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America dumps “toxic” Trump!

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, January 23: He fooled some people for some time. He also fooled almost all the people for some time. He tried to fool all the people all the time, and failed miserably.

 Former United States President Donald Trump returned to Mar-a-Lago in Florida and to his company last week as an ordinary citizen at a time when it faces a deepening crisis, with key properties bleeding revenue and its bankers, lawyers and customers fleeing the company.

His neighbours at Mar-a-Lago do not want to have him around on a permanent basis! Proud Boys and other outfits who invaded the Capitol in Washington on January 6 after he incited them are now mad with him. They thought he would defend them. But he denounced them even as they were on the rampage.

 Financial disclosure forms, filed by the former president as he left office, revealed that his hotels, resorts and other properties had lost more than $120 million in revenue last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced long-term closures and kept customers home. Those losses were worst in the places where Trump could least afford it: His Washington hotel, which has a $170 million loan outstanding, saw revenue drop more than 60 percent. His Doral resort in Miami — also carrying a huge debt load — saw a 44 percent drop.

 Barely 24 hours after he left the White House oh-so-reluctantly, his company’s troubles appeared to multiply: One of its banks and one of its law firms said they would cut their ties with the Trump Organization. They are the latest in a string of vendors and customers who severed their relationships with the company after Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol directly after he addressed them at a rally.

 The picture emerging shows the inversion of Trump’s fortunes since 2015, when he entered politics promising to remake the country in the image of his growing, swaggering business.

Now, Trump returns to a business remade in the image of the country he led: beleaguered, indebted and toxically politicized, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

 “He faces some very serious problems that have been building in recent years and I think are going to come to a head now that he’s left office,” said Bert Ely, a banking consultant who has testified before Congress on financial matters.

 The Trump Organization is a relatively small operation. It relies heavily on the work of others — lawyers and real estate brokers, and investors who paid to have Trump’s name on their buildings. Now, some of those outsiders are pulling away. “He’s done enormous reputational damage to himself,” Ely said. Trump still owns his company. But it is unclear when — or even if — he will return to his old role as the company’s day-to-day leader.  

The new financial disclosures, filed routinely by an outgoing president, show that the company is facing one of its darkest hours, as the coronavirus hammers the tourism industry.

Overall, Trump listed specific revenue figures for 47 different companies, including his golf clubs, hotels and New York City park properties. Combined, revenue at those companies declined more than 35 percent last year, according to a Washington Post analysis.

 There were sharp declines at three of Trump’s most important properties: his D.C. hotel, his Doral resort in Florida, and his Turnberry resort in Scotland. Their combined revenue fell from $149 million in 2019 to $71 million last year, a drop of more than half. Trump faces more than $400 million in outstanding loans, including more than $290 million on Doral and the D.C. hotel.

 The New York Times reported last week that he has to cough up nearly half a billion dollars in the next three years: $395 million in loans that fall due during 2022-24, and $100 million he owes in taxes which had dodged all these years. 

And Trump’s company continued to lose key partners — including banks and lawyers that had stuck with it through the lowest points of Trump’s political career. “We no longer have any depository relationship with him,” said a spokesperson for BankUnited, a Florida-based bank where Trump had kept more than $5 million in money-market accounts. On Thursday, BankUnited said it was closing those accounts.

 The decision meant that, since the attack on the Capitol, Trump had lost three of the four banks that held his largest deposits. Signature Bank and Professional Bank cut their ties earlier this month. The fourth bank, Capital One, has declined to comment.

The backlash to Trump’s actions has even hit the smallest of Trump’s business partners, including the organizers of a triathlon — the Tri at the Trump — held at Trump’s golf course outside Charlotte.

 “It was all on track before the Capitol,” said Chuck McAllister, the founder of the event, which he expected to attract 450 athletes and 1,000 spectators.

 But then, McAllister said, the Capitol attack caused sponsors and vendors to pull out. He had to cancel the event. “It is deja vu. It’s like Groundhog Day,” McAllister said. He said he was unsure whether he would come back in 2022. “The name’s toxic. It’s toxic to some people. That’s never going to change.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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