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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Inui

Weekly News Blast | Sep 24 - Oct 1


Donald Trump could lose ownership of several of his New York properties after a judge ruled against him in a state real estate fraud case (Jesús Quiles, Flickr)


Judge Rules Against Donald Trump in Real Estate Fraud Case


On September 26, New York judge Arthur Engoron ruled that former president Donald J. Trump had routinely committed fraud by inflating the value of his assets to gain favorable loan terms and insurance costs. This was only a summary judgment, and there will be a trial beginning on October 2 for the rest of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ charges against Trump. However, Engoron’s ruling did include a significant punishment for Trump: the possible seizure of several of his New York properties, including a commercial property in Lower Manhattan, a family estate, the golf club in Westchester, and Trump Tower in Midtown.


Following the judgment, Trump's lawyer Christopher M. Kise announced plans to appeal the decision, which he called “outrageous” and “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law.” Trump also released a statement on his social media platform Truth Social, calling Engoron “deranged” and the decision “un-American.” However, while James’ case has largely been overshadowed by the four other criminal cases pending against Trump, if Judge Engoron’s decision stands, it would represent the first punishment to emerge from a government investigation into the former president.


Historic California Senator Dianne Feinstein Dies at Age 90


Dianne Feinstein, a historic California politician and the Senate’s oldest member, died last Thursday at the age of 90. Her political career began in 1969 when she was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 1978, she became the board’s first female president, and that same year, after San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was assassinated, she became the city’s first female mayor. In 1992, Feinstein beat State Senator John Seymour in a special Senate election, becoming one of two of California’s first female Senators.


As a senator, Feinstein was known for her passionate advocacy for liberal priorities, including environmental protection, reproductive rights, and gun control. However, she was also renowned as a pragmatic lawmaker, often seeking middle ground with Republican colleagues. As a result, she quickly rose in the ranks, becoming the first woman to head the Senate Intelligence Committee and serve as the top Democrat in the Judiciary Committee.


However, after winning a fifth term in 2018 at the age of 85, many began to call in question Feinstein’s diminishing health. Earlier this year, Feinstein said she would not run for a sixth term in the 2024 elections—weeks later, she was absent from the Senate for two months as she recovered from shingles. Many see Feinstein’s death as a reason to impose term or age limits on elected officials. However, none have questioned her impact as a trailblazer for women in politics.


After her death, colleagues from both sides of the aisle came out to commemorate Feinstein as a “cherished friend,” a “political giant,” and a “champion for the Golden State.” Now, California Governor Gavin Newsom must appoint a temporary successor to fill Feinstein’s vacancy. “She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation,” he said following the senator’s death. “There is simply nobody who possessed the poise, gravitas, and fierceness of Dianne Feinstein.”


North Korea Announces Return of U.S. Soldier Who Fled To the Country in July


On July 18, U.S. Private Travis T. King fled to North Korea from South Korea, making him the first American soldier to cross the demilitarized zone since 1982. In the following months, the U.S. engaged in negotiations over King’s repatriation, but historically speaking, most U.S. military deserters were kept in North Korea as valuable propaganda tools. However, on September 27, North Korea announced that it was deporting King back to the U.S. on charges of “illegal intrusion.”


While the North has provided little explanation for King’s release, many experts believe that he was simply more trouble than he was worth. As a low-ranking serviceman, King had little value in terms of leverage or information. While American soldiers were important propaganda tools during the Cold War, Sejong Institute analyst Cheong Seong-chang claims that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has become a much more effective domestic propaganda tool. Some experts add that there may be a racial component to King’s release as well. “If they let him stay, they will eventually have to let him have a family,” said Ahn Chan il, a North Korean defector and head of the World Institute for North Korea Studies. “Given the pure-blood racism of the Kim dynasty, it’s hard to imagine” that being allowed, he added.


Regardless, as he returns to the U.S., there are certainly more troubles ahead for King. When he fled to the North, King was declared AWOL from the Army, which can mean punishment in military jail, forfeiture of pay, or dishonorable discharge. However, senior Biden administration officials have stressed that their main priority is helping King reintegrate into U.S. society and address any mental or emotional concerns.

 



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