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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Morning Headlines: 11/30/23

Santos Expulsion Vote

House lawmakers are poised to hold a third and potentially historic vote this week to expel Rep. George Santos (R, NY-3) from Congress after a House Ethics Committee report (read here) this month accused the 35-year-old of campaign fraud, misuse of campaign funds, and other federal crimes. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R, LA-4) announced yesterday that a vote on the privileged resolution for Santos' expulsion will take place tomorrow.

Santos, who is in his first year in office and faces 23 federal fraud charges in New York, survived two previous expulsion attempts. The charges came after a federal probe following reports last year alleging Santos fabricated or exaggerated many parts of his resume and personal history (see timeline of events). Santos has said he will not run for reelection next year and believes he is likely to be expelled in the third vote. A two-thirds supermajority vote will be needed to remove Santos from the House. Only five members of Congress have been expelled in US history.

Amid the expulsion procedures, a 15-foot inflatable balloon of Santos was spotted near the US Capitol this week.

Cosmic Resonance

Astronomers have observed a rare instance of a solar system inside the Milky Way whose planets orbit in sync around their host star, according to a study published yesterday. Researchers believe the motion of the planets has remained virtually unchanged since the system's formation roughly 4 billion years ago.

The four closest planets display what is known as 3:2 resonance—for every three orbits a planet makes around the host star, the next farthest planet completes two orbits. The next two planets display a similar 4:3 resonance. Typically, newborn systems are knocked out of balance by some disruptive event (for example, collisions with asteroids). Because the planets in question have maintained their original orbits, their study is expected to shed light on the early stages of star system formation.

The host star is also the brightest discovered to date to have more than four planets orbiting around it. Visualize the motion of the six planets here.

Indian Assassination Plot in US

An Indian government employee conspired to assassinate a US citizen in June, US prosecutors charged yesterday. The foiled plot allegedly targeted a New York City-based Sikh separatist leader, a faction of the Indian religious minority group who seeks an independent state in northern India (see 101).

Charging documents detail the unnamed senior officer's recruitment of 52-year-old Indian national Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman in May. Gupta's efforts led him unwittingly to an FBI source, who referred Gupta to an agent undercover as an assassin. The target, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, is an attorney for the separatist group Sikhs for Justice and was designated as a terrorist in 2020 by New Delhi. Gupta was arrested upon traveling to the Czech Republic in late June.

The news threatens to strain ties between the US and its ally India as each looks to counter China's global influence. US officials claim the plot was connected to the killing of another Sikh separatist in Ottawa that same month, which later prompted a diplomatic spat between Canada and India.

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