While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 8 edition

The chamber was deadlocked at 50-50, with two Republicans breaking rank to oppose DeVos (above).
The chamber was deadlocked at 50-50, with two Republicans breaking rank to oppose DeVos (above).PHOTO: REUTERS

Betsy DeVos confirmed as education secretary after Mike Pence's unprecedented tie-breaking vote

The US Senate confirmed billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos as the next secretary of education, after Vice-President Mike Pence cast a historic tie-breaking vote on the deeply controversial nomination.

The confirmation means President Donald Trump will now have five of his 15 Cabinet members in place more then two weeks into his administration, along with the CIA director and US ambassador to the United Nations, which are Cabinet-rank positions.

The chamber deadlocked at 50-50, with two Republicans breaking ranks to oppose DeVos, a champion of using taxpayer monies to help fund privately run schools.

“The Senate being equally divided, the vice-president votes in the affirmative, and the nomination is confirmed,” Pence said. It was the first time a sitting vice-president has voted to break a tie for a Cabinet pick.


British fighter jets divert Heathrow-bound Pakistani plane

British fighter jets diverted a Pakistan International Airlines flight which had been bound for London’s Heathrow airport, due to a “disruptive passenger” police said.

The Royal Air Force said its quick reaction jets were launched on Tuesday afternoon from an airfield in central England. “The aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted airport,” an RAF spokesman said.

Stansted, north of London, is one of five airports serving the British capital and is the one designated for major security alerts, which are dealt with in a remote part of the airfield.


Barack Obama kiteboards in Caribbean with billionaire Richard Branson

Former US president Barack Obama is trying some new and dangerous water sports that the Hawaii native had to miss out on for safety reasons while serving in the White House.

Obama, whose eight years as president ended last month when he was succeeded by Donald Trump, learned to kiteboard while vacationing last week on a Caribbean island owned by British billionaire and adventurer Sir Richard Branson, who published an account of their trip on Tuesday.

Photographs and video on the website of Branson's Virgin Group show the former president, a life-long surfer, figuring out the increasingly popular sport in which people ride a board while being pulled behind a kite.


If you 'ghost' do you 'throw shade'? US dictionary adds new words

The next time someone throws shade at you for ghosting them so you can binge-watch a TV show or retreat to your safe space, you can let them know your behaviour has been recognised by the United States' leading dictionary publisher.

Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 new words and definitions, ranging from conversational to scientific, to its website, Merriam-webster.com.

"Throwing shade," for example, originated from black and Latino gay culture in the 1980s and has been popularised more recently through social media. It means to express contempt through indirect or subtle insults.


American model Christie Brinkley, 63, gets back in bikini for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Thirty-eight years after her first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover, 63-year-old American model and actress Christie Brinkley is gracing the magazine again - this time with her two daughters.

Brinkley, who made her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover debut in 1979, shared a photo of the picture spread on her Instagram page.

Dressed in a black cut-out swimsuit and with her blonde hair loose, Brinkley poses with her daughters Alexa Ray Joel, 31, and Sailor Brinkley Cook, 18.