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Airlines get snippy with each other over transport contract for federal workers

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A spat among airlines over which deserved the contract to fly U.S. government workers on certain routes intensified on Tuesday, with the chief executive of JetBlue Airways Corp calling rivals hypocritical for protesting its award.

The largest U.S. airlines have taken issue with a contract for federal employees to buy flights between New York and Milan in 2017 from JetBlue, which are marketed by the New York-based airline but operated exclusively by its codeshare partner, Dubai-based Emirates.

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Delta Air Lines Inc, No.2 by passenger traffic, has said the award undermined the “Fly America Act” that requires taxpayer-funded travel to take place on domestic carriers, for the benefit of U.S. companies and jobs.

The contract also struck a nerve because Delta and peers are embroiled in competition and an ongoing row with Emirates. U.S. airlines have lowered fares to fill planes to Europe – a response in part to Gulf rivals that have added flights at a loss thanks to state subsidies, they allege. Emirates has denied it is subsidized.

The Fly America Act permits exceptions for codesharing agreements with foreign airlines, however. Carriers such as Delta and American Airlines Group Inc take advantage of this, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said.

“It’s quite clearly hypocritical nonsense,” Hayes said in an interview in Washington. “If the big three airlines can continue to win these contracts using their partners, flying on their partners’ metal, why can’t JetBlue?”

For instance, American won the contract for travel from Chicago to Abu Dhabi in 2017, but the flights are operated by Etihad Airways, based in the United Arab Emirates. American previously held the New York-Milan contract.

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American said on Tuesday that U.S. carriers themselves operate flights between New York and Milan, distinguishing that route from those they do not serve where U.S. employees have no choice but to fly on foreign partners.

American is “disappointed by the award,” added Chief Executive Doug Parker at a conference in Washington.

Last year, JetBlue won the contract for Washington-Dubai flights, prompting United Continental Holdings Inc to cancel the route. Emirates operated the flights; a review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found no objection.

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The U.S. General Services Administration said all its contracts complied with the Fly America Act.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Dershowitz is running a ‘bizarro defense’ of Trump: Harvard Law colleague says ‘Alan is just completely wacko’

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Two of the most famous names associated with Harvard Law School had competing appearances on MSNBC on Friday.

It began when Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus, was interviewed MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber about his new role officially representing President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial.

Dershowitz claimed that neither abuse of power nor obstruction of Congress count as "high crimes" under the constitution.

Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has also been associated with Harvard Law for five decades, was asked about Dershowitz's argument during an interview with Chris Hayes.

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Why was Lev Parnas wearing a ‘Presidential Service Badge’ awarded to troops who serve in the White House?

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Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman posted a fascinating update about a photo of impeachment figure Lev Parnas.

The photo shows Igor Fruman -- who, like Parnas, is under federal indictment -- sitting closely next to Rudy Giuliani and Parnas.

Haber said a source informed her that in the picture, Parnas can be seen wearing a "Presidential Service Badge," linking to the Wikipedia entry on the pin.

"The Presidential Service Badge (PSB) is an identification badge of the United States Armed Forces which is awarded to members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard as well as other members of the Uniformed Services, such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States," Wikipedia explained.

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Trump’s big-money Florida fundraiser expected to bring in $10 million — from only 100 people

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President Donald Trump flew to Mar-a-Lago on Friday after receiving a formal summons from the U.S. Senate informing him of his impeachment trial.

The president will be attending a Friday evening campaign fundraiser.

The recipient of the money is Trump Victory, which is a joint fundraising committee set up by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

“Tonight’s Trump Victory fundraiser is expected to raise $10 million with approximately 100 people in attendance," the campaign told the White House pool reporter.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1218264289225728000

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