While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, April 9

US Secret Service Director Randolph Alles participates in a news conference about "significant law enforcement actions related to elder fraud" in Washington, US, on March 7, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

Trump fires US Secret Service chief in another high-level ouster

President Donald Trump is removing the director of the US Secret Service, the agency that provides protection for him and other top US officials, the White House said on Monday (April 8), a day after the ouster of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The dismissal of Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles comes amid major leadership changes at the sprawling Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Secret Service director reports to the Homeland Security secretary.

The first sign of the overhaul came late on Thursday, when Trump abruptly pulled his nomination of Ron Vitiello as director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of DHS. Trump described that move as part of a policy change "going in a tougher direction".


Iran declares US 'state sponsor of terrorism'

Iran declared the United States a "state sponsor of terrorism" and its forces in the region "terror groups", in a tit-for-tat response to a similar US move on Monday (April 8).

The Supreme National Security Council said its decision came after the US designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a "terrorist organisation".

In a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA, it slammed Washington's move as an "illegal and foolish act".


Felicity Huffman among 14 to plead guilty in US college admissions scandal: Prosecutors

Actress Felicity Huffman and 13 other people have agreed to plead guilty to participating in what prosecutors call the largest college admissions scam uncovered in US history, federal prosecutors said on Monday (April 8).

The 14 are among 50 people, including wealthy parents and college team coaches, accused by federal prosecutors in Boston of engaging in schemes that involved cheating on college entrance exams and paying US$25 million (S$34 million) in bribes to secure their children admission at well-known universities.

Huffman, who starred in Desperate Housewives, was among 33 parents charged in March with participating in the scheme in hopes of getting their children into universities including Yale, Georgetown and the University of Southern California.


Russian officials agree to free 'whale jail' animals

Russian officials said Monday (April 8) they will work towards freeing all orca and beluga whales from a notorious facility in the east of the country, after a visit by US-based marine mammal advocates.

Nearly 100 whales captured for sale to aquariums have been kept in small pens for months in what the media has nicknamed a "whale jail" in the Russian Far East, as the campaign to release them gathered strength and went global.

Kremlin-backed Far Eastern governor Oleg Kozhemyako on Monday announced that he has "made a decision to free the animals into the wild," after meeting noted environmentalists and campaigners Jean-Michel Cousteau and Charles Vinick who visited the facility last week.


Football: Hazard too good for West Ham as Chelsea go third

Reports continue to link Hazard with a summer move to Real Madrid with the Belgian refusing to extend his contract at Stamford Bridge beyond 2020.

And he underlined once more how much Chelsea will miss their number 10 should he depart for the Spanish capital with a dazzling display, capped by a sensational solo goal to open the scoring.


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