LBN Examiner 12/26/2021


As Congress worked in recent days to increase the legal limit on the federal debt, the Treasury kept that debt artificially frozen at approximately $28.9 trillion. With that limit lifted, the federal debt will take a jump upward, then keep steadily climbing, constantly increasing the burden on future taxpayers. In 2018, according to the last complete annual report on individual income tax returns published by the Internal Revenue Service, there were 100,424,240 households in the United States that filed what the IRS calls a “taxable return.” “The taxable and nontaxable classification of a return for this report is determined by the presence of ‘total income tax,'” explained the IRS. “‘Total income tax,'” it said, “was the sum of income tax after credits.”

In other words, the 100,424,240 households that filed a “taxable return” in 2018 actually paid income taxes to the federal government. If you divide the $28,908,004,857,445 in debt that the federal government owed before the debt limit was lifted by the 100,424,240 American households that paid net income taxes in 2018, it works out to approximately $287,859 per income-tax-paying household. Back in 1989, the year that President Ronald Reagan left office, there were 89,178,355 income-tax-paying households in the United States, according to the IRS. At the end of January that year, the federal debt was $2,697,957,000,000.

L.A. ‘Restorative Justice’ Programs Set to Give Violent Juvenile Felons a Pass:

Young criminals in Los Angeles accused of serious crimes are set to get a pass under new rules from District Attorney George Gascon. The Los Angeles County District Attorney will expand its “restorative justice” diversion programs for youths to include those facing charges like burglary, arson, robbery and even sexual battery, among other crimes, according to a leaked memo from the DA’s office. Diversion programs are a form of pre-trial intervention which allows alleged juveniles to avoid prosecution, conviction – and serious jail time – in favor of more rehabilitative approaches. The DA’s office launched a pilot for the Restorative Enhanced Diversion for Youth (REDY) program in November 2021.

Top Harvard Professor Found Guilty of Lying About Payments from China:

A prominent Harvard professor was found guilty of lying about his ties to China, The Wall Street Journal reported. Charles Lieber, a scientist in Harvard University’s chemistry and engineering departments, was found guilty on six counts of lying related to his work at the Wuhan University of Technology, the WSJ reported. Lieber was first arrested by federal authorities in January 2020 and charged with making false statements regarding his participation in the Thousand Talents Plan, a Chinese recruitment program that aims to foster foreign academic talent. The Department of Justice alleged that Lieber was paid by the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) “$50,000 USD per month, living expenses of up to 1,000,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately $158,000 USD at the time) and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT.”

Examiner – Lens:

Actor Elijah Wood said that if he learned one thing from playing Frodo The Lord of the Rings series it’s “that there’s fortitude in his outlook that makes it all possible.”

Teacher Gets Almost Her Whole Class of 4th Graders to Master Rubik’s Cube:

A 4th-grade class in New Jersey has virtually mastered solving the world-renowned Rubik’s Cube. Heather Hayes, a teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, alongside her teaching-partner, Chelsea Monahan, decided to teach every 4th-grade student at the school how to solve the Rubik’s Cube. Hayes told the outlet that 90% of the students can solve the cube. “And this time next week, I’m certain 100% of those students will solve this cube in under 10 minutes,” she said. Elliot, one of Hayes’ students who brought the sensation to his class, can solve the puzzle in under 30 seconds and says anybody can achieve what he has “if you just do it in steps.” “Everybody practiced at, like, home and in school. And then we watched this video over and over again until everybody learned how to solve it,” he said. It wasn’t only the elementary school students who learned to master the phenomenon. “It helps us relate to the students, and it helps our rapport as well because they see us struggling,” said Monahan. “It’s been really cool for the students to see that we’re working alongside of them.” Hayes and Monahan said that 4th-grade at Horace Mann Elementary School is now known as the “Rubik’s Cube grade,” a practice they hope the school will carry on for years.

‘Conflicted Congress’ – Key Findings from Insider’s Five-Month Investigation into Federal Lawmakers’ Personal Finances:

The nation is unabashedly polarized. Republicans and Democrats enjoy little goodwill and less commonality. But in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan phenomenon is thriving. Numerous members of Congress, both liberal and conservative, are united in their demonstrated indifference toward a law designed to quash corruption and curb conflicts-of-interest. Insider’s new investigative reporting project, “Conflicted Congress,” chronicles the myriad ways members of the U.S. House and Senate have eviscerated their own ethical standards, avoided consequences, and blinded Americans to the many moments when lawmakers’ personal finances clash with their public duties. In all, Insider spent hundreds of hours over five months reviewing nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers. Reporters conducted hundreds of interviews, including those with some of the nation’s most powerful leaders.

Examiner – Investigates:


The wheels on the bus don’t go ’round and ’round if there’s no one behind the wheel. The number of school bus drivers in the United States is down 13% from 2019, according to an analysis of payroll data released this week by the ADP Research Institute. More than half of school bus drivers are 55 and older, but their ranks are down only 5%. The biggest decline in the ranks of drivers – 30% – was among those aged 25 to 34.

Nela Richardson, the institute’s chief economist, writes: “These drivers could be switching jobs to pursue more rewarding opportunities, given the relatively low pay of school bus drivers when compared to national averages. In a world where more people are ordering online, workers with a commercial driver’s license have more options than they did before the pandemic.”

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How Walmart is Taking on Amazon:

Remember Walmart? It’s the ~$400B retailer seemingly left in the dust by a $1.9T behemoth called Amazon. Turns out, things aren’t so bad. During its latest quarterly report, Walmart beat Wall Street expectations as “price sensitive grocery shoppers flocked to its stores amid rising costs for household staples,” per CNBC. The Economist writes that a number of Harvard professors have been waxing lyrical about Walmart’s underrated prospects. The bullish signals come in two categories:

  • Expanding customer base: Walmart is attracting a more upscale demographic with its Prime-like loyalty program (Walmart+), American Express partnership, and DoorDash-like delivery service (offered in 900 cities)
  • Financials: Walmart is expanding its revenue streams by onboarding 3rd-party merchants into its distribution network and rolling out fintech solutions for customers (e.g. bill payment, crypto)

Don’t forget Walmart’s existing moat. Here’s a wild stat: 90% of Americans are within 10 miles of a Walmart and this availability will be increasingly valuable in a post-COVID world. Walmart can’t sleep on its laurels, though. In 2018, Amazon passed it in distribution warehouse space and plans to build out another 140M square feet in coming years (more than Walmart has in the past 59 years). Supply chain issues are a big test but CNBC says Walmart is using its size to manage the obstacles by:

  • Negotiating with manufacturers
  • Bulking up its inventory
  • Chartering its own ships to move goods across the globe

Despite tight labor markets, Walmart added 200K employees to its roster in the three months ended September 2021, per The Economist. Tally it all up and the retailer is well-placed to handle the holiday season.

Examiner – Site Of The Day:


“Worldometers is run by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world. We have no political, governmental, or corporate affiliation.”

The Real Story by Sarah Garcia:

** Let’s keep it real. 100%. Joe Biden is president because the Democrats didn’t want Bernie and the country didn’t want Trump. That said, Biden is a disaster and most people would hire him to manage a mid-sized Denny’s.

Examiner – Lens:

Meet Actor Danny DeVito.

Examiner – (Notable) Remarks:

** There is no question, it seems to me, that abortion is an issue where the burden on women vastly outweighs the burden on men. Up to nine months of carrying and then caring for an infant has no male equivalent. The intervention inside a person’s body is also entirely one-sided. Women alone face this restriction on their control of their own physical personhood. If they do not have control over that, with respect to both men and government, what does having (habeas) a body (corpus) ultimately mean? The question I’ve often pondered, however, is whether that makes abortion a “women’s issue,” as it has been framed by the pro-choice movement for decades. If you believe that a fetus is the moral equivalent of a human person, and that a fetus can be male or female, then abortion obviously affects everyone who was once a fetus. That makes it more than a “women’s issue” for many people. Equally, if you believe that biological sex doesn’t exist, and that the fetus cannot therefore be either male or female (the current woke position), then the question also affects everyone. It’s messier still because no abortion can take place without a male somehow being responsible at some point (I still hold the now-cancellable idea that you need sperm to make babies). And we obviously don’t restrict the franchise to women when it comes to this or any question. In a democracy, majorities of both sexes rule. And it is hard to argue that women are a minority, with full minority rights, when by definition, they’re actually a tiny majority (50.8%). —- Andrew Sullivan

** My wife and I are scrambling to find daycare for our 16-month-old son. We’ve had a “nanny share” up until now, which means we and another couple employ a nanny for both couples’ kids and split the cost. Our nanny is wonderful, and she lives just a few blocks from us. But a few weeks ago, someone walked up her street spraying bullets into random houses. One of the bullets found its way into her living room, as she and her family ducked for cover. At that moment, she and her husband decided they were moving their family out of Oakland. The shooting didn’t even make the local news. Apparently, in the Bay Area right now, you can walk up a residential street firing your gun into houses, and you still won’t be able to compete for attention with all of the other sensational crimes. —- Leighton Woodhouse, Leighton is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker

** President Biden’s poll numbers are bad and Vice President Kamala Harris’s are worse. A survey this week from conservative-leaning Rasmussen had her at 39% favorable, 57% unfavorable. The number that stuck in the public’s mind came last month, from a USAToday/Suffolk poll that put her approval at 28%, disapproval at 51%. The past few weeks she’s been hammered by bad news. There’s been an exodus of high-level staffers. The Washington Post had a sweeping, searing piece that described a “dysfunctional” and chaotic office full of bitter enmities. A consistent problem: Ms. Harris refuses “to wade into briefing materials prepared by staff members” and would “then berate employees when she appeared unprepared.” A former staffer said she’s not “willing to do the prep and the work.” There had been a similar, heavily sourced report from CNN. In the San Francisco Examiner an aide to Ms. Harris when she was California’s attorney general, Gil Duran, wrote a column saying such tales of chaos have a familiar ring. All this leaves people uneasy. The president is old and his judgment questionable; she seems out of her depth. We will have another three years of this? It is also dangerous: We don’t want their weakness to become America’s weakness. —- Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

** The teachers’ unions’ three-day weekend agenda continues to expand, with schools in Detroit and others deciding that COVID-19 safety simply requires Fridays off. Public schools are also now telling children they cannot speak to each other during meals, so they must sit silent and alone while they eat. Videos have emerged of children in Chicago made to sit outdoors on small buckets, in the winter cold, socially distant, not speaking as they eat. Serene silence, holiday weekends, all part of the struggle for safety. COVID also requires me to pour a glass of wine right now. But seriously it’s no wonder the mental illness rate among children is soaring, leading the Surgeon General to issue a message about it this week. The teachers unions have abused their power, while docile journalists applaud them, and children are suffering for it. —- Nellie Bowles

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Examiner – Investigates:

** US Secret Service says it has more than 900 active investigations into potential pandemic relief-related fraud, totaling over $100B. READ 

** The year’s best space photos. READ

** Where one-bedroom rents are rising the most. READ

** How the media misreported 2021. READ

** A fascinating time-lapse of a seed growing into a giant pumpkin. WATCH

Remembering Adrienne Shelly, the Feminist Filmmaker Murdered by an Illegal Immigrant:

Adrienne Shelly was an actress, a director, a mother, a wife, and a friend, and her life was cut terribly, unthinkably, unjustly short on November 1, 2006, when 19-year-old construction worker Diego Pillco, an illegal immigrant, broke into her apartment with intent to rob her and, upon being discovered by Shelly, fatally strangled her and then hanged her in the bathroom in an attempt to make it appear that she’d committed suicide. Those are the gruesome details of Shelly’s death, and they’re not shied away from in Adrienne, a new documentary premiering on HBO on December 1 following its debut at the DOC NYC festival on November 14. Yet as directed by her husband, Andy Ostroy, this non-fiction remembrance is less about the horrors of Shelly’s final day than about the inspiring brightness of her life – and, also, the tremendous grief wrought by her untimely demise.

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How old is too old to be president? Send in your reply to:

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