Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Trouble Brewing Over Starbucks Arrests: My Washington Times Piece On The Philly Starbucks Incident

The Washington Times published my piece on the Philly Starbucks incident:

Tensions are stirring and trouble is brewing in Philadelphia after two black men were arrested at a Starbucks on April 12.

The manager of a local Starbucks refused to allow the two men to use the rest room as they had not purchased anything. The manager then asked the men to leave the store and when they refused, stating they were waiting for a friend, the manager called the police and reported that the men were trespassing.

When the police arrived they too asked the two men to leave the store and when they refused the police arrested the men without incident, other than a store customer recording the arrest for social media and a chorus of irate customers shouting at the police officers. The two men were belligerent. They reportedly cursed the store manager and they insulted the responding police officers, telling them they didn’t know the law and scoffed at their salaries

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, helmed by Larry Krasner, a notorious anti-cop and radical DA, refused to charge the men and they were released some hours later. By then the video of the arrest went viral, as they say. Millions have viewed the short video of the arrest and the two men have now been proclaimed as racial victims.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross quickly put out his own live Facebook video in which he explained the incident. He originally stated emphatically that his officers did nothing wrong.

“They did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen and instead, they got the opposite back,” Commissioner Ross said in his video. “I will say that as an African American man, I am very aware of implicit bias. We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”

But Commissioner Ross soon caved and the two men later received an apology from him. “I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong.” He said he failed miserably in addressing the arrests and the department was working on a new policy to address these kinds of situations.

He joined the chorus of other politically correct Philadelphia politicians who decried the arrests, such as liberal Mayor Jim Kenney, who wrote that he was “heartbroken” over the incident.

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

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Modern Take On The 'Cowboy Mythos': My Washington Times Review of 'The Western Star'

The Washington Times published my review of Craig Johnson’s latest Longmire novel, The Western Star.

I first became acquainted with Craig Johnson’s fictional modern-day Western sheriff by watching the TV series “Longmire,” which is based on Mr. Johnson’s novels. (The show first appeared on A&E; and is now on Netflix). I liked the Walt Longmire character and the rural crime stories, so I began reading the books. With most crime dramas set in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities, it is refreshing that Mr. Johnson’s novels are set in the fictitious Absarka County of Wyoming.

Walt Longmire is a big man who is taciturn and possesses a dry sense of humor. Mr. Johnson describes him as overage, overweight and overly depressed, but he still gets up in the morning and tries to do his job. Like his previous novels, “The Western Star” offers a modern take on what Mr. Johnson calls the cowboy mythos and the romance of the epic West.

The novel opens in the present time with Sheriff Longmire having a beer with Iron Cloud, an Arapaho sheriff, after completing a weapons certification course with his sidearm, a Colt 1911A1 .45, at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Cheyenne.

Sheriff Longmire requalified at the academy every four years, which coincided with the scheduled four-year parole hearing of one of the most dangerous men he has ever arrested. This year the criminal is using medical reasons for his parole and Longmire is dead set against him being released from his life sentence.

...Longmire, carrying his trusty Colt and a paperback copy of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” said goodbye to his wife at the station. Pondering his young and troubled marriage, he boarded the Western Star. In store for Longmire on this train journey with 24 sheriffs and other characters was a murder mystery that would haunt him for years.

“The Western Star” offers the series’ regular supporting characters, such as Longmire’s undersheriff, Victoria Moretti, a tough and tough-talking former South Philly cop. Also appearing is Henry Standing Bear, Longmire’s lifelong Cheyenne friend, and Longmire’s daughter Cady.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

'Anthony Burgess: The Ink Trade' Offers Lost Anthony Burgess Essays

I first began reading Anthony Burgess after seeing Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange, which was based on Burgess’ unforgettable satiric novel.  

I went on to read Inside Mr. Enderby, Man of Nazareth, The Kingdom of the Wicked, Earthly Powers and his other novels. I also read his 99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939, Ernest Hemingway and His World, and other non-fiction. And I read Andrew Biswell's The Real Life of Anthony Burgess.

Anthony Burgess, who died in 1993, was an odd man, a clever and amusing man, and a brilliant writer.   

Dalya Alberge offers a piece at the Observer on his lost essays, which are included in Anthony Burgess: The Ink Trade.  

Previously unpublished essays by Anthony Burgess have been discovered almost 25 years after his death.

The writings cover a range of subjects, including Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film, and fellow writers Ernest Hemingway and JB Priestley. They also include an unpublished 1991 lecture on censorship.

Some of the material was discovered in the archives of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, an educational charity in Manchester, the city in which the writer was born in 1917.

Will Carr, the foundation’s deputy director, told the Observer: “Some of the approaches [within the unpublished writings] … may have been considered too personal and reflective, but in retrospect I believe offer fascinating new insights into Burgess’s work.”

Carr has included the essays in a forthcoming book, titled Anthony Burgess, The Ink Trade: Selected Journalism 1961-1993, which will be published next month.

Burgess made his name as a satirical novelist with the 1962 publication of A Clockwork Orange, a savage social satire that inspired Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 screen adaptation, known for its violent and sexually explicit scenes. Burgess was a prolific journalist, writing in the Observer for more than 30 years. In the introduction to The Ink Trade, Carr writes that Burgess’s “greatest loyalty was perhaps to the Observer – ‘my paper’, as he called it”. As the book’s editor, Carr notes the “astonishing” breadth of subjects treated by Burgess – from anthropology to the evils of taxation – and observes that this “vast storehouse” of journalism is “as rewarding as the best of his novels”.

... The essays span Burgess’s journalistic career, including the Yorkshire Post, from which he was sacked after reviewing one of his own books – Inside Mister Enderby, published under the pseudonym Joseph Kell. Apparently assuming that the paper had sent it to him as a joke, he gave it an unflattering review, writing: “It turns sex, religion, the state into a series of laughing stocks. The book itself is a laughing stock.” The review, dated 1963, is included in The Ink Trade. The Yorkshire Post’s humourless response prompted writer Gore Vidal to quip at the time: “At least, he is the first novelist in England to know that a reviewer has actually read the book under review.”

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

You can also read about his life and work via the below link:

Friday, April 20, 2018

When The 'Bomb' Prevented A War: 1983: Reagan, Andropov, And A World On The Brink

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Taylor Downing's 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink. 
Will historians ever acknowledge that the atomic bomb, despite its horrors, stands as the most effective anti-war weapon in history?

The last worldwide conflict ended in 1945. The ensuing years, to be sure, were marred by conflicts of varying intensity — Korea and Vietnam, to name two. But for 73 years, the world has avoided a major-powers conflict of the magnitude that bloodied Europe for centuries.

The most significant stand-off of the era was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, with a mutual antipathy and exchange of threats that could have resulted in nuclear disaster.

One particularly frightening flash point came in 1983, when events on both sides caused the adversaries to veer toward a showdown that author Taylor Downing, a veteran British TV producer, likens to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

But there was a significant difference. The showdown over Cuba was carried out publicly, with detailed media attention as American forces were mobilized because of Soviet installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba.

But the severity of the 1983 confrontation, with several exceptions, was known only to a handful of military and intelligence officials.

Both adversaries realized that any conflict carried serious consequence. President Eisenhower’s declared policy was “massive retaliation.” Under Ronald Reagan, the catch words were “mutual assured destruction” — MAD, in defense lingo. Mr. Reagan came into office in 198l as a hard-line anti-communist. He began strengthening U.S. weapons systems. Nonetheless, he sent friendly handwritten notes to Leonid Brezhnev, who then ruled the USSR, urging the relaxation of tensions beginning with the release of political prisoners. Mr. Brezhnev sent back “an icy reply.”

Yuri Andropov, Mr. Brezhnev’s successor, had established his own tough credentials as head of the KGB. The Reagan build-up caused fears that the U.S. would use its superiority to wipe out the Soviet political leadership.

The Soviets began developing powerful new missiles. They also strongly backed proxy “revolutionaries” in locales ranging from Central America to Angola.

Yet despite his rhetoric, one of Mr. Reagan’s first overtures was a proposal to cut nuclear arsenals by 33 percent — a move Moscow rejected. (In retirement, Mr. Reagan would call MAD “the craziest thing I ever heard of.”)

But relations were uneasy from the start. 

Communication glitches resulted in both the U.S. and the USSR receiving false (and quickly discounted) reports of incoming missiles — errors that contributed to mutual jitters. In both instances, preemptive counterstrikes were barely avoided.

Then the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner that had strayed off course on a flight from Alaska to Seoul, killing 269 persons. The Soviets claimed to have mistaken the commercial aircraft for an American reconnaissance plane. Mr. Reagan denounced the attack as a “crime against humanity.”

As they watched Mr. Reagan’s military buildup, Soviet officers became convinced that what they called “the correlation of world forces” was turning against them. As a psychological warfare tactic, U.S. air and naval probes tested Soviet borders.

Mr. Downing contends that officials in the Reagan administration did not understand the depth of Soviet fears. He ignores a CIA analysis at the time describing Soviet leaders as “pedestrian, isolated and self-absorbed paranoid and fearful of their own people and of a world they believed [was] relentlessly hostile and threatening.” They feared a repetition of the June 1941 German invasion that almost destroyed the USSR.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Former FBI Special Agent Pleads Guilty To Leaking Classified National Defense Information

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Terry J. Albury, a former Special Agent of the FBI, pleaded guilty today in the District of Minnesota in connection with his unauthorized disclosure and retention of classified national defense information.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Director Bill Priestap of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division announced the plea.  The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright.

“Today, Terry Albury admitted to violating his oath to protect our country by disclosing to a reporter classified information that, as an FBI agent, he was entrusted to protect,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Albury admitted that his actions put America at risk.  As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waver in our commitment to pursue and hold accountable government officials who violate their obligations to protect our nation’s secrets and break the laws they have sworn to uphold.”

“Terry Albury betrayed the trust bestowed upon him by the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Doherty-McCormick.  “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder to those who are entrusted with classified information that the Justice Department will hold them accountable.”

“Mr. Albury was entrusted by the FBI with a security clearance, which included a responsibility to protect classified national defense information. Instead, he knowingly disclosed that material to someone not authorized to receive it,” said Assistant Director Priestap.  “The FBI will work tirelessly to bring to justice those who would expose America’s secrets.  Today, as the result of the hard work of dedicated special agents, analysts, and prosecutors, Mr. Albury has taken responsibility for his illegal action.”

“In violating his oath of office Terry Albury not only betrayed the American people, but also his fellow FBI employees who work to safeguard sensitive information on a daily basis," said Special Agent in Charge Laycock.  “No one is above the law and the FBI will continue to investigate individuals who disclose classified material to those who are not authorized to receive it.”

Albury, 39, worked as an FBI Special Agent in the Minneapolis field office at the time of the disclosures.  At the time, Albury also worked as a liaison with Customs and Border Protection at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.   In connection with his FBI employment, Albury held a Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance, and his daily duties provided him access to sensitive and classified FBI and other U.S. government information.  According to court documents, beginning in 2016 and continuing through August 2017, Albury knowingly and willfully disclosed national defense information, classified at the Secret level, to a reporter.  Albury employed methods to avoid detection, including printing documents that he created by cutting and pasting portions of an original document into a new document so as to avoid leaving a record of having printed the original, classified document.  Albury also accessed documents on a classified computer and took pictures of the computer screen in order to photograph certain classified documents.   Those additional classified documents were recovered on an electronic storage device found during a search of his home.

As set forth in the plea agreement, Albury was never authorized to retain the documents at issue at his residence or to transmit them to any person not entitled to receive them.  Albury knew that he was not authorized to remove documents containing National Defense Information and classified information from secure locations, and further knew that he was not authorized to retain them at his residence or to transmit them to any person not authorized to receive them.

Albury pleaded guilty to one count of making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of unlawful retention of national defense information.  Albury faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison per count.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the assigned judge.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Danya E. Atiyeh of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Patrick T. Murphy and David C. Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. 

ISIS Contained In Syria, Changing Tactics, OIR Spokesman Says

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2018 — Iraqi security forces and Syrian Democratic Forces continue to contain Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters in areas of the middle Euphrates River valley, an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said yesterday.

Army Col. Ryan Dillon briefed reporters at the Pentagon from Baghdad and said that SDF forces, with coalition support, “continue to look for opportunities to exploit ISIS weaknesses and conduct strikes and attacks against these remaining terrorists.”

