While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 23

Trump to go on offensive at final presidential debate in bid to catch Biden

US President Donald Trump is expected to come out swinging in Thursday’s final presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden to try to close a gap in opinion polls before an election 12 days away.

Trump needs to score some hits in the televised encounter to steady a campaign that is struggling, in part due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 222,000 people in the United States.

Trump, a Republican, trails former vice president Biden significantly in national polls ahead of Election Day, Nov 3, though the contest is much tighter in some battleground states where the election will likely be decided.

Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points in the latest Reuters/Ipsos national poll, conducted Oct 20-22.


Goldman Sachs to pay nearly $4b to settle charges over 1MDB scandal role

Goldman Sachs on Thursday agreed to pay nearly US$3 billion (S$4.07 billion) to settle a probe into its role in Malaysia’s 1MDB corruption scandal, and its Malaysia unit agreed to plead guilty to violating foreign bribery laws, drawing a line under a saga that has dogged the bank for years.

The settlement resolves a probe by US authorities into the bank’s role in underwriting three bond offerings in 2012 and 2013 that raised US$6.5 billion for Malaysia’s government, Reuters reported.

Under the terms, Goldman has been slapped with a US$2.3 billion penalty and about US$600 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.


Gilead’s remdesivir drug gets US FDA approval as Covid-19 treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug Veklury, or remdesivir, for the treatment of patients with Covid-19 requiring hospitalisation.

Gilead said it expects to meet global demand for the drug in October.

Remdesivir, previously granted emergency use approval to treat Covid-19, was one of the drugs used to treat US President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection.


France extends Covid-19 curfew to cover 46 million people

France on Thursday extended the anti-Covid curfew in place in nine cities to large parts of the country, taking to 46 million the number of people forced to stay indoors at night.

The measures will take effect from midnight on Friday (2200 GMT), Prime Minister Jean Castex said, adding: “The coming weeks will be hard and our hospitals will be sorely tested.”

Paris and eight other French cities were placed under curfew last weekend in response to daily new infections reaching record levels.


Sri Lanka parliament gives President Rajapaksa sweeping powers

Sri Lanka’s parliament on Thursday voted to give President Gotabaya Rajapaksa widespread powers to appoint top officials and dissolve the legislature after an acrimonious two-day debate during which the opposition accused him of becoming a constitutional “dictator”.

The populist leader was elected president in November and swiftly appointed his brother, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, as prime minister.

Gotabaya was a key defence official when his brother was president in the decade to 2015.


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