Thursday, October 31, 2013

Unread Dashiell Hammett Stories To Be Released By Author's Granddaughter

The late great Dashiell Hammett is one of my favorite writers, so I was interested in reading Richard Guzman's piece in the San Bernardino County Sun on a new book of short stories by Hammett, and I look forward to reading the book.

Fans of crime novels and hard-boiled fiction are bound to know the work of Dashiell Hammett. 
The Maryland-born writer has been credited with creating the genre that’s defined by its gritty realism and urban settings with stories that usually center on a private investigator as the tough cynical protagonist and narrator.

Among his best-known crime novels are “The Maltese Falcon,” which was turned into a 1941 hit film starring Humphrey Bogart, and “The Thin Man,” which also became a film. Both were published in 1930.

But it’s his lesser-known work, which includes very few crime stories, that is the focus of a new book about the late author set to be released Monday by Mysterious Press-Grove/Atlantic.

Co-edited by his granddaughter Julie Rivett, “The Hunter and Other Stories” is a collection of 17 short stories and three screenplays that, until now, have either never been published or have rarely been published. The stories illustrate Hammett’s desire to be known as more than a crime writer.

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

Happy Halloween: Watch The Lurch On Shindig From 1965

The web site offers a link to Ted Cassidy, who portrayed Lurch onTV's The Adams Family, doing "the Lurch" on Shindig.

You can watch the great Lurch via the below link:

Defending Against Catastrophic Cyberattacks Requires Collaboration, Says Director Of U.S. Cyber Command

Cheryl Pellerin at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 - Catastrophic cyberattacks loom in the nation's future, and only collaboration among government agencies, Internet service providers and U.S. allies worldwide can help citizens prepare for them, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command said this afternoon.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander (seen in the above DoD photo), who also serves as director of the National Security Agency, delivered the keynote address to senior government security officials and industry executives attending a cybersecurity conference.

"Over the last 14 months, we've seen over 350 distributed-denial-of-service attacks on Wall Street, with varying levels of success. In August 2012, the whole world saw a destructive attack on Saudi Aramco's computer systems that ... wiped out the data on over 30,000 systems," Alexander said.

The general asked the audience to imagine if that attack had hit Wall Street and to consider the impact it would have on the nation's finances and the global financial structure.

"Those types of catastrophic attacks are in our future," the general said. "We have to prepare for them. This is something the government cannot do by itself -- this is something government, industry and our allies have to work [on] together."

Alexander said the partnership must start with legislation that allows Internet service providers such as those who have large financial industry clients on Wall Street to tell government law enforcement agencies exactly when a cyberattack is happening so it can be stopped.

"We need a way for industry to tell us when there's an attack going on," he said. "The chances of us seeing it in time to do something about it are very small, especially for a destructive attack."

Alexander likened the way such a process would work to the way the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system scans cars on the highway to collect tolls. In the case of Internet traffic, the Internet service provider would scan network packets to see if they are good or bad, he explained.

If a bad packet is coming into Wall Street, Internet service providers would see that, he said, and could tip off the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency or U.S. Cyber Command about the bad packet, including where it's going and where it's coming from, at network speed.

"That's the key," Alexander said. "In order to respond to these types of threats, we need that information at network speed, and we've got to come up with the rules and the operational concepts to actually work at network speed if we're going to stop some of these attacks."

Some questions remain about how the process would work, he added.

"How do we scan traffic to know that it's good to go in such a way that we protect our civil liberties and privacy and insure it's not something that's going to destroy our financial networks?" he asked. Our thoughts are that this is where government and industry can work together.

"We don't need the contents of the packet," he continued. "We don't need to know anything more than it's a bad packet and it came from Point A and it's going to Point B. But for industry to provide us that information, we need legislation."

Five areas are most important to the Cyber Command and NSA missions, the general told the audience. First, and perhaps most important, is to have a trained and ready force, he said.

"If you don't have that and if [the cyber warriors] aren't trained to the right level," Alexander said, "they will never detect the threats that are going on in our networks."

Second is to have operational concepts and command and control, the general said, defining that as Team Cyber, or the integration of NSA and Cyber Command as a team alongside the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

"We have a team and a concept that says if an attack is happening on Wall Street, we have to know how we're going to work it," he said. "NSA and Cyber Command do not respond inside the United States; that's the role of the FBI. Outside, we work with our allies; that's where NSA and Cyber Command come in. The operational concept says how we stop an attack and how we tell the right authorities what's coming."

Third is to have a defensible architecture, he said, using the Defense Department's networks to explain the problem.

"Within the Defense Department we have 15,000 enclaves, each with different system administrators, each with their own firewalls, and each presenting a potential vulnerability if they're not patched at the same time," Alexander explained.

Having 15,000 groups of people trying to patch a network at the same time is problematic, he said.

"Somebody's going to make a mistake, and ... in cyberspace that means an adversary has a good probability of getting access to our network," he said. "It's the same thing for industry. How are we going to fix it? This is where the thin virtual cloud comes in."

Such problems must be addressed at network speed "if we're ever going to get out in front of this," he added.

The fourth area is shared situational awareness in cyberspace, or how cyberspace is seen.

"Today, when somebody talks about an attack into your network, ask them to draw you a picture," Alexander said. The issue, he added, is that if someone can't describe what's happening in cyberspace so that every decision maker understands it, how can they respond?

"We need shared situational awareness in cyberspace. We're working that -- we call it the cyber common operational picture -- but we also have to have that shared space with industry," Alexander said. "That's one of the key things that industry and government have to work on together. How do we see the threats?"

Seeing good airplanes and bad airplanes coming in requires that they be sorted out, Alexander said. "We do that for air defense," he added. "How do we do it for cyber defense, and how do we share it with our allies? That's a key issue we have to address in solving some of the problems coming up."

The fifth area is authorities, he said.

"The secretary of defense and the president are the policymakers, and it's their decision on when we act and when we don't act," Alexander said. "But we have to set up some of the authorities -- what we'll call the rules of the road."

From a military perspective, these are the rules of engagement, he said, "and we are actually working that with the Defense Department, the White House and others. ... But those, I think, absolutely should be on the table, and they should be transparent."

Joe Vito Mastronardo, Gentleman Gambler & Frank Rizzo's Son-In-Law, Heads To Court

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the federal trial of former Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo's son-in-law, bookmaker Joe Vito Mastronardo, for

The numbers are staggering.

More than $1.3 million in cash seized at his home in the Meadowbrook section of Huntingdon Valley, including $1.1 million stashed in PVC pipes buried in the back yard.

Another $1.7 million in bank accounts frozen by the feds, part of a seizure action that totals more than $6.3 million.

And a money trail of wire transfers in excess of $3.2 million to financial institutions in Sweden, Malta, Antiqua and Portugal.

That's the financial picture painted by federal prosecutors in the case against "Gentleman Gambler" Joe Vito Mastronardo Jr. and 15 co-defendants, including his wife, his son and his brother.

"At its peak, the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization had over 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars of betting activity in a year," an indictment now pending in U.S. District Court alleges.

But that's just part of the story.

... Law enforcement has been gunning for Joe Vito for years, in part because of what he has done, but as important because of who he is.

Mastronardo is without question one of the premier bookmakers in the Philadelphia area, if not the country. His clientele includes businessmen and corporate executives who think nothing of placing a $10,000 bet on a football or basketball game and whose wins and losses during a season of betting are often measured in six figures. That's serious gambling action and one reason why law enforcement has been buzzing around Mastronardo, 63, for most of his adult life.

The other is this: Joe Vito is the son-in-law of the late Frank L. Rizzo, the former mayor and the former police commissioner of Philadelphia. His wife, Joanna, is Rizzo's only daughter. His son, Joseph F. Mastronardo, 31, is Rizzo's only grandchild.

Their arrests in August 2012 when the indictment was unsealed set tongues wagging. Rizzo, the no-holds-barred, law-and-order mayor and top cop must be rolling in his grave. That was the media message of the day.

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Emily Gets Her Gun... But Obama Wants To Take Yours

Stephen P. Halbrook offers a review of Emily Miller's book Emily Gets Her Gun... But Obama Wants To Take Yours in today's Washington Times.

After the Supreme Court declared the District’s handgun ban violative of the Second Amendment in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller, D.C. officials decided to get revenge. Under prior law, rifles and shotguns could be legally registered. If it now had to register handguns, D.C. would make it as difficult as possible to register any firearm.

I represented Dick Heller, Absolam Jordan and others in bringing a lawsuit against the new onerous restrictions. We challenged the requirement that one must register to exercise a constitutional right. D.C. argued that by making unregistered guns illegal, police could arrest folks even when they didn’t have anything else on them. The U.S. Court of Appeals didn’t see that as a legitimate reason and sent the case back to the trial court.

That decision came down on Oct. 4, 2011. By coincidence, the very next day, a woman named Emily Miller walked into the D.C. police headquarters and asked how she could get a gun permit. She had been the victim of a home invasion and simply wanted to protect herself. She had no training with firearms and, while having extensive experience in political work and the media, she had not been concerned with Second Amendment issues.

Little did she know that she was now face-to-face with a bureaucracy entrusted with the function of implementing one obstacle after another, for a total of 17 steps, to allow a person to register a gun. This really meant 17 steps to dissuade a person from registering a gun.

The result of the trials and tribulations that followed prompted the book “Emily Gets Her Gun... But Obama Wants to Take Yours.” However one feels about gun control, this book is a lively read that combines humor and irony with serious commentary.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Great Scot: James Bond Actor Sir Sean Connery Tops List Of Most Popular British Actors in America

Jennifer Smith at the British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a piece on the survey that selected Sir Sean Connery, one of my favorite actors, as the most popular British actor in America.

Despite not having appeared on the big screen for over ten years, Sir Sean Connery is the most popular British actor among American film fans, it has emerged.

The James Bond star was listed as the most recognisable and well-liked actor in a recent US survey which measures the public's opinion of celebrities.

The Q score charts, which are carried out every six months among 1, 500 people by the New York based Q Scores Company, has released its 'Brit Q' rankings in which the 83-year-old actor triumphed.

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

Army Soldier And Civilian Sentenced On Bribery Charges For Facilitating Theft Of Fuel In Afghanistan

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

A former U.S. Army Sergeant and a co-conspirator have been sentenced in the District of Colorado for their roles in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, Afghanistan, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced. 

U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Weaver, 30, of Fort Carson, Colo., was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2013, to serve 37 months in prison.  Weaver pleaded guilty Oct. 20, 2012, and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger.                    

Jonathan Hightower, 31, of Houston, Texas, who worked at FOB Fenty as a civilian employee of a contractor and who had conspired with Weaver, was also sentenced on Oct. 28, 2013, to serve 27 months in prison. He pleaded guilty Aug. 3, 2012, and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez.

A third conspirator, former soldier Stephanie Charboneau, pleaded guilty on Sept. 5, 2013, before U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer.  Her sentencing is set for Dec. 9, 2013.

Weaver and Hightower were also ordered to pay $1,225,000 in restitution, jointly with Charboneau.  Hightower was also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for a related fuel theft scheme that was the subject of the prosecution.

According to court documents, from in or about January 2010 through June 2010, Weaver, Hightower and Charboneau were involved in handling the uploading and transportation of fuel from FOB Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to nearby military bases. 

Weaver and Charboneau created false and fraudulent documents purporting to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required.  Hightower was a civilian who worked at the base’s “fuel point” uploading fuel trucks, occasionally filling the trucks with fuel to be stolen and taking other steps to assist the conspiracy. 

At the direction of Weaver and Charboneau, fuel truck drivers used the fraudulent documents to justify the filled trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty. 

In truth, after the filled fuel truck left the base, the fuel was simply stolen, and Weaver and Charboneau would receive cash from the representative of the trucking company that supplied the fuel trucks.  The cash would be split among the three conspirators.     

All three conspirators pleaded guilty to receiving payments from a representative of the trucking company in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 70 5,000-gallon truckloads of fuel.  Each of the three acknowledged that the loss to the United States was in excess of $1 million.
The cases were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division (CID); the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and the FBI.

These cases were handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, who is on detail from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

FBI Releases 2012 Statistics On Law Enforcement Officers Killed And Assaulted

The FBI released the below information:

According to statistics collected by the FBI, 95 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2012. Of these, 48 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 47 officers died in accidents. In addition, 52,901 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults. Comprehensive data tables about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks are included in the 2012 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, released today.

Felonious Deaths
The 48 felonious deaths occurred in 26 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2012 decreased by 24 when compared with the 72 officers who died in 2011. The five- and 10-year comparisons show an increase of seven felonious deaths compared with the 2008 figure (41 officers) and a decrease of four deaths compared with 2003 data (52 officers).

Officer Profiles: The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 38 years. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years at the time of the fatal incidents. Forty-three of the officers were male, and five were female. Forty-two of the officers were white, and six were black.

Circumstances: Of the 48 officers feloniously killed, 12 were killed in arrest situations, eight were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, eight were conducting traffic pursuits/stops, six were ambushed, five were involved in tactical situations, and four were answering disturbance calls. Three of the slain officers were handling, transporting, or maintaining custody of prisoners; one was conducting an investigative activity, such as surveillance, searches, or interviews; and one officer was killed while handling a person with a mental illness.

Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 44 of the 48 victim officers. Of these 44 officers, 32 were slain with handguns, seven with rifles, and three with shotguns. The type of firearm used was not reported in the deaths of two officers. Two officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons, one with personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.), and one with a knife.

Regions: Twenty-two of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, eight in the West, six in the Midwest, and six in the Northeast. Five of the deaths took place in Puerto Rico, and one officer was killed in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Suspects: Law enforcement agencies identified 51 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths. Thirty-three of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and eight of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents.

Accidental Deaths
Forty-seven law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2012. The majority (22 officers) were killed in automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths was down six from the 2011 total (53 officers).

Officer Profiles: The average age of the officers who were accidentally killed was 39 years, and the average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 12. Forty-five of the officers were male, and two were female. Thirty-six of the officers were white, nine were black, and two officers were Asian/Pacific Islander.

Circumstances: Of the 47 officers accidentally killed, 22 died as a result of automobile accidents, 10 were struck by vehicles, six died in motorcycle accidents, three were killed in falls, three died in aircraft accidents, two were accidentally shot, and one died in another type of duty-related accident.

Regions: Twenty-seven of the accidental deaths occurred in the South, nine in the Northeast, eight in the West, and three in the Midwest.

In 2012, of the 52,901 officers assaulted while performing their duties, 27.7 percent suffered injuries. The largest percentage of victim officers (32.5 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls. Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 80.2 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4.3 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.7 percent of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 13.9 percent of assaults.

OSS Society Honors Admiral William H. McRaven: Washington's Intelligence Community Comes Out For A Gala "Spy" Prom

Carol Ross Joynt at the Washingtonian offers a piece on the OSS Society's event honoring Navy SEAL Admiral William H. McRaven (seen in the above Navy photo).

No one in the ballroom came right out and shouted, “William McRaven for elected office!” but the idea hovered like a thought bubble over the OSS Society’s William J. Donovan Award Dinner Saturday night, where the commander of US Special Operations was honored—including by President Obama—and even sounded himself a bit like a candidate.

The annual celebration commemorating the World War II spy agency and predecessor of the CIA—for the intelligence and special operations communities, it’s the prom and the Oscars wrapped in one—is a time for reminiscing and gossiping for both the smooth-skinned, ramrod-spined young operatives and the retired spies and warriors with more medals than hair or teeth. But McRaven, the Navy admiral who oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden and who received the Donovan award, gave this year’s gathering a political edge.

... McRaven was the last act after at least nine toasts, as many speeches, and several videos (including one of soldiers singing a spoof of At The Hop), a jazz performance, and repeated standing ovations. It probably helped that waiting for each guest at his or her place, was a gin martini with onions, to be raised in a toast to Ernest Hemingway, who famously liberated the Paris Ritz at the same time as the allies liberated Paris. It’s a ritual of the dinner.

McRaven did not equivocate. “I often hear disillusioned officers and noncommissioned officers ask, ‘Why aren’t we more like the OSS?’ Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am here tonight to tell you that the OSS is back,” he said, emphatically. “Not since World War II has there been such a lethal combination of intelligence officers and special operations warriors. Not since the fight against Hitler have we had such a talented group of government civilians, intellectuals, businessmen, writers, philosophers, engineers, tinkers, tailors, soldiers, and spies.” He took a pause before declaring, “but, still, there will be some who doubt this resurgence. So let me put those doubts to rest.”

McRaven noted that over the past dozen years he has worked side by side “with my intelligence counterparts” all over the world, “in every war zone, declared and undeclared.” He described the modern Navy SEAL arsenal, a kind of fantasy list for spy geeks. That includes craft that move “on the water and under the water. We have big planes and little planes and littler planes. We have submarines and mini-subs. We have scuba rigs and jet boots that propel us under water. We have jet skis and kayaks, we have motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. We have high-definition sensors that look like rocks. We Tweet and Google and Bing. We are building an Ironman suit that will test the limits of technology and entrepreneurship.”

Lest anyone think SEAL life is all about gadgets, he went on to describe the modern intelligence and special operations recruit. “They come from all walks of life. They are New Yorkers and Texans. Big city and small towns. They are Ivy League and community college. They are bikers, lawyers, poets and musicians, geeks and old school, officers and enlisted, uniformed and suits; they speak Farsi, Pashtu, Somali, Chinese, Arabic, and Hangul.” 

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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mob-Related Case Heads To Trial In Camden, NJ

Julia Terruso at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a piece on the upcoming mob trial in Camden, New Jersey.

Five years after the FBI raided the offices and homes of lawyers and reputed mobsters, looking for evidence of a massive business-looting operation that a federal prosecutor said gave new meaning to the term "corporate takeover," the case is headed to trial.

Nicodemo Scarfo, son of infamous jailed Philadelphia mob boss "Little Nicky" Scarfo, is charged along with alleged mob associate Salvatore Pelullo in a 25-count, 107-page indictment peppered with lines from wiretapped conversations that sound like they were ripped from a mob movie script.

On Monday, potential jurors will arrive at the federal courthouse in Camden to fill out questionnaires - the first step of jury selection, expected to take two to three weeks. The trial will likely last six months.

Scarfo, 47, has been on the scene for years, known as "Mr. MacIntosh" and "Mr. Apple" for his tech-savvy cons. In May 2010, he was sentenced to 33 months in prison for running an illegal sports-betting operation.
Pelullo, 45, is an Elkins Park businessman with alleged ties to Scarfo's crime family. Prosecutors say Scarfo and Pelullo targeted the Texas financial-services company FirstPlus Financial for takeover, dismantled its board of directors, and replaced it with pawns who ran a racketeering scheme that defrauded shareholders of more than $12 million from June 2007 to May 2008.

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

Spying Is The One Thing Obama's Doing Right

The New York Post's editorial board says that spying is the one thing that the president is doing right.

Give President Obama a round of applause.

He seems to be doing a good job on at least one front in the War on Terror: spying. And we’re not being sarcastic.

True, we don’t often applaud Obama’s policies, especially when it comes to fighting terrorists.

But when so many foreign leaders are whining about US National Security Agency surveillance, it suggests the president must be doing something right.

Complaints such as those German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly raised in a “furious” call to the White House were sparked by disclosures about NSA data collection targeting perhaps the leaders themselves. Other allies angry over US spying include France, Mexico and Brazil.

But what did these leaders expect? At the Brandenburg Gate during the 2008 campaign, Obama promised a cheering crowd he represented a new era of “allies who will listen to each other.”

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Charles Krauthammer's 'Things That Matter'

Fox News aired a special on the life of Charles Krauthammer, Fox News contributor, syndicated columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, psychiatrist, and the author of Things That Matter.

You can watch a video clip from the special via the below link:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cool And Classy: 'If I Had 24 Hours To Live, I'd Make A Dry Martini,' Says Sir Roger Moore

Veronica Lee at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers her interview with the cool and classy actor Sir Roger Moore.

There are some people whose conversational style calls out to be recorded in a typeface called “ironic”, and Sir Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven films between 1973 and 1985, turns out to have a sense of humour even drier than his louche secret agent’s martinis.
“Call me Charlie,” he says when I address him as Sir Roger. He has always been unfailingly modest about his achievements and quite happy to admit that the knighthood, which he has had since 2003, was bestowed for services to the charity Unicef   – not for his acting. Nevertheless, his latest stage show – An Audience With Sir Roger Moore – which starts tomorrow at the Leeds Grand Theatre, quite pointedly includes his title and is billed as a conversation (with his biographer, Gareth Owen) about “his astonishing life and career”.
“I’ve got a massive ego, of course,” the actor says, deadpan, when I ask for an explanation. “Actually, it’s rather fun,” he continues, “going round parts of the country I’ve never seen and meeting people that I’ve never met before.”
Of course, at 86, he could be putting his feet up in Monaco or Crans-Montana, Switzerland (he divides the year between his two homes), with his fourth wife, Kristina. “It’s nice to be in the UK,” he says. “I get over when I can and it’s possible now that I don’t get taxed for being there.”

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


Everybody Spies on Allies - Get Over It

Max Boot at the New York Post offers a piece on the leaks that claim the National Security Agency spies on allies.

I have a word of advice for American allies outraged by alleged NSA spying on their leaders: Grow up. That means you, Germany. You too, France. And you, Brazil. Mexico, too. Also the EU and the UN.

Does the National Security Agency spy on your leaders? Probably. Do you spy on leaders of allied states including the United States? Probably. You just don’t have the resources or capability to spy as effectively as the NSA does. But if you did, you would.

Don’t bother denying it. All states subscribe to the principle enunciated by Lord Palmerston, the 19th century British foreign minister and prime minister: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

In the pursuit of their interests, all states need as much information as possible about the actions and (even harder to fathom) the intentions of other states, even (or perhaps especially) those with whom they are allied at the moment.

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

FBI: International Fraud Ring Recruited Short-Term Visa Holders

The FBI released the below information yesterday:

The recruitment pitch to students on short-term visas must have seemed irresistible: give us your good name and some help in our fraud scheme, and we’ll put money—potentially thousands of dollars—in your wallet before your return trip home.

In charges unsealed late last month in San Diego, FBI agents and their law enforcement partners named dozens of young visa holders from former Soviet-bloc countries who took the bait and became willing co-conspirators in a range of elaborate fraud schemes.

In four separate indictments, a federal grand jury laid bare how a Los Angeles-based Armenian crime ring ran scams in L.A. and San Diego that relied on a steady tide of accomplices whose time was short in the U.S. While the crimes themselves were not especially novel—identity theft, bank fraud, tax fraud—the explicit recruitment of co-conspirators with expiring visas was a twist.

“The J-1 visa holders are a commodity in these cases,” said Special Agent Davene Butler, who works in our San Diego Division.

She described how a few masterminds enlisted young accomplices to do much of the legwork in their fraud schemes—opening bank accounts and securing apartments and post office boxes to route proceeds from bogus tax returns, for example. By the time a scam came to light, the “foot soldiers” holding J-1 and F-1 visas—which allow foreigners to study and travel in the U.S. for brief periods—would be long gone. “They were essential in the schemes,” Butler said.

The charges announced on September 26 named 55 individuals and followed a two-year investigation led by the San Diego FBI, local authorities, and the IRS, which paid out more than $7 million in bogus tax refunds. About half of those charged were arrested last month in a nationwide sweep, but more than 25 remain at large, including 24 who are believed to have left the country. The FBI is asking for the public’s help locating some of the suspects, including one of the crime ring's main architects, Hovhannes Harutyunyan, 34, an Armenian whose last known address was in Burbank, California.

The charges show four primary schemes. Here’s how they worked:
  • Using stolen identities, the crime ring filed about 2,000 fraudulent tax returns claiming more than $20 million in refunds. J-1 students obtained addresses and bank accounts for the fraudulent refunds to be sent.
  • Conspirators set up bank accounts and began writing checks back and forth to create a good transaction history, which banks rewarded by shortening or eliminating holds on deposited checks. Then the so-called “seed” accounts wrote bad checks to 60 “bust-out” accounts, which paid out more than $680,000.
  • Conspirators obtained personal information about the identities and accounts of wealthy bank customers and disguised themselves as the account holders. They practiced forging documents and impersonating the account holders, and succeeded in obtaining $551,842. They laundered the money by purchasing gold with the stolen funds.
  • Conspirators obtained pre-paid debit cards in the names of identity theft victims and opened bank accounts in the names of visa holders who sold their account information before leaving the U.S. They then filed more than 400 fraudulent tax returns seeking more than $3 million.
“This investigation involved multiple complex fraudulent schemes resulting in significant losses to financial institutions and American taxpayers,” said San Diego FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn.

Agent Butler said the charges and arrests send a message that these schemes are not without consequences. Those who have already fled won't find it easy to get back to the U.S. “And they won't be able to tell their friends that they can come to the U.S., commit fraud, get some quick cash, and that nothing will happen to them,” she said.

If you have any information about these cases, please contact the FBI at (858) 320-1800 or online at

Note: The above photo was released by the FBI. Hovhannes Harutyunyan, center, an Armenian who was living in Burbank, California, is one of the architects of a fraud ring that enlisted visa holders like Yermek Dossymbekov, left, and Alisher Omarov to commit crimes.  

Happy Birthday To President Theodore Roosevelt

As notes, today is the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Born in New York City on October 27, 1858, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was governor of New York before becoming U.S. vice president. At age 42, Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest man to assume the U.S. presidency; He became commander-in-chief after President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, and won a second term in 1904. Known for his anti-monopoly policies and ecological conservationism, Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Russo-Japanese War. He died in New York on January 6, 1919.

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

You can also learn more about Roosevelt by reading excellent Edmund Morris' three-volume biography.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Defense Secretary Says New Protections Are Needed For Unclassified Data

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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2013 - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently directed that DOD organizations take additional steps to ensure unclassified controlled technical information is protected from cyber intrusions.

"Stolen data provides potential adversaries extraordinary insight into the United States' defense and industrial capabilities and allows them to save time and expense in developing similar capabilities," Hagel said in a memo dated Oct. 10.

"Protection of this data is a high priority for the department and is critical to preserving the intellectual property and competitive capabilities of our national industrial base and the technological superiority of our fielded military systems," he added.

As the world has become increasingly dependent on electronic data, traditional physical security concepts are no longer valid, said Jennifer Elzea, a Defense Department spokesperson.

"The opportunity to gain access to sensitive unclassified information is simply too unconstrained, and we must rethink how we safeguard our technical information," she said.

Unclassified controlled technical data losses have become a major problem for the nation and its industrial base, Elzea said. And the problem is getting worse. Data and intellectual property concerning defense systems requirements, concepts of operations, technologies, designs, engineering, systems production and component manufacturing are all being targeted, she said. While the information is unclassified, its loss still represents a significant threat to national security.

"The department must be sure that unclassified controlled technical information is protected from network intrusion and that any consequences associated with loss of this information are assessed and minimized," Elzea said.

To that end, the secretary directed that the offices of the undersecretaries of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, policy, intelligence, and the DOD chief information officer work together to develop any necessary changes to policy, guidance and rulemaking activities to improve the protection of unclassified controlled technical information that resides on or passes through defense contractor systems or networks.

DOD also has proposed an amendment to its acquisition and contracting regulations, Elzea said. The amendment will add language to defense contracts requiring contractors to incorporate established security standards on their networks, and to report cyber-intrusions that result in the loss of unclassified controlled technical information.

The change is part of the effort to balance the cost of increased protection with the ability to conduct business operations at an unclassified level, she noted. The department must be able to safely operate at that level.

Other actions directed in the memo include the establishment of a joint analysis cell to assess losses of technical information. The cell, to be led by the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, will determine the consequences of those losses and develop necessary responses.

In addition, Hagel directed the military departments to identify critical acquisition and technology programs that require additional protection. This process will include a review of the classification guidance for those programs.

Finally, the DOD CIO, the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency will continue to identify the technical standards needed to protect unclassified information in the Joint Information Environment.

"The Department of Defense is committed to protecting our unclassified controlled technical information against the threat of cyber intrusions that target the department and our industrial base," the defense secretary said.

"These actions will ensure that the department provides a cohesive, comprehensive and cost-effective approach to protect priority investments and future defense capabilities while maintaining efficient business operations with our industrial partners," he added.

Photo of Aircraft Carrier Truman At Sunset

In the above U.S. Navy photo the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman sails during sunset in the Gulf of Oman, Oct. 19, 2013.
The Truman, flagship for the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to conduct maritime security operations and support theater security cooperation efforts.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Marine Corps Commandant Marks 30th Anniversary Of Marine Barracks Attack In Lebanon

The American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2013 - The attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on Oct. 23, 1983 became a harbinger of what is known today as the war on terror, said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos (seen in the below photo), during a ceremony yesterday in Jacksonville, N.C., to mark the 30th anniversary of the attacks.

The terrorist truck bomb took the lives of 241 service members.

"The world we lived in and the future we knew of a secure environment changed forever that morning of Oct. 23," Amos said. "The nation was not expecting this. It was a new kind of warfare. The threat of radical extremists being able to target military and civilian personnel with weapons of mass destruction for political, religious and personal gains was a new way to attack the West. It was a cowardly act on freedom."

The early 1980s was a tumultuous time of conflicting powers, Amos told the audience of Marines, as well as families and friends of those killed in the attack. "[That era] indeed became the harbinger of more challenging times yet to come," the general said. "Tensions were high across the world, the Cold War raged on, and radicalism surfaced as a new threat to stability in the Middle East."

And, "when conflict ripped at the peaceful coexistence of Lebanon, the United States, France, Italy and Great Britain answered the call to assist," Amos said of the multinational peace-keeping force that went into Beirut.

Amos described how Marines attempted to serve as peace keepers at a time when the country was deeply immersed in a civil war.

"They stood watch and patrolled chaotic streets to provide a blanket of safety and security and comfort for the citizens of Lebanon. They stood for freedom," he said, adding that the Marines knew their protection of the citizens came with a risk.

"On Oct. 23, 1983, terror struck. At 6:22 a.m., extremists drove an explosives-laden truck into the Marine barracks the likes of which had never been witnessed before. The massive explosion shook the ground of the entire Beirut International Airport along with the souls of all the Marines throughout the world," Amos said.

"Two-hundred and forty-one Marines and American soldiers and sailors [who] volunteered to make a difference" died in the attack, he added.

"They volunteered to serve their country ... to put the lives and freedoms of others before their own ... 241 of our finest, Amos said. "We honor each of them today."

Beginning with the attacks in Beirut, extremists have attempted to destroy what makes the United States great by attacking America at home and abroad, Amos pointed out.

He recounted the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in which a truck detonated alongside a building that housed U.S. Air Force personnel, killing 19 and wounding 498. He also recalled the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which 220 people were killed and more than 4,000 were wounded. Amos also spoke of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, berthed in Yemen, which resulted in the deaths of 17 American sailors and injured 39others.

"On 9/11," Amos said, "terrorists attacked America, in New York, the fields of Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000. We remember each of these well. We will never forgive, nor will we ever forget."

In September 2012, he added, gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four people, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

"Not only are these world-changing events, but they are very personal to all of us here today," Amos said.

U.S. troops responded in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.

"Today, our Marines remain forward-deployed," Amos said. "Marine expeditionary units are stationed around the globe -- the 26th, the 13th and the 31st Marines continue to train security forces and deny terrorists safe havens throughout all of Afghanistan."

When Marines respond to crises, they remain strong, and ready to respond and answer the nation's call, Amos said. Since the fateful day of the Beirut attacks, the Marines have stayed consistent in character and courage, and those traits have "not wavered and never will," he said.

"Across the globe, extremists have attempted to plot against our freedom and our democracy. They have tested our resolve as a nation. Those men who died 30 years ago would be proud to know that we have never relented," Amos told the audience members, who responded with cries of "Oorah!"

"We have never backed down, and we never will," he said.

Note: The U.S. Marine Corps released the above two photos.

A Review Of 'I Am Soldier Of Fortune: Dancing With Devils'

Retired Brig. General Dale Timothy White reviewed Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown's I Am Soldier of Fortune: Dancing With Devils for the Washington Times.

Robert K. Brown's first-person tour through war zones, revolutions, doomed adventures and the rise of Soldier of Fortune magazine has the punch of a Hollywood action thriller. There are heroes, villains, blazing guns, intrigue, humor, swagger and violent death. Unlike an action movie, it’s real.

From Cuba to Vietnam, Rhodesia to Latin America and Afghanistan, Bob Brown redefined participative journalism while creating a forum for the global warrior culture.

Each issue of Soldier of Fortune — circulation 1 million plus — is iconic to readers of a special stripe: veterans, active duty, special operators, mercenaries, gun lovers, law enforcement, adventurers, survivalists and those wish they were any of those. It’s not unusual for a combat veteran to admit he got his first glimpse of what he could become in the pages of SOF.

Soldier of Fortune launched in 1975 as a way for Mr. Brown, a Green Beret in Vietnam, to reach out to brothers in arms. SOF became a global touchstone linking a broad community of warriors willing to go anywhere and do anything — for adventure, for a cause or for a price. Along the way, Mr. Brown and his rugged band of paramilitary journalists wrote, photographed and shot their way through a score of revolutions and brush fire wars, were damned and praised by governments around the world, exposed crooks and scam artists and were sued multiple times for enabling mayhem and even murder.

However improbable the success of Soldier of Fortune, the story of its founder and field commander is more so.

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

My Guess Is These Dummies Have Not Seen The Film 'Captain Phillips': Pirates Kidnap Americans From Oil Ship

The New York Post offers a piece on the pirates who kidnapped American sailors from an oil ship.

Pirates attacked an oil supply vessel off the Nigerian coast and kidnapped the captain and chief engineer, both U.S. citizens, an American defense official and security sources said on Thursday.
Pirate attacks off Nigeria’s coast have jumped by a third this year as ships passing through West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, a major commodities route, have come under threat from gangs wanting to snatch cargoes and crews.

The U.S.-flagged, C-Retriever, a 222-foot vessel owned by U.S. marine transport group Edison Chouest Offshore, was attacked early Wednesday, UK-based security firm AKE and two security sources said. The company was not immediately available for comment.

A U.S. defense official said the State Department and FBI were leading the American response to the incident. A second defense official said the U.S. Marine Corps has a small training unit in the region but it was not clear if it would get involved. 

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sold For A Penny: Farewell To The USS Forrestal, The Navy's First Supercarrier

Joshua Rhett Miller at reports on the one cent sale of the USS Forrestal.

Here’s a penny for your thoughts: One red cent could’ve landed you the Navy’s first supercarrier, the decommissioned Forrestal.

The U.S. Navy sold the 1,067-foot behemoth to a Texas company, All Star Metals, to be dismantled, scrapped and recycled, Navy officials announced. It's an inauspicious fate for a ship with a colorful — and tragic — history. It's perhaps best known for a 1967 incident in which stray voltage triggered an accidental explosion that struck a plane on the flight deck whose cockpit was occupied by a young John McCain. A chain reaction of blasts and fires ultimately killed 134 men and injured more than 300.

But its rich past and nearly four decades of service are not enough to spare it. The Navy tried to donate the historic ship for use as a memorial or a museum, but no “viable applications” were received.

“It’s something that the Navy is caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Ken Killmeyer, historian for the USS Forrestal Association and a survivor of the 1967 incident. “They have to have these vessels no matter how big or small they are, and they use them as you would your car until they’re no longer financially viable. So, they decommission them.”

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

You can also read about the history of the USS Forrestal via the below link:

Note: The above photo was released by the U.S. Navy.

Happy Birthday To Author Michael Crichton

As notes, today is the birthday of the late author Michael Crichton.

You can read a piece about his life and watch a video clip via the below link:

In addtion to his sci-fi and medical thrillers, Crichton also wrote crime thrillers, such as Rising Sun and The Great Train Robbery. Crichton also directed Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland in the film The Great Train Robbery.

Hard Case Crime has recently published Crichton's early crime thrillers, written under the name John Lange. I happen to be reading one of the early crime thrillers, Grave Descend.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, And The Great Anti-Hero

I'm a huge fan of Don Siegel's crime films with actor Clint Eastwood, such as Dirty Harry and Coogan's Bluff.

So I was interested in reading Aliya Whitely's piece at the web site on the films of Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel.

Between them, director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood created some classic movie anti-heroes, including one Dirty Harry...

Let’s start at the end of this story.

Unforgiven (1992) is a film that builds on the groundwork of others, and takes the ideas of the past to a new level. In it, Clint Eastwood plays a once-vicious killer, William Munny, who chooses to return to the role of bounty-hunter in his old age.

It's no wonder that the film is dedicated to the two directors who shaped the public image of Eastwood to such an extent that we can view Unforgiven as an extension of the mythology of his classic role- the anti-hero. One is Sergio Leone, who turned Eastwood into the Man With No Name. The other director is Don Siegel.

Siegel directed five films that starred Eastwood and was a great influence on him when he started to direct his own films, even playing a small part in Eastwood's directorial debut, Play Misty For Me (1971). The movies they made together relied heavily on Eastwood's silent sneer (Leone said of Eastwood – “As an actor, he has two expressions: with, and without the hat”) but also began to stretch him as an actor in interesting directions.

These films shaped the crime movies and the Westerns that followed, and are still incredibly entertaining and iconic today.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch video clips via the below link:

Two Army National Guard Soldiers Plead Guilty To Schemes To Defraud U.S. Army National Guard Bureau

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

Two current U.S. Army National Guard soldiers have pleaded guilty for their role in bribery and fraud schemes that caused a total of at least $70,000 in losses to the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.

Sergeant Annika Chambers, 28, of Houston, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery. Specialist Elisha Ceja, 27, of Barboursville, W.V., previously pleaded guilty to the same charge on Oct. 1, 2013. The cases against both defendants arise from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.  To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 17 of whom have pleaded guilty.

According to court documents filed in both cases, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker, Inc. (Docupak) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).  The G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.  Through this program, a participating soldier could receive up to $3,000 in bonus payments for referring another individual to join.  Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account.  To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.

Ceja and Chambers both admitted that they paid Army National Guard recruiters for the names and Social Security numbers of potential Army National Guard soldiers.  They further admitted that they used the personal identifying information for these potential soldiers to falsely claim that they were responsible for referring the potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard.

As a result of these fraudulent representations, Ceja collected approximately $12,000 in fraudulent bonuses, and Chambers collected approximately $17,000 in fraudulent bonuses. 

The charge of bribery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.  The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.
Ceja and Chambers are scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston on Dec. 19, 2013, and March 11, 2013, respectively.

These cases are being investigated by Special Agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne, Mark J. Cipolletti, and Heidi Boutros Gesch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hookers Part Of Alleged Navy Bribery Scheme

Pauline Repard at the San Diego Union-Tribune offers a piece on the U.S. Navy bribery scandal.

— The head of a Singapore-based defense contractor was charged in San Diego Tuesday with bribing a Navy commander and a criminal investigator with prostitutes and luxury travel in exchange for confidential information on multimillion-dollar work contracts.
One complaint alleges that the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. was slipped documents about a Naval Criminal Investigative Service fraud probe into how his company obtained a government contract potentially worth $125 million.
A second complaint alleges that Navy Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz gave the CEO tips months in advance about the worldwide movements of Navy ships, giving him the edge on obtaining other highly lucrative contracts to provide maintenance, repair and other port services.
The contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, was arrested in San Diego Monday evening and appeared in federal court Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The 58-year-old Malaysian national remains in custody pending a Friday detention hearing.
Misiewicz, 46, assigned to the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, was arrested in Colorado Monday and NCIS supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau, 44, was arrested in Virginia.
Prosecutors said they will seek to bring Misiewicz and Beliveau to San Diego to face charges.
All three men are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a five-year federal prison term. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read an earlier post on the scandal via the below link:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crime Lord Hid Drugs In Frederick Forsyth Novels In Multi-Million Pound Plot

Owen Bennett at the British newspaper the Daily Express offers a piece on a criminal smuggling drugs in Frederick Forsyth's novels.

