Tuesday, December 11
Pressure continued to build on Donald Trump with leading Democrats saying impeachment or prison time are real possibilities for the US President if it is proved that he directed illegal hush money payments to women.
This is in addition to the ongoing Russia investigation and other scandals which are reaching finality.
Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said there was “a very real prospect” Trump may be indicted by the Justice Department on the day he leaves office.
“He may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” said
“The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”
Another top Democrat, Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors’ filings that were released on Friday (local time) in the case of Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen as evidence that Mr Trump was “at the centre of a massive fraud”.
“They would be impeachable offences,” he said.
In the filings, prosecutors in New York for the first time linked Mr Trump to a federal crime of illegal payments to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 campaign.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office also laid out previously undisclosed contacts between Trump associates and Russian intermediaries, and suggested the Kremlin aimed early on to influence Mr Trump and his Republican campaign by playing to both his political and personal business interests.
Mr Trump has denied wrongdoing and has compared the investigations to a “witch hunt”.
A humble French President Emmanuel Macron has announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to defuse weeks of often-violent protests that have challenged his authority.
He made the commitments in his first national address following two weekends of France’s worst unrest for years.
Opponents accuse Mr Macron of fracturing the country with his governing style and economic policies.
But he refused to reinstate a wealth tax and to back down on his reform agenda, which he said would proceed in 2019 with overhauls of pensions, unemployment benefits and public expenditures.
“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” Mr Macron said in the 13-minute TV address from the Elysee Palace.
His response came 48 hours after protesters fought street battles with riot police, torching cars and looting shops — the fourth weekend of protests for the so-called “yellow vest” movement which started as a revolt against high fuel costs.
In measures that are likely to cost billions to state coffers, Mr Macron said people on the minimum wage would see their salaries rise by 100 euros ($160) a month in 2019 without extra costs to employers.
His Labour Minister said this would be achieved by the Government topping up small salaries.
Pensioners earning less than 2,000 euros ($3,160) will see this year’s increase in social security taxes scrapped, Mr Macron said, going back on a measure that had particularly hurt his popularity with older voters.
“The effort we asked for was too big and was not fair,” he said.
Asked whether the budget deficit would be kept below the EU limit of 3 per cent, an Elysee official said France had some wiggle room on spending if a one-off tax rebate, which inflates its deficit by 20 billion euros ($32 billion) in 2019, was not taken into account.
Olivier Dussopt, junior minister for public accounts, said on BFM TV the measures would cost 8-10 billion euros ($12.6-$15.8 billion).
Mystery surrounds a severe injury to Spice Girl Mel B’s right hand which required surgery to save it at a New York hospital.
No one is talking about where and how the hand injury and two broken ribs happened.
Brown said she needed three hours of surgery to repair damage to her hand.
In a post on Instagram she thanked doctors and nurses for their “wonderful” work but did not offer an explanations about the supposed accident.
While recovering, Mel B (Melanie Brown) was visited in hospital by bandmates Geri Horner (Ginger); Melanie Chisholm (Sporty); and Emma Bunton (Baby).
The injuries forced Brown to cancel a book-signing event in New York and she apologised to fans who had bought tickets.
“Mr right arm/hand is all stitched up and I’m trying to keep still to heal my broken ribs,” she said.
“Ohhh the pain, but I’m in super safe hands with the care of everyone here at the hospital!!!!! Thank you all for understanding, I love you all.”
Brown suffered the injuries as the Spice Girls planned a reunion tour without the services of Victoria Beckham.
The band said Beckham would not take part because of business commitments but “will always be one of the Spice Girls and remains aligned with Emma, Mel B, Melanie C and Geri in preserving their unique legacy”.
The tour will mark the first time the group — best known for the 1996 hit Wannabe — has performed together since the 2012 Olympics.
June dates have been scheduled in Manchester, Coventry, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Bristol and London.
The Spice Girls split in 2000.