Friday, November 15, 2019

Who Were The Real ‘Peaky Blinders’? The Shelby Family Is Fictional, But A Real Street Gang Operated In Birmingham At The Turn Of The 20th Century

I’ve enjoyed watching the British crime drama Peaky Blinders on Netflix, although I know the show is historically inaccurate.

Meilan Sally at offers s piece on the real Birmingham street gang. 

The British screenwriter Steven Knight took inspiration from his father’s stories of “incredibly well dressed,” “incredibly powerful” gangsters active in turn-of-the-century England when he invented the Shelby clan—the family of razor blade-wielding mobsters at the heart of his BBC drama “Peaky Blinders.” But it turns out that the Birmingham gang that lends the series its name actually existed, albeit in a different form than the family-centered criminal enterprise.

The real-life Peaky Blinders weren’t quite as successful as the rags-to-riches Shelbys, whose criminal network evolves from a small local faction to a multi-country powerhouse over the course of the show’s five seasons. Still, the two share a number of core similarities: namely, savvy fashion sense, a brutal disregard for the law and a member base made up largely of young working-class men. These youths, hardened by the economic deprivation rampant in industrial England, created what Historic U.K.’s Jessica Brain deems a “violent, criminal and organized” subculture.

As historian Carl Chinn, author of “The Real Peaky Blinders” tells the Birmingham Mail’s Zoe Chamberlain, the main difference between the fictionalized Peaky Blinders and their historical counterparts is timing. Although the television drama is set during the 1920s and '30s, the actual Birmingham group rose to prominence closer to the 1890s. 

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Little Humor: A Gorilla Walks Into A Bar

A gorilla walks into a bar. He ordered a dry martini to the amazement of the bartender.

When the bartender gave the gorilla the martini, he’s further surprised to see that the ape is holding a $20 bill..

The bartender took the $20 and then he decided to see just how smart the gorilla was, so he handed the gorilla $1 change.

The gorilla quietly sipped the martini until the bartender brook the silence.

“We don’t get too many apes in here,” he said.

The gorilla replied, “At $19 a drink, I’m not surprised.”

Note: The above photo is from a Three Stooges short film that I recently watched on METV called Crime On Their Hands

Moe, Larry and Shemp are budding crime reporters on a story about a stolen diamond when they encounter the gorilla. 

I loved the Three Stooges as a kid and I still get a kick out of them.  

You can watch the short Three Stooges film via the below link: 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

'Extraordinary' Letters Between Ian Fleming And Wife To Be Sold

Mark Brown at the Guardian offers a piece on the sale of the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming's letters to his late wife Ann.

An extraordinary stash of letters that shine a light on the tangled relationship between the James Bond creator Ian Fleming and his wife, Ann, from their intense and secret affair to the bitter end of their marriage, are to appear at auction.

Sotheby’s is selling more than 160 letters between the couple, written over 20 years. Gabriel Heaton, a specialist in books and manuscripts at the auction house, said the letters in their scope and scale provided what “must surely be an unmatchable record of the life of the author as his fortunes changed”.
They also provide insight into the rise of Bond. Heaton said it was no coincidence that Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in the year of his marriage.
… Heaton said the letters were packed with stories of high society, travel, love of nature and gossip.

“They are quite something, it has been a real treat,” he said. “They are an extraordinary read because Ian Fleming is pretty much incapable of writing a dull sentence.” 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Prosecutor Versus Prosecutor In Philadelphia: My Washington Times Piece On The Trump-Appointed U.S. Attorney's Feud With Liberal Philly DA

The Washington Times published my piece on the feud between William McSwain (seen in the above photo), the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of PA, and Larry Krasner (seen in the below photo) the Philadelphia DA.

In our criminal justice system, a prosecutor represents the government and a defense attorney represents the accused, but in Philadelphia there is a prosecutor versus prosecutor scenario.

Following the tragic shooting of two children, which I covered here, William McSwain, the President Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, released a blistering statement that assigned blame for the shootings on the pro-defendant policies of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Mr. Krasner, who was elected DA thanks in part to a huge George Soros donation, was previously a civil rights attorney who sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times and represented anti-police groups like ACT UP and Black Lives Matter pro-bono. He was opposed vehemently by Philadelphia police officers during the election.

