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At least 10 new deaths have been reported in ongoing protests in Iran, the country’s state TV reported Monday. Authorities gave no details on the latest deaths, which came after two demonstrators were killed in clashes on Saturday night. “Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces,” Iranian state TV said. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani struck a defiant tone as the death toll rose, saying in a statement Monday that “the nation themselves will respond to the rioters and lawbreakers.” “This is nothing,” he said of the latest violence. A day earlier, in his first speech on the unrest since it erupted in Masshad on Thursday, Rouhani said citizens are “free to express their criticism of the government” but authorities will not “tolerate any destruction of property or social order.” The protests, the largest show of dissent since 2009, have gained momentum in multiple cities, with crowds reportedly chanting “death to the dictator.”
*Kim Jong Un: Nuclear Launch Button Is on My Desk
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un taunted the U.S. in his New Year’s Day address to the nation Monday, saying newly perfected nuclear capabilities mean he can launch a nuclear strike at any time. “The entire mainland of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office. They should accurately be aware that this is not a threat but a reality,” Kim said in his address broadcast on state TV. He said the U.S. would “not dare” to take any military action against Pyongyang because “they know that now we possess such great nuclear power.” The remarks cap off a particularly tense year between the U.S. and North Korea, which has fired off 23 missiles since last February and conducted its most powerful nuclear test in September. The Trump administration has repeatedly warned of potential U.S. military action against Kim’s regime. On Sunday, Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, warned that the U.S. is “closer to a nuclear war with North Korea” than ever.
*SEE THINGS CLEARLY – READ LBN:
*KEEP IT DOWN, PLEASE – Pope Francis Wants the World to Shut Up in 2018
In a New Year’s Day homily delivered at St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday, Pope Francis called for an end to “empty chatter” and urged the world to spend more time observing silence in 2018. He said doing so would “keep our freedom from being corroded by the banality of consumerism, the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting.” The pontiff did not address his recommendations to any person or thing in particular, but he warned against the “false” depiction of reality created by social media earlier this year and urged young people to find “meaning” outside of Twitter. His comments on Monday came as President Trump, perhaps the only American president known for using social media to vent, embarked on his latest Twitter tirade. Trump began the new year by slamming Pakistan for its “lies and deceit” and saying Iran is “failing at every level.”
*Clinton Backers Spent $700K Trying to Find Trump Accusers:
Former Clinton nemesis turned Clinton operative David Brock was reportedly behind a six-figure effort to identify and bring forward victims of sexual misconduct by Donald Trump before Election Day. Brock’s American Bridge 21st Century Foundation reportedly spent $200,000, and one of his major donors, Susie Tompkins Buell, gave $500,000. Both sums went to the firm of Lisa Bloom. However the efforts did not meet with success, and Bloom claims most of the money was refunded.
*BRAVE NEW WORLD – California to Start New Year With Legal Retail Pot Sales:
California is set to kick off the new year with its first recreational marijuana sales in areas throughout the state as a new law takes effect. Customers looking to buy pot previously needed a medical reason to buy the drug, but after Californians voted to legalize the drug for recreational purposes last year, state authorities will now treat marijuana like alcohol. Under the new law, those who are 21 or over will be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow six marijuana plants at home. About six dozen newly licensed shops will now be able to sell the drug for recreational use, though some cities, including Los Angeles, have warned that retail sales won’t begin as soon as the law takes effect. Will Senn, the founder of Urbn Leaf in San Diego, told the Associated Press the shop would be opening with extra security and more than 60 employees ready to take orders. “We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” he was quoted as saying.
*Democrats in High-Tax States Plot to Blunt Impact of New Tax Law:
Democrats in high-cost, high-tax states are plotting ways to do what their states’ representatives in Congress could not: blunt the impact of the newly passed Republican tax overhaul. Governors and legislative leaders in New York, California and other states are considering legal challenges to elements of the law that they say unfairly single out parts of the country. They are looking at ways of raising revenue that aren’t penalized by the new law. And they are considering changing their state tax codes to allow residents to take advantage of other federal tax breaks — in effect, restoring deductions that the tax law scaled back. One proposal would replace state income taxes, which are no longer fully deductible under the new law, with payroll taxes on employers, which are deductible. Another idea would be to allow residents to replace their state income tax payments with tax-deductible charitable contributions to their state governments.
The 10 highest income tax states are:
- California 13.3%
- Oregon 9.9%
- Minnesota 9.85%
- Iowa 8.98%
- New Jersey 8.97%
- Vermont 8.95%
- District of Columbia 8.95%
- New York 8.82%
*LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER: ***The death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is ushering in a new era for the adult-entertainment enterprise in more ways than one. His passing in September at the age of 91 has set in motion a process that will move ownership of the iconic brand out of his family’s hands and could soon spell the end of its once pace-setting U.S. print edition after nearly seven decades on newsstands. Playboy Enterprises Inc.’s controlling shareholder—private-equity firm Rizvi Traverse—is in talks to acquire the 35% stake Mr. Hefner left in trust to his heirs, a person familiar with the matter said. At the same time, the company says it is doubling down on efforts to make money from brand partnerships and licensing deals built around the Playboy name, ethos and bunny logo, with increasingly less focus on its editorial roots.
*LBN-HEALTH WATCH: ***Vitamin D and calcium supplements are widely used for the prevention of bone fractures in older adults, but a large analysis confirms earlier reports they do not work. Chinese researchers pooled data from 33 randomized, placebo-controlled trials with more than 51,000 participants to look for an association between taking the supplements and a lowered risk of fracture. The analysis, in JAMA, found none. Some of the studies looked at calcium and vitamin D separately, others with the two supplements combined. Follow-ups varied from three months to as long as seven years. ***The overarching message of this year’s exercise-related science was that physical activity, in almost any form and amount, changes the arc of our lives. But much of this research also hinted that there may be something unique about pushing yourself at least a little extra that alters and ramps up the benefits of exercise, beginning deep within our cells. And several studies also helpfully told us that hot baths are a fine idea for those of us who work out, even if the weather is warm. But intensity was the theme of 2017. One of the first studies we wrote about this year detailed the career and physiology of Robert Marchand, a diminutive French centenarian who took up competitive cycling as a retiree and began setting age-group records.
*LBN-NOTICED: ***Richard Petty, ex-NFL great Tom Jackson, NASCAR team owner Andrew Murstein and NBA legend Julius Erving seeing funk band Kool and the Gang perform at Atlantis in the Bahamas on Saturday.
*LBN-SITE OF THE DAY:
If you love history, this is your one-stop shop to learn everything about our pasts. From Ancient Kingdoms to Epic wars, you can find everything here. It is a great site for history buffs.
*LBN-THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Times Square Ball Drops for the First Time (1908)
In 1904, The New York Times moved its headquarters to what is now known as Times Square. That December, it held a New Year’s Eve celebration that proved to be quite popular. A few years later, the newspaper created an illuminated time ball—then a well-known dockside device by which sailors set their ships’ clocks—that would fall at midnight. The annual ball-drop outlived both the newspaper’s address on the square and the use of time balls in general.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Tom Brokaw: President Trump is vowing to return to two of his favorite goals in 2018: a crackdown on immigration and the dissolution of the Affordable Care Act. When congressional Republicans passed the sweeping tax bill in December, they eliminated the A.C.A.’s health care mandate. But President Trump wants to knock out the entire program. As I have learned in the past four years, immigration and health care in America have an organic relationship that may escape the president and his supporters if they experience health care only from the outside looking in. I’ve been an active pilgrim in our medical culture, as a cancer patient, a kidney stone carrier, a victim of a mysterious vertigo condition and the owner of a battered elbow resulting from a hard fall on a New York City street.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Shields and Brooks on political polarization and social reckoning in 2017 —https://youtu.be/cCGe0ke44oo
*LBN-COMMENTARY by George P. Shultz and Pedro Aspe: The war on drugs in the United States has been a failure that has ruined lives, filled prisons and cost a fortune. It started during the Nixon administration with the idea that, because drugs are bad for people, they should be difficult to obtain. As a result, it became a war on supply. As first lady during the crack epidemic, Nancy Reagan tried to change this approach in the 1980s. But her “Just Say No” campaign to reduce demand received limited support. Over the objections of the supply-focused bureaucracy, she told a United Nations audience on Oct. 25, 1988: “If we cannot stem the American demand for drugs, then there will be little hope of preventing foreign drug producers from fulfilling that demand. We will not get anywhere if we place a heavier burden of action on foreign governments than on America’s own mayors, judges and legislators. You see, the cocaine cartel does not begin in Medellín, Colombia. It begins in the streets of New York, Miami, Los Angeles and every American city where crack is bought and sold.” Her warning was prescient, but not heeded. Studies show that the United States has among the highest rates of drug use in the world. But even as restricting supply has failed to curb abuse, aggressive policing has led to thousands of young drug users filling American prisons, where they learn how to become real criminals.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Fifty Shades of Blue with Selena Gomez — https://youtu.be/MKWIqRAW_WI
*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Winston Churchill:Never give in, never give in–never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:….
*LBN-OVERHEARD: ***Maria Menounos and boyfriend of 20 years Keven Undergaro kicked off the New Year with a surprise wedding. The couple opted to tie the knot on live television Sunday night just before the clock struck midnight. Menounos, 39, who was hosting Fox’s New Year’s Eve show, surprised her father and mother, who’s battling stage-four brain cancer, with the happy news. “I will be the coldest bride ever but the happiest,” Menounos captioned a video of her teary-eyed parents’ reaction to the wedding news. “Seeing my parents happy means everything!” ***Rumer Willis is having her “Dancing With the Stars” tattoo removed because she’s heartbroken after her partner Val Chmerkovskiy “moved on.” We’re told that Rumer, 29, had long been besotted with Chmerkovskiy and — after the pair won the ABC reality dancing competition in 2015 — she got a tattoo on her right bicep of the victorious couple in a longing, lunging embrace. But insiders say a spurned Rumer started having the ink removed in November — shortly after her beloved started dating fellow “DWTS” pro Jenna Johnson.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord