Monday, August 31, 2015

Avenue Of Spies: A True Story Of Terror, Espionage, And One American Family's Heroic Resistance In Nazi-Occupied Paris

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Alex Kershaw's Avenue of Spies for the Washington Times. 

In 1940, France suffered what was arguably the worst humiliation ever inflicted on a supposed world power: a swift military victory by German invaders, climaxed by the decision to form governments (one in Paris, another in southern Vichy) subservient to the conquerors. The 84-year-old Marshal Philippe Petain, a hero of World War I, head of the Vichy state, blamed France’s collapse on liberal decadence, “an unholy trinity of socialists, agnostics and urban intellectuals.”
Many prominent Parisians flocked to the German cause, including such personages as the perfume/fashion czarina Coco Chanel, who asserted, “it is your [German] mission to make these Jews cede their property to Aryans.”
But one prominent American resident in Paris disagreed. He was Dr. Sumner Jackson, of the American Hospital, who with his wife Toquette and son, Phillip, then aged 12, were permitted to remain in France. The Nazis respected Dr. Jackson’s surgical skills.
What the Germans did not realize was that Jackson soon put his talents to the service of the nascent French Resistance, a relative handful of brave citizens who chose not to submit to tyranny.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 

A Little Night Music: Miles Davis' 'Human Nature'

For a little night music you can listen to the late, great Miles Davis perform Human Nature via the below link:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

DEA Agents On Hunting Pablo Escobar, El Chapo, And The Accuracy Of Netflix’s ‘Narcos’

I've been watching and enjoying Netflix's Narcos this weekend.

Vinnie Mancuso at the Observer offers an interesting interview with the two DEA special agents portrayed in the series.

Although they haven’t been official partners since 1994, it’s not hard to gauge the rapport between former DEA Agents Javier Peña and Steve Murphy — Mr. Peña is quiet, more thoughtful, Mr. Murphy an energetic West Virginia native with the accent to match. When I met up with them in their room at the San Carlos Hotel on the Upper East Side, the two men could not have seemed any more unassuming. If you saw them on the street, you couldn’t picture streaming-giant Netflix basing a sprawling ten-episode series on their lives. But then you start to hear their stories. 

Both Mr. Murphy and Mr. Peña were part of the Search Bloc, an informal task force in Colombia created in 1992 solely to hunt drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. At the time the world didn’t even know what to make of Escobar, who in his time would be seen as both a Robin Hood-esque savior and mass-murderer, all while making the Forbes International Billionaire list. Bottom line, Escobar and his Medellin Cartel ushered in the idea of high-production cocaine trafficking, which eventually made its way to our Miami shores. 

In the years leading to Escobar’s “imprisonment” in La Catedral, and the violent 18-months that proceeded his escape, Murphy and Peña played their parts to hunt down and stop the most powerful drug lord in the world. In 2013, executive-producer Eric Newman called Mr. Murphy to discuss an idea he had, a TV show about the hunt for Escobar that would focus specifically on Murphy and Peña. 

Two years later, Netflix is set to release all ten episodes of Narcos next Friday, with Boyd Holbrook playing Steve Murphy and Game of Thrones‘ Pedro Pascal as Javier Peña. What started as a chat with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Pena about the show turned into a first-hand account of one of the most violent times in human history, and what we’re doing wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

Observer: You guys are “technical consultants” on Narcos. What does that entail?  

Steve: A paycheck [laughs] No, they call us with questions. Once we went through the whole story, the whole manhunt. As they would start writing and start filming as well, they would call and say ‘okay, what type of weapons did you have available back then? What did the good guys carry? What did the bad guys carry? How do you do a surveillance? How do you handle informants?’ 

The first time Pedro [Pascal] is introduced in Narcos as Javier, [Boyd Holbrook’s] narration says ‘this is the asshole.’ 

Javier: [laughs] I mean, we told them the story. We told them the facts of what happened. There are some people, which is true, that I didn’t get along with at the embassy. Especially the CIA people, I never got a long with them. So they’re using some of that. 

... How important to you think Narcos is in terms of awareness? 

Steve: There are a couple of ways to look at this, and I’m going to get on my soap box a little bit. One is: we all should look at history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.Because now we’re looking for Chapo Guzman again, right? So they’re using what we did 20 years ago as a model. Has cocaine trafficking changed any? No. As long as there is supply and demand, simple laws of economics, someone will supply the product. Do we need to do away with the enforcement arm because it hasn’t worked as effectively as we want it to? Absolutely not. You still have to have that enforcement arm to try and make people comply. Maybe we should do a better job of educating. You have “Just Say No,” you have “DARE,” I think they’re outstanding programs. But, it’s not enough. We need to do something more. Legalization is not the answer. Just go look at history. There are multiple countries in Europe that have tried legalization, and it has not worked in one place yet. Now we’re going with legalizing marijuana here in the United States, for medicinal purposes. Okay, if there is a legitimate medicinal purpose, okay. Let that person smoke pot. But not these thousands and thousands of people. If we’re going to have these marijuana cultivation farms, and distribution centers, let’s impose some standards on the people who run those places. A lot of the time, if you check that person’s rap sheet, they’ve been arrested multiple times. There’s no professionalism other than ‘well, I’ve been smoking dope for 20 years.’ What’s the answer? I don’t know. If I knew, we’d all be rich, and we’d be in a fancy office for this interview and not a hotel room. 

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

Thriller Writer Frederick Forsyth Reveals His Cold War Intelligence Work And Tells Of His Early Newspaper Work

Matt Leclerc at offers a piece on one of my favorite writers, Frederick Forsyth, author of The Day of the Jackal and other classic thrillers.

With the publication of Forsyth's The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, Forsyth is speaking of his early life doing intelligence work for the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly called MI6 by the press and public.

He also speaks about his early days as a journalist.

Ashford-born author and journalist Frederick Forsyth today revealed his past working as an MI6 operative at the height of the Cold War.

Forsyth, famous for his espionage novels including The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, speaks about his time working undercover for more than 20 years in an interview with The Sunday Times. 
He started out working for his hometown newspaper, the Kentish Express, as a 17-year-old cub reporter in 1956 before starting his National Service.

In the interview, published today, he tells of his time working in East Germany, running several missions to help out MI6 throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

It comes as he publishes his memoir called The Outsider.

Speaking to Sky News this morning he said: "It doesn't do any harm now to mention various adventures that were had way back. We're talking a long time ago.

"It was the Cold War, it was serious and dangerous.

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

Act, Kill, Win: Anthony Horowitz, The Author Of The James Bond Continuation Novel, 'Trigger Mortis,' Wants The Old Blunt Instrument Back: Says Recent Bond Movies Portray 007 As Weak

John Binham at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on Anthony Horowitz, the author of the new James Bond continuation novel, on how the recent Bond films have portrayed 007 as weak.

For more than 50 years, James Bond films have been feted as the ultimate action movies, with ever more spectacular special effects, sinister villains and an endless stream of glamourous love interests.
But, according to the author officially anointed as successor to 007’s creator Ian Fleming, modern James Bond films have lost their way because they make the fictional secret agent appear too soft.
Anthony Horowitz, who was chosen by the Fleming estate to write the latest James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, said Skyfall – the first Bond film to smash through the $1 billion mark in global box office takings – just makes him “angry” because of the way it portrays 0007 as “weak”. 

And he voiced dismay at signs that the upcoming film Spectre will delve into Bond’s “doubts” and “insecurities” instead of concentrating on defeating villains.

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

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Simon Schama Reviews Anthony Horowitz's James Bond Continuation Novel, 'Trigger Mortis'

Noted British historian and Financial Times contributor Simon Schama offers an interesting review of Anthony Horowitz's James Bond continuation novel Trigger Mortis in the Financial Times.

