LBN – Special Report – Tuesday March 21, 2017

GOP Rolls Out Changes to Unpopular Health-Care Bill:

House Republicans unveiled changes to their health-care bill, just days before a planned vote on Capitol Hill. The changes are meant to get reluctant GOP lawmakers—many of whom have called the bill “Obamacare Lite” and a flawed replacement for the Affordable Care Act—on board with the plan, dubbed the American Health Care Act. The changes are said to make iteasier for older Americans to purchase insurance and allow for tax credits to offset higher premiums. President Donald Trumpaddressed the House Republican Conference on Tuesday morning in a bid to rally support for the bill, which will come to a full floor vote Thursday. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney have also been trying to woo wary conservatives. Price has said the legislation is just the first step in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, widely considered to be President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

WHO READS LBN? Exercise guru Richard Simmons

Gorsuch: Roe v. Wade ‘Worthy of Treatment as Precedent’:

Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, said Tuesday that Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case, should be treated as a precedent of the court and has been repeatedly reaffirmed. “All of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered. It is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch said during his confirmation hearing. “So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.” The 1973 case has been a point of contention for social conservatives, who have long wanted it overturned. Trump said on the campaign trail that he would appoint someone to the high court who would overturn Roe v. Wade. When asked about this, Gorsuch said a settled case “adds to the determinacy of the law. What was once a hotly contested issue is no longer a hotly contested issue. We move forward.”

F.B.I. Is Investigating Trump’s Russia Ties, Comey Confirms:

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, took the extraordinary step on Monday of announcing that the agency is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mr. Comey’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee created a treacherous political moment for Mr. Trump, who has insisted that “Russia is fake news” that was cooked up by his political opponents to undermine his presidency. Mr. Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said officers would pursue it “no matter how long that takes.” Joined by Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, Mr. Comey also dismissed Mr. Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor during the campaign, a sensational accusation that has served as a distraction in the public debate over Russian election interference. Taken together, the two provided the most definitive statement yet that Mr. Trump’s accusation was false.

U.S. Limits Devices on Planes From 8 Muslim-Majority Nations:

Starting Tuesday morning, electronic devices larger than a smartphone are forbidden from passenger cabins on foreign airlines’ nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East and Africa. The new Trump administration policy, which took effect at 3 a.m. ET, means passengers traveling from those areas must check electronics such as laptops, iPads, Kindles, and cameras in their luggage. The affected airports are Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that he “fully supports” the new regulations because they are “both necessary and proportional to the threat.” Officials told The New York Times the ban did not stem from a specific threat of an attack and is meant to address security measures at the named airports and ongoing intelligence about terror groups in the region. Royal Jordanian, the kingdom’s state-run airline, was first to tweet the news, but deleted the post later Monday. The AP reports Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned U.S. lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on the intelligence behind the new measures, according to a congressional aide close to those talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

SAIL THE STORMY SEA – READ LBN:

U.S. Infant Mortality Rates Down 15%:

Infant mortality rates across the U.S. have dropped 15 percent over the past decade, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. Between 2005 and 2014, the study shows that the infant mortality rate dropped to 5.82 infant deaths per 1,000 live births from 6.86. Incidences of sudden infant death syndrome alone dropped by 29 percent. “There was a public-health push in the past decade to figure out ways to lower this rate, and it has made an impact,” said report author T.J. Matthews. “We know that there have been a lot of efforts across the country in cities and states where they’re trying to figure out ways where they can lower the infant mortality rate.” However, despite the overall drop, babies born to non-Hispanic black women still have a mortality rate more than twice that of non-Hispanic white women, according to the CDC figures. “It’s good news, but on the other hand, we have so much more to do,” said Paul Jarris, chief medical officer for the March of Dimes. “The inequities between non-Hispanic blacks and American Indians and the Caucasian population have persisted.”

Trump: I’m the Reason Kaepernick Has No Job:

President Trump patted himself on the back Monday night for allegedly helping to keep former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick unemployed. Trump was speaking at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, when he brought up the athlete, who opted out of his contract a few weeks ago after he made season-long headlines for kneeling during the nationalanthem to protest U.S. police brutality and systemic racism. Kaepernick’s demonstration drew criticism from many football fans, but other athletes all over the country joined the silent protest before their own games. “It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” Trump said. “Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that.” He continued, “I said if I remember that one I’m going to report it to the people of Kentucky. They like it when people actually stand for the American flag.” Days ago, the Bleacher Report wrote that Kaepernick was in “NFL limbo” because some teams do fear political backlash over his past protests. Kaepernick has said he will stand during the national anthem in the next football season.

LBN – INTEL FOR INFLUENCERS:
LBN-MEDIA INSIDER:   ***Conservative talk-show hostTomi Lahren has been temporarily banned from Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network after airing pro-choice abortion views last week. The 24-year-old Lahren — known for tirades against “so-called feminism” and calling refugees “rape-u-gees” — told ABC’s “The View” on Friday she thinks pro-life politics are an example of governmental overreach. “I’m someone that is for limited government, so I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government, but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies,” Lahren said on the show.   ***Andrew Napolitano, the senior legal analyst for Fox News, has been temporarily sidelined following his unproved assertion last week that former President Barack Obama had asked for British assistance in spying on Donald J. Trump, a person briefed on the decision said on Monday. Mr. Napolitano did not appear on Fox on Monday, even though there were two news events that normally would have called for his services: hearings involving the F.B.I. director James B. Comey, and the Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch.

