While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 15


Cohen says Donald Trump knew of hush payments, ‘doesn’t tell the truth’

President Donald Trump directed the payment of hush money to two women shortly before the 2016 US presidential election and knew that doing so was wrong, his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in a television interview aired on Friday.

“He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters,” Cohen told the ABC programme Good Morning America, referring to the US$150,000 (S$180,000) paid to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and the US$130,000 paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Both women have said they had sexual relationships more than a decade ago with Trump, which the president and his representatives have denied.

Asked if Trump knew that payments were wrong, Cohen said, “Of course.”


Chris Christie pulls out of Trump search for new chief of staff

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he has asked Donald Trump not to consider him as White House chief of staff - the latest person to turn down one of the most powerful jobs in Washington.

“I have told the president that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment,” Christie said in a statement. “As a result, I have asked him to no longer keep me in any of his considerations for this post.”

Christie had become Trump’s leading candidate as the president considers a successor to John Kelly, according to two people familiar with the matter.


Facebook says new bug allowed apps to access private photos of millions of users

Facebook revealed that a major software bug may have allowed third-party apps to wrongly access the photos of up to 6.8 million users, including images that people began uploading to the site but did not post publicly.

The mishap, which occurred over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook’s mounting privacy headaches after a series of incidents earlier this year in which it failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users.

In general, Facebook allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users’ permission and access photos shared on their timeline. Because of the bug, though, roughly 1,500 apps could access “a broader set of photos than usual,” Facebook explained in a blog post.


Scientists create bee vaccine to fight off 'insect apocalypse'

Scientists in Finland have developed what they believe is the world's first vaccine to protect bees against disease, raising hopes for tackling the drastic decline in insect numbers which could cause a global food crisis.

Bees are vital for growing the world's food as they help fertilise three out of four crops around the globe, by transferring pollen from male to female flowers.

But in recent years bee populations around the world have been dying off from "colony collapse disorder", a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or some combination of these factors.


Badminton: Indian ace Saina Nehwal weds fellow shuttler P. Kashyap

India's former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal announced her marriage to fellow badminton player Parupalli Kashyap, calling it the best match of her life.

Nehwal, 28, also shared a couple of pictures in which the duo are seen dressed in traditional Indian attire and wearing flower garlands.

The post, which included a heart and a smiling face emoji, was hashtagged #justmarried.