While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 21 edition

US President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to Singapore K.T. McFarland testifies at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination on Capitol Hill in Washington, US on July 20, 2017.
US President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to Singapore K.T. McFarland testifies at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination on Capitol Hill in Washington, US on July 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore vital to US interests in Asia, says Trump's pick for next ambassador 

President Donald Trump's nominee for the United States' next ambassador to Singapore, Ms Kathleen Troia McFarland, says that the island nation is vital to American interests in Asia.

"Singapore's value to the United States is more than just our bilateral relationship, strong as it may be," Ms McFarland, 65, said on Thursday (July 20) in a statement for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ms McFarland said that despite its small size, Singapore sits astride one of the most geostrategically important locations in the world. She dubbed the country the "economic gateway between East and West as one of the world's most important trade routes on the Malacca straits" and the world's largest transshipment port. 


US, European police say 'dark web' markets shut down

US and European police on Thursday (July 20) announced the shutdown of two huge “dark web” marketplaces that allowed the anonymous online trade of drugs, hacking software and guns.  

Underground websites AlphaBay and Hansa Market had tens of thousands of sellers of deadly drugs like fentanyl and other illicit goods serving more than 200,000 customers worldwide.  

AlphaBay, the largest dark web market, had been run out of Thailand by a 25-year-old Canadian, Alexandre Cazes, who was arrested two weeks ago.  It had filled the gap left behind by the notorious Silk Road online market, shut down by authorities in 2013.  


O.J. Simpson granted parole after serving 9 years for armed robbery

O.J. Simpson was granted parole from prison on Thursday (July 20) after serving nine years for a botched armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room and will be released in October.  

A four member Nevada parole board voted to release 70-year-old former star athlete, who was acquitted in a sensational double-murder trial that gripped America two decades ago, after an often emotional hearing that included testimony from his daughter and one of the victim.  

Simpson participated in the proceedings by live video feed from Lovelock Correctional Center, about 100 miles (161 km) from the parole board’s office in Carson City.  He bowed his head and appeared to be in tears as the four-member board voted unanimously to grant parole.


US special counsel Robert Mueller to expand Russia probe to Trump business transactions

The US special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year's election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump's businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The president told the New York Times on Wednesday (July 19) that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump's businesses have involved Russians for years, making the boundaries fuzzy so Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be taking a wide-angle approach to his two-month-old probe.

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump's involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump's sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.


Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington dead in apparent suicide: Coroner

Chester Bennington, the lead singer of rock band Linkin Park, was found dead on Thursday (July 20) at his southern California home in an apparent suicide, the Los Angeles County Coroner's office said.

Coroner's office spokesman Brian Elias said his office had been notified by law enforcement of the death of Bennington, 41, on Thursday morning. Elias said the death was being handled as an apparent suicide.

Celebrity website TMZ, citing law enforcement sources, said Bennington had hung himself at his Palos Verdes home near Los Angeles.