Monthly Archives: April 2018

Trump Organization Introduces Budget Hotel Chain Called ‘American Idea’

The Trump Organization is intentionally breaking the mold from its 5-star luxury accommodations, and is now launching a chain of 3-star budget-friendly hotels. 

The organization announced Monday via a conference at Trump Tower that it is opening a chain of 3-star hotels that will be located in small towns across America. The chain, called American Idea, will debut with three properties in the Mississippi Delta, according to a press release. 

The hotels will be owned by a partner, Chawla Hotels, and could open in as soon as seven or eight months, according to Bloomberg. The New York Times reports the hotels? lobbies and rooms will feature nostalgic American items, such as old Coca Cola machines. 

?Its properties will be places to relax, to have fun and to experience gracious hospitality,? a press release from Trump Hotels said Tuesday. ?Guests will enjoy local flavor and genuine service in an environment that pays respect to the unique culture of each destination.? 

?It has nothing to do with politics,? Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview with ABC News. ?We?re trying to make money off of a hotel brand that we feel there?s an underserved market to. I think more companies could probably do better by being a little bit more patriotic.? 

But in conflict with Donald Jr.?s statement is the fact that the idea for the new chain reportedly came about on the campaign trail, when Donald Trump?s kids stumped for their father in small towns with less-than-ideal hotel accommodations.

Chawla Hotels, which is partnering with The Trump Organization on this venture, also has a direct connection to President Trump. According to the Times, Suresh Chawla, one of the brothers that runs the company, met Trump on the campaign trail after writing a pro-Trump letter in 2015. Chawla later donated $50,000 to Trump?s campaign and is now a partner for American Idea hotels as well as another Trump hotel venture, called Scion. 

Though Donald Jr. and Eric Trump are technically in charge of The Trump Organization, the president still has an ownership stake in the business. Before his inauguration in January, Trump announced that he would not be divesting from his business, which opened the door to many potential conflicts of interest.

Later that month, Trump Hotels chief executive officer Eric Danziger announced that Trump Hotels planned to triple its number of U.S. properties.

?There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we?re in five,? Danziger said at the time, via Bloomberg, at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles. ?I don?t see any reason that we couldn?t be in all of them eventually.?

But not all cities are interested. San Francisco, Austin and Seattle city council members have all said they wouldn?t welcome Trump hotels.

It seems areas like Mississippi, which voted for Trump, have clearly been more open to accommodating the president?s business expansion efforts.

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11 Throwback Tours To Get Nostalgic About In Summer 2017

Summertime, and the live music opportunities are plentiful. While festivals ? where you can hear great tunes and end up in street style roundups in a single weekend ? seem to dominate headlines in recent years, more and more musicians are banking on their nostalgic value to draw fans to big venues.

This summer, anyone looking to time travel need only journey to their nearest stadium to catch the likes of Blink-182, New Kids on the Block, Everclear, Toto, ?Joshua Tree?-era U2 and more. Check out 11 acts you can catch on the road this summer.

Hit Backspace for a regular dose of pop culture nostalgia.

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Here’s How J.K. Rowling Wants To Protest Donald Trump’s UK State Visit

J.K. Rowling has shared a protest plan of action should President Donald Trump make a state visit to the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, the Harry Potter author admitted via Twitter that she would ?rather he didn?t come.? But if Trump is afforded the pomp and ceremony of an official trip, proposed for later this year, Rowling revealed how she wants people to demonstrate.

It involves using Trump?s own tweets about Saturday?s deadly attack in London, which killed seven civilians and injured 48, against him:

Following the attack, Trump caused controversy by misquoting and then criticizing London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Rowling joined in with the global condemnation of Trump, calling him an ?alarmist blowhard.?

Fellow tweeters appeared to agree with her protest idea, and even suggested other ways to show disapproval:

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Packed Prisons Are A Result Of Misdirected Focus

What is the main objective of prison? To protect the public. How does the system do this? Well, it purports to punish offenders with incarceration while rehabilitating them to function in society. Does this system work? No.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin recently appointed a 21-member task force to tackle the increasingly desperate need for crime reform in the state. The task force came up with 27 points of reform, and proved that prisons are not reforming criminals, however they are prime places to educate petty criminals into criminal masterminds.

Non-violent offenders and non-violent drug users are tossed into the clink alongside gang leaders and murderers in an environment where most people need some form of protection to survive. Rather than focusing on scholastic education while incarcerated, there is a tendency for inmates to focus on surviving the day, which often means aligning oneself hardened criminals that are all too happy to pass along their tricks of the trade. Rather than being a place of rehabilitation focusing on reforming inmates to live stand-up lives, the current prison system is often releasing older, smarter, stronger criminals.

This does nothing to protect the public.

To understand what went wrong, let?s take a look at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

BOP facilities house 81 percent of total federal inmates (188,797). The dominant age group of BOP inmates is between 31-45. The main citizenship of the inmates is American at 78.3 percent. The overwhelming majority of prisoners, at 93.3 percent, are male. White prisoners account for 58.6 percent of the BOP population, and blacks make up 37.8 percent. About 20-25 percent are serving 5-15 years. The majority of the offenses, at about 46 percent, are drug related. Homicide, violent assault and kidnapping offenses trail far behind at just over three percent.

In 2016, 43,864 BOP prisoners were released. The current recidivism rate ? the rate at which released offenders re-offend ? is 34 percent.

According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse conducted in 1999, the highest rate of illegal drug use was seen in young male teens, and this is consistent with the data of those we see incarcerated today in BOP facilities. Those men in their 30s didn?t wake up one day, decide to smoke a joint, and then got caught. The majority have led lifestyles that lead to progressive drug use, which leads to criminal behavior, which progresses to charges, and then leads to longer stays in prison for increasingly dangerous offenses.

The study makes a valid point that should be underscoring the change needed across the entire American prison system: ?Drug use rates have historically been highly correlated with educational status, and remain so. College graduates have the lowest rates of current drug use (4.8 percent).?

In other words, if you reduce dependency on drugs through access to education, you will dramatically reduce the number of people in prison.

Let?s go back to Oklahoma. Each inmate costs the state approximately $16,322 per year. Comparatively, Oklahoma spends about $8,531 per year per student, according to the National Education Association. The 27 task force recommendations, if adopted, would reduce the state?s prison population by 9,267, and save $1.9 billion. Recommendations are intended to focus prison spaces on serious, violent offenders and improve and enhance rehabilitation and re-entry practices. Without adopting the recommendations, and continuing on its present path, a press release states, Oklahoma?s prison population will rise by 25 percent, and require three more prisons to be built.

The American prison system is spending more money perpetuating and creating criminals in prison than the education system is spending on vulnerable, at-risk populations. This is education that could keep reduce the number of young offenders from entering the criminal justice system.

America needs to reassess who gets locked up and the reasons for being incarcerated. Currently, the largest population in prisons in the country are non-violent drug offenders. That an enormous number of youth that go into prison for drugs come out transformed into hardened criminals. If the criminal justice system were truly sticking to the objectives of punishment, protection and rehabilitation, there would be a far greater emphasis on accessible education consistently across facilities, a system that only locks up those that truly need to be behind bars for protection and rehabilitation, and the country could shift the money it saves on mass incarceration toward education, effecting a reduction in criminal behavior and reducing the strain on the penal system.

Christopher Zoukis is the author of Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons, College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Co., 2014) and Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016). He can be found online at ChristopherZoukis.com and PrisonerResource.com.

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