died and millions have been driven from their homes internally or abroad as refugees.

However, he did not explicitly call for Mr Assad's oustre and he suggested there could be a "managed transition" away from his rule, the latest sign that despite US animus toward the Syrian leader it is willing to see him stay for some period of time.


Taleban overrun major Afghan city for first time

The Taleban Monday largely seized a major Afghan city, storming government compounds and sending panicked residents fleeing, as the Islamists for the first time breached a provincial capital since being ousted from power in 2001.

Fierce fighting raged in the northern city of Kunduz as marauding insurgents freed hundreds of prisoners from the local jail, set government buildings on fire and hoisted their trademark white flag over the homes of officials.

The Taleban's incursion into Kunduz barely nine months after the NATO combat mission ended marks a major psychological blow to the country's Western-trained security forces.


Football: Lively Romelu Lukaku sparks Everton comeback win at West Bromwich

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and set up another goal as Everton rallied from two down to sink West Bromwich Albion 3-2 in the Premier League on Monday.

Everton's victory took their unbeaten run to four games in the league and lifted Roberto Martinez's team up to fifth in the table with 12 points from seven games.

West Brom opened the scoring four minutes before halftime when James Morrison pounced on a misplaced pass by Gareth Barry before slipping the ball through for Saido Berahino to beat keeper Tim Howard.