Trump NY fraud trial: Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr. to testify.
White House touts converting empty office space into affordable housing.
Poll: Israelis hesitant about Gaza invasion over hostage fears.
Trump NY fraud trial: Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr. to testify
The judge presiding over the fraud trial against former Pres. Trump in New York has ordered Trump’s daughter Ivanka to testify, possibly as soon as next week. Her brothers Eric and Don, Jr., who are both co-defendants along with their father, are set to take the stand next Wednesday. Ivanka was previously dismissed as a defendant. During her time working for the Trump Organization, Ivanka was involved in securing financing for various projects, and thus is a material witness to the misconduct that Judge Arthur Engoron has already found the organization culpable for.
Before the trial began, Engoron found that NY Attorney General Letitia James had proven the state’s accusation that the Trump Organization had grossly inflated the values of properties to secure more favorable terms on loans or when putting the properties on the market. The organization also understated the value of properties for lower taxes and other benefits. The court has already ordered Donald Trump, Sr., Don, Jr., and Eric to surrender their New York business licenses. The ongoing trial is merely to determine what the Trumps and their company will pay in damages. AG James is seeking $250 million.
White House touts converting empty office spaces into affordable housing
The Biden Administration wants incentivize towns and cities across the country to convert unused offices into affordable housing. This is an idea that developers and other groups concerned with housing issues have been pushing for years. However, the conversation about the feasibility of this work has intensified since the pandemic.
Many employees continue either to work from home or only come into the office a few days per week. This is despite efforts from employers at large corporations to force them back to the office. Cities across the country are full of overvalued and underutilized commercial properties. As this trend has solidified, concerns have grown about the potential of a commercial real estate bubble and the potential exposure for major banks if it bursts.
Banks aren’t the only ones who could be in trouble. Central business districts that were once bustling throughout the week (at least during business hours) have become much sleepier. This has impacted businesses that once served white collar workers whose customer base has dwindled.
Meanwhile, most of the country suffers from a chronic shortage of affordable housing. While the solution may seem obvious, attempts to convert office space to residential space often run into bureaucratic hurdles such as zoning laws. There are also different plumbing and other structural requirements for residential vs. commercial space. The White House wants to make millions in federal funds available to help subsidize the costs of conversions and encourage local governments to cut some of the red tape.
Poll shows Israelis hesitant about Gaza invasion over hostage fears
The Israeli newspaper Maariv has released a poll showing waning support among Israelis for an immediate all-out military invasion of Gaza. The new poll shows that only 29% backed an immediate large-scale ground offensive while 49% said it would be better to wait. This is a sharp drop in support since a similar poll released on October 19 which found 65% support for a ground offensive.
While the poll did not ask respondents to comment on their reasons for supporting or not supporting a ground invasion, Maariv inferred that the hesitancy was due to concerns over the fate of about 220 hostages who are still believed to be alive in the tunnels beneath Gaza. This past week, Gaza released four hostages. Two were American citizens and two were Israelis living in kibbutzim near Gaza.
A clip of the release of one of the Israeli hostages, 85-year-old grandmother Yocheved Lifschitz, has gone viral in Israel. In the video, Yocheved turns to grasp the hand of one of her former captors with a parting word of “shalom” (Hebrew for “peace”) before being escorted away by Israeli officials. Yocheved’s husband of 63 years Oded remains in captivity.
Yocheved’s daughter Sharone says her parents, like many living in the kibbutzim, are lifelong advocates for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Sharone was quick to focus her anger towards the Netanyahu government’s response to the attacks. She also voiced the frustration shared by many Israelis that their government is moving ahead with a ground invasion regardless of the danger to hostages.
Sharone slammed the military’s slow response to the October 7th attack. “These people [in the kibbutz] were failed. These people had to fend for themselves for nine hours,” says Sharone, expressing the fury of many Israelis that it took so long for the IDF to come to the aid of the kibbutzim. “We were slaughtered and nobody came for hours. This should be the absolute minimum aim, to bring these people back to their communities and their families.”
It does not seem that the government is heeding these concerns. Perhaps alarmed that popular support is slipping away, they have ordered “limited raids” by the IDF in Gaza over the last two nights. They now say these ground operations will be “expanded” tonight.