LBN – Monday, February 19th, 2018

*White House: Trump Supports Improving Gun Background Checks

President Trump supports efforts to improve the federal system for background checks in the purchase of firearms, the White House said Monday. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” the White House said in a statement. Trump is said to have spoken to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Friday about legislation the lawmaker introduced to improve the background check process. Trump’s vow of support for the effort comes amid mounting calls for gun control in the wake of a school shooting in Florida last week that killed 17 people. Students who survived the attack have put the pressure on Trump personally, accusing him of staying silent on gun control because of his campaign’s backing by the NRA. Trump, who ran as a pro-gun candidate, also expressed an openness to banning bump stocks after a deadly Las Vegas shooting last fall, though no significant progress has been made on that front. Last year, Trump revoked an Obama-era regulation making it harder for people with mental illness to purchase firearms.

*Trump Dares ‘Very Insecure’ Oprah To Run In 2020

President Trump was up late Sunday night directing his fury towards Oprah Winfrey after watching her on 60 Minutes. Oprah led a discussion on the CBS show about Trump’s first year with voters from across the political spectrum—but clearly not to the President’s satisfaction. Trump tweeted: “Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!” Oprah has previously ruled out running for office, saying in January that it’s “not something that interests me.”

*Russia to U.S.: Don’t ‘Play With Fire’ in Syria

A top Russian official has warned the Trump administration not to “play with fire” in Syria, accusing the U.S. of engaging in “very dangerous games” after more than 200 Russian mercenaries were reportedly killed by U.S. airstrikes earlier this month. The U.S. said the strikes were carried out in “self defense” after Syrian troops attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces, a predominantly Kurdish group backed by Washington. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said the “provocative” U.S. support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria “could lead to the dismemberment of the Syrian state.” “We are seeing attempts to exploit the Kurds’ aspirations,” he said at a conference alongside Iranian Foreign Minister MohammadJavad Zarif. Lavrov’s warning comes amid heightened tensions in the region, as U.S. support for a Kurdish-led border protection force in Syria pit Washington against Tehran and Moscow.

*LBN-SEE IT:...About a dozen people protested against what they called the threat of radical Islam at the Islamic Da’Wah Center in Houston in May 2016. They were met by a much larger crowd of counterprotesters. Both sides, it turned out, were organized by Russian groups.

*FL Survivors Reject Trump Invite, Tell Him to ‘Come to Us’

High school students who survived Wednesday’s deadly shooting rampage in Florida say President Trump has declined an invitation to speak at an upcoming town hall on gun violence, CNN reports. Instead, the White House has announced a “listening session” with students, though it is not clear if that event will include survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were gunned down. “If Donald Trump wants to listen to us, he should have taken the first invitation,” survivor Alex Wind told CNN Monday. “We are not going to come to him. He is going to need to come to us,” he said. Emma Gonzalez, another survivor, said the “listening session” with students was just a way for Trump to avoid angry survivors. “The fact that he has organized this just proves that he’s scared of us and that he doesn’t want to have to face us,” she told CNN. Along with Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has also reportedly declined an invitation to speak at the town hall event on Wednesday. The event will feature survivors of the shooting and parents of the victims.

*The Propaganda Tools Used by Russians to Influence the 2016 Election:

Thirteen Russian nationals have been charged with illegally trying to disrupt the American political process, according to an indictment filed by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators created hundreds of social media accounts impersonating real and fictitious Americans — and they paid for ads promoting their posts. The Russians in the indictment acted as an organization, and employees who ran the accounts were directed to create “political intensity through supporting radical groups” and to criticize Hillary Clinton, but not Donald J. Trump or Bernie Sanders.

*WHO READS LBN? Congressman Adam Schiff, along with readers in all 50 of the United States and 26 foreign countries.

*‘Black Panther’ Shatters Box Office Records With $218 Million Debut

Black Panther, Marvel Studio’s first black superhero film, was on track for a $218 million domestic debut over the four-day President’s Day weekend, giving it the fifth-biggest opening of all time. The film broke records across the board, claiming the biggest domestic opening ever for a film released in February and the second biggest debut for a Marvel Studios film. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, and Letitia Wright, Black Panther also clinched the biggest global debut ever for a film with a predominantly black cast, earning a whopping $169 million internationally. The only other films brave enough to open on the same weekend as Black Panther, the animated family film Early Man and Pure Flix’s Samson, failed to break into the top three this weekend, earning $4 million and $2 million, respectively. Holdovers Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades Freed took second and third place, with $17.3 million and $16.9 million.

*Skater’s breast pops out mid-Olympic routine: 

The first notes of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” had just played when Gabriella Papadakis suddenly became aware that people were about to see a whole lot more of her shape than she had planned. The French ice dancer’s glittering emerald costume at the Olympics had come unhooked at the neckline, and later in the routine, her left breast was exposed live on television. When the clasp became unhooked, the 22-year-old Papadakis was more worried about holding up her outfit than making sure her twizzles and rhumba were in sync. Her swinging short program with partner Guillaume Cizeron at the PyeongChang Olympics was threatening to go down in history alongside Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction during her halftime performance at the Super Bowl. “I felt it right away and I prayed,” Papadakis said. “That’s about what I could do.”

*LBN-INVESTIGATES: The top three most expensive Olympic sports in terms of training cost are shooting, sailing, and equestrian.

*LBN-MEDIA INSIDER:   ***There is an internal war brewing after it was claimed that Ronan Farrow has been banned by NBC News’ top exec Andy Lack. Farrow was booked on Rachel Maddow’s prime-time MSNBC show on Friday to discuss his story about Donald Trump’s alleged affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal. But Farrow was bumped from the broadcast, and insiders said the decision was made by Lack, who is still fuming over claims that NBC killed Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein probe. NBC reps didn’t comment, but other insiders insist Farrow was bumped because of breaking Russia indictment news.

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*THINK FREELY – READ LBN: LBN readers, in all 50 of the United States and 26 foreign countries, are people who thinks freely or independently : people who forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially : one who rejects or is skeptical of popular dogma

*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Penn & Teller on Gun Control —

*LBN-NOTICED: Quincy Jones is done talking. On Fridaynight, at a star-studded 50th anniversary celebration of restaurant Mr. Chow in LA, press were told beforehand not to approach Jones, 84, for any interviews — and if they did, he’d take off! The edict came after the music mogul recently gave two jaw-dropping interviews dishing on taboo topics fromMichael Jackson’s ripping off “Billie Jean” to an alleged tryst between Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando. The party was hosted by famed restaurateur and artist Michael Chow to celebrate his eponymous eatery with guests including Al Pacino, Anjelica Huston, Stevie Wonder, Mickey Rourke, Chris Rock, Ricky Martin, Billy Idol, Heidi Klum, as well as artists Alex Israel, Paul McCarthy and Sterling Ruby. But Jones was apparently off-limits — although he was photographed appearing in good spirits, giving a thumbs-up and smiling in a stylish black blazer and colorful scarf. Meanwhile, at the A-list dinner, Chow showed off a new book, “Mr. Chow: 50 Years.” Also there were Mark Ronson, Adrien Brody, producer Jason Blum, Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn, Richard and Kathy Hilton, Rick Rubin, top agent Jim Berkus, and Chow’s kids Asia, China and Maximillian. A rep for Jones said their team did not issue the edict.

*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Bill Hicks, Its Just A Ride —

*LBN-COMMENTARY by Thomas L. Friedman: Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy. That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs. In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

*LBN-COMMENTARY by Thomas R. Pickering and James Strountenberg: In September 1796, George Washington, weary of partisan combat just eight years after the ratification of the Constitution and the founding of the nation, wrote a farewell address explaining why he would not seek a third term. His message is worth remembering in our current political moment. In elaborate and thoughtful prose, Washington raised red flags about disunity, false patriotism, special interests, extreme partisanship, fake news, the national debt, foreign alliances and foreign hatreds. With uncanny foresight, he warned that the most serious threat to our democracy might come from disunity within the country rather than interference from outside. And he foresaw the possibility of foreign influence over our political system and the rise of a president whose ego and avarice would transcend the national interest, raising the threat of despotism. Washington certainly had great confidence, but in his address he didn’t brag about his accomplishments. On the contrary, he beseeched the Almighty to soften the impact of his errors and expressed hopes that the country would forgive them. He established a standard for presidential self-deprecation out of the fear that a president of grossly inflated ego could become a threat to democracy. He cautioned against both overly friendly alliances (lest another country’s interests and wars become our own) and excessive hatreds (lest we provoke unnecessary conflict and war with others). Forbearance in the use of power was another of his major themes. “A free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another,” he declared. Such encroachment, he said, would lead to the consolidation of power and create “a real despotism.”

*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Norm Papernick:Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.

*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Entitlement Epidemic – Spoiled Generation – How to Turn it Around – Documentary —

*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:…This photo of Hitler was taken approximately two days prior to his death. He was standing outside of his Berlin bunker, surveying the damage a bomb had done.

*LBN-OVERHEARD:   ***Is it called “Bravo” because you could get a rousing “clap”? We’re told that the stars on a number of Bravo’s reality shows have to sign an “STD clause” promising not to sue the network if they get one or more of a long, enumerated list of itchy infections while filming. Sources familiar with the contracts say that Bravo washes its hands (thoroughly) of the potential diseases so that it doesn’t get sued if bed-hopping stars pick up something nasty while taking part in its shows. Network insiders, meanwhile, assure us that such provisions are common across all networks, especially on dating shows. We hear that the contracts also officially warn stars that their fellow combatants aren’t tested for sexually transmitted diseases.   ***Wedding bells rang for Jedediah Bilaover the weekend. The former “View” co-host tied the knot with TV business consultant Jeremy Scher on Saturday in Huntington, NY, according to Us Weekly. Bila, 39, wore a Rivini lace ballgown and earrings from Susan Hanover.   ***Alec Baldwin — who was ripped off in an art-forgery scam — is making a film about the sketchy world of fake art. In 2016, the “30 Rock” actor sued a gallery for selling him a counterfeit of what he believed to be a 1996 painting, “Sea and Mirror” by Ross Bleckner, for $190,000. Now sources say that he’s working on a film based on a 2012 Vanity Fair story, “A Question of Provenance,” by Michael Shnayerson.

LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord