While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Tues 31 Oct edition

Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign official Rick Gates appear in front of US Magistrate Deborah A. Robinson in US Federal Court in Washington, US on Oct 30, 2017.
Former Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign official Rick Gates appear in front of US Magistrate Deborah A. Robinson in US Federal Court in Washington, US on Oct 30, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Two ex-Trump aides charged in Russia probe, 3rd pleads guilty

Federal investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 US election charged President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul  Manafort and another aide, Rick Gates, with money laundering on Monday (Oct 30). 

A third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI, it was announced on Monday. 

It was a sharp escalation of US Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s five-month-old investigation into alleged Russian efforts to tilt the election in Trump’s favour, and into potential collusion by Trump aides.  

READ MORE HERE

Obamacare benchmark premiums up 37% in 2018 after subsidy cut-off

The average monthly premium for benchmark Obamacare insurance plans will surge around 37 percent in 2018, the US Department of Health and Human Services said on Monday (Oct 30), fuelled by the Trump administration's suspension of billions of dollars in subsidy payments to health insurers.

The average monthly premium for the second-lowest cost "silver" plan for a 27-year-old will rise to US$411 (S$560) a month in 2018 from US$300 a month this year, before tax credits are applied.

Federal tax credits that help individuals buy coverage will also rise sharply, according to a report from the health department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

READ MORE HERE

France's Macron signs controversial anti-terror law

French President Emmanuel Macron signed a controversial anti-terror law on Monday (Oct 30) that gives authorities permanent powers to search homes, shut places of worship and restrict the movements of suspected extremists.

The new law, which replaces the state of emergency imposed after the 2015 Paris attacks, sailed through France's parliament this month despite criticism from campaigners that it jeopardises civil liberties.

"This law will allow us to end the state of emergency from Nov 1 while fully ensuring the security of our citizens," Macron said as he signed the bill in front of the cameras.

READ MORE HERE

Putin unveils monument to victims of political repression

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday (Oct 30) unveiled the first national memorial to victims of Soviet-era political repression, but critics accused him of hypocrisy over a continuing crackdown on activists.

The Wall of Grief, a large bronze relief of human figures in central Moscow, opened following decades of efforts to create such a memorial starting under dictator Joseph Stalin's successor Nikita Khrushchev.

"The opening of this monument is particularly important a century on from the 1917 revolution," Putin said at a meeting ahead of the unveiling.

READ MORE HERE

Cash incentives help smokers quit, study finds 

Smokers who are offered cash incentives are far more likely to give up cigarettes than those who are simply offered tips on how to quit, said a US study Monday (Oct 30).

The approach could offer ways to cut the number of smokers, which has remained steady at about one-fifth of the US population in recent years, according to the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama) Internal Medicine.

The rate among the poor is even higher. Twenty-six per cent of smokers in the US in 2015 were below the poverty line, compared to 14 per cent of smokers at or above the poverty line, according to background information in the article.

READ MORE HERE