*LBN-INVESTIGATES: The investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with President Trump’s associates has cost taxpayers at least $3.2 million so far, according to Justice Department records released Tuesday. The expenditures are the first public accounting of the costs associated with Mueller’s far-reaching investigation, which has so far resulted in charges against four former aides to Trump’s campaign. Last week, Mueller announced charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the only aide charged who also served in his presidential administration.
*Supreme Court: Texas Has Right to Deny Gay Spousal Benefits
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday swatted down an appeal by Houston to ensure that gay spouses working for the city are entitled to government-subsidized workplace benefits, allowing the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter to stand. Houston had challenged a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court in June that overturned a lower court’s decision to grant spousal benefits to gay city employees. The state’s all-Republican high court had issued its ruling amid pressure from conservative officials who argued that Texas may be able to limit the scope of the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which held that same-sex couples should be granted the fundamental right to marry. The Texas court argued that while Obergefell gives same-sex couples the right to marry, it does not necessarily grant them benefits. Monday’s decision was handed down quietly, with no comment or explanation. The move quickly triggered condemnation by activists. “Today’s abnegation by the nation’s highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the civil-rights group GLAAD, said in a statement.
*Emmanuel Macron Warns Trump Over Plan to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
President Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ran into mounting resistance abroad on Monday, with France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, warning him it was a bad idea. Mr. Macron joined leaders from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and the Arab League in speaking out against the move, which would overturn decades of American policy. People briefed on the deliberations said Mr. Trump planned to address the issue in a speech on Wednesday, but they cautioned he could still change course. In a phone call with the president, Mr. Macron “expressed his concern with the possibility that the United States might unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as capital of the State of Israel,” according to a statement issued by the French government.
*Director Defends F.B.I. After Trump Says Bureau is in ‘Tatters’:
Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, defended his work force in an email on Monday, a day after President Trump said on Twitter that the agency’s standing was the “worst in History” and its reputation was in “Tatters.” In a message to the F.B.I.’s 35,000 agents and support staff that was provided to The New York Times, Mr. Wray said that he was “inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice demonstrated around the bureau. It is truly an honor to represent you.” He did not mention Mr. Trump by name.
*SEE UP CLOSE – READ LBN:
*Roy Moore Gets Trump Endorsement and R.N.C. Funding for Senate Race:
President Trump on Monday strongly endorsed Roy S. Moore, the Republican nominee for a United States Senate seat, prompting the Republican National Committee to restore its support for a candidate accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girls. Mr. Trump’s endorsement strengthened what had been his subdued, if symbolically significant, embrace of Mr. Moore’s campaign. At Mr. Trump’s direct urging, and to the surprise of some Republican Party officials, the national committee, which severed ties to Mr. Moore weeks ago, opened a financial spigot that could help Mr. Moore with voter turnout in the contest’s closing days. “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter on Monday, before he formally endorsed Mr. Moore during a telephone call. “We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more.”
*LBN-INVESTIGATES: Americans eat approximately 350 slices of pizza per second.
*LBN-BUSINESS INSIDER: ***Airbnb has a scary problem on their hands: People keep finding hidden cameras in their rental homes. Another host was busted last month trying to film guests without their knowledge — marking the second time since October that the company has had to publicly deal with this sort of incident. Officials have been forced to ban account users in the past for deploying secret cams around their houses, including residents in Florida and California.
*LBN-NOTICED: ***A packed crowd of diverse L.A. influencers were on hand last night for “City Talk’s” annual year-end holiday party on the patio of the chic Brentwood restaurantBaltaire. Included in the celebration were film producers Barry Josephson and Howard Rosenman, KXN news anchor Bob Brill and KNX producer Jerry Edling, Associated Press writer John Rogers along with retired A.P legal writer Linda Deutsch, international security expert Kent Moyer, media psychiatrist Carole Lieberman, M.D., attorney Anthony Hanna, prominent Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeons Dr. Robert Kotler and Dr. Jon Perlman, and veteran film producer Mike Flint. Showing up at the end after a long day downtown was power-attorney Tom Girardi to offer a holiday toast. ***After the official Academy (AMPAS) screening of The Disaster Artist and the Q & A off stage, Dave & James Franco, their writers and Warner Bros/A24 folks chatting, laughing and glad handing with Edward Lozzi, the publicist for infamous Tommy Wiseau and the The Room (2003) which the film is based on. All were comparing notes of their crazy experiences with Wiseau and the two motion pictures now merged forever with the nationwide opening of The Disaster Artist. The buzz last night with many Academy members was that James Franco’sperformance is Oscar worthy.
*LBN-MEDIA INSIDER: ***NBC has a succession crisis on its hands. While we’re told that ousted anchor Matt Lauer’s intense, long-running jealousy over potential rivals has left the network with no male contenders for his empty chair, a disastrous November sweep means that the network’s banner hire, Megyn Kelly, isn’t a viable replacement either.
*LBN-INVESTIGATES: A new Harvard University poll Tuesdayis blaring a loud danger signal to the Republican Party after finding that millennials are now the largest generation of voters and they are overwhelmingly Democratic, by a two-to-one margin. The latest youth poll from Harvard’s influential Institute of Politics found that America’s 18-29-year-olds prefer Democrats 65 percent to 33 percent, in part because they don’t like President Trump and are “fearful” about the future.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: The Conclusion: “Without Notes” withSusan Estrich – Episode 5: That Was Then, This Is Now. — https://youtu.be/gpq8aT3a5cU
*LBN-R.I.P.: ***John B. Anderson, a former Republican congressman from Illinois who bolted his party to run as a plain-spoken independent candidate for president in 1980, drawing an enthusiastic if transient following among liberals and college students, died on Sunday night in Washington. He was 95. His death was confirmed by his daughter Diane Anderson. ***Ivan Chermayeff, a graphic designer who forged some of the most recognizable corporate logos of the second half of the 20th century — including those of the cable channel Showtime, the publisher HarperCollins, the Smithsonian Institution and Pan Am — died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 85. His family confirmed the death.
Walter Elias “Walt” Disney (1901)
Walt Disney began his career as a cartoonist in 1920. By the time he died in 1966, he had built an entertainment empire. His enormously successful cartoons and films—both animated and live-action—employed groundbreaking technology and introduced now-famous characters such as Mickey Mouse. A skilled businessman as well as an innovator, Disney oversaw his company’s expansion into theme parks and mass merchandising.
*LBN-SITE OF THE DAY:
Latlong.net is an online geographic tool that can be used to lookup latitude and longitude of a place, and get its coordinates on map. You can search for a place using a city’s or town’s name, as well as the name of special places, and the correct lat long coordinates will be shown at the bottom of the latitude longitude finder form.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by David Brooks: Legal conflict is a clumsy tool to manage the holy messiness of actual pluralistic community. The legal system does not deal well with local and practical knowledge, the wisdom to know when a rule should be applied and when it should be bent. It does not do well with humility, tolerance and patience — virtues that are hard to put into a rule and can be achieved only in a specific situation. It inevitably generates angry reactions and populist uprisings. Readers of this column know that I fervently support gay marriage, but I don’t think bakers like Jack Phillips are best brought along by the iron fist of the state. I don’t think the fabric of this country will be repaired through the angry confrontation of lawyers. In this specific situation, the complex art of neighborliness is our best way forward.
*LBN-BOOK SPOTLIGHT: “What Did Jesus Do?: The Biblical Roots of the Catholic Church“ by Thomas Nash.
*LBN-VIDEO LINK: At seventeen – Janis Ian – “At Seventeen” (1975) with Lyrics — https://youtu.be/XeUV3LmtTBY
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Michelle Goldberg: After the fall of Communism, capitalism came to seem like the modern world’s natural state, like the absence of ideology rather than an ideology itself. The Trump era is radicalizing because it makes the rotten morality behind our inequalities so manifest. It’s not just the occult magic of the market that’s enriching Ivanka Trump’s children while health insurance premiums soar and public school budgets wither. It’s the raw exercise of power by a tiny unaccountable minority that believes in its own superiority. You don’t have to want to abolish capitalism to understand why the prospect is tempting to a generation that’s being robbed.
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Rebecca Zwick: The annual college applications frenzy is upon us — a season when high school students agonize over G.P.A.s and personal essays, hoping and praying that they will stand out among throngs of applicants. The anxiety among applicants about how to present themselves to universities is very visible online. Websites have sprung up to advise students on, say, whether teacher recommendations make a difference or whether to write about money in a college essay. One website, College Confidential, has offered a seminar in which you “learn what admission officials discuss behind closed doors” but “may not tell you in the information session.” Desperate applicants ask other site visitors — complete strangers — to “chance” them, or estimate the likelihood they will be admitted to their dream college. This degree of bewilderment is troubling, but not surprising. Colleges themselves have widely diverging views on what makes an ideal applicant. It’s a widespread misconception that applicants have an automatic right to be admitted to the school of their choice if they have higher grades or test scores than other candidates. It’s not that grades and test scores don’t matter — they nearly always do — but colleges aren’t obligated to choose the students who are deemed most likely to earn high college grades or graduate. As the legal scholar Ronald Dworkin put it, there is “no combination of abilities and skills and traits that constitutes ‘merit’ in the abstract.”
*LBN-COMMENTARY by Eric Clapton: I just have to face the guy that I became when I was fueled on drugs and alcohol. It’s incomprehensible to me, in a way, that I got so far out. And there was no one to challenge me. Because I may have become quite intimidating. People said they couldn’t challenge me because I came back twice as strong. The only guy who did was my manager [at the time], Roger Forrester. He said to me, “You’ve got a problem.” When I decided he was right, he was the person I called. He packed me up and sent me off to [the rehab facility] Hazelden. When I got to Hazelden, I had to sign this thing saying who is your significant other. Anyone else would have put a family member – or my wife. I was married. But I put him. Because he was the only one who would stand up to me and call me out.
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*LBN – A DIFFERENT VIEW:…
*LBN-OVERHEARD: ***Randy Travis is speaking out after a federal judge denied his request to keep the country singer’s 2012 arrest video private. The tape stems from a 2012 incident in which Travis reportedly crashed his 1988 Trans Am west of Tioga, Texas. When police arrived, Travis was lying naked in the street. “Randy’s behavior was extremely altered the evening of his arrest due to the state of his mental health, and substances in his body, causing him to do and say things that were entirely out of character,” Travis’ rep told Fox News. “He suffered a severe concussion and sustained numerous other injuries from the crash.” ***Jimmy Kimmel’s son has had another heart surgery. ABC, on which “Jimmy Kimmel Live” airs, made the announcement on Monday, according to People. Kimmel’s 7-month-old, Billy, “had a scheduled and successful heart surgery this morning,” the network said. The comedian will be spending this week with family. As a result, Chris Pratt, Tracee Ellis Ross, Neil Patrick Harris and Melissa McCarthy will take over his hosting duties. ***Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno and his wife have purchased an oceanfront estate in Newport, Rhode Island. The Boston Globe reports Leno, who grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, paid $13.5 million for the mansion called Seafair. It has eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms and comes with a pool, a tennis court and a private beach. Lucky for Leno, who collects cars, it also boasts a six-car garage.
LBN E-Lert Edited By Dan Gaylord