Syrian forces are continuing to secure areas they have liberated, especially in and around Raqqa, which was the capital of the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate. Syrian internal security forces are removing thousands of improvised explosive devices and weapons caches the terror group planted, Dillon said.

Some Territory Under ISIS Control

ISIS does continue to control some territory, the colonel said. “These are near Hajin, which is along the Euphrates River north of Al Bukamal, and in Dashisha, near the Syria-Iraq border,” he said.

In Iraq, security and stability operations continue, and Iraqi security forces continue to search for ISIS terrorists. While ISIS has gone underground in an attempt to regroup, it is still a threat in the country, Dillon said.

“The ISF know their enemy. They know that they are a threat,” he said. “And they are planning and implementing security measures with coalition support in this critical period leading up to parliamentary elections in May.”

More Work Remains

More work remains to be done in Iraq, Dillon said, noting that ISIS is an adaptive and determined enemy. “The coalition remains focused on enhancing our Iraqi partners' capacity to sustain their operations and protect their citizens against these terrorists,” he added.

While ISIS has been expelled from most areas in eastern Syria, the terror group is changing and attacking pro-regime forces in the West.

“ISIS is starting to conduct more attacks on the west side of the Euphrates River outside of Abu Kamal against pro-regime forces,” the colonel said. “And then we've also seen … the retaking of neighborhoods in southern Damascus.

ISIS has been defeated militarily, Dillon said, but the group hasn’t given up. “Many have run … back into the desert areas and into these vast rural areas to hide and attempt to regroup,” he told reporters. “But that doesn't mean that they're exclusively just in these desert areas. Others have attempted to go back into and blend back in with population centers as well.”

This is why there is still a residual presence of the group in northern Syria, and Iraqi security forces continue to search for and arrest ISIS operatives on their territory, the colonel said.

Note: In the above U.S. Army photo taken by PFC Anthony Zendejas IV a soldier scans a sector of fire from a military fighting vehicle while escorting the United Kingdom Bridge Training Team to a bridge being built in Mosul, Iraq on March 21, 2018. The soldier, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, is assigned to the 4th Infantry regiment’s 2nd Battalion.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The NYPD Must Let Out The Truth About An Unsolved Cop-Killing

I've interviewed Randy Jurgensen (seen in the above photo), a legendary New York City detective, actor, film maker and author of Circle of Six: The True Story of New York's Most Notorious Cop Killer and the Cop Who Risked Everything to Catch Him, and I've read his interesting and informative book. 

So I was most interested in reading his piece in the New York Daily News on the unsolved murder of an NYPD officer, the subject of Circle of Six.

Forty-six years ago today, an NYPD cop named Phillip Cardillo (seen in the below photo) was gunned down inside a Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem. No one ever served a day in jail for the crime. And for 46 years, the NYPD has been withholding evidence in his murder case from the public. It’s time they come clean.

I’m not the only one leveling that charge. Decades ago, a special prosecutor found that there had been “a concerted and orchestrated effort” by members of the NYPD to impede the Cardillo murder investigation, including withholding a secret report on the case — the so-called Blue Book — from the department’s own investigators.

In March, the watchdog group Judicial Watch sued the NYPD in a New York courtroom for failing to produce records in the case. The NYPD won’t release investigative files, a promised report and an audio tape, preposterously claiming an investigation is still “active and ongoing.”

Why would the NYPD cover up evidence in a cop killing?

It pains me to criticize law enforcement. I’ve been a loyal member of the NYPD, active and retired, for almost 60 years. I was a pretty good detective. I helped send five cop- killers to jail — a record, I think. But it’s the one that got away that haunts me.

The climate in the early 1970s, when this terrible crime happened, was awful. Terrorists with groups like the Black Liberation Army, the FALN, the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers were killing cops and bombing civilians. Illegal drugs and murders were through the roof.

The day Cardillo was gunned down, on April 14, 1972, I was at the mosque where it happened . Cardillo and his partner had responded to an emergency “10-13” call. A 10-13 is every cop’s worst nightmare: officer in distress. The 10-13 caller said he was “Detective Thomas” and he was trapped on the second floor of an address that turned out to be the mosque.

It turned out “Detective Thomas” was a fake.

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

You can purchase Randy Jurgensen's Circle of Six via the below link: