While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 18

Trump to cut Afghanistan troop levels, stops short of full withdrawal

President Donald Trump will sharply reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday, stopping short of a full withdrawal from America’s longest war.

Trump’s decision to limit himself to a partial withdrawal was first reported by Reuters on Monday and triggered a rebuke from senior Republicans who fear it will undermine security and hurt fragile peace talks with the Taleban.

Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller, who Trump installed last week after abruptly firing Mark Esper, confirmed the Afghan drawdown and also outlined a modest withdrawal of forces from Iraq that will reduce troop levels there from 3,000 to 2,500.

“By Jan 15, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan, will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same date,” Miller told reporters.

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‘More power than traditional media’: Facebook, Twitter policies under fire

Republican senators on Tuesday attacked the chief executives of Facebook and Twitter for what they called censorship of President Trump and his allies during the US election while Democrats bemoaned the spread of misinformation on social media.

The CEOs, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, defended their content moderation practices at a congressional hearing scheduled after the platforms decided to block stories from the New York Post that made claims about the son of then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The move incited uproar among Republican lawmakers who have consistently accused the companies of anti-conservative bias.

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Three arrested over spectacular Dresden museum jewellery heist

German police on Tuesday arrested three suspects and raided properties over a spectacular heist a year ago in which more than a dozen diamond-encrusted items were snatched from a state museum in Dresden.

Investigators were searching 18 properties in Berlin, including 10 apartments as well as garages and vehicles, in connection with what local media had dubbed one of the biggest art heists in modern history.

The main target of the probe was the so-called “Remmo clan”, a family of Arab origin notorious for ties to organised crime whose members were in February convicted in another high-profile museum break-in in central Berlin.

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French ‘Jetman’ killed in training accident in Dubai

Frenchman Vince Reffet, part of the “Jetman” team which has performed groundbreaking stunts above Dubai using jetpacks and carbon-fibre wings, was killed in a training accident on Tuesday, a spokesman said.

The Jetmen have pulled off a series of dramatic flights over the Gulf city, soaring in tandem above the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa and alongside an Emirates Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airliner.

Stunts elsewhere in the world, including swooping into an aeroplane through a small door in mid-flight, and flying through China’s famed “Heaven’s Gate” archway in the mountains of Hunan province, drew huge audiences on social media.

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Football: Spain hammer Germany 6-0 to reach Nations League final four

Spain forward Ferran Torres scored a first career hat-trick as his side crushed helpless Germany 6-0 at home on Tuesday to storm into the final four of the Nations League.

Goals from Alvaro Morata, Ferran and Rodri gave Luis Enrique’s side a convincing 3-0 lead at halftime, while Ferran struck again early in the second half and completed his treble with a classy finish.

Substitute Mikel Oyarzabal tapped in the sixth goal in the 89th minute to adorn an incredible Spain display and deepen four-times world champions Germany’s misery.

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