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Las Vegas Mayor Faces Backlash for Offering City as Control Group

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  • In an interview with Anderson Cooper on Wednesday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she wants the city to reopen early, offering up her constituents as a control group to test the effects of lifting lockdown orders.
  • Goodman said she doesn’t have a plan for how businesses should safely operate and that it’s up to them to figure that out.
  • She also said any business found to be spreading the coronavirus would eventually be destroyed by market competition.
  • Her comments drew the ire of city and state officials, including Governor Steve Sisolak who assured Nevadans that no one would be used as a control.

Goodman Say Competition Will Kill Businesses Spreading COVID-19

Offering up constituents to be a placebo group for the coronavirus hasn’t been an option for most mayors across the United States, but Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman admitted to having explored the idea.

In fact, Goodman said as much in a Wednesday interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN. In that interview, now largely derided and ridiculed for Goodman’s startling responses, the mayor said she backed off from the idea after a statistician told her the plan wouldn’t work. The statistician reminded her that Las Vegas is a major travel destination and that people frequently enter and leave it. 

“I said, ‘Oh that’s too bad,’ because I know when you have a disease, you have a placebo that gets the water and the sugar and then you get those that actually get the shot. We would love to be that placebo,” Goodman said. 

Earlier in the interview, Goodman told Cooper that he was being alarmist when he pressed her about previous comments she made about wanting to reopen Las Vegas. 

“But you’re encouraging, I mean, hundreds of thousands of people coming there in casinos, smoking, drinking, touching slot machines, breathing circulated air, and then, returning home to states around America and countries around the world,” Cooper said. “Doesn’t that sound like a virus petri dish? I mean, how is that safe?”

“No,” Goodman said, “it sounds like you’re being an alarmist. I’m not. I’ve lived a long life. I grew up in the heart of Manhattan. I know what it’s like to be with subways and on buses and crammed into elevators.”

I’m being alarmist?” Cooper said. 

“I think you are by saying what you have just said,” she replied. 

Cooper then continued to press Goodman by asking her how she would regulate social distancing in public areas like casinos, to which she replied, “That’s up to them to figure out. I don’t own a casino.

“I am not a private owner,” she went on to say. “That’s the competition in this country. The free enterprise and to be able to make sure that what you offer the public meets the needs of the public. Right now, we’re in a crisis health wise, and so for a restaurant to be open or a small boutique to be open, they better figure it out. That’s their job.”

When Cooper pressed her on this, asking her if she was saying that competition would weed out businesses spreading the coronavirus, the conversation became very circular. She then accused Cooper of trying to get her to slip up.

However, one of the key takeaways from that exchange was actually something she said on Tuesday with Katy Tur on MSNBC.

“And let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business if, in fact, they become evident that they have disease, they’re closed down,” Goodman said. “It’s that simple.” 

In her CNN interview, Cooper read back that quote to Goodman, telling her that health officials wouldn’t really know if a business becomes an epicenter until weeks after it has already happened.

Cooper Becomes Increasingly Fed Up With Goodman

As the interview stretched on, Cooper became increasingly more exasperated with his guest. At one point, while speaking about Dr. Anthony Fauci, she snapped at him for trying to interrupt. Notably, though, Cooper said, “I’m not interrupting you. I’m listening to you.”

“Okay, thank you. Maybe it’s breathing. I’m sorry. I’m being silly here,” Goodman replied, then unaware that her interview would soon go viral and that she would be called much more than silly. 

Later in the interview, Goodman compared the state’s response to the coronavirus to atomic bomb testing during the cold war era. 

“We’re not getting the truth,” she said, “and I know over the years, going back to the 1950s with the atomic bomb, ‘Don’t worry about more testing in Nevada. You’ll all be fine. Take a shower.’” 

“You’re the one saying you’ll all be fine,” Cooper said before being interrupted. 

“No, no, no,” Goodman said. “You’re putting words in my mouth. I said open up Las Vegas.” 

In another spar between the two, Cooper showed Goodman the layout of a restaurant in China, but Goodman then hit back by saying, “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada.”

“Wow, okay, that’s really ignorant,” Cooper said. “That’s an ignorant, ignorant statement. That’s a restaurant, and yes it’s in China, but they are human beings too.” 

At one point, a little over halfway into the interview, Cooper takes off his glasses and wipes his face as Goodman is talking. About a minute later, he tells her, “I mean, you’re offering nothing other than being a cheerleader, which I guess is part what of your job is and I respect that, and you seem like a very nice person, but I don’t understand. Do you not have any sense of responsibility?” 

Vegas Mayor Overwhelmingly Blasted for Interview Comments

After that interview, an overwhelming amount of ridicule was directed at Goodman, with many saying she was unfit for office.

