Suspect in Idaho killings plans to waive extradition hearing

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A suspect arrested in connection with the slayings of four University of Idaho students plans to waive an extradition hearing so he can be quickly brought to Idaho to face murder charges, his defense attorney said Saturday.

Bryan Kohberger, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student and teaching assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, was taken into custody early Friday morning by the Pennsylvania State Police at his parents’ home in Chestnuthill Township, authorities said.

“We believe we’ve got our man,” Moscow Police Department Captain Anthony Dahlinger told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Investigators obtained samples of Kohberger’s DNA directly from the suspect after he was arrested, Dahlinger said.

“He’s the one that we believe is responsible for all four of the murders,” he said.

Bill Thompson, a prosecutor in Latah County, Idaho, said during a press conference Friday that investigators believe Kohberger broke into the University of Idaho students’ home near campus “with the intent to commit murder.” The bodies of the students — Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin — were found on Nov. 13, several hours after investigators believe they died.

The arrest in the disturbing case brought a sense of relief to the small northern Idaho college town after weeks passed with little information released by police. But it has also raised questions about whether the suspect knew the victims, what he has been doing in the weeks since the killings and how authorities tracked him down in Pennsylvania.

Many of those details will be released after Kohberger makes his first appearance in an Idaho courtroom, Dahlinger said. State law prohibits police from releasing most investigation records while the investigation is underway, and investigators kept many details about the investigation secret to avoid damaging the case, he said.

“I just really hope that everybody out there can understand the ‘why’ behind us holding a lot of information close to our vest,” Dahlinger said. “This is the positive outcome that we were searching for the entire time.”

Kohberger’s attorney, chief public defender Jason LaBar, said Kohberger is eager to be exonerated and plans to tell a judge in Monroe County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday that he will waive his extradition hearing so he can be quickly brought to Idaho.

LaBar also cautioned people against passing judgment on the case until a fair trial is held. The case has generated massive amounts of speculation on social media, with would-be sleuths suggesting possible motives and frequently trying to pin the blame for the deaths on various friends and acquaintances of the victims.

“Mr. Kohberger has been accused of very serious crimes, but the American justice system cloaks him in a veil of innocence,” LaBar wrote in a prepared statement. “He should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise — not tried in the court of public opinion.”

Police are now trying to understand “every aspect” of Kohberger, Dahlinger said. When the arrest was announced, investigators asked that anyone that knows Kohberger call a tip line to share information.

The response was immediate.

“We got 400 phone calls within the first hour after the press conference, which is great,” Dahlinger said. “We’re trying to build this picture now of him: Who he is, his history, how we got to this event, why this event occurred.”

Neighbors of the Kohberger family in Chestnuthill Township, Pennsylvania told The (Scranton) Times-Tribune on Friday they were shocked to see law enforcement vehicles outside the home.

Eileen Cesaretti, who lives across the street, said she loves Kohberger’s parents and is fond of their son, who she said helped her and her husband around their house when he was home from school.

“I don’t think he’s capable of doing something like this. I pray to God he’s innocent,” Cesaretti said.

Nephi Duff lives next door to Bryan Kohberger at a Washington State University apartment complex for graduate students and families. He told Spokane, Washington-based television station KREM2 that recent crimes like the slayings in Moscow have left him feeling unsafe.

“I don’t recall ever seeing him around,” Duff said of Kohberger. “I thought I was moving to a safe, small community, but that hasn’t been the case recently. I just think if these things are happening right under my nose, how do I protect (my family)?”

BK Norton, a student in the WSU Criminal Justice and Criminology Department, said Friday that they didn’t know Kohberger well, but didn’t like him.

“We interacted in class, but personally I was not a fan of Bryan because of comments he had made about LGBTQ+ individuals,” they said in an email to The Associated Press. “He was a little off, but I always thought it was because he was awkward and wanted to fit in.”

Federal and state investigators are now combing through Kohberger’s background, financial records and electronic communications as they work to identify a motive and build the case, a law enforcement official who could not publicly discuss details of the ongoing investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The investigators are also interviewing people who knew Kohberger, including those at WSU, the official said.

Kohberger is being held without bond in Pennsylvania and will be held without bond in Idaho once he is returned, Thompson, the Latah County prosecutor, said. The affidavit for four charges of first-degree murder in Idaho will remain sealed until he is returned, Thompson said. He is also charged with felony burglary in Idaho. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The students — Kaylee Goncalves, 21, of Rathdrum, Idaho; Madison Mogen, 21, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Xana Kernodle, 20, of Post Falls, Idaho; and Ethan Chapin, 20, of Conway, Washington — were members of the university’s Greek system and close friends. Mogen, Goncalves and Kernodle lived in the three-story rental home with two other roommates. Kernodle and Chapin were dating and he was visiting the house that night.

Autopsies showed all four were likely asleep when they were attacked. Some had defensive wounds and each was stabbed multiple times. There was no sign of sexual assault, police said.

Ben Roberts, a graduate student in the criminology and criminal justice department at WSU, described Kohberger as confident and outgoing, but said it seemed like “he was always looking for a way to fit in.”

“I had honestly just pegged him as being super awkward.” Roberts said.

Roberts started the program in August — along with Kohberger, he said — and had several courses with him. He described Kohberger as wanting to appear academic.

“One thing he would always do, almost without fail, was find the most complicated way to explain something,” he said.

The arrest marked a bittersweet moment for law enforcement officers, Dahlinger said.

“We’re very excited by the fact that we were able to locate Mr. Kohberger and bring him into custody, but we all still feel the sadness and the sorry,” he said. “We feel horrible for the families and the loss of their loved ones.”

___

Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Balsamo reported from Washington. News Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York; reporters Mark Scolforo and Brooke Schultz in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Martha Bellisle in Seattle also contributed.

