LBN Examiner 01/15/2023


Several of the nation’s largest urban mass-transit systems are at a crossroads, with ridership still depressed three years into the pandemic and federal aid running out. While offices have largely reopened and travel has resumed, many commuters are only coming in a few days a week. That shift has left subways, buses and commuter trains operating at well below capacity – particularly on Mondays and Fridays. The ridership shortfall is forcing transit authorities to question their decades-old funding models for public buses, subways and trains, which are based on a combination of rider fares and public money. On average, fares provided about a third of the operating income for transit systems nationwide in 2019, according to the Federal Transit Administration. In major cities such as New York and San Francisco, transit authorities have been leaning on emergency funding to plug budget holes and prop up operations. In all, Congress approved about $69 billion in three separate COVID-19 relief packages in 2020 and 2021. The ridership drop also has fueled an increase in transit crime, which in turn has pushed away more riders. “The more you lose a ridership base, the more difficult it becomes to maintain a level of service that people are used to,” said P.S. Sriraj, director of the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “It’s becoming a vicious cycle.” In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has disclosed plans to cut some Monday and Friday service and increase rider fares this year.

12 Terrorism Suspects Nabbed Sneaking Across Southern Border, According To DHS Data:

Border Patrol agents caught 12 illegal immigrants in November whose names popped on the terrorism watchlist, according to new data revealed this week by the Department of Homeland Security. That’s up from nine terrorism suspects nabbed in October and brings the total to 21 through the first two months of the fiscal year. That is well above the pace of last year, which set a record with 98 terrorism suspects nabbed. By contrast, from 2017 to 2020 – roughly matching the years of the Trump administration – Border Patrol agents caught a total of just 11 terrorism suspects at the southern border.

Billionaire Home Depot Co-Founder, 93, Blames Socialism For Destroying Capitalism:

The co-founder of Home Depot slammed “woke people,” and said nobody wants to work anymore. Bernie Marcus, 93, believes the success the company he began with Arthur Blank in 1978 couldn’t happen today because of people standing in the way of the business community. “We would end up with 15, 16 stores,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times. “I don’t know that we could go further.” Marcus added that he’s worried about capitalism and said thanks to socialism, “Nobody works. Nobody gives a damn. ‘Just give it to me. Send me money. I don’t want to work – I’m too lazy, I’m too fat, I’m too stupid.’” He also listed human resources executives, government bureaucrats, socialists, Harvard graduates, MBAs, Harvard MBAs, lawyers and accountants as the obstacles to entrepreneurial success in 2022.

Examiner – Lens:

A view of the dust covered sky during a sandstorm in Baghdad, Iraq, May 5.

Ozone Layer Recovery:

Earth’s ozone layer is expected to return to 1980 levels in the next few decades, according to a United Nations report released yesterday. The once-every-four-years assessment confirms the collaborative efforts of one of the world’s most successful treaties, the Montreal Protocol of 1987, which saw 198 countries agree to ban the use of ozone-depleting substances. In the 1980s, scientists discovered diminishing levels of UV-blocking ozone in the stratosphere, particularly in the Earth’s polar regions. Researchers noted chlorofluorocarbons – used widely in fire suppression, refrigerators, and aerosol sprays – broke down into ozone-depleting bromine and chlorine in the stratosphere, contributing to a decline in the ozone layer. Concerns over the damage a thinner ozone layer would have on Earth’s ecosystems led to the rapid adoption of bans on ozone-depleting substances. See the global reduction in harmful chemicals here. The report claimed average global ozone levels will reach pre-1980 levels in 2040, while the Antarctic region will do so by 2066.

Victoria’s Secret’s Brand CEO Out As Company Struggles Following Pursuit Of Wokeness:

Victoria’s Secret brand CEO Amy Hauk, who was also CEO of the company’s Pink brand, announced this week that she is leaving the company after less than a year on the job. “Amy Hauk will be stepping down as CEO of Victoria’s Secret and Pink in order to spend more time with her family in Florida,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Amy has graciously agreed to a managed transition between now and the end of March. There are no plans to replace her role.” It was reported over the summer that the company did away with the iconic Victoria’s Secret Angels, replaced models with the likes of soccer star and liberal activist Megan Rapinoe, and even hired the company’s first biologically male transgender model – but, unsurprisingly, the wokeness has not paid off. Victoria’s Secret fired 160 management-level employees over the summer at its Ohio headquarters in an effort to save the business $40 million. Notably, sales at the lingerie company dropped by 4.5% to $1.5 billion earlier in 2022, the New York Post reported, adding that comparable sales from the same period in 2021 had declined by 8%.

by Nellie Bowles:

** Just a little $1.7 trillion bill: It wasn’t a great year for anyone’s 401(k), not that you need me telling you that. The NASDAQ is down nearly 34% since the year’s start, the S&P down 20%. Tens of thousands of tech jobs have vanished. Even Goldman Sachs, that old vampire squid, is planning to lay off 8% of its workforce. But the Biden administration is ending the year flush. Biden just signed a $1.7 trillion spending bill, which had to be flown to St. Croix where he is on vacation at the home of wealthy donors. It includes another $50 billion in aid to Ukraine. Also, per the The Free Beacon: half a million in funding toward artificial intelligence that will detect microaggressions online. This is thanks to a movement that genuinely believes rude things should be illegal to post.

** November marks another record at the border: The border crisis continues to escalate, and this November saw the highest number of border crossings yet. More than 200,000 people were intercepted, and an estimated 73,000 illegal immigrants got through. This is a lot of people. The news is carefully buried by mainstream publications, whose staffers are more-or-less in favor of open borders. My thing is: If the Biden administration wants to dramatically increase immigration, at least be honest about it and help the southern states absorb all these new arrivals. Instead, the admin and the press that serves it cry racism when southern governors try to get national attention on the issue. Remember the rage over the Martha’s Vineyard stunt? All year, the social safety net in border states has been strained. The city of El Paso has declared an extended emergency.

** Where did all that Stacey Abrams campaign money go? Stacey Abrams, the progressive who twice ran and twice lost a bid for governor of Georgia, raised $100 million through her PAC this most recent time. That’s a lot of money! Yet she owes vendors at least $1 million. Maybe she should check in with her campaign chair and close friend, whose firm made at least $10 million from Abrams in 2019 and 2020. Can’t wait to see how much it was in ‘21 and ‘22.

** We have a dangerous oversupply of History PhDs: America’s graduate schools are hellbent on making thousands of unemployed people fated to wander the country reminding us that they have PhDs and that we should call them “doctor.” From Inside Higher Ed: “Between 2019 and 2020, 1,799 historians earned their PhDs, and only 175 of them are now employed as full-time faculty members.” What are the 1,624 remainders doing? Mostly screaming on Twitter, I guess? Cornering people at otherwise normal dinners to explain how their thesis shows mid-century modern furniture is homophobic? These people are highly educated, highly articulate, saddled with debt and understandably full of rage. It’s a national security issue. We should probably create special PhD playrooms for them, Potemkin faculty lounges, pretend academic journals for them to bicker about.

** MIT signs on for freedom of expression: The faculty of MIT are the latest to sign a pledge asserting that they value free expression and debate. The freedom agreement reads in part: “Learning from a diversity of viewpoints, and from the deliberation, debate, and dissent that accompany them, is an essential ingredient of academic excellence.” Yes, it is odd this even needs to be said. Who knows if they can hold to it. So many other universities haven’t.

** Meantime, Stanford says more censorship please: Sometimes there is news that is so perfectly crafted for TGIF I almost feel bad. The fruit is too low. The fish are just waiting to get shot in that barrel. This week that comes from Stanford University, which has released a list of verboten words so crazed, so long, so thorough, that it would truly take a four-year $250,000 degree to learn it. Some words that pretty soon can get you fired: basket case, blind study, blind review, handicapped, handicapped space, lame, brave, tribe, mankind, manpower, seminal (“this term reinforces male-dominated language”), stand up meeting, senile, you guys, abort, peanut gallery, American, Hispanic, user, victim, master, rule of thumb, disabled person. Even the verb submit has dangerous connotations: “the term can imply allowing others to have power over you.” Read the whole list here, and if you go to Stanford, I have this to say: You guys, do not submit to these lame basket cases. It’s a good thing Stanford administrators have nothing else to worry about …

** TikTok, a tool of the Chinese Communist Party, is running roughshod over American civil liberties. I don’t expect the American press to stand up against the CCP, which is their preferred government, but I’m surprised there’s so little appetite in Congressmen and women for anything beyond deleting it from their own phones. …

Examiner – Lens:

Samy Nemir Olivares made gender inclusivity in politics a cornerstone of his campaign for New York State Assembly last year. The caftans and dresses he wore on the trail were all part of the message.

Examiner – (Notable) Remarks:

** If a critical mass of elected officials are, in effect, OK with mass shooting deaths being a new normal in our country, then any reckoning would have to address the sad fact that after close to 250 years, America is simply broken. —- John McWhorter

** I now consider it a blessing that my best friend and I have different opinions. I think that the American policing system needs more reform than she does. I love Brown’s study-whatever-you-want, no-graduation-requirements curriculum, whereas she prefers more traditional, structured learning. We talk about these disagreements and we’re better thinkers and better friends for it. Among so many other things, she has taught me the importance of resisting the tide. I’ve taught her … something, I hope. The adults in charge too often deprive us of one of the most important human experiences: engaging with smart, thoughtful people who don’t see the world the way we do. That’s something we used to value deeply. It was assumed to be a necessary step in teaching young people how to think critically and how to govern themselves. How are we going to govern ourselves – to say nothing of our country – without it? —- Maya Rackoff

** I had always thought a primary job of the press was to be skeptical of power – especially the power of the government. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, I and so many others found that the legacy media had shown itself to largely operate as a messaging platform for our public health institutions. Those institutions operated in near total lockstep, in part by purging internal dissidents and discrediting outside experts. Twitter became an essential alternative. It was a place where those with public health expertise and perspectives at odds with official policy could air their views – and where curious citizens could find such information. This often included other countries’ responses to COVID that differed dramatically from our own. But it quickly became clear that Twitter also seemed to promote content that reinforced the establishment narrative, and to suppress views and even scientific evidence that ran to the contrary. —- David Zweig, writer for the Atlantic, New York magazine, Wired, and other outlets

** When Bernie Sanders was the mayor of Burlington, Vt., in 1981, he shocked a meeting of the Chittenden County United Way by saying, “I don’t believe in charities,” arguing that government should be responsible for providing social services. The Times reported that he brought “a shocked silence to a packed hotel banquet room.” Sanders’s opposite might be John Stossel, the libertarian commentator, who argued two years ago that charity is better than government. “Charities are free to help people who truly need help while giving a push to people who need ‘a kick in the butt.’ Government’s one-size-fits-all rules discourage that.” —- Peter Coy

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** Egg prices rose 30%+ in 2022 – the greatest increase of any grocery item – as bird flu has reduced America’s egg-laying chicken population by 5%+. READ

** When it comes to Integrating women into combat ranks, it’s worth noting that many physical requirements have been suspended because the brass couldn’t devise a test that women could pass.

** Japan is giving families 1M yen (~$7.6K) per child to move out of Tokyo and diversify aging populations throughout the country. READ

** The world’s wealthiest pets. READ

** Denmark, the world’s second-happiest nation, saw zero bank robberies in 2022 due to increased security and minimal cash use.

** Minimum wage got a bump in 23 states. Nebraska saw the largest hourly increase, from $9 to $10.50, while Washington, D.C. has the highest wage overall at $16.10. READ

Johnny Depp’s Attorney Lands New Gig:

Attorney Camille Vasquez has landed a new gig as a legal analyst with NBC News. Vasquez became a household name after she helped actor Johnny Depp win his defamation case against his former spouse, actress Amber Heard – and according to new sources, at least three national news outlets had expressed interest in working with her after the trial came to a close.


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Jail Trying To Accommodate Accused Idaho Killer’s Vegan Diet But Won’t ‘Buy New Pots And Pans’:

The Idaho jail where the man suspected of killing four University of Idaho students is being held is trying to accommodate his vegan diet requirements. Latah County Sheriff Richard Skiles told NewsNation that he hasn’t heard of anything out of the ordinary when it comes to the suspect’s behavior in jail. He did say, however, that jail officials are trying to accommodate the suspect’s vegan diet, “but we are not going to buy new pots and pans or anything like that.”

Examiner – Bookkeeping:

** Calls to poison control centers about children aged five and younger consuming marijuana edibles containing THC rose 1,375% from 2017 to 2021, study finds. READ

** Google and Meta’s combined market share of U.S. digital-ad spending falls below 50% for the first time since 2014 as Amazon and TikTok make gains. READ

** Southwest Airlines expected to report a loss of up to $825M in the fourth quarter of 2022 due to late December travel issues. READ

Bertha Mae’s Brownies:

100 years after Bertha Mae’s birth, we decided to share this recipe with the world and Bertha Mae’s Brownie Co. was born.

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