While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 29 edition

British actress and singer Jane Birkin has asked luxury manufacturer Hermes to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag.
British actress and singer Jane Birkin has asked luxury manufacturer Hermes to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag.AFP

Israeli spy in jail for 30 years to be released on parole

Jonathan Pollard, a former US navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, will be released on parole Nov 21 after serving 30 years in prison.

The decision, revealed Tuesday, caps a sensational case that has troubled relations between the United States and its closest Middle East ally for more than three decades.

US Secretary of State John Kerry denied Pollard's release was linked in any way to the Iran nuclear deal reached with Teheran July 14, which Israel vehemently opposed.


Tech leaders warn over weapons that select targets using artificial intelligence

A group of top tech leaders, including British scientist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, on Tuesday issued a stern warning against the development of so-called killer robots.

Autonomous weapons, which use artificial intelligence to select targets without human intervention, have been described as "the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms," around 1,000 technology chiefs wrote in an open letter.

The idea of an automated killing machine - made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator movie - is moving swiftly from science fiction to reality, according to the scientists.


US dentist named as killer of Zimbabwe's much-loved Cecil the lion

A wealthy American dentist used a bow and arrow to shoot a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called Cecil, a safari industry goup said Tuesday, amid allegations that the animal had taken 40 hours to die.

The lion, which was a popular attraction among many international visitors to the Hwange National Park, was lured outside the park's boundaries by bait and shot earlier this month.

Cecil was described as "almost semi-domesticated" and it was revealed that the dentist - Walter James Palmer - had paid about US$50,000 (S$68,000) for the hunt.


Jane Birkin asks Hermes to take name off crocodile handbag

British singer Jane Birkin has asked luxury manufacturer Hermes to remove her name from its crocodile-skin handbag after learning of the "cruel" methods used to make the iconic accessory.

Costing tens of thousands of euros, the Birkin bag is a symbol of wealth and is much-loved by celebrities, but the version made out of crocodile skin has attracted the ire of animal rights activists.

Rights group Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently published an expose on crocodile farms from Texas to Zimbabwe where the animals are allegedly crammed into barren concrete pits before being "crudely hacked" to death.


Rapper Azealia Banks denounces 'terrible' Australia crowds

Outspoken New York rapper Azealia Banks has declared herself fed up with playing in Australia, condemning the audiences as belligerent.

Banks did not take it lightly when an Australian radio host, Paul "Browny" Brown, sarcastically congratulated her for completing a full performance at Splendour in the Grass, an annual festival. In 2013, she walked off stage at a Melbourne festival when she was hit by a can of beer.

"You guys are terrible crowds to play for. You're violent and belligerent and I simply will not put my safety at risk," Banks wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.