Wednesday, October 17, 2018

NATO Secretary General And Supreme Allied Commander Europe Talk Deterrence Aboard Aircraft Carrier USS Truman

Jim Garamone at offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2018 — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, made a statement about deterrence just by their presence aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the North Sea during an Oct. 12 news conference. 

The carrier is participating in Exercise Trident Juncture 18, the largest NATO exercise since the 1980s. The exercise will be held Oct. 25-Nov. 7.
“From these decks, the USS Truman projects power to keep us all safe,” Stoltenberg said on the hangar deck of the massive ship. “It delivers deterrence every day. It helps keep our sea lines of communication open and it has been critical in the fight against terrorism, against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.”

Trident Juncture showcases the defensive might of the 29-nation alliance. More than 45,000 service members, 60 ships and thousands of vehicles will participate in the exercise in and around Norway.
Testing NATO’s Collective Response Capability
Trident Juncture will test NATO’s collective response to an armed attack against one ally. “To keep our nations safe in an unpredictable world, we need to keep our alliance strong,” Stoltenberg said. “We do need to have the training and we need to train together in all domains; at sea, in air, on land and in cyberspace.”
The exercise will test NATO’s high-readiness forces, and send a clear message of alliance.
The exercise will test NATO nation’s ability to work together in a time of crisis, Scaparrotti said. “It will be an important test and, as you’ve seen today, a demonstration of our collective capabilities,” he said. “With all 29 nations, as well as Finland and Sweden participating across air, land and sea, … this Trident Juncture exercise is a prime example of NATO allies and partners working together. Trident Juncture 18 will demonstrate that, in an unpredictable world, NATO remains an anchor of stability.”
The general stressed that the alliance is changing and adapting to new threats not only from Russia but across the spectrum. Trident Juncture itself includes the cyber domain, space and activities short of war. NATO nations must train together to handle these new multinational, multi-domain threats.
“The challenge of doing that across 29 nations makes this complex,” he said. “I was just aboard a Danish flagship connected with ships from the United States, Portugal, Norway, sharing a common picture, working on common operating procedures, tactics and procedures, and doing quite well. So again, we’re ready and we’re getting stronger every day.”
Both Stoltenberg and Scaparrotti noted that the ship’s namesake, President Harry S. Truman, was in office when the Washington Treaty that established NATO was signed in 1949.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Attorney General Sessions Announces New Measures To Fight Transnational Organized Crime

The U.S. Justice Department announced a series of measures to dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
“The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me an executive order to dismantle transnational criminal organizations—the gangs and cartels who flood our streets with drugs and violence,” Attorney General Sessions said.  “We embrace that order and we carry it out every single day.  Today, to increase our effectiveness, I am putting in place new leadership to drive our transnational organized crime efforts and forming a Transnational Organized Crime Task Force of experienced prosecutors that will coordinate and optimize the Department’s efforts to take each of these groups off of our streets for good.”
The Attorney General has appointed Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian to serve as the Department’s first Director of Counter Transnational Organized Crime.  Hovakimian has served in Department leadership since early 2017 and also as an AUSA in the Southern District of California, where he is co-lead counsel in a series of transnational public corruption and fraud cases.  In addition to his duties as federal prosecutor, earlier this year the President nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed Hovakimian to serve as a Commissioner of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States.
Attorney General Sessions has appointed Adam Cohen as the new Director of Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  Cohen is currently the Chief of the Criminal Division Special Operations Unit’s Office of Enforcement Operations and has served in the Criminal Division for 10 years.  He has also served as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for five years and as a state prosecutor in Florida for seven years.  He also led the National Gang Targeting Enforcement and Coordination Center for nearly three years and has served as a Deputy Chief of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section.  He is a past recipient of the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Reduction and Deterrence of Violent and Organized Crime, as well as the DEA Administrator’s Award for his work to counter narcotics trafficking.
On February 9, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13773, which directed the federal government to “ensure that Federal law enforcement agencies give a high priority and devote sufficient resources to efforts to identify, interdict, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations[.]”
Following this Executive Order, Attorney General Sessions directed the FBI, DEA, OCDETF, and the Department’s Criminal Division to identify top transnational criminal groups that threaten the safety and prosperity of the United States and its allies.  As a result of that review, the Attorney General is designating the following criminal groups as top transnational organized crime threats:
•     MS-13

•     Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG)

•     Sinaloa Cartel

•     Clan del Golfo, and

•     Lebanese Hezbollah.
The Attorney General’s TOC Task Force will be led by the Deputy Attorney General and will be composed of experienced prosecutors.  It will be organized into one subcommittee for each of the target groups.
The subcommittee on MS-13 will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  AUSA Durham has played a significant role in the FBI’s Long Island Task Force, which has arrested hundreds of MS-13 members.
The subcommittee on Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion will be led by Trial Attorney Brett Reynolds of the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Department’s Criminal Division.  Reynolds has led or co-led several investigations into the Cartel that have led to indictments of some of its highest ranking members.
The subcommittee on the Sinaloa Cartel will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Sutton of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.  AUSA Sutton prosecuted several Sinaloa kingpins and led multiple international investigations targeting Sinaloa Cartel leaders, resulting in seizures of millions of dollars in drug proceeds and thousands of kilograms of illicit drugs.
The subcommittee on Clan del Golfo will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Emery of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  AUSA Emery has secured convictions against the top leadership of Clan del Golfo, including kingpin Henry de Jesus Lopez Londoño, who commanded over 1,000 armed men for the cartel.
The subcommittee on Lebanese Hezbollah will be led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilan Graff of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  AUSA Graff is overseeing the prosecution of two alleged members of Hezbollah’s External Security Organization, the first such operatives to be charged with terrorism offenses in the United States.
Attorney General Sessions has ordered each of these subcommittees to provide specific recommendations within 90 days on how to disrupt and dismantle TOC, whether through prosecution, diplomacy, or other lawful means.
This new Task Force builds upon work that Attorney General Sessions has already done to dismantle these groups.  On January 11, 2018, Attorney General Sessions established the Hezbollah Financing and Narcoterrorism Team (HFNT), a group of experienced international narcotics trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, and money laundering prosecutors.  HFNT prosecutors and investigators are tasked with investigating individuals and networks providing support to Hezbollah, and pursuing prosecutions in any appropriate cases.  The new subcommittee—which will be staffed and led by HFNT members—will aid the ongoing work of the HFNT.
On October 23, 2017, Attorney General Sessions formally designated MS-13 as a priority target for OCDETF.

Monday, October 15, 2018

U.S. Navy, Actor Gerard Butler Collaborate To Tell 21st Century Submarine Yarn

Jim Garamone at offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2018 — Hollywood came to the Pentagon today as actor Gerard Butler spoke to Pentagon reporters about his collaboration with the U.S. Navy in making “Hunter-Killer,” a submarine movie due out this week. 

The Pentagon press briefing studio was filled to capacity as Butler – who plays the commander of the fictional attack sub USS Arkansas in the movie – answered questions about the experience.
The movie posits an operation aimed at averting war with Russia. Butler said it is a chance to bring the submarine genre into the 21st century. “Hunter-Killer” is a chance to take viewers into submarines and let them see the culture, “and really see how these people think, work, their courage, their intelligence, basically their brilliance,” the actor said.
The plot alternates between the submarine, a special operations team inserted in Russia and the Pentagon.
Navy Vice Adm. Fritz Roegge, now the president of the National Defense University, was the commander of the U.S. Submarine Force in the Pacific. “I was privileged to host Mr. Butler in Pearl Harbor for an orientation to the submarine force,” the admiral said.
The Navy supported the effort even as the service remained “laser-focused” on warfighting in today's era of great power competition. “But we're also competing for talent, and in this dynamic economy, it's more important than ever that we find ways to inspire the next generation of warfighters to consider serving our country in the Navy,” Roegge said.
Only a small fraction of young Americans qualify to serve in the military. An even smaller number are aware of the opportunities the services offer. “Although the Navy benefits from technology that gives us the world’s most capable platforms and equipment, it is our people who are truly our greatest strength,” Roegge said. “In the words of another great Scotsman – John Paul Jones – ‘Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.’ So we will only remain the world’s greatest Navy by attracting the best talent from across our nation.”
Connecting With Young Americans
Movies are a good way to reach young Americans and they are also a good vehicle to expose all Americans to their Navy, Roegge said. All Americans need to understand “they know their Navy: who we are, what we do, and why it matters.”
Butler was immersed in the submarine culture sailing aboard the USS Houston from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Being aboard the submarine was like being in another world, he said. “I felt like I could spend a year just in sonar. But I was shipped from sonar to the bridge, to navigation to the engine room to the torpedo room because I had a very quick-minded sub commander who wanted to show me every working living part of the submarine – even how to compress trash.”
Butler added, “What I really took out of it was the brilliance and the humility of the sailors I worked with. Not that I didn’t have that appreciation before – I certainly did – but having spent time with them to realize how their minds work and how agile and how creative they have to be. And they are constantly being tested to prove themselves to think logically, to think intuitively, and in all different matters.”
And it was real for Butler. “You can do it in a movie, but when you are actually on a sub, you realize the dangers that are there,” he said. “You are a thousand feet underwater and you go, ‘Okay. What are the different ways things can go wrong?’ You have a greater appreciation of what these people do every day unsung and unseen and their courage and valor.”
DOD officials approved the request in December 2014, and the Navy provided access and technical support to the filmmakers.
Officials stressed that support to “Hunter-Killer” or any other movie is done at zero cost to the American taxpayer. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Happy Birthday To Sir Roger Moore

Happy birthday to the late actor and author Sir Roger Moore, who portrayed James Bond in the 1970s and 1980s on film and The Saint on TV in the 1960s.

I reviewed his last book for the Washington Times.

Although I much prefer Sean Connery’s dark and dangerous portrayal of Ian Fleming’s iconic character James Bond to Sir Roger Moore’s light and comedic approach, I was a huge fan of Mr. Moore’s portrayal of Leslie Charteris’ Simon Templar in the 1960s TV series “The Saint.” 

By all accounts, the late Mr. Moore was an intelligent and amiable man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This comes across clearly in his books, such as “My Word is My Bond” and “Last Man Standing,” as well as his latest book, “A Bientot.”

The book was delivered to his publisher only days before he died on May 23 at the age of 89.

 “A Bientot” (French for goodbye or see you later) offers Mr. Moore’s take on growing old and a look back at what he has called an extraordinarily lucky and charmed life.

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

Note: Today is also the birthday of my friend and former Philadelphia Inquirer editor, Frank Wilson.

You can read Frank Wilson's literary blog at

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Happy 243rd Birthday To The U.S. Navy

The Naval History and Heritage Command celebrates the 243rd U.S. Navy birthday.

The theme for the Navy’s 243rd Birthday is “Forged by the Sea.”

A 13 October 1775 resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the United States Navy with “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible dispatch, for a cruise of three months….” After the American War of Independence, the U.S. Constitution empowered the new Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.” Acting on this authority, Congress established the Department of the Navy on 30 April 1798.

In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized official recognition of 13 October as the birthday of the U.S. Navy. Since then, each CNO has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration of this occasion “to enhance a greater appreciation of our Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service.”

For more information on U.S. Navy history, as well as commemoration and communication resources, explore the links below:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Chinese Intelligence Officer Charged With Economic Espionage Involving Theft Of Trade Secrets From Leading U.S. Aviation Companies

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

A Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) operative, Yanjun Xu, aka Qu Hui, aka Zhang Hui, has been arrested and charged with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and steal trade secrets from multiple U.S. aviation and aerospace companies.  Xu was extradited to the United States yesterday.

