Friday, December 31, 2010

Krauthammer's Column: Government By Regulation. Shhh

As Charles Krauthammer points out in his column in The Washington Post, the Obama administration snuck in the so-called "death panel" feature that was a point of contention during the Obama-care debate and was removed from the legislation.

Now the unpopular feature is back in and the Democrats don't want you to know about.

You can read Krauthammer's column via the below link:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Dude Or The Duke: Who Has More True Grit?

Entertainment Weekly has an interesting piece on the Coen brother's film True Grit.
The piece compares Jeff Bridges (seen in the above photo), who plays Rooster Cogburn in this film (and played "the Dude" in the Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski) to John Wayne (seen in the below photo), known as "Duke" to his friends and millions of fans, and played Rooster Cogburn in the 1969 version of True Grit.
You can read the piece via the below link:
You can also read my earlier post of the two True Grit films via the below link:
I watched John Wayne's True Grit last week on TV and I plan to see the new True Grit next week.
I like Jeff Bridges, but I think Billy Bob Thorton would make a better Rooster Cogburn.
I watched Bad Santa last week and I thought that with Thorton's cantankerous personality and Southern accent, along with some weight gain, he would make an ideal Rooster Cogburn.
Thorton (seen below as Bad Santa and Davy Crocket) has already followed in the Duke's footsteps, having played Davy Crockett in an updated Alamo film.
Bad Santa, despite its foul language and coarse and criminal behavior, is a good, funny Christmas film. There is a Christmas sentiment at the end of the film.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Review of Philadelphia Noir

My friend and former editor Frank Wilson wrote a good review of Philadelphia Noir for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

You can read his review of the collection of noirish Philadelphia crime stories via the below link:

You can also read Frank Wilson's popular literary blog, Books, Inq, via the below link:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Joseph Wambaugh's The Christmas Troll

Joseph Wambaugh wrote an interesting piece for The Daily Beast called The Christmas Troll.

You can read the piece via the below link:

The former LAPD Detective Sergeant has written a new novel called Hollywood Hills. The novel is the fourth in his series about the cops who work out of the Hollywood Station.

You can read my review of his previous novel, Hollywood Moon, via the below link:

You can also visit Joseph Wambaugh's web site via the below link:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

America's First Christmas

If you believe our country has insurmountable problems today, it might be good to consider the tough times we had in the beginning of our history as a nation when we were fighting the most powerful country on earth.

Rich Lowry, a syndicated columnist and editor of National Review, wrote a column on America's first Christmas and how we reversed our fortunes in the Revolutionary War.

You can read the column via the below link:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My On Crime & Security Column: Cash Control Policy Prevents Burglaries and Home Invasions

The online small business magazine published my On Crime & Security column today.

The column deals with how a cash control policy can prevent armed robberies, theft and home invasions.

You can read my column via the below link:

Monday, December 20, 2010

John Wayne's True Grit Out On Blue-Ray

In an earlier post I noted that TCM was airing the 1969 film True Grit, starring John Wayne, on Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. to coincide with the theatrical release of the Coen brothers new version of True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges.

The Duke (John Wayne) is also competing with The Dude (Jeff Bridges) with the release of John Wayne's True Grit on Blu-Ray.

You can read the Blu-Ray review via the below link:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twas A Night in December: U.S. Troops Offer a Military Twist to Twas the Night Before Christmas

By Jian DeLeon, Ian Graham and Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2010 - Servicemembers stationed from Antarctica to Afghanistan lent their talents and time to craft a video for a poem titled "'Twas a Night in December," based on Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," but rewritten with a military twist.
You can view the video via the below link:

More than 40 commands around the world, representing every branch of the military service, participated. Along with the military people who contributed to this creative effort, country music star Toby Keith introduced the video, reinforcing his long-term support for military and their families stationed around the world.

Some of the servicemembers involved in this holiday greeting were located in the most remote regions in the world. For example, Air Force Capt. Graydon Muller of 6th Special Operations Squadron and Air Force Capt. Rob Marshall of the 8th Special Operations Squadron departed Nov. 24 to climb Vinson Massif, the highest mountain in Antarctica. Muller and Massif took time away from their climb to speak a few lines for the video.

