>'Joker' leads Oscars race
Psychological thriller film "Joker" led the race for the 92nd Academy Awards, or the Oscars, with 11 nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday.
Based on DC Comics characters, "Joker" is directed by Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role.
"Joker" picked up nominations across a series of major categories, including best picture, best actor for Phoenix, and best director for Phillips.
Three films were close behind "Joker" with 10 nominations each: mob drama "The Irishman," World War I epic "1917" and comedy drama "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."
The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Feb 9 at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
>Australian PM admits mistake
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed regret over his handling of the bushfire crisis ravaging the country.
Since September, bushfires have killed at least 28 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
On Sunday, Morrison conceded there were "things I could have handled on the ground much better".
Last month, Morrison was criticized for going on holiday to Hawaii as the bushfire crisis worsened.
The rising public anger at his absence eventually forced him to cut that trip short.
Morrison's government has been accused of not doing enough to address climate change, which experts say could increase the intensity, frequency and scale of bushfires.
Bushfire conditions eased on Saturday, giving firefighters temporary respite in areas where blazes are still raging.
But with more hot weather expected next week, the risk was far from over, authorities warned.
They said that the huge fires, spurred by high temperatures, wind and a three-year drought, will persist until there is substantial rainfall.
>Queen agrees to Harry's wish
After an urgent meeting at the queen's rural Sandringham estate in eastern England on Monday attended by the British royal family, the 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth II said she gave her blessing to her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's wish for a more independent future.
"Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family, while remaining a valued part of my family," the monarch said in a statement. "Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK."
Prince Harry and his American actress wife Meghan announced last week that they wished to step back from royal duties, become financially independent, and spend more time in North America.
>US drops negative label
The US has dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator, according to a report from the US Treasury Department released Monday. In its semiannual Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States, the Treasury Department said no major US trading partner at this time met the relevant legislative criteria for currency manipulation.
In August, amid heightened trade tensions, the US Treasury Department decided to label China a currency manipulator, drawing strong criticism from home and abroad, with many calling the designation groundless and irresponsible.
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