15 bizarre bets involving President Trump and the Super Bowl

Over the years, the Super Bowl has become just as important for the prop bets gamblers can make as for the game itself. But with President Donald Trump set to make an appearance on CBS’ pre-game coverage, prop bets this year have been taken up a notch.

In what has become an annual tradition, Trump will pre-tape an interview to be aired on “Face the Nation” with anchor Margaret Brennan, CBS News said. The previous year, Trump skipped the interview as the White House and NBC, which had the telecast, could not come to an agreement on the interview.

Americans are expected to bet a record $6 billion on this year’s game, with a significant chunk bet on prop bets. Given Trump’s penchant for an off-the-cuff mentality when it comes to interviews, BetDSI Sportsbook posted a number of prop bets (including several bizarre wagers) on what the president will say.

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(Note: the bets only refer to CBS’ pre-game telecast).

Where will the Super Bowl interview with President Trump take place? (must be in White House for action)

Map Room +150
East Room +200
Oval Office +400
State Dining Room +500
Treaty Room +600
Lincoln Sitting Room +600
White House Library +1000
Yellow Oval Room +1000
Red Room +2000
Blue Room  +2000
Green Room +2000
Center Hall +2500
Roosevelt Room +2500
East Sitting Hall +3000
West Sitting Hall +3000
Vermeil Room +3000
China Room +5000
President’s Bedroom +10000

Which team will President Trump pick to win?

Los Angeles Rams +1000
New England Patriots -500
No Prediction +250

Will President Trump say “Super Bowl”?

Yes -2000
No +800

Will President Trump extend White House invitation to teams during the interview?

Yes +600
No -1500

Will President Trump say “national anthem”?

Yes -150
No +120

Will President Trump say “social justice”?

Yes +800
No -2000

Will President Trump say “honor”?

Yes +200
No -300

Will President Trump say “knee”?

Yes +300
No -500

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Will President Trump confirm he will watch the halftime show?

Yes +350
No -600

Will President Trump say “Maroon 5”?

Yes +450
No -800

Will President Trump say “make America great again”?

Yes -800
No +450

Will President Trump say “war” or “battle”?

Yes +200
No -300

Will President Trump say “state of the union”?

Yes -500
No +300

Will President Trump say “shutdown”?

Yes -1500
No +600

Will President Trump say “border wall”?

Yes -1200
No +500

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Fox News’ Amy Lieu contributed to this report.

Cities brace for thermal whiplash after frigid cold

Firefighters battling a house fire in Hammond, Indiana, in Wednesday’s -22 degree weather ran in to a major problem: the hose water kept turning into ice.

“Everything got slowed down and even a fire hydrant was frozen,” Hammond Fire Chief Jeff Smith told CNN. “I’m currently thawing out and so is my crew.” 

The frozen water and cold temperatures created a number of issues for the firefighters.

“A couple guys slipped and fell on the ice, including me. They looked like snowmen, ice was falling and cracking of them,” Smith said. “It was a difficult situation. Cold weather takes a little bit extra time.”

The fire was reported 7:15 a.m. ET, but it took firefighters several hours to finally extinguish the flames. An older woman who lived in the home remained missing as of Wednesday afternoon, Smith said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but firefighters think it started in the basement.

That part of the house, he said, was “filled with a couple feet of water that’s turned into ice.”

US charges 20 people over Chinese birth tourism schemes

Twenty people have been charged in the largest-ever crackdown on businesses that help Chinese women travel to the United States to give birth to babies who automatically are American citizens, authorities said Thursday.

Three people were arrested in Southern California on charges including conspiracy, visa fraud and money laundering. More than a dozen others have also been charged in cases stemming from three so-called birth tourism businesses, with many believed to be in China, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

It is the first time the United States has criminally prosecuted birth tourism operators, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

The businesses — which were raided by federal agents in 2015 — billed Chinese women tens of thousands of dollars to travel to California to deliver their babies in American hospitals so the children would automatically obtain U.S. citizenship, prosecutors said.

It isn’t illegal to visit the United States while pregnant but authorities said the businesses touted the benefits of having U.S. citizen babies and had women hide their pregnancies while seeking travel visas and lie about their planned trips. One business allegedly coached women to tell consular officials they planned to visit a Trump hotel in Hawaii when really they would spend three months at an apartment in Irvine, California to give birth.

U.S. authorities said the businesses not only engaged in fraud but have created a national security risk. Their customers — some who work for the Chinese government — have secured American citizenship for children who can later move back to the United States, and once they’re 21 years old, sponsor their parents for green cards.

“I see this as a grave national security concern and vulnerability,” said Mark Zito, assistant special agent-in-charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s homeland security investigations in Los Angeles. “Are some of them doing it for security because the United States is more stable? Absolutely. But will those governments take advantage of this? Yes, they will.”

The phenomenon of birth tourism is hardly new. The businesses have long operated in California and other states and cater to couples from China, Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere.

In the past, birth tourism operators sometimes ran into trouble with local code enforcement officials when neighbors in residential areas complained about crowding or excess trash, but they didn’t face federal scrutiny.

In 2015, federal agents raided roughly three dozen sites connected with birth tourism in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. More than 20 people were designated material witnesses to the cases but some later fled back to China and were charged with violating federal court orders, and an immigration lawyer who helped them leave the country was convicted of obstruction of justice.

This week, a federal grand jury indicted four people who were accused of running the three birth tourism businesses until the 2015 raids. One of the businesses dated at least to 2010 but advertised having brought 8,000 women to the United States — half of them from China — since it claimed to have been started in 1999.

Federal officials said each business brought hundreds of customers to give birth in the United States. In one of the cases, U.S. authorities outlined in court filings how wealthy Chinese couples paid the company You Win USA between $40,000 and $80,000 to travel to apartments in Irvine, California, to deliver their babies.

In one instance, a couple paid the indigent rate for hospital bills — a total of $4,080 — even though they had more than $225,000 in a U.S. bank account they had used to shop at luxury stores including Louis Vuitton in Beverly Hills.

Will the Patriots lose the Super Bowl? Ominous ‘Madden’ simulation has Rams winning close game

If “Madden NFL 19” is any indication, the New Patriots are going to lose the Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Rams in nail-biting fashion.

A simulation was run on “Madden 19,” named after the legendary coach and broadcaster, and predicted that the Rams would oust the Patriots 30-27, with Rams star Todd Gurley scoring the final touchdown late in the fourth quarter, ESPN reported.

The video game, which has become a staple of NFL culture as much as the actual games themselves, predicted that Tom Brady would be sacked four times and hit seven times by Rams DT Aaron Donald, who will become Super Bowl MVP, the game predicted.

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The Patriots are predicted to take a 17-3 halftime lead, but it won’t be enough “Madden” predicts. The Rams are expected to power back to tie it up 20-20 going into the fourth quarter. Rams K Greg Zuerlein will make a 53-yard field goal to give the Rams a 3 point lead, but Tom Brady will come right back down the field and march the Patriots into the end zone, finding Patriots RB James White for a 9-yard score to take a 27-23 lead.

Despite the abuse, Brady will throw for 287 yards, 2 TDs and one interception, “Madden” predicted. Patriots RB Sony Michel will run for 103 yards and a touchdown, ESPN added.

Conversely, Brady’s counterpart, Jared Goff, will throw for 303 yards, 2 TDs and one interception, with Rams WR Robert Woods grabbing 8 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Woods’ counterpart, Patriots WR Julian Edelman, will nearly match Woods’ production levels, catching 8 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Since 2004, EA Sports has run a simulation of the game using “Madden,” with mixed success. Of the past 15 games, 10 have been accurately predicted by the simulation, but that has gone back and forth for the past several years.

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In 2015, the game got the winner and the final score right, predicting the Patriots would outlast the Seattle Seahawks 28-24. But in 2016, the game forecast the Carolina Panthers to beat the Denver Broncos, which did not happen.

For 2017, “Madden” again correctly predicted the Patriots would beat the Atlanta Falcons, but in 2018, it forecast a Patriots win over the Philadelphia Eagles, which proved incorrect.

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Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

More people are going to McDonald’s. Here’s why.

Apple’s stock is up almost 6% in premarket trading after the tech giant reported earnings on Tuesday that left some scratching their heads.

Here’s the bad news: Apple’s iPhone business is in decline, with no apparent end in sight.

The company said Tuesday that its smartphone revenue for the all-important holiday quarter fell 15% from the same period a year ago, a steep drop for a product line whose sales growth has defied gravity for years.

The shrinking iPhone sales also led to Apple’s first holiday quarter revenue decline since 2000.

Overall, Apple (AAPL) posted better-than-expected revenue, but it still reported a 5% decline from the same quarter a year ago.

Worse still: CFO Luca Maestri told analysts that the company expects some factors to continue “affecting iPhone performance” in the upcoming quarter.

And for the first time in years, the tech giant didn’t disclose the number of iPhones sold as part of its earnings report.

But there were some bright spots: Apple services had a very nice quarter.

And revenue from the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Care and other subscriptions rose 19% to a record $10.9 billion.

Apple delivered solid growth from its wearables, home and accessories business, too. Sales grew 33% from that business unit, which includes the Apple Watch, AirPods and HomePod.

Dr. Ruth is 90.5 and living her best life, but an Oscar would be nice

“Now, there’s a danger here,” she advises. “I hear you younger people saying how many friends they have on the internet. That’s nonsense. That’s not friends, that’s acquaintances. The word ‘friendship’ has lost its significance. A friendship has to be cultivated. A friendship you have to give time. A friendship has to be on the basis of something you believe in, not in sex. It’s very dangerous, in my way of thinking, of someone saying, ‘I have 300 friends.’ Nonsense.”

Gavin Newsom’s record offers hints about how he’ll handle unions and California pensions

Gov. Gavin Newsom won election with support from the state’s unions, pledging to at least one of them that he would protect public employee pensions, yet his record and a couple of his key cabinet appointees suggest he’s open to reducing benefits for government workers if money becomes scarce.

California public employees will soon get a sense of his priorities for labor. Six union contracts are open or expiring in July and Newsom at a January press conference hinted strongly that he won’t be a pushover.

“Just a 1 percent increase in (the state prison union) budget is about a $50 million impact to the general fund, it just puts it into perspective,” Newsom said when he unveiled his budget plan.

Newsom is beginning his term as governor with an unprecedented state surplus and full “rainy day” reserves that are intended to cushion recession cutbacks. Those circumstances helped unions win hefty raises at the bargaining table with former Gov. Jerry Brown last year, including a 5 percent raise for correctional officers.

But outside of the Capitol, local governments are wary of rising pension costs that could double what some cities pay into the California Public Employees’ Retirement System by 2024, according to a League of California Cities survey. CalPERS itself is underfunded, with only about 70 percent of the money it would need to pay all the benefits it owes.

Newsom was San Francisco’s mayor during the last recession, and he supported a 2010 initiative that led to city employees paying more money to fund their retirements.

Later, he was a member of the University of California Board of Regents when it in 2016 created an alternate retirement program that lets new workers choose a 401(k) style plan instead of a pension. Unions last year fought and killed a proposal that would have created a similar option for state workers.

Newsom has appointed Ana Matosantos, who helped former Gov. Jerry Brown engineer reforms that reduced pension benefits in 2012, to the high-ranking position of cabinet secretary. And he has retained as deputy legal affairs secretary Rei Onishi, who defended a piece of the reforms in court in a manner that raised the prospect of future benefit reductions.

The appointments convey that Newsom has high-ranking leaders who’d know how to implement benefit reductions if the economy sours.

A labor leader in the cabinet

Former San Jose Mayor and pension reform advocate Chuck Reed said Newsom has capable advisers in Matosantos and Onishi.

“They’ll get the boss the right information and the right recommendations, and it’ll be up to the governor to decide what he does with it,” Reed said.

On the other hand, unions could be encouraged by Newsom’s high-level appointment of Angie Wei, the former California Labor Federation chief of staff, to a cabinet position focused on policy.

Wei worked at the California Labor Federation for 18 years. She was the architect of a 2002 paid family leave law, played a big role in California’s law to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and helped get paid sick leave for every resident, said Steve Smith, the organization’s spokesman.

“We feel strongly that (Newsom) has put together a really solid team to do the kind of policy work that California needs to continue — advancing workers’ rights, job creation, all the things that we find important,” Smith said of Newsom’s appointments.

Other union leaders also are happy with Newsom’s cabinet and the direction he set in his first budget. Newsom wants to put almost $8 billion beyond what’s required into CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, paying down debt ahead of schedule.

Matosantos was finance director from 2009 to 2013, holding the position under both Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brown, a Democrat. She advised the governors on fiscal policy during the Great Recession, when Schwarzenegger instituted public worker furloughs.

She served under Brown as he steered to passage the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act, which changed retirement formulas in a way that required workers hired after Jan. 1, 2013, to pay more money to fund their pensions and to work longer before retirement.

Brown’s pension law also eliminated a benefit known as air time that had been offered to public employees. It allowed them to buy years of credit toward their pension, which boosted their earnings in retirement.

A fight over pension ‘air time’

Union Cal Fire 2881 sued the administration, arguing employees hired before 2013 should still be able to purchase air time. The state Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in the air time case and could issue a decision in the coming months.

Underlying the lawsuits are questions over a set of legal precedents known as the California Rule. The rule has been understood to protect public workers from any reductions in benefits without offering new benefits to compensate for the loss.

Onishi has been defending the pension law from the Cal Fire union challenge, sometimes using language that stresses that governments must be able to reconsider pension benefits for current employees.

The legal team sometimes used strong language to describe the union positions, writing in one footnote:

Many legal experts have criticized the rigid inflexibility of the union’s position, pointing out that it is contrary to contract clause principles, inconsistent with general contract and economic theory, and effectively depresses the salaries and benefits of new generations of public employees.”

Dave Low, president of the California School Employees Association, said his organization isn’t concerned by the past work of Matosantos and Onishi.

“We think that the staff are going to be reflective of the governor,” he said. “We don’t think they are going to drive the agenda, we think Gavin’s going to drive the agenda.”

Newsom told the California Professional Firefighters in an endorsement meeting that he would honor the California Rule even if courts overturn it.

Newsom “strongly believes changes in pension systems should be done with input and buy-in from workers and those who represent them — not something that is done unilaterally,” his spokesman Nathan Click told Bloomberg in February.

Daniel Mitchell, a UCLA professor emeritus who is an expert in public employee labor unions, said Newsom is likely keeping Matosantos on for her finance expertise, not for any policy leanings. He suggested Newsom’s retention of Onishi, combined with his appointment of Wei, could mean he thinks compromise is more attainable than it has been made out to be.

“Right now, the positions are that either you have the California Rule rigidly interpreted or you let a judge say what a ‘reasonable’ pension would be,” Mitchell said in an email. “If it looks like the latter is where things are going in the courts, public sector unions might well prefer some kind of more specific protection. In short, the issue might turn out to be ripe for negotiation and political compromise.”

Man in critical condition after north Modesto crash

An elderly man suffered major injuries and had to be extricated from his vehicle by firefighters after he crashed into a redwood tree in a north Modesto neighborhood Wednesday morning.

The man, estimated to be in his 60s or 70s, crashed a pickup into the tree in the front yard of a home on Snyder Avenue and Deer Spring Drive at about 9:30 a.m.

“He allegedly hit at least one parked car and then came to rest against a redwood tree,” said Modesto Fire Department Battalion Chief Darin Jesberg. “The severity of his injuries were from the (pickup) being crushed around his body.”

It took firefighters 30 minutes to get the man out of the pickup. The roof and doors had to be cut off and the dashboard, which had trapped the man’s legs, pushed away from his body, Jesberg said.

The man was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Snyder remains closed in the area while Modesto Police investigate.

How shows of old photos and architectural designs harken to a golden California of the 1900s

Sometime between 1924 and 1929, an unknown photographer stood on the hillsides that flanked Beachwood Canyon, pointed a camera north and snapped an image that would come to represent the very concept of Los Angeles: Hollywoodland. At that moment, Hollywoodland was a housing development in the early stages of construction. In the photo’s foreground are the Hollywood Hills, covered primarily in scrub, though what is to come is already evident. A roadway snakes through the landscape connecting the silhouettes of homes in an array of fantastical styles, and in the distance stands an advertising sign — erected to promote the real estate venture — that will become world-famous when it is later shortened to “Hollywood,” land of dreams.