New York to probe money shifted from Eric Trump charity to father’s company

The Eric Trump Foundation was founded in 2007 to raise money for St.

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Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a nonprofit institution that cares for children with cancer and other serious diseases.

The foundation organized annual golf tournaments on a course owned by Eric’s father, the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County north of New York.

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In the event’s early years, the use of the course was donated by the Trump Organization, headed by the future president. 

Using the donated facilities allowed the foundation to send most of the funds raised to the hospital, Eric Trump told donors.  

But starting in 2010, the Trump Organization billed the foundation for use of the club, according to a Forbes magazine investigation.

While the cost of organizing the one-day tournament was at first less than $50,000, it soared in later years, reaching $322,000 in 2015, according to tax filings seen by the magazine’s reporters. 

Expenses at that level “defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament,” according to golf event experts cited in the article.

WATCH: The moment Donald Trump crashes a wedding in New Jersey

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It quoted two people directly involved in the matter as saying the person who commanded that the Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars was Donald Trump himself.

Forbes said Eric Trump told its reporters that the cost of running the tournament was around $100,000 — raising questions about the gap between that amount and the $322,000 listed in tax papers for 2015. 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation to clarify matters, a spokesman told AFP on Sunday.

In late 2016, the young Trump ended his own direct involvement in the foundation, which he said would be restructured and renamed, under new leadership, in a move to avoid any conflict of interest after his father’s election as president.

The magazine did note that over the years Eric Trump’s foundation had done “a ton of good,” raising more than $11 million for the children’s hospital, mostly through the golf event.

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$1.8b social housing program for Qld

Queensland’s opposition has accused the Labor government of breaking an election promise not to sell assets after it announced it will open up land for community and social housing projects.

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A day before the state budget, the government revealed it will open up large tracts of land to developers and allocate $1.8 billion over 10 years to build 4522 social homes and 1034 affordable homes.

The plan is front-loaded, with around 600 houses a year to be built on sites across the state for the first five years.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday shared her personal history, of her grandparents and parents living in community housing before eventually owning their own home.

She said her government will partner with the private sector to develop state-owned land for the low cost housing.

“We are looking at partnering with the private sector where we have under-utilised land to build housing on that land,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“There’s many examples of where that has happened in the past.”

But Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls has accused the government of selling off assets.

“Land sales are absolutely asset sales and that’s a broken promise by Annastacia Palaszczuk,” he told reporters.

Mr Nicholls also pointed out Labor last year scrapped the Logan Housing Initiative, which would have seen 2600 homes built south of Brisbane.

The government will also change the means test required for community housing, to allow adult children living with their family to earn a wage without affecting their parents’ subsidised home.

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni says the means test will be dropped for people under 25, removing a disincentive to find work.

“This is the most significant initiative to breaking the cycle of inter-generational disadvantage that we’ve seen in Australia’s history,” Mr de Brenni said.

The social housing component of the package will focus on housing for victims of domestic violence, as well as seniors and people with a disability.

Social welfare group QCOSS, as well as the Housing Industry Association, both welcomed the government’s plan, saying it will deliver for the building and construction sector, as well as give people more options for housing.

Indian scientist, Lebanese professor and Italian migrant recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

Among those on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for 2017 are a Muslim-Lebanese professor who has helped strengthen rural and remote medical education, an Indian scientist who is developing drugs for cancer treatment and an Italian migrant who has built a culturally targeted aged-care program.

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Professor Mohamed Khadra, who has Lebanese heritage, was born in Ghana in West Africa and grew up in Sydney, has been named an Officer of the Order of Australia Medal for helping improve the numbers of doctors in rural Australia.

Professor Khadra’s medical background is in the field of urology as a surgeon, clinician and mentor, in rural and remote medical education. 

He says from a very young age he wanted to be a surgeon but his entry into the industry wasn’t in his chosen field. He began in dentistry before moving to medicine.

He went on to work with former Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge in Australia’s first rural clinical school – an initiative to grow the number of doctors in rural areas.

“What we found was that 70 per cent of doctors who trained in the bush actually ended up staying in the bush,” he said.

He says he’s humbled to make the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and hopes it will inspire other Muslim Australians.

“To be honoured and recognised by one’s country is a great thing indeed.  I hope that this award will inspire migrants, especially those of Muslim origin, to realise that this is a country of opportunity; it’s a country that rewards hard work and rewards loyalty.”

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Professor Rajiv Khanna received the Officer of the Order of Australia Medal for his work in medicine – specifically his contribution to the development of cellular immunotherapies.

He says he and his team are honoured to be recognised by those outside the scientific community.

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Professor Khanna has been working on a new cancer treatment alternative – a treatment he says is safer.

He believes his hard work shows how the Indian community values education.

“We tend to value education very highly in India. You go to any Indian parent, they all want their kids to become a doctor or an engineer or something,” he said.

“But in a terms of what it brings to the Australian community is that the highly educated Indian community… whether they’re in a medical area or an engineering area, they contribute hugely. And I’m part of that and I’m very proud of that heritage, to be from the Indian community.”

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Italian migrant Giuseppe Pino Migliorino has been named a Member of the Order of Australia for his work in the Italian community.

Mr Migliorino, who moved to Australia with his family when he was five, has helped build a bilingual school and a culturally targeted aged-care program.

Growing up, Mr Migliorino says he was ashamed of his Italian heritage and found it hard to balance the two cultures he was a part of.

“I find that a really interesting aspect in terms of my own upbringing, that my family sees me as someone who didn’t really necessarily comply with being Italian, yet I’ve become a great defender of Italian rights to cultural maintenance,” he said.

The bilingual school is something he says he’s proud to leave behind as his legacy, and he’s delighted that a majority of the students who attend the school don’t come from an Italian background. 

He says the aged-care program is framed around ageing with dignity for his community, who struggle with growing old in a country that is not their homeland. 

Mr Migliorino says the award isn’t just about his hard work but the hard work of those around him.

The Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, approved the awards and has expressed his congratulations to the winners.

Mr Cosgrove also says the community is very fortunate to have such outstanding people who dedicate themselves to improving the country.

Other notable mentions include Aboriginal actor Deborah Mailman, Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, Muslim advocate Dr Jamal Rifi and SBS CEO and Managing Director Michael Ebeid.

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Qatar says Gulf citizens can stay despite crisis

Iran also announced it had sent tonnes of vegetables to Qatar, which has seen food imports threatened after its neighbours cut air, sea and land links with the country.

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Nearly a week after Saudi Arabia and several of its allies severed ties with Qatar in an unprecedented Gulf diplomatic crisis, there were no signs of the bitter dispute being resolved.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups, an assertion since backed by US President Donald Trump.

Qatar strongly rejects the allegations and says it is open to talks on ending the dispute, which also saw the three Gulf states order all Qataris out of their countries within 14 days.

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The crisis has raised major concerns of instability in the region, and on Sunday Kuwait’s foreign minister said his country would continue its mediation efforts.

Qatar said late Saturday it would not retaliate with similar measures.

State media reported Doha would “not take any measures against residents of Qatar who hold the nationalities of countries that severed diplomatic ties… on the back of hostile and tendentious campaigns against the country”.

 No gas interruption 

 This will come as a relief to the more than 11,000 people from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain living in Qatar.

Concerns have been raised for the impact of these measures on people in all the countries affected. 

“For potentially thousands of people across the Gulf, the effect of the steps imposed in the wake of this political dispute is suffering, heartbreak and fear,” Amnesty International has said.

Saudi Arabia said Sunday it was ordering “suitable measures” to help families with mixed citizenships, but provided few details.

Despite the unprecedented sanctions, Qatar says that its crucial exports of liquified natural gas have not been interrupted.

“Qatar Petroleum… is conducting business as usual throughout all its upstream, midstream and downstream businesses and operations, and in all activities across all of QP’s world-class facilities,” a statement read.

Gas has helped transform the tiny emirate into one of the world’s richest countries, fuelling its rise into a major regional player and helping fund huge infrastructure projects such as the 2022 football World Cup, which Qatar will host.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Sunday said he was confident the crisis posed no threat to the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar’s rivals have also accused Doha of being too close to the Sunni Arab Gulf states’ arch-rival Shiite-dominated Iran — claims that Doha has also denied.

Iranian officials said Sunday that tonnes of vegetables had been sent from Iran to Qatar since the measures were taken against it.

Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi said five aircraft carrying around 90 tonnes of vegetables each had been sent to Qatar in recent days.

“We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand,” Noushabadi added, without saying if these were commercial exports or aid.

Three ships loaded with 350 tonnes of fruit and vegetables were also set to leave Iran for Qatar, the Tasnim news agency reported.

 Mixed US signals 

 Moscow on Saturday joined other nations in calling for dialogue, after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their “blockade” of Qatar.

Washington has sent mixed signals on the crisis, despite Qatar’s position as a key ally and host to the region’s largest US airbase.

While Tillerson and others have called for an easing of tensions, Trump on Friday said Qatar had “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level”.

Kuwait, which has not joined its neighbours against Qatar, has led mediation efforts and on Sunday Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled Al-Sabah said that would continue.

“Kuwait stresses the need for the dispute to be resolved within the Gulf framework,” Sheikh Sabah said in a statement quoted by the KUNA news agency.

Qatar has expressed readiness “to understand the concerns of its brothers and respond to the efforts of the emir (of Kuwait) to strengthen peace and security,” he said.

In other diplomatic moves, the African Union chairman, Guinean President Alpha Conde whose country has close ties with Saudi Arabia, offered himself as a mediator.

Morocco said it was “concerned” by developments and was “willing to offer its good offices”, a foreign ministry statement said.

Cheers and chants as Trump gatecrashes New Jersey wedding

US President Donald Trump has made a surprise appearance at a wedding at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey this weekend.

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He was greeted by guests with cheers and chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

Videos and images posted to social media showed Trump kissing the bride’s cheek, posing for photos with the bride and groom, and autographing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.

“Everyone obviously got very excited, got out of their chairs and came to take pictures,” one guest told the Washington Post.

“The bride came running out, and he gave her a big hug and a kiss, so she was just ecstatic.”

President Trump regularly spends weekends away from Washington at his various hotels, clubs and golf courses.

Critics have accused the president of promoting his properties and wasting taxpayer money on his frequent trips out of Washington, with millions spent on extra security at each venue.

At one point, the New Jersey club had advertised that if the president was at the venue, he would likely drop in to say hello at weddings – a statement which has since been removed from advertising materials.

Trump poses with the elated bride.Laura Piatkowski / Instagram

On Sunday Trump hosted an $800,000 fundraiser for Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur at the New Jersey resort.

The lawmaker had floated a key ‘Trumpcare’ proposal credited with gathering enough votes in the House to pass legislation to repeal and replace elements of ‘Obamacare’.

At the wedding the happy couple posed for photos with the president free of charge – a night later, fundraiser attendees were asked to contribute $100,000 for the privilege. 

– with CNN

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Blanchett, Minchin snubbed at Tony Awards

Cate Blanchett’s already overstocked trophy cabinet will have to wait a little longer to add a coveted Tony Award.

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The Australian actress, a winner of two Oscars, three Golden Globe trophies, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and three BAFTAs for her remarkable film career and just hours after receiving a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours, missed out on a Tony in New York.

Blanchett was not alone, with Australia’s Tim Minchin and his musical Groundhog Day given the cold shoulder at Broadway’s night of nights despite seven nominations.

Australian producers Stuart Thompson (best play Sweat and best revival of a play Six Degrees of Separation) and duo Rodney Rigby and Sam Levy (best musical Come From Away) also missed out.

The musical Dear Evan Hansen dominated the ceremony with six wins, including beating Groundhog Day for best musical.

Bette Midler stole the 71st Annual Tony Awards ceremony at Manhattan’s Radio Music City Hall when she won best actress in a musical for Hello, Dolly! and then gave an hilarious, expletive laden speech.

“Thank you to the Tony voters, many of whom I’ve actually dated,” the 71-year-old diva, who had only claimed a “special” Tony Award in 1974 for her contribution to Broadway, told the audience.

When the orchestra began to play her off as she spoke on stage she told them: “Shut that crap off”.

Blanchett was nominated for best lead actress in a play for her Broadway debut in The Present, a Sydney Theatre Company update of Anton Chekhov’s Platonov penned by her husband Andrew Upton.

Laurie Metcalf, for A Doll’s House, Part 2 won the Tony.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for Dear Evan Hansen took the original score trophy ahead of Minchin for Groundhog Day.

The ceremony was hosted by Oscar winner, stage veteran and star of the hit TV series House of Cards, Kevin Spacey.

Titans look to Kevin Proctor for NRL lift

Gold Coast forward Kevin Proctor is poised to make his NRL return from a four-match illicit drug ban with the Titans facing a tricky task to make the finals.

