The iconic Showboat casino in Atlantic City closed Sunday, the latest casualty of competition from gambling in other states.
Denise Miller of New Jersey says she was an employee on the first day in 1987 when the Mardi Gras-themed Showboat opened. Although she no longer works there, Miller came down to watch the closed sign hung on the boardwalk entrance.
"I'm upset. I'm angry, because Showboat never went bankrupt," she told WHYY's Emma Jacobs. "It was a good casino, a good place to work and people enjoyed it because it was a big emphasis on customer service. A people place."
The Associated Press reports: "The Showboat's owner, Caesars Entertainment, closed the still-profitable casino to reduce the number of casinos in Atlantic City, which has been struggling with plunging revenue and increased competition in the saturated northeastern U.S. casino market."
The casino's closure will be followed today by the shutdown of Atlantic City's newest addition: The Revel, which was built at a cost of more than $2 billion. The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino is expected to close Sept. 16. The Atlantic Club closed in January.
As Alan Greenblatt reported last month, "Atlantic City began the year with a dozen casinos in operation but will may soon be down to eight."
"With competition from other outlets in neighboring states, including casinos operated by Native American tribes, gambling revenue in Atlantic City has plunged by nearly half from its high of $5.2 billion in 2006, although revenues ticked up a bit in June," Greenblatt wrote.
The closures mean job losses for about 8,000 people.
The fan who suddenly got everything he wanted, the writer Roald Dahl never said in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, lived happily ever after. Fans of the beloved children's classic may not get everything they want, but they are getting a previously unpublished chapter from the book that turns 50 this month.
The chapter, Fudge Mountain, describes the Vanilla Fudge Room, an extra room in the chocolate factory. It was published over the weekend in The Guardian, with permission from Roald Dahl Nominee Ltd., which manages the late writer's works. It was originally chapter five in an early draft of the book.
In it, Charlie goes to the factory with his mother - not his grandfather.
The Guardian, in a separate article, says the lost chapter was "deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children." Here's more from the newspaper:
"The chapter reveals the original larger cast of characters, and their fates, as well as the original names of some of those who survived into later drafts. Dahl originally intended to send Charlie into the chocolate factory with eight other children, but the number was slimmed down to four. The narrator reveals that a girl called Miranda Grope has already vanished into the chocolate river with Augustus Pottle: she is gone for ever, but the greedy boy was reincarnated as Augustus Gloop."
The new chapter comes weeks after the announcement that publisher Penguin was releasing a new U.K. cover for the book, which was first published in September 1964. That cover was criticized because, in the words of The Washington Post, "Why did the cover of a novel about five kids and a wonderful — if admittedly bizarre — candy-maker look like a scene from "Toddlers & Tiaras"?
Penguin has defended the cover, saying it "highlights the way Roald Dahl's writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life."
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in case you need to be reminded of it, follows Charlie Bucket as he makes his way through Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The book has sold millions of copies and inspired movies as well as a musical.
A century and a half after Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, a 22-year-old Union officer whose heroics helped stop the rebels and turn the tide of the Civil War will finally receive the Medal of Honor.
The White House announced this week that Lt. Alonzo Cushing will receive the award, ending a near three-decade campaign begun by a Wisconsin woman, now in her 90s, who lives on what had been the family farm where Cushing was born.
"When he dies, he dies repelling one of the most fabled charges, attacks, ever in American military history," said Kent Masterson Brown, a Kentucky lawyer and historian who wrote a biography of Cushing after learning of him from an exhibit at Gettysburg during a childhood visit.
Cushing was only two years out of West Point on that third day of the battle, in charge of an artillery battery in the Army of the Potomac. According to the White House announcement, Cushing was manning the only artillery piece in his unit that still worked.
"During the advance, he was wounded in the stomach as well as in the right shoulder. Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece, continuing to fire in the face of the enemy," the White House statement said. "With the rebels within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand."
Brown said it was Cushing's pivotal role that has caught so many people's attention. "What caused them to latch onto Cushing was how he died, what he was doing when he died, who he was defending that position against when he died," Brown said.
It was in the course of researching his book that he learned of Margaret Zerwekh, who in 1987 started a letter-writing campaign to honor Cushing, including one to the late William Proxmire, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin.
"It's been a long time in coming, but I think it falls under the category of 'it's never too late to do the right thing,'" said Ron Kind, who started as an intern in Proxmire's office, and is now the Democratic congressman who inserted language into the 2014 Defense authorization bill that allows the award.
But why 27 years from Zerwekh's first letter to Proxmire to President Obama's announcement?
Congressional action was necessary because Medal of Honor referrals are supposed to take place no later than two years after the event. For years, members of Congress from the South were uneasy about re-opening the Civil War, particularly a battle that has become the focus of lost-cause lore for generations.
"I think there may have been some concerns about a Union soldier receiving recognition at Gettysburg, and I think there are still some people who are sensitive about the Civil War and how it's depicted," Kind said.
In recent years, the vocal congressional opposition boiled down to Jim Webb, the former Democratic senator from Confederate Gen. George Pickett's home state, Virginia. Webb blocked attempts to honor Cushing, Kind said, because so much time had passed since the war that it would be nearly impossible to determine the facts of what Cushing did in the battle.
An assistant to Webb pointed to a letter he wrote to Senate colleagues in 2012 about his concerns.
"As a point of observation, the Confederate Army lost more than 250,000 dead — one third of its soldiers — and received no Medals of Honor," Webb wrote in a letter to other senators in 2012. "While one would never wish to demean any act of courage, I believe that the retroactive determination in one case would open up an endless series of claims. The better wisdom for this body would be to leave history alone."
Webb retired from the Senate in 2012, and Kind said Webb's successor, Democrat Tim Kaine, did not share Webb's concerns. What's more, a Pentagon review Webb had wanted was completed, which further supported Cushing's case.
"If there were objections being raised, we obviously talked to those individuals to make sure that there weren't any problems in moving forward," Kind said.
Whether most members of Congress knew they were wading into the Civil War when they passed that bill is unclear. Kind's amendment authorizing Cushing's medal was contained in a package of 14 proposed changes offered on the House floor last summer by Texas Republican Mac Thornberry — everything from permission for the defense secretary to evaluate suicide prevention to a prohibition against collaborating with China on cyber-security.
They were passed without any mention about Cushing on a voice vote — on a Thursday evening following seven hours of debate, when most House members had already gone for the night.
Six months later, negotiators for the House and Senate hammered out a compromise defense bill. This passed both chambers without much discussion, as Congress worked to wrap up for the year quickly.
"There were no surprises in any of this," Kind said.
Cushing will become the 1,523rd Union soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, and only the second since 1915, said Laura Jowdy, the archivist at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. "The Confederate side would not qualify for a medal," she said. "Although some might argue they should."
Russian and Ukrainian officials are meeting today in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, with Russia-backed separatists and international monitors to discuss a proposed cease-fire to stop the fighting in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the meeting's goals should be a cease-fire, but he demanded that Ukrainian troops leave positions from which they can "harm the civilian population."
Karoun Demirjian, who is reporting for NPR from Moscow, tells our Newscast unit:
"[A] rebel leader in Donetsk told Russian news service Interfax that their main goal is to win recognition of their independence from Kiev.
"During a television interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin said statehood in eastern Ukraine should be one of the topics up for discussion — the Kremlin stressed though, that Russia isn't directly supporting calls for independence.
"Meanwhile, Ukraine's military spokesman says that Russian formations were directly firing on troops at the Luhansk airport overnight. Russian-backed separatists say they seized the airport today."
Monday's meeting in Minsk comes a day after a Ukrainian border guard vessel was attacked near the eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is reporting from Mariupol for Newscast, says Ukrainian officials blamed Russian-backed separatists for the attack on the vessel patrolling in the Sea of Azov. She adds: "The separatist fighters last week launched an offensive along the coastline and now control several towns and villages here.
The crisis in Ukraine has resulted in the worst ties between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.
Indeed, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN on Sunday that the U.S. should "provide the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., echoed those calls in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation.
"Give them the weapons they need," he said. "Give them the wherewithal they need. Give them the ability to fight."
In a news conference last week, President Obama blamed Russia for the violence in Ukraine. The administration's actions against Russia have so far mainly been limited to economic sanctions on Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors.
"Capital is fleeing, investors are increasingly staying out, his economy is in decline," Obama said last week. "This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia."
Note: There are 26 films in the on-air version of this story — but here are three favorites.
Hollywood hauled out Apes, Transformers, and X-Men and still had a humdrum summer at the box office. For the first time in years, no summer blockbuster's managed to crack the $300 million barrier at the North American box office. In fact, until Guardians of the Galaxy came along, the film industry was looking at its lowest attendance figures in more than a decade.
Still, hope springs eternal, and with nearly 100 pictures lined up for the fall, there are bound to be a few that get pulses racing again.
Intriguingly, none of them — not even one — qualifies as a straight-up superhero movie. There is a black comedy about an actor who once played a superhero, and who is now so down on his luck he's fantasizing about a return to stardom ... on stage. That's Alejandro G. Inarritu's Birdman, with former Batman Michael Keaton suffering an elaborately visualized breakdown in the title role. Critics have been raving since the film's Venice Film Fest premiere earlier this week.
They've also had affirmative things to say about Rosewater, the film that first-time writer/director Jon Stewart took a leave of absence from The Daily Show to shepherd to the screen. Rosewater tracks the tough ordeal Iranian journalist (and Daily Show guest) Maziar Bahari was put through in an Iranian prison after authorities there decided his work for foreign news organizations amounted to spying.
And if the Middle East doesn't darken your mood, director Christopher Nolan may manage it in Interstellar, a vision of a future where humankind is rapidly running out of food, and the world's best minds are convinced that their task is not to save the earth, but to find a way to escape it.
Cheery stuff — and all hitting theaters before Thanksgiving, after which the awards contenders come out to play: Broadway musicals, biblical epics, hobbits. The sun'll come out tomorrow, dontcha know.