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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?”

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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.

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.

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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.

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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Stephen Colbert rips ‘idiot’ GOP senator for defending Trump’s unconstitutional self-dealing

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"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert returned from New Zealand for a new show that aired Monday evening.

"I have been as far from the insatiable black hole of news that is Donald Trump as you can get on this planet.

I've heard there have been some developments over the last 10 days that did not go well for Donnie,"

The host ripped Trump's 71-minute press conference.

"Seventy-one minutes is not a press conference, it's a one man show," he explained. "If you liked 'Fleabag,' you'll love Donald Trump in 'Douchebag,'" he said.

[caption id="attachment_1555275" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ‘The Late Show’ graphic (screengrab)[/caption]

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Donald Trump is making a mockery of Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is letting him

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Sen. Marco Rubio was once one of Donald Trump’s most formidable opponents; now, the Florida senator bends over backward to excuse the president’s corruption.

In 2016, Rubio and Trump sparred frequently on the Republican primary debate stage. Trump picked the uninspired nickname “Little Marco” for the senator, which didn’t seem to do much damage on its own, but Rubio never gained the momentum or strength that his backers hoped would prove to be strong enough to take down the reality TV candidate. As Rubio grew desperate, he launched one of his most memorable and pitiful attacks by stooping to his opponent’s level, implying that Trump had a small penis. It was more of an embarrassing moment for Rubio than anyone else, though Trump helped himself with a crude rejoinder.

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The faith of Fox News: How the network’s propaganda warps viewers’ sense of reality

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A longtime sticking point among Fox News employees is their insistent differentiation between its news division, where employees practice actual journalism, and its opinion division, where employees practice actual nativism, spew misinformation, and have been actively campaigning for Donald Trump’s re-election since 2016.  Inside the organization, they claim to believe that the news side is separate from the opinion side, and insist that the audience can tell the difference.

News anchor Shepard Smith once characterized comparing the two as “apples and teaspoons.”

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