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Las Vegas roars back to life with record gambling win

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Barely a year after the Las Vegas Strip was shut down by Covid-19, its world-famous casinos have roared back to a record-breaking summer thanks to a remarkable winning streak.

Nevada pocketed an all-time record $1.36 billion last month from gamblers, who are flooding back to the city nicknamed Lost Wages after months confined at home with little to spend their money on.

“We weren’t anticipating these type of numbers,” said Michael Lawton, senior analyst for Nevada Gaming Control Board.

“In Nevada, a billion dollars in gaming win is kind of a bellwether number. And we’ve recorded a billion dollars in gaming win in five consecutive months.”

July was something of a “perfect storm,” thanks to the presence of major events including a Conor McGregor fight, a Garth Brooks concert at the gleaming new Allegiant Stadium, and the return of musical residencies such as Usher and Bruno Mars at swanky casino theaters.

The month also contained five weekends, including the bonanza Fourth of July holiday.

But the hot streak — and bustling crowds on the Strip — point to a renewed confidence in the safety of piling onto slot machines and roulette tables, even as the Delta variant spreads and Nevada has had to reimpose indoor mask mandates.

“The people that come to Vegas don’t really seem too concerned,” said one barman working on the Strip, who asked not to be named.

“They don’t seem super worried about getting sick or anything. I think if you’re paranoid about getting sick, I don’t think those people travel — they probably stay at home.”

Workers at casinos told AFP that many of their customers hail from the US Midwest, Texas and Florida.

“It’s definitely back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Shawn Jones, a promoter at the brand-new Resorts World casino, who said the previous weekend’s pool parties had fully sold out.

“Maybe it’s the pent up energy… if you ain’t able to do something for a while, then there’s a big rush when they are able to get out.”

– ‘Girls’ trip’ –

Las Vegas became a ghost town in early 2020, with casinos ordered to close for 78 days, dealing a heavy unemployment blow to the tourism-reliant economy.

Capacity limits remained in place until this June, but even by May the city had broken its long-standing monthly gambling revenue record set before the global financial crisis that began in October 2007, according to Lawton.

Americans’ reluctance to travel abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have benefited Las Vegas, with domestic tourism surging.

“We had been planning a girls’ trip — we were originally going to Greece in 2020 but it was postponed, so this is like a revamp,” said Karen Utsey, 50, a defense contractor from Michigan.

“Right now I don’t know if I’m comfortable going overseas.”

Total visitor numbers for July hit 3.3 million, just 10 percent below the same month in pre-pandemic 2019 despite the relative absence of international travel.

Numbers arriving by car from California have surpassed pre-pandemic levels all summer.

While Lawton expects August gambling figures to track slightly lower than July, the gradual return of trade conventions that make up a huge slice of mid-week business offers hope for further growth.

In June, the World of Concrete drew headlines as the first major industry convention to return to Las Vegas, and this week saw events including movie theater summit CinemaCon, the JCK jewelry show and Cannabis Conference 2021.

Attendee numbers were expected to be lower than previous years, but both events were scrapped entirely in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, meaning their return to Las Vegas represents progress.

Dean and Amanda Moodie, 37 and 35, just arriving from Minnesota for the jewelry event, said they have taken outdoor-based vacations around the US during the pandemic, but the Las Vegas trip “is probably our first dabble into things that are mainly indoors.”

“I mean there’s masks and stuff,” said Dean Moodie.

“I’m not too worried about myself personally anyways. And then we’re both vaccinated as well.”

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India tests nuclear-capable missile amid tensions with China

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India has test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,125 miles) from an island off its east coast amid rising border tensions with China.

The successful launch on Wednesday was in line with “India’s policy to have credible minimum deterrence that underpins the commitment to no first use,” said a government statement.

The Agni-5 missile splashed down in the Bay of Bengal with “a very high degree of accuracy,” said the statement issued on Wednesday night.

Beijing’s powerful missile arsenal has driven New Delhi to improve its weapons systems in recent years, with the Agni-5 believed to be able to strike nearly all of China.

India is already able to strike anywhere inside neighboring Pakistan, its archrival against whom it has fought three wars since gaining independence from British colonialists in 1947.

India has been developing its medium- and long-range nuclear and missile systems since the 1990s amid increasing strategic competition with China in a major boost to the country’s defense capabilities.

Tension between them flared last year over a long-disputed section of their border in the mountainous Ladakh area. India is also increasingly suspicious of Beijing’s efforts to heighten its influence in the Indian Ocean.

Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key areas along their border ended in a stalemate earlier this month, failing to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes. India and China fought a bloody war in 1962.



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Friedman, Dodgers facing decisions on FAs, Bauer this winter

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Friedman is headed into an offseason filled with crucial decisions involving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-name free agents, a rebuild of the starting rotation and Trevor Bauer’s future with the team.

As always, Friedman is guided by the ultimate goal of the monied Dodgers, saying, “The number one objective is to put ourselves in the best position to win in 2022.”

After coming within two wins of reaching the World Series for the fourth time in five years, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations defined the team’s postseason as “our struggle to consistently score runs.”

“We needed someone to step up and pull an Eddie Rosario,” Friedman said, referring to the Atlanta Braves left fielder who was named MVP of the NL Championship Series.

“After we made the Trea Turner deal, in my opinion, one through eight, it was the deepest and best lineup I’ve been around. But it didn’t quite play like that over those two months. It was a little bumpier than I would’ve expected,” he said Wednesday. “Figuring out the why of that is the hard part.”

The turbulence began well before the postseason.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Bauer went on paid administrative leave in early July under MLB’s joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy. MLB is conducting its own investigation and has yet to announce any findings. Bauer, through his representatives, has denied any wrongdoing.

Asked if Bauer will pitch for the team again, Friedman said they remain in the same position as before.

“It’s being handled by the league office,” he said. “Whatever they decide, we’ll have to figure out from there what makes the most sense for us.”

If MLB suspends Bauer, it could create a domino effect on the team’s payroll plans.

“The extent of it, I don’t know yet,” Friedman said.

The Dodgers began the season with eight starters and tried to get through the postseason with just Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer and 20-game winner Julio Urías. The lack of depth was exposed by the team’s decisions to use Scherzer in relief in Game 5 of the NL Division Series and Urías out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the NLCS that left both pitchers tired in their later starts.

“We’re got a really good group of young starting pitchers coming,” Friedman said, citing Mitch White, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Landon Knack. “Gives us a really strong foundation of depth.”

Friedman and the front office have decisions to make on such key veterans as Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor, who will become free agents after the World Series.

“We’ll do everything we can to keep as many of this group together,” Friedman said, “but not standing in the way of a great opportunity and I’m sure there will be for different people.”

Kershaw, the 33-year-old three-time Cy Young Award winner, reinjured his left arm not long after returning from over a two-month absence for the same issue and wasn’t available to pitch in the postseason.

“He just wants to feel good again and get to the point where he’s healthy,” Friedman said.

Kershaw has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles, where he’s been the longtime face of the franchise.

“There’s something nostalgic and great about Kersh playing for one team and winning another championship and having a parade,” Friedman said.

Offseason moves would be impacted if no agreement on a collective bargaining agreement is reached before the current deal expires Dec. 1.

“We need to be prepared accordingly,” Friedman said.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Senators have heated exchanges with AG Garland over DOJ school board memo

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Senators have heated exchanges with AG Garland over DOJ school board memo



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Drinking Coffee Has Some Super Benefits—Here Are 4 Health Perks of Your Morning Cup

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Drinking Coffee Has Some Super Benefits—Here Are 4 Health Perks of Your Morning Cup



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Nor'easter has New England bracing for floods, power outages

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Nor'easter has New England bracing for floods, power outages



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Trump Jr. Gets A Reality Check After Comparing U.S. To Communist Czechoslovakia

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Donald Trump Jr. was ridiculed this week after he likened shortages of certain products in the U.S. under President Joe Biden to living in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

Trump Jr. made the remarks during conversation Saturday on Newsmax with Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing media personality and former aide to Donald Trump.

Gorka asked Trump Jr. to discuss the “empty shelves” and backlog of cargo ships in California due to supply-chain issues, given his “perspective” as someone who, “as a child, traveled behind the Iron Curtain and saw real socialism.”

“When conservatives say, ‘They’re socialists. The Democrats have gone radical,’ this isn’t an exaggeration, is it? You’ve seen it, Don,” Gorka added.

Trump Jr.’s mother, Ivana Trump, grew up in Czechoslovakia before moving first to Canada and then the U.S. in the 1970s. He told Gorka his Czech grandparents wanted him to understand the “freedoms and blessings we have here” in the U.S.

“So I traveled with them there every summer, you know, six, eight weeks. I’ve waited in those bread lines,” said Trump Jr., whose father was estimated to be worth more than $1 billion in the 1980s. “We’re starting to see the empty shelves that I experienced then in communist Czechoslovakia in the ’80s in America right now.”

Grocery stores in the U.S. are having problems stocking certain products due to the coronavirus pandemic, a worker shortage and shipping congestion at the Port of Los Angeles.

Some social media users and conservative media personalities have shown images of empty shelves to attack Biden over the supply-chain issues. However, some of these images have turned out to be photos from years ago.

Trump Jr. was slammed on social media for the absurd comparison. A number of people also pointed out that last year, at the peak of the pandemic during the Trump administration, shelves in stores across the country were stripped bare of certain essentials and people lined up for miles in their cars or for blocks on foot to get aid from food banks.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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How a pro-Trump “command center” at a hotel near the White House fueled January 6 efforts to block election certification

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How a pro-Trump “command center” at a hotel near the White House fueled January 6 efforts to block election certification



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