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I'm from southern New Jersey, and standing in the ruins of the Taj Mahal is profoundly depressing for me. I think about all of the jobs in this vacant building that have been lost; some of my family members have worked for the Trump casinos. One relative won't talk openly about it with me, still fearing a nondisclosure agreement she signed two decades ago. I actually began my journalism career, in 1992, as a reporter at the Press of Atlantic City. This was the moment when the Trump casinos had just emerged from the first of their bankruptcy reorganizations, and Trump still presented himself as a sort of ruling monarch of Atlantic City, helicoptering in from Manhattan occasionally to express his disapproval with how the town was being run. It's mostly forgotten now, but Trump's second Atlantic City casino, opened in 1985, was originally, and unironically, named Trump's Castle.

I remember one speech he gave at a local business luncheon in the spring of 1992, right when I started my job. He told the gathering that Atlantic City needed to "clean up its act" and excoriated officials for funneling money into "unneeded low-income housing" rather than beautifying the entrance to the city "so it won't look like you're coming into a slum." Trump hated us at the Press. "They kill us every day," he told the business gathering, bemoaning that we couldn't be more like the newspapers in Las Vegas; the Vegas papers, he said, "didn't talk about most casinos losing money." Trump was always looking for someone to blame for his casinos' lack of profitability. He was obsessed with the rising competition from legalized gambling in other parts of the country - from Louisiana, from Connecticut and especially from Native American casinos. "I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations," he once told radio host Don Imus. Perhaps it's perfect irony that the Taj Mahal will soon be replaced by a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

I exit the Taj Mahal and cross the Boardwalk to the Steel Pier. It's pretty quiet for a sunny July afternoon, with the amusement rides about a third full. A young woman with a Russian accent at the Krazyballs game holds a microphone and says, "Everyone's a winner!" over and over again, but no one comes to play.

As anyone who has seen HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" knows, the Steel Pier, opened in 1898, was once the classic landmark of Atlantic City - hosting Miss America pageants, dance marathons and musical acts ranging from John Philip Sousa to Diana Ross. But the diving horse act - that is, a horse diving off the pier into the ocean - is what the Steel Pier's fame, or infamy, rested upon.

The pier closed in 1978, was destroyed by a fire in 1982, and a decade later was reopened, by Donald Trump, who suggested with much fanfare that he was reviving Atlantic City's glory days. Then, during the summer of 1993, it was announced that the diving horse act would be revived. The world, however, had changed. The diving horse act was now met by an angry crowd of animal rights activists, carrying signs that read "Donald Trump promotes animal cruelty" and chanting "Donald Trump, stop the jump!"

I covered one of the opening nights of the diving horse act for the Press, getting reaction from activists, from pier workers and from people on the Boardwalk. I walked to the end of the Steel Pier to watch the act. All of us in the crowd looked skyward at a raised platform. That's where we saw a "horse" slowly led out onto a plank. It soon became clear that the diving horse was not actually a horse. It was a mule. And it was not going to jump into the ocean, but rather 15 feet down into a pool of water.

The diving mule act went on throughout the summer. Then, with only three days left before the season ended, Trump blew into town to hold a news conference at the pier. He told the assembled television cameras that the diving mule act would be canceled, never to return. Further, Trump claimed to have never really liked the act anyway. Though, he said, "from a purely money standpoint, it was successful." Even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals joined him at the news conference, with a sign that read, "Donald, the animals thank you."

The following summer, when the Taj Mahal hosted the Moscow Circus for a six-week run, the mob of animal rights activists returned, angry as ever at Trump - now over the alleged mistreatment of the circus' elephants and bears. This time, protesters dropped a half-ton of animal feces at the entrance to the Taj Mahal.

Early the next morning, I walk from the Taj Mahal down the Boardwalk to the completely abandoned Trump Plaza. Here, every mention of Trump has long been removed from the building, and grass now grows up through the pavement of the empty parking lots and entranceways. The Plaza will soon be demolished. At the ground floor, from the Boardwalk, you can still look into the dirty windows of Evo Restaurant and see that the tables - now covered with debris - were set for a dinner service in 2014 that never happened. I sit on a bench in a little area across from Boardwalk Hall, which is right next to the former Trump Plaza. There's a monument here erected by the local unions in the 1980s to remember "those who lost their lives while working on the redevelopment of Atlantic City." Legalized casino gaming was supposed be the city's savior. Sitting here looking at the ghostly shell of Trump Plaza is like the final word, showing once and for all that the casinos were not the savior. Today, Atlantic City just limps along as always, dazed and confused by endless promises, sale pitches and big talk. It was the perfect place for Donald Trump, someone who would promise you the spectacle of a horse diving into the ocean, and then deliver a mule diving into a swimming pool.


David Milne flies the Mexican flag from atop his home, a former coast guard station that sits on a hill above Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Milne identifies with Mexico's current plight because adjacent to his yard is a fence that Trump built and then sent him the bill for (more than $3,500, which he threw in the trash). This was back in 2009, when Trump was constructing his golf course on the environmentally sensitive sand dunes and harassing several of his neighbors in the village of Balmedie.

It's a September day in Scotland, sunny one moment, overcast and drizzling the next, with waves of driving rain in between, all of it buffeted by a cold wind off the North Sea. In the distance, we can see working ships, likely heading back and forth to oil rigs. Milne, a health-and-safety consultant for the oil industry who has been living here for 25 years, says the area's been hit hard. Nearly 100,000 people have lost their jobs since oil prices tanked., Forum discussion and sharing News from home and abroad. Starting from the ideological, political, economic, social and cultural.

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