While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 21

A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva on Oct 2, 2014.
A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva on Oct 2, 2014.PHOTO: REUTERS

Trump: US designates North Korea a state sponsor of terror, triggering sanctions 

President Donald Trump on Monday (Nov 20) declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation that allows the United States to impose additional sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes. 

The Republican president, who has traded personal insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but has not ruled out talks, said the Treasury Department will announce more sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday (Nov 21). 

The designation came a week after Trump returned from a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia in which he made containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions a centerpiece of his discussions. 

“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump told reporters at the White House. 


Amsterdam, Paris to host key EU agencies after Brexit

Amsterdam and Paris on Monday (Nov 20) won fierce fights to host two major EU agencies when they leave London, securing some of the most prized spoils of Britain’s decision to quit the EU. 

The European Medicines Agency will relocate to the Dutch city, while the French capital will be the new home of the European Banking Authority, EU ministers decided. 

Both decisions came in a tiebreak after three tense rounds of secret voting, with Amsterdam beating the Italian city of Milan and Paris beating the Irish capital Dublin in a bitterly fought race. 


US Navy rolls out new measures after deadly Asia-Pacific crashes

The US Navy has introduced new measures aimed at avoiding a repeat of two deadly crashes in the Asia Pacific region involving its warships and commercial vessels following a review of its practices, the Seventh Fleet commander said on Monday (Nov 20).

Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer's comments come after a US guided-missile destroyer was slightly damaged at the weekend when a Japanese tug drifted into it during a towing exercise off central Japan, the latest incident in the Pacific this year involving ships from the fleet.

The US Navy announced a series of reforms this month aimed at restoring basic naval skills and alertness at sea after a review of deadly collisions in the Asia-Pacific region showed sailors were under-trained and over-worked.


World's largest whales are mostly 'right-handed': Study

Blue whales, the world's largest animals, usually favour their right side when they lunge to catch food - a preference similar to right-handedness in people, researchers said Monday (Nov 20).

But on certain occasions while moving upward in shallow water, these righties will almost always shift to their left to keep a good eye on their favoured prey - tiny crustaceans known as krill.

The reason for this situation-specific choice is likely simple: To get as much food in their mouths as possible, said the report published in Current Biology.


Janet Yellen to depart US Fed in February

US central bank chief Janet Yellen announced on Monday (Nov 20) she will leave the Federal Reserve in February once her successor as chair is sworn in.

The decision comes less than three weeks after President Donald Trump broke with tradition to replace Yellen rather than name her for another four-year term. He tapped Fed governor Jerome Powell to take over the helm of the central bank.

Yellen's term as chair expires in February but her position on the Board of Governors runs until 2024. Fed chiefs typically have stepped down from the board after finishing their term as chair.