Trump hit with gag order after lashing out at court clerk in NY fraud case

Trump hit with gag order after lashing out at court clerk in NY fraud case
Former US President Donald Trump waves outside the Trump Tower as the trial of himself, his adult sons, the Trump Organization and others in a civil fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James continues, in New York City, October 3, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 October 2023
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Trump hit with gag order after lashing out at court clerk in NY fraud case

Trump hit with gag order after lashing out at court clerk in NY fraud case

NEW YORK: The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial on Tuesday imposed a gag order — promising sanctions for any violations — on the former US president and others in the case after Trump took to social media to lash out at the judge’s top law clerk.

Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan told lawyers for Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the fraud case, that such comments aimed at his staff were “unacceptable, inappropriate and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”

Acting during the trial’s second day of testimony, the judge forbade both sides from speaking about his staff, and threatened “serious sanctions” if anyone did. The judge did not specify the nature of these sanctions but they could include a finding of contempt of court, which can carry fines and in rare cases jail time.

“Consider this statement a gag order,” Engoron added.

James has accused Trump, his two adult sons, the Trump Organization and others of inflating asset values over a decade to secure favorable bank loans and insurance terms, and exaggerating Trump’s own riches by more than $2 billion. The trial could lead to the dismantling of Trump’s business empire as he seeks to regain the presidency in 2024.

Engoron spoke after Trump shared a social media post by the clerk, who was identified by name, posing with Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who is not involved in the case. Trump referred to the clerk as “Schumer’s girlfriend.”

“How disgraceful!” added Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 election. “This case should be dismissed immediately!!“

Trump’s post was later deleted.

James is seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric from running businesses in New York, and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.

TRUMP SAYS HE PLANS TO TESTIFY

Trump, in the courtroom for a second straight day, wore his familiar blue suit, red tie and American flag pin as he sat hunched over a table with his lawyers. Trump told reporters he plans to testify.

The government’s first witness, Trump’s former accountant Donald Bender, testified again on Tuesday as the attorney general’s office tries to show that Trump and his family business deceived even the people reviewing his financials.

Under questioning from Kevin Wallace, a lawyer in James’ office, Bender said financial statements he prepared for the Trump Organization were largely based on self-reported figures.

Jesus Suarez, a lawyer for Trump, questioned Bender on the accuracy of the financial reports and said the accountant “screwed up” by failing to notice major changes in the value of Trump’s assets.

“His company is going through this hell because you messed up,” Suarez said.

Engoron ruled before the trial that Trump committed fraud, and canceled business certificates for companies that control crown jewels of Trump’s portfolio, including Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan.

The trial, which could last into December, will review six additional claims including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy, and address how much the defendants should pay in penalties.

Others expected to testify include the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer and controller, and Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. Trump and his adult sons are also on James’ witness list.

Earlier in the day, Trump renewed his attacks on James, telling reporters that the Democrat was “grossly incompetent” and had concocted a bogus case.

“Her numbers are fraudulent,” Trump said. “She’s a fraud.”

Trump also faces four criminal indictments over his efforts to undo his loss in the 2020 election, his handling of classified documents, and hush money paid to a porn star. Trump has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in all of the cases. He also faces a January civil damages trial for defaming a writer who accused him of rape, which he denies.


Pakistan PM admires Ireland’s decision to recognize Palestine in phone call with counterpart

Pakistan PM admires Ireland’s decision to recognize Palestine in phone call with counterpart
Updated 2 min 21 sec ago
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Pakistan PM admires Ireland’s decision to recognize Palestine in phone call with counterpart

Pakistan PM admires Ireland’s decision to recognize Palestine in phone call with counterpart
  • Ireland, Spain and Norway this week said they would formally recognize Palestine as a state on May 28
  • The additions have brought the total number of countries recognizing the Palestinian state to nearly 150

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday held a telephonic conversation with his Irish counterpart Simon Harris, in which he admired Ireland’s recent decision to recognize Palestine as a state, Sharif’s office said.
The Pakistan prime minister felicitated his Irish counterpart on his assumption of office and remarked that his youth and dynamism would bring major changes to Ireland, according to a statement issued from Sharif’s office.
He noted that Pakistan had always advocated that a two-state solution, in accordance with relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions, was the only way to bring lasting peace to the Middle East.
“Ireland’s decision would send a message of hope and solidarity to the innocent Palestinians who were suffering Israel’s brutal atrocities,” Sharif was quoted as saying by his office.
“It would also go a long way in promoting the Palestine cause and would urge other countries to follow Ireland.”
The prime ministers of Ireland, Spain and Norway said on Wednesday they would formally recognize Palestine as a state on May 28, following recent recognitions by Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas. The additions have brought the total number of countries recognizing the Palestinian state to nearly 150.
PM Harris said that Ireland had taken a principled decision in consultation with other European allies because the extent of Israel’s military action in Gaza could no longer be condoned in any way.
“The Irish felt that this decision was necessary to promote normalization in the occupied territories,” he was quoted as saying.
Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment to the just struggle of the Palestinian people and lauded the decision of the International Court of Justice to order Israel to stop its assault on Gaza and Rafah.
Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
In recent months, the South Asian country has repeatedly raised the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza, launched last October, at the United Nations through its permanent representative, Ambassador Munir Akram.


Pakistani delegation to seek investments during Kuwait visit by month-end

Pakistani delegation to seek investments during Kuwait visit by month-end
Updated 14 min 44 sec ago
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Pakistani delegation to seek investments during Kuwait visit by month-end

Pakistani delegation to seek investments during Kuwait visit by month-end
  • The delegation will be led by Pakistan’s investment minister Abdul Aleem Khan and hold meeting with top officials
  • Khan says the visit will also help create greater employment opportunities for Pakistani workforce in the Gulf state

ISLAMABAD: A high-level Pakistani delegation is expected to visit Kuwait by the end of the month to strengthen bilateral cooperation and highlight business opportunities in the country amid renewed efforts to attract investment from the Gulf state.
Last year, the two countries agreed to deepen their economic and investment ties during the visit of interim prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar to the Arab state in late November. The visit was billed as a significant step in enhancing the relationship between the two countries, with the signing of various memoranda of understanding aimed at boosting cooperation in fields such as manpower, information technology, mineral exploration, food security, energy and defense.
Kakar’s visit to Kuwait came just a few months after the country established the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a civil-military hybrid body designed to oversee foreign financing with a specific focus on the Gulf region.
The upcoming visit of the Pakistani delegation, led by Federal Minister for Board of Investment, Privatization and Communications Abdul Aleem Khan, was announced in an official statement, although the exact dates were not specified.
“During the visit to Kuwait, there will be progress in providing employment to more workforce from Pakistan, especially health professionals and skilled labor,” Khan was quoted as saying in the statement.
“Pakistan will increase cooperation [with Kuwait] by taking on board its export companies for dairy farming, meat products, rice and other food items and move forward through accelerated measures,” he added.
The minister expressed optimism that the visit would mark the beginning of a new era of mutual cooperation, improvement in economic affairs and investment, for which the relevant departments were making preparations.
He presided over a meeting about the visit and told participants that Kuwait’s envoy had also been taken on board while making all necessary arrangements.
The delegation is expected to hold meetings with top officials of the Gulf country to discuss trade and business activities between the two countries.


Can New York hit cricket for 6? These guys think so

Can New York hit cricket for 6? These guys think so
Updated 21 min 40 sec ago
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Can New York hit cricket for 6? These guys think so

Can New York hit cricket for 6? These guys think so
  • The centuries-old English game has a feverish following throughout much of the world
  • But US, partial to American football, basketball and baseball, has been stubborn holdout

EAST MEADOW: In the shadow of New York skyscrapers a field of dreams emerges, but it is not a baseball diamond. It’s for another bat-and-ball sport — cricket — that supporters are betting will finally bowl Americans over.
The centuries-old English game has a feverish following throughout much of the world, but the United States, long partial to American football, basketball and national pastime baseball, has been a stubborn holdout.
That may change early next month when the United States has its moment in the cricket sun, co-hosting the Twenty20 World Cup — the championship series for a shortened format of cricket.
The temporary new stadium, financed entirely by the International Cricket Council, the sport’s global governing body, will host eight tournament matches including the June 9 headliner, a potentially epic clash between powerhouses India and Pakistan, two of the sport’s biggest rivals.
Some 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of New York, a forest of metal beams supporting 34,000 bleacher seats rises from Long Island’s Eisenhower Park, a site the ICC chose after its earlier plan in the Bronx fell through.
It is not quite the gracious as Lord’s cricket ground in London, but Nassau County International Cricket Stadium will be in the spotlight shortly — thanks to a swift green light from local authorities.
“The world is coming right here to Nassau County. You’re going to have kings and princes and big dignitaries,” beamed the county’s deputy commissioner of parks, Michael D’Ambrosio.
“A lot of people are very envious and jealous that we got this,” he told AFP, noting the tournament’s massive global viewership.
The ICC, for its part, is investing big in the sport’s future in the US, particularly the New York region, home to several hundred thousand people with links to cricket-playing countries, notably India and Pakistan.
The India-Pakistan showdown is already sold out, with tickets now topping $1,000 each online.
But once the stadium is dismantled in July, local cricket will return to its struggling state. Despite having around 10,000 players, the sport has no dedicated stadium in New York.
“Cricket is growing, but the infrastructure — that’s where the fight is,” lamented Ajith Shetty, president of the Commonwealth Cricket League (CCL), the region’s premier cricket grouping.
New York does field a team in Major League Cricket, the professional league launched last year, and plays on dedicated pitches — in Texas and North Carolina, where all MLC matches occur to control costs.
“We are exploring opportunities to create a permanent venue close to our loyal fan base,” a spokesperson for defending MLC champions MI New York told AFP.
Meanwhile CCL players lug a 500-pound (225-kilogram) mat from park to park, which acts as the “pitch,” the rectangular area at the center of a cricket field.
“No other sport has to put in this much work, only cricket in New York. They make us suffer,” said Shetty, an Indian-born entrepreneur.
“New York used to be a Makkah of cricket,” he added. But while conditions have stagnated in the Big Apple, other states have improved, especially Texas.
Houston is where team USA stunned Bangladesh on Thursday to sweep their three-match T20 international series ahead of the World Cup.
Backed by local entrepreneurs, some CCL clubs pay players thousands of dollars per year, although not enough to quit their day jobs.
Waqas Ashiq, who plays for Long Island United CC and recalls the struggles back when the team started in 2008, sees the glass half full.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said before strolling on to the field to bat.
“I’m hopeful that with this World Cup coming, people get their interest piqued a little bit.”
According to Shetty, the entrepreneur, the ICC is keen to invest in US youth development, particularly in light of cricket returning to the Olympics, at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Schools are also showing interest.
The challenge now, agreed Ashiq, in addition to the quest for a permanent stadium, is involving the next generation — children of the cricket-loving immigrants who have made New York their home.
“That’s the only way to grow the sport and make sure it’s secure for the next 10, 20, 30 years.”