Other servicemembers from Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Pakistan and throughout the United States participated in making the video. In fact, people on six out of the world's seven continents took part. The video was produced by Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.

'Twas a Night in December

'Twas a night in December and all over the world, At bases and stations where our flag flies unfurled, The Holiday season had long since commenced, And spread its spirit of cheer through the Department of Defense.

Combat boots sat at ease by the fence line with care, In hopes that a return date soon would be there.

At home, loved ones slept sound in their beds, With visions of troops coming home in their heads. As Moms perform night patrols, and Dads conduct checks, A long winter's nap is the last thing they expect. When out on the tarmac arose such a clatter, Soldiers and sailors sprang up to see what was the matter.

Away to the deck, they hustled, they dashed, Some ran through a passageway, one opened a hatch.

In Antarctica, moonlight shimmered on the snow, A sliver of light shown on the objects below. And what to our wondering eyes should appear, But letters and packages bundled with care.
Yet it wasn't just there that we saw these things land, We received them as well, here in Afghanistan! They were packaged so well that they could withstand, The harsh desert winds full of Iraqi sand. Onto Nicaragua with volcanoes and lakes, Padded so carefully that nothing would break Addressed from our family and friends we hold dear, With Holiday greetings and a "Wish You Were Here!" We lined up and claimed them, with smiles ear-to-ear, Every person overcome with Holiday cheer.

Your support and your thoughts are the best possible gift, We send you our thanks for giving our spirits such a lift. Thanks from the National Guard Thanks from the Army, Thanks from the Navy, Thanks from the Marines, Thanks from the Air Force, Thanks from the Coast Guard, We want you to know how much this gift means.
In our eyes you're super, and we mean A-OK.

We will do our duty and keep defending our freedom, And wish you and yours the very best this Holiday season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Event Pays Tribute to "The Chosin Few" From the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War

By Elaine Wilson, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 - Fang Woo walked into a room, walls adorned with Navy history memorabilia, and made a beeline for a young Marine reservist across the room.

Fang Woo speaks with Anton Sattler about Marine Corps life and history during a Chosin Reservoir commemoration event hosted by the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2010. (The above DOD photo by Elaine Wilson shows Woo on the left and Sattler on the right).

Woo is a Korean War veteran who fought in the Chosin campaign, and Sattler is the producer of a documentary about that battle called "Chosin." The 78-year-old retired Marine was eager to meet one of the men responsible for what is believed to be the first full-length documentary about the Chosin Reservoir campaign, a harrowing 17-day battle during the Korean War marked by crippling losses and incredible triumphs of the human spirit.

Woo has a personal interest in the topic -- he is among "The Chosin Few," the last living survivors of the battle.

Woo was one of several Korean War veterans who braved chilly temperatures last night to attend a commemoration of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, which took place 60 years ago this month. A crowd of local history buffs and servicemembers also gathered at the Navy Memorial here for the public event, which featured a viewing of the documentary "Chosin" followed by a panel discussion on the film.

"I twisted his arm to come here, but I know this means a lot to him," Woo's son, Conrad, said, while watching his father from across the room. "He doesn't ask for attention for what he did. My dad never even mentioned what he did in Korea when I was growing up."

The documentary -- produced, written and directed by Marine Corps reservists Anton Sattler and Brian Iglesias, both former active-duty Marines -- tells the Chosin story through first-person accounts from Korean War veterans the Marines interviewed across the country. They made the movie after they departed active Marine Corps duty, both drawn to a largely overlooked, but highly impactful moment in history.

"We picked this battle because it's never been done before, and these guys are slowly fading away," Iglesias said, flanked by two of the Chosin veterans featured in the documentary, Warren Wiedhahn and Dr. Stanley Wolf.

Wiedhahn said the movie offered veterans an opportunity to talk about events that some had never opened up about before. After his kids saw it, they asked him, "Daddy why didn't you ever talk about it? Why didn't you tell us this?" One of the reasons, he said, is that it was difficult to share his military past with anyone other than the veterans who shared it.

Still, he and his fellow Chosin veterans opened up in detail on the documentary about the horrific, yet triumphant, events of the Chosin Reservoir battle, also known as the "Frozen Chosin."

In November 1950, U.N. forces were nearing a successful end to the Korean War. U.N. Forces had chased the North Korean army from near the southern tip of South Korea to the north, near the border with China.

But China had decided to enter the conflict and sent thousands of its troops flooding across the border. In late November, the seasoned Chinese forces launched a surprise attack on about 15,000 U.S. troops from the 1st Marine Division and elements of the 7th Infantry Division in and around the Chosin Reservoir area. By Nov. 27, 120,000 Chinese troops had encircled about 30,000 U.N. troops, and a brutal, 17-day battle in sub-zero temperatures began.

The Chinese troops attacked in human waves each night, sending thousands at a time to overrun the U.N. troops until dawn. The veterans recalled the Chinese coming in relentless fronts, unaffected by the mass casualties piling up around them.

"You thought you were a dead man," one veteran said in the documentary. Only a relentless "love of life" kept him from giving up, he added.

"I prayed for the first time in my life," another Chosin veteran said, his voice breaking with emotion. "I said, 'God, don't let me die, not here. I just want to see the sun come up one more day.'"

Temperatures dipped to frigid levels and a veteran recalled a "mind-numbing" cold so intense that the troops' eyeballs would freeze until they put their hands up to warm them. "It was 30-below zero," Wiedhahn said. "You lived in 30-below temperature, all the time."

U.N. troops fought valiantly for days and broke out of the encirclement while inflicting huge losses on the Chinese, with an estimated 35,000 Chinese troops killed or wounded.

They fought their way to freedom across miles of rough, mountainous terrain until they reached the port of Hungnam on Dec. 11, where they were evacuated along with thousands of Korean refugees to Pusan.

Of the 15,000 U.S. troops at the battle of Chosin Reservoir, 3,000 were killed, 6,000 were wounded and 12,000 suffered frostbite injuries. For their heroic actions, 17 U.S. servicemembers were awarded the Medal of Honor, making Chosin one of the most decorated battles in U.S. history.

Army Col. David J. Clark, director of the Defense Department's 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, was on hand for the last night's event. Congress created the committee, he explained, to honor and thank Korean War veterans, celebrate the war's milestones and ensure the American public has a clear understanding and appreciation of the war.

Clark praised the documentary and the Korean War veterans in the audience. He was honored, he said, "to share the experience with some of the heroes that lived this story, and in the process saved a nation and a people from unspeakable tyranny and oppression."

"And certainly, the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir was a major part of that," he continued. "We have come to honor our comrades in arms who persevered through one of the most ferocious battles in the annals of American military history.

While vastly outnumbered and fighting in unimaginable conditions, our veterans' courage, selfless sacrifice and unbendable will evened the odds. In Chosin Reservoir, all that is good about the American fighting spirit was on display."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FBI Offers Tips To Avoid Being Scammed This Holiday Season

The FBI offered the below to help us avoid being a crime victim this holiday season:

As the holidays approach, the FBI reminds the public to use caution when making online purchases. Cyber criminals continue to create ways to steal your money and personal information. If a deal looks too good to be true, it likely is.

Be wary of e-mails or text messages that indicate a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. Criminals will attempt to direct victims to click a link or call a number to update an account or correct a purported problem. The links may appear to lead you to legitimate websites, but they are not. Any personal information you share on them could be compromised.

The major legitimate delivery service providers do not e-mail customers directly regarding scheduled deliveries; you have to already have an existing account for this type of communication. Nor will they state when a package has been intercepted or is being temporarily held. E-mails about these issues are phishing scams that can lead to personal information breaches and financial losses.

Internet criminals post classified advertisements on auction websites for products they do not have. If you buy merchandise promoted via an online ad or auction site but receive it directly from the retailer, it could be stolen property. You can protect yourself by not providing the seller with your financial information. Use legitimate payment services for transactions.

Fraudsters will also offer reduced or free shipping to auction site customers. They provide fake shipping labels, but they don’t pay for the packages’ delivery. Parcels shipped with these phony labels are intercepted and identified as fraudulent.

It’s safest to purchase gift cards directly from merchants rather than through auction sites or classified ads. If the merchant discovers the card you received from another source was initially fraudulently obtained, the card will be deactivated.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.

Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files; the files may contain viruses.

Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.

Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.

Always compare the link in the e-mail with the link to which you are directed to determine if they match and will lead you to a legitimate site.

Log directly onto a store’s website identified in the e-mail instead of linking to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence will provide the proper contact information.

Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.

If you are asked to act quickly, it may be a scam. Fraudsters often create a false sense of urgency.

Verify any requests for personal information by calling the business or financial institution using the phone numbers listed on a billing statement or credit card.

If you have received a suspicious e-mail, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center:

Monday, December 13, 2010

British Royal Marine Unit Renamed After a World War II Commando Group Founded by James Bond Creator Ian Fleming

The BBC reports that a British Royal Marine unit in Devon was renamed after a World War II intelligence gathering commando group, 30 Assault Unit, which was founded by Royal Navy Commander Ian Fleming (seen in the below photo).
Fleming, of course, went on to write Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Dr No and other James Bond thrillers after the war.
You can read the BBC report via the below link:
You can also read my two-part interview with Craig Cabell, the British author of Ian Fleming's Secret War (Pen & Sword Books), which is about Fleming and his 30 Assault Unit, via the links below:
An upcoming film about the intelligence gathering commando unit, starring Sean Bean and called Age of Heroes, will soon be released. Below is the film's poster.

You can also visit an earlier post about Age of Heroes and other films that feature Ian Fleming via the below link:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twelve Tales for Christmas: Writers Read and Discuss Short Stories By Masters of the Form

The British newspaper The Guardian offers a podcast of writers who select short stories from masters of the form, and then read and discuss the stories.

One of the stories is Ernest Hemingway's Homage to Switzerland.

You can link to the newspaper site via the below link:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From Russia With Love: Suspected Russian Spy Was Cold, Aloof and Wore Short Skirts

Ekaterina Zatuliveter, the Russian aide to a British member of Parliment that the British Security Service MI5 suspects is a spy and "honey trap," was cold, aloof and wore short skirts, according to a co-worker.

You can read about the British spy scandal in the British newspaper The Telegraph via the below link:

Philly Ranked Number One City In the World For Holiday Spirit

Philadelphia was ranked the number one city in the world for holiday spirit by U.S. Airways' airline magazine.

The magazine noted Macy's lightshow in their Center City store (seen in the above photo) and other Christmas exhibits and displays.

You can read about the magazine's ranking via the below link:,0,2182791.story

Friday, December 10, 2010

Enemies of America, Say Hello To My Little Friend: U.S. Navy Sets World Record With Incredible, Sci-FI Railgun Weapon offers a report on the successful test of the U.S. Navy's Railgun, a new weapon that fires a projectile using an electromagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound.

You can read the FoxNews report and watch a video of the test via the below link:

British Cold War Spy and Traitor Kim Philby Honored By Russian Intelligence Agency

Kim Philby, the notorious British Cold War spy and traitor, was honored by the Russian SVR, the successor to the KGB, with a plaque in Moscow.

You can read the BBC account of the ceremony via the below link:

Although the Russian leadership under Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, may think highly of Philby, most Western government, military and intelligence officials think of Philby as a traitor, a rotter, and a murderer.

You can learn more about Philby in a U.S. News & World Report article via the below link:

Former Top Intelligence Official Blasts Lobbying Effort To Release Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard

Jeff Stein's column at The Washington Post offers the critical response of a former top U.S. intelligence official to the lobbying effort to have convicted spy Jonathan Pollard released from prison.
(Pollard is seen in the above FBI/NCIS surveillance photos).
You can read the column via the below link:
You can also read my piece on Ronald J. Olive, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent who investigated Pollard via the below links:
Below is a link to my 1999 commentary concerning the Pollard case in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Carols Still Defy Secularism

As in past years, I've heard a good number of people complain about Christmas music, which has been playing around the clock on some radio stations since Thanksgiving.

But I'm not complaining, as I love Christmas music.

As I noted in a commentary for The Philadelphia Inquirer back in 2005, our greatest composers and musical performers have produced our classic Christmas carols. And Christmas carols are perhaps the only public medium where you will hear an artistic celebration of the birth and life of Jesus Christ.

You can read my commentary on Christmas carols below:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

EgoLeaks: Why Julian Assange is An Ass

Victor Davis Hanson explains why Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame, is a coward, a juvenile and a narcissist.

You can read Hanson's interesting piece at National Review Online via the below link:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jay Leno Jokes About Political Correctness, WikiLeaks and Charles Manson

Jay Leno joked about a number of current issues on The Tonight Show.

You have to be careful of political correctness this time of the year. You can’t call them “Santa’s elves” anymore. They’re “undocumented little people.”

Because of a printing error, a billion new $100 bills have to be destroyed. They’re going to burn $100 billion dollars — just like they did with the last stimulus program.

President Obama’s pledge to have the most transparent administration in history has come true. Thanks to WikiLeaks.

Charles Manson was busted for having a cell phone in his prison cell. He’s surrounded by concrete and metal bars. What carrier does he have?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oliver North On American Heroes in Special Operations

I interviewed retired Marine Lt Col Oliver North today for a piece that will appear in the upcoming issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

Lt Col North is a syndicated columnist, host of Fox News' War Stories and the author of American Heroes in Special Operations, a new book on America's military special operators in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world.

You can learn more about American Heroes in Special Operations via the below link:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Counterspies Hunting Mole at NSA

When I was in the U.S. Navy many years ago we joked that NSA stood for No Such Agency.

Today NSA (National Security Agency), the super-secret intelligence agency, is better known to the public.

After the Navy I went on to do security work for the Defense Department as a civilian employee and in that capacity I visited NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland on several occasions.

So with some interest I read Bill Gertz's piece in The Washington Times that stated that NSA's counterintelligence people are hunting a "mole" who may have had a connection to the Russian spy ring that the FBI rolled up a while back.

Bill Gertz is an outstanding national security correspondent. You can read his piece via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post about the Russian spy ring via the below link:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Tribute to Leslie Nielsen

The doctor approached the passenger who was a former military pilot and asked him if he could fly the plane now that the two airline pilots were incapacitated.

"Surely, you can't be serious," the former military pilot asked.

"I am serious," the doctor replied. "And don't call me Shirley."

Leslie Nielson (seen in the above AP photo), who died this week, was a straight dramatic actor before he played the doctor in Airplane.

He played the doctor deadpan straight, which is why he was so funny in that film comedy. He also portrayed the detective in the Police Squad TV series and the Naked Gun film series straight and he was hilarious in that role as well.

David Zucker, one of the makers of the classic film comedies Airplane and Naked Gun, wrote a tribute to the late actor for The Hollywood Reporter.

You can read the tribute below:

The Hollywood Reporter also published a tribute to Nielson from comedians.

You can read that piece via the below link:

Assange the Anti-American

"President Obama insisted that America’s adversaries hated his predecessor, not this country. Julian Assange begs to differ," wrote Rich Lowry, the syndicated columnist and editor of National Review.

Lowry wrote an interesting column about how Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has leaked scores of American military and diplomatic documents, hates America.

You can read Lowry's column via the below link:

My On Crime & Security Column: Balancing Security and Customer Convenience

The online small business magazine published my On Crime & Security column yesterday.

The column deals with invasive security procedures at airports, as well as business offices, and how business owners and security professionals must balance security with privacy and customer convenience.

You can read the column via the below link: