While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 10

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US ends curbs on official American contacts with Taiwan: Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday said he was lifting restrictions on contacts between US officials and their Taiwanese counterparts, a move likely to anger China and increase tensions between Beijing and Washington in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s presidency.

China claims democratic and separately ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and regularly describes Taiwan as the most sensitive issue in its ties with the United States.

While the United States, like most countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, the Trump administration has ramped up backing for the island country, with arms sales and laws to help Taiwan deal with pressure from China.

In a statement, Pompeo said that for several decades the State Department had created complex internal restrictions on interactions with Taiwanese counterparts by American diplomats, service members and other officials.

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Queen Elizabeth and husband given Covid-19 jab as UK cases top 3 million

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip received Covid-19 vaccinations on Saturday, Buckingham Palace said, as the country surpassed three million cases since the pandemic began last year.

A source told the domestic Press Association news agency that the 94-year-old queen and Philip, 99, were given the injections by a royal household doctor at Windsor Castle.

More than 1.5 million people in Britain have so far received virus jabs, as the biggest immunisation programme in its history ramps up with priority given to the elderly, their carers and health workers.

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Europe back in lockdown

Regent Street, a major shopping area in London, almost deserted on Friday amid a national lockdown in Britain that began last Tuesday. Schools were also closed for face-to-face learning, except to the children of key workers and vulnerable students,

Many European countries have tightened measures to fight Covid-19 after a brief relaxation over the Christmas and New Year period.

They have re-imposed lockdowns, closed shops and offices and introduced laws to make it easier for governments to impose further restrictions to battle the pandemic.

Here are some of the restrictions imposed by countries in Europe to fight the pandemic at the start of this year.

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South Korean toddler’s death sparks call for stiffer penalties for abuse

She was a cheerful baby bouncing with energy, her chubby cheeks earning her the nickname “Little Peach”.

Although given up at birth for adoption, the little girl named Jung-in blossomed under the loving care of foster parents.

What was supposed to be the beginning of a happy life for Jung-in, however, turned into a nightmare.

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National power grid breakdown plunges Pakistan into darkness

A breakdown in Pakistan’s national power grid plunged the country into darkness on Saturday night, officials said.

“A countrywide blackout has been caused by a sudden plunge in the frequency in the power transmission system,” Pakistan’s Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan said on Twitter.

He said efforts were underway to determine the reasons behind the situation, and asked people across the country to remain calm.

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Bastion Balance Seoul.