Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Take An Ernest Hemingway-Inspired Trip to Key West

Back in 1978 I ventured to Key West, Florida with some friends. I was lured to the Keys as I love the sea, swimming, scuba diving, boating, drinking in island bars and tropical weather.

I was also keen on visiting Key West as I was and am a Hemingway aficionado. I grew up reading Ernest Hemingway’s novels and short stories and I wanted to see his old Key West home, which is now a museum.

I brought along my paperback copy of Hemingway's novel, To Have and Have Not, a crime and sea story set in Key West. 

I had a wonderful time in Key West and I’d love to visit again with my wife.

So I was interested in a piece by Kim Brown Seely at on Key West and Hemingway. 
“In the early winter of that year I rented a flat in a town that looked across the sea and the Gulf Stream to Cuba. In the front yard of the flat there were palmettos and palms, tall and thin in the sun, and the shade was cool and quiet and lovely in the heat. Bikes went by the house and down the road and the riders' voices stirred the leaves on the trees. There were chickens in the road and small white lights on the fence and the bikes scattered the chickens not to mention the cats,” Ernest Hemingway.

You will start writing like this (and thinking like this and even dreaming without commas), I discovered, rereading Hemingway in Key West. It's a lovely experiment. Hemingway says things are lovely a lot, and they are. "It's the best place I've been any time, anywhere," he wrote of the Florida Island. "Flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms … Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks."

Lured by the myth of the man, I packed up The Old Man and the Sea and took a sort of reverse literary pilgrimage from my home near Ketchum, Idaho (where Papa spent his final days), to the southernmost tip of the continental United States, where he lived from 1928 to 1939. Like legions of writers before me, I packed books, notebooks and pens, shorts … but mostly books. Seeking traces of the colossal writer, I rented a cottage with a 1930s vibe, including lazy ceiling fans and a vintage 1939 palm garden framing mustard yellow shutters. After I traded snow boots for flip-flops and had some coffee at the table in the garden while turning pages that felt like old friends, I remembered why I've always loved Hemingway.

RELATED: The 15 Best Things to Do in Key West

Hemingway wrote all or part of five books, a play, and two of his most famous short stories in Key West. It was also here that he forged his macho image: fishing, drinking, carousing. What is it about this laid-back subtropical town? I wonder, happily walking the few short blocks from my cottage to Salute! On the Beach, a funky shack alleged to be a writer's hangout. I don't see any writers (at least none I recognize), just boisterous lunchgoers at open-air tables drinking mojitos. The view looks straight to Cuba, 90 miles across the Straits of Florida, and sitting here it's easy to envision Papa fishing aboard his beloved Pilar or, later, writing at his desk at Finca VigĂ­a, the home he built outside Havana when Key West grew too crowded for him.

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of Hemingway's letters below:

And you can read my Crime Beat column on Hemingway and crime via the below link:

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Is Someone Hacking Our 7th Fleet? Navy To Investigate After USS John S McCain Collision

Are the recent U.S. Navy 7th Fleet ship collisions due to our Navy ships being hacked by an adversary? Russia? China? North Korea? Iran?

Or are the collisions simply due to an eight-year degrade of military standards, where Obama’s top policy leaders were far more interested in forcing social change than warfighting, and sailors attended far more sensitivity and other social-awareness training than ship handling training? We shall see.

Edmund DeMarche at offers a piece on the U.S. Navy looking to a possible cyber-attack and other reasons for the collision.

A top U.S. Navy admiral on Monday called for a swift and thorough investigation into Monday's collision of the USS John S. McCain into an oil tanker near Singapore-- marking the second deadly mishap that occurred in the Pacific in the past three months.

Adm. John Richardson ordered an operational pause in all the fleets around the world while the Navy works to determine the factors behind the collision. Richardson tweeted that the Navy will conduct a wide investigation, including a review into the possibility of "cyber intrusion or sabotage."

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video news clip via the below link:

Note: The above U.S. Navy photo shows the damaged USS John S. McCain. 

'Victory Will have A Clear Definition': President Trump Unveils New Afghanistan, South Asia Strategy

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2017 — President Donald J. Trump unveiled an expansive new strategy for South Asia aimed at bolstering American security.

The new strategy encompasses Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Central Asian nations and extends into Southeast Asia. He stressed the strategy will not have artificial timelines built into it.

Trump spoke before a crowd of hundreds of service members at Conmy Hall at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Trump said the American people are frustrated by the nation’s longest war in Afghanistan, calling it a war without victory. The new strategy, he said, is a path toward victory and will step away from a policy of nation building.

The new strategy, Trump said, is a result of a study he ordered immediately after he was inaugurated in January. The strategy is based on three precepts.

“First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives,” Trump said. “The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.”

No Hasty Exit

Trump said the second precept is that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would simply allow terrorists to flood back into that country and begin planning attacks on America and its allies and partners.

The third precept, he said, concerns the threats emanating from the region, which are immense and must be confronted.

“Today, 20 U.S-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world,” the president said. “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.”

The United States and its allies and partners are committed to defeating these terrorist groups, Trump said.

“Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next,” he said. “They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and -- that's right -- losers.”

Trump added, “Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders, and, yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily.”

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States will work to stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, Trump said.

“And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter,” he said.

Conditions-Based Strategy

Trump emphasized the strategy will be conditions based and not set to a timetable. “I've said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options,” the president said. “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.”

Trump said the new strategy will involve all aspects of American power, employing diplomacy, economic might, intelligence and military power to advance American interests and ensure the safety of the homeland and American allies and partners.

The United States, he added, will continue to support the Afghan government and its military.

“Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society and to achieve an everlasting peace,” Trump said. “We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.”

Trump said Pakistan is a major concern, and he said Pakistan must stop providing safe havens for terrorists who rest and refit for actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan,” the president said. “It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

Pakistan Must Change

Trump noted that Pakistan has worked with the United States in the past, but the nation’s policies must change.

“No partnership can survive a country's harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials,” Trump said. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace.”

Trump said India will be a key component in any strategy in the region, and the president wants to work with India’s leaders to provide more economic assistance and targeted development to the people of Afghanistan.

“We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

The president pledged that service members will have the rules of engagement they need to take swift, decisive actions. “I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy,” he said. “Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. They're won in the field, drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders, and front-line soldiers, acting in real time with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy.”

‘Victory Will Have a Clear Definition’

The president described what he believes victory will look like. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge,” he said.

NATO allies and global partners like Australia will support the new strategy and have already pledged additional troops and funding increases, the president said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he has directed Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to prepare to carry out the president’s strategy. “I will be in consultation with the secretary general of NATO and our allies -- several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers,” Mattis said in a written statement. “Together, we will assist the Afghan security forces to destroy the terrorist hub.”

The president concluded his speech speaking directly to service members in the hall and around the world.

“With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that of your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace,” Trump said. “We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.” 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Crime Prevention: Social Security Administration Offers Scam Alerts

The Social Security Administration is offering a web page on scams.

Social Security is committed to protecting the information and resources entrusted to us, including your personal information and investment. However, scam artists might try to trick you into sharing your personal information or money. We’re here to help you identify and report these kinds of schemes.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has a new web page with tips on how to protect yourself from theft schemes, how to report scams, and recent fraud advisories. This is in response to an ongoing phone scheme, where individuals receive a call with a recorded message claiming to be from the OIG.

You can visit the scam web page via the below link:

Colin Pitchfork Should Stay In Prison Until He Is 'Too Old To Be A Threat', Says Joseph Wambaugh, Who Wrote Best-Selling Book On The Case

The British newspaper the Leicester Mercury offers a piece on novelist Joseph Wambaugh’s reaction to an English murderer’s possible release.

Double-killer Colin Pitchfork (seen in the above photo) remains dangerous and should be kept in prison “until he’s too old to be a threat”, according to an American author (seen in the below photo) who wrote a best-selling account of his crimes.

Joseph Wambaugh’s 1989 book, The Blooding, told how Pitchfork was brought to justice for raping and murdering Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both 15, thanks to revolutionary DNA fingerprinting. 

Pitchfork, the Leicester Mercury reported last week, is now deemed ready to take unescorted days out from the open prison where he is currently being held.

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

10 Missing, 5 Injured After USS John S. McCain Collides With Merchant Ship

The U.S. 7th Fleet released the below information:

SOUTH CHINA SEA, Aug. 21, 2017 — Ten sailors are missing and five others were injured after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore today, U.S. 7th Fleet officials said.

Four of the injured sailors were medically evacuated by a Singapore Armed Forces helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said. The fifth injured sailor does not require further medical attention, they added.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time -- 5:24 p.m. EDT Aug. 20 -- while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

The ship headed under its own power to Changi Naval Base, 7th Fleet officials said, and no fuel or oil was visible on the water’s surface near the ship.

Assistance From Singapore

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant and RSS Resilience, Singaporean navy helicopters and the Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark are in the area to render assistance.

An MH-60S helicopter from the amphibious assault ship USS America is in the area providing search and rescue assistance. An additional MH-60S helicopter and MV-22 Osprey are expected to arrive soon, officials said.

Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000. Initial reports indicate damage to USS John S. McCain's port side aft. Damage control efforts continue while the extent of damage is being determined, officials said, and the incident will be investigated. 

Super Hornet Air Power Demonstration

In the above U.S. Navy photo an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 breaks the sound barrier above the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during an air power demonstration.

The ship and its carrier strike group are returning home from a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The above photo was taken by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage.  

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