LBN – Special Report – Wednesday April 5, 2017

Israel: Syrian Gas Attack Approved by Leaders in Assad Regime

Sources in Israel’s security establishment say the chemical-weapons assault in Syria that killed more than 70 people Tuesday was approved by the highest levels of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in order to send rebel groups a threatening message, Haaretz reports. Mostly civilians, including 20 children, died from the lethal gas. The attack, most sources allege, was carried out by Syrian government forces onto a rebel-held area in the northern Idlib province. It is still unclear if Russian or Iranian figures were involved in the plan. Syria has denied involvement, despite witness accounts that point to the government as the perpetrator.

ISIS Officially Taunts Trump, Ending a Conspicuous Silence:

Although members and supporters of the Islamic State have frequently commented on President Trump and his policies, analysts have been puzzled by the terrorist group’s official silence about him. Mr. Trump had not been mentioned in any of the group’s official media — all frequent venues for criticism or taunting of former President Barack Obama and other world leaders. More than two months after Mr. Trump was sworn in as president, the Islamic State’s spokesman on Tuesday released the group’s first official statement on him, in an audio recording calling him an “idiot” and deriding his attacks on Muslims, among other claims. Even then, Mr. Trump was only indirectly insulted rather than called out by name. “America, you have drowned and there is no savior; you have become prey for the soldiers of the caliphate in every part of the Earth; you are bankrupt, and the signs of your demise are evident to every eye,” the spokesman said, according to a translation by Reuters. “There is no more evidence than the fact that you are being run by an idiot who does not know what Syria or Iraq or Islam is.”

UN Chief: Emergency Security Council Meeting Is Our ‘Moment of Truth’ on Syria

The United Nations Security Council is facing a “moment of truth,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said Wednesday ahead of the panel’s emergency meeting on the suspected chemical attack in Syria that left dozens of civilians dead. En route to an international conference in Brussels on rebuilding Syria, Guterres told The Wall Street Journal that “the horrific events of yesterday demonstrate that unfortunately, war crimes are going on,” adding there must be a “very clear investigation to remove all doubts and we need to have accountability based on the results of that investigation.” The meeting was called by France and the U.K., as world leaders condemned the attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, with many blaming the Syrian government. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, raised the death toll Wednesday to at least 72, among them 20 children and 17 women. Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, denounced the attack as a “war crime” and described it as “very bad news for peace in Syria.” “I call on the Security Council members who have previously used their vetoes to defend the indefensible to change their course,” Rycroft said, apparently in reference to Russia, Syria’s main ally on the council.

Builders Submit Trump Border Wall Plans

Builders have submitted their plans for Donald Trump’s proposed Mexico border wall, a key feature of his presidential campaign. Ideas for the 2,000-mile barrier include features like solar panels and booby traps of nuclear waste. Though the project hasn’t yet been funded, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon narrow down the proposals to 20 companies, and those will be invited to build prototypes on federal land near San Diego. Congress is expected to discuss the money for the project this month as part of Trump’s budget proposal. The commander in chief claimed initially that Mexico would pay for the wall, but he has since asked for federal money to build the project. James Carpenter, owner of Texas-based Quantum Logistics, submitted designs that include seismic sensors, drones, and materials that could protect the wall from a car bomb. “Everybody else looks at this as a construction project,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I look at this from a security standpoint.”

Susan Rice, Ex-Obama Adviser, Is Back in Political Cross Hairs Over Surveillance:

She has been here before. After the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, Susan E. Rice was at the center of conflict, her statements scrutinized and criticized. Now she finds herself back in the cross hairs as her handling of intelligence involving President Trump’s associates comes into question. A longtime Democratic foreign policy official who served as President Barack Obama’s last national security adviser, Ms. Rice has become an inkblot test in the controversy over Russian meddling in last year’s election. Republicans see a partisan who mined intelligence reports to spy on Mr. Trump’s team. Democrats see a scapegoat tarred for doing her job and used as a distraction from an F.B.I. investigation into Mr. Trump’s associates. At issue are her requests for the identities of Americans caught up in electronic surveillance of foreigners, as cited in reports provided to her by intelligence agencies: Americans who were affiliated with Mr. Trump. Ms. Rice went public in her own defense on television and Twitter on Tuesday, neither confirming nor disputing that she made such requests but arguing that any she might have made were proper and necessary, not part of political espionage against the Trump campaign.

WHO READS LBN? Music producer Steve Lillywhite

Ivanka: I Do Criticize the President in Private

First daughter and Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump responded to her public critics on Wednesday, in a preview clip from a longer interview with Gayle King that will air on CBS This Morning. To her detractors, Ivanka said, “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence.” She added, “I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard.” Sometimes it is “quietly, directly, candidly,” she said. Trump noted that her father takes her advice seriously and understands where she stands. “Where I agree, he knows it,” she said. “He always listens.” Trump also said she doesn’t understand what it means to be “complicit” in her father’s administration. “If being complicit is wanting to—is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit,” she said. “I don’t know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I am doing. So I hope to make a positive impact. I don’t know what it means to be complicit, but you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly that my father’s administration is the success that I know it will be.”

LBN-READER QUESTION: If you could give Donald Trump the gift of a single trait to help his presidency, what would it be? Send your signed reply to:  (Please put “LBN-Reader Question” in the subject line.


LBN-INVESTIGATES: Within 20 years, more babies will be born to Muslim women than to Christian women world-wide, the latest sign of the rapid growth that could make Islam the world’s largest religion by the end of the century. Islam is already the world’s fastest-growing religion, according to a new study released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, with the Muslim population increasing by more than 150 million people between 2010 and 2015, to 1.8 billion.

Amazon, NFL Sign $50 Million Streaming Deal

The National Football League has reached a $50 million deal with Amazon to stream 10 Thursday night games this season, according to reports. The one-year agreement is a fivefold increase from the NFL’s deal with Twitter last season. Twitter streamed the games for free on its site, but Amazon’s streamed games will only be accessible to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 per year for the service. Thursday games will also still be televised on CBS and NBC, as well as the NFL Network.

Report: Doctors Experience Race, Location Pay Gap

U.S. physicians’ salaries are affected by their gender, race, and location, according to the results of an annual survey. The Medscape Physician Compensation Report finds American doctors earn an average of $294,000 per year, with wide swings for various specialties—specialists earn about $100,000 more than primary-care doctors, for example. The survey shows women and black physicians are earning less, with white doctors making 15 percent more than their black counterparts—$303,000 vs. $262,000. The report is completed online by about 19,200 physicians in 26 specialty areas, and indicates that doctors in less-populated states typically make more money than those in urban areas. Physicians in North Dakota, on average earn as much as $361,000, while those in Washington, D.C. reported some of the lowest compensation in the country: $235,000 per year. The survey shows male doctors earn more than female physicians, but that gap appears to be narrowing among younger clinicians: Male doctors age 55 to 69 on average make 27 percent more than women, but that gap shrinks to 11 percent among those under age 34.

LBN-HEALTH WATCH: New research suggests that chronic sinus problems may be linked to depression. More than 12 percent of adults have been diagnosed with sinusitis. Many report calling out sick from work or school because they can’t breathe, can’t focus and feel miserable. More than 100 people, with an average age of 52, were entered into a study. They filled out questionnaires about their sinusitis symptoms, including things like sleep, pain and emotional function.

Teen Gets into Stanford after Writing ‘#BlackLivesMatter’ 100 Times on App:

This New Jersey student’s unconventional approach to applying for college paid off for him. On his Stanford University application, Ziad Ahmed was posed the question “What matters to you, and why?” The 18-year-old activist from Princeton, New Jersey, decided to use the opportunity to write “#BlackLivesMatter” 100 times. To his surprise, the answer caught the attention of the California school’s admissions office and Ahmed received his acceptance letter on Friday. “I didn’t think I would get admitted to Stanford at all, but it’s quite refreshing to see that they view my unapologetic activism as an asset rather than a liability,” Ahmed told Mic. 

LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER:   ***Facebook is rolling out new tools designed to combat the dissemination of “revenge porn” on its platform, it announced Wednesday. The social media giant will use new photo-matching technology to beef up its efforts in keeping intimate images shared without consent off its network. Facebook will allow users to flag intimate images that appear to be shared without permission on the site. Flagged images will be reviewed by members of its content operations team to be removed if they find it to be in violation of Facebook’s community standards, and the account sharing the image will be reviewed for removal as well.

LBN-NOTICED:  ***Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez at brunch at Lure Fishbar in NYC.   ***Lenny Kravitz at Sessanta in NYC on Saturday night.   **“Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail at the Ainsworth in Chelsea in NYC, with members of the show’s cast and crew, ordering 40 different dishes.   ***Ben Stiller seeing Broadway show “Significant Other.”

LBN-SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

A revealing interview with M. Zuhdi Jasser M.D., one of America’s most prominent commentators. Born of Syrian refuge parents, Jasser discusses what it truly means to be an American. A fascinating discussion with a unique and brilliant voice.

LBN-MUSIC INSIDER:   ***David Letterman will induct Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Brooklyn induction ceremony Friday, with the retired Late Show host filling in for Neil Young. “Due to illness, Neil Young is regrettably no longer able to induct Pearl Jam at this Year’s Induction Ceremony,” the Rock Hall said in a statement Wednesday. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is thrilled that David Letterman has agreed to induct Pearl Jam this Friday night at the 32nd Annual Induction Ceremony.”

LBN-INVESTIGATES: Amazon is worth more than $430 billion. That’s nearly twice the market value of its rival Walmart (WMT), which has a market cap of a mere $220 billion.