“Anderson Cooper may have just ended her career,” professional poker player Daniel Negreanu said. “I couldn’t imagine a public official coming off worse in an interview. There should be a mercy rule.”

Later Wednesday evening, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak responded to Goodman’s comments in a different interview with Cooper, saying that he won’t let people in Nevada be used as a placebo group.

“We are clearly not ready to open,” he also said. “Sadly, since you did that interview, we now have 187 deaths in the state of Nevada.” 

In that interview, Sisolak also noted the number of people infected in the state has climbed to 4,100.

Las Vegas City Councilman Brian Knudsen said that reopening is “reckless and completely contrary to the overwhelming consensus of medical experts.” 

The Culinary Workers Union—which is the largest union in the state—called her comments “outrageous” and said that 11 of its members have died from COVID-19.

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Vegas, called for Goodman to resign. Kimm took to Twitter to call her an embarrassment to his hometown. 

Notably, even though Goodman said she wants to greenlight casino openings “immediately,” she is unable to do so because Sisolak has put the state on mandatory lockdown and closed all businesses.

Regarding the Las Vegas Strip, even without that lockdown, she doesn’t have any power at all over it.  It’s actually located in an unincorporated part of the county outside of her jurisdiction. 

Still, there are many casinos within city limits, and she will likely try to open them as soon as she has the authority to do so.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The New York Times) (NBC News)

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Donald Trump and Eldest Three Children Hit With Fraud Lawsuit From New York AG

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AG Letitia James says that the former president “falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself.” 


Lawsuit Filed Against Trump 

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday that she filed a civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump and his three eldest children over allegations that they fraudulently inflated asset valuations within the Trump Organization.

Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump are all listed alongside their father in the lawsuit. Executives Jeffrey McConney and Allen Weisselberg, the latter of whom recently pled guilty to tax crimes, are also listed alongside other Trump businesses. 

“Donald Trump, with the help of his children…and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things,”  a press release announcing the lawsuit claimed. 

The Attorney General’s office claims that between 2011 and 2021, Trump and the Trump Organization made 200 false and misleading claims about asset values on annual financial statements.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in a State Supreme Court in Manhattan. 

“The complaint demonstrates that Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us,” James said while announcing the complaint. 

Her office is seeking to permanently ban Trump and his children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation and to bar Trump and his organization from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years. The office is also seeking to recover $250 million in penalty payments, among other forms of relief. 

 The Office of the Attorney General has also referred the matter to the federal attorneys in New York and to the IRS for criminal investigation. 

“There aren’t two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans,” James added in a statement on social media. 

“Trump’s crimes are not victimless,” she continued. “When the well-connected and powerful break the law to get more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, small businesses, and taxpayers.”

Trump Allegedly Inflated Key Assets

According to James’ release, Trump “made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on his statements to increase every year.”

“And the statements were the vehicle by which his net worth was fraudulently inflated by billions of dollars year after year,” the release continued. 

Among the assets Trump and his organization allegedly inflated was the Trump Tower Triplex, an apartment Trump allegedly claimed was 30,000 square feet when it is just around 11,000 square feet. Because of its ballooned size, the property was valued at $327 million in 2015, roughly three times as much as the sole apartment in New York City to ever sell for over $100 million at the time. 

For further comparison, the highest sale for a listing in Trump Tower at the time was only $16 million. 

Trump also allegedly claimed Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million based on the “false premise” that the property could be developed and sold for residential use. The lawsuit claims that Trump actually signed deeds donating those rights, limiting the property’s use to a social club. James and her office claim its value would fall closer to $75 million. 

Inflated Clauations Cannot Be “Excused”

“The inflated asset valuations in the Statements cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration or good faith estimation about which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,”  the lawsuit states, adding that instead, they are the result of improper methodology intentionally meant to falsely boost Trump’s net worth. 

The investigation into Trump’s alleged fraud began nearly three years ago, and the former president has repeatedly called it a politically motivated witch hunt. His attorney, Alina Habba, doubled down on that rhetoric in a statement Wednesday. 

“Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law – rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda,” Habba said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims.”

For his part, Trump has blasted the lawsuit on Truth Social, calling James a “fraud” and a “crime-fighting disaster.”

Trump previously tried to impede the probe but was ultimately ordered by a judge to sit for a deposition and turn over subpoenaed documents. Reports say he pled the fifth hundreds of times during his deposition. 

See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (The Washington Post) (Reuters)

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Hurricane Fiona Causes “Catastrophic” Damage in Puerto Rico, Leaving Many Without Power

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While power has been restored to some, more than a million remain without it as continued rainfall, flooding, and landslides are expected to cause further damage across the island.


Hurricane Fiona Wreaks Havoc

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday, bringing heavy rains, flooding, and landslides, while also knocking out power for the entire island and killing at least one person.

Photos and videos posted on social media show floodwaters consuming major streets and engulfing cars. Some pictures show an entire bridge flooded, making it impassible. Other footage shows a different bridge entirely uprooted and a metal barrier ripped away from the road and floating down a river of floodwater.

Officials have said conditions are still too dangerous to fully evaluate the extent of the crisis. In remarks to the public, Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, described the damage as “catastrophic.”

He asserted that the storm has been one of the most significant since Hurricane Maria — which hit the island almost exactly 5 years ago to the day — killing more than 3,000 people, leaving many without power for months, and causing destruction that the island is still recovering from.

Pierluisi noted that Puerto Rico has received over 30 inches of rain and that some areas have even gotten more rain than during Hurricane Maria. As of Monday afternoon, the National Gaurd has led 30 rescue operations so far, saving more than 1,000 stranded residents in 25 municipalities, according to the governor.

Pierluisi also added that more than 2,000 people were in the island’s 128 shelters, with officials further saying there is plenty of shelter space for those who need it. On Sunday, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, which will allow federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief.

Continued Issues As Storm Rages On

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s water authority has confirmed that just over 70% of the island is still without water. According to poweroutage.us, more than 1.3 million customers were still without power as of Monday morning.

The power company LUMA also stated that electricity had been restored to around 100,000 customers over the course of Sunday night, though it previously warned that the full restoration of power could take several days as the storm has created “incredibly challenging” conditions.

While Hurricane Fiona has passed through Puerto Rico, having now made landfall in the Dominican Republic, officials and experts say that heavy rains and further flooding are still to be expected for the next few days.

The National Weather Service has warned that “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding” as well as mudslides and landslides are expected to continue across the island. As a result, Pierluisi has urged Puerto Ricans Monday to remain home and in shelters so that officials can continue to respond to others in need.

He also noted that the areas most impacted by the hurricane include the southern part of the island, the southwest, and the mountains.

After moving through the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona is expected to head towards Turks and Caicos Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center has said that the storm will continue to grow and by Wednesday, it is set to become a major hurricane — which means a Category 3 or higher.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (CNN

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Government Aid Cut Child Poverty in Half During Pandemic, Data Shows

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The reduction occurred similarly across geography, race, family type, and citizenship status.


Largest Drop in Half a Century

The United States’s child poverty rate sank to the lowest level on record last year, primarily thanks to pandemic relief measures and other government programs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s supplementary poverty measure, which accounts for safety net programs and tax credits as well as regional differences in the cost of living.

From around 11% in 2019, the percentage of kids living below the poverty line fell to 9.7% in 2020 and 5.2% the year after that.

In just two years, nearly 5.5 million kids were lifted from poverty, marking an almost 60% drop in the child poverty rate.

The Center’s researchers gave most credit to the federal government’s numerous interventions in the economy, from stimulus payments and the expanded child tax credit to eviction moratoriums and expanded unemployment insurance.

Without government intervention, poverty in 2020 would have experienced its second-largest recorded increase, the Center claimed, but instead, it underwent the largest single-year decline in over half a century.

Especially impactful was the expanded child tax credit, which sent up to $300 per child to households with children every month between July and December 2021.

According to the analysis, this policy alone pulled nearly three million kids out of poverty.

But the tax credit’s expansion expired at the end of the year despite Democrats’ efforts to prolong it with Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill, which was blocked by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who reportedly told colleagues he was concerned that families might use the payments to buy drugs.

Poverty Before COVID

Child poverty has fallen by 59% since 1993, when it sat at around 28%, according to another analysis published Sunday by The New York Times and the nonpartisan group Child Trends.

They found that the decline occurred across all 50 states and D.C., as well as in different levels of poverty.

It similarly affected nearly all subgroups of children, — white, Black, Asian and Hispanic, single-parent and two-parent, immigrant and non-immigrant.

The causes driving the pre-pandemic decline included general economic improvement — low unemployment, a higher labor force participation rate among single mothers, and growing state minimum wages — but the researchers pinned government welfare programs as the dominant factor.

They specifically mentioned the earned income tax credit, social security, unemployment insurance, and nutrition and housing assistance.

Despite the positive trend, more than eight million children still live below the poverty line, and that number excludes those who live just above it but still struggle to meet basic needs.

The current poverty line sits around $29,000 for a family of four in a location with typical living costs.

Moreover, disparities still persist, with Black and Latino children about three times as likely as their white peers to be poor.

See what others are saying: (Vox) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)

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