While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 25

‘The deal is done’: EU and Britain clinch narrow Brexit accord

Britain clinched a narrow Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Thursday, just seven days before it exits one of the world’s biggest trading blocs in its most significant global shift since the loss of empire.

The deal means it has swerved away from a chaotic finale to a tortuous divorce that has shaken the 70-year project to forge European unity from the ruins of World War II.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters: “It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a picture of himself inside Downing Street, raising both arms in a thumbs-up gesture of triumph, with the words “The deal is done.”

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Germany records first case of British Covid-19 strain

Germany on Thursday recorded its first case of the mutant coronavirus variant sweeping Britain, after a woman who flew in from London tested positive for the strain.

The woman had arrived in Frankfurt airport on Dec 20 from London Heathrow.

She was driven home by her relatives into quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival at the airport.

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US parents in bizarre ‘balloon boy’ hoax granted pardon

Two Colorado parents jailed for falsely claiming their six-year-old son Falcon had floated away in a home-made balloon shaped like a flying saucer have been granted pardons by the western US state’s governor.

Richard and Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty in 2009 to the “balloon boy” hoax, which became a worldwide media sensation with millions watching live as the silver helium balloon drifted through the skies for 110km.

The October 2009 incident ended after five hours when the grounded balloon was found to be empty and Falcon emerged from a hiding place at the family home.

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Rescued from a garbage bag, Russian cat ends up a celebrity

When a worker at a Russian waste-sorting plant rescued a cat from imminent death, he had no idea it would end up with an honorary title and napping in a government official’s chair.

Surveillance footage at the plant in Ulyanovsk, a city located around 700km south-east of Moscow, showed worker Mikhail Tukash scooping up a white plastic bag from a conveyor belt and slashing it open to discover a black and white male cat inside.

The cat’s rescue, broadcast on television and on social media, has made it a local celebrity. It has been adopted by the Ulyanovsk region’s environment ministry and unofficially given the position of deputy environment minister.

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Football: PSG reportedly dump Tuchel, line up Pochettino

Paris Saint-Germain have sacked coach Thomas Tuchel with the club’s former defender and ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino lined up as his replacement, according to various media reports on Thursday.

The French champions declined to make a statement when contacted by AFP to confirm the shock Christmas Eve axing as claimed by L’Equipe newspaper, news outlet RMC and German tabloid Bild.

Pochettino, who spent two years and a half as a player at the club, could take his first training session on Jan 3 after the winter break.

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