LBN-BOOK NEWS:   ***New York Post columnist Salena Zito nabbed a book deal with Penguin Random House’s Crown Forum imprint, expanding on her widely praised reports from America’s heartland. “The Great Divide” co-written by Brad Todd and due out in Spring 2018, “will paint portraits . . . of the emerging populist tribe . . . in bellwether Rust Belt counties that switched allegiances from Barack Obama . . . to Donald Trump.

LBN-SPOTLIGHT: About Michael Levine | The Excel Community  —-



How-To Geek
“We are an online tech magazine, dedicated to providing interesting articles, how-tos, and even fun trivia to our audience of geeky – and not-so-geeky readers. We’ve tried really hard to make sure that our content is understandable for regular people, but geeky enough that the more technical readers would find it interesting as well.”


LBN-SPOTLIGHT: “FOCUS = Follow On Course Until Successful.” —–

LBN-HOLLYWOOD INSIDER:   ***Orlando Bloom has signed with ICM Partners. The English actor has been a key player in major franchises like Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit and Pirates of the Caribbean.


LBN-R.I.P.:   ***Joe Harris, a commercial illustrator who envisioned and drew enduring  cartoon characters like Underdog and the Trix cereal rabbit in the 1950s and ’60s, died on March 26 at his home in Stamford, Conn. He was 89. His death was confirmed by his daughter Merrie Harris.

LBN-COMMENTARY by Thomas L. Friedman: With each passing day our new president is discovering that every big problem he faces is like Obamacare — if there were a good, easy solution it would have been found already, and even the less good solutions are more than his own party is ready to pay for or the country is ready to tolerate. But on Tuesday, tragically, Trump got this lesson in foreign policy via a truly vile poison-gas attack on Syrian civilians, many of them children, reportedly perpetrated by the pro-Russian, pro-Iranian, murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad. President Trump came to office with the naïve view that he could make fighting ISIS the centerpiece of his Middle East policy — and just drop more bombs and send more special forces than President Barack Obama did to prove his toughness. Trump also seemed to think that fighting ISIS would be a bridge to building a partnership with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. It was naïve because ISIS does not exist in a vacuum — nor is it the only bad actor in the region. ISIS was produced as a Sunni Muslim reaction to massive overreach by Iran in Iraq, where Iranian-backed Shiite militias and the Iraqi government forces of Nouri al-Maliki tried to crush all vestiges of Sunni power in that country and make it a vassal of Iran. (If you think ISIS is sick, Google the phrase “power drills to the head and Shiite militias in Iraq” and you will discover that ISIS did not invent depravity in that part of the world.)

LBN-COMMENTARY by STANLEY McCHRYSTAL: I like to say that leadership is a choice. As our leaders in Washington confront tough decisions about our budget priorities, I urge them to continue federal funding for public broadcasting. Public broadcasting makes our nation smarter, stronger and, yes, safer. It’s a small public investment that pays huge dividends for Americans. And it shouldn’t be pitted against spending more on improving our military. That’s a false choice. This might seem like an unlikely position for me, a 34-year combat veteran. But it’s a view that has been shaped by my career leading brave men and women who thrive and win when they are both strong and smart. My experience has taught me that education, trusted institutions and civil discourse are the lifeblood of a great nation. Public broadcasting plays a special role with young children. According to the Pew Research Center, rising numbers of American children live with one parent or with two parents who both work. My son and daughter-in-law are a two-income family with two children, and day care is a part of their lives. Many other parents must get by without day care services. These parents are busy in the morning and busy at night. They want to protect their children from over-commercialized content. And they strive to prepare their children for school and lifelong learning. Having thoughtful television, games and other media that is not commercially driven is essential to good parenting.

LBN-COMMENTARY by Dennis Prager: The American media — most particularly, its elite — no longer even feigns objective reporting. It is solely an arm of the left and the Democratic Party, its task being the delegitimization of the Trump presidency. If you live among liberals, it is not chic to express support for President Trump. But it is time more of us did. If people abandon you because you support this president, they weren’t serious friends to begin with. And, sorry to say, they aren’t worthy of you. Somehow, you have been able to look beyond their support for the America- and West-destroying left. But they can’t look beyond your support for the first conservative president in a generation — and the gutsiest perhaps ever. If the president’s approval rating really is in the 30s, this makes overt support for him all the more imperative. Whether you like his tweets or not, his fate is our fate.


LBN-OVERHEARD:   ***Barry Manilow was so terrified of alienating his fans that he kept his homosexuality a secret for decades, even after tying the knot with manager Garry Kief in 2014. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” Manilow, 73, recently told People. “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.” The “Copacabana” singer met Kief in 1978 and knew he was “The One” right away.   ***It might have been another legendary party at the Playboy Mansion, except Hugh Hefner didn’t make an appearance. The Playboy founder was a no-show Tuesday night at a celebration of the new Amazon series about his life, “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story.” His youngest son, 25-year-old Cooper Hefner, who became Playboy’s chief creative officer last year, hosted the mansion party to screen an episode from the 10-part series, premiering Friday.

LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord
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