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It’s 2023. Remember that God always gives you a chance to start fresh

Latest & Breaking News on Fox News 

The new year is here, and you have a second chance! Whatever has gone wrong, you get a do-over.

Christianity is a religion of second chances. It starts in the Old Testament, where God sends prophets again and again to remind his people how to live. And over and over, the people reject the prophets. Still, God never gives up on his people. He continues to invite people to a more loving way of living.

Jesus Christ also gave second chances generously. Scandalizing the people of his day, he spoke and dined with notorious sinners. And he challenged those sinners to change, to start over.

AFTER A MEDICAL CRISIS, I AM GRATEFUL TO BE ALIVE

Christianity also teaches us to give others second chances. One time Jesus has asked how many times we need to forgive others, and he said we should someone who sins against us 77 times (Matthew 18:22). Some translations even say it’s seventy times seven!

Jesus was not suggesting we should walk around with little notebooks and stop forgiving on the seventy-eighth offense. Rather, he was telling us that we should forgive people again and again.

So what do second chances have to do with the new year?

The new year is a natural time to take stock and to try to live differently. I love that the church provides its own times for taking stock and starting over. Lent is a really good times for this. But since our religion is about second chances, there’s never a bad time to take stock. Now is as good a time as any.

SCOTT GUNN: HOW TO FIND SERENITY IN DIFFICULT TIMES

It’s pretty common around now for people to make resolutions — things they’ll do to improve themselves in the new year. People sometimes strive to eat differently, or use a treadmill more, or something else that relates to physical health or personal appearance.

Maybe you’re one of those people. If so, I’m not here to criticize you. But I would invite you to think bigger. One time Jesus was asked about the most important commandment. Quoting the Old Testament, he said we should love God and love our neighbors (Matthew 22:34-40).

If Jesus said those are the most important commandments, maybe it’s good if we try our best to keep them. This year, what can you do to love God and love your neighbor more fully?

I don’t know what’s right for you, but maybe you’ll work on loving God by reading scripture more or spending more time in prayer. Maybe you’ll love your neighbor by helping those who are in need or giving companionship to those who might be lonely. You’ll know what’s right for you.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER

If you make a resolution and fail, don’t worry! Remember, Christianity is a religion of second chances. You can always start over and try again.

The amazing truth is that we don’t have to get our resolutions right or do anything else for God to love us. God already loves each of us more than we can imagine. The reason to try again isn’t to get on God’s good side, but rather to live out our gratitude for God’s love. He loved us first, so let us love others.

The year 2022 was an eventful year for me. After a serious health crisis and a major surgery, it feels like a great chance to reassess and start over. 

In 2023, I’m planning to spend more of my prayer time in gratitude and more of my social media time proclaiming God’s love for us all, you and me and everyone else.

So, by all means, get out that treadmill if that’s your thing. But I hope you’ll also join me in this new year. Let’s try to get better at the most important things — it’s all about love. And when we inevitably fall short, let’s give thanks that our God is always ready to give us a second chance or a third chance or a millionth chance.

Happy new year! Happy fresh start!

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SCOTT GUNN

 

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America’s ‘most dangerous law’ goes into effect

Latest & Breaking News on Fox News 

Illinois law enforcement is preparing new ways to best serve and protect law-abiding citizens as the state’s new sweeping criminal justice reform bill takes effect Sunday, a local sheriff said. 

“We’ve spent a lot of time trying to prepare for what’s coming,” Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Bacon told Fox News. “Trying to sift through a thousand pages to determine where our role is and what’s going to change and how we can best serve the citizens that we protect has been first and foremost for us.”

Illinois’ Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, overhauled Illinois’ justice system with provisions like limiting when defendants can be deemed flight risks and allowing defendants under electronic monitoring to leave home for 48 hours before they can be charged with escape. It was also supposed to eliminate cash bail, but the state’s Supreme Court stayed that portion hours before the law was set to take effect.

WATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE

In a previous interview, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau told Fox News: “When I said that this is the most dangerous law I’ve ever seen, I believe that.” 

Bacon, who was elected sheriff in November, said he has sat through “what feels like hundreds of hours of training and discussion” on the new reforms. “And there’s just so many questions that still exist.” 

“My focus has been to ensure that the people that commit certain crimes, that they can remain in jail,” he told Fox News. “We work very hard to provide the best services we can, and sometimes we feel like we’re paddling upstream.”

Concerned Illinoisans like Bacon received a win Thursday when Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by several prosecutors and sheriffs around the state. The class-action lawsuit, which dozens of counties across the state signed onto, argued the pre-trial release and bail reforms in the SAFE-T act are unconstitutional.

JUDGE RULES ILLINOIS LAW ELIMINATING CASH BAIL IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

“Today’s ruling affirms that we are still a government of the people, and that the Constitutional protections afforded to the citizens of Illinois – most importantly the right to exercise our voice with our vote – are inalienable,” Kankakee County State Attorney Jim Rowe, one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit, said in a statement.

Illinois’ high court, as a result, blocked the elimination of the cash bail as the state appeal’s the decision, though the rest of the bill remains in effect.

The SAFE-T Act also dropped trespassing from a Class A misdemeanor to Class B. As result, police won’t be able to arrest non-violent trespassers and can instead only issue them a citation. 

“If someone’s trespassing on your property, we’re going to remove them from your property,” Bacon said. “Maybe we can’t arrest them, maybe we can’t place them in the county jail, but we’re not going to leave them there.” 

SAFE-T ACT: ILLINOIS SHERIFF WARNS PROSECUTORS NOT TO BE ‘OVERZEALOUS’ TARGETING VICTIMS STOPPING CRIMINALS

The sheriff said that while officers will continue to work within the requirements of the law, “there is also common sense and discretion, and we’re going to utilize that.”

“Law enforcement officers — their loyalty remains to victims of crime,” he added. 

Franklin County, located in southern Illinois with a population of roughly 37,000, experiences high numbers of drug-related burglaries, the sheriff said. 

“It’s nonstop,” Bacon told Fox News. “Everyday.”

The sheriff said from what he can tell of the SAFE-T act, “there’s not a drug offense other than one involving a firearm or a high-level drug offense that is detainable.”

As a result, he fears that not only will the high volume of these crimes continue, but low-level criminals abusing drugs may also not receive opportunities to get clean if they’re released immediately after being arrested. 

“It’s a snowball effect if the drug issue leads to these deaths and burglaries that we experience,” Bacon said. “They are a struggle for rural departments to keep up with.”

“Simply booking someone and sending them out before they’re even sober, I don’t see a great benefit,” he told Fox News. “I hope I’m wrong, but it’s concerning.”

 

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3 Chicago police officers died by suicide in one week, total of 7 in 2022: Experts react

Latest & Breaking News on Fox News 

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Three Chicago police officers died by suicide in the final weeks of 2022, adding to a troubling trend over the past few years which several experts told Fox News Digital must be more seriously addressed in 2023.

A 51-year-old off-duty Chicago police officer took his own life on the morning of Dec. 22, marking the seventh police officer suicide of 2022 and the third since Dec. 15, WLS-TV reported.

On the morning of Dec. 20, a female Chicago police officer in her 30s was found dead in her home from suicide, and a 58-year-old female officer was found dead of an apparent suicide on Dec. 15.

DEFUNDING POLICE, VILIFYING THEM ‘AT EVERY TURN’ CONTRIBUTING TO OFFICER SUICIDES, EXPERTS SAY

Over the past four years, 20 Chicago police officers are believed to have died from suicide and a 2017 Justice Department research study concluded that officers in the Chicago Police Department are 60% more likely to die from suicide than officers in the average police department.

It’s a tragic trend that’s been going on for years,” retired Chicago Police Department Chief of Detectives Eugene Roy told Fox News Digital, explaining that city leaders have engaged in a policy of “benign neglect” that is “costing people their lives.”

What we have here is we have a failure of two things,” Roy said. “We have a failure of management and, more importantly and more critically, we have a failure of leadership.”

Roy pointed to multiple examples of how leadership can make improvements, including what he says is a public waiting room where officers visiting the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) office do not have privacy if they wish to seek help for mental health issues. Additionally, Roy said that the department sent an email to every sworn officer on the day of one of the suicides telling them of the open complaints against them.

“Is that looking out for the best interests of our people?” Roy asked. “They’re already down in the gutter. They’ve been kicked. Another friend, partner, coworker has taken their life, and you’re going to just remind everybody of that? That shows a lack of sensitivity. That shows a lack of leadership skills and ability.”

5TH SAN ANTONIO POLICE OFFICER DIES FROM SUICIDE IN LAST 7 MONTHS, EXPERTS WEIGH IN: ‘STOP THE DEMONIZATION’

Tania Glenn, a trauma therapist in the Austin, Texas, area for 30 years and president of Tania Glenn and Associates, which specializes in providing mental health services to first responders and veterans, told Fox News Digital that Chicago police officers face a “multifaceted” set of circumstances and problems.

“Chicago is a very, very hectic, busy, violent city, so officers are exposed to a lot of crime and criminal elements and critical incidents and then there is the staffing shortage,” Glenn explained. “I know, especially in Chicago, all the prolonged shifts have been a real issue, as well as working a lot of overtime.”

Fox News Digital exclusively reported in April that staffing levels in the Chicago Police Department had reached their lowest in recent history at the same time the city was experiencing a surge in crime.

AUSTIN POLICE PAST AND PRESENT SOUND ALARM ON RIPPLE EFFECTS OF DEFUNDING POLICE: ‘IT’S CRUSHING MORALE’

“When you take people who are exposed to high stress and you also expose them for very long periods of time, what happens is, of course, they’re in this constant state of fight or flight and their cortisol is pumping,” Glenn said. “And when they are off, it takes so long to decompress from that constant engagement of fight or flight but even when they are off, they don’t sleep well.”

The low staffing levels have contributed to scheduling issues where officers have had days off canceled, along with long hours where some officers have resorted to sleeping in their cars between shifts.

“We’re also adding on the fact that there is a lack of sleep because they are working those really long shifts and they’re working a lot of overtime, and so it gets to the point where when human beings don’t have enough sleep, we are not rational, our mental health completely suffers,” Glenn told Fox News Digital. “And what happens over time is when people don’t have enough sleep, then it throws fuel on the fire for things like depression and anxiety and when the depression hits, it’s so cruel — it basically convinces you to just take your own life and it convinces you that no one will care, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“So it’s like this perfect storm of trauma, stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, all converging together, and that is what that police department in Chicago is facing.”

Roy told Fox News Digital that outreach from supervisors that interact with police on a daily basis is critical to addressing the problem and leadership to send a “loud and clear” message to supervisors who are in charge of hundreds of staff members that they are responsible for and owe it to officers to look out for their emotional and mental health as well as their physical safety.”

ARRESTS IN CHICAGO PLUMMET TO HISTORIC LOWS AS CRIME RISES AND POLICE ADMITTEDLY PULL BACK: ‘NO WAY’

Roy also suggested that leaders, from the police superintendent on down, make a point of visiting the different precincts where these suicides have taken place and publicly show support.

“Go on a tour,” Roy said. “Go visit his people starting with the units where people have died and work backwards from the most recent ones where people are still hurting and just go work his way backwards, and gradually he’s got to go see everybody. That’s the way that you show people you’re sincere, you’re legit, and you have their best interests at heart.”

Glenn expressed a similar sentiment to Fox News Digital and explained that one of the biggest hurdles officers face is overcoming the stigma attached with asking for help and the embarrassment associated with reaching out to superiors for help, which makes effective and discreet therapy even more essential.

“I think every officer who gets good help wants to tell other officers to get that help, and if we can multiply how many officers get really good care, they’re going to be the biggest influencer for other officers to go get help,” she said.

DEFUND THE POLICE PUSH, LIBERAL POLICIES DRIVING CHICAGO BUSINESS EXODUS, HURTING POOR THE MOST: EXPERTS

Chicago Alderman Anthony Napolitano, who represents Chicago’s 41st ward and served as a Chicago police officer for five years and as a Chicago firefighter for 10 years, told Fox News Digital that the city can do more to provide healthcare resources to officers, including a path for officers suffering from PTSD to access “stellate ganglion block” and ketamine treatments, which he has been pushing for

“I hope to bring this procedure to the city of Chicago to help combat the ongoing battle with suicide among first responders as well as all city workers,” Napolitano said, explaining that there are measures the city can take to make the treatment, known as the “God shot,” as well as other treatments more readily available and affordable to officers. 

CHICAGO POLICE STAFFING THE LOWEST IN RECENT HISTORY AS DEPARTMENT REELS FROM ‘GENERATION RESIGNATION’

“I was both a police officer and firefighter for the city of Chicago. I was elected to fight for people and I won’t stand by idle,” Napolitano said.

Following the recent officer suicides, CPD Superintendent David Brown released a statement in which he said “the men and women of the Chicago Police Department are everyday heroes who serve and protect with great honor and courage.”

REPORTER BANNED BY LORI LIGHTFOOT SLAMS NEW ‘ORWELLIAN’ CENSORSHIP: ‘CHICAGOANS WILL DIE’ FROM THIS

“Each day, they make the choice to put their own safety at risk to protect the people of our city. Our officers repeatedly respond to traumatic incidents and are not immune to the pain and cruelty surrounding these incidents. They do this while balancing their own personal lives and difficulties. This is why it is crucial we strengthen and expand the resources and support systems for our officers,” he said.

Fox News Digital reached out to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office for comment and did not receive a response by time of publication.

The Chicago Police Department directed Fox News Digital to an email sent out by EAP to officers outlining the various resources at their disposal if they need mental health counseling.

“These resources are here to ensure you have the support you need whether you’re having a bad day, have had a bad call, or feel in crisis,” the email stated. “Our goal is to ensure every officer is aware of resources they can turn to for support. Please remember you are never alone — make the call.”

 

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Santos campaign finances show dozens of expenses just below FEC's threshold to keep receipts



CNN
 — 

Records that Rep.-elect George Santos’ campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission show 37 expenditures, on office supplies, hotels, ride-share app Uber, restaurants and more, for the exact same amount: $199.99.

Campaign finance experts say those expenditures the New York representative-elect reported stood out for a key reason: They are one penny below the dollar figure above which the FEC requires campaigns to keep receipts.

Those expenditures are among a number of oddities contained in the FEC reports of Santos, the Republican who won a seat in Congress in November and in recent days has faced scrutiny over a series of false claims about his family history, work history, education and more.

Santos’ FEC reports contain a number of unusual expenditures, including exorbitant expenses on air travel and hotels, particularly in Miami, and $10,900 in what are listed as rent payments to the company Cleaner 123. The company’s address is a house on Long Island, and The New York Times, which first published a story on Santos’ campaign finance filings, reported that a neighbor said Santos had been living there for months.

The expenditures, and particularly the $199.99 payments to Uber, Walgreens, Walmart, Best Buy, Delta Airlines, Il Bacco Restaurante and more, “definitely stood out to me,” said campaign finance expert Paul S. Ryan, the deputy executive director of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation.

He said the payments could reflect an effort to skirt FEC requirements for campaigns to keep receipts for expenditures over $200. The FEC encourages candidates to keep receipts below that threshold, but only mandates them for payments over $200.

However, Ryan said, the consistent appearance of $199.99 charges effectively shows that Santos knew about the threshold he was attempting to skirt – potentially inviting Justice Department scrutiny and criminal penalties.

“My view is a bunch of expenditures right below legal requirement for the committee to keep receipts is evidence that he knew what he was doing,” Ryan said. “If in fact he did misuse campaign funds, this was a blatant effort to evade detection.”

Dozens more expenditures are close to, but just under, the $200 threshold, FEC records show.

“The only time during which money was being unwisely spent by the campaign was by a firm that was fired approximately one year before Election Day and a new team was brought in,” Joe Murray, a lawyer for Santos, said in a statement to CNN on Saturday.

“Campaign expenditures for staff members including travel, lodging, and meals are normal expenses of any competent campaign. The suggestion that the Santos campaign engaged in any unlawful spending of campaign funds is irresponsible, at best,” he added.

The biography that Santos touted as a candidate appears to be at least partly fictional. Santos, in interviews with WABC radio and the New York Post earlier this week, admitted to lying about attending Baruch College and New York University as well as misrepresenting his employment at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup but claimed he hadn’t committed any crimes.

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Santos’ personal finances, a source familiar with the matter told CNN, amid questions about his sudden wealth and loans of more than $700,000 that he made to his campaign.

CNN confirmed reporting from The New York Times that Santos was charged with embezzlement in a Brazilian court in 2011, according to case records from the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice. However, court records from 2013 state that the charge was archived after court summons went unanswered and they were unable to locate Santos.

In the interview with the New York Post, Santos denied that he had been charged with any crime in Brazil.

“I am not a criminal here – not here or in Brazil or any jurisdiction in the world. Absolutely not. That didn’t happen,” Santos said.

Still, Santos flipped a Democratic-held seat, helping Republicans win a narrow House majority. And he is set to take office on January 3.

House Republican leaders have not acknowledged the controversy swirling around Santos. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who has not returned CNN’s requests for comment about Santos, has been focused on trying to secure the votes for the speakership next month. That task became harder after Republicans won a narrower majority than he had hoped, a slim margin that will empower the conference’s most extreme members. Asking Santos to step down could cost him a vote in his already tenuous quest to reach 218.

Amid the avalanche of revelations of ways in which Santos lied about his biography, many of those who voted for him in his Long Island-based New York 3rd Congressional District say they would not support him again.

Jack Mandel, a Jewish community leader who voted for Santos after meeting him twice and believing he was a kind, fresh face, said he “couldn’t in good conscience” vote for Santos again if he had to do over.

He pointed to Santos misrepresenting himself as Jewish and falsely claiming his grandparents were Holocaust survivors.

“Once someone lies to me, I can never trust that individual again,” he said. “The Holocaust is something that touches the heart of every Jew and someone that would use that as a talking point as a vote getter, I think is wrong.”

Teodora Choolfaian, a Nassau County mother, said she voted for Santos in part because of his positions on Covid-19 measures in schools. But this week she attended a rally organized by state Democrats to call on him to resign. She said Santos is a “fraud.”

“The whole person that he created and the ability to deceive us is just so troubling,” she said. “This man should not be allowed to be in office and we all know it. I want to assure you the Republicans know it too.”

However, some Republicans in New York said they were not dropping their support for Santos.

Tom Zmich, a former congressional candidate in the neighboring 6th District, said Santos is a friend of his and “hasn’t done anything wrong, as far as legality wise.”

“He admitted he lied. And most Christian people believe in forgiveness. Maybe not forget, but move on,” he said. “Let’s see what happens.”

Santos campaign donors also described feeling shocked and betrayed by the revelations in recent days.

One significant campaign donor, who requested anonymity to speak freely about his experience with Santos, told CNN on Thursday that he had been connected with Santos after GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York introduced them. “She asked me to talk to him when he first ran,” he told CNN.

This donor plans to speak with both Santos and Stefanik.

“I liked George,” he told CNN, but “I’ve got to confront him – I don’t need any skeletons in my closet.”

Stefanik’s office did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Although the donor initially “sensed” that Santos came across as an “embellisher,” the donor believed that Santos’ “heart was in the right place.” Santos allegedly told this donor that he worked at Goldman Sachs and would “always talk about the big deals he’d done.”

Another person who interacted with Santos at fundraising events told CNN that when he met Santos, he “thought he was a little fake-it-till-you-make it guy. … He was making these claims like he was a financial whiz.”

This person, who also requested anonymity to speak freely about Santos, told CNN he has been in contact with the representative-elect, and shared text messages from December 22 in which Santos claimed he has been in touch with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“I’ve been in touch with the office of congressional ethics and anything they want they have,” Santos told the person in a text message shared with CNN.

It is unclear whether Santos has been in touch with the Office of Congressional Ethics, and if so, who initiated the contact. Santos made the comment in an exchange in which he appeared to be trying to assuage a concerned donor.

CNN has reached out to the OCE requesting confirmation. The office investigates complaints from the public and could refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee – potentially the first step toward a congressional investigation of Santos.

Santos’ office has not responded to CNN’s repeated requests for comment.

Another campaign donor, who similarly requested anonymity to speak freely, told CNN on Friday that she “of course is shocked” following the news of the congressman-elect’s alleged deception and feels “betrayed and lied to.”

The donor explained that she had supported Santos because he was the frontrunner in her local race, and, “I had no reason to think that he would have done what he did.”

“I usually have fairly good instincts, but he was just good at this!” she told CNN.

She said she doesn’t understand why he would make up these claims.

“It is one thing to embellish, and the work experience alone doesn’t disturb me as much,” she said. “But to make up heritage – that is unspeakable.”

This story has been updated Saturday with a statement from Santos’ attorney.

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French-born artist finds inspiration on remote Easter Island

Top News: US & International Top News Stories Today | AP News 

French-born artist Delphine Poulain attends the funeral service of a friend at the Holy Cross Catholic church, in Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, Chile, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Rapa Nui – the remote Chilean territory in the mid-Pacific – is home to a Catholic church featuring artwork that reflects that islanders’ ancestral culture as well as Christian beliefs. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

RAPA NUI, Chile (AP) — Rapa Nui – the remote Chilean territory in the mid-Pacific widely known as Easter Island – is home to a Catholic church featuring artwork that reflects that islanders’ ancestral culture as well as Christian beliefs. Among the eye-catching works are stained glass windows — created by a French-born artist – that portray figures resembling Rapa Nui’s inhabitants.

The artist, Delphine Poulain, was born in Paris 52 years ago and has been in love with Rapa Nui since she first visited in 1994. She smiles at the memory.

“I was riding a horse through the beach when I first I thought ‘I want to live here,’” she said.

At the time, Poulain lived in Tahiti, working as a professional sailor and often traveling to other islands of Polynesia. One trip to Rapa Nui was enough to envision a future home in this land of extinct volcanoes and monolithic statues called moai, though almost three decades passed before that dream came true.

At times, Poulain worked as a nurse. She became a boat decorator. She occasionally returned to Paris, but her fascination for Polynesia repeatedly brought her back to the Pacific.

On one of those trips back to France, she fell back in love with the man who had been her teenage boyfriend. Now they have two children of their own, and the four of them have made a home in Rapa Nui since 2014.

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Poulain says she treasures the freedom and the tranquility provided by the remoteness of the island, home to about 7,700 people.

Last year, thankful for the blessings that Rapa Nui has bestowed on her, Poulain offered a gift: stained-glass windows representing the 14 Stations of the Cross in Holy Cross church, located in Hanga Roa, the island’s main city.

Nowadays, the Rapanui community is mostly Catholic, but its religious practices are intertwined with its ancestral beliefs.

The musical themes that devotees sing during Mass narrate biblical passages translated to the Rapanui language. The wooden statues that portray the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit were not inspired by Western iconography, but by the physique and legacy of the islanders’ ancestors.

The statue of Mary, near the altar of the church, resembles a moai. Close to the main entrance, the third symbol of the Holy Trinity is not a dove, but rather a manutara — a bird that was considered sacred during the 19th century.

Adapting Catholic iconography to the ancestral culture of Rapa Nui has been key to maintaining adherence to the religion that European missionaries came to spread during the 18th century.

The Rapanui are protective of their identity, tending to fully welcome foreigners only if they strive to embrace the islanders’ culture. On a tomb outside Holy Cross church, where the remains of beloved missionary Sebastián Englert are kept, the epitaph reads: “He lived among us and spoke our language.”

Poulain said that winning acceptance from the locals was not easy, but she has been patient. Her stained glass windows were another step along the way: Since she began placing them in the church on December 24, 2021, some Rapanui who did not greet her before now wave their hand when they see her pass.

“I have so much respect for the island and the people,” she said. “Before I was alone, but now people know my husband and my children.”

Poulain’s commitment to integrate with the island is part of her daily life. Her family lives by the beach where, long ago, she dreamt about moving here. The color of their house resembles the area’s volcanic rock, so as not to alter the landscape. The water used at home is collected from rainfall. They rely on a solar panel for electricity.

When they moved here, the family only had a tent to protect themselves. Now their house is a repository of what the island has given them.

The roof was built with sheet metal and the rest with wood. The dishes are washed on what used to be the bottom of a bathtub; above the dining room is a lamp that was once a metal trash can.

“There has been a lot of difficulty, but also a lot of happiness. This was my dream and living your dream is incredible,” Poulain said.

Inside her studio, there is a tree next to the makeshift desk where the artist finds inspiration. Her work begins with sketches on a blank sheet. Then she takes her images to the canvas with acrylic paint.

For the stained glass windows promised to the church, she requires a pigment that can only be found in France, so getting it takes time and she still has 10 of the 14 windows to finish.

Poulain never formally studied art. But her parents had books at home and she remembers reading one about the mysteries of the world, where she first learned about Rapa Nui. Her artistic style has varied over the years, but the aesthetics of Polynesia have been a constant

In addition to her artwork, Poulain has seven horses, earning some income by offering horseback riding for tourists.

She sometimes sits outside her home, sipping wine, watching as her horses approach for their evening meal. The scene could be an imaginary landscape from one of her paintings; instead, it is her long-ago dream come true.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

 

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Benedict death paves way for protocols to guide future popes

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FILE – Pope Francis, second from left, watches Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI enter St. Peter’s Basilica accompanied by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, right, at the Vatican, on Dec. 8, 2015. Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 resignation sparked calls for rules and regulations for future retired popes to avoid the kind of confusion that ensued. Benedict, the German theologian who will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign, has died, the Vatican announced Saturday Dec. 31, 2022. He was 95. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — There was no tolling of the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica, no solemn announcement by a Vatican monsignor to the faithful in the square. A fisherman’s ring did not get smashed and the diplomatic corps were not mobilized to send official delegations to Rome.

The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed in an entirely un-papal-like manner Saturday, with a two-sentence announcement from the Vatican press office, making clear once and for all that Benedict stopped being pope a decade ago. The rituals of his passing were less like the ones of a pontiff, monarch or Vicar of Christ on Earth and more akin to those of a retired bishop, even if he will be buried in the red vestments of a pope.

In a way it was fitting, and drove home that the new chapter in the history of the Catholic Church that Benedict began writing in 2013 when he became the first pope in 600 years to resign had ended, and that it’s now up to Pope Francis to follow up with how future popes might retire.

Will Francis issue new protocols to regulate the office of a retired pope, after Benedict largely winged it on the fly? Will he feel more free to consider his own retirement, now that the main impediment to resignation — having two emeritus popes at the same time — has been removed? How does a reigning pope celebrate the funeral of a retired one?

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“I think that his death will open problems, not close problems,” said Massimo Franco, the author of “The Monastery,” a book about Benedict’s revolutionary retirement.

According to preliminary information released by the Vatican, Benedict’s funeral Thursday in St. Peter’s Square seems designed to be low-key, in keeping with his wishes for “simplicity” but also making clear that his status as an emeritus does not merit a pomp-filled papal sendoff.

When John Paul II died in 2005, presidents, prime ministers and kings from more than 100 countries attended the funeral presided over by none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Benedict XVI after his election as pope 10 days later.

For Benedict’s funeral, the Vatican only invited Italy and Germany to send official delegations, and advised foreign embassies that any other leaders who wished to attend could do so but only in their “private capacity.”

Benedict’s body will lie in state in St. Peter’s Basilica starting Monday, but the three-day window for the faithful to pay their respects suggests a limited outpouring is expected. After John Paul’s death, an estimated 2 million people lined up for four days and nights to say a final farewell, with some camping out on the cobblestones.

Italian security officials estimate some 60,000 people could attend the funeral, a fraction of the 300,000 who packed the piazza and surrounding streets in 2005.

Francis, for his part, offered a first word of tribute Saturday during his New Year’s Eve homily, after having paid his respects Saturday morning immediately after Benedict died with a visit to the converted monastery where his predecessor lived. Francis praised Benedict’s nobility and faithful prayers in his final years, but otherwise stuck to a previously prepared homily about the need for kindness and dialogue in today’s world.

Francis will have the final word on Thursday, when he eulogizes Benedict, whom he has praised for his courage in “opening the door” to letting other popes retire.

But Francis himself has said protocols are needed to guide future papal retirements, saying the situation had worked out well enough in Benedict’s case because he was “saintly and discreet.” The death of Benedict now removes the key obstacle to any new law or procedures that could never be promulgated while he was still alive.

