Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Wayne: 10 Things You Might Know About The Great Man

Martin Chilton at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers 10 things he learned from Scott Eyman's new biography of the late, great John Wayne.

John Wayne, who made 162 feature films, was one of the 20th century's biggest Hollywood stars. Here are 10 things we learned about the Oscar-winning actor from an impressive new biography by Scott Eyman.

• John Wayne cheated at chess

John Wayne was actually very good at chess (film director and experienced player Josef von Sternberg "was livid" when beaten by Wayne) and the actor had a chessboard permanently set up on his 136ft boat, The Wild Goose. Wayne once said of fellow actor Rock Hudson: "Who the hell cares if he's queer? The man plays great chess." Wayne repeatedly cheated when playing chess against Robert Mitchum (Wayne had huge hands and would carefully slide a piece into a different position as he made a separate move) and Mitchum eventually plucked up the courage to tell him he was cheating. Wayne replied "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."   

• He loved literature

Wayne liked the novels of Agatha Christie but his two favourite books were written by Arthur Conan Doyle and both are historical novels – The White Company (1891) and Sir Nigel (1906) – both set during the Hundred Years' War. Wayne was also a fan of Charles Dickens and if the actor agreed to a business deal, he would always say "Barkis is willing!", a phrase used by Mr Barkis when he tells David Copperfield that he is ready to marry Peggotty.

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

You can also read a review of the John Wayne biography via the below link:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Review Of "John Wayne: The Life And Legend"

John R. Coyne Jr. offers a good review of Scott Eyman's John Wayne: The Life and Legend for the Washington Times.

Before graduation, these were the three high points of Marine boot camp at Parris Island, as I remember them: qualifying at the rifle range, being told by our drill instructor that we had earned the right to be called Marines, and being marched to the outdoor theater to watch John Wayne as Sergeant Stryker in “Sands of Iwo Jima.”

...The great strength of Mr. Eyman's book derives from the strength of its subject, for a quarter of a century one of Hollywood’s top-10 box-office stars. While many of the most celebrated of his contemporaries have faded into late-late-show nirvana, the man we know as John Wayne, from cinematic birth in “Stagecoach” to an appropriate death in “The Shootist,” remains with us as a symbol of something more, something buried deep in our national DNA.

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

Philadelphia Man Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsyvania, released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA—Eric Sijohn Brown, 46, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to 20 counts in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving KREW Settlement Services. Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy, two counts of FHA loan fraud, 12 counts of loan fraud, and three counts of tax evasion. Between May 2004 and February 2009, Brown and his co-conspirators inflated purchase prices on loan documents for more than 100 Philadelphia properties, resulting in more than $20 million in fraudulent loan proceeds.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 8, 2014. Brown faces a maximum possible sentence of 486 years in prison, including a mandatory two year term, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $15 million, and $2,000 special assessment. A forfeiture notice was also filed seeking more than $13.7 million from all defendants.

KREW As alleged in the indictment, KREW is an acronym of the first names of Kevin Joseph Franklin, Roderick L. Foxworth, Sr., Eric Sijohn Brown, and Walter Alston Brown, Jr. Settlement Services was a Philadelphia real estate settlement company, and Brown was a general contractor who worked with his co-defendants to identify distressed properties to purchase, typically in the West Philadelphia area.

The scheme involved recruiting straw buyers whose credit history and personal information was used to purchase the properties, obtain mortgage loans, and take title to the properties, when, in reality, the properties were owned and controlled by the defendants. Mortgage loan applications were then prepared in the names of the straw buyers containing a host of false information, including false purchase prices, false employment and income information, and false statements about the straw buyers living in the properties. Mortgage brokers—including Roderick Foxworth, Walter Brown, and John William Polosky (charged separately in the Western District of Pennsylvania)—allegedly submitted the fraudulent loan applications to lenders to secure the loans for the buyers, knowing that the information was false.

Charged with Brown were Roderick L. Foxworth, Sr., Cynthia Evette Brown, Walter Alston Brown, Jr., and Kevin Joseph Franklin. Cynthia Brown is alleged to have falsely verified that many of the straw buyers worked for her employer, Unicco Service Company, when they did not. Kevin Joseph Franklin, a title agent, is alleged to have falsely prepared two deeds and settlement statements (referred to as Form HUD-1)—one for the seller that showed the actual agreed-upon purchase price and a false one for the lender that showed the grossly inflated purchase price. Franklin is also alleged to have created false title insurance policies for the lenders.

