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  • Former President Donald Trump says he will not testify in New York fraud trial
    on December 10, 2023 at 10:41 pm

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump said Sunday that he would not testify in a New York courtroom this week, where he had been expected to appear for a second time to make the case that his company did not misrepresent the value of its properties to win favorable financing. The civil fraud trial, which began in October, is one of several legal challenges the former president faces as he mounts a comeback bid for the White House. Trump said on social media on Sunday that “I will not be testifying on Monday.” The former president and Republican frontrunner said that he had already testified and had “nothing more to say other than that this is a complete and total election interference.” In his first appearance in November, Trump often avoided direct answers and spent much of his time complaining of unfair treatment. The judge overseeing the trial, Arthur Engoron, has already ruled that Trump and his adult sons manipulated financial statements to dupe banks and insurers into providing better loan and insurance terms. New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $250 million in damages and a permanent ban on Trump and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric running businesses in New York. Trump faces four unrelated federal and state criminal indictments, including two stemming from his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty in all of those cases. Still, none of these cases have dented his commanding lead for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in next November’s election. (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Luc Cohen; editing by Diane Craft) Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Students and lawmakers gather at Philadelphia temple to denounce antisemitism
    on December 10, 2023 at 10:18 pm

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Students, lawmakers and religious leaders joined forces Sunday at a temple in Philadelphia to strongly denounce antisemitism on college campuses and in their communities. The gathering at Congregation Rodeph Shalom came one day after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned amid criticism over her testimony at a congressional hearing. Magill was unable to say under repeated questioning that calls on campus for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy. “I have seen Pennsylvanians take actions big and small, and both matter, to combat antisemitism,” Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said at the event. “I’ve seen it here in Philadelphia where students raised their voices, where students made sure they were heard in the halls of power at their university, and leadership was held accountable.” Similar sentiments were voiced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a fellow Democrat, and student speakers from Harvard and Penn. Harvard President Claudine Gay also took part in the congressional hearing along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth. They also drew criticism for their lawyerly answers. Eitan Linhart, a sophomore at Penn, discussed his experience with what he called the rise in antisemitism on the school’s campus. He cited a Jewish fraternity being defaced with graffiti that read “The Jews are Nazis” and spoke of friends who no longer wear yarmulkes on campus out of fear. “What surprises me is not the hatred,” Linhart said. “What surprises me is the indifference.” Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Trump says he won’t testify again at his New York fraud trial. He says he has nothing more to say
    on December 10, 2023 at 9:18 pm

    NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump said Sunday he has decided against testifying for a second time at his New York civil fraud trial, posting on social media a day before his scheduled appearance that he “very successfully & conclusively” testified last month and saw no need to do so again. The former president, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, had been expected to return to the witness stand Monday as a coda to his defense against New York Attorney General Letitia James ‘ lawsuit. James, a Democrat, alleges Trump inflated his wealth on financial statements used in securing loans and making deals. The case threatens Trump’s real estate empire and cuts to the heart of his image as a successful businessman. “I will not be testifying on Monday,” Trump wrote in an all-capital-letters, multipart statement on his Truth Social platform less than 20 hours before he was to take the witness stand. “I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say,” Trump added, leaving the final word among defense witnesses to an accounting expert hired by his legal team who testified last week that he found “no evidence, whatsoever, for any accounting fraud” in Trump’s financial statements. A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about his decision. The decision was an abrupt change from Trump’s posture in recent days, when his lawyers said he was insistent on testifying again despite their concerns about a gag order that has cost him $15,000 in fines for disparaging the judge’s law clerk. “President Trump has already testified. There is really nothing more to say to a judge who has imposed an unconstitutional gag order and thus far appears to have ignored President Trump’s testimony and that of everyone else involved in the complex financial transactions at issue in the case,” Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said Sunday. Trump’s decision came days after his son, Eric Trump, ditched his return appearance on the witness stand. Trump said on social media that he’d told Eric to cancel. It also follows Trump’s first trip back to court since he testified in the case on Nov. 6. Last Thursday, he watched from the defense table as the accounting professor, New York University professor Eli Bartov, blasted the state’s case and said Trump’s financial statements “were not materially misstated.” Trump’s cancellation caught court officials by surprise. Without Trump on the witness stand, the trial will be on hold until Tuesday, when Bartov will finish his testimony. State lawyers say they’ll then call at least one rebuttal witness. In a statement, James said whether Trump testified again or not, “we have already proven that he committed years of financial fraud and unjustly enriched himself and his family. No matter how much he tries to distract from reality, the facts don’t lie.” Trump was often defiant and combative when he testified Nov. 6. Along with defending his wealth and denying wrongdoing, he repeatedly sparred with the judge, whom he criticized as “extremely hostile,” and slammed James as “a political hack.” Trump answered questions from state lawyers for about 3½ hours, often responding with lengthy diatribes. His verbose answers irked the judge, Arthur Engoron, who admonished, “This is not a political rally.” Had Trump returned to the stand Monday, it would’ve been his defense lawyers leading the questioning, but lawyers from James’ office could have cross-examined him, too. Engoron ruled before the trial that Trump and other defendants engaged in fraud. He ordered that a receiver take control of some Trump properties, but an appeals court has paused that decision. Engoron is now considering six other claims, including allegations of conspiracy and insurance fraud. James seeks penalties of more than $300 million and wants Trump banned from doing business in New York. The judge is deciding, rather than a jury, because juries aren’t allowed in this type of case. Though testimony is nearly over, the trial that started Oct. 2 will bleed into next year. Closing arguments are scheduled for Jan. 11, just four days before the Iowa caucuses start the presidential primary season. Engoron said he hopes to have a decision by the end of January. Trump has had a prime role in the trial. Along with his testimony, he has voluntarily gone to court eight days to watch witnesses, turning his appearances into de facto campaign stops. During breaks, he has taken full advantage of the cameras parked in the courthouse hallway, spinning what’s happening inside the courtroom, where cameras aren’t allowed, in the most favorable light. Trump’s frequent presence in court — as a witness, observer and aggrieved defendant — has underscored the unique personal stakes for a billionaire who’s also juggling four criminal cases and a campaign. Where other politicians have shied from legal peril, Trump has leaned in as his court and political calendars increasingly overlap, with primaries a few weeks away and the first of his criminal trials slated for March. But Trump’s interest in vindicating his company and his wealth has also run up against the limitations of the gag order, which was reinstated at the end of November by a state appellate court after a two-week interlude. The same gag order was also in effect when he testified in November. Despite the gag order, Trump was adamant in recent days that he’d testify again — even as one of his lawyers, Alina Habba, said she discouraged him from taking the stand. “He still wants to take the stand, even though my advice is, at this point, you should never take the stand with a gag order,” Habba told reporters last week, before Trump changed his mind. Trump spent Saturday evening with Habba at the New York Young Republican Club’s black-tie gala. At the event, about a mile from the courthouse, he went on at length highlighting his objections, saying, “I have proven my innocence literally every single day.” __ Follow Michael Sisak at x.com/mikesisak and Jill Colvin at x.com/colvinj and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Iowa man arrested in the death of a Nebraska priest
    on December 10, 2023 at 8:18 pm

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A man has been arrested in the stabbing death of a Catholic priest who was attacked over the weekend in a church rectory in a small Nebraska community, authorities said. The Rev. Stephen Gutgsell was assaulted Sunday “during an invasion” of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, the Archdiocese of Omaha said in a statement. Gutgsell was taken to an Omaha hospital, where he died from his injuries, church officials said. Fort Calhoun, with a population of about 1,000 people, is roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Omaha. Police received a 911 call about an attempted break-in at the church just after 5 a.m. When officers arrived, they found Gutgsell injured and a suspected attacker inside. Kierre L. Williams, 43, was arrested on charges of homicide and using a weapon to commit a felony, Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson said in a statement. It is not clear if Williams, who is from Sioux City, Iowa, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) north of Fort Calhoun, has a lawyer. A message left at the county jail was not immediately returned. In 2007, Gutgsell pleaded guilty to theft by deception for embezzling $127,000 from an area church. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution. He was later reassigned to another church. At the time, church leaders said Gutgsell learned his lesson, admitted wrongdoing and sought forgiveness. Earlier this year, his brother, the Rev. Michael Gutgsell, also pled guilty to theft charges. He served as chancellor of the Omaha archdiocese from 1994 until 2003. Robinson told WOWT-TV that authorities did not believe Stephen Gutgsell’s death was related to his criminal history. Robinson did not respond Sunday to questions on the topic from The Associated Press. Archdiocese of Omaha spokesperson Riley Johnson declined to comment beyond confirming that Stephen and Michael Gutgsell were brothers. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • Skiing Santas hit the slopes in Maine
    on December 10, 2023 at 7:18 pm

    NEWRY, Maine (AP) — Ho ho ho, away they go — Santa’s helpers took the day off on Sunday with a few hundred of the jolly ol’ elves hitting the slopes. With beards and stocking caps flapping, some 300 red-suited Santas were lively and quick at the foggy Sunday River ski resort in western Maine as they took a break from the holiday hustle and bustle. The annual event has been held for more than 20 years, except for once during the pandemic. The skiing Santas participate in full Kringle garb, including, of course, a white beard and red hat. The event’s rules specifically state the hat must bear a white pompom. The annual event serves as a festive kickoff to both the holiday season and the skiing season. It raises money for The River Fund Maine, an education charity. This year’s event raised $8,000, Sunday River representatives said. “Each year, the kindness of Santa Sunday participants contributes to creating impactful educational opportunities for our local students,” said Sunday River Resort President Dana Bullen. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com

  • The Media Line: US Vetoes UN Cease-Fire Resolution Amid Escalating Israel-Hamas Conflict
    on December 10, 2023 at 6:18 pm

    US Vetoes UN Cease-Fire Resolution Amid Escalating Israel-Hamas Conflict By The Media Line Staff The United States exercised its veto power at the United Nations on Friday, blocking a resolution that called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. The resolution, supported by almost all Security Council members and numerous nations, aimed to address the dire humanitarian crisis in the region, with UN chief António Guterres referring to it as a “humanitarian nightmare.” US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood criticized the resolution, stating that it was “divorced from reality” and would not contribute to progress on the ground. Wood expressed disappointment in the council’s failure to condemn Hamas for the October 7 massacres in Israel and underscored Israel’s right to defend itself. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, thanked US President Joe Biden for the veto, emphasizing the need to eliminate Hamas in order to reach a lasting cease-fire. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu echoed this sentiment, asserting that Israel would continue its justified war against Hamas. The resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, highlighted the catastrophic situation in Gaza, calling for the protection of civilians, the release of hostages held by Hamas, and humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip. Despite the veto, concerns are growing about the escalating conflict’s impact on regional stability. Guterres warned of a “serious risk” to international peace, with potential spillover into the occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The UN secretary general’s urgency triggered Article 99, prompting the Security Council vote. Amid growing international pressure, including discussions between US Vice President Kamala Harris and Arab leaders, the situation in Gaza remains dire. With conflicting narratives and a rising death toll, the international community faces challenges in finding a resolution to the conflict, while the consequences continue to reverberate across the region, impacting both Israelis and Palestinians. Brought to you by www.srnnews.com