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

Flowers are left where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill on March 4, 2018.
Flowers are left where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill on March 4, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

US hits Russia with sanctions over 'Novichok' nerve agent attack in Britain

The United States said on Wednesday it was imposing new sanctions on Russia, as it accused the government in Moscow of using a “lethal” nerve agent in the attempted assassination of a former spy in Britain.

The State Department said the sanctions were in response to “the use of a ‘Novichok’ nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal” – who was a double agent – and his daughter Yulia in March.

The action is aimed at punishing President Vladimir Putin’s government for having “used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The action follows the US Treasury’s imposition of sanctions in March against 19 Russian citizens and five entities for interfering in the 2016 US election – the toughest steps against Moscow since President Donald Trump took office.


Children should be barred from heading footballs, says brain specialist

The debate over the damage inflicted by heading a football took another turn on Wednesday as a leading expert in brain injuries said children under the age of 18 should not be allowed to head the ball.

Doctor Bennett Omalu, who was the first specialist to discover how American footballers were affected by the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, told the BBC he realised his remarks might jar with some people but that society was evolving.

"No child under the age of 18 should be heading the ball in soccer," said the 49-year-old Nigeria-born naturalised American.


Oscars move to honour ‘popular’ movies sparks swift backlash

The Oscars will introduce a new award for popular films and the annual ceremony will be limited to three hours, organisers said on Wednesday, in a bid to stave off slumping audiences for the movie industry’s most prestigious honours.

The decision to create a special category for popular films sparked an immediate backlash, with one critic saying it smacked of desperation.

The sweeping changes also include handing out some of the 24 Academy Awards during commercial breaks in the Feb 24 broadcast on Walt Disney’s ABC network.


Crazy Rich Asians looks beyond Asia to break Hollywood mould

Crazy Rich Asians may be the first Hollywood movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast but the filmmakers hope it will be enjoyed by moviegoers of all backgrounds.

The romantic comedy about an Asian-American New Yorker who goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's wealthy and tradition-bound family of Chinese descent is based on the 2013 best-selling book of the same name by Kevin Kwan.

"It's been way too long since we had an all-star Asian cast in a Hollywood studio movie, but at the same time, this movie is for everyone," Kwan told Reuters at the red carpet premiere in Los Angeles.


Football: Chelsea sign Kepa Arrizabalaga in $120m record deal for a goalkeeper

Spain's Kepa Arrizabalaga became the most expensive goalkeeper in history on Wednesday after Chelsea confirmed his €80 million (S$126 million) move from Athletic Bilbao.

Arrizabalaga's arrival at Stamford Bridge came shortly after Chelsea had agreed to sell Belgian international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid for a reported fee of €35 million.

The 23-year-old has signed a seven-year contract with the English giants.