After the loans funded, the seller was paid the agreed-upon purchase price, and the difference between the actual purchase price and the false purchase price quoted to the lender was shared with and distributed by Franklin to Eric Brown, Foxworth, Walter Brown, and Cynthia Brown, and many of these payments were not reflected on the HUD-1 forms.

In addition to the five defendants charged with Brown and the three defendants charged by the Western District of Pennsylvania, seven defendants were charged by information.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Update On Fort Hood Shooting

The Fort Hood Public Affairs Office offers the below piece:

FORT HOOD, Texas -- At a press conference 3 p.m. April 7, Col. Paul Reese, III Corps and Fort Hood chief of operations, and Chris Grey, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman, gave further details of the investigation into the April 2 shooting incident.

Reese began by extending his "deepest sympathies and prayers to the loved ones, friends, families and our Fort Hood community that have been affected by those killed and injured during this tragic event. The Soldiers, Families and civilians here at Fort Hood and our surrounding communities continue to work around the clock and support all of the victims and their families during this painful time."

He then outlined the Fort Hood commander's current priorities:

First, care for the wounded and their Families and the Families of the Fallen;

Second, conduct a thorough and focused criminal investigation to determine the root causes of this incident.  In addition, conduct a comprehensive medical review and review of the policies and procedures throughout III Corps which includes Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas.

And third, continue to ensure that Fort Hood is a safe place to live and work.

Reese said at this time transportation arrangements are being finalized to move the deceased to their homes of record for their final funeral arrangements. Additionally,  he said 11 of the 16 injured have been returned to duty so far.  Five remain hospitalized in the local area.

He said, "III Corps and Fort Hood [officials] have scheduled a memorial ceremony  for  2 p.m. April 9 at Fort Hood’s Sadowski Field. This ceremony will allow the Soldiers and Families the time to remember and honor our fallen and injured Soldiers."

Reese said, "President Obama is scheduled to attend the ceremony along with elected and government officials from across the nation."

Reese told reporters that "a behavioral health hotline has been established for anyone who has been affected by the April 2 shooting here at Fort Hood. Anyone who wants assistance locating behavioral health professionals in the local area, can call (254) 535-2748. We do request that the hotline is only used for behavioral health purposes."

In addition, Reese explained that "urgent and routine behavioral health resources, normally only available for TRICARE beneficiaries, have now been made available to all Army civilians and contractors, who are associated with this incident, here at Fort Hood. For assistance there, contact the Fort Hood Resilience and Restoration Center."

Reese also said that "Fort Hood has received an enormous outpouring of donation support from our local and national communities. We thank you for your generosity to our Soldiers and their Families affected by this event. Currently, all donations are being accepted by The National Center for Victims of Crime. Please visit their Web site at in order to donate. For more details on how o donate, visit the III Corps and Fort Hood Facebook page."

Reese closed with, "we want to thank our Army family, our tremendous Fort Hood community, the state of Texas, and our nation for all your support. The Fort Hood Community and all the Soldiers of III Corps remain ready and resilient."

He then introduced Grey who provided an update on the investigation.

Grey, spokesperson for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Joint Task Force, led by Army CID, investigating the shootings that occurred here on April 2, updated the press on their ongoing criminal investigation.

Grey first introduced law enforcement professionals he said "have been incredibly valuable and dedicated throughout this investigation. They have demonstrated true inter-agency cooperation and teamwork during this very trying time, and Army CID would like to express our sincere appreciation."

He introduced Army CID Special Agent Russell Hudson and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Phil Gadd.

Grey then said, "unfortunately, a representative from the Texas Rangers could not be with us today but we’d like to express our thanks to them as well."

Grey pointed out that "this is an active investigation that includes three alleged murders of U.S. Soldiers, 16 counts of attempted murder, as well as an alleged suicide .

"The following information and sequence of events are based on information yielded from our investigation thus far," Grey said. "The information has been obtained from witness interviews, witness statement analysis, forensics, bullet trajectory analysis, and an extensive crime scene examination and re-creation."

Grey explained that "the crime scene encompasses a very large area, comparable to two city blocks."

He also said, "at this point in the investigation, we can confirm that the alleged shooter, Specialist Ivan Lopez, was involved in a verbal altercation concerning his request for leave and the processing of that request at his unit’s administrative office."

Grey then walked reporters through the basic scenario that his office had "re-created from our investigation thus far."

In describing the map to reporters, Grey said, "The verbal altercation occurred at Building 39001 – circled here in red – the building is located at the intersection of Seventy Second Street and Tank Destroyer Boulevard," he said. "Within minutes of that altercation, the subject brandished a .45 caliber, semi-automatic handgun and fired multiple rounds, killing one Soldier, and wounding 10 additional Soldiers."

"The deceased Soldier, and at least one of the wounded Soldiers, had been involved in the verbal altercation with the subject prior to the shooting.

"The subject then exited the administration building through a door on the South side, and got into his privately owned vehicle, that was also parked on the South side of the building.

"The subject then drove his vehicle Westbound and turned North onto 73rd Street. According to witness statements, the subject was traveling very slowly North bound in the South bound lane.

"Along the way – circled here in yellow - the subject fired his weapon from his moving vehicle at two Soldiers who were standing behind a building, wounding one of them.

"He then continued North and turned West onto Motorpool Road, and then turned into Building 40027’s parking area – circled here in green.

"Specialist Lopez then allegedly exited his vehicle and entered the building, which encompasses the unit’s Motorpool office and the vehicle bay area.  This is also where Specialist Lopez was assigned and worked.

"The subject opened fire and shot one Soldier in the motor pool office, who unfortunately died later of his wounds.

"The subject then moved to the motor pool’s vehicle bay area and began shooting, wounding two more Soldiers.

"The subject then returned to his vehicle and began driving East bound on Motorpool Road toward 73rd Street.

"While driving Eastbound – depicted here by the blue box -   the subject allegedly fired into the front windshield of a moving Westbound privately owned vehicle that was occupied by two Soldiers, striking and wounding the passenger.

"The subject then turned North and then East into the parking lot of the Medical Brigade,  Building 33026, – circled here in blue -firing at and wounding a Soldier who was walking outside the building.

"The subject then exited his vehicle and entered the main entrance to the Medical building.

"Upon entry, the subject allegedly shot and killed a Soldier who was on duty at the main entrance desk and wounded another.

"At this point, we do not know why he entered that building, and we may never know why.

"The subject then exited the Medical Brigade, re-entered his vehicle and traveled South on 72nd Street and turned East into the front parking lot of Building 39002.

"The subject then exited his vehicle – circled here in purple - and walked Eastbound across the parking lot where he approached  a responding Fort Hood Military Police Officer.

"Subsequently, there was a verbal exchange between the officer and the subject.  The Military Police Officer drew her weapon and fired one round when the subject reportedly brandished his weapon," Grey said.

"Autopsy results of the alleged shooter from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner has confirmed that the subject was not struck by the military police officer’s fire," Grey continued.

"The subject then allegedly placed his .45 caliber handgun to his head, and took his own life. This entire scenario described lasted approximately eight minutes from when the first 911 calls were received until the shooter allegedly took his life and we received calls that the shooter was down."

"At this point in the ongoing investigation, we have collected more than 235 pieces of evidence.  We believe the subject fired more than 35 rounds of .45 caliber, ball ammunition," Grey said. "Army CID Special Agents, along with other law enforcement partners, collected 3 spent shell casings from inside the subject’s vehicle, and 32 shell casings from various locations throughout the crime scene.

"To date, we have canvassed or interviewed more than 1,100 people associated with this case. The evidence recovered in the commission of these crimes is being processed at the Defense Forensic Science Center’s, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia," he said. "I can also confirm that we have completed processing of the crime scene, and have released the entire area back to Fort Hood officials."

Grey confirmed again that there was "only one alleged subject connected to these shootings and he is deceased. We have found no evidence that these crimes were connected to a terrorist or extremist organization, but again, we have not completely ruled that out in order to conduct a thorough and complete felony investigation."

