LBN – Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

*After Florida School Shooting, Russian ‘Bot’ Army Pounced:

One hour after news broke about the school shooting in Florida last week, Twitter accounts suspected of having links to Russia released hundreds of posts taking up the gun control debate. The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by the special counselRobert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. “This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this,” said Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, a company that tracks online disinformation campaigns. “The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically.” One of the most divisive issues in the nation is how to handle guns, pitting Second Amendment advocates against proponents of gun control. And the messages from these automated accounts, or bots, were designed to widen the divide and make compromise even more difficult.

*SORRY, NO – Supreme Court Rejects Two Gun-Rights Appeals From California

The Supreme Court has rejected two appeals from gun-rights groups in California. Despite repeated calls for it to do so, the high court has not taken up a Second Amendment case since 2010. In Silvester v. Becerra, the plaintiff challenged the state’s 10-day waiting period to purchase a gun for those who already own firearms, and separately sought the court to use its “supervisory powers” to force the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stop resisting previous Second Amendment decisions.

*ANOTHER ONE – Mueller Charges Lawyer Linked to Ukraine With Lying to the Special Counsel

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged a new defendant in the Russia investigation. The latest target is a lawyer based in London, Alex Van Der Zwaan, who is accused of making false statements. He has a plea hearing scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. According to the indictment, the false statements came when Mueller’s team was asking questions about Van Der Zwaan’s work representing the Ukraine Ministry of Justice. Van Der Zwaan was officially charged on Feb. 16 in federal court in Washington. Van Der Zwaan is also, according to the indictment, an associate of Richard Gates, a long-term business partner of Paul Manafort, the former manager ofDonald Trump’s presidential campaign. Gates will reportedly plead guilty to fraud-related charges in the coming days and has agreed to testify against Manafort. Van Der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan.

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*Marco Rubio Calls for ‘Task Force’ to Examine Mass Shootings

In the aftermath of last week’s school massacre in Florida, Sen.Marco Rubio has called for a “task force of experts” to examine mass shootings, and told Politico that he is concerned that Congress bars federally funded research into gun violence. In a turnaround from his “A+” rating by the National Rifle Association, Rubio said he’d consider removing weapons from those accused of domestic violence, banning bump stocks, and improving pre-emptive moves like violence-prevention programs. Rubio’s proposed task force—which he says he understands that people will “roll their eyes at”—is reportedly in its early stages, but marks a different move for the Florida Republican and former presidential candidate.

*Trump Endorses Mitt Romney’s Run for Utah Senate Seat: 

President Trump said on Monday that Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and his frequent political adversary, had his blessing to run to replace Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, who will retire at the end of the year. “He will make a great Senator and worthy successor,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, “and has my full support and endorsement!” The endorsement began yet another chapter in a fraught political relationship defined by bruising intraparty battles. Mr. Romney’s camp has privately mulled how far he should go to embrace a president whose candidacy he excoriated as bad for American democracy. And on Friday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, publicly urged the president to support Mr. Romney.

*Brexit Chief: U.K. Won’t Be Plunged Into a ‘Mad Max-Style World’

A lot of promises were made during the campaign for the U.K. to leave the EU—millions of pounds for the country’s health service, bespoke trade deals, a renewed sense of national pride and sovereignty. One thing that wasn’t mentioned was the possibility it would turn the country into a lawless and dystopian hellhole. It’s curious, then, that the U.K. government minister in charge of Brexit has felt compelled to reassure Brits and Europeans that the country won’t turn into a “Mad Max-style world” after it begins the process of leaving the EU next year. MP David Davis said in a speech Tuesday that Britain will not be “plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction” as soon as it begins life outside of the EU and that fears about a “race to the bottom” are unfounded. Jolly good.

*LBN-INTEL FOR INFLUENCERS: LBN readers, in all 50 of the United States and 26 foreign countries, are people who affect and change the way that other people behave. Deal with it!

*Tax Overhaul Gains Public Support, Buoying Republicans: 

The tax overhaul that President Trump signed into law now has more supporters than opponents, buoying Republican hopes for this year’s congressional elections. The growing public support for the law coincides with an eroding Democratic lead when voters are asked which party they would like to see control Congress. And it follows an aggressive effort by Republicans, backed by millions of dollars of advertising from conservative groups, to persuade voters of the law’s benefits. That campaign has rallied support from Republicans, in particular. But in contrast with many other issues — including Mr. Trump’s job approval rating — it also appears to be winning over some Democrats. Support for the law remains low among Democrats, but it has doubled over the past two months and is twice as strong as their approval of Mr. Trump today.


  • The San, or Bushmen, created one of the earliest depictions of dancing in their rock art. Dating from 10,000 years ago in Africa, the art shows San shamans performing trancelike dances in an attempt to commune with the spirit world.
  • The youngest ballerinas ever to play leading roles were the “Baby Ballerinas” who danced with the Ballets Russes in 1933. Irina Baronova was just 13 years old,Tamara Toumanova was 14, and Tatiana Riabouchinska was 15.
  • In ancient Greek mythology, nine muses were associated with each one of the arts. Terpischore was the muse of dancing.
  • The most curtain calls ever for a ballet was 89, afterRudolf Nureyev and Margot Fanteyn performed their 1964 Swan Lake in Vienna.
  • Some pop singers create their own dances to fit their songs. For example, Michael Jackson created the “moonwalk” for his hit “Thriller” in 1982

*LBN-MUSIC INSIDER:  ***“Black Panther” is an official blockbuster at the box office, and its soundtrack is a hit too, opening at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. The soundtrack, put together in part by Kendrick Lamar, features Mr. Lamar, the Weeknd, SZA, Khalid and James Blake, and opened with the equivalent of 154,000 sales in the United States, according to Nielsen. Of that, 52,000 sales were made of the complete album, with streaming numbers dominating the rest.

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*LBN-HEALTH WATCH:    ***Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that the standard prescription for weight loss is to reduce the amount of calories you consume. But a new study, published Tuesday in JAMA, may turn that advice on its head. It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year. The strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were mostly low in fat or mostly low in carbohydrates. And their success did not appear to be influenced by their genetics, a finding that casts doubt on the increasingly popular idea that different diets should be recommended to people based on their DNA makeup.

*LBN-INVESTIGATES: In 2012, a prison in the South Korean city of Pohang became home to the world’s first robotic prison guards. The country also uses robots to guard the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea and as teachers.

*LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER:  ***Eater LA posted the rumored news on Monday: venerable Beverly Hills deli Nate ‘n Al, open since 1945, may be close to being sold. Of there may be no deal, or there may be a deal struck to keep Nate ‘n Al’s in its longtime location on North Beverly Drive. Whispers of a sale first appeared over the weekend, but so far there has been no confirmed report from the restaurant. Eater reached out to one of the owners directly, but has received no response back yet. Meanwhile a call in to the restaurant provided a terse “no comment,” though there is plenty of speculation happening on social media at the moment.  A potential sale would be a massive blow as one of LA’s most beloved, and longest-running restaurants. The first Nate ‘n Al Delicatessen opened in 1945, before expanding to multiple locations throughout Southern California over the years — including LAX. Now only the Beverly Hills restaurant prevails…  Founders Al Mendelsonand Nate Rimer met in Detroit, and opened a 30-seat restaurant that continued to expand significantly over the years to make room for wealthy Beverly Hills types and folks from the entertainment industry. Today, Nate’n Al Delicatessen is operated by Mendelson’s grandsons, Mark and David.


The “Best of Los Angeles Award” community, formed three years ago to spotlight the best people, places and things in Los Angeles, has now grown to over 3,800 members throughout Southern California. “This is a significant achievement for our community” said Aurora DeRose, coordinator for the “BoLAA” community. “We now have members from Malibu to Downtown, from Culver City to Studio City, from Pasadena to West Hollywood, from Encino to Koreatown, from Beverly Hills to Glendale. The “Best of Los Angeles Award”, whose slogan is “No Ads. No B.S. Only the Best.”, has now added “BoLAA” videos featuring hostess Jeannette Ceja to its community services. To join the “Best of Los Angeles Award” community, simply visit their page ( and click “Like”.

*LBN-SPORTS INSIDER:   ***A day later, the tears were happy. French ice skaters Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis, who fought through a wardrobe malfunction Monday, took home the silver Tuesday with a record-breaking performance (a record that would last all of 15 minutes, broken by Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won gold). “I was very emotional,” Papadakis told reporters, via Yahoo Sports. “I cannot really put a word on the way I felt. We just delivered an amazing performance at the Olympics. … We couldn’t have skated better. We did our best. Maybe more than our best.”

*LBN-R.I.P.:   ***Günter Blobel, a molecular biologist who was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that proteins in any living cell have virtual ZIP codes that guide them to where they can help regulate body tissues, organs and chemistry, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 81. A spokeswoman for Rockefeller University in Manhattan, where he was a longtime professor, confirmed his death, at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. The cause was cancer.


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*LBN-COMMENTARY by David Brooks: This has been an emotional week. We greet tragedies like the school shooting in Florida with shock, sadness, mourning and grief that turns into indignation and rage. The anger inevitably gets directed at the N.R.A., those who support gun rights, and the politicians who refuse to do anything while children die. Many of us walked this emotional path. But we may end up doing more harm than good. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it is that guns have become a cultural flash point in a nation that is unequal and divided. The people who defend gun rights believe that snobbish elites look down on their morals and want to destroy their culture. If we end up telling such people that they and their guns are despicable, they will just despise us back and dig in their heels. So if you want to stop school shootings it’s not enough just to vent and march. It’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points. There has to be trust and respect first. Then we can strike a compromise on guns as guns, and not some sacred cross in the culture war. So I’ve been thinking about a group that’s in the trust and respect business. Better Angels is a nonprofit led by David Lapp, David Blankenhorn and a prominent family therapist, Bill Doherty. The team members travel from town to town finding members of the Red and Blue Tribes and bringing them together for long, humbling conversations.

*LBN-COMMENTARY by Roger Cohen: People are weak. They are susceptible. They are easily manipulated through their fears. They long to prostrate themselves. They can be led by the nose into the gutter. The angels of their better natures, if they’ve ever given a moment’s thought to them, are a lot less powerful than the devils of their diabolical urges. They lie, they exploit, they seek distraction at any price from the monotony of existence. The life of humankind, as Hobbes famously put it, is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Especially short: You no sooner begin to get the hang of it, learn a few useful tricks like lowered expectations, than it’s over. Poof! This is the basic setup. Society is an exercise in trying to offset horrors through law and convention. Every now and again, along comes somebody, or some new technology, or both, capable of taking this raw human material and shaping it into a crazed, baying, hypnotized mob that is convinced the Great Leader has come. Whatever this Messiah says goes. The moon is a balloon, if he says so; and entire communities with the wrong beliefs or shade of skin are chopped liver.

*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Albert Einstein: The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science

*LBN-HISTORICAL COMMENTARY by Mae West: You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.


*LBN-OVERHEARD:    ***There was high drama on the rough seas, we’re told, after a “Real Housewives of New York City” pleasure cruise ended with the cast awash in vomit and fearing for their lives as their boat caught fire and started sinking. Seagoing sources say that the ladies of the Bravo reality show were preparing for a day of sunning themselves on a luxury yacht during a visit to Cartagena, Colombia — but things sank quickly into chaos after they realized they’d been booked onto an old, decrepit vessel.   ***Don’t expect the United States’ curling team to watch “Look Who’s Talking Too” on their way home from PyeongChang, South Korea. After Kirstie Alleycalled the Olympic sport “boring” Monday night on Twitter, Team USA’s John Shuster fired back at the actress and her extensive filmography. “We’re not trying to be mean either but your movies weren’t exactly riveting theater Kirstie. #justsaying #curling #rockit #TeamUSA,” Shuster replied.

LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord