NEW YORK NEWS

Ibrahim Khan, longtime chief of staff to Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, has resigned amid an investigation into misconduct.  Khan had been one of Ms. James’s closest political advisers for nearly a decade. Three people with knowledge of the matter said it involved at least two harassment allegations by women. The accusations against Mr. Khan, who began working for Ms. James as spokesman for her campaign for New York City Public Advocate in 2013 and then, after she took office, as her Chief of Staff, were particularly sensitive for Ms. James, who oversaw a 2021 sexual harassment inquiry of New York’s governor at the time, Andrew Cuomo. “I’ve been slated to leave the office for the private sector at the end of this year,” Khan said in the statement. “This is unrelated to an investigation which, nevertheless, found no official workplace misconduct,” adding he “is proud of all we have achieved over these past four years in serving New Yorkers.”

 

The New York Assembly Democrats are threatening to block Republican Lester Chang from being seated this January. Chang, who defeated longtime incumbent Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate Jr. in the 49th Assembly district, has failed to meet residency requirements, according to the Democrats.  Legally, residency rules in a redistricting year are expanded to include the entire county in which the candidate is running.  Republican officials assert there are no issues regarding his residency and have framed it as an “unprecedented” move by Democratic leadership. They claim that any objections to residency should have been done during the petitioning process, not after the voters have spoken. The standoff could mark the first time in more than 100 years since the Assembly removed an elected person from office in the chamber, which it did following the election of five New York City socialists. Heastie instructed the Assembly Judiciary Committee to investigate and report back on the matter before the end of the year, leaving only a few weeks to resolve the question of whether Chang met residency requirements in a redistricting year to run for office in the Brooklyn Assembly district.

 

Brooklyn City Councilmember Ari Kagan announced that he’s switching to the Republican Party, joining political figures like Tulsi Gabbard and Jeff Van Drew in leaving the Democrats.  Kagan made the announcement on the steps of City Hall, while launching his general election campaign against Democrat Justin Brannan.  Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the council’s other five Republican members, Kagan said he’d been contemplating switching over to the Republican Party for months because the Democrats have moved too far to the left. “Over the last several years, in my personal humble opinion, [the] Democratic Party in New York became moving to the left at such a speed that they could not even keep up,” Kagan said. “And on issue after issue every year, every month, I started to feel that it’s not me leaving the Democratic Party, but [the] Democratic Party very quickly started to leave me.” Republicans now hold 6 of the Council’s 51 seats.

 

New York City is recruiting a new “Director Of Rodent Mitigation” to rid the streets of its most notorious furry inhabitants. The city’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Operations published a job listing for the position, aka “rat czar.” “Do you have what it takes to do the impossible?” asks the listing. “A virulent vehemence for vermin? A background in urban planning, project management, or government? And most importantly, the drive, determination and killer instinct needed to fight the real enemy – New York City’s relentless rat population?” The director of rodent mitigation will report to the deputy mayor for operations and the Mayor’s Office at City Hall, according to the listing. And the job requirements are…unusual. The city is seeking someone “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty,” with both “stamina and stagecraft.” And you’ll need a “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor.” The director will collaborate with a variety of different government agencies to combat the rat population, including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Parks Department, the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Education, the Department of Sanitation, and the Department of Transportation.

 

Nineteen people, including 17 New York City and New York State public employees, were charged in a federal complaint unsealed Wednesday with submitting fraudulent applications for funds intended to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. A New York City correction official, eight Police Department employees, and eight other current and former city and state workers schemed to defraud Covid relief programs that were intended to provide money to struggling business owners. They collectively stole more than $1.5 million from the federal Small Business Administration and financial institutions that issued guaranteed loans, and the intent was to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars more, the prosecutors said. The defendants charged in the case also included employees of the city’s Human Resources Administration, Department of Transportation, Administration for Children’s Services, and Department of Education, as well as the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Scheming to steal government funds intended to help small businesses weather a national emergency is offensive,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “As public employees, these folks should have known better.”

 

Move over Tel Aviv, New York City is now one of the two most expensive cities in the world, according to data released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Big Apple, where the average resident pays as much as $5,000 each month in rent, is tied with the city-state of Singapore, which has held the top position for 8 of the last 10 years, as inflation continues to grip metropolitan areas across the globe. The two cities were followed by Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. “A stronger currency will tend to see a city rise in the rankings, as prices are higher when expressed in international common currency,” the Economist Intelligence Unit said of New York and Singapore, two of the planet’s most important financial hubs. “Structural factors such as competition or high demand play a key role in determining the cost of living as well.”

 

 

US NEWS

The US economy grew much faster than expected in the third quarter, according to the latest gross domestic product report, which showed GDP rose by an annualized rate of 2.9%. That’s an improvement from the initial government reading in October that showed 2.6% growth in economic activity, and better than the Refinitiv forecast of 2.7%. And it’s a marked turnaround from economic contractions of 1.6% in the first quarter of the year and 0.6% in the second. The better-than-expected growth came as consumer spending increased more than in the government’s previous reading, while the value of imports was revised down. Imports are subtracted from GDP, which is the broad measure of economic activity within the country.  Meanwhile, job growth was much better than expected in November despite the Federal Reserve’s aggressive efforts to slow the labor market and tackle inflation. Nonfarm payrolls increased 263,000 for the month while the unemployment rate was 3.7%, the Labor Department reported Friday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for an increase of 200,000 on the payrolls number and 3.7% for the jobless rate. The monthly gain was a slight decrease from October’s upwardly revised 284,000. A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons edged lower to 6.7%.

 

Former President Bill Clinton contracted Covid-19, but says he’s “doing fine overall.” Clinton, 76, has had numerous health scares since he left office, the most recent being a blood infection in October 2021 that left him hospitalized for nearly a week.  Clinton also underwent a quadruple bypass in 2004 and had stents implanted six years later.  “I’m doing fine overall and keeping myself busy at home,” Clinton wrote on Twitter. “I’m grateful to be vaccinated and boosted, which has kept my case mild, and I urge everyone to do the same, especially as we move into the winter months.”

 

President Joe Biden signed a freight rail contract into law, heading off a potential rail strike but usurping the four unions who rejected the contract over quality-of-life issues. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support despite union rejection.  Railroad workers are threatening to leave the industry because of the forced-through contract, which does not provide them any paid sick days. This potential exodus would ripple through an economy reliant on freight railroads to transport goods. The exit of thousands of train conductors and engineers would be felt by major corporations and U.S. consumers alike. It could slow the delivery of food, fuel, and online orders while strangling already-shaky supply chains.

 

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday that he will consider running for president to stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House, if no other potential GOP candidates denounce Trump. In an interview with “Meet the Press Now,” Bolton said that other potential GOP presidential contenders have to speak out and strongly condemned Trump’s social media statement over the weekend that the Constitution should be terminated to put him back into power. “I’d like to see Shermanesque statements from all the potential candidates,” about the comments Bolton said. “If I don’t see that, I’m going to seriously consider getting in.” Bolton called Trump’s statement “disqualifying,” and said, “I think to be a presidential candidate you can’t just say, ‘I support the Constitution.’ You have to say, ‘I would oppose people who would undercut it.’” Bolton served as Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 until Sept. 2019, when Trump fired Bolton amid reports that they disagreed over talks with the Taliban and trade negotiations with China. 

 

 

 

WORLD NEWS

Iran executed four men convicted of cooperating with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, according to Iranian state media. The Islamic Republic has long accused arch-enemy Israel of carrying out covert operations on its soil. Tehran has recently accused Israeli and Western intelligence services of plotting a civil war in Iran, which is now gripped by some of the biggest anti-government protests since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian state media reported on Wednesday that the country’s Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence handed out to the four men “for the crime of cooperating with the intelligence services of the Zionist regime and for kidnapping.” Three other people were handed prison sentences of between 5 and 10 years after being convicted of crimes that included acting against national security, aiding in kidnapping, and possessing illegal weapons, the Mehr news agency said.

 

Vladimir Putin reportedly fell down some stairs and soiled himself, casting further doubt to the Russian President’s health.  These reports, denied by Putin’s press office, are from General SVR, an anonymous page allegedly operated by a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service official with inside access to Putin and his staff.  General SVR posted a lengthy story on Telegram last week about how Putin had a stressful day at work filled with discussions of Russia’s failing economy and the war with Ukraine. At the end of the day, General SVR said the Russian president slipped and fell five steps, landing on his tailbone. The jarring fall allegedly caused Putin to “defecate involuntarily.” Given the difficulty in getting news out of Russia, especially when it’s anti the regime, these reports are not verified.  To boost morale and rebut these rumors, Putin drove a vehicle across a bridge to Crimea that a truck bomb had damaged. Putin took the wheel of a Mercedes to drive across the bridge that links Russia’s mainland with the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

 

Hungarian oil and gas group MOL noted a partial shortage of fuel stocks across almost its entire network of filling stations over the weekend, as many people started stockpiling. MOL claims the primary cause of the fuel shortage was a lack of imports. Foreign players have cut their fuel shipments to Hungary since the government capped petrol and diesel prices last year. Hungary’s government-imposed price cap is seen as a model to other European nations, which are rethinking strategies after the severe shortage. At hundreds of fuel stations across Hungary, a confusing mosaic of paper signs hang from the pumps to let customers know what is available — or not — and at what price and quantity.

 

Turkey’s parliamentary budget debate turned violent after lawmakers descended into a brawl over heated arguments. Hüseyin Örs, an MP from Trabzon on the northeastern Black Sea, was reportedly hit in the head and taken to intensive care. “We found that his condition deteriorated after the blow to the head ... A heart defibrillation was performed at the hospital,” said Aylin Cesur, a lawmaker from Örs’ Iyi [Good] Party. Television footage showed dozens of lawmakers from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party brawling with opposition parties during a tense debate over next year’s budget. The private DHA news agency said Ors suffers from heart problems and was placed under emergency care as a precaution. “This is a day of shame for the Turkish parliament and for those who committed this attack,” Iyi Party spokesman Kursat Zorlu said.

 

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