Grey said, "We have not confirmed a definitive motive, but are doing everything possible to do so.  We are considering all credible information and evidence to include social and digital media aspects of the case. We have not uncovered any history of criminal convictions or previous criminal activity by Specialist Lopez."

Grey closed his portion of the press conference, thanking Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley and his entire staff for the support his investigators have received during the investigation. "It’s been very trying for the whole Fort Hood community."

Kidnapping The Enemy: The Special Operations To Capture Generals Charles Lee And Richard Prescott

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Christen M. McBurney's Kidnapping the Enemy: The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee & Richard Prescott.

A confident British army felt that it was on the brink of subduing the ragtag Colonialist military in December 1776.

In the early months of the American Revolution, Gen. George Washington had fared poorly in encounters in and around New York City, and many military critics dismissed him as a backwoods bungler who was no match for forces trained in continental warfare. Indeed, the only revolutionary general whom they respected was Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, second-in-command to Washington — and formerly one of their comrades-in-arms.

English-born and the son of a colonel, Lee entered the British army at age 14 and developed a reputation both as a good soldier and as a vain man who viewed his superiors with scorn. (He called one commander “a stupid blunderer” and a “damn’d beastly poltroon.”)

Frequently court-martialed and so volatile, he became known as “Mad Lee” In 1773, he embarked for America, eager for greater liberties. He aimed a parting blast at persons subservient “to the fantastical prerogative of a foolish perverted head because it wears a crown” — i.e., King George III.

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

U.S. Navy Team Detects Signals in Search for Missing Aircraft

Claudette Roulo at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2014 - U.S. Navy personnel continue their support of the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

The United States has two P-8 Orion aircraft searching in the Indian Ocean, Army Col. Steve Warren said.

Navy aircraft supporting the search have flown 24 missions, with 220 hours of flight time covering 336,000 square nautical miles, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release.

"Additionally, we have two pieces of highly sophisticated underwater detection equipment [engaged in the search] -- the towed pinger locator and the Bluefin-21 [sidescan sonar]," Warren said.

Both underwater devices are operating from the Australian defense vessel Ocean Shield, the news release said.

The team operating the towed pinger locator detected signals yesterday that are consistent with sounds that would come from a black box, the release said. The signals were detected on at least three separate occasions for extended periods of time and at several different depths. The locator also detected two signals at the same frequency, but in different locations, which would be consistent with signals transmitted by both a flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, the release noted.

The team is working to reacquire the signal and plans to use the Bluefin-21 to create a picture of any potential wreckage.

The search is a round-the-clock operation, and is currently focused on an area about 950 nautical miles northwest of Perth, Australia.

Determining the location and position of search assets is "a very collaborative effort between Americans, the Australians, the Malaysians and others," Warren said. But, he added, "the Australians right now do have the lead."

Note: In the above U.S. Navy photo taken by Petty Officer 1st Class Peter D. Blair the Bluefin-21 Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle is hoisted back aboard the Royal Australian Navy Defense Vessel Ocean Shield after successful buyancy testing.

Johnny Depp Talks "Whitey"

Stephen Schaefer at the Boston Herald offers a piece on actor Johnny Depp portraying Boston mobster and murderer James "Whitey" Bulger in an upcoming film.

LOS ANGELES - Johnny Depp tackles one of the most challenging roles of his storied career next month in Boston when he begins filming "Black Mass" where he plays convicted mobster Whitey Bulger.

“I don’t think of him as Whitey – it’s James ‘Whitey’ Bulger,” Depp said at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday during a press day for his science fiction thriller “Transcendence” which opens April 18.
While Depp, 50, played an undercover FBI agent getting the goods on a mobster in the 1997 true crime classic “Donnie Brasco,” Bulger is definitely a shift to the dark side.

“The reason to play it is obvious to me,” said the three-time Oscar nominee.  “He’s a fascinating character. I don’t think it’s like anything I’ve done before and I’m very excited to slide into that skin for a little bit.”

“Black Mass,” directed by “Out of the Furnace” writer-director Scott Cooper, is based on the 2001 New York Times bestseller “Black Mass: The True Story of the Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob” by Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill.

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

You can also read my interview with Dick Lehr, co-author of Black Mass and Whitey via the below link: