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Gaming the tax system for an upscale waterfront playground

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New Tax Law Works for Billionaire and Goldman Sachs

Under a six-lane span of freeway leading into downtown Baltimore sit what may be the most valuable parking spaces in America, report ProPublica and WNYC as part of their continuing Trump Inc. series. Lying near a development project controlled by Under Armour’s billionaire CEO Kevin Plank, one of Maryland’s richest men, and Goldman Sachs, the little sliver of land will allow Plank and the other investors to claim what could amount to millions in tax breaks for the project, known as Port Covington. They have President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul law to thank. The new law has a provision meant to spur investment into underdeveloped areas, called “opportunity zones.” The idea is to grant lucrative tax breaks to encourage new investment in poor areas around the country, carefully selected by each state’s governor. But Port Covington, an ambitious development geared to millennials to feature offices, a hotel, apartments, and shopping, is not in a census tract that is poor. It’s not a new investment. And the census tract only became eligible to be an opportunity zone thanks to a mapping error.

Drug Running on Canada’s Southern Border

Lija Greenseid, a rule-abiding Minnesota mom steering her Mazda5 on a cross-border drug run. Her daughter, who is 13, has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin. In the United States, it can cost hundreds of dollars per vial. In Canada, you can buy it without a prescription for a tenth of that price. So, reports The Washington Post, Greenseid led a small caravan last month to the town of Fort Frances, Ontario, where she and five other Americans paid about $1,200 for drugs that would have cost them $12,000 in the United States. The organizers of the caravan—their word, a nod to the migrants traveling in groups through Mexico to the U.S. border—are speaking out about their trip because they want Americans to see how drug prices push ordinary people to extremes. “When you have a bad health-care system, it makes good people feel like outlaws,” Greenseid said.“It’s demeaning. It’s demoralizing. It’s unjust.” They’re planning another run to Canada this month to stock up on insulin—and to call attention to their cause. This time, they’ll be taking the scenic route, driving from Minnesota through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan en route to London, Ontario, where Frederick Banting began the work that led to the discovery of insulin nearly a century ago.

Police Officers Disciplined for Hateful Internet Posts

The Philadelphia Police Department has re-assigned 72 officers after The Plain View Project, a watchdog group that monitors social media posts, revealed thousands of offensive postings by current and former officers. Police officials in Philadelphia are describing the action as the largest removal of officers from the street in recent memory. “We are equally as disgusted by many of the posts that you saw and in many cases, the rest of the nation saw,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross. It is the latest fallout since the advocacy group earlier this month released thousands of Facebook posts and comments by current and former police officers that range from racist memes, to posts celebrating violence and messages containing Islamophobic themes, among other offensive material.

Trump Gets Ready to Demote Fed Chairman

Trump has told confidants that he believes he has the authority to replace Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Bloomberg reported. In Trump’s line of thinking, he could demote Powell to be a board governor, but isn’t planning to do so right now, the people added. The people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations, said Trump’s frustration with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is limited to his recommendation to pick Powell as Fed chair. Mnuchin is otherwise in good standing with the president, they said. Trump’s attacks on the Fed are a departure from almost three decades of caution in the White House about making public comments on monetary policy, out of respect for the independence of the central bank. It’s typical for administration appointees to step down if they lose the president’s confidence, but the Fed is different. The central bank has a long tradition of being accountable to Congress, not the White House. Trump told ABC News last week that he disagreed with Powell “entirely,” adding that “if we had a different person in the Federal Reserve that wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much,” economic growth would have been stronger.

 

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The media got it wrong: There’s no evidence GOP support for Trump improved after his racist outburst

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One of the most popular articles last week involved claims that polls showed Republicans had increased their support of President Trump.  But a closer analysis of the data reveals that any increase in support was within the margin of error.  So the polls couldn’t conclude that GOP support for President Trump had gone up or down.

Polls are tricky creatures.  We either give them near god-like status, or discount them entirely, often depending on whether they show us what we want.

I remember the movie “Machete,” where an opportunistic Texas politician fakes his own shooting.  Within five minutes of that story breaking, the news anchor reported that the politician had drastically improved his standing in the polls.  Surveys don’t work that way.

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Don’t let this presidential pickpocket use cruel verbal assaults to distract you from the truth

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Every presidential election year, Frontline, the superb investigative TV series on PBS, produces an in-depth look at the Democratic and Republican candidates.It’s called “The Choice,” and invariably offers some insights that likely you won’t see anywhere else.

When I first watched the 2016 edition, three things struck me as revelatory—aside from that now infamous Omarosa Manigault soundbite from the program that began, “Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump.” Yikes.

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Paralyzed by the God Emperor: As Democrats dither and bicker, the media gets punk’d again

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Over the past few days — which have felt like a runaway elevator ride into hell — there has been a lot of pointless debate about whether Donald Trump’s vicious, false and hateful attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and the other progressive congresswomen known as “the Squad” will help him or hurt him. I don’t know the answer, but we have to ask ourselves, first of all, what the question means.

This article was originally published at Salon

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