Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of James Lee Burke's 'The New Iberia Blues'

The Washington Times published my review of James Lee Burke’s The New Iberia Blues.

Fans of James Lee Burke’s character Dave Robicheaux are glad that the New Iberia, Louisiana, Cajun detective has returned in “The New Iberia Blues,” a sequel to last year’s “Robicheaux.” They should also be glad to know that Mr. Burke is currently working on the third novel to this trilogy.

In “The New Iberia Blues,” Dave Robicheaux, an elderly but physically active sheriff’s detective, pays a visit to Desmond Cormier, whom he knew in New Orleans when the young man was a street artist with ambitions to become a Hollywood director and Dave Robicheaux was a New Orleans police officer.

Desmond Cormier’s success story was an improbable one, even among the many self-congratulatory rags-to-riches tales we tell ourselves in the ongoing saga of our green republic, one that is forever changing, yet forever the same, a saga that also includes the graves of Shiloh and cinders from aboriginal villages,” Dave Robicheaux, the novel’s narrator, explains to the reader in the beginning of the crime novel. “That is not meant to be a cynical statement. Desmond’s story was a piece of Americana, assuring us that wealth and a magical kingdom are available to the least of us, provided we do not awaken our own penchant for breaking our heroes on a medieval wheel and revising them later, safely downwind from history.”

Desmond Cormier was raised by his poor grandparents on the Chitimacha Indian Reservation in the back room of a general store on a dirt road before the casino operators came to town. Like his grandparents, he belonged to that group of mixed blood Indians unkindly called redbones, the Cajun detective tells us. A thin and frail boy, he lifted weights and became large and muscular. He later waited tables in the French Quarter and was a street artist when he told Robicheaux that he was going to make movies. When Robicheaux appeared skeptical, Cormier asked the Catholic police officer if he still went to church and Robicheaux replied that he did.

“That means you believe in the things that are on the other side of the physical world. That’s what painting is. That’s what making movies is. You enter a magical world others have no knowledge of,” Cormier said.

While visiting Cormier 25 years later in New Iberia, Robicheaux looks through Cormier’s telescope and sees a young woman floating in the bay on top of a wooden cross. Both Cormier and his sinister houseguest, Antoine Butterworth, deny seeing the girl, but a young sheriff’s deputy confirms what Robicheaux saw.

And the homicide investigation begins, while new bodies tally up the number of ritualistic homicides that may be related to the young woman nailed to the floating cross. 

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

Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Member And Associate Charged With Making And Collecting Extortionate Loans

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District in Philadelphia released the below information:
An indictment was unsealed today against an alleged member of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) and his alleged associate.  The indictment charges various crimes involving the making of extortionate loans, conspiracy, and collections of loans by extortionate means. 
The charges were announced today by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Division.
The defendants charged in the 15-count indictment are Philadelphia LCN Family member Philip Narducci, 56, and his associate James Gallo, 44.
All of the defendants were arrested today and will make initial court appearances in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia at 1:30 pm. EST. 
According to the indictment, Narducci allegedly made usurious and extortionate loans involving large amounts of money to a borrower.  As set forth in the indictment, when the borrower failed to make weekly interest payments, Narducci allegedly used physical violence through assault and threats of violence to force the borrower to repay the loans.  The indictment also alleges that, at Narducci’s direction, Gallo collected weekly interest payments on the usurious loans from the borrower and used threats of violence to facilitate the collections. 
Each charge of making extortionate extortions of credit, conspiracy to collect extensions of credit by extortionate means, and collections of extensions of credit by extortionate means making extortionate extensions of credit, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section. 
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
An indictment is merely an accusation and each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Local 98 Leader John Dougherty, Philadelphia City Councilman Robert Henon, And Six Others Charged In 116-Count Public Corruption Indictment

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information regarding the indictment charging Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty (seen in the above photo) and others with numerous federal crimes:   

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced today that a grand jury returned a 116-count Indictment, charging Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“Local 98”) Business Manager John Dougherty, Philadelphia City Councilman Robert Henon, Local 98 employees Brian Burrows, Michael Neill, Marita Crawford, Niko Rodriguez, Brian Fiocca, and local business owner Anthony Massa with a multitude of federal crimes, including embezzlement, wire fraud, and public corruption offenses.
John Dougherty, 58, of Philadelphia, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; 34 counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; 23 counts of wire fraud thefts from Local 98; two counts of wire fraud thefts from a political action committee; two counts of falsification of annual financial reports filed by a labor union; two counts of falsification of financial records required to be kept by a labor union; five counts of filing false federal income tax returns; one count of conspiracy to accept unlawful payments from an employer; eight counts of accepting unlawful payments from a union contractor; one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and federal program bribery; 11 counts of honest services wire fraud; and one count of honest services mail fraud.      
Philadelphia City Councilman Robert Henon, 50, of Philadelphia, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and federal program bribery; 14 counts of honest services wire fraud; one count of honest services mail fraud; and four counts of federal program bribery.      
Brian Burrows, 58, of Mount Laurel, NJ, served as the President of Local 98. He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; 14 counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; two counts of falsification of annual financial reports filed by a labor union; two counts of falsification of financial records required to be kept by a labor union; and five counts of filing false federal income tax returns.
Michael Neill, 52, of Philadelphia, served as the Training Director of Local 98’s Apprentice Training Fund. He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; four counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; one count of theft from an employee benefit plan; and four counts of filing false federal income tax returns.
Marita Crawford, 49, of Philadelphia, served as a Local 98 business agent and Political Director. She has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; four counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; three counts of wire fraud thefts from Local 98; two counts of wire fraud thefts from a political action committee; one count of falsification of an annual financial report filed by a labor union; and one count of falsification of financial records required to be kept by a labor union.
Niko Rodriguez, 27, of Philadelphia, was a Local 98 employee and Apprentice Training Fund employee. He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; six counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; and six counts of wire fraud thefts from Local 98.
Brian Fiocca, 27, of Philadelphia, was a Local 98 employee. He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; five counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; and five counts of wire fraud thefts from Local 98.
Anthony Massa, 65, of Philadelphia, was the owner and operator of Massa Construction. He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plan; 14 counts of embezzlement and theft of labor union assets; one count of theft from an employee benefit plan; and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
From April 2010 through August 2016, in Philadelphia, the Indictment alleges that Dougherty, Burrows, Neill, Crawford, Rodriguez, Fiocca, and Massa conspired and agreed to embezzle Local 98 funds for their own personal use and the use of their family members, friends, and commercial businesses.
The Indictment charges that the defendants used union funds for personal and other unauthorized expenses, contrary to the provisions of the IBEW constitution, the by-laws of Local 98, and the beneficial interests of the members of Local 98. They also used these funds in violation of federal law. The Indictment continues that they used funds and assets of the Apprentice Training Fund for personal and other unauthorized expenses, contrary to the provisions of the Apprentice Training Fund’s trust agreement and ERISA. Additionally, the Indictment states that the defendants concealed the unlawful use of the funds and assets of Local 98 and the Apprentice Training Fund by falsely representing that the funds were being used for legitimate, business-related expenses.
The Indictment further charges Dougherty and Henon with multiple public corruption charges. The Indictment alleges that Dougherty and Henon defrauded the City of Philadelphia and its citizens of the right to Henon’s honest services as a member of City Council. According to the Indictment, Henon received a salary and other things of value from Dougherty and, in exchange, Henon used his position as a member of City Council to serve Dougherty’s interests. 
“Union leaders and public officials have similar duties in our society,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “Whether it is a fiduciary duty to the union’s membership to spend union funds on union business, or a public official’s duty to provide honest services to his constituents, leaders in these kinds of roles must act in the best interests of others. They cannot use their public positions and influence to enrich themselves. If they do, it is a violation of their duties and of federal law.”
“When union leaders misdirect the organization’s money for personal gain, they’re breaching their obligation to members – and breaking the law,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Such corruption must not go unchecked. No matter how long it takes, the FBI and our partners will investigate and work to hold accountable unscrupulous union and public officials.” 
“Union officials who are elected to positions of trust have a responsibility to their members and organizations,” stated IRS Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco. “That trust is broken when these officials serve to enrich themselves at the expense of their members. No public official gets a free pass to ignore the tax laws, and IRS CI will continue to ensure that everyone pays their fair share.”
“An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations relating to labor racketeering and corruption in employee benefit plans,” stated Richard Deer, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration to investigate these types of allegations.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard P. Barrett, Chief of the Corruption, Tax and Labor Racketeering Unit, Frank Costello, John Gallagher, and Paul Gray.
An Indictment, Information, or Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

My Washington Times Piece On Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal: There Is No Question Of Guilt

The Washington Times published my piece on Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is appealing his conviction for murdering Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner (seen in the bottom photo).

The FBI reported that as of Dec. 18, 2018, 53 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in 2018. Forty-five law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the previous year.

There is nothing more dangerous than a cop killer. The criminal who is bold enough to murder a police officer, who is armed and supported by his/her fellow armed officers, will not hesitate to kill anyone, anywhere, anytime.

A cop killer is a total outlaw.

There is one cop killer in particular who continues to rankle Philadelphia police officers and other officers across the nation. In what can be called one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated criminal cases, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1982 for the shooting of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Faulkner was only 25 years old.

Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison.

The long, drawn out case of Abu-Jamal sadly continues on to this day. A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge ruled last month that Abu-Jamal can re-argue an appeal before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as the then-Chief Justice, Ronald D. Castille, did not recuse himself, although he was the Philadelphia district attorney back when Abu-Jamal was appealing his case.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

D.C. “Antifa Leader” Is Third Man Charged In Marine Attack In Philadelphia

Victor Fiorillo at offers a piece on the arrest of the Antifa leader for being part of a mob that assaulted two Marines in Philadelphia.

It has been more than two months since two United States Marines said they were assaulted in Philadelphia by a “mob” just blocks from the controversial We the People Rally, and now a third man has been charged in the attack. 

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 37-year-old Washington, D.C., resident Joseph Alcoff (seen above in his mugshot) with aggravated assault, ethnic intimidation, and conspiracy — all felonies — among other charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently out on bail.

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

Note: I suggest these Antifa tough guys go to Cookies’ Bar at 12th and Oregon in South Philly on the Marines’ birthday and tangle with those Marines. 

Chinese Telecommunications Conglomerate Huawei And Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng Charged With Financial Fraud

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A 13-count indictment was unsealed earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging four defendants,[1] including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (Huawei), the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, with headquarters in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and operations around the world.  The indicted defendants include Huawei and two Huawei affiliates — Huawei Device USA Inc. (Huawei USA) and Skycom Tech Co. Ltd. (Skycom) — as well as Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wanzhou Meng (Meng).
The defendants Huawei and Skycom are charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Huawei and Huawei USA are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice related to the grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of New York.  Meng is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud.
Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Wilbur Ross of the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, FBI Director  Christopher A. Wray, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the National Security Division, announced the charges.
“Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes," said Acting Attorney General Whitaker.  "As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law.  I’d like to thank the many dedicated criminal investigators from several different federal agencies who contributed to this investigation and the Department of Justice attorneys who are moving the prosecution efforts forward.  They are helping us uphold the rule of law with integrity.”
“As charged in the indictment, Huawei and its Chief Financial Officer broke U.S. law and have engaged in a fraudulent financial scheme that is detrimental to the security of the United States,” said Secretary Nielsen.  “They willfully conducted millions of dollars in transactions that were in direct violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and such behavior will not be tolerated.  The Department of Homeland Security is focused on preventing nefarious actors from accessing or manipulating our financial system, and we will ensure that legitimate economic activity is not exploited by our adversaries.  I would like to thank ICE Homeland Security Investigations for their exceptional work on this case.”
“For years, Chinese firms have broken our export laws and undermined sanctions, often using U.S. financial systems to facilitate their illegal activities,” said Secretary Ross. “This will end.  The Trump Administration continues to be tougher on those who violate our export control laws than any administration in history.  I commend the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement, and our partners in the FBI, Justice Department, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security for their excellent work on this case.”
“As charged in the indictment, Huawei and its subsidiaries, with the direct and personal involvement of their executives, engaged in serious fraudulent conduct, including conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, sanctions violations, money laundering and the orchestrated obstruction of justice,” stated U.S. Attorney Donoghue.  “For over a decade, Huawei employed a strategy of lies and deceit to conduct and grow its business.  This Office will continue to hold accountable companies and their executives, whether here or abroad, that commit fraud against U.S. financial institutions and their international counterparts and violate U.S. laws designed to maintain our national security.”  Mr. Donoghue thanked the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) agents who are investigating this case for their tireless work and dedication.
“These charges lay bare Huawei’s alleged blatant disregard for the laws of our country and standard global business practices,” said FBI Director Wray.  “Companies like Huawei pose a dual threat to both our economic and national security, and the magnitude of these charges make clear just how seriously the FBI takes this threat.  Today should serve as a warning that we will not tolerate businesses that violate our laws, obstruct justice, or jeopardize national and economic well-being.”