A crime lord used hollowed-out novels by Daily Express columnist Frederick Forsyth to smuggle drugs into Britain in a multi-million pound trafficking plot worthy of the thriller writer.

Mr Big”, Mohammed Imran Khan, 34, ordered his accomplices to partially cut out pages from the hardback books then store drugs inside them as part of a plan to flood the UK with "huge swathes" of heroin from Pakistan.

Police found a hollowed out copy of Forsyth's Fourth Protocol during a series of raids on properties across the North of England which were run by Khan and his gang.

It emerged some of his associates had also been involved in shipping drugs to Britain stashed in children's jackets and bars of soap.

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

Brit Crime Writers To Vote On Greatest Crime Novel

Rosa Silverman at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on the Crime Writers' Association upcoming vote on the greatest crime novel.

Agatha Christie will compete with the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler in a quest to identify the greatest crime novel ever written.
The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) has asked its 600 members, all authors, to pick what they consider to be the finest example of the genre, with the winner to be revealed as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.
Among the whodunits on the shortlist are two works by Christie – her 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, published in 1926.
The competition will be stiff, however, as the American writer Chandler also has two books in the running – The Big Sleep, from 1939, and the 1953 novel The Long Goodbye.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Conan Doyle’s 1902 thriller, is also in the running, along with more recent works such as The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill.

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

You can also visit the CWA web site via the below link: 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

U.S. Special Operations Command Seeks Prototypes For 'Iron Man Suit'

David Vergun at the U.S. Army News Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2013 – U.S. Special Operations Command wants its operators to be protected with what it informally calls an “Iron Man suit,” named after the fictional superhero.
In September, Socom announced it is seeking proposals for prototypes of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS.

The goal of TALOS is to provide ballistic protection to Special Operations Forces, along with fire-retardant capability, said Michel Fieldson, TALOS lead for Socom.

"We sometimes refer to it as the ‘Iron Man’ suit, frankly, to attract the attention, imagination and excitement of industry and academia," Fieldson said. "We're hoping to take products we're developing in several technology areas and integrating them into a consolidated suit to provide more protection for the [special operations forces]."

Other technologies include sensors, communications, energy and material that can store and release energy to prevent injuries and increase performance.

Materials that can store and release energy might be similar to the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, now used by some wounded warriors for lower-leg injuries. So TALOS could benefit wounded warriors too, Fieldson said.

The Homeland Security Department and firefighters have expressed an interest in this technology as well, he said, and it eventually might become available for other service members.

"Our goal right now is to try to get the word out and bring industry partners together," Fieldson said. The technologies that will go into the suit’s development are varied, he said, so it is unlikely one contractor would be able to specialize in the entire ensemble.

The traditional approach, Fieldson said, was to pick a prime contractor, usually a traditional defense partner, give them the design requirements and let them come up with the solution. That would take a long time, he noted.

"In this case, the government will be the lead integrator, and we'll look to work with traditional or nontraditional partners in industry and academia who are innovative," he said. "We'll leave no stone unturned."

The goal, he said, is to begin integrating capabilities over the next 12 months and have the first suit ready for full field testing in four to five years.

Fieldson thinks TALOS will become a reality because it protects the warfighters and has the backing of Socom's commander, Navy Adm. William H. McRaven.

"I'm very committed to this," McRaven said to industry representatives at a July 8 TALOS demonstration in Tampa, Fla. "I'd like that last operator that we lost to be the last one we ever lose in this fight or the fight of the future, and I think we can get there.

"I'm committed to this," he continued. "At the end of the day, I need you and industry to figure out how you are going to partner with each other to do something that's right for America." 

Eminent Hipsters: A Book Of Essays By Steely Dan's Grumpy Old Man, Donald Fagen

Bernadette McNulty at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a review of a book written by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen.

I remember the first time a friend presented me with a Steely Dan CD. It was both a gift and a test, an initiation into music beyond what then, among Nineties rave bleeps and grunge guitars, was considered anywhere near remotely cool. The sound baffled me at first – with its closeted atmosphere, noodly jazz structures, and slightly reedy, elliptical lyrics it sounded like the Eagles reimagined by Woody Allen – but there was also enough to intrigue me and, ultimately, enough to keep me going back to songs for which, like jazz or wine, you eventually develop a taste.
I imagine that is a description band frontman Donald Fagen would approve of from a person he would dismiss as “a TV baby”, an expression he admits to borrowing from the film Drugstore Cowboy to describe anyone born after 1960, “when television truly became the robot caretaker of American children and therefore the principal architect of their souls”. In his account of a 2012 tour with his side project, the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, Fagen spends a lot of time being tormented by TV babies. They provoke his ire by turning up to gigs expecting Steely Dan’s greatest hits, or worse, waving their camera phones about: “The TV Babies have morphed into the Palm People… sending instant videos to their friends: 'Look at me, I must be alive, I can prove it, I’m filming this s---.’ You know what? I refuse to look at you. You’re a corpse. And you prove that every day, with everything you do and everything you say.”
As you can tell from this, the 65-year-old American, a proud snark in his youth, has matured into a rabidly grumpy old man. But thankfully age has not stripped him of his keen wit and nose for elegant prose. Rock stars are not necessarily sensitive wordsmiths or deep self-analysts by nature – their life stories, documenting a rake’s progress through narcotics and women, tend to be tossed off as record sales dwindle. In his usual contrary fashion, Fagen has decided instead to create a collage of writing made up of critical essays (some previously published) on the cultural heroes or “eminent hipsters” of his youth, combined with his recent tour diary.

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

Note: I'm a big fan of Steely Dan, so I'm interested in reading this book.

You can listen to one of Steely Dan's finest albums, Aja, via the below link: