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Saturday, December 02, 2017

It's hard to imagine a greater extravagance than a private jet -- and a more exclusive group than the people rich enough to ride one.

Yet this tiny team of uber-wealthy high fliers has carved out a massive tax break for themselves at the expense of everyone else. And it's only going to get worse if the Trump-GOP tax bill becomes law. The Senate plans to vote on the bill Friday.

Given just how obscenely lavish private jet travel is, it might come as some surprise how much the rest of us flying coach subsidize the private jet set. Private jets get over a billion dollars in tax breaks every year -- while using 10 times more air traffic control resources than they actually pay for.

Our new report for the Institute for Policy Studies looks at how the private jet lobby keeps these obscene tax handouts to the ultra-rich in place. read more

Friday, December 01, 2017

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the former chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, used $150,000 of taxpayer money to settle a wrongful dismissal suit from a former staffer, according to a report Friday.

The Washington Post reported that the former aide claimed that he was fired, in part, because he refused to focus his investigative work for the committee on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The settlement appeared on a list of settlements released by the Office of Compliance (OOC) on Friday.

The list disclosed that the OOC oversaw the $150,000 settlement to a claim of veteran status discrimination and retaliation.

The former aide, Bradley Podliska, alleged that he was fired because of his refusal to focus on Clinton and because he took leave to fulfil his duties as an Air Force reservist.

That Gowdy and the committee had settled Podliska's lawsuit in December 2016 was previously known. The amount of that settlement was not previously disclosed. read more

• Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said "we have the votes" and the Senate will begin voting later today.

• Three previous Republican holdouts -- Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Steve Daines of Montana and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin -- threw their support behind the bill.

• The bill will now include a $10,000 deduction for state and local property taxes in a bid to sway Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who remains on the fence.

• An effort by Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee to include future tax increases to offset the deficit impact of the bill appears to have been rejected by Senate leadership.

• Lawmakers are now considering reinstating a modified version of the alternative minimum tax on individuals and on corporations. read more

Welcome to Pterosaur Park.

Paleontologists have uncovered more than 200 fossilized eggs belonging to the flying reptiles that soared during the age of dinosaurs. The discovery, which was announced Thursday in the journal Science, is the largest collection of pterosaur eggs found so far.

"I remember looking at the specimens and saying that's not possible," said Alexander W.A. Kellner, a paleontologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and an author on the paper. "We had less than ten eggs before and now we have found hundreds in one spot."

The find could help advance our understanding about the early lives of the extinct winged creatures, including their relationships with their parents.

"If you were to tell me a year before that someone would find hundreds of pterosaur eggs at one spot I would have said ‘Yeah, yeah get out of here. Not even in your dreams,'" Dr. Kellner said. "But here we are." read more

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Washington (AP) -- Walmart has pulled a T-shirt offered by an outside seller from its online store after a journalist advocacy group told the retailer it found the shirt threatening.

The shirt, listed on Walmart.com through third-party seller Teespring, said: "Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED."

"This item was sold by a third-party seller on our marketplace and clearly violates our policy," Walmart said. "We removed it as soon as it was brought to our attention, and are conducting a thorough review of the seller's assortment."

Michael Biesecker

"Rope. Tree. Journalist." shirt spotted at @realDonaldTrump rally in MN _ Reuters photo by Jonathan Ernst
7:32 PM - Nov 6, 2016

In August, Teespring had removed a "rainbow swastika" T-shirt from its own site and said it would increase oversight of its product line. read more


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