* * * *
Overview of the Indictment

The charges in this case relate to a long-running scheme by Huawei, its CFO, and other employees to deceive numerous global financial institutions and the U.S. government regarding Huawei’s business activities in Iran.  As alleged in the indictment, beginning in 2007, Huawei employees lied about Huawei’s relationship to a company in Iran called Skycom, falsely asserting it was not an affiliate of Huawei.  The company further claimed that Huawei had only limited operations in Iran and that Huawei did not violate U.S. or other laws or regulations related to Iran.  Most significantly, after news publications in late 2012 and 2013 disclosed that Huawei operated Skycom as an unofficial affiliate in Iran and that Meng had served on the board of directors of Skycom, Huawei employees, and in particular Meng, continued to lie to Huawei’s banking partners about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom.  They falsely claimed that Huawei had sold its interest in Skycom to an unrelated third party in 2007 and that Skycom was merely Huawei’s local business partner in Iran.  In reality, Skycom was Huawei’s longstanding Iranian affiliate, and Huawei orchestrated the 2007 sale to appear as an arm’s length transaction between two unrelated parties, when in fact Huawei actually controlled the company that purchased Skycom. 
As part of this scheme to defraud, Meng allegedly personally made a presentation in August 2013 to an executive of one of Huawei’s major banking partners in which she repeatedly lied about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom. 
According to the indictment, Huawei relied on its global banking relationships for banking services that included processing U.S.-dollar transactions through the United States.  U.S. laws and regulations generally prohibited these banks from processing transactions related to Iran through the United States.  The banks could have faced civil or criminal penalties for processing transactions that violated U.S. laws or regulations.  Relying on the repeated misrepresentations by Huawei, these banks continued their banking relationships with Huawei.  One bank cleared more than $100 million worth of Skycom-related transactions through the United States between 2010 and 2014.
In furtherance of this scheme to defraud, and as alleged in the indictment, Huawei and its principals repeatedly lied to U.S. government authorities about Huawei’s business in Iran in submissions to the U.S. government, and in responses to government inquiries.  For example, Huawei provided false information to the U.S. Congress regarding whether Huawei’s business in Iran violated any U.S. law.  Similarly, as indicated in the indictment, in 2007 — months before Huawei orchestrated the purported sale of Skycom to another Huawei-controlled entity — Huawei’s founder falsely stated to FBI agents that Huawei did not have any direct dealings with Iranian companies and that Huawei operated in compliance with all U.S. export laws. 
After one of Huawei’s major global banking partners (identified as Financial Institution 1 in the indictment) decided to exit the Huawei relationship in 2017 because of Huawei’s risk profile, Huawei allegedly made additional misrepresentations to several of its remaining banking partners in an effort to maintain and expand those relationships.  Huawei and its principals are alleged to have repeatedly and falsely claimed that Huawei had decided to terminate its banking relationship with Financial Institution 1, when in fact it was Financial Institution 1 that had decided to terminate the banking relationship.  Through these misrepresentations, Huawei was able to continue its banking relationships with its other banks.
In 2017, when Huawei became aware of the government’s investigation, Huawei and its subsidiary Huawei USA allegedly tried to obstruct the investigation by making efforts to move witnesses with knowledge about Huawei’s Iran-based business to the PRC, and beyond the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, and by concealing and destroying evidence of Huawei’s Iran-based business that was located in the United States.
In December 2018, Canadian authorities apprehended Meng in Vancouver pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued under Canadian law.  The U.S. government is seeking Meng’s extradition to the United States.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The indictment unsealed today is assigned to U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York.
The government’s investigation is ongoing. 
The investigation is being jointly conducted by the FBI’s New York Field Office, HSI’s New York Field Office, OEE’s New York Field Office, and DCIS’s Southwest and Northeast Field Offices.  Agents from the FBI, HSI, and OEE offices in Dallas provided significant support and assistance.  The government’s case is being handled by the National Security and Cybercrime and Business and Securities Fraud Sections of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Justice Department’s Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), and the Justice Department’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES). 
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Julia Nestor, David K. Kessler, Kaitlin Farrell, and Sarah Evans, MLARS Trial Attorneys Laura Billings and Christian Nauvel, and CES Trial Attorneys Thea D. R. Kendler and David Lim are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Penley of the Northern District of Texas, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Morris and Brendan King of the Eastern District of New York’s Civil Division and Trial Attorneys Andrew Finkelman and Margaret O’Malley of DOJ’s Office of International Affairs.  Additional Criminal Division and National Security Division Trial Attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorneys within U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Texas, and the Northern District of California have provided valuable assistance with various aspects of this investigation.
The Defendants:

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

Huawei Device USA Inc.

Skycom Tech Co. Ltd.

Meng Wanzhou, also known as “Cathy Meng” and “Sabrina Meng”
Age: 46

Residence: People’s Republic Of China

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-457 (AMD)

[1] The indictment charges other individuals who have not yet been apprehended and whose names will not be publicly released at this time.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Mob Talk 26 Video: Organized Crime Reporters Discuss South Philly, South Jersey And New York Organized Crime

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Stratwieser discuss reputed Philly mob boss Joey Merlino in prison, a Philadelphia FBI RICO investigation, a South Jersey drug investigation, and other organized crime cases.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Defense Department Delays Release of Former Navy SEAL's Thriller

Zachary Leeman at interviewed former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, the author of the thriller, The Terminal List and the upcoming True Believer.

Jack Carr (shown above right) made a big splash in the literary world when he released  "The Terminal List." With Navy SEAL Lt. Cmdr. James Reece, he introduced a hard-nosed protagonist who could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other beloved modern western heroes in literature, such as Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath or Stephen Hunter’s Bob Lee Swagger.

What made Carr’s writing so engaging and fresh, in part, is that he’s had a career as a Navy SEAL. That knowledge helped inject something new into “The Terminal List.” Because of Carr’s work with the military, he needed to go through the rigorous process of having his book approved by the Department of Defense (DOD), which had to ensure Carr was not divulging any government secrets he’s been sworn to keep.

The process went smoothly enough and “The Terminal List” made it to shelves everywhere.

The same cannot yet be said for his second book, however. Carr’s much-anticipated follow-up novel — “True Believer” — has had its release date delayed due to the review by the DOD.

Originally set to be published April 2, “True Believer” will now have a publish date of July 30. Carr’s publisher released a statement about the delay through Twitter.

Carr’s first book was “cleared as amended” by the Department of Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review; and Carr left those redactions in the text of his book.

He was planning on doing the same thing with his new book, but the Department of Defense has pushed the deadline several times.

