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1. Trump’s tax returns were released by House Democrats, making the documents public after years of legal battles.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax records, giving the American public new insight into his business dealings and drawing threats of retaliation from congressional Republicans.
The release came one week after House Democrats published two reports about Trump’s taxes, which found that the I.R.S. failed to audit Trump during the first two years of his presidency.
2. George Santos’s campaign expenditures contain several irregularities.
Representative-elect George Santos, under scrutiny after fabricating much of his résumé, spent campaign funds on $40,000 worth of air travel — an exorbitant figure for a newly elected congressman.
His campaign filings also show $11,000 in expenditures to a company called Cleaner 123, and dozens of expenses pegged at $199.99 — 1 cent below the threshold at which federal law requires receipts.
A lawyer for Santos said that some money had been spent “unwisely” but that all expenditures had been legal. Federal and local prosecutors said this week that they would begin inquiries into Santos’s finances and background.
3. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, met virtually with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
The meeting came as both leaders found themselves in positions of weakness. Russia has been isolated by its invasion of Ukraine and needs China more than ever. But China, facing a Covid-19 crisis, is in no position to risk sanctions from the West.
In a seeming nod to the strains, Xi acknowledged the “complicated and consistently changing international situation” but said that China was ready to improve “strategic collaboration” with Russia. Putin reaffirmed Russia’s ties with China, calling them “a model of cooperation between major powers in the 21st century.”
In news from the war, Ukrainian authorities said that Russia had continued to launch extensive air attacks on Kyiv but that Ukrainian air defenses had shot them down.
4. With a much more limited number of cancellations, Southwest Airlines steps closer to normal.
Still beleaguered after a nightmare week of cancellations that left the company scrambling to repair its reputation, Southwest appeared set to finally return to its normal schedule today, with fewer than 50 cancellations — out of thousands of scheduled flights — as of this afternoon.
The questions now facing Southwest include how to win back its customers and prevent such debacles in the future. The company said yesterday that it would be “investing in new solutions to manage wide-scale disruptions,” but it has not offered specifics.
The meltdown could cost the company many millions of dollars in compensation. (Here’s what stranded travelers can expect.)
5. A suspect was arrested in the killings of four college students in Idaho.
A 28-year-old man, Bryan Kohberger, was arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with the brutal killing of the students who were found stabbed to death last month in a home near their campus in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger was listed as a Ph.D. student at Washington State University, which is less than 10 miles from the site of the murders, and had been studying criminal justice and criminology, according to the school’s website.
The crime devastated the city and brought intense scrutiny to its police department as weeks passed with little information on who could have carried out the killings.
In other crime news, Andrew Tate, a former professional kickboxer who built an online personality by frequently making misogynistic comments, was detained in Romania in an investigation of human trafficking and rape. And Rick Singer, the consultant at the center of the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
6. You can now legally buy recreational marijuana in New York.
The first legal sale of recreational weed took place in a dispensary in Manhattan yesterday, just meeting the state’s deadline to open a store in 2022. The sale represented the state’s pivot from decades of criminalizing marijuana to the start of a sanctioned industry projected to generate $4 billion over the next five years.
The state passed a first-of-its-kind law in March 2021 that gave priority for early business opportunities in the new industry to people who had been adversely affected by enforcement of marijuana laws. But the rollout has been slow, and, until Thursday, consumers had no way to purchase products legally even though illicit shops and vendors were abundant.
7. These young musicians made an album. Now it’s nominated for a Grammy.
When the Grammy nominations for best orchestral performance were announced last month, several of the usual suspects made the cut, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But a newcomer also got a nod: the New York Youth Symphony, for a debut album featuring some players who were in middle school.
The recording might never have happened had it not been for the pandemic. When live performances were halted in 2020, the ensemble decided to try to make an album.
8. The catering choreography on the ground that puts meals in the sky.
Gate Gourmet, a global airline catering company that provides meals to flights out of more than 200 airports, let The New York Times backstage at its operation at Newark Liberty International Airport.
The chefs design recipes with flying in mind, by incorporating umami flavors — which are sometimes enhanced in the air — or using juicy vegetables and fruit like cucumbers, tomatoes and grapes, which might be appealing in a dry airplane cabin. Sensitivity to sweet and salty foods can drop at altitude, so the Gate Gourmet team sometimes increases the salt and sugar in a recipe by 10 percent, in order to trick the taste buds at 30,000 feet.
9. The best of our “best of” lists.
As the year comes to a close, many of us (and journalists in particular) like to take stock of the past 12 months and look for highlights — the moments, stories and novelties that we loved most.
10. And, finally, a low-key New Year.
This year was supposed to be our post-pandemic, Roaring Twenties, carefree year, but many Americans found that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Now, as some people make grand resolutions for 2023 — like paying off student debt or losing 30 pounds — others are opting to keep their expectations in check and crossing their fingers for a year that simply isn’t terrible.
“I need 2023 to come in, sit down, shut up and don’t touch anything,” said Erin Monroe in a viral video she posted on TikTok. “I need a palate-cleanser year.”
Lowering the bar on your expectations, some argue, can feel surprisingly refreshing.
Have an achievable night.
James Gregg compiled photos for this briefing.
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