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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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Sulabh International unveils World’s biggest Toilet Pot model

The NGO gave 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

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Sulabh launched biggest pot toilet models
Sulabh International in working towards improving sanitation. Wikimedia Commons

Sulabh International on Sunday launched the “world’s biggest” toilet pot model in Haryana’s Marora village — popularly known as ‘Trump village’ — on the occasion of World Toilet Day.

As per a release by the non-profit, the mega Indian-style pot, made of iron, fibre, wood and plaster of Paris, measuring 20×10 feet, was unveiled to create awareness about the use of toilets in the village dedicated to US President Donald Trump.

Sanitation expert and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, also dedicated 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

“This large pot replica will be shifted to Delhi’s Sulabh Toilet Museum,” the release quoted Pathak as saying.

He said the idea behind naming a village after Trump was to highlight the issue of sanitation and cleanliness globally.

Puneet Ahluwalia, a member of the ruling Republican Party in the US, said that such an initiative would go a long way to motivate masses towards cleanliness and safe sanitation. (IANS)

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Exposed! Paradise Papers reveal Tax-haven Secrets of the Super-rich! Even Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been spared!

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

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Paradise Papers expose tax haven secrets of ultra-wealthy, including Queen Elizabeth. The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive - and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth. VOA

London, November 6, 2017 : A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate secretly invest vast amounts of cash in different offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files in the Paradise Papers on Sunday that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including the Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

Paradise Papers detail extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump’s cabinet members advisers and donors including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one’s own nation’s regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable secretive and reliable often small islands but not exclusively so and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)