Scanning the dim interior of Le Caprice, the writer failed to see anyone answering the description of the man he was looking for. There were the prosperous bald lunching with the dangerously chic. A scented cloud of Guerlain hung over the room. “You would be . . . ?” asked the girl at the desk, looking steadily at the writer from beneath heavy mascara. “The reservation should be under . . . ” He tailed off, wondering if 007 had booked under his real name. Unlikely, he surmised. He was already feeling uncomfortable. It was unseasonably warm for April. Normally he would have lunched tieless but 007 was Old School, so he had suited up and knotted a dark red silk tie at the strangling collar.
A light tap on the shoulder. The writer spun round to find himself faced by a feral smile set in a lightly bronzed face. The writer took mental notes: chin, cleft; eyes, chestnut with little specks of gold in the iris; black hair thickly swept back; sardonic eyebrows. “Mr Horowitz, if I’m not mistaken?” The voice was low, studiously charming, a burr as soft as Scottish heather. Bond separated the syllables as if the writer’s name was a private joke: Mister Horror-Wits. “Shall we?”
Perspiring freely, Horowitz followed the dove-grey silk and wool suit to a corner table. “Now tell me, Mr Horowitz, what makes you think you will succeed where others have stumbled? Not quite your usual line of work is it?” The cat smile again. “And the stakes are so high, aren’t they? Mind you, I like a man with a taste for risk.” The writer felt a bead of sweat form on his brow and prayed it would not run down his nose. All appetite lost, he wondered for the first time if this had really been a good idea.
Oh yes, it was! Anthony Horowitz has written a humdinger of a Bond story, so cunningly crafted and thrillingly paced that 007’s creator would have been happy to have owned it. The screenwriter and novelist, a life-long fan, knows that, when he wanted to, Ian Fleming could turn on the literary juice with the best of them. The French beach scene that opens On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a brilliant piece of atmospheric writing, at once innocent and sinister like Fleming’s whole project, and the ending of You Only Live Twice, with its debt to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fable “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, is so unexpectedly off-kilter that, in the film, producers Saltzman and Broccoli had to replace it with the psycho-ferret Donald Pleasence version of Blofeld whizzing through his fake volcano on — the latest thing! — a monorail. But from his brilliant first chapter on, Horowitz is a pitch-perfect mimic of the Fleming one-line punch: “Rain swept into London like an angry bride.” “Silence sat in the room, an uninvited guest.” He even gets the clichés spot on. “Just he and the Maserati, plunging into the green hell.”
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Coming Yakuza War In Japan

Jake Adelstein, the author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter On the Police Beat in Japan, offers a piece at the Daily Beast on the yakuza crime war coming to Japan.

TOKYO — This year should have been a good one for Japan’s largest organized crime organization, the Yamaguchi-gumi, the one yakuza group that just about ruled them all. But as it marks its 100th year in business, internal squabbles may split the organization apart; it could also result in the kind of large-scale gang warfare that hasn’t been seen in decades.
The Japanese police are on full alert. Thursday (Japan time), the sprawling Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters in Kobe was besieged by a fleet of black Mercedes-Benzes and high-end Toyota Lexuses, transporting the top dogs of the Yamaguchi-gumi, dressed in their finest black suits, for emergency meetings.
The Yamaguchi-gumi is expected to splinter into factions with some gangs supporting current top boss Kenichi Shinoda aka Shinobu Tsukasa, 73, and others supporting a rival group, primarily based in western Japan, that opposes him and his parent faction, the Kodo-kai.
Japan’s organized crime groups, known collectively as the “yakuza,” i.e., “Losers,” or “Gokudo” (the ultimate path), are different from the mafias we know about in the West. They are treated as if they were some sort of controlled substance, dangerous but accepted within certain parameters.

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Tokyo Vice via the below link:

Reviving Jack Carter, London’s Toughest Pulp Hero

Kevin Canfield at the Daily Beast offers a piece on the revival of Ted Lewis' gangster character,

In the 1970s, an Englishman named Ted Lewis published three rowdy yarns about a brutal Briton working as an enforcer for a gangland “firm.” The first of these inspired a suitably gritty crime film recalled as one of the era’s best. The next two books weren’t so successful. But now, 32 years after Lewis’ death, his Jack Carter novels are getting a second life here in the States.
Fans of Get Carter, Mike Hodges’ 1971 movie, surely remember the exploits of the unflappable brute. As played by a young and rugged Michael Caine, Carter was a bitters-drinking, blade-wielding get-even artist who managed to make the act of eating soup on a moving train look menacing. Yet readers coming to the novels fresh won’t quite know what Lewis’ leading man is all about. So before we get to the enterprising small publisher responsible for reviving the books, and the brief but artistically fertile life of the man who penned them, let’s (re)acquaint ourselves with Carter’s CV. 
It’s probably best to start with an explanation of how he became the top organized-crime fixer in the city he calls “the smoke” (i.e. London). As he puts in Jack Carter and the Mafia Pigeon, the series’ third novel, “it hasn’t exactly been unknown for me, as a matter of policy as far as the firm’s concerned, to see to transgressors from members of the opposition on a more or less permanent basis, the more or less depending on the degree to which your religious beliefs extends.” A history of violence and a gift for understatement—that’s Carter, a remorseless pulp fiction killer.  
... On the whole, though, the novels are a welcome surprise to those of us whose only knowledge of Carter came via the big screen. The reissues are the first from Syndicate Books, an imprint that says it plans to put out up to 10 titles a year, mainly “out-of-print or neglected mystery and crime fiction of merit.” Syndicate was founded by Paul Oliver, the director of marketing and publicity for Soho Crime. In partnership with Penguin Random House, Soho will promote and sell the Carter books and future Syndicate titles. Until they were revived by Syndicate, the first two novels in the series were out of print in the U.S. for 40 years, and the third had never been published here at all.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cooking The Books: Spies Say Obama's Brass Pressured Them To Downplay ISIS Threat

Shane Harris and Nancy Ybussef at the Daily Beast offer a piece on the intelligence analysts who claim senior officials have pressured them to cook the books on the ISIS threat.

Senior military and intelligence officials have inappropriately pressured U.S. terrorism analysts to alter their assessments about the strength of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, three sources familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast. Analysts have been pushed to portray the group as weaker than the analysts believe it actually is, according to these sources, and to paint an overly rosy picture about how well the U.S.-led effort to defeat the group is going.
Reports that have been deemed too pessimistic about the efficacy of the American-led campaign, or that have questioned whether a U.S.-trained Iraqi military can ultimately defeat ISIS, have been sent back down through the chain of command or haven’t been shared with senior policymakers, several analysts alleged.
In other instances, authors of such reports said they understood that their conclusions should fall within a certain spectrum. As a result, they self-censored their own views, they said, because they felt pressure to not reach conclusions far outside what those above them apparently believed.
“The phrase I use is the politicization of the intelligence community,” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, (seen in the above photo) the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast when describing what he sees as a concerted push in government over the past several months to find information that tells a preferred story about efforts to defeat ISIS and other extremist groups, including al Qaeda. “That’s here. And it’s dangerous,” Flynn said. 

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

ISIL And Antiquities Trafficking: FBI Warns Dealers, Collectors About Terrorist Loot

The FBI website offers a report on the terrorist organization ISIL trafficking in antiquities.

The FBI is alerting art collectors and dealers to be particularly careful trading Near Eastern antiquities, warning that artifacts plundered by terrorist organizations such as ISIL are entering the marketplace.
“We now have credible reports that U.S. persons have been offered cultural property that appears to have been removed from Syria and Iraq recently,” said Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI’s Art Theft Program.
The Bureau is asking U.S. art and antiquities market leaders to spread the word that preventing illegally obtained artifacts from reaching the market helps stem the transfer of funds to terrorists.
In a single-page document titled ISIL Antiquities Trafficking, the FBI asks leaders in the field to disseminate the following message:
  • Please be cautious when purchasing items from this region. Keep in mind that antiquities from Iraq remain subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions under the Iraq Stabilization and Insurgency Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR part 576).
  • Purchasing an object looted and/or sold by the Islamic State may provide financial support to a terrorist organization and could be prosecuted under 18 USC 233A.
  • Robust due diligence is necessary when purchasing any Syrian or Iraqi antiquities or other cultural property in the U.S. or when purchasing elsewhere using U.S. funds.
In February, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2199, which obligates member states to take steps to prevent terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria from receiving donations and from benefiting from trade in oil, antiquities, and hostages. 

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Nearly 200 Retired Generals And Admirals Urge Congress To Reject Iran Nuclear Deal

Carol Morello at the Washington Post offers a piece on the nearly 200 retired generals and admirals (which includes retired LTG William Boykin, who appears in the above photo) who have sent a letter to Congress urging the lawmakers to reject Obama's Iran deal.

A group of nearly 200 retired generals and admirals sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday urging lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear agreement, which they say threatens national security.
The letter is the latest in a blizzard of missives petitioning Congress either to support or oppose the agreement with Iran, which would lift sanctions if Iran pared back its nuclear program. Letters have come from ad hoc groupings of rabbis, nuclear scientists, arms-control and nonproliferation experts — and now, retired senior military officers, many of whom have worked in the White House during various administrations dating to the 1980s.
The letter, addressed to Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate and the House, is a response to one sent last week by three dozen retired senior military officers who support the nuclear deal.
“The agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies,” the letter states.  

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

You can also read my interview with retired LTG William Boykin, a former Delta Force Commander, via the below link:

Former FBI Agent Zip Connelly Always Wanted To Have A Movie Made About Himself, But 'Black Mass' Is About The Mobster And Serial Killer Who Owned Him

Veteran journalist and author Howie Carr offers a column in the Boston Herald about former FBI agent 'Zip' Connelly and Boston mobster 'Whitey' Bulger.

Zip Connolly always dreamed of watching a Hollywood movie about himself, and now his wish is about to come true.
Alas, this screen gem is not about the heroism of the “decorated hero fed,” as the bent cop always so modestly described himself. It’s about the serial killer who owned him — Whitey Bulger. Tough break for Zip, who in his prime made a training video advising young G-men in training at Quantico, “Never try to out-gangster a gangster.”
Now, in his dotage, doing life in the Florida Panhandle for one of 
Whitey’s contract hits, Zip tries to out-lawyer the lawyers.
And the hero G-man is having every bit as much success in his later endeavor as he did in 
the former.
“Black Mass” screens nationwide next month. Think of this as Zip’s part in the prerelease publicity campaign. Johnny Depp, in the role of Zip’s paymaster, won’t be available for interviews until the actual premiere. In the meantime, Connolly garners a few headlines for the biopic about his capo di tutti capi. 

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

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Happy 85th Birthday To Sean Connery

Happy 85th birthday to one of my favorite actors, Sean Connery.

Not only was he great as Ian Fleming's iconic James Bond character in Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice (and two poor Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again), he was also great in The Man Who Would Be King, Robin and Marion, The Untouchables, The Hill, and other unforgettable films.

You can read about Connery's life and watch an hour-long TV-bio via the below link to


Monday, August 24, 2015

U.S. Army Depot Explosion In Japan Remains Under Investigation

Terri Moon Cronk at DoD News Features offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON August 24, 2015 — The cause of an explosion and the resulting large fire at a storage building early today at the Army’s Sagami General Depot in Sagamihara City, Japan, remains under investigation, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said.

Davis told reporters that no indications of injuries exist, and the building was not designated as a hazardous material storage facility, as some initial reports had suggested. 

“The Sagami General Depot does not store ammunition or radiological materials,” Davis said, adding that the building contained canisters of compressed gasses such as nitrogen, oxygen, Freon and air.
No U.S. military personnel live at the Sagami General Depot, and about 200 personnel work at the depot during the day, officials said.

Fire Died On Its Own

The explosion reportedly triggered a blaze that burned through the night, but the fire died on its own about six hours after it started, shortly before 1 a.m., Japan time, with firefighters standing by, according to U.S. Army Japan reports. By about 5:30 a.m., smoldering was still evident inside the building, but the fire did not spread beyond the building, the reports said.

The concrete single-story building is about the size of a large residence, said Pentagon press operations spokesman Navy Cmdr. William Urban. “The walls of the building remain intact, but the windows and doors are damaged, and about half of the roof collapsed,” he added.

First Responders Arrived Quickly

About 14 Sagamihara City fire department vehicles and 50 firefighters responded to assist Army emergency services with additional assets from the Sagamihara City police, the reports noted.
“The appreciates the quick reaction and support from the local emergency services of our Japanese ally,” Davis said.

Sagami Depot is about 25 miles southwest of Tokyo and has several functions. It stores equipment -- primarily medical supplies for crisis or contingency missions for Army pre-positioned stocks-- and serves as headquarters of the 35th Sustainment Support Battalion, a logistics unit prepared to support the Pacific theater. It also is home to both the Mission Training Complex -- a simulation center -- and elements from the 403rd Army Field Support Brigade, which manages the Army pre-positioned stocks and maintenance activities, the reports said.

The Army and Sagamihara City conduct bilateral emergency response exercises to prepare for such events, officials noted.

First Over There: The Attack On Cantigny: America's First Battle Of World War I

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Matthew J. Davenpost's First Over There for the Washington Times. 

When a reluctant President Woodrow Wilson sent the first American soldiers into the European war in 1917, both he and U.S. commanders decreed that they must fight as independent units, and not be used as cannon-fodder replacements for battle-worn British and French troops.
Thus ensued a major battle of the war, one that put a decisive crimp in a German “final offensive” attempt to break a three-year stalemate of trench warfare by breaking through Allied lines. And the battle for positions around the obscure French village of Cantigny brought the first flickers of fame to a soldier who would lead the U.S. military during World War II.
George C. Marshall was a promising but relatively obscure lieutenant colonel in 1917. One handicap — and a large one in the army of the era — was that he was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, not West Point. The close-knit fraternity of “ring-knockers,” as the West Pointers were known, frowned on outsiders.
But Marshall had caught the attention of Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force. And of the four divisions making up the AEF, Pershing singled out the First Division to make the first American assault of the war. 

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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ed Burn's Real-Life Cop Father Inspired His New Police Drama, 'Public Morals'

Robert Rorke at the New York Post offers a piece one Ed Burns' new police drama, Public Morals, and how Burn's cop father inspired the TV program.

Ed Burns’ new crime drama, “Public Morals,” is a gritty valentine to his police-sergeant father.
Growing up on Long Island and in Queens, Burns was regaled by his father, Edward J. Burns, with stories of his cop exploits. Many of dad’s stories have found their way into the show, which premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. on TNT.
Burns directs and stars as Terry Muldoon, head of the Public Morals Division, a plainclothes unit of the NYPD specializing in “victimless crimes.” He supervises a tightknit band of officers who crack down on everything from prostitution to illegal craps games.
The actor’s 78-year-old father, who lives on Long Island, served as both inspiration and informal adviser. Muldoon even has the same badge number — 5425 — as the elder Burns did.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Defense Officials Praise Troops' Actions In French Train Attack

The DoD News released the below:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2015 — In a statement released today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter praised three Americans for their actions yesterday on a train outside of Brussels, Belgium.

"On behalf of all the men and women of the Department of Defense, I want to thank the brave individuals, including two members of the U.S. military, who stepped forward to prevent an even greater tragedy from taking place aboard that train," Carter said.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, assigned to the 65th Air Base Group, Lajes Air Base, Azores; Oregon Army National Guard Spc. Alek Skarlatos and a civilian friend were traveling together via train on personal leave. The men took immediate action to subdue an armed gunman before he could engage his automatic weapon on the train.

"My thoughts and prayers today are with those injured in the attack, including Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, whose selfless actions saved lives. I wish him a speedy recovery," the defense secretary said. 

"These men are heroes," said U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove.

 "Actions like this clearly illustrate the courage and commitment our young men and women have all the time, whether they are on duty or on leave," he said. "We are extremely proud of their efforts and now are praying for our injured airman to have a speedy recovery." 

Stone, who suffered non-life threatening injuries in the attack, is currently being treated in a French medical facility.

"[Stone and Skarlatos] are two reasons why -- on duty and off -- ours is finest fighting force the world has ever known," Carter said.

Moroccan Terrorist Who Was Taken Down By Hero US Airman And His Friends After Opening Fire On French Train Fought With ISIS In Syria And Was Known To FOUR Intelligence Agencies

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers reports that the terrorist gunman stopped by three Americans (pictured above) and a British man on a French train was a known terrorist.

You can view photos and watch a video clips of the aborted terrorist action via the below link: 

The Outsider: Thriller Writer Frederick Forsyth's Interview With The Bookseller

Philip Jones at The Bookseller interviewed thriller writer Frederick Forsyth about his new book, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue. 

In Frederick Forsyth’s eventful Forsyth began, as many journalists retelling of his life story, the thriller  writer—famous for bestsellers such as The Day of the JackalThe Dogs of WarThe Fourth Protocol and most recently The Kill List—reveals how penury first prompted his move into fiction writing, how he almost started the Third World War and what he really thinks of the BBC, for which he briefly worked as a reporter.
Forsyth is a private man and his memoir is indicatively titled The Outsider. He dislikes publicity—even when his books are published—and says he had long resisted the offer of writing his life story. Ever the free spirit, he came up with another approach.
“I’d fended off various suggestions for 10 years and I finally decided I didn’t want to do an autobiography because that would involve scholarship and research. So my wife suggested I make it a series of anecdotes—60 of them.”
orsyth admits that he never made notes, kept a diary or took photos of himself. His journalism was entirely focused on others. "So I just went back into my memory and started at the beginning—’what was it like in Kent in 1940?’—and moved on from there. Fortunately, old men remember the distant past better than what happened yesterday.”
The vignettes are chosen for their plots, as one would expect for an expert in storytelling: “There were periods when nothing much happened, and I didn’t even mention them.” Fortunately, his life has been eventful. The young Forsyth is rarely out of trouble and headstrong. In his early days he survived a horrendous car crash—he narrowly avoided having his hand amputated, thanks to the attentions of a retired surgeon—and a knife-fight with an Algerian in a flat in Paris (Forsyth carried the bigger knife).
As a young man he travelled relentlessly, learning to speak French, German and Spanish. He could pass as a native when he wanted to, but one of his tricks as a foreign correspondent was to mask his fluency so that others would speak freely around him. National Service allowed him to pursue his ambition to learn to fly, but ultimately his desire for travel led him to journalism.
You can read the rest of the interview via the below link:

U.S. Military Members Overpower Terrorist Gunman On French Train And Prevent A Massacre

Jamie Schram at the New York Post reports on the American heroes (and a Brit) who tackled and disarmed a terrorist gunman on a French train.

Two off-duty members of the US military prevented a massacre Friday by overpowering a rifle-wielding madman after he opened fire aboard a high-speed train in France, wounding three people.
The gunman, identified by authorities as Moroccan national Sliman Hamzi, is a known Islamic militant, CNN reported, quoting a senior ­European anti-terrorism official.  

he gunfire took place in the rear car of the Paris to Amsterdam express. Three people were shot, including one of the Americans, who was seriously wounded but expected to survive.
A friend of the heroes, Anthony Sadler, also was aboard the train and saw what happened. He identified them as Spencer Stone, of Sacramento, who was injured and Alek Skarlatos of Roseburg, Ore., who was unhurt.
You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video clip via the below link:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Anthony Horowitz Adopts Ian Fleming's Voice For James Bond Continuation Novel, 'Trigger Mortis'

Rosemary Neill at the Australian offers a piece on Anthony Horowitz, the author of the next James Bond continuation novel.

He may have been entrusted with writing the latest James Bond novel, but Anthony Horowitz has some pretty strong opinions about the blockbusting 007 films. Remember Jaws, the assassin with the bone-crushing iron teeth from The Spy Who Loved Me? “Straight out of children’s books,’’ scoffs the British author and screenwriter, who knows a thing or two about fiction for kids, having sold 19 million copies of his Alex Rider teenage adventure series.
Sean Connery’s Bond was “spot on’’, Horowitz says, but Roger Moore’s films “get progressively sillier and sillier and almost kill the format’’. He mentions Pierce Brosnan’s widely mocked invisible car in Die Another Day. “An invisible car in a James Bond film? You just want to cry, really. I wouldn’t put one in an Alex Rider book, let alone Bond.’’
The latest incarnation of the MI6 agent, played with sexy, melancholic intensity by Daniel Craig, gets it in the neck for, among other crimes, drinking Heineken, although Horowitz loved the actor’s first Bond film, Casino Royale. “It was Bond heaven back again,’’ he enthuses.
The praise doesn’t last. It’s midmorning on a clear, cool autumn day in Sydney, but the temperature isn’t as bracing as Horowitz’s opinions of the liberties recent films have taken with Ian Fleming’s characterisation of the British spy with an eye for the ladies and a licence to kill.
Horowitz is holding court at a harbourside hotel to discuss his eagerly awaited Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, which is due out next month. In his sharp, uncompromising way, he notes how Casino Royale “was followed by Quantum of Solace, which was a disaster, a dog’s dinner. And then you’ve got Skyfall … I didn’t like it.
“I know I’m in a minority and it’s been a hugely successful film, but it seems to me that the character Daniel Craig portrays in Skyfall is not James Bond. James Bond does not drink Heineken beer. He doesn’t get worn out when he’s trying to do press-ups. He isn’t conflicted. He isn’t in love with M, not with Judi Dench anyway ... for the purist, it wasn’t Bond.’’  

... Interestingly, Horowitz has incorporated about 500 words written by Fleming into the new novel, which also sees the return of Goldfinger heroine Pussy Galore, a lesbian and sometime Bond lover, as well as SMERSH, the Soviet counter-intelligence agency that features in the early novels. Fleming’s description and dialogue are drawn from his work for a television series that was set aside after the first Bond film, Dr No, stormed the box office in 1962. One of those stories, titled Murder on Wheels, “leapt out’’ at Horowitz, even though “I knew nothing about Grand Prix”.

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

You can also visit Anthony Horowtiz's website via the below link:

FBI: Medicare Fraud Case, Hospice Owner Falsified Numerous Claims

The FBI website released the above photo and the below information regarding a Medicare fraud case:

The overwhelming majority of people who go into the health care industry do it because they want to help people. Unfortunately, there are also some unscrupulous individuals who do it because they think they can take advantage of the health care system for their own financial gain.
That’s just what happened in the case of an Oklahoma hospice executive. Paula Kluding, owner of Prairie View Hospice, Inc., located in Chandler, Oklahoma, submitted millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent claims to the federal Medicare program. But after a thorough investigation by the FBI and our partners at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, Kluding was convicted of Medicare fraud and other related charges at trial and was recently sentenced to a federal prison term. She was also ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution to Medicare.
Hospice care, by definition, consists of health care, medication, certain medical equipment, and other goods and services provided to terminally ill patients. Prairie View Hospice was ostensibly in the business of doing just that and advertised its services for patients in nursing care facilities and at home. And as a Medicare-approved provider of hospice care, Prairie View agreed that it would comply with all Medicare-related laws and regulations, including those that required submissions of truthful and accurate claims for reimbursement.
But from July 2010 until July 2013, Kluding did not comply with those laws and regulations in her dealings with Medicare. In fact, she conspired—with her general manager and two nurses—to actually conceal the true medical conditions of hospice patients and the true quality and quantity of their care in order to continue receiving payments from Medicare. (The general manager and both nurses were later charged in the scheme and ultimately pled guilty.)
How did Kluding conceal the true medical conditions of her patients? For one, she directed certain medical documents be changed or written a certain way to make it appear as if nurses had visited patients or conducted assessments at the regular intervals required by Medicare—when, in fact, they hadn’t. She also directed that nursing notes be falsified to make it appear that patients were in worse health than they actually were.
Typically, hospice care is offered for those with a life expectancy of six months or less. Our investigation revealed that many Prairie View Hospice patients received care for five, six, even seven years.
Making Kluding’s criminal activity seem even riskier was the fact that at the time, Prairie View Hospice was part of a broader Medicare audit being conducted in the state. And to make matters worse, she gave falsified documents to the Medicare subcontractor performing the audit when asked to provide records of patient files and Medicare claims.
A pivotal point in the investigation came during the first interview with one of the two nurses charged in the case—she made a full confession and helped provide the necessary probable cause to obtain search warrants.
Kluding had pocketed a substantial portion of the Medicare payments she received, using Prairie View Hospice’s account as well as two other medical business accounts as her personal checkbook. A review of her banking records showed that she moved money between her business accounts and personal account whenever she needed additional money to fund her lavish lifestyle—which included a 6,000-square-foot home on hundreds of acres of land.
But that lavish lifestyle is over: In addition to the $2.5 million in restitution, Kluding owes an additional $5.4 million to Medicare for overpayments. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hollywood Reporter: 'Narcos' TV Review

Tim Goodman at the Hollywood Reporter reviews Netflix's Narcos.

The world doesn’t seem to lack for Pablo Escobar biopics, so it should come as no surprise that Netflix also gets in on the action with a 10-part series called Narcos, which separates itself from the pack with an impressive breadth and depth.

In many ways, this series could end up being the critically-acclaimed international breakthrough for the streaming site thatMarco Polo wasn’t (though it got a second season), partly because the writing, acting and directing are superior and it has a grittier and more grounded feel to it.
Those factors are essential, since there have been so many movies about the Colombian drug kingpin already and the series is coming into a very crowded drama landscape. What Narcos has going for it is that Escobar’s story is, on so many levels, so stunning and strange, that the drama doesn’t have to be truncated or rushed, and can cover far more than just his rise and fall. In fact, Narcos is rumored to be well on its way to second-season renewal. 

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