Tillerson: Pre-Emptive Strike on North Korea Is ‘Option on the Table’:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that pre-emptive military action against North Korea is “an option on the table” and that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” regarding the isolated nation is over. “Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict,” Tillerson told reporters at a Seoul press conference. “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then, that option’s on the table.” He also ruled out any negotiations to reach a deal on North Korea freezing its nuclear-weapons development program. Tillerson made the comments just one day after he’d issued public assurances that Pyongyang “need not fear” the U.S. and could just abandon its “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear-weapons program. The former ExxonMobil CEO is on his first trip to Asia as a U.S. diplomat. On Friday, he visited the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas. Japan held its first missile drill Friday in the wake of North Korea’s recent ballistic-missile test firings into waters off its coast.
Syria: We Fired at Israeli Warplanes:
Syrian officials said Friday that the embattled nation’s militaryhad fired at Israeli warplanes within Israeli-controlled territory in response to a series of Israeli strikes inside Syria. The violent exchange between the hostile neighbors was confirmed by both countries. The Israeli military said its airstrikes hit various targets in Syria, and that its jets had returned to Israeli airspace once missiles were fired from Syria. At least one of the missiles was intercepted by Israeli aerial defense systems, but officials have not said more about the aftermath. It remains unclear if any other missiles struck targets within Israeli territory, though authorities said the safety of civilians and equipment have not been “compromised.”
U.S. Formally Apologizes to U.K. Over Trump’s Spying Claims:
According to a report in The Telegraph, U.S. officials have formally apologized to the U.K. for claiming that Britishintelligence agencies spied on President Trump during the election campaign at the behest of President Obama. The British newspaper reports that British intelligence sources say the apology came directly from White House press secretarySean Spicer and Gen. H.R. McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa Maysaid the U.S. had assured its closest ally that the claims would not be repeated. In a highly unusual public statement, the United Kingdom’s intelligence agency had earlier denied Trump’s allegations that it helped to spy on the then-candidate during the 2016 in cooperation with former President Obama. The statement from the Government Communications Headquarters described the claims, which were reiterated Thursday by Spicer, as “utterly ridiculous” and urged the public to dismiss them: “They… should be ignored.” The British agency rarely if ever comments on specific allegations or cases, and it is especially rare that Friday’s comments came in the form of such blunt language. Spicer said during his daily press briefing: “Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement, quote, ‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command [to spy on Trump]. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA … he used GCHQ.’” Napolitano at the time implied that such a choice would have been to keep “American fingerprints” off the spy operation.
Al Qaeda Operative Found Guilty in U.S. Servicemen’s Deaths:
A jury in New York found a Saudi Arabia-born man guilty of taking part in a 2003 attack in Afghanistan that killed two U.S. servicemen. The jury deliberated for only two hours before issuing the verdict Thursday, leaving Ibrahim Suleiman Adnan Adam Harun to face life behind bars. Harun, a citizen of Niger, was extradited from Italy in 2012 to stand trial for the 2003 attack, as well as a plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Nigeria in2005. He was defiant throughout his trial, insisting that he be tried as a “warrior” in a military tribunal rather than a normal court, and at one point tore his clothes off before U.S. marshals to avoid a court hearing. He watched the latest proceedings against him from his jail cell. Prosecutors said Harun made it his life mission to kill U.S. soldiers for al Qaeda, joining the terrorist group in Afghanistan just weeks before Sept. 11, 2001. “The defendant embraced terrorism at a young age and made it his life’s work,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Jacobs said in the court Thursday. Prosecutors played recordings for the jury in which Harun spoke of his dreams of “jihad” dating back to his childhood.
WHO READS LBN? Actress Mischa Barton:
LBN-HEALTH WATCH: The first rigorous test of an expensive new drug that radically lowers cholesterol levels found that it significantly reduced the chance that a high-risk patient would have a heart attack or stroke. These were men and women who had exhausted all other options. The results of the study, which cost about $1 billion and was paid for by Amgen, maker of the drug, were published on Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. The drug, Repatha, is called a PCSK9 inhibitor and can make cholesterol tumble to levels almost never seen naturally in adults, or even in people taking cholesterol-lowering statins. The Amgen drug and a similar one, sold by Sanofi and Regeneron, were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 with the hope — and expectation — that they would lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and not just reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, the dangerous kind.
LBN-INVESTIGATES: Nicotine patches and even melatonin (an over-the-counter sleep aid) are reported to increase the vividness of dreams and nightmares. The nicotine patch in particular is said to intensify dreams.
LBN-WHERE THE ELITE AND UNDERDOGS MEET:
LBN-NOTICED: ***Olivia Wilde celebrating her birthday with Jason Sudeikis at Añejo Tribeca in NYC. ***David Letterman and Brian Williams hanging out at the IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida. ***“South Park” co-creator Trey Parker with his family at New York Yankees Steakhouse in Midtown in NYC — where chefs etched an image of the show’s character “Kenny” to the bone of a rib-eye. ***Bryan Cranston celebrating his birthday at Delmonico’s in NYC with wife Robin Dearden. ***Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dining at Nino’s Restaurant on First Avenue in NYC. ***Hypnotist-to-the-starsKimberly Friedmutter hanging with NBC’s Kim Wagner at the Flair for Care Fashion Show at the Wynn Las Vegas. ***“Prison Break,” star Amaury Nolasco dancing on a banquette during a boozy brunch at Bagatelle in NYC. ***AnnaLynne McCord at an SXSW event with Hormel execLisa Selk. ***Model Rocky Barnes at the Four Seasons in Punta Mita, Mexico.
WHO READS LBN? KNX Radio Producer Jerry Edling
LBN-SPOTLIGHT: “Freedom is man’s capacity to take a hand in his own development. It is our capacity to mold ourselves.”—–www.TheExcelCommunity.com
LBN-R.I.P.: ***Longtime Gotham talent agent Gene Parseghian, who repped stars including Daniel DayLewis, Eddie Redmayne, Olympia Dukakis, and Kathleen Turner, died March 16 of cancer at his home in Manhattan. He was 72. Among the other actors he repped were Kit Harington, Rufus Sewell, Hugh Dancy, Essie Davis,Christopher Abbott, Miranda Richardson, Billy Connolly, and Betty Buckley. ***Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott has died, the St. Lucia Star reports. The writer had reportedly suffered from unspecified health issues, and he passed away early Friday morning, family members said. Walcott, who was born and raised in St. Lucia, won numerous poetry awards, including the T.S. Eliot Prize, in the course of his lengthy career as a playwright, poet, and journalist. ***James Cotton, a pioneering harmonica player who worked with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and helped establish his instrument as an integral part of modern blues, died on Thursday in Austin, Tex. He was 81. Marc Lipkin, the director of publicity at Alligator Records, Mr. Cotton’s label, said the cause was pneumonia.
LBN-COMMENTARY by David Brooks: I continue to worry about Steve Bannon. I see him in the White House photos, but he never has that sprightly Prince of Darkness gleam in his eye anymore. His governing philosophy is being completely gutted by the mice around him. He seems to have a big influence on Trump speeches but zero influence on recent Trump policies. I’m beginning to fear that he’s spending his days sitting along the wall in the Roosevelt Room morosely playing one of those Risk-style global empire video games on his smartphone. Back in the good old days — like two months ago — it was fun to watch Bannon operate. He was the guy with a coherent governing philosophy. He seemed to have realized that the two major party establishments had abandoned the working class. He also seemed to have realized that the 21st-century political debate is not big versus small government, it’s open versus closed. Bannon had the opportunity to realign American politics around the social, cultural and economic concerns of the working class. Erect barriers to keep out aliens from abroad, and shift money from the rich to the working class to create economic security at home.
LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:….
LBN-OVERHEARD: ***“Transformers” director Michael Bay had a scene reminiscent of one of his own action movies at his lavish mansion in Los Angeles’ Bel Air neighborhood this week. But instead of calling the shots, Bay was calling the cops. Neighbors in Bay’s celebrity-heavy area were awakened by two police helicopters with searchlights hovering above Bay’s 30,000-square-foot modern mansion, as well as a half-dozen LAPD squad cars on the scene.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Addison Beaulieu
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