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Heiress and designer, Gloria Vanderbilt dies at 95

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American heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, a designer and artist who became one of the most chronicled socialites of her era, died Monday, her son announced. She was 95 years old.

The great-great granddaughter of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, she was thrust into the spotlight as the “poor little rich girl” at the center of a sensational custody battle in the 1930s, before finding fame in her own right for her line of designer blue jeans and it-girl fashion.

“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms,” her son, the popular CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, said in a tribute read on air.

“She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they’d tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern.”

Artistic and glam, Vanderbilt was well-known for her tumultuous love life that included four marriages and racy escapades with a slew of suitors including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Marlon Brando.

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Born Gloria Laura Madeleine Sophie in Manhattan on February 20, 1924 to aristocrat Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and Gloria Laura Mercedes Morgan, she was left with a multi-million dollar trust fund as a baby after her father — the descendant of wealthy Dutch and English shipping and transportation barons — drank himself to death slightly more than a year after her birth.

Her notoriously unstable mother, who wielded the reins of the trust fund, swept Vanderbilt away to Paris to be raised by a nanny, while she became a mainstay of the party circuit with her twin sister.

Vanderbilt’s philanthropist and artist aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, sued for custody in 1934 and won after a highly publicized trial that at moments heard the young girl weep and wail.

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Eager to grow up quickly, she married for the first time at age 17 and tied the knot three more times thereafter, first to the conductor Leopold Stokowski, with whom she had two sons, and then to director Sidney Lumet.

Her final marriage to Wyatt Emory Cooper in 1963 produced two sons, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper and Anderson Cooper.

“Her private self, her real self was more fascinating and lovely than anything she showed the public,” the reporter Cooper said of his mother. “She trusted too freely, too completely and suffered tremendous losses, but she always pressed on, always worked hard, always believed the best was yet to come.”


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Fatal drug overdoses drop in US for first time in decades

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Fatal drug overdoses in the US declined by 5.1 percent in 2018, according to preliminary official data released Wednesday, the first drop in two decades.

The trend was driven by a steep decline in deaths linked to prescription painkillers.

"The latest provisional data on overdose deaths show that America's united efforts to curb opioid use disorder and addiction are working," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, though he cautioned the epidemic would not be cured overnight.

The total number of estimated deaths dropped to 68,557 in 2018 against 72,224 the year before, according to the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Judge blocks effort to conceal details in Trump campaign crimes case as Bill Barr’s DOJ mysteriously closes the probe

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A federal judge confirmed on Wednesday that the Justice Department has ended its investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, indicating that no one else will face charges in the case. But Judge William Pauley also announced that, over the government’s objections, he will be making many of the underlying documents in the case public without requested redactions.

The case stemmed from Cohen’s efforts during the 2016 campaign to secure hush money payments for two women who said they had affairs with Donald Trump. Since investigators determined these payments were done in order to help secure Trump’s victory, the spending counted as campaign contributions that were never recorded and were, in fact, illegally concealed. The Trump Organization, Cohen has said, helped repay him for the costs of the hush money while disguising the payment falsely as a legal retainer.

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Rand Paul just blocked the 9/11 victim fund because it isn’t paid for — but didn’t care when it was a $1.5 trillion tax cut

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked a call for unanimous consent on Wednesday to push forward with a funding extension for the victims of 9/11, claiming that the new spending should be paid for.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for the bill to be passed in the Senate by unanimous consent, but even a single lawmaker’s objection can block the move and slow down the process. The measure is still widely expected to pass, but Paul wants to use the opportunity to complain about the national debt.

“We need to address our massive debt in this country,” he said “We have a $22 trillion debt. We’re adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year. And therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that’s going to have the longevity of 70-80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable. We need to at least have this debate.”

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