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Where is Everyone, Ask Confused Guests Inside Trump’s DC Hotel Post His Presidency

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A sprawling lobby and bar with only a handful of people. Confused guests asking where everybody went. Elegant, but empty hallways. These are the scenes CNN observed inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, this month as the once-humming destination confronts a new reality without its namesake in the White House.

The hotel had opened to much fanfare just months before former President Donald Trump took office, and quickly became a draw for Trump loyalists and insiders throughout his tenure.

“I mean, we were very busy,” Shawn Matijevich, the former executive chef at the hotel’s steak restaurant, explained to CNN. “With so many every day, you know it almost got overwhelming at times — how many VIP’s and members of our government that you know are making headlines are all together in the same place.”

But the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — which has impacted the entire hotel industry — paired with Trump’s exit from office, now appear to be taking a significant toll on the place Trump once dubbed “one of the great hotels of the world.”

One hotel staffer told CNN this month, “Since the coronavirus we weren’t doing so bad until I’d say probably a month ago. It really, like, slowed down.”

“It’s normal during this time of year to have this kind of slow down, but because of everything going on, it kind of really had — a different time.”

Indoor restaurants and bars in Washington are limited to 25% capacity or 250 people total, whichever is smaller. The nation’s capital had paused all indoor dining in December as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations surged.

On a recent Friday night, CNN observed around 30 customers in the hotel’s bar and lounge area over a three-hour span. But the main elevators were only used a handful of times, signaling that not many were staying overnight.

The halls of the hotel appeared mostly lifeless around 7:00 p.m. ET.

The following morning, hotel staff and Trump’s then-impeachment defense team were some of the only people populating the vast lobby. No one had breakfast in the lounge for a span more than an hour before two men came in.

“Where is everyone?” one of the men asked. The waiter slightly threw up his hands, as if to express uncertainty.

Asked about the hotel’s current occupancy and revenue numbers, Eric Trump, who runs day-to-day operations of the family real estate empire, praised the hotel in a statement without providing any specific figures.

“Our location is unrivaled and we are incredibly proud to have the best hotel in our nation’s capital,” he said.

During a separate CNN visit to the hotel, just a handful of people were present in the lobby over multiple hours.

But even before Trump left office and his role in the US Capitol insurrection brought further complications to his businesses, the pandemic was putting considerable strain on Trump Organization properties worldwide.

Hotels and other hospitality companies, which form a substantial part of Trump’s business empire, have been hit especially hard during the outbreak as travelers stay home and governments impose lockdowns.

Trump’s final financial disclosure as President showed sales at the Washington hotel plummeted by 63% last year compared with 2019, when the Trump Organization was considering selling it. And those figures are not unique to Trump’s hotel. Data from the hospitality analytics company STR shows that business for luxury hotels in Washington has spiraled across the board.

Jan Freitag, senior vice president of Lodging Insights at STR, told CNN that in 2019, occupancy at high-end hotels in downtown DC was 73%.

“So basically, one-in-four rooms was empty,” Freitag said. “Today, four-in-five rooms are empty.”

But the former President’s loyal following could still provide some meaningful avenues for revenue moving forward. Room rates reviewed by CNN indicate the hotel could be looking to capitalize on a stream of business from supporters who follow the unhinged QAnon conspiracy theory and believe Trump will be sworn back into office on March 4.

While a standard room can be usually booked for around $500, according to a review of the hotel’s website, a room on March 4 costs around $1,300. The Trump Organization did not respond to multiple inquiries about whether the price surge was related to QAnon’s March 4 conspiracy.

Still, the price hike underscores the draw that the former President can still command, even if he’s no longer down the road at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“God bless Donald Trump. I mean, what else can you do?” one woman recently told CNN unprompted in the hotel’s lobby. “We come here and we support him.”

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Politics News

Central govt opposes petition to allow same-sex marriage under Hindu Marriage Act, seeks dismissal of petitions: Read details

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The central government has opposed a petition to legalise same-sex marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act, as moved in Delhi Court. There is no fundamental right to seek recognition for same-sex marriage, Centre tells Delhi High Court.

According to reports, the central government has contended that the Indian family concept and legislative intent recognises a union only between a biological man and a biological woman. Thus, it has demanded that the plea moved by Abhijeet Iyer and others be dismissed.

According to Hindustan Times journalist, the Central government has said that while a marriage may be between two private individuals having a profound impact on their private lives, it cannot be relegated to merely a concept within the domain of privacy of an individual. Further, the government contended that a two people living together and having a sexual relationship cannot be considered comparable to the with the Indian family unit concept.

Saying that the family concept entails a husband, wife and children, it necessitates that the marriage be between a biological man and a biological woman, the central government asked for the petition to be dismissed.

The Central government further said that “In our country, despite statutory recognition of the relationship of marriage between a biological man and a biological woman, marriage necessarily depends upon age-old customs, rituals, practices, cultural ethos and societal values”.

Saying that social morality also needs to be a consideration while talking about the validity of legislation, the central government contended that it is for legislature to judge and enforce such social morality and public acceptance based on Indian ethos.

The petition by Abhijeet Iyer Mitra, Gopi Shankar M, Giti Thadani and G Oorvasi to legalise same-sex marriage under the Hindu law

In September 2020, a petition was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking the recognition of same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act. The petition was filed by Abhijit Iyer Mitra, Gopi Shankar M, Giti Thadani and G Oorvasi and the matter was heard by Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan. The petitioners claimed that the Hindu Marriage Act permits any two Hindus to solemnise their marriage and therefore, homosexuals should also have the right to marry and have their marriages recognised.

“That it is further submitted that despite the fact that there is absolutely no statutory bar under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and the Special Marriage Act of 1956 against gay marriage, the same are not being registered throughout the country and also in Delhi,” the plea claims. “As a result of the same, there are many benefits that would otherwise be available to heterosexual married couples that are not available to them,” it stated.

The claim that Act does not mandate that marriage is between a man and a woman appears to be unfounded. Section 5(iii) clearly mentions that a marriage between two Hindus can be solemnised if the groom is 21 years old and the bride is 18 years old at the minimum. It is a clear indication that the Act recognises marriage only between a man and a woman.

“That Right to Marry is also stated under Human Rights Charter within the meaning of the right to start a family. The Right to Marry is a universal right and it is available to everyone irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” it added. The petition also argued that denial of the Right to Marry is in violation of the Right to Equality and Right to Life as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

The central government had earlier opposed the petition as well

On the 14th of September, at the first hearing of the petition, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government, said that he opposed the petition. He argued that homosexual marriages are not recognised by our laws and culture. He said that the Hindu Marriage Act itself does not recognise same-sex marriages. As per law, marriage is only between a husband and a wife’.

The Court had responded saying that the government has to look at the matter at hand with an open mind and not the position as stated by a law saying that changes are happening across the world. SG Tushar Mehta, however, maintained that the petition does not even deserve the filing of an affidavit.



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