LifeZette interviewed Carr — who lives with his family in Utah — via email about his thoughts on the delay of his new book and what readers can expect from “True Believer.”

Question: Is there any chance the Department of Defense review could cancel the publication of this novel? Do you have a timeline for when the review will be done?

Answer: First, I need to say that, in the grand scheme, I realize these are exceptionally good problems to have. I feel extremely fortunate to be doing something I love so much each and every day. Now, I doubt they could cancel the publication of “True Believer.” It is 100 percent a work of fiction set against a current geo-political backdrop. They may redact or “over”-redact, but I can’t see how a work of fiction could possibly warrant this much scrutiny, much less cancelation, by the government.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Thanks To The Philadelphia Fire Department's Engine 60, Ladder 19 In South Philadelphia

I’d like to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Engine 60 and Ladder 19 in South Philadelphia for their rapid response and swift solution to a fire scare in my home.

This morning I smelled something burning in the front room of my basement and I called 911.

The emergency operator called the Fire Department for me. Three fire vehicles quickly arrived, and the firemen went to my basement to check it out.

Thankfully, they discovered quickly that the smell came from an overheated ballast in the overhead light. Had the firemen not caught this, I was told, I might have had a serious fire in the basement, which would have spread to the rest of my house and possibly killed my wife and me.

The firemen, as well as a First District policewoman who also responded, and the 911 emergency operator, were professional, helpful and courteous. 

We can’t thank them enough.  

Breslin And Hamill: Deadline Artists: How Breslin And Hamill Blazed A Trail To Newspaper Glory

Robert Rorke at the New York Post offers a piece on an HBO documentary about New York newspaper columnists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill.

The boozy, brawling days of New York tabloids are vividly evoked in the documentary “Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists,” a portrait of columnists Jimmy Breslin, who died in 2017 at age 88, and Pete Hamill, 83. They wrote for the New York Daily News and the New York Post. They were both Irish kids, one from Queens (Breslin), the other Brooklyn (Hamill), who transcended their extremely humble beginnings to become masters of their craft and celebrities in their own right. As co-director Jonathan Alter puts it, “They were there for every big story of the second half of the 20th century, between 1950 and 2001.” That included assassinations (the Kennedy brothers, Malcolm X), crime figures (Son of Sam, Bernhard Goetz), urban horrors (AIDS, the Crown Heights riots) and terrorist attacks (9/11).

…  How did Breslin and Hamill change journalism?
They personified an era when print journalists could be swashbuckling figures. It’s unimaginable now. Could you imagine a print journalist (Hamill) dating the most famous woman in the world (Jackie Onassis) and a top Hollywood star (Shirley MacLaine) at the same time? Or hosting “Saturday Night Live” (Breslin)? Before Woodward and Bernstein, Jimmy was the most famous journalist in America. He showed that you could write novelistically in a newspaper using facts. Breslin’s column, “A Death in Emergency Room One,” about the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, blew the doors off journalism.
You can read Robert Rorke’s interview with Jonathan Alter via the below link:
Note: Although I disagreed with Jimmy Breslin’s worldview, I enjoyed his comic gangster novels, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight and I Don’t Want To Go To Jail.  

Friday, January 25, 2019

Seven 'Rising Star' Mobsters Are Arrested In Italy As Police Swoop On Resurgent Cosa Nostra

The Daily Mail offers a piece on the arrest of suspected “rising stars” in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra by the Italian police.

Seven suspected 'rising-star mobsters' have been arrested in Italy as anti-mafia police are dealing with resurgent Cosa Nostra.

The raids follow a swoop against the mafia in December when a jeweller was captured just before being appointed 'boss of the bosses' of the reconvened Mafia Commission or Cupola.

Two of the people rounded up last month revealed secret information about clan leaders who were allegedly part of the Cupola.      

'Like never before, within a month (of the December arrests) we had two new state witnesses. 

'And not any old members, but two from the upper echelons,' Palermo's chief prosecutor chief Francesco Lo Voi told journalists.

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

W. Somerset Maugham's 'Mr. Know-All'

W. Somerset Maugham, a fine novelist and short story writer, was born on this date in 1874.

I love his short stories and I love the films that dramatized his short stories. One of my favorites is 'Mr. Know-All.'

You can watch W. Somerset Maugham introduce his story via the below link:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Happy Belated Birthday To Joseph Wambaugh, Author Of 'The Onion Field' And 'The Choirboys'

Happy birthday to Joseph Wambaugh, author of the classic police novels The Choirboys, The Blue Knight and The New Centurions, and the classic true crime books The Onion Field, Lines and Shadows and Echoes in the Darkness.

Joseph Wambaugh turned 82 yesterday.

You can read my Washington Times piece on Joseph Wambaugh and the war on cops via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of his novel, Harbor Nocturne via the below link:

And you can visit his website at

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Little Night Music: The Godfather Orchestral Suite (Live) By The Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Director Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, based on Mario Puzo's novel, are near perfect films that I and many others can watch over and over again.

One of the reasons to watch the films over and over is Nino Rota's beautiful, evocative, majestic and haunting soundtracks for the two films.

You can watch and listen to the Danish National Symphony perform The Godfather Orchestral Suite live via the below link:

Monday, January 21, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, And Violence'

The Washington Times published my review of Alex Berenson’s Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence. 

Many people these days, it seems, believe that marijuana is a mostly harmless drug that helps to ease pain and relaxes people, like a good, stiff, alcoholic drink. But like alcohol, the effects of marijuana can be serious and even deadly.

Alex Berenson, a thriller writer and former New York Times reporter, has written a book that exposes the myths of marijuana at a time when many politicians are pushing for nationwide legalization.

In “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence,” Alex Berenson warns that the chemical in marijuana that causes one to “get high,” 9-tetrahdrocannabinol, commonly called THC, can cause psychotic episodes that can end in violence.

...“Most people will never have a psychotic episode while using marijuana. Some will have temporary breaks from reality. But an unlucky minority of users develop full-blown schizophrenia,” Mr. Berenson writes. “At this point, doctors have no way of predicting who they will be.” 

Mr. Berenson writes that the most important finding linking marijuana and psychosis is a 2017 468-page research report issued by the National Academy of Medicine titled “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.” The study reported that marijuana does not appear to cause lung cancer. But the study offers less good news when it comes to mental health. The study found strong evidence that marijuana causes schizophrenia and some evidence that it worsens bipolar disorder and increases the risks of suicide, depression and social anxiety disorder.

The higher the use, the greater the risk, the study concludes.

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

Saturday, January 19, 2019

On This Day In History American Writer Edgar Allan Poe Was Born

On this day in 1809 Edgar Allan Poe, father of the American detective story and author of The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven, was born.

You read my Crime Beat column on Poe's work and the tribute to Poe by modern-day crime writers via the below link:

Friday, January 18, 2019

Social Security Administration: Beware Of Scammers Pretending To Be Social Security

Jim Boland, the Social Security Administration's acting deputy commissioner for communications, offers the below warning.
In the digital age, frauds and scams are an unfortunate part of doing business online. During the holiday season, Social Security has traditionally seen a spike in phishing scams, and we want to protect you as best we can.
We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown individuals over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.
Please take note; there’s a scam going around right now. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security or another agency. Calls can even display the 1-800-772-1213, Social Security’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your caller ID. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benefit payment, or that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security.
Callers sometimes state that your Social Security number is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks you to provide a phone number to resolve the issue. People should be aware the scheme’s details may vary; however, you should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information.
Social Security employees occasionally contact people by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a few special situations, such as when you have business pending with us, a Social Security employee may request the person confirm personal information over the phone.
Social Security employees will never threaten you or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, please report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online.
Remember, only call official phone numbers and use secured websites of the agencies and businesses you know are correct. Protecting your information is an important part of Social Security’s mission to secure today and tomorrow.