The charges were announced today by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Benjamin C. Glassman, Assistant Director Bill Priestap of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, and Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division.

“This indictment alleges that a Chinese intelligence officer sought to steal trade secrets and other sensitive information from an American company that leads the way in aerospace,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “This case is not an isolated incident.  It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense.  We cannot tolerate a nation’s stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower.  We will not tolerate a nation that reaps what it does not sow.” 

“Innovation in aviation has been a hallmark of life and industry in the United States since the Wright brothers first designed gliders in Dayton more than a century ago,” said U.S. Attorney Glassman.  “U.S. aerospace companies invest decades of time and billions of dollars in research.  This is the American way.  In contrast, according to the indictment, a Chinese intelligence officer tried to acquire that same, hard-earned innovation through theft.  This case shows that federal law enforcement authorities can not only detect and disrupt such espionage, but can also catch its perpetrators.  The defendant will now face trial in federal court in Cincinnati.”

"This unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence officer exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States,” said Assistant Director Priestap.

Yanjun Xu is a Deputy Division Director with the MSS’s Jiangsu State Security Department, Sixth Bureau.  The MSS is the intelligence and security agency for China and is responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.  MSS has broad powers in China to conduct espionage both domestically and abroad.

Xu was arrested in Belgium on April 1, pursuant to a federal complaint, and then indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Ohio.  The government unsealed the charges today, following his extradition to the United States.  The four-count indictment charges Xu with conspiring and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.  

According to the indictment:

Beginning in at least December 2013 and continuing until his arrest, Xu targeted certain companies inside and outside the United States that are recognized as leaders in the aviation field. This included GE Aviation. He identified experts who worked for these companies and recruited them to travel to China, often initially under the guise of asking them to deliver a university presentation. Xu and others paid the experts’ travel costs and provided stipends. 


An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy and attempt to commit economic espionage is 15 years of incarceration.  The maximum for conspiracy and attempt to commit theft of trade secrets is 10 years.  The charges also carry potential financial penalties.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Cincinnati Division, and substantial support was provided by the FBI Legal Attaché’s Office in Brussels.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in obtaining and coordinating the extradition of Xu, and Belgian authorities provided significant assistance in securing the arrest and facilitating the surrender of Xu from Belgium. 

Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI and the assistance of the Belgian authorities in the arrest and extradition of Xu.  Mr. Demers and Mr. Glassman also commended the cooperation of GE Aviation throughout this investigation. The cooperation and GE Aviation’s internal controls protected GE Aviation’s proprietary information. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy S. Mangan and Emily N. Glatfelter of the Southern District of Ohio, and Trial Attorneys Thea D. R. Kendler and Amy E. Larson of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, Dutch: A Look Back At Elmore Leonard's Greatest Opening Lines

The late, great Elmore “Dutch” Leonard is one of my favorite writers.

As today is his birthday, the good people at offer his best opening lines from his crime novels.

Elmore Leonard was “the Dickens of Detroit,” “the poet laureate of wild assholes with revolvers,” and above all a master craftsman. Ever a writer’s writer, Leonard honed his craft meticulously over a career that spanned sixty years and nearly as many books, from westerns to era-defining crime novels like Get Shorty and Out of Sight to short story collections that still infuse the pop and mystery culture to this day. Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing,” published in the New York Times in 2001, has become gospel for many a writer, including such timeless gems as “[t]ry to leave out the part that readers tend to skip” and, most famously, “[i]f it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Leonard was also renowned for his opening lines. (In his “Rules,” he warns writers to skip prologues and never to start by describing the weather.) Rightly, he’s now remembered as one of the greatest lead writers in the history of crime fiction, able to engage a reader, capture a mood, and establish a world in a few brief words.

In honor of Leonard’s birthday—he was born on October 11th, 1925—we’ve assembled 25 of his greatest opening lines. They’re ranked here (in descending order) but that’s a matter of taste, mood, and whimsy. Let these words be an inspiration, an entertainment, or just a good kick in the ass. Warning: the temptation to keep on reading Leonard’s books will be strong, and you should follow that temptation where it leads.
25. Pronto (1993)

“One evening, it was toward the end of October, Harry Arno said to the woman he’d been seeing on and off the past few years, ‘I’ve made a decision. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before in my life.'”

24. Cuba Libre (1998)

“Tyler arrived with the horses, February eighteenth, three days after the battleship Maine blew up in Havana harbor.”

23. Split Images (1981)

“In the winter of 1981 a multimillionaire by the name of Robinson Daniels shot a Haitian refugee who had broken into his home in Palm Beach.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read my Crime Beat column on Elmore Leonard via the below link:

My Crime Fiction: 'The Count And The Baker'

The below short story first appeared in American Crime Magazine:

The Count and the Baker

By Paul Davis

I carry my father’s Scot-Welch name and blood proudly, but I’m also half-Italian – Sicilian, in fact. My mother’s maiden name was Guardino and her parents came over to America from Sicily in the 1930s.

I was reminded of this side of the family when I was contacted by a cousin that I remember only as a baby when I was a teenager. My cousin, Mike Guardino, saw my name on a Navy veteran online website and sent me a message. 

Like me, my cousin had served in the U.S. Navy. We emailed each other for a while and exchanged photos. I had little memory of him, but I recall clearly his father, my Uncle Sal, who was my mother’s brother.

My uncle used to visit my house in the 1960s when I was a teenager. I recall a wiry guy of average height, with a rugged face and a strong voice. He and my father would sit at the kitchen table, drink beer and argue about World War II. 

My father had served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific as a chief petty officer and Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogman and my uncle served in the U.S. Army in Europe as a rifleman. The two would share their war experiences and rib each other. Often the exchanges would get heated, but the nights always ended on a friendly note.    

My father died of cancer in 1976 and my uncle died of heart failure in 1988.

Mike emailed me and suggested we meet in person. He lived in South Jersey, not far from my South Philly home, so we met in a South Philly bar and grill where the food was great and reasonably priced. 

Mike said he knew all about me from reading my old newspaper columns in a South Philly weekly newspaper and my more recent newspaper and magazine stories on the Internet. He also recalled his father talking about his beloved sister, my mother.

Originally from South Philadelphia, my cousin moved to South Jersey after getting out of the Navy. He told me that he was a New Jersey state trooper, having followed in the footsteps of his father, who had been a Philadelphia police officer.   

Like our fathers, we swapped stories about our service in the Navy. I had served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War and afterwards on a Navy harbor tugboat at the nuclear submarine base in Holy Loch, Scotland. My cousin served more than decade later on a Navy Destroyer in the Mediterranean.

We spoke eventually of Sicily, which we both visited while in the Navy. My cousin also told of a time he visited Sicily as a young boy with his mother and father and his father’s friend and family.  

He could not recall the name of the town, which was near Palermo, nor could he remember the name of the seaside resort where they spent a wonderful week. But he did recall that the fine vacation was marred somewhat by an altercation with a powerful local man known as “The Count.” 

The Russo and Guardino families had a great first day at the resort. They eat fabulous Sicilian food, basked in the warm sun and swam in the ocean and the pool. 

Also at the resort was a large party of local men and their wives. The leader of this group was a man in his late 30s that everyone called “The Count.” He was darkly handsome, athletically fit and possessed a regal bearing. He gave all of the instructions to the resort staff and did most of the talking among the men. Mike Guardino, all of 10-years-old, first understood the expression of “looking down one’s nose at someone,” as the man did indeed rear his head back and look down his nose at people and appeared to be offended at what he saw and smelled.

The man, Luigi Di Salvo, who was called Count Luigi, was the center of attention that first day, showing his prowess as a diver and swimmer as he leapt from the diving board and dove into the pool. He also showed his prowess as a fencer, as the resort had set up an area near the pool where Di Salvo and a friend matched fencing swords. Di Salvo won the match and his group of friends all applauded.    

At dinner that first night, Sal Guardino and his wife and small child sat with his friend, Angelo Russo, known as “Ange,” and his wife and young son. Russo owned and operated a bakery in South Philadelphia. Russo, who came from a poor family, was proud of his success as a baker.

Russo was a big and heavy man with a large belly from eating his own bread and pastries, and huge muscular arms and legs from loading his wares onto his trucks. 

It was Russo’s idea that he and his good friend Sal Guardino visit the island where their two families had come from originally. The two men had visited the island once before, as they were both veterans of the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II. Russo had been Guardino’s sergeant and as the two men both hailed from South Philly, they became good friends.

Russo, thrilled to have returned to Sicily, ordered a local wine and said a toast in Sicilian.

At a table nearby, Di Salvo sat with his party. He heard the toast and he called over the resort’s manager. Loudly in Sicilian, he upbraided the manager for allowing fat, loud and ignorant American tourists to sit near his table. The manager apologized and said he would arrange more appropriate sitting in the future. 

Young Mike Guardino did not understand what was said but he saw Russo’s face turn dark red and saw his powerful, big hands grip and twist his napkin. Sal Guardino also didn’t know what was said, but he too saw Russo’s anger. 

Russo came out of his chair and walked up to Di Salvo and shot him an angry look. He told the man to meet him on the beach – now! 

Di Salvo got up from his chair, slowly and disdainfully. He waved his arm, bidding Russo to go first. Sal Guardino told the wives and children to stay at the table and he would find out was happening. 

On the beach, Russo told Di Salvo that he heard his remark, and if his wife and family understood Sicilian they would have been insulted and humiliated. He then would have to do something. 

Di Salvo, surrounded by three men, laughed and said in perfect English, “Do what exactly?”

Guardino stepped behind Russo and Di Salvo’s men looked at each other and backed up a bit.

Mike Guardino had broken free from his mother’s grip and ran to the beach after his father. He watched the men face off against each other. 

“This conversation is over. I have nothing more to say to someone like you,” Di Salvo said, looking down his nose at Russo. He then simply walked away, his three men in tow.

Hurrying up to Russo and Guardino was the manager, who looked as if he were about to cry. 

He pleaded with Russo to not make a scene. Russo countered by saying that the man had insulted him, his family and friends. The manager apologized for Count Luigi and said the resort was large enough to accommodate both parties, separately, but equal in service. 

The manager put his arm around Russo and said in a low voice that Count Luigi was not truly a count, but he had come home from the university showing airs. He was, however, truly the son of an important man in Palermo - a man of honor.

Cosa Nostra?” Guardino, the South Philly cop, asked. “We got those guys where we come from as well.”

The manager again pleaded for peace. 

“OK,” Russo said. “I can see that this guy is an athlete and I’m an old, fat guy now. But in my day, before the war, I was a professional boxer and I can still throw a good combo. You tell the Count that.”

The manger did not know that a “combo” was a combination of left and right punches, but he understood the idea. And he had no intention of telling Di Silva anything of the sort. 

But one of Di Silva’s men was standing nearby and he heard every word.                  

The next day Russo was getting drinks for his group at the poolside bar when one of Di Salvo’s men sided up to him.

“The Count wishes to speak to you,” he said, pointing towards Di Salvo at a nearby table. 

“I’ll be right there,” Russo replied. 

Russo dropped the drinks off to his family and walked over to Di Salvo. Di Salvo rose and looked Russo up and down disdainfully.   

“I heard you threatened me with your boxing skills,” Di Salvo said. “Well, as it happens, boxing is among my skills as well. I boxed at university. If you were not a fat, old man, I would challenge you to a boxing match.” 

“Challenge accepted,” Russo said flatly. “I’ll take you in the first.” 

Di Salvo looked confused until one of his men explained that Russo meant that he would end the match in the first round in his favor. Di Salvo smiled and said they would meet on the beach that night. Lights and a boxing ring would be set up. He would make all of the arrangements with the resort manager.

Later, as Russo nursed a drink with Guardino, the manager came up to them and asked if they were insane.

“The Count is a world-class athlete and you are old! The Count’s father, Don Antonio, is here,” the manager said, pointing surreptitiously to an old man sitting by himself at a table with a big man standing nearby. 

“Make the arrangements he ordered,” Russo said. “The fight is on.” 

The manager stormed off and Russo walked back to his room. Guardino walked over to Don Antonio’s table. The big man moved in front of the table and Guardino told him to get out of the way. 

The man at the table barked an order in Sicilian and the big man moved. 

Guardino sat down and faced the Sicilian Cosa Nostra organized crime boss. Guardino pulled out his wallet and slapped his badge on the table. 

“I hope this will be a fair fight between your son and my friend,” Guardino said.    

Don Antonio slowly sipped his coffee. He looked directly at Guardino.

“I do not fight my son’s battles. He is capable of fighting the foolish fights he himself begins,’ Don Antonio said in English. “Personally, I hope your friend knocks him on his ass, as you Americans say.” 

The two men laughed.

Later that night, Russo and Guardino arranged for a car to take their wives and sons to a restaurant in Palermo, but Mike Guardino slipped away and hid behind a low wall near the beach to watch the fight.

Lights were strung over a near-regulation makeshift boxing ring. Di Salvo came out in boxing gloves and a pair of shorts, his bare torso and arms thick with toned muscle. The large gathered crowd cheered for him. 

Russo and Guardino walked towards the ring. Russo had on boxing gloves and was in shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt, which covered his protruding stomach and showed his big arms. His bare legs were as thick as three stumps.

The fight began with Di Salvo delivering a series of solid blows to Russo’s face and middle. Although Russo’s left eye was closed, and his nose bloodied, he stood toe-to-toe with his younger opponent and traded punches. 

Then Russo delivered a good left to Di Salvo’s middle and a strong right hook to Di Salvo’s ear, which dropped him hard to the deck.

The crowd gasped, and some brave souls even cheered. Di Salvo got up quickly and showed that he was not injured. It appeared that only his pride was hurt. He rushed Russo and pounded him, but the old baker took it and stayed on his feet. 

Round two saw the two hit each other repeatedly and both were bloodied. Russo looked the worst of the two, as he had blood coming from his eyes, ears and nose. The referee the resort had hired tried to stop the fight. 

Russo would not have it. He waved Di Salvo on. 

Like Rocky Marciano, Russo’s hero, Russo dropped his right hand low to the canvas and then brought it up swiftly where it connected under Di Salvo’s chin. Di Salvo collapsed on the canvas floor. The referee gave Di Salvo an “eight count” and then Di Salvo got slowly to his feet.

He came to Russo slowly, cautiously. Russo leaned on the ropes with his hands up. His left eye was closed, and his right eye was filled with blood, so he had trouble seeing Di Salvo. But when Di Salvo came in slugging, Russo wrapped his left arm around his opponent and drove his right hand repeatedly into Di Salvo’s middle. 

Di Salvo tried to break free as well as block the powerful blows to his body, but Russo had swung him around and pinned him against the ropes. The referee tried to break up the fighters, but he was not strong enough. 

Finally, Di Salvo collapsed in Russo’s grip and Russo let him drop to the canvas. 

The next day a much humbled and bruised Di Salvo walked up to Russo’s table and bowed to the two families assembled for lunch. He brought a bottle of fine wine and offered it to Russo. 

“My father suggested that I apologize for my rude behavior and congratulate you on your win in the boxing ring,” Di Salvo said. “As always, my father offers wise advice. I am truly sorry if my boorish behavior spoiled your vacation.”

“Apology accepted,” Russo said gruffly. “Sit down and have a drink with us.”

Di Salvo sat down. This time, Di Salvo offered a Sicilian toast. 

“If you and I recover sufficiently during your stay, I’d like to once again challenge you," Di Salvo said. "But not in the boxing ring!” 

Everyone at the table laughed.  

“How are you with guns?” Di Salvo asked Russo. “Can you shoot?” 

“Ask the Nazis he kicked off this island,” Guardino said.

   © Paul Davis 2018

Note: You can read my other crime stories via the below link: 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Look Back At Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Guzman: Once The Most Wanted Man In The World

The latest issue of Counterterrorism magazine offers my piece on Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzman, once the most wanted man in the world, who now sits in a jail cell in New York waiting to be tried for drug trafficking and other federal crimes.

You can read the piece below:

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

Vietnam War Spy & Southeast Asian Terrorism: My Q&A With Luke Hunt, Australian Journalist And Author Of 'Punji Trap: Pham Xuan An: The Spy Who Didn't Love Us'

The latest issue of Counterterrorism magazine offers my Q&A with Luke Hunt, Australian journalist and author of Punji Trap: Pham Xuan An: The Spy Who Didn't Love Us.

You can read the interview below:

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

On This Day In History Communist Revolutionary Che Guevara Was Executed In Boliva

On this day in history Communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara was executed in Bolivia.

Although Guevara was and is a hero to leftists around the world, many others, like me, believe he was a despot, a murderer, and an utter failure as a revolutionary.  

You can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the hunt for Che Guevara via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of Mitch Weiss and Kevin Maurer's Hunting Che: How a U.S. Special Forces team helped Capture the World's Most Famous Revolutionary via the below link:

Monday, October 8, 2018

My Washington Times Review Of 'Carmine The Snake: Carmine Persico And His Murderous Mafia Family'

The Washington Times published my review of Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family.

"Carmine the Snake” Persico has been identified by the FBI and the Justice Department as the longtime head of the New York Cosa Nostra Colombo crime family.

Although incarcerated in 1987 due to his conviction in the 1986 famous Mafia Commission federal RICO case, he reputedly still runs the Colombo crime family from prison. He made his name in the Profaci crime family as part of the hit team that shot and killed mob boss Albert Anastasia in a New York barbershop in 1957.

Anastasia, known as “The Mad Hatter” and “The Executioner,” was the co-creator of Murder Inc., the notorious enforcement arm of organized crime in New York in the 1940s. A famous photo was taken of the slain Anastasia, lying dead next to a barber’s chair as detectives look on.

In 1961, during a conflict between the Gallo crew and Joe Profaci, the Profaci crime family boss, Persico switched sides and attempted to strangle and kill his friend and fellow hit man Larry Gallo, which earned him the nickname “the Snake.” The attempted strangulation in a darkened bar was fictionally re-created in “The Godfather, Part II.”

Frank DiMatteo, who describes himself as a mafia survivor and previously wrote “The President Street Boys: Growing Up Mafia,” offers a “street level” view of the Colombo boss in “Carmine Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family.” Michael Benson, a true crime author who wrote “Betrayal in Blood,” is the co-author of this book.

… “Using a combination of brashness, cunning, and an appetite for extreme violence, Carmine Persico Carmine Persico rocketed from gangbanger on a Park Slope, Brooklyn street corner to boss of the Colombo crime family, where he reputedly became the longest-reigning godfather in modern Mafia history — mostly from behind the bars of a federal penitentiary,” the authors tell us.
The book covers in detail the internecine mob war between the Gallos and the Profaci crime family, with each faction murdering and attempting to murder each other. The Gallo crew put a bomb in Persico's car, but the detonation failed to kill him. The war ended with Profaci’s death and the murder of Crazy Joe Gallo in a restaurant.

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

Friday, October 5, 2018

Semper Fi: Happy 75th Birthday To Oliver North

Happy 75th birthday to Oliver North, retired Marine Lt. Colonel and NRA president.

You can read my Counterterrorism magazine Q&A with Oliver North via the below link: