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Atlantic City casino workers vote to strike after contract negotiations stall

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Workers at four casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey’s gambling hub, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to authorize a strike if they are not offered what they consider to be a fair contract by the start of the busy July 4 holiday weekend.

A strike vote could give Unite Here Local 54 bargaining committees more firepower in negotiations over new contracts for the 6,000 cocktail servers, cooks, housekeepers and other hospitality workers. Employees are now working under expired contracts.

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“They need to offer these workers a fair contract. We gave up a lot when times were bad, now that they are making money, they need to give back to us,” Local 54 President Bob McDevitt said in a statement after the vote.

McDevitt said 96 percent of those who voted on Thursday cast their ballots in support of the strike authorization.

Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos closed in 2014 and remain shuttered, in part because of gambling competition from neighboring states.

Unite Here said workers agreed to wage freezes during the recession, and those with 25 years on the job have had only 80 cents in total raises over the past 12 years.

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“I work full-time but I’m still struggling to make ends meet,” Rodney Mills, a 42 year-old buffet drink server at Tropicana who earns roughly $11 an hour despite working there for more than two decades, said in a statement.

Atlantic City casino revenues increased 2.7 percent to $802.6 million in the first quarter of 2016, according to state data.

Last summer, workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, founded by Donald Trump but now owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s Icahn Enterprises LP, also agreed to allow a strike if needed. But they have yet to call a walkout, according to Local 54.

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Thursday’s strike vote pertains to the Tropicana casino and two properties, Caesars Atlantic City and Bally’s Atlantic City, currently owned by bankrupt Caesars Entertainment Operating Company Inc.

Also included in the vote is another Caesars property, Harrah’s Atlantic City, controlled by a separate unit not in bankruptcy..

Caesars’ spokesman Stephen Cohen could not be immediately reached for comment after the vote, but said earlier on Thursday the casinos were intent on hammering out a deal that benefits both workers and the city’s comeback efforts.

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Representatives for Tropicana also could not be reached for comment on Thursday night.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the union’s appeal of a lower court ruling allowing the Taj Mahal to break its contract to secure a bankruptcy deal.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

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Brian Williams compares Corey Lewandowski’s opening statement to the North Korean news lady

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MSNBC host Brian Williams on Tuesday noted the similarities between former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee.

"Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is now considering a Senate run in New Hampshire, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today," Williams reported. "It is likely his North Korean anchorwoman-quality opening remarks were meant were one viewer (Donald Trump)."

Ri, who has earned the nickname "Pink Lady," is known for her enthusiastic reading of government-approved news.

Watch the video below from MSNBC.

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‘Train-wreck of a witness’: Analysts nail ‘obstructive’ Corey Lewandowski for proving the Democrats’ case

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Political commentator Catherine Rampell disagreed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that the Democrats faltered during the hearing with Corey Lewandowski Tuesday. Former state and federal prosecutor Elie Honig called Lewandowski a "train-wreck of a witness."

She explained that Democrats had an extremely low bar: they had to prove Trump obstructed justice and that Corey Lewandowski gave one of the examples of such obstructions. In that sense, Rampell said they accomplished their goals.

"I don’t think this was a great day for Corey Lewandowski," she began. "This is a guy who went on TV and announced to the world -- apparently at the same time he is also trying to fundraise for Senate -- that he lies most of the time. Except when he's under oath."

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CNN

WATCH: Ana Navarro keeps shouting down Trump booster — even as CNN host cuts to commercial

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President Donald Trump cheered on his top Hispanic advisor Steve Cortes, who appeared before a New Mexico audience. Trump asked Cortes which he loved more, Hispanics or America, which prompted CNN's Ana Navarro to blast the president for racism. Meanwhile, Trump's latest CNN shill cried "political correctness."

"Look, I suspect he didn't want to offend Steve Cortes and I suspect Steve Cortes was not offended," Navarro said. "But really what a stupid thing to say. Right? To somehow ask the question about whether you love the country more than you love Hispanics -- they are one and the same."

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