On Nov. 4, Mr. McSwain stated that Philadelphians were shocked and outraged by the shootings of 11-month-old Yazeem Jenkins, who was shot four times on Oct. 19 in the Hunting Park area of Philadelphia while in a car with his father and stepmother, and 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera, who was shot in the head and killed the following day while in her mother’s arms in her living room in the Kensington area. Yazeem Jenkins remains in critical condition at Children’s Hospital.

“The community is united in its condemnation of these heinous acts –- but we must be honest about what enabled them to happen,” read the U.S. attorney’s statement. “It is the misguided policies of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner that led to these avoidable and heartbreaking tragedies. No amount of excuses or deflection can change this fact.”

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

Veterans Day 2019

Veterans Day is a Davis family affair. The below photo is of three veterans.

On the left is my late father, Edward M. Davis, who served as a Chief Petty Officer and UDT frogman in WWII. In the middle is my older brother, Edward R. Davis, who served in the U.S. Army in South Vietnam. And on the right is me. I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War.

Happy Veterans Day to all who served.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

U.S. Navy Helps 'Midway' Film Crew Bring Battle To Life

The U.S. Defense Department released the below story and photos on the U.S. Navy’s aid in the making of the film "Midway.":

The Battle of Midway was one of the most pivotal of World War II in the Pacific, and a major film depicting its events is about to hit the big screen. Defense Department historians who helped from start to finish say "Midway" does justice to the integrity, accountability and toughness of everyone involved in the real June 1942 battle. 

Written by Wes Tooke, "Midway" follows the war from the attack on Pearl Harbor through the Battle of Midway, which ultimately changed the tide of the war in America's favor. The narrative follows two naval officers and includes several critical role-players, including Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. James Doolittle and Adm. William Halsey.

"I wanted to showcase the valor and immense courage of the men on both sides and remain very sensitive to the human toll of the battles and war itself," said director Roland Emmerich, who visited Pearl Harbor in 2016 to see firsthand the historic bases, facilities and memorials that framed much of the war in the Pacific.

Historians from the Naval History and Heritage Command helped writers and producers during script development and production. The goal was to make a movie that was as accurate as possible — give or take a few small Hollywood-style inconsistencies — and the historians who helped said they were impressed with the final product.

"Despite some of the 'Hollywood' aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made," said retired Navy Rear Adm. Sam Cox, the NHHC director who personally supported each phase of the historical review. "It does real credit to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the battle on both sides."

The actors portraying the real heroes were committed to getting it right, too. 

Woody Harrelson played Nimitz, who took control of the U.S. Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbor. In preparation for the role, Harrelson called on Navy Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii at the time, for help in understanding the man Nimitz was and the decisions he made. 

"Admiral Nimitz came in at an extremely difficult time for the Pacific Fleet. It was really important for Harrelson to understand not just the man, but the timing of his arrival and the urgency of the situation for the Navy and nation," said Jim Neuman, the Navy Region Hawaii historian who arranged the meet-up and spent time on the set during filming. 

Harrelson also visited USS John C. Stennis while the ship operated in the Pacific. He got a close look at air operations at sea, saw the launch and recovery of various naval aircraft and spent time on the navigation bridge watching its operators. Harrelson also met with sailors, and even played piano at an impromptu jam session.

Actor Patrick Wilson plays intelligence officer Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton in the film. He visited retired Navy intelligence officer Capt. Dale Rielage to compare notes about Layton's education, his pre-war experiences and his relationships with Nimitz and the codebreakers at the famed Station Hypo.

"We were thoroughly impressed with the amount of research he had conducted on his own, and it's evident he is committed to honoring Layton's legacy," said Dave Werner, who escorted Wilson during the visit.

"Midway" is set to hit theaters Nov. 8, ahead of Veterans Day.

Friday, November 8, 2019

No Average Call: A Look Inside The FBI’s National Threat Operations Center

The FBI released a piece on the thier National Threat Operations Center.
“With our job, average doesn’t really exist,” said Sharon, a threat intake examiner at the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center (NTOC). “Every time we pick up the phone it’s a different situation.”
For NTOC threat intake examiners, that means handling about 3,100 different situations every day as phone calls and electronic tips flow into the FBI facility in Clarksburg, West Virginia. The calls and online tips can touch on any one of the FBI’s areas of focus—from counterterrorism and counterintelligence to bank robberies, public corruption, violent crime, and more.
The FBI’s goal is to make sure every tip is evaluated rapidly and appropriately as it continues to invest in the operations, training, and staffing of the intake center.
You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video via the below link:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Little Humor: Pirate Walks Into A Bar

A pirate goes into a bar and the bartender said: “Long time since I’ve seen you. You look terrible.” 

The pirate replied, “I feel fine.”

“Well, you didn’t have that wooden leg last time I saw you,” the bartender said.

“I got into a battle and a cannon ball hit me in the leg, but I’m ok.”

“Well, you didn’t have that hook on your arm either,” the bartender said.

“Got in a sword fight and lost my hand,” the pirate explained.

“What about the eye patch?” the bartender asked.

“A bunch of sea gulls flew over the boat and when I looked up one of them shit on my eye.” 

“How did that make you lose your eye?” the bartender asked. 

“It was the first day with the hook.”

Note: The above illustration is of Captain Hook from the Walt Disney classic, Peter Pan.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Mafia Cop Louis Eppolito Dies While Serving Life In Prison For Mob Hits

The New York Post reports that Louis Eppolito, known as the “Mafia Cop,” died in prison.
Mafia cop Louis Eppolito — who along with his partner Stephen Caracappa helped whack several men for the Lucchese crime family — died on Sunday while serving a life sentence in federal prison, law-enforcement sources told the Post. He was 71. 

The ex-detective was serving a life sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson for the eight contract killings that he and Caracappa helped carry out starting in the 1908s. 

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

Monday, November 4, 2019

A Little Humor: The One Condition

A year after a man married a much younger woman, he made an appointment with a lawyer.

“I want it to be nice and straightforward,” the man instructed the attorney, “Everything goes to my wife: the house, the car, the pension and the life insurance, under the one condition that she remarry within the year.”

“Fine, Sir,” said the lawyer, “But do you mind my asking why the one condition?”

“Simple,” the man replied. “I want at least one person to be sorry I died.”

Note: The above photo is of the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of John le Carre's 'Agent Running In The Field'

The Washington Times ran my review of John le Carre’s new spy novel, Agent Running in the Field.

On the eve of John le Carre publishing his latest spy novel, “Agent Running in the Field,” Sir Richard Dearlove, the former director of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), more popularly known as MI6, said that British intelligence officers are displeased with the otherwise well-regarded and popular espionage novelist.

Speaking at the Cliveden Literary Festival, the former spymaster said that John le Carre portrayed the SIS in a negative light. He said that the novels are exclusively about betrayal and they portray the dedicated SIS officers as untrustworthy. Trust between officers is at the heart of the SIS, he explained.

The former director said they have all enjoyed enormously John le Carre’s George Smiley novels, and he admitted that the author did in fact capture some of the essence of what it was like in the Cold War. But he added that John le Carre was so corrosive in his view of SIS that the author angered most professional SIS officers. Sir Richard Dearlove stated that the author, who worked for MI5 and SIS in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was “obsessed” with his relatively brief time as a “spy.”

The late John Bingham, John le Carre’s boss and mentor at MI5, and the man some say inspired the character of George Smiley, also disliked how his protege portrayed the secret services.

In my years performing security work for the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department, and later as a writer, I’ve spoken to many intelligence officers who also dislike John le Carre’s portrayal of intelligence officers, especially his dim view of American intelligence officers. Yet, like me, nearly all of the intelligence officers I know read John le Carre’s novels.

Although I disagree with his leftist worldview, I find Carre’s novels to be interesting and compelling, especially my two favorites: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and “The Honorable Schoolboy.” His novels are worth wading through his bouts of anti-Americanism and his dark view of the world of intelligence.  

In “Agent Running in the Field” the 88-year-old author’s narrator is a 47-year-old named Nat.

“I was christened Anatoly, later anglicized to Nathaniel, Nat for short. I am five feet ten inches tall, clean-shaven, tufty hair running to gray, married to Prudence, partner for general legal matters of a compassionate nature at an old-established firm of City of London solicitors, but primarily pro bono cases,” Nat says. 

“In build I am slim, Prue prefers wiry. I love all sport. In addition to badminton, I jog, run and work out once a week in a gymnasium not open to the general public. I possess a rugged charm and the accessible personality of a man of the world. 

“I am in appearance and manner a British archetype, capable of fluent and persuasive argument in the short term. I adapt to circumstance and have no insuperable moral scruples. I am not by any means immune to female charms. I am not naturally suited to deskwork or the sedentary life, which is the understatement of all time. I can be headstrong and do not respond naturally to discipline. This can be both a defect and a virtue.

“I am quoting from my late employers’ confidential reports on my performance and general allure over the last twenty-five years.”

Nat, a veteran British SIS officer and agent-runner, has returned to the United Kingdom after serving overseas and he expects to be forced into retirement. Instead, he is offered the job as head of a run-down London sub-station called the Haven. Supervising a misfit group of officers, Nat discovers a young woman in the Haven named Florence. Nat’s bosses have described her as talented but immature.

Florence is obsessed with a Ukrainian oligarch and London-based criminal code-named “Orson.” Nat likes the operation she has authored and he takes it to his bosses, who take their time in deciding to approve or disapprove.

In the meantime, Nat, a dedicated badminton (racquet ball) player and champion of his club, enters into a series of matches with a young man named Ed. After the matches, the two players have a drink at the athletic club’s bar, where Ed passionately decries President Trump, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Brexit, the British move to leave the European Union. Nat, who agrees generally with his younger friend’s view of Brexit, the American president and Putin, hardly gets in a word in as Ed pontificates over his lager.

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

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Mob Talk 35: A Look Back At The Attemped Hit On Nickey Scarfo Jr And Other South Philly Mob Anniversaries

Veteran organized crime reports George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss the 20th anniversary of the murder of South Philly mobster Ron Turchi and the attempted murder of former Cosa Nostra Philadelphia-South Jersey crime family boss Nicky Scarfo's son in Mob Talk 35.

Also discussed is former Gambino crime family underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano's online interview in which he tells of a meeting former Philadelphia underboss Phil Leonetti and Nicky Scarfo in Atlantic City.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Fire That Makes A Good Detective: My Washington Times Review Of Michael Connelly's 'The Night Fire'

The Washington Times ran my review of Michael Connelly’s The Night Fire.

In Michael Connelly’s latest crime novel, he brings together his character Hieronymus “HarryBosch and his other character Renee Ballard together. His defense attorney character Mickey Haller from “The Lincoln Lawyer” also appears in a minor role in the novel.

For those unfamiliar with the popular series, Harry Bosch, now pushing 70 in real-time, was raised in an orphanage after his prostitute mother was murdered and he went on to serve in the Vietnam War as a “tunnel rat,” one of the soldiers who crawled through narrow Viet Cong-built tunnels in pursuit of the wily and deadly Communist guerrillas. He later joined the LAPD and for more than 30 years he was a stubbornly independent and dedicated detective whose personal credo was “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”

In Mr. Connelly’s novel “The Late Show,” the author introduced Renee Ballard, an attractive, 30ish, smart and tough detective who was banished from Robbery-Homicide, the elite division that investigated the most complex, serious and media-covered cases, such as the Manson murders, to the night shift after she accused her lieutenant of making a physical pass at her. The daughter of a Hawaiian surfer, she is part Polynesian and sleeps mostly in a tent on Venice Beach with her dog after her night shift. (the character is based on LAPD Detective Mitzi Roberts, a consultant on the “Bosch” TV series).

With Harry Bosch retired from the LAPD, he and Ballard team up — him on the outside and her on the inside — and they agree to take on cases that interest them and do not appear to interest anyone else.

“The Night Fire” begins with Harry Bosch attending the funeral of his old mentor, John Jack Thompson.

