The National Rifle Association says the decision by several companies to sever ties with it following a deadly Florida high school shooting is “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.” In a statement issued late Saturday, the pro-gun lobbying group placed the blame for the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on everything but the availability of assault rifles, slamming the “failure” of the school’s “security preparedness,” “the failure of America’s mental health system,” and “the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.” The group depicted itself as a victim of corporations that don’t recognize its “patriotism,” saying the growing backlash is meant to “punish NRA membership.” Delta and United Airlines became the latest companies to cut ties with the group Saturday after a slew of other brands ended their partnerships on Friday. The NRA said it would not be deterred, however, vowing to build new partnerships with companies that recognize the group’s “patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms.”
*North Korea Is Willing to Talk With U.S., South’s Leader Says:
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said on Sunday that high-ranking officials from North Korea told him their country was willing to start a dialogue with the United States, a potential diplomatic victory for Mr. Moon, who has been urging the two countries to talk. Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, expressed that willingness when he met with Mr. Moon shortly before the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Mr. Moon’s office said. Mr. Kim led an eight-member North Korean delegation to the ceremony, in the latest sign that the two Koreas were working toward a political détente after years of rising tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program. “President Moon noted that North Korea-United States dialogue must take place soon in order to improve South-North Korean relations and to find a fundamental solution to the Korean Peninsula issue,” said Mr. Moon’s spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom. “To this, the North Korean delegates responded that the North was quite willing to start talks with the United States and agreed that relations between North and South Korea and those between the North and the United States should develop simultaneously.” But it was too early to take the North’s comments as a major breakthrough.
*Report: Russia Hacked Olympics, Tried to Pin It on Pyongyang
Russian intelligence operatives hacked hundreds of computers used by Olympic organizers and tried to make it look as if North Korea was behind the cyberattack, The Washington Post reports, citing U.S. officials. Organizers of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics confirmed the cyberattack during the games’ Opening Ceremony but had declined at that time to disclose who was responsible. Intelligence officials now say Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency gained access to up to 300 computers used at the Olympics, and analysts believe the cyberattack may have been retaliation against the International Olympic Committee for its ban on Russia’s national team at the games, according to the report. In addition to accessing Olympic-related computers, the Russian intelligence agency is also accused of hacking routers in South Korea last month and deploying new malware during the Winter Games that could allow them to gather intelligence or carry out further attacks, officials told the Post.
*‘MAO OF THE 21st CENTURY’ – China Sets Stage for Xi Jinping to Rule Beyond 2023
China’s Communist Party on Sunday proposed ending term limits for the country’s president, paving the way for party leader Xi Jinping to remain in power beyond 2023. The proposal, which would involve removing a clause setting out term limits from the constitution, is expected to be approved at an annual meeting on March 5. The move comes amid concerns the Chinese leader is seeking to centralize power for a long-term reign that could make him the “Mao Zedong of the 21st century,” political analyst Willy Lam told the Associated Press. Fears of Xi achieving lifetime power arose after last year’s Communist Party congress, when Xi’s name was added to the party constitution as he declared a “new era” under his guidance. Party officials began planning for his second-year term at that time but made no mention of any potential successors to take over after 2023.
*‘FREEDOM OF SPEECH’ – Russians Defy Ban With National Anthem After Winning Ice Hockey Gold
Russian hockey players defiantly sang the national anthem Sunday after beating Germany to claim gold, violating strict guidelines imposed by the International Olympic Committee over doping violations. Russia’s national team was banned at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, but dozens of Russians were allowed to compete as neutral athletes—without their national anthem or flag. After pulling off a 4-3 overtime win against Germany in ice hockey, however—Russia’s first ice hockey gold since 1992—Russian athletes belted out their national anthem during the medal ceremony. “We’re prohibited from having the flag so we had to do something at least. We sang because we’re Russian people and when you win, the anthem is played,” hockey player Bogdan Kiselevich told reporters, saying the move was “freedom of speech.” Their singing came hours after the IOC said it would not lift its ban to allow Russian athletes to march in Sunday’s Closing Ceremony with the Russian flag.
*NRA comes out against Trump’s proposal to raise gun-buying age:
The spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association pushed back at proposals by President Trump and the Florida governor to raise the age to buy semiautomatic firearms to 21 after the horrific rampage at a Florida school killed 17 people. “I think that it’s great that as president he had … this listening session. He’s really looking for solutions. He wanted to hear what they had to say, that’s what he’s doing,” Dana Loeschsaid on ABC’s “This Week.” “So far nothing’s been proposed yet, the NRA made their position clear.” Asked if the powerful gun lobby group is against increasing the age, she said it is. “That’s what the NRA came out and said. That’s correct,” Loesch said.
*Warren Buffett: Tax Law ‘Delivered’ $29 Billion Windfall to Berkshire Hathaway
Billionaire Warren Buffett on Saturday said his company, Berkshire Hathaway, got a $29 billion boost from the tax overhaul recently signed into law by President Trump. In a letter to shareholders, Buffet said the windfall was “delivered” to the Omaha-based conglomerate “when Congress rewrote the tax code” in December. The legislation was pushed for and praised by President Trump, but critics warned it would only work in favor of the wealthy while doing little for lower income groups. Berkshire’s $29 billion bonus stems from unrealized gains on equity investments getting taxed at a rate of 21 percent instead of the previous 35 percent rate. The gain helped push Berkshire’s net earnings in 2017 up to $44.94 billion, nearly double the $24.07 billion recorded a year earlier. Buffet said while the gain is “real,” it “did not come from anything we accomplished at Berkshire.”
*LOST AND FOUND – Stolen Edgar Degas Painting Found on Bus Near Paris Rest Stop
A painting by French artist Edgar Degas stolen from a Marseilles museum nearly a decade ago has been found on a parked bus outside a rest stop near Paris. The French Ministry of Culture on Friday said customs agents made the discovery of The Chorus Singers during a routine check on Feb. 16. “In a suitcase, they discovered a work carrying the signature ‘Degas’ for which no passenger came forward as the owner,” the ministry said in a statement. The Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the original owner of the work, confirmed the painting’s authenticity. It was not immediately clear if authorities had any leads on who stole the painting when it was on loan to the Musée Cantini in Marseilles in 2009. The painting, valued at about $1 million, will be back on display at the Musée d’Orsay for the Degas at the Opera exhibition scheduled for September 2019.
*Activists Warn Illegals Not to Travel in Florida as Immigration Arrests Mount:
As arrests of illegal immigrants increase due to actions taken by President Donald Trump to enforce laws greatly ignored by Barack Obama, civil rights activists in Florida are issuing travel warnings and tips on how to avoid law enforcement. A Florida immigration coalition composed of activist groups, such as the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Florida, the Women’s March, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, are urging anyone who’s in the country illegally to “reconsider visiting Florida and especially recommended to avoid high-risk areas, including ports, airports, and Greyhound stations,” as reported by the Miami New Times.
*LBN-HEALTH WATCH: ***There’s no question that people need to be exposed to viruses in order to get sick. By definition, a cold is a viral upper respiratory infection, so no virus, no cold, said Dr. Stan Spinner, chief medical officer for Texas Children’s Pediatrics. “There are a large number of viruses that can cause the common cold. That’s why we catch hundreds and hundreds of them throughout our lifetime,” he said. People tend to link cold weather with colds, but that doesn’t mean there’s a cause and effect connection, Dr. Spinner said. “These viruses that cause us to catch a cold predominate during the winter months in this part of the world.” Plus, cold weather keeps people inside more. “We’re more likely to be in close quarters this time of year, close together among those who are already sick,” Dr. Michael L. Munger, a practicing family physician in Overland Park, Kan., said in an email.
*LBN-MEDIA INSIDER: ***Legendary magazine Interview is in the midst of a crisis. After we reported on Wednesday that the title — which was founded by Andy Warhol in 1969 — had been kicked out of its offices because of missing rent, now Page Six has learned it is locked in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with a longtime senior executive. Deborah Blasucci — who worked for the magazine for some 30 years — is suing the magazine’s owner, mogul and art collector Peter M. Brant and his daughter, Interview president Kelly Brant, claiming they fired her because she “made too much money.
*LBN-MUSIC INSIDER: ***Robin Thicke and girlfriend April Love Geary have welcomed a baby girl. The pop star announced the news on Saturday night with a video of him cradling his newborn daughter.
*YIKES – California Democrats decline to endorse Feinstein:
In a sharp rebuke to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democratic Party has declined to endorse the state’s own senior senator in her bid for reelection. Riven by conflict between progressive and more moderate forces at the state party’s annual convention here, delegates favored Feinstein’s progressive rival, state Senate leader Kevin de León, over Feinstein by a vote of 54 percent to 37 percent, according to results announced Sunday.
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*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Dana Loesch and John Stossel on Gun Control Myths — https://youtu.be/_-Dxqte2A3Y
*LBN-MY REVIEW: “As a LBN reader in London, I appreciate the independent news and information I get daily.” —— Zoey T., an LBN reader from London, England.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Those Girls: 20s vs 30s – Meeting Guys –https://youtu.be/J1j_WzfHhfk
*LBN-SITE OF THE DAY:
C-SPAN’s American Writers: A Journey Through History explores American history through the lives and works of American writers who have influenced the course of our nation. C-SPAN presents each program from a historic site associated with a writer’s life and work. Every program features selected writers’ novels, speeches, diaries, essays and life stories, creating a snapshot of American history.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Neil Irwin: To understand why global financial markets have been so volatile the last few weeks, imagine a town full of farmers who have been living through a decade-long drought. The first few years of the drought, they probably adapted by shifting to crops that could grow without much water, but at the same time they probably kept renewing their flood insurance. After all, the drought could end at any time, and losses caused by too much water are every bit as painful as those caused by too little. But after years and years of writing checks for flood insurance, our farmers might get a little tired of throwing money away to protect against a risk that never seems to materialize. By the seventh or eighth year of the drought, they might just say “forget it” and let flood insurance lapse. Then, with the 10-year mark approaching, it rains. Not very hard: Imagine a perfectly normal rainstorm by pre-drought standards, not enough to cause a flood, but enough to make the farmers think flooding just might be a possibility again.
*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Franz Kafka: There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness
*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:…
LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord