North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-In to visit his country for a summit meeting “at an early date,” Moon’s office announced Saturday. The invitation was passed along to Moon by Kim’s adviser and sister, Kim Yo Jong, who sat down with the South Korean leader in Seoul on Saturday for the highest-level meeting between the two sides in years. Kim reportedly also handed Moon a personal written letter from her brother, though no details were provided on the content of the message. Moon, who has enthusiastically welcomed Kim and been seen making friendly gestures to her at the Winter Olympics, said the two Koreas should “work together to create the environment” to make North Korea’s proposed summit happen. The invitation appears to be the first hint of a diplomatic breakthrough after months of nuclear threats and missile launches, though other world leaders, including Japan’s Shinzo Abe, have warned Moon not to buy into North Korea’s “smile diplomacy” during the games in Pyeongchang.
*Trump Appears to Suggest Rob Porter Was ‘Falsely Accused’
President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to offer a brief rant about unspecified “allegations,” apparently in response to domestic violence claims against a top White House aide. “Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,” Trump wrote. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” His remarks come after White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday amid domestic abuse allegations from two of his ex-wives. The White House has come under fire for initially defending Porter against the accusations, and Trump himself backed Porter even after other officials began to distance themselves from the former top aide. On Friday, Trump said Porter is going through a “tough time” but he “says he’s innocent.”
*Who reads the LBN Elert? Legendary legal journalist Linda Deutsch.
*Las Vegas Gunman’s Brain Exam Only Deepens Mystery of His Actions:
Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old gunman who killed 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas last October in the worst mass shooting in modern American history, had not had a stroke, brain tumor or a number of other neurological disorders that might have helped explain his actions, a recent autopsy and examination of the remains of his brain showed. Mr. Paddock’s brain did have changes commonly seen in Americans of his age, including evidence of atherosclerosis — fatty plaques inside blood vessels that can impair circulation, which brain cells rely on to survive — and damage to the brain’s blood vessels resulting from high blood pressure. Also, scattered on the surfaces of his brain were an abnormally high number of tiny deposits that tend to increase with age and accompany some neurological diseases. The brain examination was conducted by Dr. Hannes Vogel, the director of neuropathology at Stanford University. Dr. Vogel said he was able to perform an adequate evaluation, despite damage caused by Mr. Paddock’s fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “With a good deal of screening, I didn’t see anything,” he said, that could explain why Mr. Paddock became a calculating mass killer. Although experts had considered it unlikely that a brain examination would provide answers to what led Mr. Paddock to commit a mass shooting, doctors throughout the country had proposed ruling out more than a half-dozen disorders that might possibly be implicated. Dr. Vogel found none of them.
*ESCALATING – Israel Launches ‘Large Scale Attack’ in Syria
The Israeli military on Saturday said it launched a “large scale attack” on Iranian positions in Syria, the most serious confrontation between the two sides since the start of the Syrian war. The move came in response to what Israel described as an Iranian drone intrusion in Israeli airspace. An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was also shot down during the reported border breach, leaving the pilots hospitalized, an Israeli military spokesman said. Amid escalating tensions, Israel warned Iran it is “playing with fire” and said it is “ready for various scenarios and will continue to act according to situation assessments.” Israeli military planes hit 12 targets in Syria, reportedly conducting two separate waves of airstrikes targeting posts maintained by Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Syrian government forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited unconfirmed reports of casualties among Syrian forces after the Israeli airstrikes. Central Military Media, an outlet that is allied with Syria’s military, called the Israeli strikes a “terrorist act” and warned of a “tough and serious response.”
*Olympic Organizers Investigating Possible Cyberattack
Organizers of the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics say they are investigating a possible attack on their internet and Wi-Fi systems that triggered an outage ahead of the opening ceremony Friday. Nancy Park, a spokeswoman for the organizing committee, stopped short of describing the incident as a cyberattack and gave no details on the cause of the disruption. “It didn’t affect the opening ceremony,” she was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “It went as planned. We just had some issue with our internal system,” she said. The Pyeongchang Olympic website also reportedly suffered problems as a result of the disruption, leaving some people unable to print out tickets to Olympic events. Experts had warned of increased cybersecurity threats at the games, particularly from North Korea, which has been blamed for last year’s devastating WannaCry cyberattack.
*FEUD – Kim Cattrall to Sarah Jessica Parker: Stop ‘Exploiting’ My Brother’s Death
Actress Kim Cattrall lashed out at her former Sex and the City co-star Sarah Jessica Parker early Saturday for “exploiting” her brother’s recent death. In an Instagram post responding to Parker’s recent condolences, Cattrall accused Parker of putting on an act. “Your continuous reaching out is a painful reminder of how cruel you really were then and now. Let me make this VERY clear. … You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your ‘nice girl’ persona,” Cattrall wrote. “I don’t need your love or support at this tragic time,” she told Parker. The pair starred alongside each other on Sex and the City for years, but they reportedly had a long-running feud behind the scenes in which Parker was accused of “mean girls” behavior.
*No. 3 Official at the Justice Department Is Stepping Down:
Rachel L. Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job as the country’s top law enforcement agency has been under attack by President Trump, according to two people briefed on her decision. Ms. Brand’s profile had risen in part because she is next in the line of succession behind the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump, who has called the investigation a witch hunt, has considered firing Mr. Rosenstein. Such a move could have put her in charge of the special counsel and, by extension, left her in the cross hairs of the president. Ms. Brand, who became the associate attorney general in May, will become the global governance director at Walmart, the company’s top legal position, according to people briefed on her move. She has held politically appointed positions in the past three presidential administrations.
*LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER: ***News Corp’s chief executive on Thursday took a swipe at Google and Facebook for fostering a “dysfunctional” and “debased” online environment which harms the news media and responsible journalism.Robert Thompson, CEO of the publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, stepped up his criticism of the online giants as the company released its quarterly earnings.
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*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Without Notes with Dr. Srini Pillay – Episode 2: Inception of the Book –https://youtu.be/7e4lBLSxuck
*LBN-R.I.P.: ***Emmy Award-winning actor Reg E. Cathey, known for his roles on The Wire and House of Cards, has died at the age of 59. The Wire creator David Simon announced Cathey’s passing on Twitter late Friday, lamenting the loss of “one of the most delightful human beings with whom I ever shared some long days on set.” No details on Cathey’s cause of death were provided by his family, but TMZ reported that he’d been battling lung cancer. ***John Gavin, a strikingly handsome Hollywood actor who played romantic leads in the 1950s and ′60s and was the Reagan administration’s ambassador to Mexico for five years, a rocky tenure notable for its diplomatic controversies, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 86. His death was confirmed byBudd Burton Moss, Mr. Gavin’s former agent and the manager of Mr. Gavin’s wife, the singer and actress Constance Towers. He did not specify a cause but said Mr. Gavin had been ill for months.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Top 10 Most Disturbing YouTube Videos of All Time — https://youtu.be/jOq6F0EiY18
*LBN-THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Opens on Broadway (1949)
Considered Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman won a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award for Best Play, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play award in its first year. An unconventional tragedy, it tells the story of the last day of Willy Loman, a failed salesman betrayed by his own hollow values. The play follows Loman’s stream of consciousness. As he talks to people from his past, those from his present wonder if he is unraveling.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Bari Weiss on #MeToo | Real Time withBill Maher (HBO) — https://youtu.be/E6lCPvwiIqo
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Bret Stephens: It’s precisely because Dylan Farrow’s account plays to our existing biases that we need to treat it with added skepticism. Most parents know that young children are imaginative and suggestible and innocently prone to making things up. The misuse of children’s memories by ambitious prosecutors against day-care center operators in the 1980s led to some of the worst miscarriages of justice in recent U.S. history. You don’t have to doubt Farrow’s honesty to doubt her version of events. Nor have we learned anything else about Allen in the intervening years that might add to suspicions of guilt. Woody Allen married Soon-Yi and has been with her ever since. Nobody else has come forward in 25 years with a fresh accusation of assault against him. If Allen is in fact a pedophile, he appears to have acted on his evil fantasies exactly once. Compare that to Larry Nassar’s 265 identified victims. It goes without saying that child molestation is a uniquely evil crime that merits the stiffest penalties. But accusing someone of being a molester without abundant evidence is also odious, particularly in an era in which social-media whispers can become the ruin of careers and even of lives. That’s something for all of us to think about, even when it comes to wealthy, peculiar old men for whom we feel no love. We still live in a country that paints a bright line between accusation and fact. Smear the accused, smudge the line, and the truth will never out.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Steve Rattner: In August 2015, the leading Washington budget watchdog predicted that the federal deficit would total about $600 billion the next year. Now, just about two and a half years later, the projected gap for 2019 has grown to $1.2 trillion, in large part because of a boisterous round of tax cuts and spending increases. And if history is any guide, when the books close, the final number will be higher. That amounts to a shortfall that will rival the deficits of a decade ago, when the economy was struggling to recover from the financial crisis and ensuing recession. But while fiscal stimulus to restore economic growth has merit, staggering deficits in the ninth year of a recovery, with unemployment down to 4.1 percent, make no sense.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Eric Klinenberg: Last month, Britain appointed its first “minister for loneliness,” who is charged with tackling what Prime Minister Theresa May called the “sad reality of modern life.” Public-health leaders immediately praised the idea — and for good reason. In recent decades, researchers have discovered that loneliness left untreated is not just psychically painful; it also can have serious medical consequences. Rigorous epidemiological studies have linked loneliness and social isolation to heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes and suicide. Vivek Murthy, the former United States surgeon general, has written that loneliness and social isolation are “associated with a reduction in life span similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.” But is loneliness, as many political officials and pundits are warning, a growing “health epidemic”? I don’t believe so, nor do I believe it helps anyone to describe it that way. Social disconnection is a serious matter, yet if we whip up a panic over its prevalence and impact, we’re less likely to deal with it properly.
*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Jean Nidetch: It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.
*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:…
*LBN-OVERHEARD: ***Comedian Rob Delaney’s young son has tragically lost his battle with cancer. “Henry had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, shortly after his first birthday, following persistent vomiting and weight loss,” Delaney, 41, wrote on Facebook on Friday. “He had surgery to remove the tumor and further treatment through the early part of 2017. Then the cancer returned last autumn and he died in January.” The “Catastrophe” star said his son had been hospitalized for 15 months, but that the little boy’s spirit never broke.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord