Trump’s fraud trial begins in New York
Donald Trump appeared in court yesterday in Manhattan for the first of several government trials he is scheduled to face in the coming year. Trump, who is making a run for the presidency, is accused of inflating his riches by billions of dollars and crossing the line into fraud.
The civil case is separate from Trump’s four criminal indictments and was brought by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James. “No matter how rich or powerful you are, there are not two sets of laws for people in this country,” James said in a statement.
Outside the courtroom, Trump attacked the attorney general and the judge overseeing the case, telling reporters that James was trying to damage him because he was doing so well in the polls. “There is no crime,” he said. “The crime is against me.”
The attorney general wants Trump to be fined as much as $250 million and to be barred from running a business in New York. The trial will determine what penalty the former president must pay and whether he will be in essence evicted from the world of New York real estate that made him famous.
Details: The lawsuit accuses Trump, his adult sons and their family business of inflating the value of their assets by as much as $2 billion to secure favorable loan terms from banks.
Context: Trump is already at a disadvantage. The judge overseeing the case ruled last week that Trump had committed fraud. If the ruling stands, Trump could lose control over some of his best-known New York real estate.
What’s next: The trial is expected to last several weeks and to include testimony from Trump. After the civil case wraps, Trump will face four criminal trials that touch on a range of subjects: hush-money payments to a porn star, the handling of classified documents and his efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election.
A Nobel for the Covid vaccine pioneers
Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman — whose mRNA breakthrough enabled Covid vaccines to be made in less than a year, averting tens of millions of deaths — were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine yesterday.
Their approach transformed vaccine technology and laid the foundation for inoculations that may one day protect against a number of deadly diseases, including cancer. But the vaccines’ rapid development — among the most impressive feats of modern medical science — was seized upon by a powerful anti-vax movement, particularly in the U.S., to undermine public trust. This is how the vaccines were made.
Long overlooked: Karikó was the 13th woman to win the Nobel for medicine. She toiled for years in what was often a very fragile scientific career. Her ideas about mRNA were definitely unorthodox, but also seem to have been prescient.
The downfall of China’s Evergrande founder
Hui Ka Yan grew up poor, in the countryside, before starting China Evergrande, the real estate behemoth that made him one of China’s wealthiest people. His life story once made him a symbol of China’s economic rise.
Now Hui is being investigated by the authorities for suspected criminal behavior, after his company filed for bankruptcy protection in August, with more than $300 billion in debt.
Evergrande said it had applied for a resumption of trading today in Hong Kong of shares of its main holding company and its property services unit.
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Lost and found: Early synth music from India
Paul Purgas, a sound artist and curator, was looking for a lost synthesizer in India in 2017 when he stumbled across long-hidden electronic music recordings made in the country in the 1960s and ’70s.
His discovery from the archives of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, will finally be released. The collection has been restored and will be presented in its full variety. There are manipulated field recordings, pieces linked to birds and nature, compositions inspired by Indian classical music, imagined voyages to outer space, and tracks reminiscent of bleep techno or Aphex Twin.