October 6, 2016

At CNN on Wednesday, Gloria Borger tried to figure out how Donald Trump lost nearly $1 billion in 1995, as declared on a personal tax return leaked to The New York Times. Trump's accountant up until that year, Jack Mitnick, disputes Trump's boasts about his expertise in tax law, and Borger spoke with two people involved in Trump's 1990s collapse who disputed his business acumen. First, she spoke with securities analyst Marvin Roffman, an expert in the Atlantic City casino industry Trump bet big on in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Donald Trump built two casinos in Atlantic City and then bought the massive Taj Mahal, his biggest gamble ever, Borger explained, and when he called up Roffman to brag about the Taj Mahal deal, Roffman said he told Trump: "'I think you did a great deal, but I think you made a mistake.... Why own three casinos in Atlantic City? How are you going to differentiate the marketing?' And here was his comment: 'Marvin, you have no vision. This is going to be a monster property.'" For Trump to break even, "you'd have to generate a casino win of somewhere over a million dollars day," Roffman explained. "And no casino in the world had ever even come close to anything like that."

When real estate hit a slump in 1990, Trump was in trouble, owing $4 billion to the banks, $1 billion of which he was personally on the hook for. At a rally on Monday, Trump described that market and said: "Some of the biggest and strongest people in companies went absolutely bankrupt. Which I never did, by the way. Are you proud of me? Would have loved to have used that card, but I just didn't want to do it." Alan Pomerantz, a real estate attorney who represented 72 banks Trump owed money to, told Borger that Trump was actually very close to personal bankruptcy in the early '90s, totally overleveraged with the casinos, an airline, a yacht, a helicopter, and a need to maintain his lavish lifestyle. The banks kept him afloat.

"We made the decision that he would be worth more alive to us than dead, dead meaning in bankruptcy," Pomerantz said. "We don't want him to be in bankruptcy, we want him out in the world selling these assets for us." Trump is a great salesman, he added. "We kept him alive to help us." Peter Weber

2:01 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden may have emerged as the leading Democratic presidential candidate because the party's more moderate bloc rallied around him, but now that the nomination looks likelier than ever, his campaign is making sure they don't lose support from the progressive wing come November, Politico reports.

"The dirty little secret is everyone's talking to Biden's campaign," said Sean McElwee, co-founder of liberal think tank Data for Progress. "There will be fights, but at the end of the day, progressives still hold votes in the Senate and increasingly Democratic voters stand behind our views. I expect we'll see Biden embracing key planks of the ambitious agenda progressives have outlined on issues like climate and pharmaceutical policy."

Most of Biden's support comes from older voters, so his team is trying to court younger generations who are more likely to back the policies MccElwee referred to. They're reaching out to groups like the climate-focused Sunrise Movement, as well as other organizations tied to gun control, immigration, and other issues. Most groups are committed to backing whoever the nominee is against Trump, but there is a sense that a lack of turnout among younger, progressive voters could hinder Biden if he's the nominee, making these efforts more crucial. And he may need to meet some expectations to convince people.

Evan Weber, the national political director for the Sunrise Movement, said their explicit support for Biden — compared to a broad anti-Trump campaign — depends on whether his campaign can "demonstrate that they are taking the climate crisis seriously." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

1:40 p.m.

The U.S. government has begun to use cellphone data to get a better sense of people's movement in up to as many as 500 cities amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The tactic is not meant to track individuals, and names aren't included in the data, but instead is geared toward figuring out where people might be congregating in large numbers as calls for social distancing and lockdowns become the norm across the country. In doing so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with state and local officials, hope to get an idea of how the coronavirus might be spreading so they can further curb its advance.

The data, which is coming from the less-regulated mobile advertising industry rather than cell phone carriers, could also provide information on whether people are complying with their area's shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders.

Despite the intentions of the efforts, such projects will undoubtedly raise concerns about government invasion of privacy, and, while even some privacy activists understand the necessity of such efforts, they want stronger safeguards in place. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and read more about coronavirus surveillance here at The Week. Tim O'Donnell

12:57 p.m.

Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R) died Saturday at his home in Tulsa after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.

Coburn had battled health issues for many years, and his bout with cancer led him to retire from the Senate in 2015, two years before his second term was up.

An obstetrician by training, Coburn — who served in the House before winning a seat in the upper chamber — was known for his fierce commitment to conservatism, both fiscally and socially. He was opposed to the expansion of the federal government, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage, and did not believe in global warming science.

Still, the senator also was hailed for bipartisanship — he teamed up with former Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to issue a report on the 2008 financial crisis which accused Goldman Sachs and other powerful institutions of deception and greed. The Washington Post notes he gained the respect of many Democrats for his role in inquiries into corruption, tax avoidance, and fraudulent social security claims.

Levin said Coburn was a "terrific oversight partner in the Senate" thanks to the fact that he was "more interested in facts than politics." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

12:28 p.m.

While children certainly aren't immune to the dangers of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus, studies show they are at substantially lower risk of developing severe symptoms than adults.

That's rare when it comes to infectious diseases. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and professor of social and natural science at Yale University, points out that such diseases are the leading killers of children under the age of 5 around the globe each year. Yet, COVID-19 does not appear to be a contributor to the trend.

Christakis says scientists aren't sure exactly, but there are some theories developing. One possibility is that kids have more "adaptive" immune systems because they're still developing. Immune systems for adults are based more on memory, making them more susceptible to an unfamiliar virus, like the new coronavirus behind the pandemic. Along those lines, because many adults have built up immunity to other coronaviruses, their bodies might be overreacting to the virus.

Another dose of good news, Christakis surmises, is that children probably won't become more susceptible to severe cases of COVID-19 if it becomes endemic as they age, even if they lose some of the theoretical immunological protections that are present only in youthful systems. Tim O'Donnell

12:04 p.m.

Journalists from three of the United States' most prestigious publications may not be able to report from China anymore, but Taiwan is offering them refuge.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph We invited American journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, to set up shop on the China-claimed island after the newspapers were stripped of their credentials by Beijing. Wu said reporters from the prestigious U.S. publications would be welcomed with "open arms and lots of genuine smiles."

There reportedly aren't many permanent foreign correspondents stationed in Taiwan, and none of the three papers have a full-time presence on the island, so it remains to be seen if they'll take up the offer.

China announced earlier this month that it was revoking the papers' accreditations in their China bureaus, as well as preventing them from operating in Hong Kong. Beijing said the decision was retaliation for Washington labeling Chinese state media as diplomatic missions.

Taiwan has received praise for its handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic in part because the island has stepped up its border controls, mostly allowing entry only to permanent residences. But it seems they'd make an exception in this case. Read more at The Hill and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

11:01 a.m.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments have the ability to do a lot more with their financial resources, said Michael Marmot, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University College London, per The Guardian.

Marmot, who is also the chair of the commission of the social determinants of health at the World Health Organization, told reporters at a virtual meeting organized by Plan B and Extinction Rebellion, that "with COVID-19 everything went out the window" and that it turns out lack of government spending in the past was a choice (and not a good one, he argues), rather than a necessity. "The government can spend anything," he said, referring specifically to the United Kingdom in this instance.

Marmot said the pandemic has shown how swiftly governments can respond, but his hope is that such action continues going forward, which he argues has not been the case for other long-term crises like climate change. "Coronavirus exposes that we can do things differently," he said. "We must not go back to the status quo ante."

David King, who served as the U.K.'s chief scientific adviser between 2000 and 2008, agreed, calling for governments to address similar recovery plans to restructure the global economy, so it better fits a fossil fuel-free world. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

9:11 a.m.

Civil rights leader Joseph Lowery died peacefully from natural causes Friday evening in Atlanta, his family said. He was 98.

Lowery was among the ministers who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which practiced civil disobedience amid the height of racial unrest in the South. He went on to serve as the group's president for 20 years, during which he helped revive the struggling organization in the years following King's 1968 assassination. Before he took the helm, the SCLC had been mired in in-fighting and financial hardships, but Lowery helped raise money and re-focused on a new set of civil rights issues, per The Washington Post.

Lowery was known for working in the background behind King, who was the face of the movement. In 1965 in Alabama, after a five-day, 54-mile voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Lowery took protesters' demands to the state's segregationist Gov. George Wallace. In later years, he became a key supporter of former President Barack Obama and delivered the benediction at his inauguration in 2009. Later that year, Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School professor and civil rights lawyer, called Lowery "the most important bridge between the wonderful legacy of the civil rights movement and the message of hope and change that Obama expressed for the future."

Lowry is survived by his three daughters. Read more at The Washington Post and NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

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