President Donald Trump sent 26 percent fewer Mexicans back home this year through November than Barack Obama did in the same period in 2016, despite vows to crack down on illegal immigration, Mexican government data shows. About 152,000 Mexican nationals were repatriated from the U.S. between January and November, according to data from Mexico’s Interior Ministry that were first reported by Milenio newspaper. That compares with just under 205,000 in the first 11 months of 2016. Trump, who took office Jan. 20, has vowed to expel potentially millions of undocumented immigrants and to build a wall along the Mexican border. He also ended, at least temporarily, Obama-era protections against deportation of people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pointed to their statistics when asked to comment.
Attention, thousands of homeowners standing in long local tax office lines across America this week: It may be for naught. The IRS announced Wednesday that early prepayments of 2018 property taxes will only be deductible in limited circumstances under the new federal tax code that takes effect Jan. 1. The Washington Post reports the IRS ruled that early filers could only avoid the controversial new $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes for properties that have been assessed in 2017—a criteria that few jurisdictions meet. Though thousands of Americans in high property-tax areas have been lining up to pay their 2018 property taxes early in order to utilize a federal deduction one last time before it’s scaled back, the decision appears to invalidate attempts to evade the new rule under the overhaul signed by President Trump. The Post reports the new advisory may lead some local governments to come under pressure to refund millions of dollars to taxpayers.
*IRONY – Russia Warns U.S.: Don’t ‘Meddle’ In Upcoming Presidential Election:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has issued a warning to the U.S.: Don’t “meddle” in the country’s upcoming election. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the U.S. this week of “direct interference into the electoral process” after the State Department criticized Russia’s decision to ban opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny from running for president. A State Department rep had decried the Russian government’s “ongoing crackdown against independent voices, from journalists to civil society activists and opposition politicians,” according to a statement obtained by Business Insider.
*Trump Media Three Times More Negative than for Obama, Just 5 Percent Positive:
The media’s coverage of President Trump has been overwhelmingly negative, more than three times more critical than the initial coverage of former President Barack Obamaand twice that of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The Pew Research Center said that the early coverage of Trump was 62 percent negative. By comparison, Obama’s coverage was just 20 percent negative.
*THINK FREELY – READ LBN: Now you can tell YOUR unique story in the world-famous LBN newsletter! Reach influencers in all 50 of the United States and 26 foreign countries. Doing so is really simple. Simply send your story (do not exceed 250 words), including a photo and link, to LBNElert@timewire.net. We will approve and run. The cost is a mere $250 payable either via Pay Pal or credit card. This is by-far one of the best deals in digital promotion and only available to LBN subscribers.
*TERROR – ISIS Claims Blasts in Kabul That Killed Dozens
ISIS claimed responsibility Thursday for a series of blasts at a news agency and a neighboring Shiite cultural center in Kabul that killed dozens of people. More than 40 people were reported dead and 30 wounded in at least three explosions, which went off during a panel discussion at the Tabian Social and Cultural Center. The blasts also hit the Afghan Voice news agency. “This gruesome attack underscores the dangers faced by Afghan civilians,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia director. “In one of the deadliest years on record, journalists and other civilians continue to be ruthlessly targeted by armed groups.”
*WINDFALL – Apple CEO Tim Cook Gets 74 Percent Bonus as Sales Soar
Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has gotten a 74 percent increase in his annual bonus as a result of the iPhone maker’s higher revenue and net income this year. A regulatory filing disclosed by the company Wednesday shows Cook’s incentive pay for the fiscal year totaling $9.33 million. Combined with his $3.06 million salary and a previously disclosed $89 million equity award, Cook finished the year with a whopping $102 million. Amid the steep profits, Cook also faces higher travel expenses, with a $93,109 bill as a result of his use of private aircraft—a security precaution now stipulated by Apple due to his high profile. Thanks to the company beating net sales and operating-income goals, five other top executives at the company also saw a windfall this year, with bonuses of $3.11 million each and a total compensation of $24.2 million.
*F.D.A. Leaves Tainted Foods on Shelves Too Long, Report Finds:
The Food and Drug Administration is not moving quickly enough to ensure that contaminated food is removed from store shelves, despite being given the necessary authority, federal investigators have concluded. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services examined 30 of 1,557 food recalls between 2012 and 2015. The investigators found that the F.D.A. did not always evaluate food-borne hazards in a timely manner or ensure that companies initiated recalls promptly, leaving consumers at risk. Food companies took an average of 57 days to recall items after the F.D.A. was apprised of the potential hazards. One recall did not begin for 303 days, the investigators said. “Each and every day is important, because every day the product remains on the shelf, consumers are potentially at risk for serious illness or death,’’ said George Nedder, an assistant regional inspector general at Health and Human Services and lead author of the new report.
*ON THE SPOT – Putin Tells Agents to ‘Liquidate Bandits’ After Terror Attack
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a new “take no prisoners” approach for the country’s Federal Security Service agents in the wake of a supermarket bombing in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night that injured 10 people. In the face of a threat to officers’ lives, Putin said, agents should plan “to act decisively, not to take any prisoners, to liquidate bandits on the spot.” Putin made the remarks during a televised ceremony Thursday. The bombing in St. Petersburg was just the latest in a string of attacks tied back to Islamist extremists in Russia’s second-largest city, Bloomberg News reports.
*LBN-INVESTIGATES: The origin of the doughnut is unknown, though different nationalities have had their own version of the treat throughout history. A type of doughnut is even mentioned in the Bible. Specifically, Chapter 7 and verse 12 of Leviticus says that a thanksgiving to God should be made of “cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.
*Alabama Secretary of State: Doug Jones Will Be Certified Today
Despite failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore’s last-minute complaint seeking to delay over claims of voter fraud, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told CNN that Democrat Doug Jones would be certified Thursday as the winner of the state’s special election. Asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota if Moore’s claims had any merit, Merrill said, “The short answer to that is no. Doug Jones will be certified today.” In documents filed late Wednesday, Moore sought to hold off on validating the results of the election this month “until a full investigation of voter fraud is conducted.” The Republican lost the race on Dec. 12 to Democrat Doug Jones but has refused to concede. He lost by more than 20,000 votes. Just weeks before the vote, Moore was hit with credible allegations published in the Washington Post claiming that he had sexually abused teens. Moore has repeatedly denied the accusations.
*LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER: ***South Korea will require people who trade Bitcoin and other virtual currencies to do so under their real names, the country’s government said on Thursday, as part of efforts to curb speculation. Bitcoin, the best-known virtual currency, has been on a gravity-defying bull run over the past few months. The price of a Bitcoin started the year at around $1,000 and topped $19,000 earlier this month, causing swarms of ordinary savers around the world to get in on what remains a largely unregulated — and highly volatile — investment.
*LBN-SPORTS INSIDER: ***A former Auburn University football player has been arrested on a child pornography charge in Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 32-year-old Brad Lester remained jailed Wednesday in Gwinnett County following his arrest last week. Lester played running back for Auburn between 2004 and 2008, scoring 20 career touchdowns. ***Authorities in Tampa are investigating a single-vehicle accident involving a Chevy Silverado registered to Buccaneers receiver DeSean Jackson, which was found damaged and abandoned on Christmas Eve with bullets and marijuana inside, per a police write-up obtained by NFL.com. Police responded to a wreckage on West Shore Boulevard in Tampa, where they discovered an abandoned vehicle that appeared to have left the road and struck a tree. The car, which has since been impounded after the driver fled the scene, contained 6.3 grams of marijuana and two .38 caliber hollow-point bullets, per the report. Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Florida, while the bullets are legal.
*LBN-NOTICED: ***“Saturday Night Live’s” Kate McKinnon giving a standing ovation while seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at City Center in NYC. ***Martha Stewart hanging out with her family at the Stratton Mountain Club in Vermont. ***Lara Mead, founder of Varley workout gear, at an Inspire the Now panel at Soho House in West Hollywood, Calif. ***Heidi Klum hanging out with German rap star Cro, who was playing piano at the bar of the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. ***After a long time apart working on movies,Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have reunited in Mexico for New Year’s Eve weekend. Us Weekly recently claimed that the pair were “weekend lovers,” with Theroux away filming Netflix’s “Maniac” in New York, while Aniston shot “Dumplin’ ” in Atlanta. ***Lady Gaga is spending the holidays in the Hamptons. The “Applause” singer was spotted at Gurney’s Montauk with her CAA agent boyfriend, Christian Carino, and a bodyguard, who was heard telling a guest that they chose the resort “because the city, like a Four Seasons, would be too difficult for her to be under the radar.”
*LBN-SITE OF THE DAY:
One of the most beautiful things you will ever see on the web. It shows a representation of galaxy with stars inside it. You can take a tour which starts from the Sun and takes you to the outer edges of the galaxy while teaching you valuable insights in between.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: The Godfather II – Michael talking with Senator Pat Geary HD — https://youtu.be/Re9O7kDtt6c
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Rex Tillerson: Over the past year, the United States has faced immense challenges in its dealings with North Korea, China and Russia, and in its efforts to defeat international terrorism. But Americans should be encouraged by the progress the State Department and United States Agency for International Development have made in pushing for global peace and stability. When President Trump took office, he identified North Korea as the United States’ greatest security threat. He abandoned the failed policy of strategic patience. In its place we carried out a policy of pressure through diplomatic and economic sanctions. This year, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted three of the strongest sanctions resolutions in history, including bans on a wide array of North Korean exports such as coal, iron, seafood and textiles.The United States has asked allies and partners to exert unilateral pressure against North Korea in order to force the regime to change its behavior. Many have responded with positive steps like shutting down trade, severing diplomatic ties and expelling North Korean laborers. Our peaceful pressure campaign has cut off roughly 90 percent of North Korea’s export revenue, much of which is used to fund illegal weapons development.We hope that this international isolation will pressure the regime into serious negotiations on the abandonment of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. A door to dialogue remains open, but we have made it clear that the regime must earn its way back to the negotiating table. Until denuclearization occurs, the pressure will continue.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Anne Diebel: Resolutions to shake laziness, get organized and gain control of finances are ritually adopted each January and abandoned soon after. But there’s one common bad habit that consumers and billion-dollar businesses alike should have quit long ago and can’t afford to carry into 2018: the use of weak website security questions. Your mother’s maiden name is not a secret. This should be obvious, yet this question and similarly flawed questions continue to be asked of us when we forget a password or log in from a new computer. Website security questions have been around since the dawn of the web but became ubiquitous after a 2005 recommendation by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council that banks improve their security measures for online banking. The council did not specify what these improvements should be, and so banks chose security questions, something they had been using offline for decades anyway — the mother’s maiden name convention dates to 1882. Other types of businesses, perhaps assuming that the banks knew what they were doing, followed suit.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Taylor Lorenz: Gen X had Brangelina, Bennifer, and Tomkat. Millennials had Kimye and Hiddleswift. Today’s teens have Hayden Summerall and Annie LeBlanc, better known as “Hannie.” Unlike the famous couples who came before them, it wasn’t tabloid editors or film executives who forged a relationship between the two young social media stars, it was the internet—specifically, online fans who begged and begged and begged for these two to get together. The two currently star in Chicken Girls, a scripted YouTube series that has become must-see TV for Generation Z. Chicken Girls documents the fictional romance between the two young stars along with the lives of a group of teens at “Attaway High” as they struggle with friendships, drama, dating, and dance team. The series has already raked in over 55 million views in its first season. Annie and Hayden are both massive social media celebrities in their own right, but when they first appeared in a vlog together earlier this year, their fans became enamored with the idea of the two as a couple. Admirers immediately coined the ship name “Hannie.”
*LBN-COMMENTARY by David A. Hopkins (Associate Professor of political science at Boston College): Despite a 2016 campaign waged largely on cultural themes, the Republican tax bill represents the biggest legislative accomplishment of the current Congress — and, quite possibly, of the entire Trump administration. Though Mr. Trump once presented himself as a populist enemy of Wall Street, and though many corporations have come to adopt liberal positions on issues like immigration, gay rights and affirmative action, big business and wealthy individuals stand to benefit the most from tax cuts approved by congressional majorities elected on the basis of right-of-center cultural views. That is why the true winner of today’s culture war is corporate America.
*LBN-A DIFFERENT VIEW:….
*LBN-OVERHEARD: ***Ben Affleck was released from rehab for a short time so that he and estranged wife Jennifer Garner could celebrate Christmas with their three children. After their separation in 2015 and divorce filing in April, the two actors have amicably continued to co-parent their kids, Violet, 12, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5. Affleck has been undergoing a new rehab treatment for alcohol addiction in the Los Angeles area ahead of filming “The Batman” next year, where he will return as the Caped Crusader after playing the character in the recent “Justice League.” ***Laura Dern is dating NBA star Baron Davis, according to reports. Us Weekly reported on Wednesday that the 50-year-old “Big Little Lies” star is hooking up with the 38-year-old All-Star point guard and published pictures of them smooching outside the Beverly Hills Hotel, where they say the pair “were all over each other” while eating lunch.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord