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

Russia seeks to stop Joe Biden from winning US election, FBI chief  says

Russia is seeking to hurt Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign through social media and influence operations, FBI director Christopher Wray warned on Thursday..

Moscow is carrying out efforts to sow discord in the US “primarily to denigrate vice-president Biden and what the Russians see as an anti-Russia establishment,” Wray told lawmakers during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on threats to the nation.

“Russia continues to try to influence our elections, primarily through what we call malign foreign influence,” Wray said.

It’s an assessment sharply at odds with that of President Donald Trump, who still dismisses as a hoax the intelligence community’s finding that Russia worked to help him win the White House in 2016.

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William Barr in hot water after comparing coronavirus lockdowns, slavery

US Attorney-General William Barr faced criticism on Thursday after saying coronavirus lockdown measures were the “greatest intrusion” on American civil liberties “other than slavery.”

Barr, one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest allies, made the comment Wednesday as he hit out at tough lockdown measures instituted in some states, many led by Democratic governors.

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest,” Barr said during an appearance at Hillsdale College in Michigan, according to clips posted online. “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”

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England removes Singapore, Thailand from coronavirus quarantine list

Singapore and Thailand have been removed from the list of countries from which travellers must quarantine when entering England to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus, British transport minister Grant Shapps said on Thursday.

Slovenia and Guadaloupe, however, have been added to the list. Anybody arriving in England from these two countries after 4am on Saturday will need to self-isolate for 14 days, he said on Twitter.

Travellers from Singapore and Thailand have been added to England’s Travel Corridor list, meaning they no longer have to enter quarantine on arrival.

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Mobile phone radiation may be killing insects, German study says

Radiation from mobile phones could have contributed to the dramatic decline in insect populations seen in much of Europe in recent years, a German study showed on Thursday.

On top of pesticides and habitat loss, increased exposure to electromagnetic radiation is “probably having a negative impact on the insect world”, according to the study presented in Stuttgart, which is yet to be peer reviewed.

The analysis of 190 scientific studies was carried out by Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu) together with two NGOs, one from Germany and one from Luxembourg.

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Athletics: Duplantis sets new pole vault outdoor world record

American-born Swede Armand Duplantis produced the highest-ever outdoor pole vault jump on Thursday when he cleared 6.15 metres to win gold at the Rome Diamond League meeting and continue his remarkable, unbeaten season.

The 20-year-old cleared the bar at the second attempt with room to spare and was only three centimetres short of the world record he set indoors in Glasgow in February.

Despite that, he decided not to go for a higher mark at the huge Stadio Olimpico, where there were no spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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