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The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Column: An overview of November news

Henry Kissinger dead at 100; OpenAI’s firing and rehiring of Sam Altman; George Santos expelled from House.
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY PAAVO LAHDESMAKI; PHOTOS FROM PUBLIC DOMAIN
Henry Kissinger dead at 100; OpenAI’s firing and rehiring of Sam Altman; George Santos expelled from House.

Henry Kissinger Dead
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is dead at 100, his consulting firm announced on Wednesday, November 29. Having advised 12 presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Joe Biden, Kissinger handled negotiations with the Soviet Union during the peak of the Cold War and engineered the United States’ opening of diplomatic ties to China. Under President Richard Nixon, Kissinger was regarded as one the most powerful diplomats of the post-World War II era. Kissinger was responsible for personally approving 3,875 bombings in Cambodia between 1969 and 1970 — which killed over 150,000 civilians — and for his foreign policies that harmed millions in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Kissinger’s legacy is complicated: despite not having been officially tried, Kissinger is considered a war criminal by critics, such as human rights organization Amnesty International and author Christoper Hitchens.

Under President Richard Nixon, Kissinger was regarded as one the most powerful diplomats of the post-World War II era. Kissinger was responsible for personally approving 3,875 bombings in Cam- bodia between 1969 and 1970 — which killed over 150,000 civilians — and for his foreign policies that harmed millions in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Israel-Hamas
A temporary truce between Israel and Hamas began on Friday, November 24, as part of a deal that saw the release of 110 Israeli hostages by Hamas and 240 Palestinians by Israel. During the ceasefire, humanitarian aid workers entered Gaza to retrieve the captives taken earlier in the war, and Israel released Palestinian prisoners — many of whom had not been convicted of any crimes. The ceasefire ended Thursday, November 30, with both Israel and Hamas blaming each other for breaking the ceasefire. Both sides have resumed fighting.

George Santos Expelled
Former U.S. Representative George Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives after a 311–114 vote on Friday, December 1. He is the first Congressman to be expelled since 2002. The vote was initiated after the House Ethics Committee found evidence that Santos had committed crimes. Santos currently faces a 23-charge indictment for conspiracy, wire fraud, theft, money laundering and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, to which he has pleaded not guilty. Over the course of Santos’ short, four-year political career, he invented familial ties to the Holocaust and September 11 attacks, which, among other claims, were discovered to be lies after he was elected in 2022. His seat is expected to be filled by the winner of a special election.

OpenAI
On Friday, November 17, the board of OpenAI — an artificial intelligence research organization known for models like ChatGPT and Dall·E — fired its CEO, Sam Altman. The reason was not disclosed, but it was likely due to tensions rising between Altman and the board. Chief Technology Officer of OpenAI Mira Murati was named interim chief executive after Altman’s firing, but by Sunday, November 20, former Twitch executive Emmett Shear was named as a replacement. At the same time, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella announced intentions to hire Altman and Greg Brockman, the then-president of OpenAI who had resigned to protest Altman’s ouster. By Monday morning, nearly all of OpenAI’s 770 employees had signed a letter threatening to quit and potentially join Microsoft unless the board resigned and Altman was reinstated as CEO. In response, Altman and Brockman returned to their former positions on Tuesday evening. OpenAI’s board currently has three members, who are in charge of appointing new members. Former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers are incoming members; Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo — who had voted to fire Altman — is the only remaining member of the original board.

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Anna Eshoo to retire
Anna Eshoo, the House member representing California’s 16th district — which includes Los Altos and Mountain View — is retiring. Eshoo has been in the House of Representatives since 1993; she announced on Tuesday, November 21 that she will not seek re-election next year. Eshoo’s decades-long career was marked by her emphasis on tech-related policymaking — especially across cybersecurity and innovation — in addition to consistent support of Democratic policies. Her retirement is expected to spark a competitive race for her seat: according to San Jose Inside, eight candidates, six of them Democrats, have entered or are preparing to enter the race.

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Matthew Kim, Web Managing Editor
Paavo Lahdesmaki, Staff Writer

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