Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Alleged Street Boss and Underboss of La Cosa Nostra Family Charged With Murder And Racketeering

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released the below information:

NEW YORK – The entire administration of the Luchese Family, as well as the captains, soldiers and associates, 19 members in total, are being charged with racketeering, murder, narcotics and firearms offenses. The superseding indictment announced Wednesday stems from a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, the FBI, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Waterfront Commission of the New York Harbor.

“The Luchese Family and its associates are alleged to be linked to guns, drugs, racketeering and murder. They are also alleged to have used their criminal enterprise to launder money, tamper with witnesses and extortion,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “It is clear that this ‘family’ business is of no benefit to its community or to this great city. HSI will continue to strengthen its partnership with the FBI and NYPD to ensure that alleged criminals like the Luchese Family face the consequences of their actions.”

“Organized crime families believe their way of life is acceptable and continue to show through their criminal behavior that they don’t plan to stop. Their crimes aren’t victimless, and this case proves they’re willing to use murder and many other violent tactics to enforce their dominance. The FBI/NYPD Joint Organized Crime Task Force and our other law enforcement partners, who have done exceptional work in this case, don’t plan to stop our pursuit of these crime families because they have a direct negative impact on communities and neighborhoods where they operate,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr.

“The allegations and extent of the criminal behavior are extraordinary. The Luchese Family operated with seeming impunity, allegedly carrying out murder, robberies and extortion, among a myriad of other charges unsealed today. We will not stop until violence has been eradicated, be it from a street gang or the mob,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill.

The superseding indictment builds on charges previously filed against Luchese soldier Christopher Londonio and Luchese associate Terrence Caldwell, who were charged in February 2017 with racketeering offenses, including the murder of Michael Meldish, a Luchese associate who was killed in the Bronx November 15, 2013.

The superseding indictment charges Matthew Madonna (seen in the above mugshot), the alleged street boss of the Luchese Family, Steven Crea Sr., the alleged underboss of the Family, and Steven Crea Jr., Londonio’s alleged captain in the Family, with ordering the murder of Meldish. The superseding indictment also contains additional racketeering charges against Madonna, Crea Sr., and Crea Jr., as well as the alleged consigliere of the Luchese Family, Joseph Dinapoli, and numerous other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra.

Fifteen of the defendants charged were taken into custody Wednesday. Christopher Londonio, Terrence Caldwell and Vincent Bruno were already in federal custody on other charges. Matthew Madonna was already in custody on state charges and was transferred today to federal custody.

According to the allegations in the superseding indictment, which was filed in White Plains federal court on May 24, 2017, and was unsealed Wednesday, La Cosa Nostra or “the Mafia” is a criminal organization composed of leaders, members, and associates who work together and coordinate to engage in criminal activities.

La Cosa Nostra operates through entities known as “Families.” In the New York City area, those families include the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese, Bonanno, Colombo, and Decavalcante Families. Each Family operates through groups of individuals known as “crews” and “regimes.” Each “crew” has as its leader a person known as a “Caporegime,” “Capo,” “Captain,” or “Skipper,” who is responsible for supervising the criminal activities of his crew and providing “Soldiers” and associates with support and protection. In return, the Capo typically receives a share of the illegal earnings of each of his crew’s Soldiers and associates, which is sometimes referred to as “Attribute”.

Each crew consists of “made” members, sometimes known as “Soldiers,” “wiseguys,” “friends of ours,” and “good fellows.” Soldiers are aided in their criminal endeavors by other trusted individuals, known as “associates,” who sometimes are referred to as “connected” or identified as “with” a Soldier or other member of the Family. Associates participate in the various activities of the crew and its members. In order for an associate to become a made member of the Family, the associate must first be of Italian descent and typically needs to demonstrate the ability to generate income for the Family and the willingness to commit acts of violence.

At most times relevant to the charges in the superseding indictment, Matthew Madonna was the street boss of the family; that is, the individual who managed the affairs of the Family on behalf of the formal boss, who is serving a life sentence in federal prison. Steven Crea Sr., a/k/a “Wonder Boy,” was the Underboss of the Luchese Family, and Joseph Dinapoli was the Consigliere of the Luchese Family. Additionally, Steven Crea Jr., Dominic Truscello, John Castelucci, a/k/a “Big John,” and Tindaro Corso, a/k/a “Tino,” were Captains or Acting Captains in the Luchese Family. Joseph Venice, James Maffucci, a/k/a “Jimmy the Jew,” Joseph Datello, a/k/a “Big Joe,” a/k/a “Joey Glasses,” Paul Cassano, a/k/a “Paulie Roast Beef,” and Christopher Londonio were Soldiers in the Luchese Family.

The superseding indictment alleges that from at least in or about 2000 up to and including in or about 2017, Matthew Madonna, Steven Crea Sr., Joseph Dinapoli, Steven Crea Jr., Dominic Truscello, John Castelucci, Tindaro Corso, Joseph Venice, James Maffucci, Joseph Datello, Paul Cassano, Christopher Londonio, Terrence Caldwell, a/k/a “T,” Vincent Bruno, Brian Vaughan, Carmine Garcia, a/k/a “Spanish Carmine,” Richard O’Connor, Robert Camilli, and John Incatasciato, along with other members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, committed a wide array of crimes in connection with their association with the mafia, including murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery, extortion, gambling, narcotics trafficking, witness tampering, fraud, money laundering and trafficking in contraband cigarettes.

Of particular significance, on or about November 15, 2013, Madonna, Crea Sr. Crea Jr., Londonio, and Caldwell murdered and procured the murder of Michael Meldish in order to maintain or increase their status in La Cosa Nostra.

The superseding indictment also alleges the following additional violent incidents:

In late 2012, Paul Cassano and Vincent Bruno, acting at the direction of Crea Sr. and Crea Jr., attempted to murder a mafia associate who had shown disrespect toward Crea Sr.

As charged in the initial Indictment, on May 29, 2013, Terrence Caldwell attempted to murder a Bonanno Soldier in the vicinity of First Avenue and 111th Street, in Manhattan.

In or about October 2016, Steven Crea Sr. and Joseph Datello attempted to murder a witness who had previously provided information regarding the activities of La Cosa Nostra to state and federal law enforcement.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit and White Plains Division.

On This Day In History Clint Eastwood Was Born

As notes, on this day in 1930 actor and director Clint Eastwood was born.

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

Note: As a kid in the 1960s I watched actor Clint Eastwood on the TV series Rawhide as the young ramrod Rowdie Yates (I'm rewatching the shows now on MeTv) and I later enjoyed his crime and western films like Coogan's Bluff, Dirty Harry and Joe Kidd. I've also enjoyed the films he directed like Mystic River and Unforgiven. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hue 1968

Gary Anderson, a retired Marine colonel, offers a review of Mark Bowden’s Hue 1968 for the Washington Times.

A few years ago, I was lecturing my students on strategic surprise. I asked each of them to write paragraph on how surprise was used at Hue in 1968 based on what they knew of it. With few exceptions, the reply was that Hue was the battle where the Viet Cong won the war in a general uprising. These were graduate students, and their woeful knowledge of the Vietnam War was gained through the state of education in our high schools and undergraduate college programs. Their ignorance is more a comment on the “liberal” in liberal arts than in any defect in my students.

Today, we are chronologically as far removed from Vietnam as my generation was from World War I in 1968; and its lessons are in danger of being lost. Mark Bowden tries to remedy this with his excellent new book, “Hue 1968.”

Mr. Bowden points out that the Tet Offensive campaign, of which Hue was the major battle, was a strategic surprise that ranks along with Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11 as a colossal American intelligence failure. However, it was not planned and fought by peasant Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas. It was planned by the North Vietnamese general staff and political leaders in Hanoi and fought largely by regular regiments of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA); the VC were relegated to being scouts, guides, suicide sappers, and cannon fodder.

The NVA and Viet Cong lost every tactical engagement and failed to achieve their primary objective, a popular uprising that would topple the South Vietnamese government and force the Americans out of the war. However, Tet was the turning point of the war because America’s leaders were discredited by the surprise and lost the confidence of a significant portion of the American public. Tet ruined Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. There was no “light at the end of the tunnel.” Although the last U.S. bombs would not fall until 1973, the North Vietnamese had irretrievably gained the psychological advantage.

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

I Am A Navy Veteran

Mad Dog Replies: Defense Secretary James Mattis Gives Blunt Response To Reporter's Question

Speaking about threats to the U.S., a reporter asked Secretary of Defense James Mattis what kept him up at night.

“Nothing,” the retired Marine General known as “Mad Dog” replied. “I keep other people up at night.”

Good answer.

Note: Below is the Defense Department biography of Secretary Mattis:

Jim Mattis became the 26th Secretary of Defense on January 20, 2017.

A native of Richland, Washington, Secretary Mattis enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at the age of 18. After graduating from Central Washington University in 1971, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

During his more than four decades in uniform, Secretary Mattis commanded Marines at all levels, from an infantry rifle platoon to a Marine Expeditionary Force. He led an infantry battalion in Iraq in 1991, an expeditionary brigade in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, a Marine Division in the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq in 2003, and led all U.S. Marine Forces in the Middle East as Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

During his non-combat assignments, Secretary Mattis served as Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense; as Director, Marine Corps Manpower Plans & Policy; as Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and as Executive Secretary to the Secretary of Defense.

As a joint force commander, Secretary Mattis commanded U.S. Joint Forces Command, NATO’s Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, and U.S. Central Command. At U.S. Central Command, he directed military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and allied forces across the Middle East.

Following his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013, Secretary Mattis served as the Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, specializing in the study of leadership, national security, strategy, innovation, and the effective use of military force. In 2016, he co-edited the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.

Monday, May 29, 2017

On This Day In History The Late Great Comedian Bob Hope Was Born

On this day in 1903 Bob Hope, the late great comedian, actor and USO troop entertainer, was born.

You can watch a video clip of Bob Hope and read about his life at via the below link:

You can also read his obituary via the below link:

Note: The top two photos are of Bob Hope in one of my favorite films, The Lemon Drop Kid, which was based on the Damon Runyon short story. The above photo is of Bob Hope entertaining U.S. troops at one of his many USO shows overseas.

Afghanistan Honors

In the above photo U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support, pays his respects to service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan during a Memorial Day ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 29, 2017. 

The Air Force photo was taken by Tech Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo.

Memorial Day 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy Birthday To The Late, Great Thriller Writer Ian Fleming

Happy birthday to the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and author of Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and other thriller classics.

You can read two of my Crime Beat columns on Ian Fleming via the below link:

And you can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Commander Ian Fleming's WWII experiences via the below link:

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

Some Gave All: Two Songs For Memorial Day Weekend, 2017

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, but please take a moment or two to think about and honor those who did not come home from American's wars.

We should never forget that those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines gave their lives to ensure your freedoms.  

You can listen to Billy Ray Cyrus' song Some Gave All and read the lyrics via the below link:

You can also listen to Lee Greenwood's I'm Proud To be An American and read the lyrics via the below link:

A Look Back At The Assassination Of Reinhard Heydrich

R.C. Jaggers at the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence offers a piece that looks back on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

On the twenty-ninth of May, 1942, Radio Prague announced that Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, was dying; assassins had wounded him fatally. On the sixth of June he died.

Though not yet forty at his death, the blond Heydrich had had a notable career. As a Free Corpsman in his teens he was schooled in street fighting and terrorism. Adulthood brought him a commission in the German navy, but he was cashiered for getting his fiancée pregnant and then refusing to marry her because a woman who gave herself lightly was beneath him. He then worked so devotedly for the Nazi Party that when Hitler came to power he put Heydrich in charge of the Dachau concentration camp. In 1934 he headed the Berlin Gestapo. On June 30 of that year, at the execution of Gregor Strasser, the bullet missed the vital nerve and Strasser lay bleeding from the neck. Heydrich's voice was heard from the corridor: "Not dead yet? Let the swine bleed to death."

In 1936 Heydrich became chief of the SIPO, which included the criminal police, the security service, and the Gestapo. In 1938 he concocted the idea of the Einsatzgruppen, whose business it was to murder Jews. The results were brilliant. In two years these 3,000 men slaughtered at least a million persons. In November of that year he was involved in an event that in some inverted fashion presaged his own death. The son of a Jew whom he had deported from Germany assassinated Ernst von Rath in Paris. In reprisal Heydrich ordered a pogrom, and on the night of November ninth 20,000 Jews were arrested in Germany.

In 1939 the merger of the SIPO with the SS Main Security Office made Heydrich the leader of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt. In this capacity he ordered and supervised the "Polish attack" on Gleiwitz, an important detail in the stage setting for the invasion of Poland on September first. It was he who saw to it that twelve or thirteen "criminals" dressed in Polish uniforms would be given fatal injections and found dead on the "battlefield." It was probably he who chose the code name for these men--Canned Goods.

At this time Bohemia and Moravia had already been raised from independent status to that of Reichsprotektorat, with Baron von Neurath, Germany's now senile former foreign minister, designated the Protector--of the Czechs from themselves, presumably. But a greater honor was in store for them. On 3 September 1941 von Neurath was replaced by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich. The hero moved into the Hradcany Palace in Prague and the executions started, 300 in the first five weeks. His lament for Gregor Strasser became his elegy for all patriotic Czechs: "Aren't they dead yet? Let them bleed to death."

He had come a long way in thirty-eight years. The son of a music teacher whose wife was named Sarah, Reinhard had gone on trial three times because of Party doubts about the purity of his Aryan origin. Now, as chief of the RSHA, which he continued to run from Czechoslovakia, he was Hangman to all occupied Europe. His power was such that he could force Admiral Canaris to come to Prague and at the end of May, 1942, sign away the independence of the Abwehr and accept subordination to the Sicherheitsdienst. It was his moment of sweetest triumph. A few weeks later he was dead, and Himmler pronounced the funeral oration calling him "that good and radiant man."

So much for the story we all know, and on to questions left unanswered by it. Who were Heydrich's assassins? Who could successfully plan his death? Was the motive simply revenge for suffering? How was it accomplished? And the hardest question of all, was it a good thing? Here, for the first time, are the answers to all these but the last, and on that question stuff for pondering.

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

Submarine Group 9 Conducts 'Tolling the Boats' Observance

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis IV from the Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Detachment Northwest offers the below report:

SILVERDALE, Wash., May 26, 2017 — Submarine Group 9 sailors, veterans and visitors yesterday gathered in remembrance of the sailors and submarines that were lost during war at a “Tolling the Boats” observance held at Naval Base Kitsap's Deterrent Park here.

In the Navy, a submarine is referred to as a boat.

The observance is held as part of a Memorial Day observance in remembrance of the sailors and submarines lost at sea during World War II.

Honoring Fallen Submariners

Fifty-two U.S. submarines including 374 commissioned officers and 3,131 enlisted members were lost at sea during World War II, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command’s web site.

During the ceremony, a short description of what happened to each submarine is read, followed by the number of sailors lost on the boat.

A ceremonial bell then is rung in memory of each submarine as part of the observance.

Presently, the observance is held to honor and never forget those who gave their lives to protect the nation.

‘We Can’t Ignore Our Past’

“We can’t ignore our past,” said Navy Capt. Ted Schroeder, chief of staff of Submarine Group 9. “It’s important to remember where we came from and to honor the men and women whose legacy we’ve inherited.”

Sailors and veterans came together to salute the fallen.

"This is the best part of the Navy,” said Paul Christoffeson, a World War II veteran. “I joined when I was 17, and my first sub was SS-270 [the USS Raton].”

“We wouldn’t have the freedoms today without the sacrifices of the families and the heroes that we are remembering today,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Corcoran.

The Long Salute

The U.S. Army released the above photo of retired Army Col. Ben Skardon, 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, as he salutes Henry Leitner’s headstone in Clemson University’s Scroll of Honor during a flag-placing ceremony in preparation for Memorial Day observances on May 25, 2017. 

Leitner and Skardon, both Clemson alumni, survived the infamous Bataan Death March and were prisoners of war together. 

The above photo was taken by Army Reserve by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar.

You can click on the photo to enlarge.

In Praise Of The Aircraft Carrier

Having served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War, I’ve seen how carriers project power as well as deliver it – anywhere, anytime, anyplace. 

"Where are the carriers?" That is the first question American presidents have asked at the start of every world crisis since World War II. 

Geoffrey Norman at the Weekly Standard offers a piece in praise of aircraft carriers.

Pensacola: The staging is perfect. A raised dais with a formation of A-4 Skyhawks suspended overhead, in the signature colors and markings of the Navy's Blue Angels. The venue is the National Naval Aviation Museum, which occupies space adjacent to Sherman Field on the naval air station in Pensacola—the birthplace of naval aviation and home of the Blue Angels.

The museum is not a busy, up-tempo military installation, so today's event, its 30th annual symposium, qualifies as an exciting day. Past themes—with speakers ranging from former President George H. W. Bush to Secretaries of the Navy John Lehman and James Webb—have focused on the battles of Midway and Coral Sea, the stories of legendary squadrons like the Black Sheep, and overviews of entire conflicts: the Vietnam war, Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

This year, however, the focus is on battles of the future, budget battles, that is. The assorted admirals, ensigns, and civilians have gathered to consider "Power Projection in the 21st Century" and more specifically, "the role of large deck air-capable warships."

It is both a timely debate and one that never seems to end. Does the United States really need aircraft carriers? Can it afford them?

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

Note:  In the above U.S. Navy photo from 2006  the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), foreground, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), center, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and their associated carrier strike groups steam in formation while 17 aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps fly over them during a joint photo exercise. The photo was taken by Chief Photographer's Mate Todd P. Cichonowicz 

You can click on the above photo to enlarge.

The Face Of A Heartless Child Killer: UK Police Release Images Of Manchester Concert Suicide Bomber offers a piece on the Manchester suicide bomber, who targeted young children at a rock concert, and his photo, which was released by the police in the United Kingdom.

British police on Saturday released surveillance-camera images of the Manchester concert bomber on the night of the attack and asked the public for more information on his whereabouts leading up to bombing.

The photos released by police show attacker Salman Abedi on the night of the bombing, wearing sneakers, jeans, a dark jacket and a baseball cap. The straps of a knapsack are visible on his shoulders.

Greater Manchester Police chief Ian Hopkins and Neil Basu, the national coordinator of counterterrorism policing, urged people to contact police if they had information about Abedi's movements between May 18 and Monday night.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

On This Day In History The Late, Great Crime Writer Dashiell Hammett Was Born

As notes, on this day in 1894 Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon, The Dain Curse, The Thin Man and other crime classics, was born.

You can read about Dashiell Hammett via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Dashiell Hammett via the below link:

A Look Back At The Inquirer Building

William K. Marimow, the former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and now the Philadelphia Media Network editor-at-large, offers a look back at the old Inquirer Building, which is scheduled to become the new headquarters for the Philadelphia Police Department.

When the news broke Wednesday that the former home of the Inquirer, Daily News, and would become headquarters for the Philadelphia Police Department, it transported me back to that grand white tower that still dominates the corner of Broad and Callowhill Streets. To many of us who worked there in the three newsrooms, the business offices, and, at one time, the mail room, the pressroom, and on the loading docks, it also was known as the “Tower of Truth.”

When I first entered the building one warm afternoon in June 1972, what I discovered was that a beautiful building on the outside was antiquated on the inside. Four uniformed operators ran the elevators; a little shop in the lobby sold cigarettes, cigars, candy, and magazines. On the fifth floor, home of the Inquirer newsroom, there were dull gray desks clustered tightly together and, in the background, the rhythmic tapping of typewriters and the clacking of news-wire machines amid the haze of cigarette smoke.

Despite a long-term, gradual decline in circulation, the newspaper industry in the summer of 1972 — thanks to highly lucrative advertising revenues from department stores and classified ads for employment, cars, and real estate — was profitable and robust. Outside on Broad Street, one of the city’s tallest police officers stood at the intersection of Broad and Vine — this was before the Vine Street Expressway was submerged below street level — and directed an unending stream of traffic. On the southwest corner, a newspaper vendor hawked the Inquirer and Daily News, cackling to passersby emerging from the subway, “Whaddaya read! Whaddaya read!”

… I worked in that cramped, grungy, collegial newsroom for 19 years, and I savored the experience. I then spent two more years working in the publisher’s office on the 12th floor, which had once served as the office of Walter Annenberg, the former ambassador to England and the owner of the Inquirer and Daily News. Our newsroom was transformed in the fall of 1972 when Gene Roberts, the national editor of the New York Times, arrived to take the helm. A laconic man who spoke with a North Carolina drawl when he spoke – Roberts often intimidated staffers with his prolonged periods of silence – he came to Philadelphia with a wealth of journalistic experience that gave him immediate credibility. He had covered agriculture in rural North Carolina, the maritime beat in Norfolk, labor in Detroit, and the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War at the New York Times. He recognized excellence in his staff — reporters, editors, and photographers alike — and he gave them the latitude and the support to pursue their dreams.

Those dreams often were the seedlings that produced great stories — journalism that would make a profound difference in the lives and work of the Inquirer’s readers, their community, and the nation.

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

Note: Although I don’t always agree with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News’ somewhat liberal worldview, I’m proud to have been a contributor to the two newspapers since 1996. My last piece, a Q&A with actor, writer and producer Chazz Palminteri, ran in both newspapers.   

You can read an earlier post on the Inquirer Building via the below link:

Friday, May 26, 2017

9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Memorial Day

Elizabeth M. Collins at the Defense Media Activity offers piece on the history of Memorial Day:

1. Memorial Day is not a new idea: Societies have celebrated and honored their war dead since time immemorial. The Greeks and Romans, for example, held annual days of remembrance each year, decorating gravesites and holding feasts and festivals. The Greeks also held public funeral processions after major battles, to honor all of their fallen. Legendary General Pericles memorialized the heroes of the Peloponnesian War during one such funeral in 431 B.C., according to the Department of Veterans Affairs and, saying "Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not in stone but in the hearts of men."

2.Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day for more than a century, after the flowers and flags used to decorate graves. Until World War I, the holiday solely recognized those killed during the Civil War - some 625,000 men. The number, historian David W. Blight pointed out in a New York Times op-ed, was so staggering that if the same percentage of Americans had died in Vietnam, some 4 million names would be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

3. According to the VA, about 25 cities claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day celebration, although President Lyndon B. Johnson officially recognized Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace in a 1966 presidential proclamation. The city hosted its first commemoration, May 5, 1866, after a local druggist suggested it would be nice for the city to honor its war dead. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claims the honor as well, as do Carbondale, Illinois; Richmond, Virginia; Macon, Georgia, and two separate towns named Columbus.

4. In 1865, a group of newly freed slaves dug up a mass grave in a Charleston, South Carolina, race course, where at least 257 mistreated Northern prisoners of war had been thrown after dying of disease, according to Blight. To recognize the Soldiers' sacrifices in the name of freedom, the former slaves buried each man properly and built a fence around the new cemetery to honor the "Martyrs of the Race Course." They then staged a 10,000-person parade on the racetrack, complete with flowers, crosses and music, May 1. A brigade's worth of Union Soldiers participated, including the 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops.

5. At the same time, the holiday has distinctly Confederate roots. Even before the war was over, Southern women gathered in cemeteries to decorate the graves of their fallen with flowers. In the spring of 1866, Mary Ann Williams wrote to the Columbus Times on behalf of the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia, suggesting a "certain day to be observed, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South to wreath the graves of our martyred dead with flowers." She recommended April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's surrender of the largest remaining Confederate army to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman in North Carolina. Newspapers nationwide reprinted her letter, although at least one used the wrong date. As a result, Columbus, Mississippi, held its celebration a day early.

6. Major Gen. John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an early veterans service organization, reportedly spoke at one such ceremony in his hometown of Carbondale that year. He later declared May 30, 1868 a day for "strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. ... Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance." He selected the date because it wasn't the anniversary of a major Civil War battle, but also, historians believe, so the "choicest flowers of springtime" would be available in the North.

7. The first national Decoration Day observance took place at the fledgling Arlington National Cemetery that May 30 in response, featuring a keynote address by Union Maj. Gen. and future President James A. Garfield: "Here are sheaves reaped in the harvest of death, from every battlefield of Virginia. ... The voices of these dead will forever fill the land like holy benedictions," he told about 5,000 people, including another future president, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Division (The Old Guard) began placing small flags on each grave at the cemetery a few days before the holiday in 1948, a tradition that continues today.

