Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trump Signs Legislation Greenlighting War On Terrorism Memorial For National Mall


Andrew Blake at the Washington Times offers a piece on President Trump authorizing the construction on a memorial for the War On Terrorism.

President Trump has signed a bill authorizing the construction of a new memorial on the National Mall commemorating U.S. service members who fought in the international war against terrorism.

Mr. Trump announced his signing of the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act through his official Twitter account Friday evening, paving the way for the monument’s sponsors to ramp-up work on erecting one of the nation’s capital’s newest memorials.


The Global War on Terrorism, also known as the GWOT and the War on Terror, refers to the international military campaign initiated by President George W. Bush in reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including ongoing operations against targets including the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Islamic State. 

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

'As My Old Pappy Used To Say': 13 Crucial Life Lessons 'Maverick' Learned From His Pappy


I was a huge fan of the Western TV show Maverick with James Garner (seen in the above photo) when I was a kid and I’ve been recording rerun of the show on MeTV.  

I think the old show holds up fairly well and the late James Garner was terrific as Bret Maverick. (I was not as fond of Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick and other characters).

Maverick used to quote his “old Pappy” to make a point and the sayings were always clever and amusing. Metv.com offers 13 of the old sayings in a recent piece.   

Maverick didn't play by the same rules as other TV westerns of its time, like Gunsmoke or Bonanza. It even popularly poked fun at those shows in episodes ("Gun-Shy" and "Three Queens Full," respectively) that lovingly spoofed other western shows that ended up with much longer series' runs.

But that sort of behavior is just what you'd expect from Maverick - breaking or bending rules - and longtime fans will remember that the law of the land in Maverick wasn't laid out by any sheriff, but by old Pappy, the Maverick brothers' sage father who sent his sons Bart and Bret out with a thousand dollar bill each and about a bajillion pieces of advice the characters would turn to any time they got into trouble on the show.

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



You can watch the opening of the show with the theme song via the below link:

A Tudor Castle For The King Of Thrillers, Nelson DeMille


Joanne Kaufman at the New York Times offers an interesting and amusing piece on author Nelson DeMille’s dream house.

What would a celebrity profile be without some rich biographical detail? So here’s a little something to get the ball rolling: Nelson DeMille’s father, Huron, was a contractor.

Chew on it. Ponder it as you learn that despite the father’s occupation, the son — the best-selling author of thrillers like “Plum Island,” “Night Fall” and “Wild Fire” — didn’t think twice about writing a very large check for a house in the exclusive Hill section of Garden City, N.Y., a house whose foundation he had never probed, whose wiring he had never investigated and whose plumbing was a mystery. Truth to tell, he had only ever seen the place at night, as a guest of the owners.

“It looked great when I was there for parties,” said Mr. DeMille, 73, whose new novel, “The Cuban Affair,” will be published next month by Simon & Schuster. Then there was the provenance: The shingle-style manse had been built in the early 1920s by a business partner of Howard Hughes.


After the deal closed, in 1998, Mr. DeMille began strolling around his new acquisition, promptly realized the place was a wreck and called in a group of contractors, who, he recalled, “scratched their heads.” One of those head-scratchers was Mr. DeMille’s very own brother, who didn’t mince words: “Tear it down,” his brother said, channeling the movie “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.” Well, O.K.

Admirably, the wry Mr. DeMille took the whole thing in stride. “Maybe I always knew in the back of my mind that I was buying a building lot for a lot of money,” he said. “People always say, ‘Location, location, location,’ and houses on the Hill don’t come up for sale very often.

“I’d always fantasized about big houses,” Mr. DeMille continued. “I like to be able to wander around them. There are things you can do in a big house that you can’t do in a smaller house, like have the whole family over. I think that’s one of the reasons I wrote ‘Gold Coast,’” he said, referring to his 1990 novel set amid the lavish mansions of Long Island’s North Shore. “But even when I became a best seller, I lived in modest places. Now I had the chance to build my own house.”

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

  
You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Nelson DeMille via the below link:

Friday, August 18, 2017

President Elevates U.S. Cyber Command To Unified Combatant Command


Jim Garamone and Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offer the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2017 — At the direction of the president, the Defense Department today initiated the process to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command.

"This new unified combatant command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation’s defense," President Donald J. Trump said in a written statement.

The elevation of the command demonstrates the increased U.S. resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure allies and partners and deter adversaries, the statement said.  The elevation also will help to streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of those operations and will ensure that critical cyberspace operations are adequately funded, the statement said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is examining the possibility of separating U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency, and is to announce his recommendations at a later date.

Growing Mission

The decision to elevate U.S. Cyber Command is consistent with Mattis' recommendation and the requirements of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, told reporters at the Pentagon today.

"The decision is a welcome and necessary one that ensures that the nation is best positioned to address the increasing threats in cyberspace," he added.

Cybercom's elevation from its previous subunified command status demonstrates the growing centrality of cyberspace to U.S. national security, Rapuano said, adding that the move signals the U.S. resolve to "embrace the changing nature of warfare and maintain U.S. military superiority across all domains and phases of conflict."

Cybercom was established in 2009 in response to a clear need to match and exceed enemies seeking to use the cyber realm to attack the United States and its allies. The command is based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, with the National Security Agency. Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers is the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency director. The president has directed Mattis to recommend a commander for U.S. Cyber Command, and Rogers for now remains in the dual-hatted role, Rapuano said.

More Strategic Role

Since its establishment, Cybercom has grown significantly, consistent with DoD's cyber strategy and reflective of major increases in investments in capabilities and infrastructure, Rapuano said. The command reached full operational capability Oct. 31, 2010, but it is still growing and evolving. The command is concentrating on building its Cyber Mission Force, which should be complete by the end of fiscal year 2018, he said.

The force is expected to consist of almost 6,200 personnel organized into 133 teams. All of the teams have already reached initial operational capability, and many are actively conducting operations. The force incorporates reserve component personnel and leverages key cyber talent from the civilian sector.

"This decision means that Cyber Command will play an even more strategic role in synchronizing cyber forces and training,  conducting and coordinating military cyberspace operations, and advocating for and prioritizing cyber investments within the department,"  Rapuano said.

Cybercom already has been performing many responsibilities of a unified combatant command. The elevation also raises the stature of the commander of Cyber Command to a peer level with the other unified combatant command commanders, allowing the Cybercom commander to report directly to the secretary of defense, Rapuano pointed out.

The new command will be the central point of contact for resources for the department's operations in the cyber domain and will serve to synchronize cyber forces under a single manager. The commander will also ensure U.S. forces will be interoperable.

"This decision is a significant step in the department's continued efforts to build its cyber capabilities, enabling Cyber Command to provide real, meaningful capabilities as a command on par with the other geographic and functional combat commands," Rapuano said. 

7th Fleet Announces USS Fitzgerald Accountability Determinations


The U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs Office released the below information:

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) were relieved of their duties by Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Commander, 7th Fleet Aug, 18.

Additionally, a number of officer and enlisted watch standers were held accountable.

The determinations were made following a thorough review of the facts and circumstances leading up to the June 17 collision between Fitzgerald and the merchant vessel ACX Crystal.

The collision was avoidable and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship. Within Fitzgerald, flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership contributed to the collision that claimed the lives of seven Fitzgerald Sailors, injured three more and damaged both ships.

With absolute accountability for the safe navigation of Fitzgerald, Cmdr. Bryce Benson was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead. He had previously been temporarily relieved of his duties due to medical reasons from injuries sustained during the collision. Benson is being reassigned to Naval District Washington at the Washington Navy Yard, where he will have access to medical facilities in the area.

Inadequate leadership by the executive officer, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, and command master chief, Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin, contributed to the lack of watch stander preparedness and readiness that was evident in the events leading up to the collision.

Several junior officers were relieved of their duties due to poor seamanship and flawed teamwork as bridge and combat information center watch standers. Additional administrative actions were taken against members of both watch teams.

Cmdr. Garret Miller will assume command from Fitzgerald's acting commanding officer, Cmdr. John "Jack" Fay sometime mid-to-late-August.

It was also evident from this review that the entire Fitzgerald crew demonstrated real toughness that night. Following the collision these Sailors responded with urgency, determination and creativity to save their ship. Their rigorous damage control efforts and dauntless fighting in the immediate wake of the accident prevented further loss of life. 

Note: You can read the supplemental inquiry via the below link:

http://www.secnav.navy.mil/foia/readingroom/HotTopics/USS%20Fitzgerald/Supplemental%20Inquiry%20USS%20Fitzgerald.pdf 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Barcelona Terror Attack: At Least 13 Reported Dead After Van Plows Into Crowd At Popular Tourist Area


Travis Fedschun at Foxnews.com offers a piece on the terrorist attack in Barcelona.

The terrorist alleged to have plowed a van into a crowd of pedestrians in a popular tourist area -- resulting in at least 13 deaths -- was holed up in a Barcelona restaurant Thursday as images of the carnage, showing bodies lying crumpled and bleeding in the street, flooded forth from the Spanish city.

Spanish newspaper El Pais and Cadena Serradio radio station, citing police sources, reported at least 13 people were killed in the attack. Police however only confirmed one person was killed and 32 injured, 10 of them seriously.

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

On This Day In History David Crockett Was Born


As Biography.com notes, on this day in 1786 legendary American frontiersman David Crockett was born.

Davy Crockett was a frontiersman, legendary folk hero and three-time Congressman. He fought in the War of 1812 and died at the Alamo in the Texas Revolution.

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

Note: Davy Crockett was a childhood hero of mine. As a child, I loved the Walt Disney TV series about him with Fess Parker (seen in the below photo) as Crockett, and I loved the John Wayne film The Alamo with the Duke (seen in the above photo) portraying Crockett. Those portrayals, although somewhat historically inaccurate, led me to read accurate historical accounts of the great man.



I was pleased to recently travel to San Antonio, Texas, where my daughter lives with her Air Force husband. While there we visited the Alamo, where Crockett met his end in heroic fashion. The night before we visited the Alamo, we all watched John Wayne’s The Alamo.

And last week, I watched on cable TV a newer version of The Alamo, with Billy Bob Thornton (seen in the below photo) as Davy Crockett. I liked the film, which was also about Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution, and I liked Billy Bob Thornton’s portrayal of Davy Crockett.   



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Defense Secretary 'Mad Dog' Mattis To Sailors: ‘You're Not some Pu--y Sitting On The Sidelines’


Geoff Ziezulewicz at the Navy Times reports on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis using blunt (and no doubt popular) language while addressing U.S. Navy sailors.

Visiting with sailors at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis didn’t mince words when discussing the differences between serving in the military and the civilian population.

Mattis told sailors they would experience the best and worst life has to offer while in the Navy, a sign they are living life to the fullest.

“That means you’re not some p---y sitting on the sidelines”...

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

'Fat Leonard' U.S. Navy Bribery And Fraud Case: Active-Duty U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty To Conspiring With Foreign Defense Contractor To Defraud the U.S. Navy


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

An active-duty U.S. Navy commander pleaded guilty today in connection with his efforts to obstruct a federal criminal investigation of the owner and chief executive officer of a multi-national defense contracting firm headquartered in Singapore.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson of the Southern District of California, Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.

Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in connection with the NCIS’s investigation of Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).  Pitts is set to be sentenced on December 1, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal of the Southern District of California, who accepted his plea today.

According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts served as the officer in charge of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore.  As part of his duties, Pitts learned that NCIS and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts.  Pitts had access to internal U.S. Navy documents pertaining to investigative steps that the U.S. Navy was considering and admitted that he shared this information with Francis, with the intent to impede and obstruct the U.S. Navy’s oversight of its contracts with GDMA.  On Nov. 23, 2010, for example, Pitts forwarded to a representative of GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email discussing FISC’s intention to contact officials with the Royal Thai Navy to determine whether GDMA had been billing the U.S. Navy for services in fact rendered by the Thai government.

In pleading guilty, Pitts admitted, among other things, to working with Francis and other foreign-defense-contractor personnel to help them cover up GDMA’s overcharging practices with respect to providing protection to U.S. Navy forces deployed in the Western Pacific.

So far, 18 of 27 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford: ‘A 100,000-Ton Message To The world’


The Washington Times published my piece on the commissioning of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and why carriers are important to America’s freedom.

As an old Navy man who served as a young enlisted sailor on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War, I was pleased and proud to see the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), join America’s fleet.

Last month President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other dignitaries attended the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s latest nuclear-powered supercarrier, at the Norfolk naval base. The new carrier was named in honor of President Ford, who served on an aircraft carrier during World War II. His daughter, Susan Ford Bales, the ship’s sponsor, was also in attendance.

“The USS Ford is a magnificent warship that joins the best Navy in the world,” Mr. Mattis said at the ceremony. “It is named after a tried-and true member of the Greatest Generation, and that spirit will permeate this ship so long as it sails on the seas, as well as the U.S. Navy spirit of ‘We have just begun to fight,’ ” he said.

Mr. Trump stated that a ship is only as good as the people who serve on it, and he said the American sailor is the best in the world.

“Among you are great welders, radar technicians, machine operators and pilots,” Mr. Trump said. “You take pride in your work and America takes pride in you. Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong.”


… According to the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier remains as the centerpiece of our forward-operating forces. Often the presence of an aircraft carrier has deterred potential adversaries from striking against U.S. interests. Aircraft carriers employ aircraft that engage in attacks on airborne, afloat and shore targets, as well as engage in sustained power projection operations in support of U.S. and coalition forces. The aircraft carrier and its strike group also engage in maritime security operations to interdict threats to merchant shipping and prevent the use of the seas for terrorism and piracy. Aircraft carriers also provide unique capabilities for disaster response and humanitarian assistance.

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

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/14/uss-gerald-ford-projects-american-power/

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

Joseph Bologna, 'My Favorite Year' Actor And Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter, Dies At 82


Mike Barnes at the Hollywood Reporter offers an obituary of writer/actor Joseph Bologna.

Joseph Bologna, an actor, playwright and screenwriter who was so memorable as the egotistical King Kaiser in the 1982 comedy classic My Favorite Year, has died. He was 82.

Bologna died Sunday morning at City of Hope hospital in Duarte, Calif. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years ago, said his wife of 52 years, actress and screenwriter Renee Taylor.

Bologna received an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay, shared with his wife and David Zelag Goodman, for his work on Lovers and Other Strangers (1970). The couple had first written it for Broadway in a 1968 production directed by Charles Grodin.

They penned 22 plays in all, including It Had to Be You, Bermuda Avenue Triangle and If You Ever Leave Me I'm Going With You!

Bologna and Taylor penned and starred in the semi-autobiographical Made for Each Other (1971), which Newsweek called "the best love story & comedy of the year," and co-wrote and co-directed Love Is All There Is (1996), which marked one of the first feature appearances for Angelina Jolie.

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



Note: Not mentioned in the obit is Joseph Bologna’s outstanding role as Bill Bonanno, the son and heir of Salvatore Bonanno, the boss of the Bonanno Cosa Nostra organized crime family, in the TV film adaptation of Gay Talese’s true crime book Honor Thy Father.

I'd like to watch Honor Thy Father, Made For Each Other and My Favorite Year again. Good films. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On This Day In History Film Director Alfred Hitchcock Was Born

As History.com notes, Alfred Hitchcock, the director of such classic suspense films as Psycho, Notorious, North By Northwest and To Catch a Thief, was born on this day in 1899.

Alfred Hitchcock, the macabre master of moviemaking, is born in London on August 13, 1899. His innovative directing techniques and mastery of suspense made him one of the most popular and influential filmmakers of the 20th century.

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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

'Fat Leonard' U.S. Navy Scandal: Singapore Executives Sentenced For Fraud In International Navy Corruption Scandal


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

Two former executives of foreign defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) were sentenced today for conspiring to submit bogus claims and invoices to the U.S. Navy in an effort to win contracts and overcharge the U.S. Navy by tens of millions of dollars as part of a years-long corruption and fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Director Dermot F. O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) made the announcement.

Neil Peterson, 39, and Linda Raja, 44, both of Singapore, were sentenced to 70 and 46 months, respectively, by U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino  of the Southern District of California.  Both worked as chief deputies for GDMA, which was owned by Leonard Glenn Francis.   Peterson served as the vice president for global operations for GDMA and Raja served as GDMA’s general manager for Singapore, Australia and the Pacific Isles.

Both defendants were arrested by authorities in Singapore at the request of the U.S. government and were extradited on Oct. 28, 2016.  They each pleaded guilty in May 2017 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims.

According to admissions made as part of Peterson’s and Raja’s plea agreements, they and other members of GDMA’s management team created and submitted fraudulent bids that were either entirely fictitious, contained falsified prices supposedly from actual businesses, or fraudulently stated that the business shown on the letterhead could not provide the items or services requested.  In this manner, Peterson, Raja and other members of GDMA’s core management team could ensure that GDMA’s quote would be selected by the U.S. Navy as the supposed low bidder.  GDMA could thus control and inflate the prices charged to the U.S. Navy without any true, competitive bidding, as required, they admitted.

Peterson and Raja admitted that they and other members of the GDMA management team knowingly created and approved fictitious port authorities with fraudulently inflated port tariff rates, and approved the presentation of such fraudulent documents to the U.S. Navy. GDMA thus charged inflated prices to the U.S. Navy, rather than what GDMA actually paid to the bona fide port authorities.

For example, Peterson and Raja admitted that for the visit of the U.S.S. Bonhomme Richard to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, in or about October 2012, under the direction of Peterson and other members of GDMA's core management team, false documents and inflated invoices were presented to the U.S. Navy.  The full amount billed to the U.S. Navy for this visit was $1,232,858, of which approximately $877,413 was fraudulently inflated, Peterson and Raja admitted.

Peterson and Raja admitted that losses to the U.S. Navy exceeded $34,800,000 as a result of this scheme.

So far, 17 of 27 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The DCIS, NCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are investigating.  Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and are prosecuting the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in this matter.  

On This Day In History Ian Fleming, Creator Of James Bond, Died


As History.com notes, on this day in 1964 the great thriller writer Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, died.

On this day in 1964, the British author and journalist Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, the world’s most famous fictional spy, dies of a heart attack at age 56 in Kent, England. Fleming’s series of novels about the debonair Agent 007, based in part on their dashing author’s real-life experiences, spawned one of the most lucrative film franchises in history.

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



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




Feds Highlight Murder Talk In Merlino Tape


Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia offers a short piece at Bigtrial.net on the fed’s audio tape that features reputed Philadelphia Cosa Nostra mob boss Joseph Merlino and a New York wiseguy discussing murder.

It was just a couple of guys talking . . . about how to commit a murder.

And the feds got to listen in.

Snippets of a conversation recorded by a cooperating witness show Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and Eugene "Rooster" Onofrio casually discussing how to whack somebody.

"It's easy to kill somebody," said Merlino, according to a tape cited in a recent filing by federal prosecutors in a case against Merlino and Onofrio that is winding its way toward trial in New York.

You can read the rest of the piece and link to a video of George Anastasia discussing the tape with fellow crime reporter, Fox 29’s Dave Schratwieser, via the below link:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blanche Blackwell, Mistress And Muse Of James Bond’s Creator, Ian Fleming, Dies at 104


Matt Schudel at the Washington Post offers an obituary of Blanche Blackwell, a British socialite who lived in Jamaica and inspired Errol Flynn, Noel Coward and Ian Fleming.

Blanche Blackwell inspired one of Noel Coward’s plays about an upper-crust love triangle, and swashbuckling Hollywood star Errol Flynn wanted to marry her. She was a member of one of Jamaica’s richest families, but she was best known as the mistress and muse of Ian Fleming (seen in the below photo), the rakish author who was the creator of James Bond.


Mrs. Blackwell died Aug. 8 in London at 104. Her death was confirmed by Andrew Lycett, Fleming’s biographer. Other details were not available.

Vivacious and outdoorsy, Mrs. Blackwell was known for her bright smile and casual allure. She first met Flynn — “a gorgeous god,” in her words — in the 1940s, during one of his Jamaican vacations. He described her laugh as “like the sounds of water tinkling over a waterfall” and was so enchanted that he wanted to propose, even both were married to other people.

One of her closest friends was Coward, the gay playwright and entertainer who based a character on Mrs. Blackwell in his play 1957 “Volcano,” which was so sexually charged that it wasn’t performed in public until 2012. (Mrs. Blackwell attended the opening.)
  
She lived long enough to give business advice to U2’s Bono, whose career was launched by her son, Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records.

“She always says, ‘I love men — they make such good pets,’ ” Chris Blackwell told the British magazine Tatler this year.

Mrs. Blackwell had a home on Jamaica’s northern coast, midway between Coward’s island retreat and Fleming’s estate, Goldeneye, where he wrote his novels and stories about Bond, Agent 007.

…“She always says, ‘I love men — they make such good pets,’ ” Chris Blackwell told the British magazine Tatler this year.

Mrs. Blackwell had a home on Jamaica’s northern coast, midway between Coward’s island retreat and Fleming’s estate, Goldeneye, where he wrote his novels and stories about Bond, Agent 007.

…In Jamaica, what began as “a tropical dalliance” between the writer and Mrs. Blackwell “developed into a deep love affair,” Lycett wrote in his 1995 biography of Fleming.

Beginning in 1952, Fleming returned to Goldeneye every winter to write a new book about Bond’s adventures as a British intelligence officer and serial seducer of women — both of which he could describe from his personal experience. His wife, Ann, usually stayed in England.

…“She was really somebody who offered him friendship,” Lycett said in an interview. “She made him content and happy at a difficult time in his life. She was a woman of great charm and intelligence and was extraordinarily good company.”

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

My Washington Times Review Of 'Three Minutes To Doomsday: An Agent, A Traitor, And The Worst Espionage Breach In History'


The Washington Times ran my review of Joe Navarro’s Three Minutes To Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in History.

Clyde Lee Conrad and Rodney Ramsey may not be as well-known as Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, John Walker or other infamous spies and traitors, but according to Gen. Glenn K. Otis, the commander in chief of the U.S. Army European Command from 1983 to 1988, their acts of espionage had left the West so vulnerable and stripped of its own defensive capabilities that its defeat would have been assured had the Soviets acted on their intelligence and launched an all-out war.

Conrad, Ramsey and others in this spy ring gave the Soviets American’s defensive war plans, nuclear launch codes and other military secrets. It was a devastating breach of security.

As former FBI Special Agent Joe Navarro recounts in his book, “Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in History,” he became involved in this decade-long espionage investigation on Aug. 23, 1988 when he was instructed to locate and interview Roderick James Ramsey.

The message stated that Ramsey was last known to be living in Tampa, Florida, and Agent Navarro was to interview him “regarding his knowledge of or association with Clyde Lee Conrad, while stationed at 8th ID, Bad Kreuznach, West Germany: service years 1983-85. INSCOM (Army Intelligence) will liaise and assist: locate, interview, report.”

Mr. Navarro, who in 1988 served as a member of the FBI’s SWAT team and flew night aerial surveillance as well as his counterintelligence duties in the FBI’s Tampa, Florida office, located Ramsey, who was living in his mother’s trailer. He then began a long game of wits with the highly intelligent, narcissistic and manipulative former enlisted soldier.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ernest Hemingway’s Fiery Rant Against Stolen Valor Is Still Relevant Almost A Century Later


One thing that truly angers me is someone who lies about military service.

When I see a person on the street who is dressed in combat fatigues, claiming to have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan and begging for money, I know that chances are the person is a total fraud.

Over the years, I’ve been disgusted by people who claimed to have served in Vietnam, when I know damn well they did not. I consider these lies and claims to be an insult to the men and women who truly served - especially those who gave their lives.

Apparently the problem of “Stolen Valor” did not begin with the Vietnam War.

The late, great writer Ernest Hemingway was a young man during WWI and after he was rejected for military service due to his eyesight, he joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corp and was wounded in Italy. The rest is history.


Danny Leffler at taskandpurpose.com offers a piece on Hemingway's satirical newspaper story about phony WWI vets (although Hemingway could stretch a tale or two himself, he did in fact face combat again when he covered the Spanish Civil War and WWII as a war correspondent). 

Long before Ernest Hemingway wrote, drank and fought his way into the ranks of America’s legendary wordsmiths, the beloved author cut his literary teeth on the beat of a Canadian newspaper. Fresh off a stint driving an ambulance for the Red Cross on the Italian front during World War I, the young Hemingway landed at The Toronto Star Weekly in early 1920, where he covered everything from mobsters to the complete uselessness of wedding gifts — including the rise of stolen valor and the lousy market for war medals that accompanied the end of the Great War.

One of Hemingway’s funniest pieces was “Popular in Peace, Slacker in War,” a sarcastic, mocking lecture for the Canadian citizens who deployed not to the bloody trenches of war-torn Europe with the Canadian armed forces, but to relatively safe jobs in American munitions factories. Sensing these “morally courageous souls” might be a bit ashamed that they were not among their nearly 425,000 fellow countrymen who faced death overseas, the young Hemingway dispensed some sage words to help them pass themselves off as battle-hardened patriots.

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

On This Day In History Arthur Walker, Brother Of John Walker, Was Found Guilty Of Spying For Soviet Union


As History.com notes, on this day in 1985 – known as the “Year of the Spy” for the many espionage arrests that year - Arthur Walker was convicted of espionage.

Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy officer, is found guilty of espionage for passing top-secret documents to his brother, who then passed them to Soviet agents. Walker was part of one of the most significant Cold War spy rings in the United States.

The arrest of Arthur Walker on May 29, 1985, came just one day after the arrest of his brother, John, and John’s son, Michael. All three were charged with conducting espionage for the Soviet Union. John Walker, also a Navy veteran, was the ringleader, and government officials charged that he had been involved in spying for the Soviets  since 1968.  

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



You can also read my Crime Beat column on John Walker via the below link:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Statement By Attorney General Sessions On The City of Chicago’s Lawsuit Against The U.S. Department Of Justice


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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions today issued the following statement on the city of Chicago’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice:

“No amount of federal taxpayer dollars will help a city that refuses to help its own residents.

“This administration is committed to the rule of law and to enforcing the laws established by Congress. To a degree perhaps unsurpassed by any other jurisdiction, the political leadership of Chicago has chosen deliberately and intentionally to adopt a policy that obstructs this country’s lawful immigration system. They have demonstrated an open hostility to enforcing laws designed to protect law enforcement — Federal, state, and local — and reduce crime, and instead have adopted an official policy of protecting criminal aliens who prey on their own residents. This is astounding given the unprecedented violent crime surge in Chicago, with the number of murders in 2016 surpassing both New York and Los Angeles combined. The city’s leaders cannot follow some laws and ignore others and reasonably expect this horrific situation to improve.

“The Mayor complains that the federal government’s focus on enforcing the law would require a ‘reordering of law enforcement practice in Chicago.’ But that’s just what Chicago needs: a recommitment to the rule of law and to policies that rollback the culture of lawlessness that has beset the city.

“This administration will not simply give away grant dollars to city governments that proudly violate the rule of law and protect criminal aliens at the expense of public safety. So it’s this simple: Comply with the law or forego taxpayer dollars.” 

10 Ways Living In Philadelphia Ruins You For Life


I had a plan while growing up in South Philadelphia. I would join the Navy at 17, travel around the world, become a writer, live in a high-rise apartment in New York City and continue to travel around the world.

I did join the Navy at 17 and I did travel to Southeast Asia, Europe and other places. I became a writer and I still travel as often as I can. (Most recently to San Antonio, Texas, where I saw the Alamo). 

But rather than moving to New York as planned, I settled back in South Philly after leaving the Navy. I own an historic, nearly 100-year home, only four city blocks from where I grew up. I’m a die-hard South Philadelphian, and for all its faults, I love Philadelphia.

So it was interesting to discover a piece at onlyinyourstate.com about how Philadelphia ruins one for life.        

Living in Philadelphia is something everyone should experience in their lives, but be warned – some things about this city stick around no matter where life leads you. Whether you grew up here or have moved here recently, you should be aware that there are a few ways that living in Philly will ruin you for life.

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

Monday, August 7, 2017

On Third Anniversary Of ISIS Fight, 5 Million Are Free From Terrorist Army


Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2017 — Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the U.S.-led coalition air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, during which millions of people have been freed from ISIS control, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said today.

Briefing the Pentagon press corps, Davis said the air campaign was a response to a terrorist army that came seemingly out of nowhere and emerged as one of the most well-funded, fastest-growing and most capable terrorist networks anywhere in the world.

“On Aug. 8, 2014, two FA-18 [Super Hornet] jets launched from the USS George W. Bush in the [Persian] Gulf and dropped the first 500-pound laser-guided bombs on fighters near Irbil,” Iraq,” Davis said.

ISIS was more than just an insurgency, he added. They were capable of holding 40,000 square miles of territory and able to launch external attacks in Europe and the United States.

At one point they held an area the size of Ohio, Davis said, “and … 8 million people were being ruthlessly held captive by their rule, living in misery, many fleeing their homes, many forced into refugee status, many forced into slavery. And we saw their depravity in videos that they posted on YouTube.”

Although 5 million people are now liberated from ISIS control, ISIS still presents a great threat, he said.

“We know that they continue to murder and wound innocent people -- using them as human shields and displacing families into refugees. And we know that they're spreading to other places. We've seen their attacks in Europe … [and] we've seen their influence shift into places like Afghanistan, Mali, and now even the Philippines.”

Defeat-ISIS Coalition

In the three years since that first air strike, Davis noted, “we've worked very methodically over time with our defeat-ISIS coalition, and ISIS' control has been reduced significantly.”

In Iraq, about 70 percent of the territory ISIS once held is now liberated. In Syria, 50 percent of the territory they once held is liberated, and ISIS has not retaken one inch of territory liberated by the coalition, Davis said.

“This includes places where external operations were [being] hatched and that served as hubs for the flow of foreign fighters in and terrorists out. Places like Manbij, and now Raqqa, their capital in Syria, which is surrounded and collapsing quickly,” he added, noting that all was done with the cooperation of a large coalition.

The coalition now includes 73 partners -- 69 nations plus the European Union, NATO, the Arab League and Interpol, he said.

“The coalition is progressing and ISIS is facing its inevitable defeat. We will win and they will lose. Our campaign against ISIS has been done with the utmost care to minimize civilian casualties,” Davis said, adding that although this campaign has been the most precise in the history of warfare, “Civilians do die in war and that's a sad truth.

“But the 5 million innocent people liberated from ISIS would still be living under that brutality and the death toll would be even higher but for our efforts against ISIS,” he said.

Syria and Iraq

In Raqqa today it is day 64 of Syria operations, Davis said.

“Yesterday the [Syrian Democratic Forces] liberated about a square kilometer of terrain in Raqqa, continuing to work on the three axes that we've talked about before -- west, east and south.

“And the east-west deconfliction line south of the Euphrates is holding as regime forces remain south and SDF forces remain north of that agreed-upon line,” Davis added.

Over the weekend strikes were conducted in Abu Kamal, Shaddadi, Dar Azar and Raqqa. The 24 strikes included 11 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 30 fighting positions, two vehicles, two command-and-control nodes, two mortar systems, a tunnel, a heavy machine gun, an improvised explosive device facility and a vehicle-borne-bomb facility and damaged six fighting positions, he said.

“Meanwhile in Iraq, hold forces are in place in Mosul. This is a combination of Iraqi forces including the Federal Police, the 16th Iraqi Army Division, and [Counter Terrorism Service] battalions that remain in east and west Mosul and continue to assess security requirements,” Davis said.

The coalition continues to support the [Iraqis] as they reset and prepare for follow-on operations in Tal Afar, he said, “which is effectively surrounded at this point and we'll continue to see that tighten as time goes on.”

More strikes took place over the weekend in Huwayjah, Kisik, Rawah and Tal Afar, Davis said. 

Note: In the above U.S. Army photo taken by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull U.S. Army Cpl. Dean Craig chats with a truck crew in Mosul, Iraq on June 8, 2017, before moving to an advise and assist patrol base in a neighborhood liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. 

'Flight Deck Choreographers' Keep Carrier Operations Safe


The DoD News offers the below piece from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz:

PERSIAN GULF, Aug. 7, 2017 — Flight deck operations on an aircraft carrier have often been compared to a ballet. Sailors at work on a flight deck wear an assortment of colored jerseys to specify their job.

After watching how the flight deck operates for a while, it is clear the yellow shirts are in charge of the big dance, and those jerseys are worn by aviation boatswain's mates.

The aviation boatswain's mates who work on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz are directly responsible for the handling and maneuvering of aircraft as well as the safety of all personnel during flight operations. Any mistake or lack of better judgment can cause damage to equipment or injury to personnel on the flight deck.

"At first being a yellow shirt was scary, but now that I have some confidence, I would say there is a sense of pride," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Melanie Cluck, an aviation boatswain's mate. "On the flight deck, we are not only responsible for directing aircraft, but also for directing people. Normally, anyone who needs guidance on the flight deck looks for a yellow shirt. Safety of all the personnel on deck is a big part of our job as well. So we don't only need to know our job, but everyone else's as well."


Blue Shirts

Before donning the sought-after yellow jersey, aviation boatswain's mates wear blue jerseys to indicate that they are in a more junior status. These sailors are normally newer airmen who have yet to acquire all of the necessary qualifications. Their main responsibilities during flight operations include chocking and chaining, running elevators and tractor operation.

"Being a blue shirt is hard work, but it makes you tough," said Seaman Michael Lothrop. "It's hot up there right now, and we work long days, but you have to be on alert at all times and ready to get the job done whenever you are needed."

Blue shirts are normally covered in grease and always carrying something heavy, whether it be a chain, tractor bar or chock. They play a big part in the maneuvering of aircraft on the flight deck because they do most of the hands on work. During their time wearing blue, they learn the ins and outs of properly directing aircraft, which helps build the foundation of a high performance yellow shirt.


 The job requires attention to detail and an extreme amount of knowledge to be performed well. The training and the number of hours a sailor needs to put in to become a yellow shirt is impressive.

"There are two main qualifications you get as a blue shirt, but from there, it's all about if your chain of command sees you have the initiative to take on being a yellow shirt," Cluck said.
Earning the Yellow Jersey

Sailors must qualify as flight deck observers and learn directing and handling in addition to the qualifications all sailors are required to attain when they report to Nimitz. The requirements take roughly 12 weeks to complete. Sailors then take a written and oral test administered by the flight deck leading petty officer, assistant LPO and any other yellow-shirt-qualified chief petty officers or first class petty officers who decide to attend.

Once sailors earn the right to wear the yellow jersey on the flight deck, they enter an apprenticeship period called "under inspection." This means they need an experienced yellow shirt to help them along the way toward becoming an expert at their new job on the flight deck.
UI yellow shirts are always accompanied by a seasoned mentor who is observing every signal and decision they make.

"It's a case-by-case basis on how long the UI process takes," Cluck said. "The process is just there to make sure you fully understand what you are doing on the flight deck. It's extensive work to say the least, but it helps you build character. The goal of the process is just to build you up to be the great yellow shirt you are supposed to be."

Yellow shirts have to communicate through hand signals with pilots and other personnel working on the flight deck to safely move aircraft onto the catapults and off of the landing area.

"You have to be able to really get control of your aircraft and understand the pilot," Cluck said. "It's a gut feeling that you develop during your training. If you feel you need to slow the aircraft down, you can, and you start to learn when exactly to turn it. We have hundreds of hand signals we can use to take control of the aircraft on deck. The people in the pilot seats are officers, so you have to be professional, and every motion you make has to be crisp and precise to prevent accidents."

The working environment of a yellow shirt is unlike anywhere else on the ship. The yellow shirt locker, or crew area, is on Nimitz' flight deck. The tight-knit group of men and women spends their time out of the scorching heat joking, laughing and preparing to launch multimillion-dollar aircraft into the sky. It is here where the instructors of the world's most dangerous ballet reside. It is here where the yellow shirts dwell, mentally preparing themselves to launch aircraft as their ship sits at the tip of the spear. 

Note The top U.S. Navy photo taken by Petty officer 3rd Class Ian Kinkead is of Petty Officer 3rd Class Melanie Cluck, an aviation boatswain's mate and yellow shirt aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf on  August. 4, 2017. 

The middle U.S. Navy photo is of the USS Nimitz at sea.

The above photo taken by Kinkead show Navy Seaman Michael Lathrop, an aviation boatswain's mate and blue shirt.