Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Monday on the Senate floor that his party will provide enough votes to pass the Republican plan to reopen the federal government until at least February 8, contingent upon a promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he will thereafter open debate on an immigration bill protecting so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.
*Study: 82% of World’s Money Was Made by the Top 1% Last Year
Eighty-two percent of the money made last year went to the richest 1 percent of the world’s population, according to a report by anti-poverty charity Oxfam. With these numbers, the charity claimed that the gap between the global rich and poor has further increased. “Tax evasion, firms’ influence on policy, erosion of workers’ rights, and cost cutting” were the identified factors that contributed to the growing disparity. In this year’s report, the richest 42 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half. “However you look at it, this is an unacceptable level of inequality,” said Oxfam Chief ExecutiveMark Goldring. The report’s release coincides with the World Economic Forum in Davos, where issues of inequality are discussed but “fade away at the first resistance,” said Goldring.
*Mike Pence Says U.S. Embassy Will Open in Jerusalem Next Year:
Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday that a new United States Embassy to Israel would open in Jerusalem before the end of 2019. Mr. Pence’s statement, made to the Israeli Parliament during a trip to the Holy Land, follows President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, a move that overturned decades of American policy and international consensus on the status of the holy city. Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital or believe it should be divided, with East Jerusalem becoming the capital of a Palestinian state. The international consensus, previously supported by the United States, has been that the city’s status can be determined only through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Arab lawmakers rose to their feet at the start of Mr. Pence’s speech in the Israeli Parliament and held up signs reading “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.” Ushers pulled down the signs and escorted them out of the room, to the applause of others in the hall.
*SEE THE WORLD CLEARLY – READ LBN:
*Book: Bannon Told Ivanka, ‘You Don’t Know What You’re Doing’
Another bombshell book on palace intrigue inside the TrumpWhite House will be published by the end of the month. This time it is the turn of Fox News host Howard Kurtz to dish on the personal battles and the gossip reverberating around the West Wing. The book, entitled “Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth,” comes fresh on the heels of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury.” According to excerpts detailed in The Washington Post, Kurtz presents a portrait of a chaotic West Wing, filled with leaks, amid a daily struggle by aides to respond to the president’s tweets. The former Daily Beast columnist also claims that many in the White House suspect the president himself and his daughter Ivanka have been the source of notable leaks to the press. He says aides call Trump’s behavior “Defiance Disorder,” a reference to his inability to follow the advice of his advisers. There were reportedly occasions, however, when Trump did side with advisers against his children—Kurtz recounts one meeting in the Oval Office in which Steve Bannon blamed Ivanka for a leak and Trump said to her: “Baby, I think Steve’s right here.” Bannon told Ivanka, according to Kurtz. “You love your dad. I get that. But you’re just another staffer who doesn’t know what you’re doing.”
*Facebook Admits: We ‘Can’t Guarantee’ We’re Good for Democracy
Facebook conceded Monday that social media may not be entirely good for democracy but said it is working to prevent interference in elections by outside actors—from Russia or others. “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” said Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement, adding that the company has a “moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil, and trustworthy as possible.” Facebook has previously admitted that, in advance of the 2016 election, Russian agents created at least 80,000 posts with false or misleading information, which reached about 126 million people in just two years. Despite the company’s attempts to combat such interference, Chakrabarti said the “battle will never end.” He added, “Misinformation campaigns are not amateur operations. They are professionalized and constantly try to game the system. We will always have more work to do.”
*Megyn Kelly Slams ‘Hanoi Jane’ for Remarks:
Megyn Kelly escalated her feud with Jane Fonda, bringing up the actress’ “Hanoi Jane” controversy. Fonda, 80, recently spoke out about how “inappropriate” Kelly was to ask about the actress’ plastic surgery on an early episode of NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today. In response, Kelly used her Monday morning monologue to “address [Fonda’s] ‘poor me’ routine.” She played a montage of various times Fonda spoke openly about her plastic surgery—adding that she has “no regrets” about asking it herself—and then pivoted to say that Fonda’s “name is synonymous with outrage.” In an effort to call out the hypocrisy of her “moral indignation,” Kelly referred back to Fonda’s radio broadcast “shaming American troops,” and calling the torture of U.S. prisoners-of-war “understandable” during the Vietnam War.
*Pope Offers Rare Apology for Sex-Abuse Comments
Pope Francis on Sunday offered a rare apology after standing up for a Chilean bishop currently facing scrutiny for allegedly covering up the behavior of a pedophile. “I have to apologize,” he said, conceding he had “wounded many people who were abused.” He added, “It was a wound that I inflicted without meaning to. It pains me very much.” Despite this apology, the pope still contends that Juan Barros, who stands accused of protecting a pedophile, is innocent. The pope said last week, in a tone he now regrets: “The day I see proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. There is not a single piece of evidence against him. It is all slander. Is that clear?”
*LBN-INVESTIGATES: The Civil War was the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. During an average day during the war, approximately 600 people were killed. By the end of the war, over 618,000 people had died. This is more Americans than WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.
*MYSTERY – ‘Suspicious’ Deaths of Canadian Billionaire and His Wife Stir Gossip
Police do not know how Canadian billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey, were killed, but the “suspicious” circumstances have raised questions in the days since their bodies were found hanging from the edge of their indoor pool in their Toronto home in December. There were no signs of forced entry into the lavish 12,000-square-foot home, authorities said. The Toronto Star initially reported that unidentified police sources believe the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide, but family members called such speculation “irresponsible.” In any case, the prominent family’s death in the quiet Toronto suburb has stirred gossip. “Nobody will support a theory of either murder-suicide or double suicide,” said family lawyer Brian Greenspan. “To everyone who knew them it’s inconceivable.” On Friday, the Star reported that private investigators hired by the family believe there is evidence the couple was murdered by multiple assailants.
*Laverne Cox is the First Trans Cosmo Covergirl
Laverne Cox is the first trans woman to ever grace the cover of Cosmopolitan. The actress, best known for her role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, is featured on the February 2018 “Say Yes to Love” edition of Cosmopolitan South Africa. “Trans women deserve to be loved out in the open and in the light,” wrote Cox in a letter for the magazine. Editor in Chief Holly Meadows called Cox “the world’s most vocal trans poster girl.” The magazine issue decided to focus its Valentine’s issue on the LGBTQI+ community and “look at love in 2018—including acceptance of self, others, and non-binary relationships,” Meadows said.
*LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER: ***Creating a new Bitcoin requires electricity. A lot of it. In the virtual currency world this creation process is called “mining.” There is no physical digging, since Bitcoins are purely digital. But the computer power needed to create each digital token consumes at least as much electricity as the average American household burns through in two years, according to figures from Morgan Stanley and Alex de Vries, an economist who tracks energy use in the industry. The total network of computers plugged into the Bitcoin network consumes as much energy each day as some medium-size countries — which country depends on whose estimates you believe. And the network supporting Ethereum, the second-most valuable virtual currency, gobbles up another country’s worth of electricity each day.
*LBN-MUSIC INSIDER: ***Daryl Hall and John Oates and Train are teaming up for a summer tour of arenas around North America this summer. Each group will perform its own full-length set, with both Hall and Oates and Train teaming up for a finale. ***Ed Sheeran has revealed he’ll quit music as soon as he has children. The 26-year-old singer, who announced on Saturday that he had become engaged to his long-term girlfriend Cherry Seaborn, admitted that he’ll be stopping in order to be a “good father.” The star, who previously said he wanted kids before he turns 30, told the Daily Star: “My ambition is going to go to zero as soon as I have kids.” ***Michael Sigman, the former publisher of LA Weekly, and Wendy Block wrote an LA Times op-ed about losing their home in the Ventura wildfire last month. “Sharpest gut punch: The loss of the original sheet music for hundreds of songs written by my father, Carl Sigman, along with tons of other memorabilia that conjured the magic of Manhattan’s Brill Building, where my parents met 70 years ago.”
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Steven Soderbergh (Acclaimed film director): My fear is that, men being men, going forward, as opposed to changing their behavior, they’re just going to stop hiring women.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Steven Rattner: Hardly a day goes by without President Trump tweet-bragging about the relentless rise of the stock market to fresh record highs — Exhibit A in his mind about how he is, indeed, making America great again. But, while strong equity markets are certainly a Good Thing, let’s not forget that, like so many effects of Mr. Trump’s policies, those higher share prices are propelled upward in considerable measure by the new president’s pro-business policies and benefit the wealthy far more than the average American. The unsurprising reality is that the rich are far more likely to hold stocks, and when they do, they own them in much larger chunks than their less-well-off brethren. The percentage of Americans who hold any stocks at all has declined to just over half of all Americans, while only 28 percent of families with below-median incomes hold any shares (including in retirement accounts). Moreover, while middle-class Americans typically own just $15,000 in equities, the top 10 percent have amassed median holdings of $365,000.
*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by William Ellery Channing: Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.
*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:………….
*LBN-OVERHEARD: ***Hulk Hogan‘s son Nick was hospitalized over the weekend. Nick, 27, was sent to the emergency room after he passed out near the Hulk’s home in Clearwater, Fla., according to The Blast. The outlet reported that Nick “overdid it with work” and “didn’t eat enough that day” while training. Nick is out of the hospital already, with his dad, born Terry Gene Bollea, tweeting about the incident on Saturday.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord