While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 14

First day of Trump impeachment hearings focus on Ukraine pressure campaign

The top US diplomat in Ukraine, testifying in the first televised hearing of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, on Wednesday linked the president more directly to a pressure campaign on Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit him politically.

William Taylor was one of two career diplomats who testified before the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee as a crucial new phase began in the impeachment inquiry that threatens Trump’s presidency even as he seeks re-election in 2020.

Both Taylor and George Kent testified about their concerns about pressure by Trump and allies to get Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden in a dramatic hearing that pitted Democratic and Republican lawmakers against each other.

While the hearing turned contentious at times – including sniping between lawmakers – the low-key testimony given by the two witnesses may have fallen short of giving the Democrats the ammunition they need to advance their argument that Trump has committed misdeeds worthy of ousting him from office.

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Britain to become ‘second rate’ in the world after Brexit, says EU’s Donald Tusk

Britain will lose influence in international affairs and become a “second-rate player” after it leaves the European Union, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

Backers of Britain’s 2016 vote to exit the EU, the world’s largest trading bloc, say that the country – the world’s fifth largest economy – will achieve a new global status unshackled from EU rules and closer to the United States.

Tusk said only a united Europe could confront an assertive China and play an effective global role.

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School pupils among 12 dead in Slovakia crash on ‘Road of Death’

At least 12 people were killed, including four students, when a public bus carrying school pupils and a truck loaded with rocks and soil collided in mountainous western Slovakia on Wednesday, rescuers and officials said.

Officials said 20 people were hurt in the crash, which happened on the outskirts of the city of Nitra, a regional capital some 80km east of Bratislava, around 1pm local time (8pm Singapore time).

The section where the accident occurred is commonly referred to as the “Road of Death”, according to local media.

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Tennis: Tsitsipas thrashes Zverev to reach ATP semis

Debutant Stefanos Tsitsipas crushed defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-2 on Wednesday to book his place in the last four of the ATP Finals with a match to spare.

The 21-year-old, the first Greek player to qualify for the elite eight-man season-ender, backed up his opening win over Daniil Medvedev with a virtuoso performance at the O2 Arena.

His straight-sets victory secured a top-two place in the group and left Zverev, world number one Rafael Nadal and Medvedev scrapping to join him in Saturday’s semi-finals.

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Wenger ends Bayern rumours after being named Fifa’s development chief

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger returned to football on Wednesday after being named Fifa’s chief of global football development, ending any chance of a move to managerless Bayern Munich.

Fifa said the former Arsenal and Monaco coach would be responsible for the growth of the game “for both men and women around the world”, and would also be the “leading authority on technical matters”, including potential changes to the sport’s laws.

It added that Wenger, 70, would also be tasked with coach education and aiding a programme designed to help former players enter management.

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Shocking pictures show matador repeatedly stabbing bull in the head as animal rights group calls for ban

A SICKENING video of a matador repeatedly stabbing a bull in the head has been released by PETA to shed light on the horrors of the brutal Spanish sport.

The clip, which is too graphic to show, has a bullfighter plunging a knife through the animal's skill and twists it as it lies writhing on the ground in Bilbao, northern Spain.


Blood can be seen oozing from its head as the matador knifes the beast again and again during an event last September.

PETA, an animal welfare group, shared the 45-second video yesterday as it launched a petition calling for a ban on the sport.

Activists have written to Pedro Sanchez, Spain's prime minister, after he was re-elected last week, demanding for him to outlaw the bullfighting.

A spokesman for the group said: "Every year, thousands of bulls endure a bloody death in bullrings across Spain.

"These deaths are slow and painful: men on horseback and on foot drive lances and barbed sticks into bulls' backs before the tormented animals are stabbed with a sword or dagger.

"At the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, terrified bulls are shocked with electric prods to force them out onto the streets, where they're harassed by screaming mobs.

"The panicked animals often slip and crash into walls, resulting in broken bones and other injuries. Later, these same bulls will be barbarically killed in the bullring ~ a fact many tourists are unaware of.

"Compassionate people understand that this violence is needless and unjustifiable, and opposition to bullfighting is growing both within Spain and around the world.

"It's time for the Spanish government to step up and protect animals."

More than 100 towns across Spain have banned bullfighting and in July 2010 the autonomous region of Catalonia voted to stop the practice.

An Ispos MORI poll has said more than 80 per cent of Spanish people oppose the practice as attendance has gone down in recent years.

PETA's letter to Mr Sanchez described how the bull die "slowly and painfully" and they are finally killed once they "have become weakened by blood loss".

It reads: "Bullfights are immensely cruel events in which thousands of animals are slowly and painfully killed across Spain every year.

"Attackers on horseback and on foot drive lances and sharp sticks into bulls' necks and backs, and when the animals have become weakened by blood loss, a matador finally kills them with a sword.

"Bulls also suffer in bull runs, in which they're forced to run through the streets while being harassed by a terrifying mob.

"The panicked animals often lose their footing and crash into walls, breaking bones and otherwise injuring themselves.

"Please listen to the voices of people in Spain and across the world and ban bullfighting and bull runs now."

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Anti-Trump drag queen Pissi Myles sashays into impeachment hearing to ‘cause a ruckus’ – The Sun

AN anti-Trump drag queen sashayed her way into the first day of Donald Trump's impeachment hearing ready to "cause a ruckus".

Pissi Myles, 32, wore a towering blonde wig, red high heels and a short dress to match – far from the suits traditionally seen near the Capitol.



She strutted her way into Longworth House, in Washington D.C., to report on the first day of the impeachment hearings. 

Before the day began, Pissi, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, wrote on Facebook that she would be seen "probably causing a ruckus in day drag."

She told NBC News: "I’m flipping my wig over the high-energy proceedings today.

"Tensions are high, and the bar for who’s allowed in the Longworth House is very, very low."

She's often remarked on how some days it feels more like reality TV than the news.

When asked about Pissi's political allegiances, her husband David Ayllon told The Sun online she was "not a fan" of Trump "AT ALL".

He added: "I can't really speak for her but the entire political climate is just insane.

"She's often remarked on how some days it feels more like reality TV than the news.

"I THINK he thinks the president is corrupt… but I don't want to speak for him just in case"

WIG WORRIES

One photograph of the award winning performer showed her as she travelled through security, who paid particular attention to her large hair.

David told The Sun online: "He was worried they'd make him remove his wig.

"It's intricately duct taped to his head, so that would've been difficult."

Reporter Heidi Przybyla also commented on Pissi's grand entrance.

She tweeted: "Someone did just ask me last night if there’s anything in D.C. that surprises me anymore."


Pissi, real name Joe D'Angio, and husband David decided to tie the knot early, on December 9, 2016, after Trump was elected President.

David added: "We were afraid of what would happen with Trump/Pence in power.

"We decided to get married a few weeks after the election just in case they changed the laws around gay marriage."

Pissi recruited to cover the hearing by Happs, an open-source live news network, while she performed at her weekly New York show Barracuda, on Sunday.

'VERY POLITICALLY ACTIVE'

David told The Sun online: "They were looking for a comedian that could improv live and deliver the news in a fun and refreshing way.

"And Pissi is already very politically active, so it was the perfect opportunity to be there live."

Pissi who has been a drag queen for six years is now in the political spotlight for the "very first time", David added

Meanwhile her husband, who works as her manager, photographer and web designer, is happy to see Pissi getting recognition.

He said: "I'm always so proud of him, he's worked really hard to build the career that he has now.
"It's so awesome seeing so many new people finding him for the first time."



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Italian tenor Bocelli joins with UNESCO to aid children affected by war

PARIS (Reuters) – Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli launched a “Voices of the World” musical education program jointly with UNESCO on Wednesday to provide a boost to children affected by armed conflicts.

The multi-year program will expand on the renowned blind tenor’s 2016 “Voices of Haiti” project that provided musical therapy and training, lessons, rehearsals, play time and meals to 12,000 children in one of the world’s poorest countries. 

“Music is a universal language that can influence the human soul in a positive way,” Bocelli, 61, told Reuters in Paris after signing a memorandum of understanding with UNESCO to set up similar music education programs in countries such as Mali.

The Andrea Bocelli Foundation’s new “Voices of the World” program will kick off in 2020 focusing on regions including Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

“Through creation of regional choruses and other educational activities, ABF seeks to empower participants and their communities through the tool of music by reinforcing skills, stimulating creativity, fostering collaboration and offering more opportunities to succeed in life,” a foundation statement said.

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‘Maclunkey’: Disney Plus ‘Star Wars’ Greedo edit leaves fans perplexed

Over the years, Star Wars fans have been stumped continuously with slight, yet extremely noticeable changes to a variety of iconic scenes in the much-beloved franchise thanks to a number of edited and remastered releases (most notably in 1997, 2004, 2011, and now, 2019).

And with the launch of its new streaming service, it seems Disney has included yet another surprise for fans: a “new” edit crafted by Star Wars creator and mastermind, George Lucas.

In Disney+‘s version of the cult classic sci-fi film, before accepting his fate, Greedo (the Rodian bounty hunter) now blurts out what sounds to be “Maclunkey,” before meeting his tragic fate.

The never-before-seen edit takes place during the infamous Mos Eisley Cantina scene in 1977’s A New Hope, where viewers are introduced to main protagonist Han Solo (Harrison Ford), right before he shoots and kills Greedo.

 

Since the launch of the streaming service on Nov. 12, the unknown and untranslatable word (“Maclunkey”) has been perplexing fans across the globe.

Despite years of being adjusted to make it look like Greedo shot first, in the heart and minds of thousands of dedicated Star Wars fans Han actually shot first — as depicted in the original theatrical release of A New Hope.

But according to Disney+, not only did Greedo shoot first, but he got the last word in the showdown too.

Now, the newly-discovered edit seems to have shifted the focus from the age-old “Who shot first?” debate to speculation surrounding what exactly “Maclunkey” might mean.

Here’s what some Twitter users had to say:

Though the meaning and reasoning behind “Maclunkey” has not yet been explained, fans seem to be enjoying themselves speculating over the matter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lucas, 75, made the since-viral change before Disney acquired the rights to Lucasfilm in 2012.

The launch of Disney+ also marked the premiere of the first-ever live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian.

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Australia fires: Why have Australia bushfires been so bad this year? What caused fires?

Deadly bushfires continue to rage across Australia. Three people have died in the blazes, and hundreds of properties have been razed to the ground. Express.co.uk spoke to an expert about the factors contributing to the cause of the fires.

While bushfires are common every year in Australia, the intense fires currently being witnessed have occurred very early in the bushfire season.

This year, some of the fires have been classed as ‘catastrophic’.

The ‘catastrophic’ fire rating was introduced in Australia in 2009, following the devastating Black Saturday fires which killed 173 people.

Earlier this week, officials extended catastrophic ratings to cover the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra Shoalhaven areas.

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  • Sydney bushfires: Hundreds flee as deadly fires rage across Australia

Officials have said the current intensity of the fires has not been seen before on such a scale.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons, said the state of NSW had faced “the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen”.

So, why has this year’s Australian bushfire season been so bad?

Tina Bell, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, told Express.co.uk: “The main reason that the fire season has started so early and has been so bad to date is because of the drought that much of the north east of Australia has experienced over the past year or so.

“According to the Bureau of Meteorology, rainfall in October this year was the lowest on record for southern Australia.

“Low moisture in the vegetation, which serves as fuel, makes conditions right for bushfires.

“Together with record high temperatures, again according to the Bureau of Meteorology, eucalypt trees are shedding leaves to try to decrease their water loss adding to the fuel layer on the ground.”

Professor Bell also highlighted how lightning plays a part in the spread of bushfires.

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She added: “At this time of year, bushfires mostly start as a result of dry lightning.

“This lightening is associated with thunderstorms that occur in dry conditions where the rain evaporates before it has a chance to hit the ground.

“Lightning strikes that hit the ground cause a spark and, with all of the dry fuel around, have a greater chance of starting a fire.

“In addition, the mixture of warm air with cold air creates gusty and windy conditions that change fire behaviour in sometimes unpredictable ways.”

While some warnings have been lifted or reduced over the last day, fires continue to burn throughout Queensland and New South Wales.

There are concerns that with the current weather conditions, the fires could continue for weeks.

Commissioner for New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons, said today: “We will not have all these fires contained and locked up for many, many weeks.

“Unfortunately, what we need is rain, and there is certainly nothing in the forecast for the foreseeable future that’s going to make any discernible difference to the conditions that we are experiencing.”

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‘Friends’ reunion special reportedly in works at HBO Max

Friends fans have been begging for a reboot of the ’90s sitcom and now it seems they are getting what they want.

A Friends reunion special is reportedly in the works for HBO Max’s 2020 launch.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, all six of the original cast members including, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry, have signed on to bring the reunion special to HBO Max.

Series creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman are reportedly also in talks to return to Friends.

The Friends reunion special will reportedly be unscripted.

Aniston previously revealed that a Friends reunion could be happening in the near future during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in June.

“Listen, I told you this: I would do it. The girls would do it. And the boys would do it, I’m sure … Anything could happen!” Aniston said when DeGeneres asked about a potential Friends comeback.

“I can do it (a reunion) by myself,” Aniston joked.

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In an October appearance on DeGeneres’ show, Aniston spoke about a potential Friends reunion again.

“Listen, we would love for there to be something, but we don’t know what that something is. So, we’re just trying. We’re working on something,” Aniston shared.

Many fans of Friends took to Twitter to celebrate the news of a potential reunion special.


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Montreal police investigate fatal collision involving truck, pedestrian

Police are investigating a fatal collision in Montreal’s St-Leonard borough on Wednesday morning.

Montreal police spokesperson Raphael Bergeron said the crash happened at around 9:30 a.m. near the intersection of Jean-Talon and Buies streets.

Bergeron said a flatbed truck was heading east on Jean-Talon Street when a pedestrian — an 80-year-old woman — was struck.

“Her death was pronounced at the scene,” he said.

The driver of the truck was taken to hospital to be treated for shock.

While the circumstances surrounding the incident are still under investigation, Bergeron said the cause of the crash doesn’t appear to be criminal.

The pedestrian’s death comes less than a month after Montreal unveiled its action plan aimed at ensuring safer road-crossing conditions for seniors.

According to the city, 14 pedestrians die every year in Montreal and close to 60 per cent of those killed are 65 or older — with November being the deadliest month.

Some of the new safety measures include extending pedestrian crossing time at numerous intersections and installing more lights with digital counts. The city will also be introducing sound signals to complement pedestrian cross lights.

— With files from Global News’ Alessia Maratta


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City asks for cooperation from motorists as snow removal gets underway in Montreal

Montreal’s snow removal operations got underway on Wednesday after winter’s early onslaught.

City spokesperson Philippe Sabourin confirmed the city has never, in its history, launched an operation this early in the season.

Sabourin said all hands on deck to get the job done.

“In the 19 boroughs we’re sending all of our crews,” he said. “There’s more than 3,000 employees out on the roads to load all those piles of snow.”

Sabourin said he expects it will take up to four days to load the 20 centimetres of snow that blanketed Montreal Monday and Tuesday.

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‘Days of our Lives’ cast reportedly released from contracts

The entire cast Days of our Lives has reportedly been released from their contracts.

The long-running soap opera will go on an “indefinite hiatus” at the end of November after laying off its entire staff, according to Variety.

The outlet also reports that Days of our Lives has shot enough episodes to last through the end of Season 55, the current broadcast season.

According to Deadline, Days of our Lives is in negotiations for Season 56.

If the show is renewed for Season 56, all the actors will have to renegotiate new contracts.

Chandler Massey, who plays Will Horton, took to Twitter following the news to let fans know that the show isn’t going off air.

“We’re not being cancelled,” he tweeted. “We are pausing production because we are so far ahead of schedule (and it saves us $). Days will still air during the entire hiatus, so you won’t miss anything!”

Many fans of the show took to Twitter to discuss the news of the hiatus.

Days of our Lives began airing in November 1965.

Global News has reached out to NBC for comment.


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