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Prominent activist and publisher Jimmy Lai on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three charges of sedition and collusion with foreign countries in a landmark national security trial in Hong Kong.

Lai was arrested during a crackdown on dissidents following huge pro-democracy protests in 2019. He faces possible life imprisonment if convicted under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing. The trial is expected to last about 80 days without a jury.

The 76-year-old media tycoon who founded the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper faces one count of conspiring to print seditious publications to incite hatred against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, as well as two counts of collusion with foreign countries to call for sanctions and other hostile actions against China and Hong Kong.

Flanked by three prison officers, Lai formally pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him, shortly after the court rejected a last-ditch attempt by his counsel to throw out a sedition charge.

Prosecutor Anthony Chau in his opening statements described Lai as a “radical political figure” and the “mastermind” behind a conspiracy. Chau also said that Lai had used his media platform to advance his political agenda.

Clips of interviews that Lai gave to foreign media as well as speeches at events between 2019 and 2020 were also played in court. In the video, Lai called for support from foreign governments and urged U.S. officials as well as then-President Donald Trump to impose “draconian” measures on China and Chinese officials in retaliation for imposing the national security law and restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.

His prosecution has drawn criticism from the United States and the United Kingdom. Beijing has called those comments irresponsible, saying they went against international law and the basic norms of international relations.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, or IPAC, an international political group that’s critical of China’s human rights record and foreign policy, said Lai’s trial “fabricated” evidence that the media mogul was involved in its work.



Donald Trump said Sunday he has decided against testifying for a second time at his New York civil fraud trial, posting on social media a day before his scheduled appearance that he “very successfully & conclusively” testified last month and saw no need to do so again.

The former president, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, had been expected to return to the witness stand Monday as a coda to his defense against New York Attorney General Letitia James ' lawsuit.

James, a Democrat, alleges Trump inflated his wealth on financial statements used in securing loans and making deals. The case threatens Trump’s real estate empire and cuts to the heart of his image as a successful businessman.

“I will not be testifying on Monday,” Trump wrote in an all-capital-letters, multipart statement on his Truth Social platform less than 20 hours before he was to take the witness stand.

“I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say,” Trump added, leaving the final word among defense witnesses to an accounting expert hired by his legal team who testified last week that he found “no evidence, whatsoever, for any accounting fraud” in Trump’s financial statements.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about his decision.

The decision was an abrupt change from Trump’s posture in recent days, when his lawyers said he was insistent on testifying again despite their concerns about a gag order that has cost him $15,000 in fines for disparaging the judge’s law clerk.

“President Trump has already testified. There is really nothing more to say to a judge who has imposed an unconstitutional gag order and thus far appears to have ignored President Trump’s testimony and that of everyone else involved in the complex financial transactions at issue in the case,” Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said Sunday.

Trump’s decision came days after his son, Eric Trump, ditched his return appearance on the witness stand. Trump said on social media that he’d told Eric to cancel. It also follows Trump’s first trip back to court since he testified in the case on Nov. 6. Last Thursday, he watched from the defense table as the accounting professor, New York University professor Eli Bartov, blasted the state’s case and said Trump’s financial statements “were not materially misstated.”

Trump’s cancellation caught court officials by surprise. Without Trump on the witness stand, the trial will be on hold until Tuesday, when Bartov will finish his testimony. State lawyers say they’ll then call at least one rebuttal witness.



As the Biden administration makes billions of dollars available to remove millions of dangerous lead pipes that can contaminate drinking water and damage brain development in children, some states are turning down funds.

Washington, Oregon, Maine and Alaska declined all or most of their federal funds in the first of five years that the mix of grants and loans is available, The Associated Press found. Some states are less prepared to pay for lead removal projects because, in many cases, the lead must first be found, experts said. And communities are hesitant to take out loans to search for their lead pipes.

States shouldn’t “shrug their shoulders” and pass up funds, said Erik Olson, a health and food expert at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s troubling that a state would decide to take a complete pass on the funding because part of the reason for the funding is to figure out whether you even have lead,” Olson said.

The Biden administration wants to remove all 9.2 million lead pipes carrying water to U.S. homes. Lead can lower IQ and create behavioral problems in children. The 2021 infrastructure law provides $15 billion to find and replace them. That money will help a lot, but it isn’t enough to get all the toxic pipes out of the ground. State programs distribute the federal funds to utilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it is reviewing state requests to decline funds but did not provide a full list of states that have said no so far. That information will be available in October, officials said. States that declined first-year funds can still accept them during the remaining four years.

“EPA has been working closely with our state partners on utilizing Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding that is available,” the agency said.

Lead pipes are far more common in some states such as Michigan and Illinois, which each have hundreds of thousands. The harm there is clear. Flint’s lead crisis elevated lead in tap water to a national health issue. Residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, drank water with too much lead for years until all their lead pipes were replaced. In response, however, Michigan is clamoring for as much money as it can get to remove lead.

The states that declined funds have fewer problematic pipes, but that doesn’t mean lead isn’t an issue. There’s concern about lead in some Maine schools. Portland, Oregon, has struggled with high lead levels for years, although recent tests have been better and officials say the issue isn’t lead pipes, but household plumbing.

Washington accepted $85,000 of $63 million it could have taken and said the decision was based on the limited number of water systems that wanted loans. The EPA estimates the state has 22,000 lead pipes. Oregon, which could have accepted $37 million, said inventories are going to be done with existing staff and resources, adding that utilities have no known lead lines. The EPA projected that the state has 3,530 lead pipes — a relatively small number — based in part on information collected from utilities.



Lawyers for Donald Trump were meeting Thursday with members of special counsel Jack Smith’s team as a potential indictment loomed over the former president’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The meeting included Trump lawyer John Lauro, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press to describe a private gathering. Trump earlier this month was informed by Smith’s office that he was a target of the Justice Department’s investigation, suggesting that an indictment could be soon.

The investigation has focused on the turbulent two month-period after the November 2020 election in which Trump refused to accept his loss to Joe Biden and spread lies that victory was stolen from him. The turmoil resulted in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, when Trump loyalists violently broke into the building, attacked police officers and disrupted the congressional counting of electoral votes. More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot.

In between the election and the riot, Trump urged local election officials to undo voting results in their states, pressured Vice President Mike Pence to halt the certification of electoral votes and falsely claimed that the election had been stolen — despite the fact that numerous federal and local officials, a long list of courts, top former campaign staffers and even his own attorney general have all said there is no evidence of the fraud he alleges.

A spokesman for Smith declined to comment on Thursday’s meeting.

Trump was charged by Smith’s team last month with illegally hoarding classified documents at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate, Mar-a-Lago, and concealing them from investigators. He was also indicted in New York in March on charges of falsifying business records in connection with an alleged hush money payment to a porn actor. And prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, are preparing to announce charging decisions in the coming weeks related to efforts to subvert the election in that state.



A woman accused in a grisly killing and dismemberment case in Wisconsin attacked her attorney Tuesday during a court hearing, moments after a judge agreed to delay her trial.

Taylor Schabusiness, 25, was seated in a Brown County circuit court when her attorney, Quinn Jolly, asked the judge for an additional two weeks for a defense expert to review his client’s competency to stand trial.

Moments after Judge Thomas Walsh reluctantly agreed to postpone her March 6 trial, Schabusiness attacked Jolly and was wrestled to the courtroom floor by a deputy, WLUK-TV reported. The courtroom was then cleared before the hearing resumed.

Schabusiness is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse and third-degree sexual assault in the killing of Shad Thyrion, 25, in February 2022. Authorities say she strangled Thyrion at a home in Green Bay, sexually abused him and dismembered his body, leaving parts of him throughout the house and in a vehicle.

Schabusiness has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. She is being held on a $2 million cash bond.

Following her courtroom outburst, the judge moved her competency hearing from Tuesday to March 6. The judge also proposed a May 15 trial date.

At the end of the hearing, Jolly told the court he would file a motion to withdraw from the case as Schabusiness’ attorney but the judge did not immediately rule on that matter.


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