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‘Throwing money down a hole’: John Oliver blasts cities bribing Amazon and Kentucky’s Ark Encounter with incentives

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Cities around the United States are all searching desperately for ways to incentivize businesses to come to their states so that jobs can be created for their citizens. One tactic they deploy, however, amounts to state-sanctioned bribery — commonly known as “economic incentives,” according to HBO’s John Oliver. And the best example of this ‘bribery,’ the comedian noted, is Kentucky’s Ark Encounter.

John Oliver’s Sunday night focus was on how the giant ark and it’s creationist propaganda was funded by steep tax incentives. The city was desperate for the jobs the “museum” would provide, yet empty storefronts still dominate the city’s downtown. Additionally, the Ark Encounter announced that they would not hire LGBT people, workers who refused to sign a chastity pledge or anyone who wasn’t a Christian.

“Aside from the homophobia, chastity is a pretty weird rule to put in place for a museum that’s pretty much a gigantic replica of a floating f*ck zoo,” Oliver said. “They weren’t brought in two-by-two so that everyone would have a swim buddy. They were brought to f*ck.”

While the project was supposed to promote jobs, bring tourism and help the city rise from floodwaters of a recession, the benefits of having the Ark Encounter has yet to materialize in Williamstown, Kentucky. In fact, they’re teetering on bankruptcy. Like something out of the Book of Job, the religious flocking to the city on pilgrimages hasn’t come.

Oliver explained that this is remarkably similar to the cities bidding over Amazon, who announced their plan to build a new headquarters. But they, too, want incentives. And they don’t mean kitschy videos using an Amazon Echo or PR stunts. They want the money to offset their own costs.

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New Jersey has offered Amazon $7 billion in tax breaks, which could be funding the state’s schools or hospitals at a time Amazon has more money than it knows what to do with. It’s all a sham, according to Oliver. Start Up New York is offering companies zero taxes for an entire decade with the demand they they create at least one job a year, and even that they’re not necessarily requited to follow. According to Oliver, Connecticut earned just seven cents on the dollar for what the state spent in economic incentive programs for corporations.

“We’re basically throwing money down a hole and hoping it brings us prosperity, which is the exact business model of a fucking wishing well,” said Oliver of the failed project.

Watch his full commentary below:

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South Korean fighter jets fire 400 warning shots at Russian military plane

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South Korean fighter jets fired nearly 400 warning shots at a Russian military aircraft on Tuesday after it violated the country's airspace, with Seoul warning of a far stronger reaction if a breach reoccurs.

The Russian A-50 early warning and control aircraft breached South Korean airspace twice off its east coast, the defence ministry official said, forcing the air force to scramble fighters.

Moscow denied any of its military aircraft had violated South Korean airspace, saying its planes had carried out planned drills over international waters.

But Seoul said a warplane entered South Korean airspace near the disputed Dokdo islets -- which are also claimed by Japan -- the first such violation since Korean War hostilities ended in 1953.

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2020 Election

Democrats are on the verge of setting a ‘time bomb’ for any candidate who can defeat Trump

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If a new president takes over the White House in January 2021, he or she may quickly find that the Democratic Party that just won control of the executive branch left a loaded gun in the hands of the Republicans, who are all too eager to use it.

That should be the takeaway from reports about the budget negotiations between the House Democrats and the Trump administration. According to Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur, the parties are coalescing around an agreement to raise spending by $350 billion, offset that increase somewhat with about $75 billion, and extend the debt ceiling — now set to expire in the fall — to July 31, 2021.

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2020 Election

State Sen. Royce West enters Democratic primary to challenge John Cornyn

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State Sen. Royce West made it official Monday: He’s running for U.S. Senate, joining a crowded and unsettled Democratic primary in the race to unseat Republican John Cornyn.

“I’m battle tested,” West told supporters at a campaign launch event. “You’ve seen me in battle, and I’m ready today to announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.”

The Dallas attorney has been viewed as a potential primary contender for some time now, but he remained mum publicly on his plans. In June, West met with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., where he reportedly had a “positive meeting” and signaled that he was likely to throw his hat in the ring. He filed the Federal Election Commission paperwork to formally launch his bid Friday.

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