8. Every state had adopted Memorial Day as an official holiday by the turn of the century, but it didn't become a federal holiday until 1971. The observance also moved from May 30 to the last Monday of the month, according to the VA.

9. Congress further enshrined the importance of Memorial Day in December 2000 with "The National Moment of Remembrance Act," which encourages all Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. local time for a moment of silence to honor and remember those who have given their lives in service to the United States.

The Duke: Happy Birthday To The Late, Great American Actor John Wayne

Today is the birthday of the late, great American actor John Wayne. He was born on this day in 1907.

John Wayne in one of my favorite actors. I love his westerns with director John Ford, such as The Searchers, Fort Apache and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. And I also love John Wayne's war films with John Ford, such as They Were Expendable and The Wings of Eagles.

I also love The Alamo, which John Wayne directed as well as starred in. And I love The Green Berets

Only the Duke had the courage to make a pro-Vietnam War and pro-military film in 1968 when most of the media was against the war. The media by and large hated the film, but the public loved it.

I also love The Shootist, John Wayne's last film.

Like millions of his fans, I can watch John Wayne films over and over. He was a great actor and a great American.   

You can read a brief biography of John Wayne via the below link to his website:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

USS Kearsarge And Lady Liberty

Sailors and Marines man the rails of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge as it passes by the Statue of Liberty during the 29th annual Fleet Week New York's Parade of Ships in New York City on May 24, 2017.

The U.S. Navy photo was taken by Chief Petty Officer Travis Simmons

Class Act: The Story Everyone's Sharing About Sir Roger Moore

Emily Smith at offers a piece on the late Sir Roger Moore that is but one example of what a class act he was.

It's the touching tale being shared across social media following Roger Moore's death. Londoner Marc Hayes recalled a story about the actor, who was best known for his portrayal of James Bond in the '70s and '80s, on Facebook. The post is a poignant reminder of why we idolize television and movie stars.

Read it below:

As a seven year old in about 1983, in the days before First Class Lounges at airports, I was with my grandad in Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I'd just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My grandad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over and he popped me in front of Roger Moore, with the words "my grandson says you're famous.
Can you sign this?"

As charming as you'd expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I'm ecstatic, but as we head back to our seats, I glance down at the signature. It's hard to decipher it but it definitely doesn't say 'James Bond'. My grandad looks at it, half figures out it says 'Roger Moore' - I have absolutely no idea who that is, and my hearts sinks. I tell my grandad he's signed it wrong, that he's put someone else's name - so my grandad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket which he's only just signed.

I remember staying by our seats and my grandad saying "he says you've signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond." Roger Moore's face crinkled up with realization and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leant over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said to me, "I have to sign my name as 'Roger Moore' because otherwise...Blofeld might find out I was here." He asked me not to tell anyone that I'd just seen James Bond, and he thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely jangling with delight. My grandad asked me if he'd signed 'James Bond.' No, I said. I'd got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now.

You can read the second part of this story via the below link:

You can also visit Sir Roger's website via the below link:

Note: Although I disliked Sir Roger Moore's lighthearted approach to portraying James Bond, I was a huge fan of The Saint, his TV series that originally ran when I was a teenager in the 1960's. I also read and enjoyed all of his interesting, intelligent and amusing books. By all accounts, Sir Roger was a class act. 

Only In Philadelphia: With Philly DA Under Indictment, Voters About To Make Even Worst Choice For Next DA

Veteran reporter Ralph Cipriano offers a piece at on Philadelphia District Attorney candidate Larry Krasner.

Only in Philadelphia where our incumbent District Attorney is currently under federal indictment for political corruption could the citizens be poised to make a worse choice as their next D.A.

That would be Larry Krasner (seen in the above photo), the George Soros-financed radical "progressive" who just won the Democratic primary for D.A. Now he's running for election this November in a town where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1.

Krasner is a longtime civil rights lawyer who has sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times, on behalf of drug dealers and protesters from groups such as Black Lives Matter, ACT UP and Occupy Philly.

Larry's the guy who talked our current corrupt D.A. into tossing more than 800 convictions of drug dealers, nearly all of whom had pleaded guilty after getting caught with drugs. For his next trick, Progressive Larry sued the city to gain cash rewards from the taxpayers that will ultimately benefit 300 newly emancipated drug dealers. The drug dealers are currently in magistrate court, eagerly awaiting those cash payouts arranged by their good friend Larry.

Krasner's the type of candidate whose supporters chant catchy phrases like "Fuck the FOP!" And "No good cops in a racist system."

Yes, Larry loves to defend drug dealers who poison our citizens and protesters who block our streets during rush hour. Larry's dedicated his life to emptying the jail cells of Philadelphia. But that crusade may turn out to be bad news for the rest of us.

"A grand social experiment" is how Beth Grossman (seen in the below photo), Krasner's GOP opponent, describes Krasner's campaign financed with more than $1 million of George Soros's money.

"We have one of the finest public defender's offices in the country," Grossman says. "We don't need two."

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

Cybercom: Pace of Cyberattacks Have Consequences For Military, Nation

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2017 — The intensifying pace of international conflict and cyber events has consequences for the U.S. military and for the nation at large, Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers (seen in the below photo), commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told a House panel yesterday.

Rogers, also director of the National Security Agency, testified before the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee on the fiscal year 2018 Defense Department budget request for Cybercom and its Cyber Mission Force support for defense operations.

Facing Advanced Cyber Threats

“Hardly a day has gone by during my tenure at Cyber Command that we have not seen at least one significant cybersecurity event occurring somewhere in the world,” said Rogers, adding, “We face a growing variety of advanced threats from actors who operate with ever-more sophistication and precision.”

In his written testimony, the admiral said that cyber-enabled destructive and disruptive attacks now have the potential to affect the property, rights and daily lives of Americans.

“We are particularly concerned as adversaries probe and even exploit systems used by government, law enforcement, military, intelligence and critical infrastructure in the United States and abroad,” Rogers said.

“We have seen states seeking to shape the policies and attitudes of democratic peoples,” he added, “and we are convinced such behavior will continue for as long as autocratic regimes believe they have more to gain than to lose by challenging their opponents in cyberspace.”

Lines of Operation

Cybercom tracks state and nonstate adversaries as they expand their capabilities to advance their interests in cyberspace and try to undermine U.S. national interests and those of the nation’s allies, the admiral said.

Conflict in the cyber domain is unfolding according to its own logic, he added, “which we continue to better understand. And we're using this understanding to enhance the department's and the nation's situational awareness and to manage risk in the cyber arena.”

Cybercom forces conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations to enable actions in all domains, he told the panel.

The command’s three lines of operation are to provide mission assurance for DoD operations and defend the DoD information environment, called the DoDIN, to support joint force commander objectives globally and deter or defeat strategic threats to U.S. interests and critical infrastructure, Rogers said.

Enhanced Authorities

Rogers requested a budget of about $647 million for Cybercom for fiscal 2018, a nearly 16 percent increase from fiscal 2017 to fund Cybercom's elevation from a subcommand of U.S. Strategic Command to a full unified combatant command, as directed by the 2017 NDAA.

The enhanced budget will be used, in part, to continue building out the cyber mission force and adding cyber-specific capabilities and tools, and funding Joint Task Force Ares and the Cyber Combat Mission Force to support the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Rogers created JTF-Ares after receiving an execute order in 2016 from then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter authorizing Cybercom to "task organize" for specific missions that could last to last weeks, months or longer, the admiral said in written testimony.

He established the new organization to coordinate cyberspace operations against ISIS, providing unity of command and effort for Cybercom and coalition forces working to counter ISIS in cyberspace.

Rogers said the JTF-model has helped Cybercom direct operations in support of Centcom operations, and “marks an evolution in the command-and-control structure in response to urgent operational needs.”

He told the panel that all cyber mission force teams are scheduled to be fully operational by the end of fiscal 2018, and named some of the enhancement of command responsibilities and authorities Cybercom expects in 2018.

These include increasing cyber manpower, enhancing professionalization of the cyber workforce, building defensive and offensive capability and capacity, and streamlining what Rogers called “cyber-operations-peculiar” acquisition capabilities.

“These are critical enablers for cyber space operations in a dynamically changing global environment,” the admiral said, “and most or all of these particulars have been directed in recent National Defense Authorization Acts.”

Operational Successes

Rogers told the panel that Cybercom’s operational successes have validated concepts for creating cyber effects on the battlefield and beyond.

“Innovations are constantly emerging out of operational necessity and real-world experiences,” he said, “and meeting the requirements of national decision makers and joint force commanders continues to mature our operational approaches and effectiveness over time.”

Cybersecurity is a national security issue requiring a whole-of-nation approach that brings together public and private sectors of U.S. society, Rogers said, noting that the Cybercom Point of Partnership program in Silicon Valley, California, and Boston has proven successful.

The initiative, he told the panel, “link[s] our command to some of the most innovative minds from industry, working together on cybersecurity as we face 21st Century threats together in the private and public sectors.”

This, Rogers added, “combined with agile policies, decision-making processes, capabilities and command-and-control structures will ensure that Cyber Command attains its potential to counter our adversaries.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Tale Of Two Buildings: The Philadelphia Police Department Is Moving From The 'Roundhouse' To The Old Inquirer Building

In the news today is the plan to move Philadelphia Police Headquarters from the "Roundhouse" (seen in the above photo) to the building that once housed the the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News (seen in the below photo).

I have a personal attachment to both buildings.

I've been a been a contributor to the Inquirer and the Daily News since 1997 and I often visited the Inquirer Building at 400 N. Broad Street. I recall when the two newspapers were powerhouses and a mainstay of Philadelphia life. The tall, white building that housed the two newspapers was an iconic and instantly recognized symbol of Philadelphia journalism.

The downsized newspapers and moved from the Inquirer Building in 2011 and sold the building as an economic move. The Inquirer, Daily News and then took up residence at the offices of the old Strawbridge & Clothier department store at 8th and Market Street.

As a writer I was also a frequent visitor to the Philadelphia Administration Building (called the Roundhouse) at 750 Race Street. Over the years I visited the Roundhouse and interviewed several commissioners, deputy commissioners, inspectors, homicide detectives, and many other police officers.

The Roundhouse, so named because of the building's curved structure (some say it looks like a pair of handcuffs from the sky), is an old, cramped and beat up place. The cops need and deserve a better headquarters, although I'll miss visiting the old building after the proposed 2020 move. (I'm not sure the police who work there every day feel quite the same way).

The Inquirer Building is also old and a bit rundown, but I suppose it is a step up from the Roundhouse.

The small irony of the move is the Inquirer and Daily News had and have something of an adversarial relationship with the Philadelphia Police. So the cops moving into the old Inquirer Building is perhaps akin to allied military forces moving into German military headquarters in Berlin at the end of WWII.

You can read Jake Adelman's Philadelphia Inquirer piece on the move via the below link:

And you can read Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky's take on the move via the below link:

Defense Intelligence Agency Director Testifies On Top Five Global Military Threats

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2017 — North Korea, Russia, China, Iran and extremist organizations are the top five military threats facing the nation, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said here this morning.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart (seen in the below photo) testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss worldwide threats. Also testifying today was Daniel R. Coats, director of National Intelligence.

Expanding on the nature of the threats, Stewart said they include a nuclear-capable and increasingly provocative North Korea, a resurgent Russia, a modernizing China, an ambitious regional power in Iran and violent extremist organizations.

The last category encompasses ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, the general noted.

“We in DIA call these our no-fail missions because the risk is too high for us to fail in pursuing these missions,” Stewart added.

North Korea’s Trajectory

The world is focused on events in Pyongyang and for good reasons, Stewart told the panel.

“Since assuming power, Kim Jong Un has conducted three nuclear tests and the regime has tested an unprecedented number of ballistic missiles of varying ranges over the past year,” he said.

Despite technical shortfalls, the regime has achieved key milestones in specific systems and engineers get valuable data and insights from each test, Stewart observed.

“If left on its current trajectory, the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” the general said, adding that it’s impossible to say when the capability will be operational but the regime is committed and on a sure path to the capability.

Russia’s Key Objective

Stewart said Russia sees military power as critical to achieving key strategic objective and the nation devotes significant resources to its military modernization program.

“The Russian government seeks to be the center of influence in what it describes as a multi-polar, post-West world order,” he explained.

To support this worldview, he said, Moscow pursues aggressive foreign and defense policies by using a full spectrum of influence and coercion aimed at challenging U.S. interests around the globe.

Out-of-area operations remain a priority as demonstrated by its ongoing deployment to Syria and long-range aviation approaching U.S. airspace.

China’s Military Modernization

China is in the third decade of an unprecedented military modernization program involving weapon systems, doctrine, tactics and training, and space and cyber operations, Stewart said.

The nation now stands firmly as a near-peer U.S. competitor, the general added.

New bases are being built in the South China Sea and Stewart said that evidence suggests the outposts will be used for military purposes.

“A key component of China's strategy for a regional contingency is planning for potential U.S. intervention in a conflict in the region,” he added. “Its navy remains on a course for 350 ships by the year 2020 and anti-access, area-denial capabilities continue to improve.”

Iran’s Regional Security Threat

In Iran, despite sanctions Tehran is putting considerable resources into conventional military priorities such as ballistic and cruise missiles, naval systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and air defense systems that could threaten the U.S. and its interests in the region, Stewart said.

“Iran's conventional military doctrine is designed to protect Iran from the consequences of its assertive regional policy,” he added, noting that policy is spearheaded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Kuds Force and its regional proxy Lebanese Hezbollah, and in concert with certain Iraqi Shia militias and the Houthis, a Shia-led movement.

“We should expect Iran to continue to undermine the current regional security architecture,” the general said, “using terrorist organizations and proxies to complicate U.S. efforts throughout the region.”

Transregional Terrorism

Steady progress is being made against transregional terrorism but there is still a long way to go, Stewart said.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been diminished in Libya, he added. Soon it will lose control of Mosul and of its capital in Raqqa, which is now nearly isolated by counter-ISIS local fighters.

“We've killed many ISIS and al-Qaida leaders, and numerous terrorist plots have been averted,” Stewart said.

Trend lines are moving in the right direction but the fight will not end soon, he noted, adding that the enemy is highly adaptable and capable, and instability and under-governed territory may give them opportunities to resurge.

“I'm particularly concerned about the long-term impact of returning foreign fighters and the potential for these groups to capitalize on the proliferation of armed unmanned aerial vehicles to do harm to U.S. and our allied interests,” the general said.

Note: In the top Air Force photo taken by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan airmen secure a load of cargo in a C-130H Hercules at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq on Feb. 3, 2017. Airmen assigned to the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron delivered 30,000 pounds of cargo to aid in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.