Wednesday, September 20, 2017

'Raging Bull' Boxing Legend Jake LaMotta Dead At 95

Bob Fredericks and Laura Italiano at the New York Post report that former middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta has died. LaMotta, the author of Raging Bull: My Story. was 95.

Boxing great Jake LaMotta – who was memorably portrayed by actor Robert De​ ​Niro in the flick Raging Bull — has died at the age of 95, his family announced.

“Rest in Peace, Champ,” De Niro [CQ] told ABC News.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

My Washington Times Review Of Nelson DeMille's 'The Cuban Affair'

The Washington Times published my review of Nelson DeMille’s The Cuban Affair.

In October 2015 author Nelson DeMille and his wife toured Cuba. Mr. DeMille made good use of his field research trip and in his new action-adventure novel “The Cuban Affair” we are offered his wry observations and running commentary on Cuba via his fictional character, Daniel “Mac” MacCormick.

Mac, a U.S. Army veteran who served as a combat infantry officer in Afghanistan, has settled in Key West, Florida. Mac, like Mr. DeMille’s other well-known character, John Corey, is an irreverent, laid back and wisecracking tough guy.

Like Ernest Hemingway’s Key West character Harry Morgan in his novel “To Have and Have Not,” Mac is a charter boat captain. And like Harry Morgan, Mac’s boat is hired for a trip to Cuba by some shady characters.

Ernest Hemingway looms large in this novel, as Mac discovers that the late, great writer is revered publicly in communist Cuba and there are statues, signs, T-shirts and photos of him in nearly every bar and restaurant he was said to have frequented when he lived there in the 1940s. So much so, that one Havana bar advertised proudly that Mr. Hemingway, “did not” drink there.

… Mac is asked to join a Yale University tour of Cuba with Sara, who offers the boat captain 50,000 dollars to also have his first mate take his boat to join a fishing tournament in Cayo Guillermo, Cuba.

“It was a favorite deep-sea fishing place of Ernesto,” Carlos tells Mac. “Hemingway, not Guevara.” Must be an old Cuban joke, Mac thinks.

In addition to the charter fee, she offers Mac two million dollars if he will travel with her on the tour and help her recover the 60 million dollars her Cuban grandfather banker hid in a cave in Cuba before he fled Castro’s revolution. Once they’ve recovered the money, her plan is to meet up with his boat and escape from the island with the loot. Mac and Jack sign on.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The U.S. Defense Department Celebrates Constitution Week

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2017 — The Defense Department, along with all other federal agencies, celebrated Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Sept. and is celebrating Constitution Week Sept. 17-23.

The Constitution was signed in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787.

"The U.S. Constitution has withstood the test of time for more than two centuries as our nation's charter of government and the guarantor of our liberties," Stephanie Barna, assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs, said in an Aug. 31 memo to all service assistant secretaries for manpower and reserve affairs.

"This founding document reflects our core values and enshrines the truths set forth in the Declaration of Independence: that we are each endowed with certain unalienable rights," she added.

Section 11l(a) of Public Law 108-447 requires all federal agencies to commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by offering education and training to new and current employees and making duty time available for this activity.

Citizenship, Constitution Online

To help DoD and the military services meet statutory requirements for the observances, the department hosts an online U.S. Constitution course and provides information on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and Constitution Week on a special website.

The website has a range of information on the observances and hosts an interactive short course the Constitution, in which visitors can test their Constitutional knowledge or play the "You Be the Judge Game" and earn certificates, DoD officials noted.

The course is designed to provide interesting and educational information about events leading to the Founding Fathers' creation of the Constitution and the document's evolution through the 19th and 20th centuries, they added.

Website visitors can watch a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and access governmentwide resources that include a center for educational civics material.

Commemoration Highlights

This year the department is highlighting links to the Department of Defense Education Activity, the Defense Privacy, Civil Liberties and Transparency Division, and a Navy website that offers more resources and highlights the commemorative events.

"Please join me in making Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week, a time for DoD personnel to reflect on and reaffirm their rights and obligations as citizens," Barna wrote in the memo, "and to honor the commitments and sacrifices made by DoD personnel in defense of our nation." 

On This Day In History 'Goodfellas' Opened in Movie Theaters

As notes, on this day in 1990 Martin Scorsese’s classic crime film Goodfellas opened in movie theaters.  

On this day in 1990, the Martin Scorsese-directed Mafia film Goodfellas, starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco and Joe Pesci, opens in theaters around the United States. The movie, which was based on the best-selling 1986 book Wiseguy, by the New York crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi, tells the true story of the mobster-turned-FBI informant Henry Hill (Liotta), from the 1950s to the 1980s. Goodfellas earned six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Pesci won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the psychotic mobster Tommy DeVito.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, September 18, 2017

My Q&A With Robert O'Neill, The Navy SEAL Who Shot And Killed Osama Bin Laden, America's Enemy Number One

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden, the planner of the horrendous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the world’s most wanted man.

Robert O’Neill is the author of The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior.

You can read the interview below:

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Inky Readers Hit Paywall: If You Want To Read The Philadelphia Inquirer (And Philadelphia Daily News) Online, You'll Have To Pay

From 1999 until recently, I was a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper cut way back on freelance contributors, so I’ve moved on to the Washington Times and other publications.

Another change at the Inquirer, known also as the “Inky,” is that you will have to pay to read the newspaper online.

Ralph Cipriano, a former Inquirer staffer, offers his take on the newspaper paywall at 

Philadelphia At 10:30 a.m. on the Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend, visitors to ran into a big surprise -- a brand new paywall.

If you were one of those readers who had already read 10 stories on that month, you were out of luck. No more freebies. Your only option, besides hopping on another computer, or accessing the site from another web browser, was to sign up for "unlimited digital access for 99 cents for four weeks, and $2.99 per week thereafter."

… So, as a free service to all those former visitors to who are now restricted from the site, here's what you missed.

Today, the Inquirer's PC posse led the webpage with three different stories about the city's ongoing statue wars.

First, Tirdad Derakshani, an Inquirer staff writer, breathlessly reported the big news that the city's PC Mural Arts program had just installed right behind that racist Frank Rizzo statue a new statue of a 12-foot high steel Afro-pick, topped by a fist raised in a black power salute.

Take that, Big Bambino.

Next, Solomon Jones, an Inquirer columnist, visited the two statues and found the Afro-pick statue to  be empowering. But not empowering enough the columnist said, to combat the continuing racism emanating from the Rizzo statue. So, for the umpteenth time, the courageous Inquirer columnist called for the removal of the racist Rizzo statue.

Climaxing the newspaper's blanket coverage of the statue wars, former Inquirer fashion columnist Elizabeth Wellington weighed in to say that she also visited both statues and found the Afro Pick statue to be not empowering.

This was a major development, and in shocking contrast to Jones's stance.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Note: It is a shame that newspapers and other publications can't seem to come up with a way of financing themselves through online advertising. This is, after all, the information age. So what better way to offer information to all than through free online access?  

USS Iwo Jima Offers Humanitarian Assistance Following Hurricane Irma's Landfall At Key West

In the above U.S. Navy photo the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) is seen from Landing Craft Unit 1643, attached to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, during humanitarian assistance efforts following Hurricane Irma's landfall in Key West, Florida.

The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead agency, in helping those affixed by Hurricane Irma to minimize suffering and as one component of the overall whole-of-government response efforts.

The photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Lehman.

Note: You can click on the above photo to enlarge.