LBN – Monday, January 29th, 2018

*Oil Boom Gives the U.S. a New Edge in Energy and Diplomacy:

A substantial rise in oil prices in recent months has led to a resurgence in American oil production, enabling the country to challenge the dominance of Saudi Arabia and dampen price pressures at the pump. The success has come in the face of efforts by Saudi Arabia and its oil allies to undercut the shale drilling spree in the United States. Those strategies backfired and ultimately ended up benefiting the oil industry. Overcoming three years of slumping prices proved the resiliency of the shale boom. Energy companies and their financial backers were able to weather market turmoil — and the maneuvers of the global oil cartel — by adjusting exploration and extraction techniques. After a painful shakeout in the industry that included scores of bankruptcies and a significant loss of jobs, a steadier shale-drilling industry is arising, anchored by better-financed companies.

*Russians Brave Icy Temperatures to Protest Putin and Election:

Protesters across Russia braved icy temperatures on Sundayto demonstrate against the lack of choice in the March election that is virtually certain to see President Vladimir V. Putinchosen for a fourth term. “What we are being offered right now are not elections, and we must not participate in them,”Yevgeny Roizman, the mayor of the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg and a rare elected official from an opposition party, told a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in protest. The protests in scores of cities — from Vladivostok in the east to Kaliningrad in the west — were called by Aleksei A. Navalny, the charismatic, anticorruption opposition leader, after he was barred from running for the presidency because of legal problems that he said had been manufactured to prevent his candidacy. “You have your own life at stake,” Mr. Navalny said in a recorded message urging protesters in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the rallies were banned, to turn out. “Every additional year of Putin staying in power is one more year of decay.”

*Bruno Mars wins big at the Grammys:

The big question leading into Sunday night’s Grammy Awards: will hip-hop finally get its long overdue recognition with an Album of the Year win? Not quite, though R&B had an exceptionally strong showing on Sunday night. Bruno Mars won Album and Record of the Year for “24K Magic” and Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like.” Mars also picked up Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “That’s What I Like.” “24K Magic” was awarded Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) as well. During the pre-telecast, Kendrick Lamarpicked up his first Grammy of the night for Best Music Video for “Humble,” which also won Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. Soon after, he won during the telecast for Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna. “She gassed me on my own song,” said Lamar. “This really belongs to her.” Added Rihanna: “I’m honored. Congrats, you deserve this, man.”

*THIRSTY – Keurig Green Mountain to Buy Dr Pepper Snapple in $21B Deal

Add these to the infinite universe of K Cup flavors: Keurig Green Mountain has agreed to buy Dr Pepper Snapple Inc.for more than $21 billion, in a deal that will create a new beverage giant to rival Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Drinks like 7UP, Mott’s, A&W, Sunkist and Snapple will be joining pod-coffee products all under one roof—serving the affinities of soda-lovers and Donut Shop brew-addicts. Keurig’s corporate owner, Germany’s JAB Holding Co., has been pushing deep into the U.S. market, where it’s also added the Panera Bread, Peet’s, and Caribou chains in recent years.

*Grammys President: Women Should ‘Step Up’ If They Want to Win More Awards

Neil Portnow, the president of The Recording Academy, responded to questions about the gender imbalance of awards at Sunday night’s Grammys by saying women are going to have to “step up” if they want more recognition. Despite the marked support for the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements on the red carpet, only one of the nine main honors presented during the event was won by a woman. “I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls—who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level—to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” he told journalists backstage. Portnow acknowledged that he doesn’t have “personal experience with the kinds of brick walls that [women] face” but said the key to solving the disparity is to make “a welcome mat very obvious.” He continued, “Creating mentorships, creating opportunities, not only for women, but for all people. And moving forward, creating that next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything and say anything.”

*New ISIS Video Sings to U.S. Jihadists: ‘It is Now Time to Rise, Slit Their Throats, Watch Them Die’:

The Islamic State issued a new video today calling on “brothers in Europe, America, Russia, Australia and elsewhere” to “kill them all” as “it is now time to rise.” The English-language nasheed, inspirational songs frequently released by terror groups, shows scenes of Western terrorists’ handiwork — including the March 2017 Westminster Bridge attack and the ISIS pledge video recorded by Berlin Christmas market terrorist Anis Amri — mingled with ISIS battlefield scenes and beheadings in Syria. The video from ISIS’ official Al-Hayat Media Center was distributed widely on YouTube and social media platforms Twitter and Facebook, along with being posted on file-sharing sites.

*Russia Is Banned From Paralympics, Again, for Doping:

Russia has been banned from the 2018 Paralympic Games, officials announced Monday, refusing to lift a ban because of what they called an insufficient recovery from the Russian doping scandal. Nonetheless, those officials said, certain disabled Russian athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the coming Winter Games — a decision taken with some disagreement among top Paralympics executives, who were unanimous in their decision not to lift the ban. “What was uncovered was not a minor breach of an obligation,” Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said at a news conference in Bonn, Germany on Monday. “This was an orchestrated attack on the integrity of sport.” Justifying the continued ban, Mr. Parsons pointed to Russian officials’ lacking cooperation with global sports regulators as well as their failure to acknowledge the evidence of systematic cheating laid out nearly two years ago.

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*Sanctuaries: 675 Jurisdictions Wouldn’t Turn Over Criminal Aliens to ICE:

Law enforcement agencies in approximately 675 jurisdictions around the United States declined to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “detainer” requests and hand over to ICE removable aliens whom those jurisdictions had arrested for violating local laws, according to the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security. According to the IG, this lack of cooperation from local law enforcement agencies has hindered ICE’s efforts to identify known or suspected foreign terrorists, who are inside the United States. On Jan. 5, 2018, the IG issued a report–“ICE Faces Challenges to Screen Aliens Who May Be Known or Suspected Terrorists”—that discussed the issue. “ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) faces challenges in implementing the Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol (KSTEP) screening process, which is used to identify aliens who may be known or suspected terrorists,” the report said.

*Andrew McCabe steps down as deputy FBI director:  

Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — one of President Trump’s top targets in his feud with the US law enforcement community — will step down effective immediately, NBC News reported Monday. The president has targeted McCabe over the ongoing special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion with his campaign. Trump also slammed McCabe because his wife ran for a state Senate seat in Virginia as a Democrat and accepted cash from a super PAC connected to a longtime ally of the Clintons.

*Mexico to send troops to stem violence after record 25,000 murders:  

Mexican officials said on Sunday the government was set to unleash a new wave of troops to crack down on criminal groups in regions where a surge in violence led to more than 25,000 murders last year. National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said federal police troops will work with local officials to round up known major criminals and bolster investigations. The aim was “to recover peace and calm for all Mexicans,” he said. He did not provide details on the number of federal police to be deployed. More than 25,000 murders were recorded last year as rival drug gangs increasingly splintered into smaller, more blood-thirsty groups after more than a decade of a military-led campaign to battle the cartels.

*Nikki Haley: ‘Fire and Fury’ Skit ‘Ruined’ Grammys

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, took to Twitter late Sunday to make it clear she was not pleased with a Grammys segment in which stars mocked President Trump. “I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it,” Haley tweeted, referring to the bestselling book by Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The book features unflattering portrayals of Trump and depicts his presidency as one of chaos and dysfunction. Hillary Clinton, Cher, Snoop Dogg, and Cardi B. were among those to roast the president by reading excerpts from the book at the Grammy Awards. “Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it,” Haley said.

*LBN-LEGAL INSIDER:   ***Accusations of sexual harassment have felled dozens of executives, but in one quiet corner of the financial world, the #MeToo movement looks like a golden opportunity. Companies that offer money to plaintiffs in anticipation of future legal settlements are racing to capitalize on sexual harassment lawsuits. That is setting off alarms in some quarters because the industry, like payday lenders, has a history of providing cash at exorbitant interest rates to customers who need the money for living and sometimes medical expenses. The largely unregulated companies have operated with less public scrutiny than the rest of the litigation finance industry, which provides money to law firms to fund commercial lawsuits.

*LBN-HEALTH WATCH:   ***It’s been one of the vexing questions in medicine: Why is it that most people who have heart attacks or strokes have few or no conventional risk factors? These are patients with normal levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, no history of smoking or diabetes, and no family history of cardiovascular disease. Why aren’t they spared? To some researchers, this hidden risk is the dark matter of cardiology: an invisible but omnipresent force that lands tens of thousands of patients in the hospital each year. But now scientists may have gotten a glimpse of part of it. They have learned that a bizarre accumulation of mutated stem cells in bone marrow increases a person’s risk of dying within a decade, usually from a heart attack or stroke, by 40 or 50 percent. They named the condition with medical jargon: clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential.

*LBN-HOLLYWOOD INSIDER:   ***Omarosa Manigault, former White House aide and director of African-American outreach on President Trump’s 2016 campaign, is going to be on Celebrity Big Brother. In a promo that aired ahead of the Grammys, CBS announced the 11 “cast members” that will be competing on the reality-TV series—Manigault being one of them. She will join American Pie actress Shannon Elizabeth, Mark McGrath, Keshia Knight Pulliam and others on the series, which is slated to premiere Feb. 7.   ***On Monday, attorneys for Michael Ovitz were expected to argue why they should be able to tell a jury that Steven Seagal was the man behind a 2002 threat to journalist Anita Busch that was allegedly orchestrated by infamous PI Anthony Pellicano — but, instead, the parties told the court the case against Ovitz will be dismissed. That trial, which is more than a decade in the making, was set to begin Feb. 5. Busch’s attorney Evan Marshall could only say that the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.   ***Producer Mark Gordon has been named chief content officer for Entertainment One, the indie distributor that acquired 51% of his busy production banner in early 2015. With Gordon’s elevation to president and chief content officer, eOne will buy out the remaining 49% of Mark Gordon Co. for $209 million. As part of the shuffle, longtime eOne TV chief John Moryaniss will step down after a period of transition. Steve Bertram, formerly co-president of film, TV, and digital, has been upped to president.

*LBN-MEDIA INSIDER:   ***In an attempt to calm rising newsroom tensions at The Los Angeles Times, the paper was expected to name Jim Kirk, a veteran journalist and former editor and publisher of The Chicago Sun-Times, as its next editor in chief on Monday, according to company officials. Mr. Kirk, who joined Tronc, the parent company of The Times, in August, will replace Lewis D’Vorkin, whose brief stint atop one of the country’s most prominent newspapers touched off widespread tension in the newsroom. Mr. D’Vorkin, 65, who became the newspaper’s top editor in November, will become Tronc’s chief content officer, a strategic role that will involve establishing new products to distribute the company’s journalism, according to a company official briefed on the plans but not authorized to speak publicly about personnel matters.

*LBN-INVESTIGATES: The Japanese eat more fish than any other people in the world, about 17 million tons per year. Japan is the world’s largest importer of seafood, with shrimp comprising about one third of the total, about four million tons a year. More than 20% of Japanese protein is obtained through fish and fish products.

*LBN-MUSIC INSIDER:   ***Jennifer Hudson will portray Aretha Franklin in an upcoming biopic about the Queen of Soul, Clive Davis revealed Saturday night at his annual pre-Grammys party.   ***Sting has signed on to play the NFL Tailgate Party before the Super Bowl, along with country star Darius Rucker. Portions of the performances will be televised on NBC’s “Super Bowl LII Pregame Show,” and Sting will perform a tune with Shaggy.   ***Sunday’s Bruno Mars-loving Grammy Awards took a steep ratings spill by the first-available metrics. The show, which ran a bloated three-and-a-half hours, was off an unfortunate 21 percent from 2017 in early numbers. Overnight returns from Nielsen Media give it a 12.7 rating among households — marking its biggest drop since the 2013, the year after the show swelled following the death of Whitney Houston. Such a steep drop, however, could very well mean an all-time low for the calendar’s biggest music awards show once updated numbers arrive.

*LBN-COMMENTARY by Sandeep Jauhar: Doctors today often complain of working in an occupational black hole in which patient encounters are compressed into smaller and smaller space and time. You can do a passable job in a 10-minute visit, they say, but it is impossible to appreciate the subtleties of patient care when you are rushing. Enter “Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing,” a wonderful new memoir by Dr. Victoria Sweet. The term “slow medicine” has different interpretations. For some it means spending more time with patients. For others it means taking the time to understand evidence so as to avoid over-diagnosis and over-treatment. For Sweet, it means “stepping back and seeing the patient in the context of his environment,” and providing medical care that is “slow, methodical and step-by-step.”

*LBN-COMMENTARY by Stephen Moore: If you can, put aside for a moment your opinion of Donald Trump’s words and actions and let’s be perfectly honest: One year into his presidency, could the economy be any rosier? The economy grew at a rate of about 3 percent in the last three quarters, something that economists said was very unlikely just a year ago. The more than 40 percent increase in the Dow Jones industrial average since Election Day means a nearly $7 trillion jump in wealth. That has benefited the rich, yes, but every one of the 55 million Americans with a 401(k) plan, the 20 million with IRAs and the millions more with public and private pension plans have benefited, too. I would argue that investors are turning lower business tax rates on profits and the administration’s rollback of regulations into higher stock valuations. The job market improved impressively under Barack Obama’s presidency after the Great Recession, when millions of jobs vanished seemingly overnight. But the past year’s continued decline in joblessness is impressive as well. In recent weeks, the number of new unemployment insurance claims and the unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics have been at or near their lowest levels in more than four decades. Then there is the cheerful news for the Rust Belt areas of the country: Blue-collar manufacturing, construction and mining jobs have risen by almost half a million in just one year.


Laura Nyro Poverty Train Monterey Pop Festival —

*LBN-COMMENTARY by By Daniel Mitchell: Last September, Economic Freedom of the World was released, which was sort of like Christmas for wonks who follow international economic policy. I eagerly combed through that report, which (predictably) had Hong Kong and Singapore as the top two jurisdictions. I was glad to see that the United States climbed to #11. The good news is that America had dropped as low as #18, so we’ve been improving the past few years. The bad news is that the U.S. used to be a top-5 country in the 1980s and 1990s.


US President George W. Bush Introduces the “Axis of Evil” (2002)

During his 2002 State of the Union Address, US President George W. Bush described the countries of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an “Axis of Evil” for their alleged support of terrorism. Since then, the phrase has spawned many imitations, including the Eritrean-coined “Axis of Belligerence,” the South American “Axis of Good,” and the “Axis of Diesel” proposed by The Economist magazine.

*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Inside Nevada’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch —


*LBN-OVERHEARD:   ***Name-dropping Meryl Streep is going to cost you. The actress, 68, filed a trademark to protect her name for “entertainment services, namely, live, televised, and movie appearances by a professional actress and entertainer” on Jan. 22, according to United States Patent and Trademark Office records. Her name is also protected for “personal appearances, speaking engagements; autograph signings” and “providing a website featuring content in the field of motion pictures.”   ***Gordon Ramsay has revealed he felt forced to get in shape after fearing his wife would leave him over his weight gain. The chef, 51, claimed he was “fat” after he ballooned to 250 pounds, but said he shed 56 pounds in order to hold on to his marriage to Tana, 41. The TV star told the Times in an interview: “Tana was not impressed with the way I was.

LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord