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December 29, 2015
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Daniel S. Loeb, who runs the $17 billion Third Point hedge fund, has contributed to Jeb Bush's Super PAC and given $1 million to the American Unity Super PAC, which supports gay rights. He is also one of many ultra-wealthy Americans who have figured out tricky maneuvers to avoid forking over millions in taxes, The New York Times reports:

With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

[...] Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions, and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government's ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans. [The New York Times]

"There's this notion that the wealthy use their money to buy politicians; more accurately, it's that they can buy policy, and specifically, tax policy,” Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told The New York Times in a report on the dubious practice. "That's why these egregious loopholes exist, and why it's so hard to close them."

Karen L. Hawkins, who once headed the I.R.S. office overseeing tax practitioners, added that "the best and brightest get a high from figuring out how to do tricky little deals […] Frankly, it is almost beyond the intellectual and resource capacity of the Internal Revenue Service to catch."

And many of these wealthy are among the biggest donors to the 2016 campaign candidates. Read the full report in The New York Times. Jeva Lange

8:10 a.m. ET

Clinton's historic nomination on Thursday night was somewhat bittersweet, as one can't help but wish that the thousands of women who fought to get America to this moment could have seen her on that stage. Luckily, Stephen Colbert owns a time machine and he used it to beam in Josephine Henley and Abitha Whitmore from the night of July 4, 1776.

Never mind the uncanny resemblance the female delegates have to Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer — Henley and Whitmore are pretty excited to hear the good news about Hillary Clinton. Well, that is until they realize they misheard Colbert say the date by 200 years.

The two have a pretty big scolding for America taking its sweet time to nominate a woman, and you can get a hilarious earful, below. Jeva Lange

8:06 a.m. ET

One San Diego police officer was killed and another injured when a gunman opened fire on them late Thursday night. After the shooting, authorities urged people in the surrounding area to stay inside as police helicopters searched for a suspect. Police said they had one person in custody, although they did not immediately identify the suspect. Investigators also did not say what could have been the gunman's motive.

The city and others around the country have been on high alert since gunmen ambushed and killed police in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Harold Maass

7:40 a.m. ET

Photos of Hillary Clinton gazing out across the Democratic convention or noticing with childlike glee the fireworks at the end of her speech will be saved in the files of American history for many, many a decade to come as she became the first female presidential nominee selected by a major party since the founding of the nation. Naturally, it was important for her to look great:

But for women, the choice of what to wear has always been a political act, something that Clinton did not forget. Her white pantsuit — possibly selected with the help of Vogue editor Anna Wintour — was the perfect choice for the historic moment:

[The outfit] carried the symbolic weight of more than a century of American feminist history.

Women in the suffrage movement, which fought for decades to secure a woman's right to vote around the turn of the 20th century, were often encouraged to wear white during parades and demonstrations. Historians believe it likely represented purity and the movement's elevated ideals. [Quartz]

Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to accept the vice presidential nomination of a major party, also wore white during her acceptance speech in 1984 as a conscious nod to the suffragettes. Jeva Lange

5:42 a.m. ET
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during the Holocaust. During his visit, Francis met with elderly survivors of the camp and placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed. He spent much of his time sitting in silence beneath a tree to reflect on the tragedy and to pray. He is the third pope to visit the camp, after both his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

According to The Associated Press, Francis wrote in a guest book at Auschwitz: "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

The visit comes on the third day of his five-day trip through Poland. Earlier this week, Francis warned that "the world is at war" after French jihadists murdered a Catholic priest on Tuesday. "When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion," Pope Francis said. "All religions want peace, it's the others who want war." Jessica Hullinger

2:06 a.m. ET
Rami al-Sayed/AFP/Getty Images

The Nusra Front, a branch of al Qaeda in Syria, announced Thursday it is leaving the group.

Nusra Front's leader, Mohamad al-Golani, said they will reorganize under a new name, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, "with no ties with any foreign party." He said the move is being made "to remove the excuse used by the international community — spearheaded by America and Russia — to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: That they are targeting the Nusra Front, which is associated with al Qaeda."

Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's successor as the leader of al Qaeda, gave the Nusra Front permission to break away, Reuters reports. When asked about the news, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "We're gonna have to wait and see. We judge a group by what they do, not by what they call themselves." Catherine Garcia

1:39 a.m. ET

In 2008, when Barack Obama became the first African-American presidential nominee, his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), released an ad congratulating him on making history.

"Sen. Obama, this is truly a good day for America," McCain said. "Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed, so I wanted to stop and say congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow we'll be back at it, but tonight, Senator, job well done."

On Thursday, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman to ever become the presidential nominee of a major party, that didn't happen — but this did. Catherine Garcia

12:59 a.m. ET

So many balloons fell from the ceiling at the end of her speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night that Hillary Clinton seemingly didn't know what to do with them all.

She pointed at some:

Grabbed others:

Stared in awe at a few:

Looked at some like they were Donald Trump:

Walked gingerly through a sea of many:

And finally just disappeared for awhile:

Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton was playing it cool.

Catherine Garcia

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