While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 28


Ex-lawyer Michael Cohen assails Trump but gives no direct evidence of collusion

Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen assailed the president’s character in a tense congressional hearing on Wednesday, calling him a “conman” who knew in advance about the release of stolen emails aimed at hurting his 2016 election Democratic rival.

But Cohen, the Republican president’s onetime “fixer,” said he had no direct evidence that Trump colluded with Moscow to bolster his White House campaign, a key line of inquiry in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation which has dogged Trump during his two years in office.

“I am ashamed because I know what Mr Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen told a House of Representatives committee.

“Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great,” Cohen added. “He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.”


US prosecutor charges Brochez with threatening to extort Singapore government

Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, the American at the centre of Singapore’s HIV registry leak, was charged by US prosecutors on Wednesday  with threatening to extort the Singapore government.

The fresh charges come on top of existing charges that Brochez, 34, possessed and unlawfully transferred stolen identification documents.

Brochez appeared in a court for a scheduled hearing on Wednesday, during which US Magistrate Judge Matthew A. Stinnett ruled to refer his cases to a grand jury.


White House bans four journalists from covering Trump-Kim dinner

The White House abruptly banned four US journalists from covering President Donald Trump's dinner here on Wednesday with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un after some of them shouted questions at the leaders during their earlier meetings.

Reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters were excluded from covering the dinner because of what White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said were "sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays".

The White House's move to restrict press access was an extraordinary act of retaliation by the US government, which historically has upheld the rights of journalists while a president travels overseas.


TikTok app fined in US for illegally gathering children's data

The fast-growing, Chinese-owned video sharing network TikTok agreed to pay a US$5.7 million (S$7.6 million) fine to US authorities to settle charges that it illegally collected personal information from children, officials said on Wednesday.

The Federal Trade Commission said the penalty by the social network, which had been known as Musical.ly, was the largest ever in a children's privacy investigation.

The social network, which has been surging in popularity with young smartphone users and taking over from rivals like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, failed to obtain parental consent from its underage users as required by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, FTC officials said.


Luxury watchmaker Philippe Charriol killed in car accident

Frenchman Philippe Charriol, founder of the luxury watch and jewellery brand that bears his name, was killed in an car accident at the Le Castellet racing track in south-east France on Wednesday, a circuit official said.

Despite receiving emergency treatment at the track and being rushed to a hospital in Marseille, the 77-year-old succumbed to his injuries.

Charriol, originally from Marseille, had a passion for fast cars and had long frequented major race circuits, said Clair, offering his condolences to the entrepreneur's family "and to his many friends".