Trump knew hush payments wrong: Cohen

Trump knew hush payments wrong: Cohen

Donald Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen (C) has spoken out for the first time since he was sentenced.US President Donald Trump directed the payment of hush money to two women shortly before the 2016 US presidential election and knew that doing so was wrong, his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen says.
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"He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters," Cohen told the ABC television program Good Morning America on Friday.

Cohen was referring to the $US150,000 ($A208,919) paid to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and the $130,000 ($A181,063) paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Both women have said they had sexual relationships more than a decade ago with Trump, which the president and his representatives have denied.

Cohen, a former member of Trump's inner circle who in the past called himself the president's "fixer," was sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in New York to three years in prison.

He was sentenced for campaign finance law violations related to the payments and other crimes to which he pleaded guilty.

Asked if Trump knew the payments were wrong, Cohen said: "Of course."

He bristled at Trump's accusation that he was trying to embarrass the president and protect his own family.

"Here is the truth: The people of the United States of America, the people of the world don't believe what he's saying," Cohen said.

"The man doesn't tell the truth, and it's sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.

"I gave loyalty to someone who truthfully does not deserve loyalty."

Trump has lashed out at Cohen as "weak" and accused him of lying.

The Republican president told Fox News on Thursday Cohen did only "low-level work" for him, mostly in public relations.

Cohen, in his first televised interview since he was sentenced, said Trump was worried about the potential impact on the election if voters learned about the two women's account of the alleged affairs.

Cohen said Trump told him to pay them to keep quiet.

The payments were made "about two weeks or so before the election", he said.

They followed the release of a recording of Trump boasting to celebrity interviewer Billy Bush years earlier about grabbing the genitals of women.

"So yes, he was very concerned about how this would affect the election," Cohen said in the interview, which was taped on Thursday.

He added that the payments were intended "to help him (Trump) and the campaign".

Trump's explanations of the payments have shifted over time. After earlier saying he knew nothing of the payments, Trump on Thursday said he never told Cohen to break the law.

Cohen on Wednesday was sentenced to prison for the payments to the women as well as separate crimes of tax evasion, misleading banks and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley on Friday faulted the news media for "giving credence to a convicted criminal", and called Cohen "a self-admitted liar".



Sydney Kings steal win over Perth Wildcats

Sydney Kings steal win over Perth Wildcats

The Sydney Kings have claimed an unlikely NBL victory in Perth thanks to a David Wear three-pointer.The Sydney Kings have snatched an unlikely two-point NBL win over the Perth Wildcats at RAC Arena.
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Trailing by 11 points midway the final term, a David Wear three-pointer with 4.3 seconds remaining gave the Kings a 98-97 victory and handed Perth their first home loss for the season on Friday night.

Andrew Bogut played only those final 4.3 seconds of the final term despite having only four fouls.

He'd had a tough night against Angus Brandt and the Perth crowd let him know about it.

Brandt had eight of his 12 points at the main break and his work on the glass early in the game gave Perth a good start.

The Wildcats dominated the boards, pulling down a staggering 21 offensive rebounds for the game and scoring 25 second chance points, compared to Sydney's 11.

With Bogut out, Wear (18 points) and Dan Kickert (18) were able to team up to cause Perth some headaches in offence.

Kickert scored six quick points at the start of the second term and his seven consecutive points late in the fourth kept the door open for the visitors.

Jerome Randle (22 points) and Kevin Lisch (14) dropped important points late as the Kings went on a 17-7 run.

Kings coach Andrew Gaze was proud of the resilience his team showed.

"Most things were going well. Our shooting percentage was off the charts; a few too many turnovers. But most things were going well, accept for one area, that's offensive boards," he said.

"It was heartbreaking for us when you work so hard and that area of the game was so poor.

"Somehow or another we won that game."

Perth were hot early and opened a 55-48 lead at halftime.

Cotton had 14 points and finished with a game-high 26, five rebounds, five assists and six steals. But he managed only four points in the final term.

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson was disappointed with his team's execution late in the game.

"Yeah, we just didn't execute well down the stretch. It's disappointing, to have the lead for most of the game," he said.

"We had our opportunities, with no question. We let them get a bit of life at the end of the third quarter, with a few open threes.

"They shot the ball extremely well. It seemed like every shot they were shooting was going in."



Govt “risky” on Israel decision: Labor

Govt “risky” on Israel decision: Labor

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has decided to formally recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the government's decision to formally recognise West Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech on Saturday, following months of speculation since the government revealed it was contemplating a move.
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" now recognises West Jerusalem being the seat of the Knesset (Israel's legislative body) and West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," Mr Morrison told an audience at The Sydney Institute.

The government will recognise East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital only after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution, and the n embassy won't be moved from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem until such a time.

While the government will delay the embassy move, it will establish a defence and trade office in Jerusalem and will also start looking for an appropriate site for the embassy.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says the government's the foreign policy shift without moving the n embassy is a "humiliating backdown" after its rushed by-election announcement in October.

Mr Shorten said the government's announcement ahead of the Wentworth by-election in October, where a large number of voters are Jewish, was "risky and foolish".

"What I'm worried is that Mr Morrison put his political interest ahead of our national interest," Mr Shorten told reporters in Adelaide.

"I regret that we've seen a complex debate derailed by reckless and fool behaviour."

Mr Morrison floated the idea of shifting the embassy in the dying days of the Wentworth by-election campaign, where more than 12 per cent of voters are Jewish.

The consideration sparked backlash from Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening a free trade deal which has now been delayed, although the Morrison government insists the delay was due to other reasons.

Following the pre-Wentworth election comments, Malaysia warned moving the embassy could fuel terrorism.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Senator Penny Wong, said the decision to keep 's embassy in Tel Aviv proved the prime minister's pre-election proposal was a "cynical ploy to try to pretend he had shifted position for votes in Wentworth."

But Mr Morrison defended the October proposal to consider the move, saying it was about exploring options that could help achieve the two-state solution, especially as a "rancid stalemate has emerged."

"The very act of daring to ask that question drew the usual criticism," he told the audience at The Sydney Institute.

He said intended to remain within the rules of the UN Security Council resolutions.

Community groups have responded to the announcement, with the Palestine Advocacy Network saying they were "dismayed" and the move would slam the door on peace.

"As Israel claims exclusive sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and refuses to abide by United Nations resolutions calling it to withdraw from occupied East Jerusalem, we cannot give them a free kick," said the group's president Bishop George Browning.

The potential embassy move was previously welcomed by the Executive Council of n Jewry, who said the recognition of Jerusalem as capital would not prevent a future agreement between Israel and Palestinians.



Victory go top after Roar A-League win

Victory go top after Roar A-League win

Brisbane's Eric Bautheac (R) has been sent off in the Roar's 4-2 A-League loss to Melbourne Victory.Six goals, two penalties, a send-off and Melbourne Victory going top of the A-League ladder.
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It was a busy Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, with Kevin Muscat's men extending their winning streak to six with a 4-2 win over Brisbane.

Most of the dramatics came in spectacular first half, during which all the goals were scored and Roar marquee Eric Bautheac received his marching orders after a scuffle with Victory stars Ola Toivenen and James Troisi.

Swedish international Toivenen and Japanese star Keisuke Honda were again at the heart of the action, both scoring for the visitors but also having a hand in the Roar's two goals as well.

Former Brisbane striker Kosta Barbarouses scored twice for Victory to take his tally to four goals in the past three games for Kevin Muscat's men.

There was also time for Adam Taggart to score from the penalty spot after he was tripped by Honda and Toivenen headed into his own net.

Victory coach Muscat believed the way his team shut down the match in a rain-lashed second half will be an important learning curve for his men.

"Just a challenge of our maturity, find out where we are as a team," Muscat said.

"It was a good test for us in the second half. We had quite a few chances and limited them to set pieces."

The defeat leaves Brisbane with just one win from eight matches this season.

Roar coach John Aloisi felt the dismissal of Bautheac was decisive in the end.

"I thought 11 v 11, we were matching them," Aloisi said.

"We should have scored early on ... then we lose the ball in a bad area and they score off their first chance.

"It was difficult playing, mainly against 12, the whole night."

The ex-Socceroo praised Victory as a "good side" but believed decisions such as the awarding of a penalty against Roar defender Daniel Bowles when a Terry Antonis strike crashed into his arm did his team no favours.

"It would've been a great game if it was 11 v 11," Aloisi said.

"I asked Adam (Fielding), the referee, at halftime where Bowlesy is supposed to put his arm? I don't know where he's supposed to put his arm. If it's an intentional handball, it's a second yellow card - off.

"We can only control and focus on ourselves and that's what we'll do."

The Roar face three consecutive away matches starting next weekend against Wellington in New Zealand, while Victory will look to keep their winning streak going against crosstown rivals Melbourne City in a pre-Christmas derby.



NT budget running out of money: report

NT budget running out of money: report

A budget repair report has revealed the dire state of the Northern Territory's finances.The state of the Northern Territory's finances are so dire the government is borrowing money to pay public service wages and interest on its debt.
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Unless solutions are found the government will not be able to afford what Treasury forecasts will be an annual $2 billon interest bill by 2029-30.

Net debt will have grown from a current $3 billion to a whopping $35 billion by 2029-30 unless action is taken, according to the Plan for Budget Repair Treasury interim report released on Friday.

That is a massive figure given Western has 10 times the NT's 245,000 population and its current net debt of more than $30 billion is at record levels.

Treasury and the government are still working out how to tackle the crisis, with its budget repair report going out for public comment and help, including to industry and unions.

The report recommends cutting spending growth in the public service from the six per cent-plus it has been for 18 years to three per cent for a decade to avoid debt becoming unmanageable.

The best case scenario is a balanced budget by then, says Treasury.

Health represents more than 20 per cent of the NT's $6 billion-plus budget and its levels of poor health and disadvantage in remote indigenous communities are the highest in the country.

"We are facing some of the biggest fiscal and economic challenges the Territory has ever seen," NT Treasurer Nicole Manison told reporters.

The government would not take a "slash and burn" approach of sacking public servants, she said, which it cannot afford to give that falling population is a factor in the struggling economy and finances.

The report blames a fall in the NT's share of GST revenue of $2.4 billion over the budget cycle coming as "tough economic times" hit, with the wind down of the massive INPEX LNG construction project and increasing demand on government services.

New major projects such as the Sea Dragon prawn farm or Landbridge luxury hotel in Darwin have not started yet.

"There will be some tough decisions that will have to be made, that's why we are having conversations with people to understand how best to go about it," Ms Manison said.

Ms Manison is going to Canberra next week to lobby Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen for a better GST deal for the NT.

"If they (Commonwealth) are dead serious about developing northern to its full potential and want to see better lives for Aboriginal people and close the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage they must be investing in the Northern Territory," she said.

Country Liberal Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said suggestions the Territory might not be able to afford interest repayments was scary.

"Their own mid-year report said the single biggest reason for the deterioration in the budgetary position is 'policy changes' to the tune of $354 million." Mrs Finocchiaro said.

It was an elected government's job to manage through the down times, spend wisely, invest in wealth creation and to incentivise business and investment, she said.