Top stories from The Straits Times on Friday, Nov 3

Good morning! Here are our top stories to kickstart your Friday, Nov 3.

SMRT asks rail staff to own up to lapses, without penalty, before it embarks on wide-scale audit

The move is aimed at ensuring commuter safety and quickly plugging gaps in maintenance operations - one of which resulted in the flooding of an MRT tunnel in October. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SMRT has asked rail staff to step forward and own up if they have been cutting corners in their work - and assured them they will not be penalised if they admit to any breaches before this "amnesty" period ends on Friday.


Donald Trump nominates Jerome Powell to head US Federal Reserve

US President Donald Trump announces Jerome Powell as his nominee to become chairman of the US Federal Reserve in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, US on Nov 2, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

President Donald Trump on Thursday tapped Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to become head of the US central bank, promoting a soft-spoken centrist to replace Janet Yellen when her term expires in February.


Factory activity powers to eight-year peak in October

An employees works at a production line during a tour of an REC solar panel manufacturing plant in Singapore. PHOTO: REUTERS

The sector - which makes up a fifth of the economy and has been the star performer this year - is still going strong on the back of broad expansion across most segments, economists said.


USS John S. McCain collision: US Navy report details series of missteps

When the USS John S. McCain entered congested channels, the commanding officer did not station extra manpower on the deck to help with navigation in the early hours of the morning, despite recommendations to do so. ST FILE PHOTO

A series of missteps and inadequate preparation by key personnel of United States destroyer USS John S. McCain were largely to blame for its collision with an oil tanker in Singapore waters on Aug 21.


Portraits of President Halimah and her husband ready for display

The portraits of President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee are available for collection from today. PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

For the first time in Singapore's history, the official presidential portraits adorning the walls of schools, government buildings and other public places will have a woman on the left and a man on the right.


Cathay sells cinema chain: How will deal play out for filmgoers?

The expansion of mm2 Asia into the Singapore cinema market is part of an acquisition strategy that began in 2015, and follows a takeover that year of Cathay's movie theatre business in Malaysia. mm2 Asia is the backer of local films such as director Jack Neo's Ah Boys To Men. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

If the bid is successful, Cathay will once again be part of a single corporate family that covers the movie process from end to end: From production, to distribution, to exhibition.


Hundreds queue for iPhone X at Orchard Road Apple store ahead of Friday's launch

The queue for the new iPhone X outside the Apple store on Orchard Road on Nov 2, 2017. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

First in line was homemaker Madam Ila Ahmad, 52, who was queueing with her son Jai, 19, a full-time national serviceman. They arrived at 6.30am on Thursday with sleeping bags, mineral water and packets of nasi lemak.


Why sanctions may not work on Myanmar's military

A Myanmar soldier stands near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar on Sept 27, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Tatmadaw - as Myanmar's military is called locally - shrugged off international sanctions and ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for five decades before it staged a careful withdrawal from the front lines of government from 2010.


Football: Arsenal through, Everton out, Evra in karate kick red card

Arsenal's English midfielder Theo Walcott misses an attempt at goal during the match between Arsenal and Red Star Belgrade. PHOTO: AFP

Arsenal reached the Europa League last 32 on Thursday as Everton crashed out and Patrice Evra was red-carded for a karate kick at one of his own Marseille fans - before the match had even started.


Singapore Botanic Gardens debuts Children's Festival

The floating platform (above) at Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden and the Food For Tots Cafe. PHOTO: NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

With more than 100 free programmes available, families can look forward to two fun-filled weeks at the inaugural Singapore Botanic Gardens Children's Festival.