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House Republican oversight chair seeks EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s travel details

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The Republican head of the U.S. House of Representatives oversight committee sought details on Wednesday on how Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt got clearance to take numerous first class-flights revealed in recently released travel records.

Trey Gowdy, who led a high-profile investigation into a 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure, sent a letter to Pruitt questioning whether the administrator followed federal regulations regarding official travel.

The letter comes a day after House Democrats sent a similar letter requesting details of Pruitt’s first- and business-class travel and the process for requesting permission for each premium flight.

Gowdy questioned a statement that EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox had made to the media last week that Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” enabling him to fly first class, which he later amended.

“Clearly, federal regulations prohibit a blanket waiver to fly first class except to accommodate disabilities or special needs,” the letter said, adding that Pruitt needs to obtain a waiver for each flight.

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Complaints about travel arrangements by Pruitt and other Trump administration cabinet members re-emerged last week. Last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned after reports that he used private jets for routine travel.

The Washington Post had reported that he spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money for premium travel, based on records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Gowdy asked the EPA to provide the oversight committee a log and details of each flight taken between Feb. 17, 2017 and Feb. 18, 2018, information on whether Pruitt obtained a waiver to purchase a first class or business class ticket and the cost of tickets for each EPA employee traveling.

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That watchdog group on Friday obtained new travel records, shared with media, showing Pruitt and EPA employees spent upwards of $150,000 on premium commercial and chartered flights from March to August 2017.

Gowdy said he wants answers from Pruitt on the travel questions by 5 p.m. EST on March 6.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by James Dalgleish)


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Disney heiress who went undercover to Disneyland ‘livid’ at conditions and pay

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Heiress Abigail Disney went to one of her family's resorts to see conditions for workers herself and was disgusted by what she saw.

In comments to Yahoo News podcast "Through Her Eyes," Disney described how she went to Disneyland in California undercover and found that workers at the resort were treated poorly—and underpaid.

"Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, 'I don't know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people's garbage,'" said Disney.

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Ex-Peru president wanted for corruption arrested in the US

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Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States Tuesday to face extradition to his home country on corruption charges, authorities in the South American nation said.

The 73-year-old is suspected of involvement in the sprawling Odebrecht scandal in which the construction giant paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes throughout the continent to secure huge public works contracts.

The Peruvian attorney general's office announced on Twitter that Toledo "was arrested this morning for extradition, in the United States."

Toledo has been formally charged with receiving a $20 million payment from Odebrecht to grant it the tender to build the Interoceanic Highway that links Peru with Brazil.

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Comic-Con mines past for future hits on 50th edition

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A smorgasbord of sequels, prequels and reunions from "Terminator" to "Game of Thrones" awaits thousands of misty-eyed comic book geeks and sci-fi nerds descending on San Diego this week for the world's largest celebration of pop culture fandom.

The 50th edition of Comic-Con International will see 135,000 cosplayers, bloggers, movie executives and humble fans pile into a sweaty convention center for glimpses of their heroes, in town to promote the next mega-hit films, TV shows and comic books.

This anniversary edition promises to be more nostalgia-laden than most -- among those expected to appear are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, who will soon reunite on screen for the first time since 1991's "Terminator 2" for Paramount's killer cyborg sequel "Dark Fate."

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