News: Eva Air partners with West Ham for upcoming Premier League season

News: Eva Air partners with West Ham for upcoming Premier League season

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Eva Air has announced a partnership agreement with Premier League football club West Ham United, which will take effect from June.

The agreement will see the independent Taiwanese airline become West Ham United’s official airline partner, as the club prepares to embark upon their third season in the London Stadium in Stratford.

The partnership will provide multiple branding opportunities for Eva Air and see the two parties work closely together to develop engaging fan activations and initiatives.

Clay Sun, Eva Air president, said: “EVA Air is a proud supporter of sports and we are delighted to be partnering with West Ham United.

“For years we have actively supported and sponsored sports such as golf, tennis, badminton and baseball and this cooperation with the Premier League football club further extends this across our route network.

“The quality service Eva Air provides to passengers ensures athletes can get the best possible rest during their flights to international tournaments and achieve their best performances.”

EVA Air offers daily flights from London to Bangkok and onwards to Taipei.

It makes complete sense for the airline to sponsor a London-based Premier League club.

West Ham United’s home is the London Stadium, which gained international acclaim during the 2012 Olympics.

Located in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London stadium is very easily accessed by all modes of public transport and the area has benefitted from amazing redevelopment over the years, which has made it an ideal new home for the club as well as a perfect choice for Eva Air to promote their brand.

Karren Brady, West Ham United vice chairman, said: “I am delighted to welcome Eva Air to the West Ham United family.

“As the excitement of Premier League football continues to grow rapidly throughout Asia, we are extremely proud to team up with an airline that has established a magnificent reputation for its links between London and the Far East.

“I am very excited about the benefits that the partnership can bring as we continue to grow and develop our corporate identity on a global scale.”

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June 1, 2018 at 06:04AM

News: Norwegian Cruise Line appoints new UK business development director

News: Norwegian Cruise Line appoints new UK business development director

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Norwegian Cruise Line appoints new UK business development director

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the appointment of Nicky Foot as business development director, UK & Ireland.

Foot joins the growing team based in Southampton, reporting to Nick Wilkinson, managing director for Norwegian in the UK & Ireland and MEA.

The appointment will further strengthen the business development function at a time of growth, following the one-year anniversary of Premium All Inclusive, an increased capacity in ex-UK sailings and the launch of Norwegian Bliss in April.

Foot said: “I’m excited to be joining Norwegian and driving forward the business at such an exciting and pivotal time.

“Norwegian is an innovative and contemporary brand and I look forward to working with Nick and the business development team to help drive greater success.”

Foot has over 30 years of sales and travel experience, most recently as a director at Groupon and before that as the UK regional sales director at Living Social Escapes.

Previous to these roles, she spent a number of years working for the marine division at TUI working for Sunsail, The Moorings and Le-Boat.

Wilkinson added: “I’m thrilled to welcome Nicky to the team at Norwegian.

“Her extensive experience and strategic focus will ensure we continue to grow our UK and Ireland markets at a time when we are growing our fleet, with Norwegian Encore coming in 2019.”

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June 1, 2018 at 06:04AM

News: Condor rolls out new gategroup dining concept onboard

News: Condor rolls out new gategroup dining concept onboard

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Condor, the Thomas Cook Group airline, has become the first European airline to offer gategroup’s new dining concept.

The new onboard service experience aims to recreate restaurant-style dining by offering one full plate of appetising food instead of a traditional airline tray filled with multiple, small elements.

Condor will offer this premium menu on short- and medium-haul flights with ten different single-plate dishes containing a greater amount of higher quality food.

The new meal and tray concept reduces clutter on the tray, reduces packaging waste and makes handling easier for cabin crew.

Thanks to its space-saving design, the new concept also frees up valuable galley space and fuel consumption is reduced due to less weight onboard.

gategroup’s culinary experts worked closely with Condor’s catering team and cabin crew to create a superior, restaurant-like dining experience for passengers.

Christoph Brandstaetter, gategroup regional executive chef, central Europe, oversaw the creation of international meal choices for health-conscious travellers, many of which are also suitable for people with special dietary requirements.

“We want to offer our passengers an unparalleled travel experience and we have taken their feedback very seriously,” said Tobias Kühne, head of catering for Condor.

“With this new onboard dining experience, we are able to offer our customers even more delicious food at the same price.

“Its cost-effectiveness in economy and premium class on short- and medium haul flights is unsurpassed.“

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June 1, 2018 at 05:49AM

Hyatt Enters Business Travel Management Battleground

Hyatt Enters Business Travel Management Battleground

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A few interesting wrinkles in the corporate travel world this week show where the sector is going.

Hyatt Hotels announced a program for small businesses to receive discounts at some Hyatt properties, along with basic travel management tools to track spending and traveler whereabouts. Hyatt’s smaller scale means it can try out new initiatives, but who knows how this one will work out? If they can add services and meeting spaces to the platform, though, this could be a big deal for small businesses.

We also have a story from Skift Tourism Reporter Dan Peltier on how Florida, as a destination, is going to work to tap into bleisure travel to increase its tourism numbers in coming years. Don’t be surprised if more destinations follow suit, and your business travelers contemplate extending more trips.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or tips, feel free to reach out via email at as@skift.com or tweet me @sheivach

— Andrew Sheivachman, Business Travel Editor

Airlines, Hotels, and Innovation

Hyatt’s New Corporate Travel Program Aims for Small Businesses: Hyatt seems to realize not only that small businesses are the most untapped portion of corporate travel, but that a solid business travel experience can lead to dividends on the leisure side as well. Whether this program catches on is another story, though.

Florida Addresses Its Business Travel Slump by Adding Leisure to the Mix: Florida probably has a better chance than most states to convince business travelers to turn into tourists for a couple days, but it will also take more employers to give the thumbs up to this trend.

Singapore Air Firms Up Plans for Revived, Ultra-Long New York Route: As fuel efficiency continues to improve and the next generation of long-range aircraft comes online, we should expect more of these ultra-long-haul routes to spring up.

U.S. Airlines Lose Tolerance for Money-Losing Flights as Fuel Prices Rise: Nothing refocuses airline executives like rising fuel prices. If they continue to creep up, expect airlines to cancel more marginal routes.

The Future of Travel

New Skift Research Points to Amazon Playing a Larger Role in the Travel Industry: It’s dangerous to give Amazon breathing room in any industry; better to think through its implications for travel today. Amazon is not simply a threat — it offers lessons and opportunities for travel executives as well.

C2 Montreal Evolves With Global Aspirations: C2 may be past the point of reinventing itself as it looks to export its brand of experiential business conferences around the world. Yet, the tweaks it has made to its hallmark event demonstrate the work to scale its interactive festival as its popularity surges.

Why India’s MakeMyTrip Made Peace With Rapidly Growing Oyo: The decision by MakeMyTrip, India’s largest online travel agency, to start selling Oyo budget lodging is significant. The move recognizes that the heavily funded Oyo is no longer a rival marketplace and is instead primarily a supplier. Asset-light hotel chains need to wake up to Oyo’s rise.

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Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Photo Credit: A Hyatt Hotel in California. The company has made moves to get more involved in business travel management. Hyatt

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June 1, 2018 at 05:37AM

News: AccorHotels completes €4.6b AccorInvest deal

News: AccorHotels completes €4.6b AccorInvest deal

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AccorHotels has announced that it has completed the sale of 57.8 per cent of the capital of AccorInvest.

The stake will go to the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia (Public Investment Fund) and GIC of Singapore, as well as institutional investors Colony NorthStar, Crédit Agricole Assurances and Amundi, and others.

For AccorHotels, the transaction results in a gross cash contribution of €4.6 billion, which is slightly more than the €4.4 billion announced in February and in line with the higher percentage of capital finally sold.

AccorHotels will therefore hold 42.2 per cent of the capital of AccorInvest, which will no longer be included in the group’s consolidated financial statements as of June 1st.

Sébastien Bazin, chairman of AccorHotels, said: “By completing the sale of close to 58 per cent of the capital of AccorInvest, we have successfully finalised the transformation process begun five years ago.

“The deal enables us to further accelerate the development of AccorHotels by focusing our resources and energy on strengthening our brand portfolio and our leadership position in key markets, and on pursuing our strategy of delivering innovation and excellence to our guests and hotel owner partners.

“With our new, primarily asset-light structure, we will be able to deploy our ambitious and disruptive vision of ‘augmented hospitality’ to the full.”

As part of the transaction, AccorHotels and AccorInvest will maintain their close, long-standing relationship through very-long-term partnership agreements.

John Ozinga, chief executive of AccorInvest, said: “Today is the start of a new chapter for AccorInvest.

“With greater resources and fully engaged teams, we are now going to speed up the consolidation of our portfolio, the renovation and repositioning of our assets, and the development of new projects.

“Drawing on the strength of AccorHotels’ brands, we intend to cement our position as the leading hotel investor in Europe by enhancing the attractiveness and value of our hotel portfolio.”

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June 1, 2018 at 05:28AM

News: Baum to lead Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga

News: Baum to lead Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga

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Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga has announced that Leon Baum has been appointed as the hotel’s new general manager.

Baum is a well-seasoned hotelier with in-depth operational experience and has been with Kempinski group since 2007.

He is a highly respected professional who has gained international experience in London as general manager of the Stafford by Kempinski, Turkey as hotel manager of the Çirağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul and most recently in Abu Dhabi where he held the position of hotel manager at the prestigious Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi.

With his 11-year career in the hospitality industry and extensive knowledge and experience of luxury brands at Kempinski Group, Baum is the ideal candidate to lead the magnificent Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga and position our first property in Latvia as the front runner in Riga’s luxury hotel market.

“We will continue to provide our guests with memorable experiences and uphold the traditions of which Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga is so proud, while striving to further enhance service quality and brand value into the future” said Leon Baum, general manager of Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga.

With the famous Latvian National Opera House by its side and the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at its feet, the hotel presents a whole new level of comfort and elegance to both city guests and locals.

Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga features 141 first class rooms and suites, two gourmet restaurants and three bars, six spacious meeting rooms, including the Grand Ballroom, a world-class SPA and wellness facility, as well as an aromatic pastry shop right next to it.

Offering breath-taking panoramic views of the capital, refined service and rich cultural experience, the new hotel is set to become the place to be in the welcoming Riga city.

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June 1, 2018 at 05:18AM

Italy’s Challenge to the Eurozone Is Only Beginning

Italy’s Challenge to the Eurozone Is Only Beginning

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So Italy is getting a new populist government after all. On Thursday, the leaders of the leftist Five Star Movement and rightist League emerged from a meeting in Rome to confirm that they had agreed on the composition of a cabinet acceptable to the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, opening the way for a new administration to be formed. Giuseppe Conte, a previously unknown lawyer whom many people regard as a mere front man, will be sworn in as Prime Minister on Friday.

In the short run, the sight of a new government emerging in Rome may bring some calm to the financial markets, which have been rattled by the possibility of another Italian election, and even bigger gains for the populists. Looking further ahead, however, there is great uncertainty surrounding not just Italy but the entire nineteen-nation eurozone. For the first time since it was formed, in 1999, the monetary union will be confronting a government in one of its core member countries that is implacably opposed to many of its rules and policies.

As part of Thursday’s agreement, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, agreed to the appointment of an economy minister who isn’t an avowed supporter of withdrawing from the euro. (Salvini’s initial choice, the economist Paulo Savona, is a confirmed Euroskeptic.) But Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, Five Star’s leader, are both committed to remaking the E.U.’s economic treaties and introducing expansionary tax and spending policies. Both of these things will place them on a collision course with the authorities in Brussels, Berlin, and Frankfurt. And at this stage, neither side seems likely to back down.

Although it is sometimes dismissed as a protest movement, Five Star, which will presumably be the senior member in the new coalition since it received the most votes, boasts a distinctive policy agenda, which includes the establishment of a state-provided universal basic income. (Under Five Star’s proposal, anybody who doesn’t have a job or whose income is below a certain level would qualify for monthly payments of up to seven hundred and eighty euros.) The League also supports higher spending in various areas, but it is also calling for a flat tax of fifteen per cent. And both parties want to roll back unpopular pension reforms that the E.U. regards as essential.

The E.U. doesn’t prohibit specific policies, but it does enforce broad fiscal targets that limit how much member countries can tax and spend. If the new government in Rome flouts these policies, Brussels will demand changes and threaten it with fines. Depending on how antagonistic the situation becomes, the European Central Bank could even threaten to withdraw its support for Italian government bonds, which it has been purchasing in large quantities as part of its quantitative-easing program. The mere hint of such a change could cause a panic in the Italian bond market.

As the populist Syriza government in Greece discovered in 2015, once you are inside the euro area it is very tough to defy the will of Brussels and Berlin. But making a decisive break with the restrictive euro policy regime, if not the euro itself, was precisely what the supporters of Five Star and the League elected them to do. After a lost decade for the Italian economy, many Italians, particularly younger ones, regard the euro policy regime as a punitive straitjacket, and for ample reason.

Eleven years after the onset of the global financial crisis, Italy’s inflation-adjusted gross domestic product still hasn’t recovered its 2007 level, and G.D.P. per person is down almost ten per cent. The unemployment rate is in double digits: 11.1 per cent. And nearly one third of young people are out of work. All capitalist economies undergo slumps now and again, but, setting aside the nineteen-thirties, there are few examples of big, advanced countries enduring such an extended economic squeeze. Even today, the rate of G.D.P. growth in Italy is just 1.5 per cent per annum. And the International Monetary Fund reckons that figure will fall back to 1.1 per cent in 2019.

In circumstances like these, it’s hardly surprising that the centrist parties associated with the euro project have lost a great deal of support in Italy, and that populist parties, including the anti-immigrant, xenophobic League, have been the beneficiaries. Some people predicted it. “If you insist on policies that condemn whole populations to a combination of permanent stagnation and humiliation,” Yanis Varoufakis, the leftist Greek economist who served as Syriza’s finance minister for six tumultuous month, told his E.U. colleagues in 2015, “you will soon have to deal not with Europeanist leftists like us but, instead, with anti-Europeanist xenophobes who see it as their vocation to disintegrate the European Union.”

With the new Italian government, the E.U. will be dealing with both types of populists: leftists and xenophobes. In a way, it’s surprising that, apart from in Greece, a small country on the periphery of the E.U., something like his hasn’t happened before. (The Brexit vote doesn’t really count because Britain isn’t part of the eurozone.) In Spain, for example, G.D.P. didn’t reach its pre-crisis level until the middle of last year, and, despite a recovery that has been stronger than the one in Italy, the unemployment rate is still close to seventeen per cent. (Among the Spanish youth, the jobless rate is even higher than it is in Italy: thirty-five per cent.) Yet Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, a center-right politician whose government slashed spending and raised taxes to reduce the budget deficit, managed to serve two terms in office.

On Friday, however, the Spanish parliament seems likely out oust Rajoy, who is embroiled in a big corruption scandal. That means another important member of the eurozone is almost certainly be heading for an early election, in which relations with the E.U. will again be an important and divisive issue. Podemus, the left-wing populist group that got slightly more than twenty per cent of the vote in the 2015 election, isn’t explicitly Euroskeptic. But it will be running on a Five Star-like platform of confronting Brussels-imposed austerity policies.

None of this means that the euro is doomed, still less the European Union. But it has raised anew the core question of how to reconcile the European project with shared prosperity and local autonomy. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, thinks he has an answer: closer integration and a proper fiscal union. Varoufakis, too, has put forward a vision of closer union, one that is much less bureaucratic and more democratic. But with the eurozone’s third-largest economy now in the hands of Five Star and the League, it’s anybody’s bet what will happen.

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June 1, 2018 at 01:54AM

United Now Tells You Exactly Why Your Flight Is Delayed

United Now Tells You Exactly Why Your Flight Is Delayed

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United Airlines launched a pilot program in January of this year that tells passengers exactly why their flight is running behind schedule — down to crew members who missed their connections or the exact mechanical issue.

TPG noticed the change when one of our editors was flying out of Houston (IAH), she got an alert in her United app saying that crews were working to fix the Boeing 737-700’s fuel panel. “We found you a new plane as our maintenance team needed additional time to a fuel panel on your original plane,” the maintenance alert read.

A spokesperson for United told TPG that the pilot program for the detailed status alerts has so far only rolled out in the carrier’s main hubs at Houston (IAH) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD), as well as flights that divert to those two airports. In addition, the new program only applies to mainline aircraft.

The alerts detail everything from specific maintenance and mechanical problems with the aircraft to weather delays and issues with late crew arrivals.

“We will do what we can to provide additional clarity,” the United spokesperson said, adding that the airline has recently seen customer satisfaction scores improve because of the detailed alerts.

TPG readers weighed in on the new program by commenting in the TPG Facebook Lounge:

Michael G. noted: Aviation geek or no, it’s nice to know the reason.

Avi R. wrote: I like it. They are finally transparent.

Mialisa G. said: I prefer this to being kept in the dark. I wish all airlines would do it!

Patrick M. said: Good info is provided for mainline United flights… not so for their United Express affiliated companies. Often for these regional carriers even basic on-time or delayed info is not provided at all.

And reader Kim K. suggested a helpful tip: It is good because if you take screen shot I can use for travel delay insurance.

The alerts are sent out through United’s app and also via email, depending on the contact information passengers provide when booking. United hopes to expand the alert program later this summer to United Express and its regional carriers.

Featured image courtesy United.

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May 31, 2018 at 11:31PM

Why Trump Pardoned Dinesh D’Souza—and May Pardon Martha Stewart

Why Trump Pardoned Dinesh D’Souza—and May Pardon Martha Stewart

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It’s pardon month in the White House edition of “The Apprentice.” Jack Johnson got one. Dinesh D’Souza’s getting one. So might Martha Stewart, and Rod Blagojevich could see his sentence commuted. The case of Alice Marie Johnson might be the season-ending cliffhanger: Will this great-grandmother be freed from a life sentence thanks to the Oval Office advocacy of Kim Kardashian?

The justifications for these actions range from valid (Jack and Alice Johnson, no apparent relation) to cynical (D’Souza, Stewart, and Blago), but they serve mostly to illustrate the transactional nature of Donald Trump’s Presidency. He has no ideology except self-interest. He doesn’t play politics; he plays the angles.

Consider Stewart’s case. In 2004, she was convicted of making false statements and related charges in connection with an insider-trading scandal. (She was, by the way, guilty.) She served five months in prison, paid a fine, and in subsequent years has gone back to running a media empire. She also hosted a spinoff of the “Apprentice” franchise, which bombed, but, as far as we can tell, Trump has no axe to grind with her now. Still, the relevant point about Stewart is that her prosecution was James Comey’s most high-profile accomplishment during his tenure as United States Attorney, in Manhattan. Pardoning Stewart is a way of diminishing Comey, who is among Trump’s most reviled enemies. Since Stewart has long been out of prison, the pardon will have little practical significance for her, but that’s not the point. Punishing Comey is. (Springing Blago, the former Illinois governor who was convicted on public corruption charges, in 2011, and is serving a fourteen-year sentence, offers similar value for Trump. The governor was prosecuted by the former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who also brought a perjury case against Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney, whom Trump pardoned earlier this year. And Fitzgerald today is one of the lawyers representing Comey, so undoing Fitzgerald’s work operates as more score-settling for the President.)

The Johnson cases reveal a different side of Trump’s character. Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion, was convicted, in 1913, in a notoriously racist federal prosecution, in connection with his relationship with a white woman. The idea of a posthumous pardon for Johnson, who died in 1946, has been around for some time, but Sylvester Stallone, the actor, raised it recently with Trump. Likewise, Kardashian, the reality-television star and entrepreneur, was granted an audience with the President to advocate for Alice Johnson, a sixty-two-year-old black woman who is serving a life sentence without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. Acts of Presidential grace for both Johnsons would be welcome.

But would such actions do anything to address the pervasive racial inequities of the criminal-justice system? Does the President even care about racial justice? During the suddenly distant years of the Obama Administration, that President, in 2014, started what he called a Clemency Initiative, which was designed to shorten the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were African-American. Obama wound up granting more than a thousand commutations, and he also supported legislation to shorten many federal sentences. Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and aide, is working on some kind of criminal-justice reform, but his efforts are reportedly being thwarted by Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, who is a committed advocate of long sentences. In any event, no progress on this issue has been made in the Trump Administration, and anyone looking for the President’s true feelings on racial issues need only study his reaction to the Roseanne Barr controversy earlier this week. After ABC cancelled the comedian’s show over a racist tweet, and apologized to Valerie Jarrett, the target of Barr’s tweet, the President whined about wanting an (undeserved) apology from ABC, too. He said nothing, of course, about the racism that gave rise to the whole controversy.

As for D’Souza’s pardon, that seems to be little more than a straight payoff to the right-wing base, which has been the focus of Trump’s attentions and affections throughout his Presidency. D’Souza has long enjoyed a large following as an extreme ideologue and conspiracist; he is infamous for making lunatic accusations against the Clintons and Barack Obama, and for pushing anti-Semitic tropes about the financier and philanthropist George Soros. (In a telling bit of symmetry, Roseanne Barr was also pushing the outrageous Soros allegations.) D’Souza was charged in Manhattan federal court with campaign-finance violations, for using straw donors to make campaign contributions to a Republican candidate,in 2014. Notwithstanding D’Souza’s and now Trump’s claims, this was no frivolous prosecution. Indeed, D’Souza chose to plead guilty rather than go to trial. He was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house and paid a fine. Still, Trump’s pardon allows D’Souza to wallow in his martyrdom at the hands of Obama’s prosecutors—the former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired, brought the case—and the President will reap the credit from D’Souza’s admirers.

For this President, everything is personal. This is why, even more than with most Presidents, we should know the details of his and his family’s financial dealings. This is where his personal interests would be most clearly on display. (How, for example, is Trump’s sudden interest in saving the ZTE conglomerate in China related to the decision by the Chinese government to award Ivanka Trump several valuable trademarks?) Who are Trump’s real business partners? How and where have his business ventures been financed? And what, of course, would we learn if we could see his tax returns? These pardon cases show that the President serves his friends and punishes his enemies—and we need to know, more than ever, who is who.

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May 31, 2018 at 11:18PM