NEW YORK NEWS
Representative George Santos (NY-3) has said that he is not seeking re-election after the House Ethics Committee has determined that he violated federal law by misusing campaign funds for personal gain, defrauding donors, and providing false information on campaign finance and financial disclosures. The committee unanimously referred its findings to the Department of Justice, stating that Santos’s actions warrant public condemnation and bring severe discredit upon the House.
While the committee did not recommend specific punitive measures, its chairman, Representative Michael Guest, announced a motion for Santos’s removal from office. The investigation revealed extensive malfeasance, including fictitious loans, fraudulent campaign filings, and personal use of campaign funds. Despite denying involvement in campaign finances, Santos was found to be heavily involved, and his treasurer and a campaign aide have pleaded guilty to federal charges. The committee did not substantiate accusations of sexual harassment against Santos. The ethics investigation is described as a priority, involving numerous witnesses, documents, and subpoenas, and federal prosecutors are also pursuing charges related to Santos’s conduct. Santos’s re-election campaign was already struggling, with party officials withdrawing support and fundraising challenges.
Southern Brooklyn Councilmember Inna Vernikov, facing an illegal gun charge after appearing with a firearm at a counter-protest against pro-Palestinian college students, is set to be cleared, as the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office revealed that the weapon was inoperable. Despite a New York law prohibiting firearms at “sensitive locations” like protests, prosecutors had to drop the charge because the gun lacked a key part—the recoil spring assembly. NYPD officers did not arrest Vernikov at the protest but took possession of the gun when she turned herself in. Prosecutors emphasized the need to prove operability to sustain the charge. Vernikov’s attorney welcomed the dismissal, stating she looks forward to continuing her service to New Yorkers, while critics questioned the NYPD’s handling of the situation. The case is pending dismissal at the next court date, scheduled for Jan. 24.
The NYPD arrested Wesley Miles, a 66-year-old Brooklyn resident, on Saturday after he shot an Israeli man in the back. The incident occurred on Thursday following a loud argument that ensued after the men bumped into each other. Miles, who initially boarded a bus, returned and fired three 0.22 mm gun shots, hitting the Israeli in the back. The victim, expecting to travel to Israel and join the IDF in the Gaza war, was treated for mild injuries and later released from the hospital. Eyewitnesses initially thought it was an attempted robbery, prompting a police response. The NYPD report indicated no anti-Semitic motive for the attack, and there was no indication that Miles was aware the victim was Israeli.
A New York appeals court judge temporarily lifted gag orders on Donald J. Trump and his lawyers in the civil fraud trial, which had prevented them from commenting on court staff, including a law clerk, Allison Greenfield. The order against Trump was initially issued by the presiding judge, Arthur F. Engoron, after Trump attacked the law clerk in a social media post, accusing her of being a Democratic partisan. Trump violated the order twice, resulting in fines, and a similar order was later issued against his lawyers. The appellate judge, David Friedman, paused both orders, leaving Trump free to comment for the time being. The gag orders may be reimposed after evaluation by a full appellate panel. Trump’s lawyers praised the decision, emphasizing constitutional protections, while Trump promptly criticized Greenfield on his Truth Social platform. The civil fraud trial, stemming from a lawsuit by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, is expected to last until mid-December.
Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law in New York that automatically seals the criminal records of individuals who have completed their sentences and remained trouble-free for a specified period. This “clean slate” legislation joins similar measures in states like California, New Jersey, and Michigan. The law, a major victory in criminal justice reform, will automatically seal most criminal records three years after serving time or parole for a misdemeanor and eight years for felony convictions, excluding sex crimes and most Class A felonies. The legislation addresses the barriers faced by millions of New Yorkers with criminal records in accessing employment, housing, and education. Business groups, including Microsoft and JP Morgan Chase, support the move, anticipating a more competitive labor pool for the state’s economy. The law will go into effect in one year and does not apply to individuals with pending felony charges in another state, with exceptions allowing certain entities, such as law enforcement and employers working with vulnerable populations, to access sealed records.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced budget cuts, freezing police hiring, closing libraries on Sundays, and making significant reductions across city agencies in response to rising costs associated with the migrant crisis, slowing tax revenues, and the end of federal pandemic aid. The cuts aim to manage a nearly $11 billion cost over two years related to the migrant crisis and address a $7 billion gap in next year’s budget. The police hiring freeze would take the number of officers below 30,000 for the first time since the 1980s, while the Education Department budget faces a $1 billion cut over two years. The cuts, effective immediately, are deemed necessary by the mayor, who warned of further reductions without additional federal support. Critics, including progressive Democrats, argue that the cuts will negatively impact working-class families and have expressed concerns about public safety and the strain on essential services.
A Torah reading in front of Congress got awkward when a group of leftist Jews, known as “Rabbis for Ceasefire,” gathered with Rep. Rashida Tlaib during a demonstration publicly calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. While leining from the Torah, the woman doing so dropped her voice when reaching the part about G-d promising the land of Israel to the Jewish people. In the English translation, that part was skipped as she said, “G-d came to him (Isaac) and told him don’t go to Egypt, just stay where you are … I’m skipping a lot of parts here … gave him a lot of blessings for his kids …” Critics highlighted this as an ironic and embarrassing moment, suggesting that the event was a performance for non-Jewish Israel-hating audiences, and some commented on the perceived contradiction in anti-Israel Jews presenting themselves as religious Jews.
Protesters advocating for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict clashed with police outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC during a campaign reception attended by Democratic representatives. The protesters, calling for an end to the violence, wore shirts saying “Cease Fire Now.” The situation escalated, with Capitol Police stating about 150 people were “illegally and violently protesting.” Protesters blamed the police, alleging officers rushed them without warning. Inside, police directed lawmakers to the basement, and some were later evacuated in police vehicles. Six officers sustained minor injuries, and one protester was arrested. The protest reflects heightened tensions over the Israel-Hamas conflict within Democratic circles.
A Southern California college professor, Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and battery in the death of a Jewish protester, Paul Kessler, during demonstrations over the Israel-Hamas war. The charges allege that Alnaji personally inflicted “great bodily injury” on Kessler during a confrontation at a pro-Palestinian event in Thousand Oaks. Kessler, part of a group of pro-Israel demonstrators at the event, died a day after the protest. The district attorney did not provide details on the evidence supporting the charges but planned a news conference. Alnaji, a computer science professor, had expressed pro-Palestinian views on social media. The arrest raised tensions amid widespread demonstrations in the U.S. related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, announced that he would immediately release footage from the U.S. Capitol Police regarding the events of January 6, 2021. This decision comes as one of his first significant actions since assuming the House speakership. The previously withheld tapes, amounting to approximately 44,000 hours of footage, will be gradually made available to the public. Johnson stated that the release aims to provide transparency, allowing people to form their own opinions about the events of that day. The footage will feature blurred faces to avoid potential retaliation, and only 5% of the footage won’t be released due to security concerns. About 90 hours of footage have been initially made public, with the rest to follow in the coming months. The move follows Johnson’s promise to release the tapes if he became House speaker, countering the narrative of an insurrection by showing protesters walking through the Capitol building peacefully. Senator Mike Lee has called for an investigation into the House January 6 Select Committee, questioning whether certain footage was deliberately hidden or destroyed.
Elon Musk, owner of X, is suing progressive watchdog group Media Matters over its report on anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi content on X, which contributed to a significant advertiser exodus. The lawsuit accuses Media Matters of distorting the likelihood of ads appearing next to extremist content on X and alleges that the group manufactured images to drive advertisers away. Musk endorsed an anti-Semitic claim during the same week and now seeks to blame the advertiser backlash on third-party groups. Media Matters President Angelo Carusone defends the reporting, calling the lawsuit a frivolous attempt to silence critics. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey also announce investigations into Media Matters, drawing support from Musk. Legal experts criticize the lawsuit, suggesting it is weak and strategically filed to avoid anti-SLAPP statutes.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, wife of President Jimmy Carter, passed away peacefully at 96 at their home in Plains, Georgia. The Carters were married for 77 years and shared a life that included their peanut farm days, Jimmy’s term as Georgia governor, and his presidency. Described by Jimmy Carter as his “equal partner,” Rosalynn was known for her advocacy in mental health, caregiving, and women’s rights. In May, the Carter Center announced her dementia diagnosis, and on Friday, it was revealed that she had entered hospice care alongside her husband, who had opted for hospice care over further medical intervention. The couple is survived by their four children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy has announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Robert Menendez. In her campaign launch video, Murphy criticizes Washington for being filled with people more interested in personal gain than serving the public. The video highlights her efforts as the first lady to address maternal mortality and advocate for climate change education in New Jersey schools. Murphy, who has never held public office, will face competition from Rep. Andy Kim, who is also running for the Senate seat. Menendez has not yet confirmed whether he will seek reelection but released a statement critiquing Murphy’s entry into the race, highlighting policy differences and accusing her of being a former Republican.
New Jersey is eliminating the requirement for candidates to sign an oath including the phrase “so help me G-d” when filing candidacy paperwork. The state’s Division of Elections will now allow candidates to make a “solemn affirmation or declaration” instead. This change comes as a response to a lawsuit by James Tosone, a 70-year-old New Jersey man planning to run for Congress in 2024 as a Libertarian. Tosone, a nontheist, argued that signing a religious oath went against his beliefs. The state’s Division of Elections confirmed the removal of the religious oath in a memo to county clerks, prompting Tosone to drop his lawsuit.
The Israel Defense Forces conducted a raid on Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, stating that Hamas used the facility to house a major operations command center, exploiting patients, staff, and civilians as cover for its activities. The IDF found weapons, intelligence materials, military technology, and equipment during the operation. The military spokesperson stated that these findings demonstrated a violation of international law, as hospitals should not be used for terror-related activities. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza denied the claims, asserting that Israeli forces did not find any equipment or weapons in the hospital. The U.S. had previously confirmed that terrorist groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, used hospitals and tunnels underneath them for military operations. The IDF emphasized that the operation aimed to target specific areas within the hospital, and the search for intelligence information and Hamas assets continued. The U.S. clarified that while Shifa Hospital is an active legitimate hospital, Hamas’s use of it for military purposes is a violation of the law of war. Former USAID mission director Dave Harden noted that the use of Shifa Hospital by Hamas as a command center and the use of ambulances for travel were widely known in the region.
Benny Gantz, a minister-without-portfolio in the War Cabinet of Israel, has stated that Israel intends to target Hamas leaders responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre, both in Gaza and globally. Gantz emphasized that there will be no sanctuary for these leaders, pledging to eradicate those involved in the attack. The named Hamas leaders include Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, Marwan Issa, Saleh al-Arouri, and Khaled Mashaal. Israeli forces conducted a precision operation in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as part of their efforts. Gantz also mentioned ongoing operations against those using hospitals as command centers in Gaza City and addressed escalating tensions with Hezbollah in Lebanon, suggesting that the strategies employed in the south could be applied in the north if necessary.
The IDF recovered the bodies of two Israeli hostages, Yehudit Weiss and Cpl. Noa Marciano, who were abducted by Hamas on October 7. The bodies were found in the area of Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip during a precision operation. Yehudit Weiss, 65, a mother of five, and Cpl. Noa Marciano, 19, were among the hostages taken by Hamas during an attack in southern Israel. Yehudit Weiss was being treated for breast cancer when she was kidnapped, and her husband was found murdered later. Marciano’s body was recovered three days after it was announced she had been killed in Hamas captivity. The IDF expressed condolences to the families and emphasized its ongoing mission to locate missing individuals and return hostages home.
Argentina elected Javier Milei as the new president with 56% of the vote, and he is set to take office on December 10. Milei, a Right-wing libertarian known for populist rhetoric, plans significant budget cuts, including gutting about half of the federal government’s ministries. He supports laissez-faire capitalism, advocates using the U.S. dollar as Argentina’s currency, opposes central banking, and strongly opposes climate change policies. Milei favors close ties with the United States and Israel, plans to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and wants to cut off relations with China. He also aims to repeal the country’s abortion law enacted in 2022 and opposes social justice initiatives, expressing strong disdain for the political Left.
Houthi rebels in Yemen seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship, the Galaxy Leader, in the Red Sea, taking its 25 crew members hostage. The rebels, backed by Iran, claimed they targeted the ship due to its connection to Israel and threatened to attack ships linked to or owned by Israelis until the end of Israel’s campaign against Hamas. The ship, affiliated with an Israeli billionaire, was reportedly British-owned and Japanese-operated, with no Israelis on board. The incident raises concerns about tensions playing out in a new maritime front, and Israel condemned it as an “Iranian act of terror.” The Houthis vowed to treat the crew members “in accordance with their Islamic values.” The Red Sea remains a key global trade route, and the seizure comes amid escalating regional conflicts.
French judicial authorities issued international arrest warrants for Syrian President Bashar Assad, his brother Maher Assad, and two army generals, Ghassan Abbas and Bassam al-Hassan, for alleged complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity, including a 2013 chemical attack on rebel-held Damascus suburbs. The warrants were issued in response to an investigation into the chemical weapons attacks in Eastern Ghouta and Douma in 2013, which resulted in over 1,000 deaths and thousands of injuries. While it is unlikely that Assad will face trial in France, the international warrants for a serving world leader are rare and send a strong message about Assad’s leadership. The investigation, conducted under universal jurisdiction in France, is based on a criminal complaint by survivors filed in 2021. The Syrian government has not commented on the warrants.
A 53-year-old unemployed man, affiliated with a right-wing group, was arrested by Tokyo Metropolitan Police for allegedly obstructing official duties after he drove his vehicle into a temporary barricade near the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo, injuring a police officer in his 20s. The motive behind the incident and whether the embassy was specifically targeted remain unknown. The injured officer’s injuries are reported as non-life-threatening. The street near the embassy is often barricaded by Japanese police due to demonstrations protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza. The suspect admitted to ramming into the barricade, expressing regret for the officer’s injury.