Doncic lifts Mavericks with go-ahead 3 with 3 seconds left to top Wolves 109-108 for 2-0 lead

Doncic lifts Mavericks with go-ahead 3 with 3 seconds left to top Wolves 109-108 for 2-0 lead
Updated 32 min 46 sec ago
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Doncic lifts Mavericks with go-ahead 3 with 3 seconds left to top Wolves 109-108 for 2-0 lead

Doncic lifts Mavericks with go-ahead 3 with 3 seconds left to top Wolves 109-108 for 2-0 lead

MINNEAPOLIS: Luka Doncic hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with Rudy Gobert guarding him at the top of the key with 3 seconds left, posting his fifth triple-double of the playoffs to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 109-108 victory and a 2-0 lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference finals on Friday night.
Doncic had 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his eighth triple-double in 42 career postseason games for the Mavericks, who erased an 18-point deficit that stood late in the second quarter and were still down 16 midway through the third.
Naz Reid went 7 for 9 from 3-point range for 23 points, but his last try at the buzzer rimmed in and out to send the Wolves to Dallas for Game 3 on Sunday in a big hole after another off night by stars Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Kyrie Irving had 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a corner 3-pointer with 1:05 left that pulled the Mavericks within two. Then the Wolves sandwiched turnovers around a short miss by Doncic. Edwards recklessly threw the ball out of bounds off a drive with 13 seconds left, giving the Mavericks the ball with the chance to win.
Doncic took the inbounds pass and dribbled to set up a screen by Dereck Lively II that triggered a switch by the Wolves, with NBA All-Defensive second team pick Jaden McDaniels dropping with Lively’s roll and Defensive Player of the Year Gobert staying out on the top of the key.
After the swish, Doncic flexed his arms and yelled at the stunned crowd as his teammates swarmed him.
The lead for either side was three points or less from 10:50 remaining to 1:29 until Edwards — who had 21 points but is shooting 11 for 33 in the series — sank two free throws for a 108-103 edge. That came right after Irving missed both foul shots that had the crowd howling in honor of the promotion that awards a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.
Mike Conley scored 18 points and Gobert had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves, who needed Reid — the NBA Sixth Man of the Year — more than ever. His top-of-the-key swish at the end of the third quarter gave the Wolves an 86-79 cushion just after the Mavericks closed the gap hard with a 21-7 spurt — mostly while Conley rested — over a 6:36 stretch.
Irving, who scored only five points in the first half after he had 24 of his 30 in Game 1 before halftime, gave the Mavericks their first lead since 7-6 with a 3-pointer to cap an 8-0 run that started the fourth quarter and made it 87-86.
Doncic, who flourished in the fourth quarter of Game 1 to finish with 33 points, has been fighting through what the Mavericks have listed on the league’s official injury report as a sprained right knee and left ankle soreness.
When he was subbed out late in the first quarter, Doncic jogged straight to the locker room before returning to the bench prior to his next shift. After running the floor for a fast-break layup late in the second quarter, Doncic was laboring and limping on the way back. He shot 5 for 14 before halftime.
The beauty of the 25-year-old Slovenian superstar’s game is that he hardly needs a full-strength spring in his step to dominate. He had Minnesota’s league-leading defense looking out of sorts on so many possessions with his laser-like passing.
The Wolves were blistered by the coaching staff for their effort and execution between games, and they stayed true to their form as a strong bounce-back team from the few times they’ve fallen flat this season. Conley had the offense running crisply and craftily whenever he was initiating.
When he wasn’t, though, the Wolves often got out of hand. Edwards forced a lot of shots and didn’t appear to have much of a plan when he had the ball. McDaniels, who had 20-plus points in each of the last three games, didn’t make a basket until midway through the third quarter.
Towns and Gobert were especially aggressive on offense early after the Wolves got eaten up in the paint, but they were still vulnerable on defense underneath as Mavericks had their way with the persistent lobs to Daniel Gafford (16 points) and Lively (14 points).
Towns had 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting and gave way to Reid down the stretch.


Pakistan and China move forward on $6.76 billion railway line project amid increased security measures

Pakistan and China move forward on $6.76 billion railway line project amid increased security measures
Updated 32 min 49 sec ago
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Pakistan and China move forward on $6.76 billion railway line project amid increased security measures

Pakistan and China move forward on $6.76 billion railway line project amid increased security measures
  • Minister Ahsan Iqbal says ML-1 project is now ready for the bidding process among eligible Chinese companies
  • PM Sharif also meets Chinese businessmen, asks them to set up industries in special economic zones under CPEC

KARACHI: With an emphasis on improving the security of Chinese workers in Pakistan, officials in Beijing and Islamabad held the 13th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting online on Friday, agreeing to proceed with the ML-1 railway project estimated to cost over $6 billion.
The JCC meeting, which focused on joint energy and infrastructure development initiatives under the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), was convened after the March 26 suicide attack that killed five Chinese engineers and their local driver en route to the under-construction Dasu dam.
Briefing the media about the decisions made during the meeting, Pakistan’s planning minister Ahsan Iqbal said Chinese security concerns were discussed during the talks.
“Security issues were discussed in the meeting and China was briefed on improving security,” he said, adding that Pakistani authorities had raised a special force to ensure the safety of CPEC projects.
The Chinese nationals in Pakistan have been targeted by various militant factions, with a significant number of attacks coming from Baloch nationalists who aim to push Beijing out of the mineral-rich Balochistan province.
Pakistan’s top economic body on Thursday approved $2.5 million in compensation for the families of the Chinese workers killed in the March 26 Dasu attack.
Iqbal mentioned that both sides decided to initiate more projects apart from those carried out under the CPEC umbrella, adding: “We will jointly improve the security for these projects.”
He also informed the two countries agreed to start the mega ML-1 railway project focusing on the dualization of the existing railway network, built in the late 19th century, and the overall upgrading of tracks connecting the port city of Karachi to Peshawar.
“I am pleased to inform you that Pakistan has made significant progress on the Pakistan Railways Mainline-1 project,” the planning minister said. “The re-modified PC-1 [project feasibility] has been approved with a cost of $6.76 billion in two phases.”
“The project is now ready for the bidding process among eligible Chinese companies,” he added. “We request that the bidding process should start immediately in view of the poor deterioration of the railway track.”
Iqbal also provided details of the CPEC projects that have been completed so far.
“It is heartening to note the steady progress CPEC has made since its inception in 2013,” he said. “In the energy sector, we have successfully completed 16 projects, with a generation capacity of 8,020 MW [megawatts], along with two coal mines and a +660 kV HVDC [Kilovolt High Voltage Direct Current] transmission line.”
He added that the 884 MV Suki Kinari hydropower project worth $1.707 billion was still under construction and expected to be commissioned by November 2024.
“Three power projects, including two hydel (Azad Pattan 700 MW and Kohala 1124 MW) and one coal-based (Gwadar) with a generation capacity of 2124.7 MW worth $4.157 billion, are at an advanced stage,” he continued.
The minister maintained concrete progress on the next CPEC phase would emerge after Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to China, expected in the first week of June.
The two countries have closely collaborated since the launch of the joint corridor project. Sharif met representatives of several Chinese companies on Friday, noting that bilateral relations between the two states were further strengthening.
He urged Chinese companies to establish their industries in the special economic zones under CPEC by developing business-to-business relations, particularly inviting Chinese entrepreneurs in the textile sector to benefit from the opportunities in Pakistan.
Speaking to Arab News, Ammar Habib Khan, a senior research economist, acknowledged China’s financial assistance to Pakistan while suggesting that Islamabad wanted Beijing to soften its stance on restructuring about $15 billion in loans, mainly extended for power and other infrastructure projects.
“The debt restructuring of about $15 billion, including those of the power sector, will provide Pakistan a breathing space and could lead to a reduction in electricity prices,” he said.