Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, And Guerrillas

Paul Jablow offers a review of Max Hasting's The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

At first glance, Joseph Rochefort was about as unlikely as a war hero gets. A mediocre (at best) naval officer, he narrowly escaped court martial when a destroyer on which he was the duty officer dragged its anchor in San Francisco bay amid six destroyers.

He was transferred to cryptoanalysis when fellow officers noted his penchant for crossword puzzles and bridge. It was Rochefort who played the key role in cracking the Japanese codes that allowed the smaller U.S. fleet to anticipate a June 1942 attack on Midway island, sink four carriers and a cruiser, and turn the tide of war in the Pacific.

Yet Rochefort was unlikely only if one sees espionage as a glamorous job. As Max Hasting points out in this magisterial work, it is often a slow, frustrating search for a flash of light in a corner of an enormous, dark room. Even when leaders note the light, they often ignore it when it fails to match their preconceptions. 

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

Note: Max Hasting calls intelligence-gathering "wasteful," but that is not say, in my view, that intelligence-gathering is useless. For every intelligence failure there are many, many successful operations that saved lives and strengthened our national defense. The 9/11 attack came as a surprise, but one should be thankful that the various intelligence agencies thwarted more than a dozen or more follow-up attacks.

You can read Joseph C. Goulden's Washington Times review of The Secret War via the below link:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

On This Day In History in 1945 The USS Indianapolis Was Bombed

As notes, on this day in 1945 the USS Indianapolis was bombed by the Japanese.

On this day in 1945, the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sinks within minutes in shark-infested waters. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on board survived. However, the Indianapolis had already completed its major mission: the delivery of key components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped a week later at Hiroshima to Tinian Island in the South Pacific.

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

Jason Bourne's Tough Guy Politics, Anti-Government Paranoia And Liberal Hypocrisy

I've watched the previous Jason Bourne films on cable TV and I'll watch Jason Bourne, the latest film in the series, when it too comes to cable.

The films are well-made actions movies, I admit, but I dislike that Bourne's primary enemy in the films is a sinister and corrupt CIA, his former employer.

What, no terrorists or criminals to fight in this world?

These films, it seems to me, are an insult to the hard-working and decent CIA employees who are on the front line in the war against brutal and violent radical Islamic terrorists and other enemies of America. A case in point are the former special operations men who gave their lives in Benghazi while working for the CIA.  

While engaged in security work as a young sailor in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and later as a Defense Department civilian employee, I worked with and was trained and briefed by many CIA officers. As a writer, I've met and interviewed many former and current workaday CIA officers and senior officials.

I found them all to be patriotic and honorable men and women who are dedicated to serving their country, very much like the military and civilian people I worked with for many years at the Defense Department.

(Note: All the so-called "rogue" actions the CIA was accused of in the old days were in fact  operations approved and often ordered by the presidents at the time).

Armond White at National Review offers his take on liberal activist and actor Matt Damon and his role as the former CIA assassin.

A resolute Matt Damon aiming a Heckler and Koch USP (universal self-loading pistol) in the advertising poster for Jason Bourne tells all you need to know about liberal hypocrisy. 

The movie itself tells less, given the filmmakers’ attempt to obfuscate by swamping moral principle with mindless sensationalism. That has always been the case with the Bourne franchise (five films so far based on the Robert Ludlum book series). 

Damon portrays the titular former CIA assassin who goes rogue but remains troubled by an identity crisis; as the result of a government experiment he’s unable to remember his past. Maybe one reason the Bourne franchise has been a popular moneymaker is that the hero is a prototype for the modern movie-going audience; Hollywood relies upon viewers also being “psychogenic amnesiacs.” If they don’t remember, or care to distinguish, one Bourne plot from another, they become perfect dupes for rehashed product. This time Jason Bourne reemerges into the fractious world of espionage now complicated by technological baddies. CIA Chief Tommy Lee Jones sics counterinsurgency expert Alicia Vikander to smoke out Bourne, who once again gets entangled with his old crony Julia Stiles.

You should be aware that the anti-government paranoia in the Bourne series functions like planned obsolescence — each new Bourne sells a new variation on skepticism, nihilism, and gloom, supposedly enlivened by director Paul Greengrass’s hyperactive, overly edited, always indecipherable chases, explosions, and fight scenes. 

Greengrass’s pummeling impresses action fans who are unfamiliar with the genre mastery of Walter Hill, Paul W. S. Anderson, Michael Bay, Olivier Megaton, and Luc Besson. Greengrass’s latest retooled junker is of no aesthetic interest except to note (once again) his emphasis on emotionless violence. What’s left amidst this chaos, ironically, is Damon’s peculiar resolve. 

Famous for speaking out on political causes and flaunting his partisanship at inappropriate times, the liberal Damon contradicts himself in the Bourne series. As a sadistic CIA operative, he invokes Southie street-ethnicity mixed with the presumed intellect of his real Cambridge, Mass., background. Despite those credentials, Damon’s Bourne is no pacifist (racking up at least ten kills this time). On the down-low in Greece, he is shirtless, gym-taut, and scowling when he joins a bare-knuckle fight competition. This may be a liberal’s secret fantasy of imagined American prowess. It goes with Greengrass’s unremittingly violent set-pieces (from Athens to London to Las Vegas, some scenes imitating the current protest fad), which reduce the planet we all share to a killing field. It also coarsens cinema into a demolition derby.

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Democrat Finally Calls For Defeating ISIS - And Gets Booed

The New York Post offers an editorial about how someone at the Democratic National Convention finally took a tough stand against ISIS and he was booed.

On the third night of the Democratic convention, a speaker finally brought up defeating ISIS and other terrorists — only to be met with boos from the crowd.
“These murderers must be stopped,” declared former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta (seen above in his DoD photo). Cue the deafening chorus of boos, plus chants of “No more war!” from convention delegates.
Mind you, Panetta’s speech was offering yet another broadside against Donald Trump’s inexperience. “This is no time to gamble with our future. America faces flash points and threats from around the globe,” the ex-SecDef warned.
“Lies, lies, lies,” the delegates replied.
You can read the rest of the editorial via the below link:

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby Just Accused Police Of Another Crime Without Any Evidence

Chris White at offers a piece on prosecutor Marilyn Mosby's once again accusing Baltimore police of a crime without any evidence.

When Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby spoke about the death of Freddie Gray during a press conference last year she was widely criticized for making many inappropriate remarks.  She appears to have learned nothing from that experience over the past year.
On Wednesday, Mosby was back in front of the cameras where she made extraordinary shocking allegations against the Baltimore Police Department, again.  A defiant Mosby refused to take any accountability for her rush to judgment in charging the six police officers just over one year ago.  Instead, she chose to blame the Baltimore police investigators for her inability to sustain a single criminal charge against the accused officers.  Mosby accused investigators of intentionally trying to harm the state’s ability to bring charges, even going so far as to claim investigators committed a felony by manufacturing evidence in the case. Yes, that’s basically what she said.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Prosecutors Drop All Charges Against Freddie Gray Cops

The New York Post offers a piece on the prosecutors dropping all changes against the Baltimore police officers accused in the Freddie Gray case.

Prosecutors have dropped the remaining charges against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, bringing an end to the case without a conviction.
Gray was a black man who was critically injured in the back of a police van in April 2015.
Prosecutors’ decision Wednesday comes after a judge had already acquitted three of the six officers charged in the case, including the van driver and another officer who was the highest-ranking of the group.
A fourth officer had his case heard by a jury, who deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

A Sense Of Place: How John D. MacDonald Shaped Florida Fiction

Marty Fugate at offers a piece on the late crime writer John D. MacDonald and his influence on Florida crime fiction.

If John D. MacDonald had lived to be 100, last Sunday would’ve been his birthday. For most of his career, the novelist lived and wrote in Sarasota. The city recently celebrated his birthday and put up a plaque in his honor. It was long overdue. He did more than tell great stories; he reinvented his brand of storytelling. 

In the beginning, there was the author John D. MacDonald. Before Tony Montana and his little friend, before the pastel-wearing private eyes of “Miami Vice,” before the eco-warriors of Carl Hiaasen, before the troubled waters of Randy Wayne White, he got there first. We refer, of course, to the territory of Florida crime fiction. (Which is a wordy way of saying Florida fiction, so let's stick with that). Getting it right is all about a sense of place. Before MacDonald came along, most writers were either out of date or just plain wrong.  
... He had moved to Sarasota in 1951. He was a Floridian in the flesh — and his stories would soon follow. By the late 1950s, he’d written a slew of best-selling crime novels, including “The Executioners,” which became the basis for the “Cape Fear” movies. While some of these tales unfolded in the Sunshine State, they weren’t very unshiny. 

MacDonald’s short stories and paperback originals were in the long shadow of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler — the tradition of noir crime fiction, in print and film. The tales of this  black-and-white world were  usually set in L.A.  But MacDonald was dreaming of Florida — and dreaming in color. Starting with green. The color of nature and money.

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On This Day In History Officer Wyatt Earp Fatally Wounds Cowboy

As notes, on this day in history lawman Wyatt Earp shot and fatally wounded a cowboy in Dodge City. The incident took place some years before he would become legendary as a lawman in Tombstone with the gunfight at the OK Corral and the aftermath.

You can read about the Dodge City incident via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on Wyatt Earp via the below link:

Note: I've read a good number of books on Wyatt Earp, but I especially liked Casey Tefertiller's Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend.

Dems And Convention Coverage Ignore National Security

Jennifer Rubin's column in the Washington Post offers her take on the ISIS murder of a priest in France and how the Democrats at their National Convention in Philadelphia have failed so far to acknowledge terrorism.

The recent spate of horrific terrorist incidents in Europe, including the gruesome slaughter Tuesday of a priest in France, underscores the degree to which the Islamic State has become a daily menace for our allies.

... Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) put out a statement“This is the face of evil. To invade a sanctuary open to all—a place of worship and refuge—to kill and terrorize innocent people who devoted their lives to the teachings of Christ lays bare the barbarism of radical jihadism.” He continued: “I am outraged for the families of the victims, for our ally France, for the Catholic Church, and for humanity. This attack joins a lengthening string of jihadist attacks around the world, and it should steel our collective resolve to defeat ISIS abroad before they attack us at home and put an end to this madness.”

Democrats, as Republicans pointed out, on Monday night entirely omitted mention of the “Islamic State” or “ISIS.” They do so — and remain silent on the latest monstrosity — at their peril. Speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton mentioned the topic, but only briefly: “We have to protect ourselves against terrorists. To do that, we need to lead other countries in stopping ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other radical jihadist groups. We shouldn’t leave that to the rest of the world to figure out on their own — that won’t keep us safe.” Perhaps she or someone on the podium tonight will find time to make a more complete statement of American determination.

The media covering the convention did not find it odd or did not choose to cite the Democratic National Committee’s silence on national security, but then foreign affairs ordinarily gets subsumed in horse-race political coverage of elections.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Islamist Knifemen Forced Priest, 84, To Kneel And Filmed His Death As They Slit His Throat: French Leader Says 'France Is At War with ISIS' After Jihadists Storm French Church During Mass Chanting 'Allahu Akbar'

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers coverage of the latest outrageous attack by radical Islamic terrorists - the murder of an elderly priest (seen in the above photo).

You can read the piece and view photos and video clips via the below link:

Monday, July 25, 2016

On This Day In History Exotic Dancer And Convicted Spy Mata Hari Sentenced To Die

As notes, on this day in 1917 exotic dancer and convicted spy Mata Hari was sentenced to die in Paris, France.

You can read about Mata Hari via the below link:

Is Cosa Nostra Now Selling Deadly Assault Weapons To Islamist Terrorist Groups?

Mark Townsend at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on the Sicilian Cosa Nostra selling weapons to Islamist terrorist groups.

A huge gun-running operation masterminded by the Sicilian mafia is being investigated by senior police officers for potential links to “terrorist activity across Europe and beyond”.
Anti-mafia prosecutors in Catania are investigating the possibility that Cosa Nostra is supplying assault weapons to organised crime syndicates from north Africa and firearms into the hands of extremists in western Europe.
Decommissioned guns legally procured from the same Slovak dealer, Afg Security, which supplied the “mass casualty” weapons used by Islamists in the Charlie Hebdoand Paris attacks of January 2015, as well as the failed terrorist attack on a TGV in France last August, appear to have ended up in the hands of the mafia.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial: Philly's A Great Place For A Party, But Its Democrats Are A Disgrace

With the Democratic National Convention beginning this week in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer offers an editorial on the Democratic Party's corruption in the City of Brotherly Love.

With new flags on the Parkway, new lights on the boathouses, and new efforts to shelter the homeless, the Democrats who have run Philadelphia for more than half a century have cleaned up the city for the Democratic National Convention.
If only they could clean up themselves.
Given its historic resonance, continuing revival, and convenient location in a politically important state, Philadelphia is a fine place for a convention. The city's chief flaw as a backdrop for the Democrats is, well, the Democrats.
In just the past three years, Philadelphia Democrats have seen a congressman, a state senator, five state representatives, and eight city judges found guilty of corruption. A former city sheriff also faces charges, and our top elections official has come under scrutiny for frequently failing to show up to work or, ironically, vote.
You can read the rest of the editorial via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Philadelphia's past political scandals via the below link:

Philly Police, Including Frank Rizzo, Starred In Obscure '60s Cop Show

Stephanie Farr at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers an interesting piece on the discovery of an early reality TV series that featured real Philly cops, including an inspector who would go on to become the police commissioner and then mayor of Philadelphia, Frank Rizzo.

Long after his retirement in 1971, Philadelphia Police Lt. John A. Stevenson would tell his children and grandchildren about the time he starred alongside Frank Rizzo and other Philadelphia officers in one of the first reality-based law enforcement shows on television.
"He always talked about it. It was like family lore," said Dan Stevenson, 40, Stevenson's grandson. "We were like, 'OK, Pop Pop, you were on a TV show.' "
Stevenson insisted he was on a TV show, and it was hosted by Oscar-winning actor Lee Marvin. It was just that the show never aired in Philadelphia, so nobody here ever saw it, Stevenson told his family.
"He used to say, 'I'm waiting for the calls to come in from Hollywood for me to be a movie star,' " said Stevenson's son John Jr., 69, a retired Philadelphia police officer. "So we always thought he was embellishing."
... Each episode of Lawbreaker was set in a different city and starred police officers playing themselves in reenactments of crimes they had investigated or situations they had de-escalated.
Dan Stevenson went through the 30-minute episodes, searching for his grandfather. When he came upon one of the two episodes set in Philadelphia and saw Rizzo, he got butterflies.
You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video clip of the TV program via the below link:

Happy Belated Birthday To Raymond Chandler

As notes, yesterday was the birthday of Raymond Chandler, the late author of The Big Sleep, The Little Sister, Farewell My Lovely and other great crime novels featuring his private detective character, Philip Marlowe.

He was born in 1888. He died in 1959.

You can read about his life and work via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Raymond Chandler and his influence on books and films via the below link:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chinese National Who Conspired To Hack Into U.S. Defense Contractors’ Systems Sentenced To 46 Months In Federal Prison

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

A Chinese national who admitted to participating in a years-long conspiracy that involved Chinese military officers hacking into the computer networks of major U.S. defense contractors in order to steal military technical data was sentenced today to 46 months in federal prison.
Today’s sentencing was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California.
“Su Bin’s sentence is a just punishment for his admitted role in a conspiracy with hackers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force to illegally access and steal sensitive U.S. military information,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Su assisted the Chinese military hackers in their efforts to illegally access and steal designs for cutting-edge military aircraft that are indispensable to our national defense.  These activities have serious consequences for the national security of our country and the safety of the men and women of our armed services.  This prison sentence reinforces our commitment to ensure that hackers, regardless of state affiliation, are held accountable for their criminal conduct.”
“Protecting our national security interests, including sensitive military information, is the Justice Department’s highest priority,” said U.S. Attorney Decker.  “Over the course of years, this defendant sought to undermine the national security of the United States by seeking out information that would benefit a foreign government and providing that country with information it had never before seen.  The outstanding efforts of the prosecutors and investigators who developed this case demonstrate our commitment to protecting our nation’s security from all threats.  As this case shows, criminals can be held accountable no matter where they are located in the world.”
Su Bin, who is also known as Stephen Su and Stephen Subin, 51, a citizen and resident of the People’s Republic of China, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California.
Su told his co-conspirators – military officers in China – whom to target, which files to steal and why the information they stole was significant.  During the course of the conspiracy, Su and his co-conspirators stole sensitive military and export-controlled data and sent the stolen information to China.
On March 23, Su pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer and to violate the Arms Export Control Act by exporting defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Su admitted that he conspired with two persons in China from October 2008 to March 2014 to gain unauthorized access to protected computer networks in the United States – including computers belonging to the Boeing Company in Orange County, California – to obtain sensitive military information and to export that information illegally from the United States to China.
A criminal complaint filed in 2014 and subsequent indictments filed in Los Angeles charged Su, a China-based businessman in the aviation and aerospace fields, for his role in the criminal conspiracy to steal military technical data, including data relating to the C-17 strategic transport aircraft and certain fighter jets produced for the U.S. military. Su was initially arrested in Canada in July 2014 on a warrant issued in relation to this case. Su ultimately waived extradition and consented to be conveyed to the United States in February 2016.
Su admitted that as part of the conspiracy, he sent e-mails to his co-conspirators with guidance regarding what persons, companies and technologies to target during their computer intrusions. One of Su’s co-conspirators gained access to information located on computers of U.S. companies, and he emailed Su directory file listings and folders showing the data that the co-conspirator had been able to access. Su then directed his co-conspirator as to which files and folders his co-conspirator should steal. Once the co-conspirator stole the data, using techniques to avoid detection when hacking the victim computers, Su translated the contents of certain stolen data from English into Chinese. In addition, acoording to Su's admissions and the sentencing documents, Su and his co-conspirators each wrote, revised and emailed reports addressed to the Second Department, General Staff Headquarters, Chinese People’s Liberation Army about the information and technology they had acquired by their hacking activities, including its value, to the final beneficiaries of their hacking activities. Su also admitted that he engaged in the crime for the purpose of financial gain and specifically sought to profit from selling the data the he and his conspirators illegally acquired.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office’s Cyber Division with assistance from the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations.  This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California’s Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Trial Attorney Casey Arrowood and Senior Trial Attorney Robert E. Wallace of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, with support from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.

Shooting At McDonald's In Munich

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers coverage of the shooting at a McDonald's restaurant in a mall in Munich, Germany.

You can read the report and view photos and video clips via the below link:

Russian Agent Sentenced To 10 Years For Acting As Unregistered Russian Government Agent And Leading Scheme To Illegally Export Controlled Technology To Russian Military

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

Alexander Fishenko, a dual citizen of the United States and Russia, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $500,000 in criminal proceeds following his guilty plea on Sept. 9, 2015 to a 19-count indictment.  Fishenko pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of the Russian government within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General, conspiring to export and illegally exporting controlled microelectronics to Russia, conspiring to launder money and obstruction of justice. 
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York.
Fishenko, 10 other individuals and two corporations – ARC Electronics Inc. (ARC) and Apex System LLC (Apex) – were indicted in October 2012.  Five defendants previously pleaded guilty, three individuals were convicted in October 2015 after trial and three individuals remain at large.  ARC is now defunct and Apex, a Russian-based procurement firm, failed to appear in court.   
“Alexander Fishenko illegally shipped millions of dollars of high-technology products to Russian military affiliated actors in clear violation of United States law,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Export laws exist as an important part of our national security framework and protecting national assets from ending up in the hands of our potential adversaries is one of our highest priorities.”   
“U.S. export laws exist to check the proliferation overseas of dangerous military technologies but Fishenko, while working illegally as an agent of the Russian government, flouted these laws in order to line his pockets,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers.  “Today’s sentence sends a powerful message of deterrence to others, who like Fishenko and his co-conspirators, would be willing to sacrifice the national security of the United States for their personal financial gain.” 
In 1998, Fishenko founded ARC and also served as an executive of Apex.  Between approximately October 2008 and October 2012, Fishenko led a conspiracy to obtain advanced, technologically cutting-edge microelectronics from manufacturers and suppliers located within the United States and to export those high-tech goods to in Russia while evading the government licensing system set up to control such exports.  These commodities have applications and are frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems and detonation triggers.  Russia does not domestically produce many of these sophisticated goods.  Between 2002 and 2012, ARC shipped approximately $50 million worth of microelectronics and other technologies to Russia.  ARC’s largest clients – including Apex subsidiaries – were certified suppliers of military equipment for the Russian Ministry of Defense. 
To induce manufacturers and suppliers to sell these high-tech goods to ARC and to evade applicable export controls, Fishenko and his co-conspirators provided false end-user information in connection with the purchase of the goods, concealed the fact that they were exporters and falsely classified the exported goods on export records submitted to the Department of Commerce. 
Ultimate recipients of ARC’s products included a research unit for the Russian FSB internal security agency, a Russian entity that builds air and missile defense systems and another that produces electronic warfare systems for the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Today’s sentencing took place before Senior U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of the Eastern District of New York.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in extending his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Houston Field Office and the Department of Commerce for their leading roles in the investigation.
The government’s case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard M. Tucker and Una A. Dean of the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney David Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Claire Kedeshian of the Eastern District of New York is handling the forfeiture aspects of the case.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

'Wolf Of Wall Street' Film Was Financed With Stolen Money, Feds Say

The New York Post offers a piece on the U.S. Justice Department's claim that The Wolf of Wall Street was made with stolen money.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” didn’t just tell the story of a crooked stockbroker who scammed millions of dollars that he blew on drugs and hookers — the Leonardo DiCaprio movie was itself financed with stolen money, the feds charged Wednesday.
A civil suit filed by the US Justice Department demands all future profits, royalties and distribution proceeds from the Oscar-nomi­nated 2013 flick on the grounds that it was part of an international money-laundering scheme involving a development firm set up by the prime minister of Malaysia.
“This is a case where life imitated art,” said US Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.
n a series of interrelated complaints, the feds are seeking a total $1 billion in assets paid for with money allegedly stolen by corrupt Malaysian officials and their associates from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, also known as 1MDB.
The fund “was created to promote economic development . . . with the ultimate goal of improving the well-being of the Malaysian people,” but “unfortunately and tragically, a number of corrupt officials treated this public trust as a personal bank account,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Note: I'm a huge fan of film director Martin Scorsese, and I think he has made some great films, such as Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. But I didn't much care for The Wolf of Wall Street and I don't care for Leonardo DiCaprio at all.

'Blockbuster!’: The Strange Tale Of The Best-Selling Crime Novel Of The 19th Century

Michael Dirda at the Washington Post offers a review of Lucy Sussex's Blockbuster! Fergus Hume & the Mystery of a Hansom Cab.

Publishing history is full of strange tales, and that recounted by Lucy Sussex in “Blockbuster! Fergus Hume & the Mystery of a Hansom Cab” is certainly among the strangest and most poignant. In late 1880s Australia a would-be dramatist decided that he might gain more attention from theater impresarios if he were a published author. So Fergus Hume sat down to produce what ultimately became the best-selling crime novel of the 19th century.
These days, “The Mystery of a Hansom Cab” is frequently derided as ill-written or faintly embarrassing, although such reactions puzzle me. In fact, the novel presents an almost Dickensian, top-to-bottom portrait of Melbourne in its Victorian heyday, when the population of the “London of the South” approached half a million. Moreover, the plotting of the mystery is exemplary. Two gentlemen in formal evening dress, both seemingly drunk, enter a hansom cab late one night in July. Later, one man gets out and disappears, the other remains — and is found dead, apparently murdered. Before the crime is solved, Hume gradually uncovers the hidden threads connecting Melbourne’s most and least respectable citizens, transporting the reader from elegant country houses to the city’s Chinese slums and lowest brothels. The book is certainly worth reading.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

A Look Back At How Hemingway Taught The World To Drink On The Great Writer's Birthday

Philip Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, offers a piece at the Daily Beast on how Hemingway taught the world to drink.

Like that old poem about the six blind men, each perceiving an elephant in vastly different ways (a snake! a wall! a spear!), so it is when it comes to people’s perspectives on Ernest Hemingway.
Indeed, he taught the world to write; his distinctive use of short, declarative sentences influenced many generations of young writers. He taught the world to hunt and fish: From trout streams up in Michigan to trophy marlin and tuna in the Caribbean to big game on the African veldt, his vivid depictions of these experiences inspired many to wet a hook or shoulder a rifle. He brought the drama and tragedy of bullfighting to the world and prompted many to journey to Pamplona to run with the beasts.
His love of travel motivated many more to follow in his footsteps. Ventures in Chicago, Michigan, the Great American West, Italy, France, Bimini, Cuba, China and, of course, Africa informed his writings with exploits worthy of any Lonely Planet guide.

And, of course, he taught the world to drink.
I am speaking of quality, mind you, not quantity. Hemingway, who would have turned 117 today, was no stranger to excess, and I routinely caution that while one should experience the wide array of drinks he brought to us, it should be done in moderation. That said, if you want to try to break the house record he set at the Floridita in Havana in 1942—17 double frozen Daiquiris downed in one sitting—be my guest!
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on Hemingway via the below link:

Happy Birthday To Ernest Hemingway

As notes, today in 1899 one of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway, was born.

He died in 1961.

You can read about Hemingway's life and work via the below link:

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

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

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Happy Birthday To Ernest Hemingway

As notes, today in 1899 Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite writers, was born.

He died in 1961.

You can read about Hemingway's life and work via the below link:

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

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

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Judges And Juries Keep Acquitting The Cops That Black Lives Matter Call Racist

Paul Sperry at the New York Post offers a column on the trials of the cops accused of being racist and worst.

The repeated exoneration of allegedly racist cops by minority jurors and judges — from Ferguson and Staten Island to Cleveland and now Baltimore — seriously undermines the anti-cop movement started by Black Lives Matter and fueled by President Obama.
With half the Baltimore cops now acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray, a pattern has emerged where highly publicized cases against cops for racially motivated murder of black suspects have crumbled under the weight of court evidence.
It’s not to say these police officers made no procedural errors in their use of force, but they certainly did not commit the heinous civil-rights crimes the BLM movement accused them of committing. Even so, the movement continues to inspire fury against cops.

You can read the rest of the below link:

Note: The above photo is the mugshot of Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Moore.

Licence To Sell: James Bond's 1960s Rolex Watch Up For Auction

Ian Fleming's iconic character James Bond wore a Rolex Submariner diver's watch during the 1960's Bond films, as did George Lazenby in his one-time portrayal of Bond in the earlier portions of 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. 

But when Lazenby/Bond went undercover as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray and infiltrated criminal madman Ernst Stavo Blofeld's Swiss clinic, he wore another Rolex (seen in the above photo).

Hannah Ellis-Peterson at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on the sale of the special Rolex watch worn by George Lazenby as Bond.

James Bond might be best known for his suave attire and explosive gadgets, but for his creator Ian Fleming “a gentleman’s choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Savile Row suit”.
And now, one of the watches that formed a pivotal part of 007’s look almost five decades ago is to be auctioned in Monte Carlo.
... Though Bond has sported an Omega in recent outings, in his original books, Fleming was very particular about the watch his spy should wear. Writing in his 1953 novel, Casino Royale, Fleming specified that 007 “could not just wear a watch. It had to be a Rolex”. 
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Below are photos of Sean Connery as James Bond wearing a Rolex Submariner in 1964's Goldfinger:

You can also read an earlier post on James Bond's Rolex Submariner via the below link:

The REAL Godfather: The True Story Of The Italian Mafia Boss Known As "The Tractor"

Jane Warren at the British newspaper the Express offers a piece on the Italian Cosa Nostra organized crime boos known as "the Tractor."

For despite his demonic nickname, earned for his unforgiving habit of mowing down enemies with a submachine-gun in his younger days, Sicily’s mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano – who has died in custody at the age of 83 – was a devout Roman Catholic. 
But in his case his faith saw the school dropout inscribing religious epithets into coded messages used to instruct his mafiosi underlings. These diabolical missives, known as pizzini, were written on his old Olivetti typewriter before being secreted inside the pages of old Bibles. 
Sometimes the pizzini were rolled up so tightly that they could fit between human toes and were passed along a human chain of messengers, thus allowing the fugitive to evade detection for an astonishing four decades after he went into hiding following his involvement in a mob murder. He continued his rise while remaining invisible to law enforcement. 
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Happy Birthday To The Late Gonzo Journalist And Author, Hunter S. Thompson

As notes, the late Hunter S. Thompson, author of Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary, was born on this date in 1939. He died in 2005.

You can read about Hunter S. Thompson via the below link:

'Tong Wars’ Details New York City's Chinatown’s Bloody Past As Two Early 20th-Century Gangs Fought For The Neighborhood's Control

Sherryl Connelly at the New York Daily News offers a piece on Scott D. Seligman's new book on the Chinese Tong Wars in New York City.

At the dawn of the 20th century, New York’s Chinatown was the scene of a vicious and bloody gang war that has been all but obscured by history.
While the Italian and Irish gang wars of the era have been exhaustively documented, and mined for entertainment value in movies like Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” only now does a new book give Chinatown its due.
“Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money and Murder in New York’s Chinatown,” by Scott D. Seligman, tells the blood-soaked story of how two criminal syndicates warred for control of Chinatown in the first decade of the new century.
At stake were the payouts from the many gambling and opium dens as well as the brothels that made Chinatown a major lure not just for other Chinese immigrants but also for white New Yorkers, too.
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