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September 13, 2018

There's never been a better time to buy or upgrade corporate jets, thanks to a change in the tax laws that allows companies to write off the entire cost of new or used airplanes against earnings, The Wall Street Journal reports. Being able to deduct 100 percent of a corporate jet purchase, via a provision in the tax overhaul Republicans pushed through last December, is a big change, and business executives have taken note.

"Demand for used jets — especially aircraft priced under $7 million — has taken off in recent months as the tax change draws new, young, and previously reluctant buyers off the sidelines," the Journal says. "The race is on to get plane deals wrapped before the end of the year in order to get the tax write-off for 2018, though the break doesn't expire for several years." Bill Papariella, CEO of Jet Edge International, says he searches the international market for used jets for his clients, and it can take three to five months to find one in decent condition. "It's like a frenzy out there," he tells the Journal.

"The 100 percent write-off rule isn't exactly free money," because if you resell the plane right away, you have to pay back most of the deduction, the Journal notes. There are other rules, too, according to California accountant George Rice: The cost to operated and maintain the jet has to be reasonable for the size of your company, and you have to use the plane for business. Still, Rice estimates that half of prospective buyers are able to take the full deduction on their jet. You can read more at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

2:23 p.m.

The Republican Party is officially backing up President Trump's Sunday criticism of a retired Navy admiral — and abandoning a central tenet of its platform in the process.

In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace that aired Sunday, Trump declared Adm. William McRaven's mission to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden should've happened "a lot sooner." He also called the former Navy SEAL commander a "Hillary Clinton fan." And after Trump repeated his charge in a Monday tweet, the Republican Party stepped in to share some facts about McRaven it felt were "worth noting."

McRaven did author a Washington Post op-ed challenging Trump to revoke his security clearance in defense of former CIA Director John Brennan. But what his dislike for Trump has to do with killing the man largely responsible for 9/11 is unclear.

Robert O'Neill, the man who actually shot bin Laden and has since not been shy about his conservative views, has a different message. After tweeting yesterday that "McRaven was born to lead this mission," he affirmed Monday that "the mission to get bin Laden was bipartisan." Kathryn Krawczyk

12:58 p.m.

Two turkeys will step up to President Trump's chopping block this Tuesday. Only one will survive.

The White House's two candidates for a traditional Thanksgiving presidential pardon arrived at the White House on Monday. They are five months old and adorably named Peas and Carrots. They have detailed life stories and aspirations. "And you get to decide which turkey [Trump] pardons," the White House website ominously states.

Will you end Peas' life, in which his greatest joy has been watching planes with the hope of learning to fly?

Or will you opt to squelch Carrots' "strong and confident" gobble before he reaches his goal of meeting the Virginia Tech HokieBird?

The choice is yours. But fear not, anyone with a soul. The White House website mentions "the turkeys" — plural — "will make the journey to Virginia Tech's 'Gobblers Rest' exhibit" and be researched for the rest of their predictably short lives. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:56 p.m.

It seems no one's more upset about George R.R. Martin's inability to finish the next Game of Thrones book than George R.R. Martin himself.

While promoting a new book that he actually has completed, Fire and Blood, Martin told Entertainment Weekly that getting the history of House Targaryen done was "emotionally a big lift" for him. After all, he said, he's "mad" about the fact that he's still toiling away on The Winds of Winter.

"I've had dark nights of the soul where I've pounded my head against the keyboard and said, 'God, will I ever finish this?'" he said. "The show is going further and further forward and I’m falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here? I've got to do this.'"

After initially starting as an adaptation of published material, the past two seasons of Game of Thrones have covered events beyond Martin's existing books, the last of which came out in 2011. Considering Martin plans for his series to consist of at least two more books, the ship has sailed on him finishing it before HBO, meaning he won't be the one to bring the ending he has been planning for decades to life.

Martin sounds motivated to get the material done to the point that The Wall Street Journal reports he is "in hiding" and doing his writing at an undisclosed "remote mountain hideaway." But he also recently told The Guardian that he is "struggling" with the book and that writing it is "very, very challenging," leaving fans fearful that winter may never come again. Brendan Morrow

12:03 p.m.

President Trump is sure he beat out every branch of U.S. intelligence in figuring out Osama bin Laden wasn't such a great guy. He most certainly did not.

In a Monday tweet, Trump doubled down on his Sunday insistence that the Navy SEAL who commanded the bin Laden raid should've tracked the former al Qaeda leader down "a lot sooner." After all, Trump said Monday he "pointed [bin Laden] out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center."

It's true, Trump did give bin Laden a brief mention in "The America We Deserve," published in 2000. In fact, he suggested bin Laden was just "a shadowy figure with no fixed address" and not America's "public enemy No. 1."

Just as Trump mentioned in his book, American warplanes had already taken aim at bin Laden because he'd been indicted for bombing U.S. embassies in 1998, per The Washington Post. CNN also reported in 1999 that U.S. officials feared bin Laden was planning a terrorist attack.

Still, Trump's Monday comments reflect a claim he'd made throughout the 2016 campaign: that America should've found bin Laden before 9/11, and if he'd been in charge, it would've. Trump failed to concede that perhaps bin Laden's lack of a fixed address complicated things. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:49 a.m.

Some Senate Democrats are taking their grievances with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's appointment to court.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are filing a lawsuit against Whitaker and President Trump in U.S. District Court, The Daily Beast reported Monday. Their argument is that Trump violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution when he named Whitaker the acting attorney general since he was not confirmed by the Senate. Prior to his appointment, Whitaker was former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, a job that didn't require Senate confirmation.

The constitutionality of Whitaker's appointment has been the subject of debate for this reason. Last week, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel argued in a memo that Whitaker's appointment was constitutional and that while "presidents often choose acting principal officers from among Senate-confirmed officers ... the Constitution does not mandate that choice."

This is not the first legal challenge Whitaker has faced, as the state of Maryland is also battling the appointment in court, arguing that Trump is trying to "bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office." Trump has defended Whitaker's appointment by saying that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not Senate-confirmed either, although this was not a requirement. Brendan Morrow

11:23 a.m.

The White House Correspondents' Dinner will be dropping the jokes in favor of a history lesson next year.

The White House Correspondents Association, which puts on the yearly event, announced Monday that the featured speaker for 2019's dinner will be Ron Chernow, a historian who has written a number of popular biographies including the one on Alexander Hamilton that inspired the Broadway musical Hamilton.

Chernow will speak in lieu of a comedian, which is the usual featured guest. "While I have never been mistaken for a stand-up comedian, I promise that my history lesson won't be dry," Chernow said in a statement. Chernow will "make the case for the First Amendment" in his speech, the WHCA says.

This year's featured speaker at the White House Correspondents' Dinner was comedian Michelle Wolf, whose jokes about the Trump administration drew some criticism. Trump had declined to attend the dinner for the second year in a row, making him the first president in decades not to show up. After the event earlier this year, WHCA President Olivier Knox told The New York Times he was looking at ways to improve the dinner, including possibly inviting a serious speaker. Knox told CNN that he's been hoping for changes to the format for a long time, though, saying it should be "focused on journalists and the work of good reporters." In other words, he said, "the dinner should be 'boring.'" Brendan Morrow

11:01 a.m.

When 3-year-old Mikaila Bonaparte was found to have an unprecedentedly high level of lead in her blood, a health inspector quickly found the cause: Her mother's and grandmother's public housing units in Brooklyn were covered in lead paint.

The New York City Housing Authority's response? That can't be right.

In a massive investigation published Monday, The New York Times found that the authority retested Bonaparte's apartments with its own inspector and insisted there was no lead. But Bonaparte had still still somehow ingested enough lead to perhaps "cause irreversible brain damage," the Times writes. And her story is seemingly one of hundreds.

Because it's been shown to stunt brain development, lead paint was banned in New York City in 1960. Starting in 1989, the city sued lead paint companies and alleged "its public housing buildings were riddled with lead," the Times writes. But by 2004, the Housing Authority's position flipped, claiming only 95 of its 325 developments contained lead, likely because reported instances of lead poisoning had become uncommon.

The authority "was apparently wrong," the Times writes, seeing as the city's health department continued to find lead paint across New York's public housing developments. But from 2010 until this July, the authority challenged the health department on 95 percent of those findings. More often than not, the health department backed down, with a spokesman telling the Times the department was convinced of a false positive in 158 of those 211 cases.

After the Times inquired into the contestations in September, the housing authority's interim chairwoman said the authority was now "accepting whatever the finding of the health department is." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to respond to the findings Monday. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

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