“John Jack — he was always called that — was a good man who gave forty years of service to the Los Angeles Police Department in uniform and as a detective. He put many bad people away and taught generations of detectives how to do the same,” Mr. Connelly writes in the opening of the novel. 

“One of them was Bosch — paired with the legend as a newly minted homicide detective in Hollywood Division more than three decades earlier. Among other things, John Jack had taught Bosch how to read the tells of a liar in an interrogation room. He once told Bosch it took a liar to know a liar but never explained how he had come by that piece of wisdom.”

John Jack’s widow gives Harry Bosch a 20-year-old “murder book” that her husband stole from the LAPD when he retired. She asked her husband’s old partner to return the murder book — a thick three-ring binder used by homicide detectives as a formal case file that includes an investigative chronology, crime scene and victim photos, medical reports and other evidence — to the LAPD.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Flawed Solutions: My Washington Times Piece On The Knee-Jerk Gun Control Response To Deadly Shootings After Children In Philadelphia Are Shot

The Washington Times published my piece on the knee-jerk response to the tragic shooting of two children in Philadelphia.

A mob guy I’ve known for years was in a South Philadelphia bar talking about his plan to open a gun range where he was going to teach young gangbangers how to shoot straight — South Philly style.

“None of that holding the gun sideways like they do in the movies and spraying bullets across the street or from a fast-moving car,” he said half-jokingly. ”I’ll teach ‘em to get up close and hold the gun right, like we do, and not leave any innocent bystanders dead in the street.

“Like us, they should only kill their own.”

The jest was in response to reports of two children who were shot in two separate incidents less than 24 hours apart in Philadelphia. A 2-year-old girl was killed on Oct. 20, and a 11-month-old boy was shot earlier several times. The boy remains in critical condition.

The 2-year-old girl was shot in the head and killed when multiple bullets burst into her home in the Huntington Park section of the city. The child’s 24-year-old mother was shot in the back and the head, and a carpet cleaner working in the house was shot in the stomach.

The police suspect an AK-47-type rifle was used in the shooting.

“No child should be murdered in their living room. It’s just terrible,” Philadelphia’s acting police commissioner, Christine Coulter, told reporters.

Earlier, a woman had been driving in North Philadelphia when bullets pierced through the trunk of her car, striking her 11-month-old stepson four times. There was also an unidentified man in the car with the woman and child, and police suspect he was the target of the assault.

The police believe a 9mm handgun was used in this shooting.  

City officials held a news conference on Oct. 21 and asked the public to help police bring the shooters to justice. A $30,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the two shootings. In addition to the reward offered by the city, the police union was offering an additional $5,000 reward for information that led to an arrest.

A suspect was arrested on Oct. 22 and charged with murder in the shooting death of the 2-year-old. The police are now working on identifying a second suspect. The police don’t yet know if the suspect in custody fired the rifle, but they believe he was one of two people responsible for the murder of the child. Early reports indicate that the shooting came about due to a dispute with the child’s father and that the dispute was possibly drug related.  

The acting police commissioner stated that tips were instrumental in the arrest, and she noted that everyone, like her, was outraged over a child being murdered.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney offered his strong feelings over the shootings in a statement. “I am outraged, disgusted, and heartbroken by the violence this weekend that claimed the life of an innocent 2-year-old and left another infant fighting for his life.”

The shooting of children is indeed tragic, but even though the police investigation is in its early phase, city officials immediately raised the issue of gun control as a remedy and a preventative measure. City officials quickly called for lawmakers to legislate gun laws prohibiting the sale of AR-15 type rifles.

I don’t doubt the mayor’s grief and sincerity over the shooting of the children, but I don’t subscribe to his solution. After every shooting incident, those on the left are too far too quick to blame the gun rather than the shooter, yet they never blame the car after a drunk driver or terrorist uses a vehicle to kill and injure. Nor do they blame the explosives rather than the bomber. And they fail to recognize the distinction between a legally own firearm and an illegally obtained one. 

One person who certainly knows something about illegal guns is the notorious former Cosa Nostra New York Gambino crime family underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano.

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

My Washington Times Review of Ian Rankin's 'In A House Of Lies'

The Washington Times published my review of Ian Rankin’s latest John Rebus crime novel.

In Ian Rankin’s latest John Rebus crime novel, “In a House of Lies,” we find the retired Scottish detective inspector suffering from COPD and living alone with his dog, Brillo.

Throughout Ian Rankin’s popular series of crime novels, John Rebus has been portrayed as a flawed but decent and honorable man. Brooding, cynical and sarcastic, the curmudgeonly former detective previously found solace in his love of music, smoking and drinking, but the COPD has ended the smoking and drinking for him.

A former British soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles,” John Rebus left the army and joined the police. Throughout the series, he has taken on serial killers, gangsters and corrupt politicians. He often took on his bosses as well.

As Mr. Rankin aged his character in real time (like Michael Connelly’s LAPD detective Harry Bosch), the author was compelled to retire John Rebus from the police force when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 60. And despite the popularity of the character, the retired detective was not always the center of the action in the later novels.

Divorced from his wife, with his daughter and granddaughter living a good distance away, Rebus has few friends and a stalled romance with pathologist Deborah Quant, so he has to be content with walking Brillo and listening to music in his flat.    

But when a group of small boys discover an old car abandoned in the woods near Edinburgh, Scotland, that contains in the trunk the remains of a young private detective who was the subject of a contentious missing persons case back in 2008, John Rebus becomes involved in the reopening of the cold case.

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

Operation Obliteration: How US Gunships Cornered ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Before He Dragged Three Children With Him Into A Dead-End Tunnel And Detonated A Suicide Belt, As Donald Trump Said He Watched Live On TV Link 'Like A Movie'

·         The Daily Mail offers a piece on the US raid that killed ISIS leader in Syria.          

·         Trump announced ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 'died like a dog' after being run down a dead-end tunnel.  U.S.-led forces descended on al-Baghdadi's lair in Idlib, Syria overnight, where he was cornered in the tunnel.  Five years ago al-Baghdadi launched his self-styled 'caliphate' which brought new wave of terror to the globe.  His murderous reign came to an end after he detonated his own suicide vest and killing three of his children. Abdullah Qardash, who previously served under Sadam Hussein, is now thought to be the new ISIS leader. Iraqi-Kurdish officials detained one of Baghdadi's wives, a nephew and the wife of one of his trusted couriers.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

U.S. Forces Kill The World's Most Wanted Terrorist, ISIS Founder, Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, In Syria

Jim Garamone at the Defense Department offers the below piece: 

U.S. forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (seen in the above photo) in a raid in Northwestern Syria last night, President Donald J. Trump announced today.

The "daring and dangerous raid" went off without a hitch, Trump said. There were no casualties among the American forces.

“Baghdadi's demise demonstrates America's relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations."

Baghdadi was arguably the world's most-wanted terrorist. He was the founder and leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. 

ISIS — an outgrowth of al-Qaida in Iraq — exploded onto the scene in 2014. The group took advantage of the Syrian civil war to take territory and proclaimed itself a caliphate.

The terror group ruled from its capital of Raqqa, Syria. It held vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq — including Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

"The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years," Trump said from the White House. "Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration. U.S. special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style."

Trump said he watched much of the raid from the White House Situation Room, and he called the U.S. forces who executed the raid "incredible."

President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence; National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien; Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper; Army General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Brig. Gen. Marcus S. Evans, the Joint Staff's deputy director for special operations, in the White House situation room as they monitor developments as U.S. special operations forces close in on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria, Oct. 26, 2019. 

Trump said Baghdadi was trapped in a dead-end tunnel and exploded a suicide vest that killed him and three children. 

"His body was mutilated by the blast; the tunnel had caved in on it, … but test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification it was him," Trump said.

"The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him," the president said.

The American forces also took information and material from the compound that will be exploited moving forward, Trump said. 

"Baghdadi's demise demonstrates America's relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders and our commitment to the enduring and total defeat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations," he said.

U.S. support to indigenous forces in Iraq and Syria led to the defeat of the physical caliphate in March. The group has been attempting to reconstitute itself as a terror group. The raid yesterday is a reminder to all that the United States and like-minded nations will not let this happen, the president said. 

"This raid was impeccable, and could only have taken place with the acknowledgement and help of certain other nations and people," Trump said. "I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us. This was a very, very dangerous mission."

Saturday, October 26, 2019

On This Day In History Wyatt Earp, His Brothers And Doc Holiday Faced Off Against Clanton-McLaury Gang At The Gunfight At The OK Corral

As notes, it was on this day in history that the famous Wild West gunfight at the O.K. Corral was fought.

As On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.  After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented “law and order” in Tombstone, though they also had reputations as being power-hungry and ruthless. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.

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

And if you would like to read a good biography of Wyatt Earp, I'd recommend Casey Tofertiller's  Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Little Humor: Two Irish Nuns

Two Irish nuns were stopped a traffic light in Dublin when a bunch of rowdy drunks pulled up alongside of them.

“Hey, show us yer teets, ya bloody penguins!” shouted one of the drunks.

Quite shocked, Mother Superior turned to Sister Mary Immaculata and said, “I don’t think they know who we are; show them your cross.”

Sister Mary Immaculata rolls down her window and shouted, “Piss off, ya fookin’ little wankers, before I come over there and rip yer balls off!” 

She then rolled up her window, looked at Mother Superior, and quite innocently asked, “Did that sound cross enough?”

The Art Of Writing About Organized Crime And The Rise And Fall Of The New York Mafia: Talking Mafia History In A Former Mafia Stronghold

Nancy Bilyeau at offers a piece on a talk given by organized crime authors Nicholas Pileggi and Anthony M. DeStefano.

Pileggi is author of Wiseguy, which was made into the great Martin Scorsese crime film Goodfellas, as well as Casino, which Martin Scorsese also made into an outstanding film.

DeStefano is the author of Gotti's Boys and The Last Godfather.

You can read the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of Gotti's Boys via the below link:

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Little Humor: The Secret Spot Out Back

A couple celebrating their 60th anniversary was seated at a restaurant when the husband leaned over and asked his wife, “Do you remember the first time we had sex together over sixty years ago? We went behind the village tavern where you leaned against the back fence and I made love to you.”

Yes, she said, “I remember it well.”

“OK,” he said, “How about taking a stroll around there again and we can do it for old time’s sake?”

“Oh Jim, your old devil you. That sounds like a crazy, but good idea!”

A police officer sitting in the next booth heard their conversation and, having a chuckle to himself, he thinks to himself, I’ve got to follow these two to keep an eye on them in case they need help.

The couple walked haltingly along, leaning on each other for support aided by walking sticks.

Finally, they get to the back of the tavern and make their way to the fence. The wife lifted her skirt and the husband dropped his trousers. As she leans against the fence, they suddenly erupt into the most furious sex that the policeman has ever seen. 

This goes on for about ten minutes while both are making loud noises and moaning and screaming. Finally, they both collapsed and lay on the ground panting.

The policeman was amazed. He thought he learned something new about life and old age..

After about half an hour of lying on the ground recovering, the old couple struggle to their feet and put their clothes back on. 

The policeman, still watching, had to ask them what their secret was.

As the couple passed him, he said, “Excuse me, but that was something else. You must’ve had a fantastic life together. Is there some sort of secret to this?”

Shaking, the elderly husband said, “Well, sixty years ago that fence wasn’t electrified.” 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

My Washington Times Piece On October Being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Washington Times published my piece on October being designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I recall a comedian many years ago telling a joke about a man who was arrested for wife-beating. He was convicted and the judge charged him a $10 entertainment tax.

The joke received a huge laugh then. These days we treat domestic violence much more seriously. Accordingly, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation that designated October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Domestic violence poisons relationships, destroys lives and shatters the bedrock of our society — the family. Homes should be places of comfort and stability where love and mutual respect thrive. Domestic violence erodes this environment, leaving many Americans in potentially life-threatening situations. As a nation, we must resolve to have zero tolerance for acts of domestic violence. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to empowering survivors and ending this deeply destructive abuse,” the proclamation stated.

Mr. Trump also stated in the proclamation that his administration has made it a priority to provide victims of domestic violence with needed assistance. The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) funds critical services and training across the country to prevent domestic violence and to support law enforcement efforts to hold domestic violence offenders accountable for their crimes.

“In fiscal years 2018 and 2019, approximately $8 billion — a historic amount — has been made available for victim services through the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, funding more than 3,000 domestic violence local service providers and national domestic violence hotlines,” Mr. Trump stated. “These services assist more than 2 million domestic violence victims annually, helping individuals and families heal from physical and psychological wounds.”

According to the Justice Department, domestic violence includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

As a writer, I’ve accompanied police officers out on patrol many times. A good number of cops have told me that they disliked responding to calls of domestic disputes where they often encounter the aftermath of domestic violence. The disputes often involve drugs and alcohol abuse, and a backdrop of complicated family conflicts. The cops told me that witnessing the suffering of the women and children saddens them and they feel anger toward the person who caused the pain. It is often a struggle to remain professional, I’ve been told.

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

Former Honduran Congressman Tony Hernández Convicted Of Conspiring To Import Cocaine Into The United States And Related Firearms And False-Statements Offenses

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released the below information:
NEW YORK - On October 18, DEA Special Operations Division Special Agent in Charge Wendy C. Woolcock and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman announced that a jury returned a guilty verdict against Juan Antonio Hernández Alvarado, aka “Tony Hernández,” on all four counts in the superseding indictment, which included cocaine importation, weapons and false-statements offenses. Hernández is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2020.
“This conviction serves as a warning to all those who traffic illegal drugs into our country with complete disregard for human life,” said Special Agent in Charge Woolcock. “The United States will not tolerate any individual or organization that seeks to gain profit through violence and corruption. The DEA will continue to stand with its partners to pursue justice regardless of social status. No one is exempt from being held accountable for predatory criminal activity.”
“Former Honduran congressman Tony Hernandez was involved in all stages of the trafficking through Honduras of multi-ton loads of cocaine that were destined for the U.S.,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “Hernandez bribed law enforcement officials to protect drug shipments, solicited large bribes from major drug traffickers and arranged machinegun-toting security for cocaine shipments. Today, Hernandez stands convicted of his crimes and faces the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence.”
Hernández is a former member of the National Congress of Honduras, the brother of the current President of Honduras and a large-scale drug trafficker who worked with other drug traffickers in, among other places, Colombia, Honduras and Mexico, to import cocaine into the United States. From at least in or about 2004, up to and including in or about 2018, Hernández helped process, receive, transport and distribute multi-ton loads of cocaine that arrived in Honduras via planes, helicopters and go-fast vessels. Hernández controlled cocaine laboratories in Honduras and Colombia, at which some of his cocaine was stamped with the symbol “TH” for “Tony Hernández.”
Hernández also coordinated and, at times, participated in providing heavily armed security for cocaine shipments transported within Honduras, including by members of the Honduran National Police and drug traffickers armed with machineguns and other weapons.  Hernández also used members of the Honduran National Police to coordinate the drug-related murder of Franklin Arita in 2011, and he used drug-trafficking associates to murder a drug worker known as “Chino” in 2013. In connection with these activities, Hernández participated in the importation of almost 200,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. 
Hernández made millions of dollars through his cocaine trafficking, and he funneled millions of dollars of drug proceeds to National Party campaigns to impact Honduran presidential elections in 2009, 2013 and 2017. Between 2010 and at least 2013, one of Hernández’s principal co-conspirators was former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, aka “Chapo.” During that period, Hernández helped Guzmán Loera with numerous large cocaine shipments and delivered a $1 million bribe from Guzmán Loera to Hernández’s brother in connection with the 2013 national elections in Honduras.    
Hernández, 42, was convicted on four counts:  (1) conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years and a maximum prison term of life; (2) using and carrying machine guns during, and possessing machine guns in furtherance of, the cocaine-importation conspiracy, which carries a mandatory consecutive prison term of 30 years; (3) conspiring to use and carry machine guns during, and to possess machine guns in furtherance of, the cocaine-importation conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison term of life; and (4) making false statements to federal agents, which carries a maximum prison term of five years.
This case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda L. Houle, Jason A. Richman, Matthew J. Laroche and Emil J. Bove III are in charge of the prosecution.