While a future pope could change any decree Francis issues, canonists, cardinals and even rank-and-file Catholics have argued new norms are needed because Benedict’s decisions in retirement impacted his successor from the very start.

From the title he chose (pope emeritus) to the cassock he wore (white) to the occasional public comments he made ( on sex abuse and priestly celibacy), even Benedict’s supporters felt his choices left too much doubt about who was really in charge, especially for those Catholics nostalgic for his doctrinaire papacy.

Throughout Benedict’s 10-year retirement, many traditionalists continued to consider Benedict a point of reference, and some even refused to respect the legitimacy of Francis as pope.

“I am convinced that the most appropriate ways will be found so as not to engender confusion in the people of God, even though this doesn’t seem to me to be the right time for proclamations and clarifications,” Geraldina Boni, a professor of canon law at the University of Bologna, said.

Thanks to Benedict’s “meekness and discretion,” and Francis’ “strong and affable temperament,” any possible rivalry was avoided, she said. But that may not be case in the future.

The work to clarify how things would work the next time there is both a sitting and a retired pope has already started. A team of canon lawyers launched a crowd-sourcing initiative in 2021 to craft a new church law to govern how a retired pope lives out his final years.

The project, explained at progettocanonicosederomana.com, includes proposals on everything from his title to his dress, pension and activities to make sure they “don’t interfere directly or indirectly” with his successor’s governance.

According to the draft proposals, which were the subject of an academic conference in October, a future retired pope should be referred to as the “bishop emeritus of Rome” not a “pope emeritus.” While he could still wear the white cassock of the papacy, his fisherman’s ring must be destroyed, as Benedict’s was in 2013, and his insignia must remove “all symbols of his Petrine jurisdiction.”

He should promote the unity of the church but cannot participate in any meetings of bishops or cardinals, and should consult the reigning pope before publishing anything on the doctrine and life of the church, social questions “or anything that can be considered as competing opinions with the pontifical magisterium.”

“There was a time when we were accused of having imprudently chosen a theme that was too controversial,” given Benedict was still alive, said Boni, who spearheaded the initiative. “On the contrary, the need for norms covering a pope who resigned has been affirmed repeatedly by high-level church figures.”

While it’s unclear if the proposals will be taken up by the Vatican, Francis regardless will find it easier to resign himself and to regulate the process for future popes since Benedict took the first step.

“We have to get used to the idea that popes will live long lives and that, in the end just like my grandfather or your grandfather and everyone’s grandfathers, they can’t continue,” Luis Badilla, who runs the popular Vatican blog Il Sismografo, said. “But they are still part of the family, and this is something beautiful. It gives us a normal church, not a martian or other-worldly one.”

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Trisha Thomas contributed.

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Time zone by time zone, another new year sweeps into view

NEW YORK (AP) — New Year’s celebrations swept across the globe, ushering in 2023 with countdowns and fireworks — and marking an end to a year that brought war in Europe, a new chapter in the British monarchy and global worries over inflation.

The new year began in the tiny atoll nation of Kiribati in the central Pacific, then moved across Russia and New Zealand before heading deeper, time zone by time zone, through Asia and Europe and into the Americas.

The ball dropped on New York’s iconic Times Square as huge crowds counted down the seconds into 2023, culminating in raucous cheers and a deluge of confetti glittering amid jumbo screens, neon, pulsing lights and soggy streets.

Two New York City officers were rushed to a hospital after an altercation with a man wielding a machete just a block from the throng of revelers. The officers were conscious with injuries that were not considered life threatening and the suspect was in custody, officials said.

At least for a day, thoughts focused on possibilities, even elusive ones like world peace, and mustering — finally — a resolve to keep the next array of resolutions.

In a sign of that hope, children met St. Nicholas in a crowded metro station in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Yet Russian attacks continued New Year’s Eve. At midnight, the streets of the capital, Kyiv, were desolate. The only sign of a new year came from local residents shouting from their balconies, “Happy New Year!” and “Glory to Ukraine!” And only half an hour into 2023, air raid sirens rang across Ukraine’s capital, followed by the sound of explosions.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported an explosion in Holosiivskyi district, and authorities reported that fragments of a missile that had been shot down had damaged a car in a central district.

In Paris, thousands celebrated on the Champs Elysees, while French President Emmanuel Macron pledged continuing support for Ukraine in a televised New Year’s address. “During the coming year, we will be unfailingly at your side,” Macron said. “We will help you until victory and we will be together to build a just and lasting peace. Count on France and count on Europe.”

Big Ben chimed as more than 100,000 revelers gathered along the River Thames to watch a spectacular fireworks show around the London Eye. The display featured a drone light display of a crown and Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on a coin hovering in the sky, paying tribute to Britain’s longest-serving monarch who died in September.

Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach welcomed a small crowd of a few thousand for a short fireworks display, and several Brazilian cities canceled celebrations this year due to concern about the coronavirus. The Brazilian capital’s New Year’s bash usually drew more than 2 million people to Copacabana before the pandemic.

Turkey’s most populous city, Istanbul, brought in 2023 with street festivities and fireworks. At St. Antuan Catholic Church, dozens of Christians prayed for the new year and marked former Pope Benedict XVI’s passing. The Vatican announced Benedict died Saturday at age 95.

In New York, rain that was fierce at times did not deter the crowd at a dazzling Saturday night spectacle kicking off celebrations across the United States. The Times Square party culminated with the descent from One Times Square of a glowing sphere 12 feet (3.6 meters) in diameter and comprised of nearly 2,700 Waterford crystals.

“I just wish everyone a lot of prosperity peace and love,” reveler Tina Wright, who was visiting from the Phoenix area, said after the countdown. “And let’s just get things moving in the world right now.”

Last year, a scaled-back crowd of about 15,000 in-person mask-wearing spectators watched the ball descend while basking in the lights and hoopla. Because of pandemic rules, it was far fewer than the tens of thousands of revelers who usually descend on the world-famous square.

Before the ball dropped, there were heavy thoughts about the past year and the new one to come.

“2023 is about resurgence — resurgence of the world after COVID-19 and after the war in Ukraine. We want it to end,” said Arjun Singh as he took in the scene at Times Square.

In Australia, more than 1 million people crowded along Sydney’s waterfront for a multi-million dollar celebration based around the themes of diversity and inclusion. More than 7,000 fireworks were launched from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and another 2,000 from the nearby Opera House.

“We have had a couple of fairly difficult years; we’re absolutely delighted this year to be able to welcome people back to the foreshores of Sydney Harbor for Sydney’s world-famous New Year’s Eve celebrations,” Stephen Gilby, the city’s producer of major events and festivals, told The Sydney Morning Herald.

In Auckland, New Zealand, large crowds gathered below the Sky Tower, where a 10-second countdown to midnight preceded fireworks. The celebrations in New Zealand’s largest city returned after COVID-19 forced them to be canceled a year ago.

Chinese cautiously looked forward to 2023 after a recent easing of pandemic restrictions unleashed the virus but also signaled a return to normal life. Like many, salesperson Hong Xinyu stayed close to home over the past year in part because of curbs on travel.

“As the new year begins, we seem to see the light,” he said at a countdown show that lit up the towering structures of a former steel mill in Beijing. “We are hopeful that there will be more freedom in the future.”

Concerns about the Ukraine war and the economic shocks it has spawned across the globe were felt in Tokyo, where Shigeki Kawamura has seen better times but said he needed a free, hot meal this New Year’s.

“I hope the war will be over in Ukraine so prices will stabilize,” he said.

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Associated Press journalists around the globe contributed to this report, including Liu Zheng in Beijing, Renata Brito and Hanna Arhirova in Kyiv, Yuri Kagayema in Tokyo, Grant Peck in Bangkok, Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul, Thomas Adamson in Paris, Sylvia Hui in London and Robert Bumsted in New York.

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Pelé brought renown to Santos, Brazilian port city and team

Top News: US & International Top News Stories Today | AP News 

Giant banners that read in Portuguese: “Long live King Pele, 82 years”, are displayed in the stands of the Vila Belmiro stadium, home of the Santos soccer club, where Pele’s funeral will take place, in Santos, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. Pele, who played most of his career with Santos, died in Sao Paulo on Thursday at the age of 82. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

SANTOS, Brazil (AP) — Pelé. Santos, Brazil.

Over decades, adoring fans around the world mailed thousands of letters, postcards and packages to the sports legend without his address or full name.

Almost without fail, they reached the office of Edson Arantes do Nascimento in the port city he made famous.

Santos was founded by the Portuguese in January 1546. It hosts Latin America’s biggest port, which feeds the Sao Paulo area and exports the country’s agricultural commodities to the planet.

Only after a 15-year-old sensation started scoring goals for the city’s team did Santos, a city of about 430,000 residents today, become a household name. The Brazilian great, who died Thursday at 82 after fighting cancer, played there from 1956 to 1974.

“There’s a Santos before Pelé and another after him,” said Serginho Chulapa, Brazil’s striker in the 1982 World Cup and a local hero with more than 100 goals for the club. “He put both the city and club on the map. Before him, people came to work at the port and go to the beach.”

Chulapa had four spells at Santos FC as a player, all during the 1980s. Since retirement he has worked at the club in different capacities, some of them alongside Pelé.

“Santos is not in a metropolis like Sao Paulo, we have to work with less money. And Pelé made this club gigantic since he started playing,” Chulapa said. “Santos had its peak with him.”

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Pelé gave Santos two Copa Libertadores titles and two Intercontinental Cup titles against Benfica and AC Milan, as it beat some of the best rivals around the world. The Brazilian great won 26 titles at the club.

Some of Brazil’s top politicians, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, have lived in the coastal city. But one of Santos’s main touristic attractions is the Pelé Museum. It lies in the renovated area of the Casaroes do Valongo, close to the city port. It opened in 2014 and hosts tens of thousands of tourists. Many are like Gisela Claudia, 65, who arrived on a cruise ship to spend New Year’s Eve in the city.

“It is my first time in Santos. And I only came in this cruise because my husband wanted to see the city of Pelé,” Claudia said.

“He is lost somewhere in the museum,” she said. “There are other beaches on this trip that are more beautiful than this. But none of them have this history of the greatest player.”

The museum features some of Pelé’s remaining memorabilia: boots, trophies, medals, shirts.

Santos has become a popular destination for New Year’s Eve, specially among residents of Sao Paulo, who grew fond of its clubs, beaches and a few private islands where parties take place. But the local club’s Vila Belmiro stadium, where Pelé’s funeral will take place on Monday, remains one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

The last time Santos consistently filled its arena’s 16,000 seats was between 2009 and 2013, when striker Neymar played there.

Santos FC is also home to other renowned players, most of them coming from its academy long after Pelé had retired. The list includes Rodrygo, Elano, Zé Roberto, Giovanni, Robinho, Diego and Gabriel Barbosa.

Pelé’s death is expected to change many names around Santos. The first is expected to be the port, which will be renamed King Pelé Port, the incoming federal administration has decided.

Architect Maria Tereza Myre Dores, one of Pelé’s closest friends and his neighbor in the final years of his life in the neighboring city of Guaruja, says Santos the club and Santos the city will never be the same.

“He was Santos. He loved the city, loved the club. And he made both better and bigger,” Myre Dores said.

“I still remember the afternoons he spent in his office signing letters and shirts for people everywhere. One by one and sending them back, even those that only came with those three words; Pelé, Santos, Brazil,” the architect said. “Without him, Santos is less Santos.”

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