While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 27


Charges dropped against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, angering mayor and police

In a stunning move on Tuesday that angered Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his police superintendent, prosecutors in Chicago dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of staging a hate crime attack in the city’s downtown in January.

Smollett, 36, was arrested in late February, and on March 8, the State’s Attorney’s Office announced he had been indicted on 16 separate charges related to the attack report.

But prosecutors appear to have changed their minds about pursuing the case any further.

The mayor and police superintendent Eddie Johnson held a news conference attacking prosecutors and the actor himself, with Mayor Emanuel saying Smollett’s celebrity had played a role, and calling it “a whitewash of justice.”


Southwest Airlines 737 Max makes emergency landing after engine trouble

A Southwest Airlines 737 Max aircraft being flown to storage was forced to return to a Florida airport on Tuesday after experiencing an engine problem, the carrier said.

The engine "performance issue" occurred shortly after the Boeing plane left Orlando International Airport at about 2.50pm local time (2.50am on Wednesday, Singapore time), said a spokeswoman for Southwest.

The crew of Southwest Flight 8701 declared an emergency and landed safely in Orlando, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. The FAA said it is investigating the incident.


US wants astronauts back on the Moon in five years, says Mike Pence

Vice-President Mike Pence announced on Tuesday that the United States intends to send astronauts back to the Moon within five years, with a woman first in line to set foot on the lunar surface.

The first manned Moon mission in more than half a century had been scheduled for 2028.

But the programme has encountered frustrating delays in the development of a new heavy rocket for the Moon missions, the SLS, whose first flight was recently pushed back to 2021.


Video of Pope pulling his hand away from worshippers' kisses goes viral

To kiss the ring on the Pope's hand or not to - that is the question.

When Pope Francis visited a Catholic shrine in Loreto, he repeatedly withdrew his right hand as a long line of people bowed and tried to kiss the ring on it.

The footage went viral and the pope's refusal quickly entered what are known as the Catholic cultural wars between conservatives and progressives.


MMA: Conor McGregor faces probe over sexual assault accusation in Ireland

Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC's) biggest star and one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, is under investigation in Ireland after a woman accused him of sexual assault in December (2018), according to four people familiar with the investigation.

McGregor has not been charged with a crime.

The woman making the allegation said it occurred at the Beacon Hotel, an establishment attached to a business park on the edge of Dublin.