LBN-NOTICED:   ***Basil Charles — owner of the famed celeb haunt Basil’s Bar in Mustique — at Omar’s in the West Village in NYC.   ***Eric Clapton at Le Bilboquet in NYC.   ***Susan Sarandon at Vegan Divas bakery on the Upper East Side in NYC.   ***Jessica Lange, Bobby Flay and Cynthia Erivo seeing the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” over the weekend in NYC.   ***“Creed” star Michael B. Jordan at Sons of Essex in New York.

LBN-R.I.P.:   ***Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander and Sinn Fein political leader who helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence, and became a senior official in its power-sharing government, died on Tuesday in Derry. He was 66. Sinn Fein said on its website that Mr. McGuinness died after a short illness. When he resigned from the Belfast government in January, The Irish Times reported that he had amyloidosis, a rare condition caused by the abnormal buildup of protein deposits in tissues and organs.   ***Robert B. Silvers, a founder of The New York Review of Books, which under his editorship became one of the premier intellectual journals in the United States, a showcase for extended, thoughtful essays on literature and politics by eminent writers, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87. Rea S. Hederman, the publisher of The Review, confirmed the death.

LBN-COMMENTARY by David Brooks: One of the things we’ve lost in this country is our story. It is the narrative that unites us around a common multigenerational project, that gives an overarching sense of meaning and purpose to our history. For most of the past 400 years, Americans did have an overarching story. It was the Exodus story. The Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of their Egypt and building a new Jerusalem. The Exodus story has six acts: first, a life of slavery and oppression, then the revolt against tyranny, then the difficult flight through the howling wilderness, then the infighting and misbehavior amid the stresses of that ordeal, then the handing down of a new covenant, a new law, and then finally the arrival into a new promised land and the project of building a new Jerusalem. The Puritans could survive hardship because they knew what kind of cosmic drama they were involved in. Being a chosen people with a sacred mission didn’t make them arrogant, it gave their task dignity and consequence. It made them self-critical. When John Winthrop used the phrase “shining city on a hill” he didn’t mean it as self-congratulation. He meant that the whole world was watching and by their selfishness and failings the colonists were screwing it up.

LBN-COMMENTARY by Mimi Swartz: If you haven’t seen therecent paintings by the artist formerly known as President George W. Bush, you can find them collected in a new book called “Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.” It’s just become a New York Times best seller. The proceeds from sales will go to a nonprofit organization that helps veterans and their families recover and rebuild from America’s post-Sept. 11 wars — otherwise known as Mr. Bush’s disastrous venture in the Middle East. If the notion of Mr. Bush as a portrait painter is one your brain has trouble accommodating, you are not alone. Even his wife, Laura, admitted to some difficulty in her foreword to the book. In the early days of her marriage, she relates, she would have found his election to the presidency less improbable than his artistic achievements. “If someone said, ‘One day you will be writing a foreword for a book that includes George’s paintings,’ I would have said, ‘No way.’ ” But the bigger surprise is that Mr. Bush paints well. His early works, images of which circulated on the internet in 2013, weren’t bad: one showed Mr. Bush’s toes and knees peeking from his bath water, another featured his naked back in the shower, with his all-too-familiar visage peering out from a shaving mirror. There were also some paintings of family pets: dogs and cats with enviably cushy lives.

LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:

LBN-OVERHEARD:   ***WWE star Maria has become the latest wrestler to apparently have X-rated photos leaked online. The pictures circulating online appear to show Maria — real name Maria Louise Kanellis-Bennett — posing naked. Several explicit photos have been posted, showing a woman taking selfies in a bathroom and on a bed. Maria is married to fellow wrestler Mike Bennett.   ***It’s a good thing laughter is the best medicine, because Ellen DeGeneres has some healing to do. “So, you know how in gymnastics when you do a one-handed cartwheel and you have to spread the weight evenly between all your fingers? Well, I had two glasses of wine and fell into a door,” the funny lady said on Tuesday’s episode of her daytime talk show, showing off a finger splint. “The dogs were so excited to see us and I caught the lip of the top step. I was a foot away from the door and I fell into the door and it did something to my finger, I knew something was wrong.” “Portia [De Rossi] drove me to the hospital — to the emergency room,” DeGeneres, 59, said.   ***Michael Lohan is eating his words but still insists that his daughter Lindsay Lohan is not Muslim. He apologized Sunday for celebrating his actress offspring’s Christian value of love — “the light in the darkness” — on Facebook and saying, “PS I guess she’s not Muslim.”   ***Court records show singer and television personality Mel B has filed for divorce from her husband of nearly 10 years. The former Spice Girl, whose real name is Melanie Brown, cited irreconcilable differences for her breakup from producer Stephen Belafonte. Her petition was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. They have a 5-year-old daughter together and Brown is seeking joint custody.

LBN E-Lert Edited By Addison Beaulieu

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