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Proctor copped the suspension from the Titans – as well as a $20,000 fine – after being caught using what was believed to be cocaine in Canberra on May 5 following the Test match between Australia and New Zealand.

Chris McQueen often partnered Proctor in the second row and says he’s chomping at the bit after spending seven weeks on the sideline.

“He’d be a massive inclusion for us, the suspension’s been burning away at him I’m expecting a big game for him this week,” McQueen said.

“He knows how to win games and he’s not scared of the hard work, he’s more than willing to put his body on the line for the team.

“He brings a lot of leadership, we have still got a lot of young guys who haven’t got a lot of experience and to have a guy like him is invaluable.”

Proctor’s last match for the Titans was their 38- 8 win over Newcastle in round nine and since he’s been banned Gold Coast have lost three of their last four fixtures.

A veteran of 186 games, Proctor averages 25 tackles per game this season and his stability in defence is much needed with Gold Coast conceding the third highest amount of tries in the NRL.

The 13th-placed Gold Coast are out of form losing their last three games on the trot but McQueen is demanding a fight for the rest of the season.

“Mathematically speaking, I think we’ve only got two or three losses in us for the rest of the year,” McQueen said.

“We’ve put ourselves into a difficult position but we’re going to fight until the end of the year.”

‘March against Sharia’: Protesters rally against Islamic law across the US

ACT for America, a self-described grassroots organisation focusing on national security, staged rallies in New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver and Seattle, as well as many smaller cities.

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Hundreds of people pledged on social media to attend an event that ACT billed as “March against Sharia.”

On the steps of the Pennsylvania state capitol in Harrisburg, barricades and a heavy police presence, including officers mounted on horses, separated about 60 anti-sharia demonstrators from an equal number of counter-protesters. Many of the latter were dressed in black masks and hoods and chanting “No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist USA.”

The atmosphere was tense but the protest went off with no violence and only one arrest, police said.

More than a dozen men belonging to the anti-government Oath Keepers were on hand, invited by ACT to provide security. Most of them carried handguns.

Chris Achey, 47, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, said he did not hate Muslims but believes that much of Islam is incompatible with Western culture.

“The Constitution is the law of the land,” he said. “We have to be careful with who we let in the country.”

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On its website, ACT described sharia, which covers many aspects of Muslim life including religious obligations and financial dealings, as incompatible with human rights. It said sharia justifies the oppression of women and homosexuality, and advocates female genital mutilation.

But critics say the organization vilifies Muslims and has repeatedly equated Islam with extremism. In their view, the rallies are part of a wave of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by President Donald Trump, who called for a ban on Muslims entering the country during his election campaign.

Molly Freiburg, 33, of Philadelphia, was one of the counter-protesters but not part of the larger group clad in black.

“America is not in danger from sharia law,” she said. “This manifestation at the Capitol is actually a way to make our Muslim neighbors feel uncomfortable.”

A representative for ACT for America could not be reached for comment.

In Seattle, about 75 anti-sharia protesters were outnumbered by counter-protesters at a rally that was moved from Portland, Oregon. Tensions are running high in Portland after a man yelling religious and racial slurs at two teenage girls on a commuter train fatally stabbed two men who tried to stop him.

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Talbot Sleater, a 62-year-old construction foreman, said that the Seattle protest was the first of the kind that he had attended. A Briton who moved to the United States, he said he had decided to go after recent attacks in his home country.

“People are being run over in the street with trucks and little kids are being blown up,” Sleater said, referring to recent attacks in London and Manchester. “I don’t want that to happen here.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim advocacy group, urged Americans to participate in one of several local educational events being organized in “a peaceful challenge to Saturday’s hate rallies.”

It also warned Muslims to take extra precautions against potential violence over the weekend.

Anti-Muslim incidents rose 57 percent last year, including a 44 percent jump in anti-Islamic hate crimes, CAIR said in a report released in early May.

Oath Keepers said on its website that it was “answering the call to defend free speech against those who would use terrorist violence or the threat of violence to shut it down.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Oath Keepers is “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the United States,” organized around a “set of baseless conspiracy theories.”

Refuse Fascism, a coalition of activists advocating confrontational tactics to oppose what it calls the Trump “regime,” said it would show up at the rallies “to counter the xenophobic hatred and lies, defy intimidation and drown it out.”

India knock sloppy Proteas out of Trophy

India captain Virat Kohli praised his bowling attack as they demolished the South Africa batting line-up to seal a spot in the Champions Trophy semi-final.

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The reigning champions were far too good for their opponents at the Oval as they won by eight wickets after easily chasing down a modest target of 192.

South Africa started slowly with the bat but were seemingly building a sensible innings, with opener Quinton de Kock hitting 53.

The likes of skipper AB de Villiers (16) and David Miller (one) were victims of poor communication as three players were run out – with India taking eight wickets for 51 runs.

In return they never looked in trouble as Shikhar Dhawan (78) and Kohli (76 not out) enjoyed themselves with some big hitting.

But it was the bowlers who were hailed by Kohli after the convincing win.

“The pressure was built by the bowlers and that I think resulted in those breakthroughs we got in the field,” Kohli said.

“It is important to grab those opportunities. We wanted to improve our fielding, it was something we required and before we went out we had a chat in the huddle and I said I wanted everyone’s intensity to go up, that is a conscious effort we have to make.

“All of the bowlers executed their plan so well in such a big game and to be able to bowl like that against a batting line up of their ability, we can feel confident and would like to take it forward into the semis.”

Kohli said there was nothing for him to criticise as India continued on in their quest to defend the trophy.

“I can’t pinpoint any negatives from the day, it was our best game yet,”

“The small things are something we are focusing on. Until you have a team effort you can’t win games, especially in conditions you are unfamiliar with.

“You have to understand how to finish games off, luckily we got their big strikers out early. The bowlers stuck to their lines and got us the breakthroughs when we needed them.”

South Africa captain de Villiers was one of the three players run out in the opening innings and it was his dismissal which led to the collapse.

Despite that, the 33-year-old still believes he is the right man to take the team forward and feels he can lead them to long-awaited World Cup success in 2019.

“It is always very disappointing when we lose but the way we lost was the most disappointing,” de Villiers said.

“Through soft dismissals we lost our way and that was the part that hurt the most. Run-outs happen but three in one innings is not how we want to play our cricket that is for sure.

“I’m a good captain and I can take this team forward and win the World Cup I believe, I love doing it.

“Not a lot of people believe me but I feel it is pretty close, it is very difficult to say that after a performance like this but that is what I believe in my heart.”

PM urged to pull party into line on energy

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will face a showdown over the merits of a proposed clean energy target when government MPs meet on Tuesday.

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The coalition partyroom on Tuesday is expected to discuss the government’s position on Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s energy review released last week.

The report has sparked debate within government ranks over the role of coal under Dr Finkel’s recommended clean energy target, which would require a proportion of electricity each year to come from generation below a set emissions level.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly says he would not support a benchmark emission target of 0.6 tonnes per megawatt hour – the level used by Dr Finkel to model economic effects – while former cabinet minister Eric Abetz hit out at what he labelled “creative assumptions” in the report.

Labor opposition’s climate spokesman Mark Butler said the same old toxic internal divisions in the coalition were re-emerging.

“Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow, at his party room meeting, needs to pull his party into line – particularly senior Liberals like Tony Abbott, who are clearly trying to wreck this process before it even begins,” he told reporters in Adelaide.

Dr Finkel insists his proposed emissions reduction reforms would not block new coal projects, saying those decisions will be up to governments.

“There is no aspect of allowance or permission here. Permission comes from government. Permission is not decided by the clean energy target at all,” Dr Finkel told The Australian on Monday.

Where that level is set – a task Dr Finkel left up to politicians – could effectively rule out coal generation unless it uses the newest technology.

Energy policy experts say this is an important strategic shift from focusing on pricing or suppressing emissions to the economics of building a cleaner energy grid.

Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood says that shift means the market will determine which technology is cheapest.

“If it turns out that a clean coal plant with or without CCS (carbon capture and storage) is actually commercially viable when the emissions intensity is considered, then there will be investors who will build those plants,” he told ABC radio.

“It may not be likely, but this will test the commercial viability of the very coal technologies people would like to support.”

Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said old coal-fired generators didn’t have to be forced out because they were leaving faster than they could be replaced.

Mr Warren cautioned the only way forward was to have bipartisan support for the final policy position.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale was scathing of the plan, which he says will leave Australia still generating power from coal and gas until 2070.

“The problem is that because the climate debate has been so toxic I think there’s a sense that any plan is better than nothing,” he told ABC radio.