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Trump Taj Mahal closes after 26 Years, Atlantic City’s 5th Casino Casualty

Donald Trump opened his Trump Taj Mahal casino 26 years ago, calling it "the eighth wonder of the world

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The exterior of the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, April 24, 2015.(VOA)
  • The Taj Mahal becomes the fifth Atlantic City casino to go out of business since 2014, when four others, including Trump Plaza, shut their doors
  • Nearly 3,000 workers lost their jobs, bringing the total jobs lost by Atlantic City casino closings to 11,000 since 2014
  • Chuck Baker, a cook at the Taj Mahal since the day it opened in April 1990, was on the picket line outside the casino at the moment it shut down. He was here when the doors opened in April 1990 and wanted to be there when they closed as well

Donald Trump opened his Trump Taj Mahal casino 26 years ago, calling it “the eighth wonder of the world.”

But his friend and fellow billionaire Carl Icahn closed it Monday morning, making it the fifth casualty of Atlantic City’s casino crisis.

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The sprawling Boardwalk casino, with its soaring domes, minarets and towers built to mimic the famed Indian palace, shut down at 5:59 a.m., having failed to reach a deal with its union workers to restore health care and pension benefits that were taken away from them in bankruptcy court.

Nearly 3,000 workers lost their jobs, bringing the total jobs lost by Atlantic City casino closings to 11,000 since 2014.

Picketers affixed an anti-Icahn poster that they had signed to the casino’s main Boardwalk entrance door. It proclaimed “We held the line.”

“We held the line against a billionaire taking from us!” said Marc Scittina, a food service worker at the Taj Mahal’s player’s club since shortly after it opened in 1990. “This battle has been going on for two years.”

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The union went on strike July 1, and Icahn decided to shut the place down a little over a month later, determining there was “no path to profitability.”

The Taj Mahal becomes the fifth Atlantic City casino to go out of business since 2014, when four others, including Trump Plaza, shut their doors.

But this shutdown is different: it involves a casino built by the Republican candidate for president, who took time out from the campaign trail to lament its demise.

“I felt they should have been able to make a deal,” Trump told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “It’s hard to believe they weren’t able to make a deal.”

Chuck Baker, a cook at the Taj Mahal since the day it opened in April 1990, was on the picket line outside the casino at the moment it shut down. He was here when the doors opened in April 1990 and wanted to be there when they closed as well.

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He led a moment of silence among the otherwise rowdy 200 or so picketers on the Boardwalk outside the casino “before we shut down Taj Mahal.”

“This didn’t have to happen,” he said. “To [Icahn], it’s all just business. But to us, it’s destroying our livelihoods and our families. You take away our health care, our pensions and overload the workers, we just can’t take it.”

Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, said virtually all of the striking workers feel the same way.

“Everybody has their Popeye moment: ‘That’s all I can stands; I can’t stands no more,’ ” he said. “The workers made a choice that they weren’t going to accept benefits and terms of employment worse than everyone else’s. I applaud them: for the first time in 30 years, workers stood up to Carl Icahn and made him throw in the towel.”

Icahn reached his own Popeye moment on Aug. 3, when he determined the $350 million he had lost investing in, and then owning, the Taj Mahal was enough. It was then that he decided to close the casino, fearing he would lose an additional $100 million next year.

“Today is a sad day for Atlantic City,” he said Monday. “Like many of the employees at the Taj Mahal, I wish things had turned out differently.”

The union reached contracts on June 30 with four of the five casinos it had targeted for a possible strike — including the Tropicana, which Icahn also owns. It granted negotiation extensions to three others: the Borgata, Resorts and the Golden Nugget. McDevitt said talks with the Borgata will begin this month, followed closely by the remaining two.

The Taj Mahal joins the Atlantic Club, Showboat, Trump Plaza and Revel in the growing club of Atlantic City casinos that, since 2014, have succumbed to economic pressure brought about in large measure by competition from casinos in neighboring states. The city now will have seven casinos.

Later Monday, newly unemployed former Taj Mahal workers were to begin signing up for unemployment benefits and temporary help with utility payments at a union-run resource center at a nearby hotel.(VOA)

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Trump Endorses Short-Term Bipartisan Fix For Obama Care

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Washington, October 18: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed support for a bipartisan initiative to restore the Obama Care subsidies he suspended last week.

“We have been involved and this is a short-term deal because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer,” Trump told reporters at the White House, Efe news reported.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wa.) announced on Tuesday an accord “in principle” to re-instate for two years the cost-sharing reduction payments, known as CSRs, that Trump halted last week.

The proposal would at the same time give states “more flexibility in the variety of choices they can give to consumers”, Alexander said.

Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health Committee, received encouragement from the President last weekend for his attempt to find common ground with the Democrats.

“Lamar has been working very, very hard with … his colleagues on the other side, and, Patty Murray is one of them in particular, and they’re coming up, and they’re fairly close to a short-term solution. The solution will be for about a year or two years, and it will get us over this intermediate hump,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Trump signed an executive order last Thursday loosening some of the requirements set down for health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the signature domestic policy initiative of his predecessor Barack Obama.

He signed another directive terminating the CSR payments late Thursday night.

The President, who vowed to repeal and replace the ACA – popularly known as ObamaCare – has grown frustrated by the failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a bill undoing the 2010 legislation.

“This takes care of the next two years,” Alexander said of his and Murray’s proposal. “After that, we can have a full-fledged debate on where we go long-term on health care.”

Murray, meanwhile, said that the plan would protect people from sharp increases in premiums resulting from Trump’s decision to end the CSR payments.

“Overall we are very pleased with this agreement,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, praising the deal for including “anti-sabotage provisions” to prevent the administration from undermining the ACA.

The Republican lawmakers were reluctant to comment on the Alexander-Murray accord.

“We haven’t had a chance to think about the way forward yet,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after meeting with his Republican colleagues.

Despite his encouraging words for Alexander, Trump kept up his criticism of the ACA.

“Obama Care is virtually dead. At best you could say it’s in its final legs. The premiums are going through the roof. The deductibles are so high that people don’t get to use it. Obama Care is a disgrace to our nation and we are solving the problem of Obama Care,” he said. (IANS)

 

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Donald Trump Expands Travel Ban, Restricts Visitors from 8 Countries

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President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One at Morristown,Municipal airportN.J. (source: VOA)

Washington, September 25:— The revised US travel ban will restrict travellers from eight countries to visit the United States, says an order signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday. The new travel ban, which takes effect on, October 18, will restrict residents of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

According to the U.S. officials, these countries have refused to share information about terrorism and other issues with the United States.The new travel ban drops Sudan from the list but adds Chad, Venezuela and North Korea to the original six Muslim-majority countries.

The announcement late Sunday came as Trump’s previous temporary travel ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was expiring, 90 days after it went into effect. The earlier order had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. unless they had a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

US President Donald Trump’s travel ban inflicts “Significant harm” on Muslim Americans

Reaction to the president’s order from human-rights organizations and other groups that work with immigrants was largely negative.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said the latest version of the “Muslim ban” that Trump tried to introduce on taking office earlier this year as part of the administration’s “ugly white supremacist agenda.”

Trump said in the new proclamation: “As president, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people. The restrictions announced are tough and tailored, and they send a message to foreign governments that they must work with us to enhance security.”

Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.

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US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

The United States state department will provide a humanitarian aid package to the Rohingya Muslim minority who have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh

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The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth $32 million to the Rohingya Muslim minority Source: Wikimedia Common

New York, September 21, 2017: The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth $32 million to the Rohingya Muslim minority who have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh, the State Department announced.

The funding “reflects the US commitment to help address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya people,” said the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw on Wednesday at the ongoing UN General Assembly here.

He added that the US hoped its contribution would encourage other countries to provide more funding as well, reports CNN.

The aid package comes a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Myanmar de facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and “welcomed the Myanmar government’s commitment to end the violence in Rakhine state and to allow those displaced by the violence to return home,” according to the State Department.

Tillerson “urged the Myanmar government and military to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced people in the affected areas, and to address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations”.

The State Department also said the aid “will help provide emergency shelter, food security, nutritional assistance, health assistance, psychosocial support, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, social inclusion, non-food items, disaster and crisis risk reduction, restoring family links, and protection to the over 400,000 displaced persons”.

ALSO READ: Melbourne Sikhs join protests in Australia against Rohingya Muslims massacre.

Henshaw said Wednesday’s announcement brought the total US aid to Myanmar refugees, including Rohingya, to nearly $95 million in fiscal year 2017.

Some 415,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the ongoing violence broke out on August 25 when Rohingya rebels attacked police checkposts in Rakhine resulting in the deaths os 12 security personnel, CNN reported.

Speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on the world body “to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis” of violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar to an end.

“The United States renews our call on Burma’s security forces to end their violence immediately and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution.

“President (Donald) Trump and I also call on this security council and the United Nations to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end.”

Pence also spoke about how the violence in Myanmar is a perfect example of the kind of problem the UN should help solve. (IANS)