*GOVERNMENT SPENDING ADDICTION – Feds Collect Record Individual Income Taxes Through March; Still Run $599.7B Deficit:
The federal government collected a record $736,274,000,000 in individual income taxes through the first six months of fiscal 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 through the end of March), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today. The approximately $736,274,000,000 in individual income taxes that the Treasury collected in October through March of this fiscal year was $24,473,780,000 more than the $711,800,220,000 (in constant March 2018 dollars) that the Treasury collected in the first six months of fiscal 2017. While the federal government was collecting record individual income taxes in the first half of this fiscal year, both payroll taxes and corporate income taxes declined compared to last year.
*GUESSING GAME – Trump: Syria Attack Could Be ‘Very Soon or Not So Soon!’
President Trump appears to have eased his threats of an imminent attack on Syria, saying airstrikes “could be be very soon or not so soon at all!” On Wednesday, Trump reacted angrily to reports that Russia had vowed to shoot down any U.S. missiles directed at Syria, warning both Russia and Syria that the strikes “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” But the president was in a more cryptic mood Thursday morning, saying on Twitter: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you?’” The White House National Security team is due to meet later Thursday to discuss its response to a suspected chemical-weapons attack in Syria’s Douma that killed scores of people.
*U.S. May Break Pact and Deport Thousands of Vietnamese Immigrants:
The Trump administration is planning to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants, a move that would roll back a 2008 bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam, former Ambassador to Hanoi Ted Osius told Reuters. The deportations would mostly target Vietnamese nationals who supported the now-defunct South Vietnam, and the action would rescind a 2008 agreement that Vietnamese people who arrived in the U.S. before July 12, 1995, can remain in the U.S. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said that as of Dec., 8,600 Vietnamese nationals are subject to deportation, 7,821 of which have criminal records. Many Vietnamese immigrants in the U.S. are legal residents, but not citizens, who arrived as refugees after the Vietnam War. Last year, 71 Vietnamese immigrants were deported, up from 25 in 2016. A White House spokesman declined to comment to Reuters. “These people don’t really have a country to come back to,” said Osius, who left his post last year amid pressure from Trump officials to ask Vietnam to take back refugees subject to deportation.
*FINALLY – Uber to Require Annual Background Checks for Drivers
Uber will require yearly background checks for all drivers and add a 911 feature to the app. The Associated Press reports new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi insisted the decision is more than a PR stunt for the controversial ride-hailing company. “The first thing that we want to do is really change Uber’s substance, and the image may follow,” he said. The changes will be implemented in the next few weeks. Khosrowshahi also said he “can’t change” Uber’s past mistakes, but hopes to make the service better going forward. Uber has faced lawsuits for drivers’ sexual misconduct, and Colorado sued the company for $8.9 million after many drivers in the state were found to have drunk driving and other criminal records. Last month, a woman died after being struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle, an accident that led the company to suspend autonomous-car testing.
*WHAT THE HELL? Survey: Only 39% of Catholics and 45% of Protestants Attend Church Weekly:
An updated survey from Gallup, which it has conducted every 10 years since 1955, shows that only 39% of Catholics and 45% of Protestants attend church weekly. Back in 1955, about 75% of Catholics went to Mass every week. For the Protestants, about 42% went to church weekly. So, church attendance has remained pretty steady for Protestants — although they are fewer in number now than in 1955 — but church attendance for Catholics has declined dramatically and, as Gallup reports, continues to fall. The steepest drop in Mass attendance for Catholics (more than 20%), said Gallup, occurred between the 1950s and 1970s. It then started to fall about 4% each decade and in this last decade dropped 6%.
*Nerve Attack – Chemical-Weapons Watchdog Backs U.K. Findings on the Agent Used Against Skripals
An international chemical-weapons watchdog has effectively confirmed that a Novichok nerve agent was used in the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, backing the British government’s conclusions. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said an analysis of samples taken from Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and Det. Sgt. Nick Bailey, who was one of the first police to respond to the scene, confirmed the U.K.’s assessment. The executive summary released by the OPCW does not mention Novichok or Russia by name, but states: “The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirms the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.” Yulia Skripal and Bailey have since been discharged from the hospital—Sergei Skripal remains in care, but his condition is said to be improving rapidly.
*TOO LATE – Nikolas Cruz: Donate My Inheritance to Parkland Victims
Nikolas Cruz—the teenage school shooter who murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day—has vowed to give any money he’s got coming to him to his victims and their families. The offer came via the shooter’s defense attorney, Melisa McNeill, who said Cruz, 19, doesn’t want money from his mother’s life-insurance policy or any other income source. “He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims’ families believe could facilitate healing in our community,” she said, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Court records show the shooter stands to receive $25,000 from his mother’s life-insurance policy and may have a claim to Microsoft shares valued at around $2,227. Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted.
*LBN-INVESTIGATES: The life span of giant pandas in the wild is approximately 20 years. Captive pandas may live to be 25-30 years old.
*LBN – INTEL FOR INFLUENCERS: Did you know that over 300 Grammy Award winners read LBN daily?
*NEVER ENDING – Pope Francis Admits ‘Grave Errors’ in Chile Sex Abuse Cases:
Pope Francis has apologized for “grave errors” in the handling of sexual abuse cases in Chile, where he had adamantly defended a bishop accused of covering up abuse by the country’s most notorious pedophile priest. In an extraordinary letter to the bishops of Chile, published on Wednesday, a remorseful pope then invited representatives of the abuse victims to Rome so that he could personally apologize. Francis has endured intense criticism over accusations that he had a blind spot on the issue of sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. A spokesman for the Chilean bishops’ conference said that some of the victims would go in the coming weeks, and that the pope would individually ask for their forgiveness. Francis in the letter also summoned the country’s 32 bishops to meet at the Vatican in May — an exceptionally large gathering of bishops — to discuss clerical sex abuse.
*WHO READS LBN? Famed attorney Robert Shapiro along with readers in all 50 of the United States and 26 foreign countries.
*LBN-SPORTS INSIDER: ***The 2018 baseball season is not even two weeks old, but it appears Chicago White Sox fans are already disinterested. Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays had an official attendance of 10,377, but the number of spectators actually at the stadium was much lower. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, only 974 people showed up.
*LBN-SITE OF THE DAY:
NOAA National Weather Service. The headquarters of the National Weather Service is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, with regional headquarters located in Kansas City, Missouri; Bohemia, New York; Fort Worth, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Anchorage, Alaska; and Honolulu, Hawaii. With some 5,000 employees in 122 weather forecast offices, 13 river forecast centers, 9 national centers, and other support offices around the country, NWS provides a national infrastructure to gather and process data worldwide. Each year, NWS collects some 76 billion observations and issues approximately 1.5 million forecasts and 50,000 warnings.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: Zuckerberg, Cruz get feisty overFacebook bias — https://youtu.be/Txq2eI8Pbdw
*Becca Esses Sings and Wins PBS Ethan Bortnick’s “Celebration of Music” Competition
20 year old, Becca Esses, from Irvine, California, sings and wins the PBS Empire Network’s “Ethan Bortnick’s Celebration of Music.” Check out the winning song on her Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Brian X. Chen: When I downloaded a copy of my Facebook data last week, I didn’t expect to see much. My profile is sparse, I rarely post anything on the site, and I seldom click on ads. (I’m what some call a Facebook “lurker.”) But when I opened my file, it was like opening Pandora’s box. With a few clicks, I learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years, including my exes. There was so much that Facebook knew about me — more than I wanted to know. But after looking at the totality of what the Silicon Valley company had obtained about yours truly, I decided to try to better understand how and why my data was collected and stored. I also sought to find out how much of my data could be removed.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: BEST OF “WITHOUT NOTES” – TV’s revealing interview show —- https://youtu.be/0kFbZ8oafr0
*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Estee Lauder: Touch your customer, and you’re halfway there.
*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:…
*LBN-OVERHEARD: ***One of the earliest Harvey Weinstein accusers says that despite the #MeToo reckoning, it’s “open season” on survivors who dare speak out about sexual misconduct. Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento writes in an essay that she has been called a whore, liar, traitor, opportunist and more since accusing Weinstein last year of sexually assaulting her in 1997. She says some of the worst criticism toward women speaking out has occurred in her home country, Italy, “but the poison seeps out” to other places as well. ***Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee has slammed reports that he’s a victim of elder abuse. “Hi, this is Stan Lee, and I’m calling on behalf of myself and my friend Keya Morgan. Now you people have been publishing the most hateful, harmful material about me and about my friend Keya and some others,” the 95-year-old Spider-Man creator said in a video released byTMZ on Wednesday night. “Material which is totally incorrect, totally based on slander, totally the type of thing that I’m going to sue your ass off [for] when I get a chance,” he explained. On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter published a story insinuating that no one surrounding Lee appeared to have his best interests at heart since the death of his wife last year. ***Could Blac Chyna be walking down the aisle? If her 18-year-old boyfriend, YBN Almighty Jay, gets his wish, they’ll soon be married. The young rapper, whose real name is Jay Bradley, popped the question to Chyna, 29, on Instagram, writing, “Will you marry me?” with a ring emoji this week. The accompanying picture of the mother of two appears to be taken from a gas station.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Renee Preston