Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Little Humor: Some Of W.C. Fields' Best One-Liners

Below are some of the late W.C. Fields’ best one-liners:

I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.

I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.

No doubt exists that all women are crazy; it’s only a question of degree.

Women are like elephants. I like to look at ’em, but I wouldn’t want to own one.

I drink therefore I am.

I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.

It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.

A man’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another drink.

A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. 

I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The Other half I wasted. 

In My Little Chickadee, a man came up to W,C. Fields as he was shuffling a deck of cards. 

"Is this a game of chance?” the man asked. 

 W.C. Fields replied, “Not the way I play it.”  
You can also watch a TCM video on W.C. Fields, narrated by John Cleese, via the below link:

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Former GE Engineer And Chinese Businessman Charged With Economic Espionage And Theft Of GE’s Trade Secrets

An indictment unsealed today charges Xiaoqing Zheng, 56, of Niskayuna, New York, and Zhaoxi Zhang, 47, of Liaoning Province, China, with economic espionage and conspiring to steal General Electric’s (GE’s) trade secrets surrounding turbine technologies, knowing and intending that those stolen trade secrets would be used to benefit the People’s Republic of China.  Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith for the Northern District of New York, Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Special Agent in Charge James N. Hendricks of the FBI’s Albany Field Office made the announcement.
According to the 14-count indictment, Zheng, while employed at GE Power & Water in Schenectady, New York as an engineer specializing in sealing technology, exploited his access to GE’s files by stealing multiple electronic files, including proprietary files involving design models, engineering drawings, configuration files, and material specifications having to do with various components and testing systems associated with GE gas and steam turbines.  Zheng e-mailed and transferred many of the stolen GE files to his business partner, Chinese businessman Zhaoxi Zhang, who was located in China.  Zheng and Zhang used the stolen GE trade secrets to advance their own business interests in two Chinese companies - Liaoning Tianyi Aviation Technology Co., Ltd. (LTAT) and Nanjing Tianyi Avi Tech Co. Ltd. (NTAT), companies which research, develop, and manufacture parts for turbines.
The indictment also alleges that Zheng and Zhang conspired to commit economic espionage, as the thefts of GE’s trade secrets surrounding various turbine technologies were done knowing and intending that the thefts would benefit the People’s Republic of China and one or more foreign instrumentalities, including LTAT, NTAT, Shenyang Aerospace University, Shenyang Aeroengine Research Institute, and Huaihai Institute of Technology.  The defendants, through LTAT and NTAT, received financial and other support from the Chinese government and coordinated with Chinese government officials to enter into research agreements with Chinese state-owned institutions to develop turbine technologies.
“The indictment alleges a textbook example of the Chinese government’s strategy to rob American companies of their intellectual property and to replicate their products in Chinese factories, enabling Chinese companies to replace the American company first in the Chinese market and later worldwide,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “We will not stand idly by while the world’s second-largest economy engages in state-sponsored theft.  As part of the Attorney General’s China Initiative, we will partner with the private sector to hold responsible those who violate our laws, and we urge China’s leaders to join responsible nations and to act with honesty and integrity when competing in the global marketplace.”
“As alleged, the thefts of trade secrets to benefit the People’s Republic of China are serious crimes against the victimized company and our country,” said U.S. Attorney Jaquith. “Both fair competition and incentivized innovation require that American companies be able to rely on the secrecy of technological advances forged through their talent and tenacity.  When technology is taken through treachery, we will continue to work with the National Security Division and the FBI to prosecute the perpetrators.”
“American businesses spend many hours and large amounts of money developing unique technology.  When such technology is stolen it can be devastating to U.S. businesses and can result in American workers losing jobs,” said FBI Assistant Director Brown.  “China continues to support behavior that violates the rule of law.  This case demonstrates the FBI will continue to pursue China's efforts to steal American technology.”
“Economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets have a profound impact on our companies and communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Hendricks.  “We view this as a grave threat to our economic and national security and the FBI will work tirelessly to prevent the loss of American technology and American jobs.”
Zheng was arraigned today in Albany, New York, before United States Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, and released with conditions pending a trial before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino. 
The economic espionage counts (Counts One, Three, Four, Seven, Eight and Eleven) carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.  The trade secrets theft counts (Counts Two, Five, Six, Nine, Ten, Twelve and Thirteen) carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.  Count Fourteen of the indictment, which charges Zheng with making false statements to the FBI during a voluntary interview, carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to three years.   
The charges in the indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss, and National Security Division Trial Attorneys Jason McCullough and Matthew Chang.

A little Night Music: A Song That Will Never Die - Kate Smith Sings God Bless America At Flyers Game

Although the Philadelphia Flyers have pulled down Kate Smith's statue and stopped playing her  recording of Irving Berlin's classic song, God Bless America, you can still watch and listen to her at a Flyers game from 1974 via the below link:

You can also listen to her 1938 recording of the song via the below link:

And you can watch a Philadelphia news video about the removal of her statute via the below link:

A Little Humor: The Zen Master

A Zen master decides to pursue earthly pursuits and pleasures while visiting Philadelphia.

He walked up to a hot dog vendor’s cart in South Philadelphia and asked for a “hot dog with everything.”

The hot dog vendor took a hot dog from his cart, slopped everything on it, and handed it to the Zen master.

The Zen master pulled out a $20 bill from his robes and handed it to the hot dog vendor.

The hot dog vendor pocketed the bill and then waited on another customer. 

“Where’s my change?” asked the Zen master. 

The hot dog vendor responded, “Change must come from within.”

Russian GRU Military Intelligence Spearphishing Emails Fooled Democrats, Clinton Campaign in 2016

Veteran national security reporter Bill Gertz offers a piece at the Washington Free Beacon on how Russia’s GRU fooled the Clinton 2016 campaign.

Russia's GRU military intelligence service used fraudulent emails to gain access to large amounts of sensitive emails and documents that were then disseminated via covert GRU websites during the 2016 presidential election campaign influence operation, according to the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Two GRU intelligence units worked together in the spring of 2016 to first identify email servers for Democratic staff member Gmail accounts, and then a special cyber unit sent spearphishing emails that produced the implantation of special software inside Democratic computer networks.

The Mueller report provided new details of the cyber attacks carried out by two numbered GRU groups: Military Unit 74455, in charge of influence and disinformation operations, and Military Unit 26165, the main cyberattack group.

"The GRU spearphishing operation enabled it to gain access to numerous email accounts of Clinton campaign employees and volunteers, including campaign chairman John Podesta, junior volunteers assigned to the Clinton campaign's advance team, informal [Hillary] Clinton campaign advisors, and a DNC employee," the report said. 

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

IC3 Annual Report Released Report Shows Cyber-Enabled Crimes And Costs Rose In 2018

The FBI released the below information:
The statistics gathered by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for 2018 show Internet-enabled theft, fraud, and exploitation remain pervasive and were responsible for a staggering $2.7 billion in financial losses in 2018.
In its annual Internet Crime Report, the FBI reports the IC3 received 351,936 complaints in 2018—an average of more than 900 every day. The most frequently reported complaints were for non-payment/non-delivery scams, extortion, and personal data breaches. The most financially costly complaints involved business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and investment scams, which can include Ponzi and pyramid schemes.
Reports came in from every U.S. state and territory and involved victims of every age. There was a concentration of victims and financial losses, however, among individuals over the age of 50.
“The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are,” said Donna Gregory, chief of the IC3. “It also shows that the financial toll is substantial and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device. Awareness is one powerful tool in efforts to combat and prevent these crimes. Reporting is another. The more information that comes into the IC3, the better law enforcement is able to respond.”
The bright spots reported by the IC3 include the establishment in February 2018 of the Recovery Asset Team and its success in recovering funds lost in business email compromise scams. These sophisticated scams involve perpetrators infiltrating businesses’ email accounts and requesting fraudulent wire transfers or gift card purchases.
The Recovery Asset Team has helped streamline communication with financial institutions and assist FBI field offices in the recovery of funds for businesses that report a fraudulent domestic transfer. The team was able to successfully recover more than $192 million in funds—a recovery rate of 75 percent.
One recovery success came in Colorado, where a victim wired $56,179.27 for a home purchase to a thief after receiving a spoofed email request from the lending agent. The Recovery Asset Team worked with the Denver Field Office and the victim’s bank to freeze the funds transfer and return $54,000 of the stolen money.
To improve the chances of a successful recovery, it is imperative that victims contact their bank immediately upon discovering a fraudulent transaction as well as report the crime to the IC3.
The large number of complaints captured by the IC3 in 2018 also helped improve the data available to all law enforcement entities as they search for connections among cases and look for trends and patterns in crimes and victims. In addition, the IC3’s Operation Wellspring Initiative helps build the cyber investigative capability and capacity of state and local law enforcement by linking them to the FBI’s field offices for support on identifying and responding to malicious cyber activity.
In 2018, the IC3 also worked with the FBI’s Victim Services Division to add staff to help better serve the victims of cyber-enabled crime. The victim specialist-Internet crimes position helps provide crisis intervention services, assess victim needs, and refer victims to additional resources.
The IC3 website provides a list of common and current scams as well as tips on how to avoid being a victim of an Internet-enabled crime. The most important prevention tips include keeping hardware and software updated and protected by anti-virus programs and strong passwords. The other steps include learning how to recognize suspicious messages and requests and researching and verifying the legitimacy of every offer, person, message, or opportunity encountered online.
The IC3 was created in 2000 to provide the public with a reliable and convenient reporting mechanism to submit information to the FBI concerning suspected Internet-facilitated criminal activity and to develop effective alliances with industry partners. Learn more at

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Little Humor: Some Of Groucho Marx's Best One-Liners

Below are some of the late Groucho Marx’s best lines:

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

I have nothing but respect for you, and not much of that. 

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Room service? Send up a larger room.

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.

A child of five could understand this. Fetch me a child of five.

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.

If I held you any closer I would be on the other side of you.

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you came along.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. 

While at dinner with a woman, Groucho picked up the check and glanced at it. "This price is outrageous," he said angrily as he passed her the check. "I wouldn't pay this if I were you."

Sunday, April 21, 2019

On Easter 2019: Sara Bareilles & Andrew Lloyd Weber Perform 'I don't Know How To Love Him'

You can watch and listen to Sara Bareilles and Andrew Lloyd Weber perform I don't Know How to Love him from Jesus Christ Superstar via the below link:

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Former Manager For International Airline Pleads Guilty To Acting As An Agent Of The Chinese Government

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
In Brooklyn, New York, Ying Lin pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), without notification to the Attorney General, by working at the direction and control of military officers assigned to the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations.  Lin, a former manager with an international air carrier headquartered in the PRC (the Air Carrier), abused her privileges to transport packages from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) to the PRC aboard Air Carrier flights at the behest of the PRC military officers and in violation of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations.  The proceeding was held before United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr of the FBI’s New York Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the guilty plea.
“This case is a stark example of the Chinese government using the employees of Chinese companies doing business here to engage in illegal activity,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Covertly doing the Chinese military’s bidding on U.S. soil is a crime, and Lin and the Chinese military took advantage of a commercial enterprise to evade legitimate U.S. government oversight.”
“The defendant’s actions as an agent of the Chinese government helped Chinese military officers to evade U.S. law enforcement scrutiny of packages that they sent from New York to Beijing,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This case demonstrates how seriously we address counterintelligence threats posed by individuals in the United States who work for foreign governments, such as China.” 
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners do all we can every day to protect this country from the threats we can see, and we work even harder to find the threats we can’t see,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “Ms. Lin was secreting packages through some of the country's busiest airports, using her work with the Chinese government to thwart our security measures.  We believe this case isn’t unique and hope it serves as an example that the Chinese and other foreign governments can't break our laws with impunity.”
“Lin’s criminal actions exploited the international boundary of the United States as she used her position to smuggle packages onto planes headed to China,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “We are committed to ensuring the integrity of our international airports so they are not used as a front for illicit activities.”
Lin worked for the Air Carrier from 2002 through the fall of 2015 as a counter agent at JFK Airport and from the fall of 2015 through April 2016 as the station manager at Newark Liberty International Airport.  During her employment with the Air Carrier, Lin accepted packages from the PRC military officers, and placed those packages aboard Air Carrier flights to the PRC as unaccompanied luggage or checked in the packages under the names of other passengers flying on those flights.  As the PRC military officers did not travel on those flights, Lin’s actions were contrary to a security program that required that checked baggage be accepted only from ticketed passengers, thereby violating TSA regulations.  In addition, Lin encouraged other Air Carrier employees to assist the PRC military officers, instructing those employees that because the Air Carrier was a PRC company, their primary loyalty should be to the PRC.
In exchange for her work at the direction and under the control of PRC military officers and other PRC government officials, Lin received benefits from the PRC Mission and PRC Consulate in New York.  These benefits included tax-exempt purchases of liquor, cigarettes and electronic devices worth tens of thousands of dollars.  These benefits also included free contracting work at the defendant’s two residences in Queens, New York, by PRC construction workers who were permitted under the terms of their visas to work only on PRC government facilities.
When sentenced, Lin faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment.  As part of the guilty plea, Lin agreed to forfeit approximately $25,000 as well as an additional $145,000 in connection with her resolution of the government’s forfeiture verdict in United States v. Zhong, No. 16-CR-614 (AMD).
Mr. Demers and Mr. Donoghue expressed their appreciation to the Transportation Security Administration for their assistance on the case.  The government’s case is being handled by the National Security and Cybercrime Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Douglas M. Pravda, Alexander A. Solomon, Ian C. Richardson and Sarah M. Evans are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Matthew R. Walczewski of the Department of Justice’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.  The forfeiture aspect of the case is being handled by EDNY Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris of the Office’s Civil Division.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A little Humor: Over The Speed Limit

A woman was driving her old beat up car on the highway with her 7-year-old son.

She tried to keep up with traffic, but the other cars flew past her.

After getting caught up in a large group of cars flying down the road, she looked at her speedometer and saw that she was doing more than 20 miles over the speed limit.

Slowing down, she moved over to the side and got out of the group that sped on.

She looked up and saw the flashing lights of a police car behind her.

She pulled over and waited for the deputy sheriff to come up to her car. 

“Ma’am do you know why I pulled you over?” the deputy asked.

Her son piped up from the back seat, “I do… because you couldn’t catch the other cars!”

The Passion Of The Christ From The Gospel Of Mark

On this Good Friday the Washington Times offers The Passion of the Christ From the Gospel of Saint Mark:

Straightaway in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered Him to Pilate.

Pilate asked Him, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” And He answering said unto him, “Thou sayest it.” The chief priests accused Him of many things: but He answered nothing. Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee.” But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled.

You can read the rest via the below link: 

Note: The above photo is actor Jim Caziveil as Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s great film, The Passion of the Christ. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks On The Release Of The Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

The U.S. Justice Department released the below:
Good Morning.  Thank you all for being here today.
On March 22, 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation of matters related to Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and submitted his confidential report to me pursuant to Department of Justice regulations. 
As I said during my Senate confirmation hearing and since, I am committed to ensuring the greatest possible degree of transparency concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation, consistent with the law.
At 11:00 this morning, I will transmit copies of a public version of the Special Counsel’s report to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.  The Department of Justice will also make the report available to the American public by posting it on the Department’s website after it has been delivered to Congress.
I would like to offer a few comments today on the report. 
But before I do that, I want to thank Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for joining me here today and for his assistance and counsel throughout this process.  Rod has served the Department of Justice for many years with dedication and distinction, and it has been a great privilege and pleasure to work with him since my confirmation.  He had well-deserved plans to step back from public service that I interrupted by asking him to help in my transition.  Rod has been an invaluable partner, and I am grateful that he was willing to help me and has been able to see the Special Counsel’s investigation to its conclusion.  Thank you, Rod.
I would also like to thank Special Counsel Mueller for his service and the thoroughness of his investigation, particularly his work exposing the nature of Russia’s attempts to interfere in our electoral process. 
As you know, one of the primary purposes of the Special Counsel’s investigation was to determine whether members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, or any individuals associated with that campaign, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.  Volume I of the Special Counsel’s report describes the results of that investigation.  As you will see, the Special Counsel’s report states that his “investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” 
I am sure that all Americans share my concerns about the efforts of the Russian government to interfere in our presidential election.  As the Special Counsel’s report makes clear, the Russian government sought to interfere in our election.  But thanks to the Special Counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign – or the knowing assistance of any other Americans for that matter.  That is something that all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed. 
The Special Counsel’s report outlines two main efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election:
First, the report details efforts by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company with close ties to the Russian government, to sow social discord among American voters through disinformation and social media operations.  Following a thorough investigation of this disinformation campaign, the Special Counsel brought charges in federal court against several Russian nationals and entities for their respective roles in this scheme.  Those charges remain pending, and the individual defendants remain at large.
But the Special Counsel found no evidence that any Americans – including anyone associated with the Trump campaign – conspired or coordinated with the Russian government or the IRA in carrying out this illegal scheme.  Indeed, as the report states, “[t]he investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.”  Put another way, the Special Counsel found no “collusion” by any Americans in the IRA’s illegal activity.
Second, the report details efforts by Russian military officials associated with the GRU to hack into computers and steal documents and emails from individuals affiliated with the Democratic Party and the presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton for the purpose of eventually publicizing those emails.  Obtaining such unauthorized access into computers is a federal crime.  Following a thorough investigation of these hacking operations, the Special Counsel brought charges in federal court against several Russian military officers for their respective roles in these illegal hacking activities.  Those charges are still pending and the defendants remain at large.
But again, the Special Counsel’s report did not find any evidence that members of the Trump campaign or anyone associated with the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its hacking operations.  In other words, there was no evidence of Trump campaign “collusion” with the Russian government’s hacking. 
The Special Counsel’s investigation also examined Russian efforts to publish stolen emails and documents on the internet.  The Special Counsel found that, after the GRU disseminated some of the stolen materials through its own controlled entities, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, the GRU transferred some of the stolen materials to Wikileaks for publication.  Wikileaks then made a series of document dumps.  The Special Counsel also investigated whether any member or affiliate of the Trump campaign encouraged or otherwise played a role in these dissemination efforts.  Under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy.  Here too, the Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.
Finally, the Special Counsel investigated a number of “links” or “contacts” between Trump Campaign officials and individuals connected with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.  After reviewing those contacts, the Special Counsel did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law involving Russia-linked persons and any persons associated with the Trump campaign.
So that is the bottom line.  After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes. 
After finding no underlying collusion with Russia, the Special Counsel’s report goes on to consider whether certain actions of the President could amount to obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation.  As I addressed in my March 24th letter, the Special Counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation.  Instead, the report recounts ten episodes involving the President and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense. 
After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. 
Although the Deputy Attorney General and I disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision.  Instead, we accepted the Special Counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the Special Counsel in reaching our conclusion. 
In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context.  President Trump faced an unprecedented situation.  As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates.  At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability.  Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.  And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.  Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims.  And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.
Now, before I take questions, I want to address a few aspects of the process for producing the public report that I am releasing today.  As I said several times, the report contains limited redactions relating to four categories of information.  To ensure as much transparency as possible, these redactions have been clearly labelled and color-coded so that readers can tell which redactions correspond to which categories.
As you will see, most of the redactions were compelled by the need to prevent harm to ongoing matters and to comply with court orders prohibiting the public disclosure of information bearing upon ongoing investigations and criminal cases, such as the IRA case and the Roger Stone case.
These redactions were applied by Department of Justice attorneys working closely together with attorneys from the Special Counsel’s Office, as well as with the intelligence community, and prosecutors who are handling ongoing cases.  The redactions are their work product.
Consistent with long-standing Executive Branch practice, the decision whether to assert Executive privilege over any portion of the report rested with the President of the United States.  Because the White House voluntarily cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, significant portions of the report contain material over which the President could have asserted privilege.  And he would have been well within his rights to do so.  Following my March 29th letter, the Office of the White House Counsel requested the opportunity to review the redacted version of the report in order to advise the President on the potential invocation of privilege, which is consistent with long-standing practice.  Following that review, the President confirmed that, in the interests of transparency and full disclosure to the American people, he would not assert privilege over the Special Counsel’s report.  Accordingly, the public report I am releasing today contains redactions only for the four categories that I previously outlined, and no material has been redacted based on executive privilege. 

In addition, earlier this week, the President’s personal counsel requested and were given the opportunity to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released.  That request was consistent with the practice followed under the Ethics in Government Act, which permitted individuals named in a report prepared by an Independent Counsel the opportunity to read the report before publication.  The President’s personal lawyers were not permitted to make, and did not request, any redactions. 
In addition to making the redacted report public, we are also committed to working with Congress to accommodate their legitimate oversight interests with respect to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  We have been consulting with Chairman Graham and Chairman Nadler throughout this process, and we will continue to do so. 
Given the limited nature of the redactions, I believe that the publicly released report will allow every American to understand the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation.  Nevertheless, in an effort to accommodate congressional requests, we will make available to a bipartisan group of leaders from several Congressional committees a version of the report with all redactions removed except those relating to grand-jury information.  Thus, these members of Congress will be able to see all of the redacted material for themselves – with the limited exception of that which, by law, cannot be shared. 
I believe that this accommodation, together with my upcoming testimony before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, will satisfy any need Congress has for information regarding the Special Counsel’s investigation.
Once again, I would like to thank you all for being here today.  I now have a few minutes for questions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Little Night Music: Peter, Paul & Mary's 'Early Morning Rain'

You can watch Peter, Paul & Mary perform an old favorite song of mine, Early Morning Rain, which was written by Gordon Lightfoot, in 1966 on the BBC via the below link:

A Little Humor: The Sportman's Double

A man met an older prostitute at a bar.

He thought the woman looked good for a 50-year-old. 

In fact, she wasn’t too bad at all, and he found himself thinking that she probably had a hot daughter.

They had a few drinks and then she asked if he’d ever had a “Sportsman’s Double?” 

“What’s that?” he asked. 

“It’s a mother and daughter threesome,’ she replied.

The man liked the idea and he wondered what her daughter might look like.

“No, I haven’t,” he told the woman.

They had a few more drinks and she winked at him and told him, “This is your lucky night”. 

They went to the woman’s apartment and went in.

The woman put on the lights and shouted, “Mom, you still awake?”

Note: The above photo is of Barbra Streisand as a hooker in the funny film, The Owl and the Pussycat.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Two Romanian Cybercriminals Convicted Of All 21 Counts Relating To Infecting Over 400,000 Victim Computers With Malware And Stealing Millions Of Dollars

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A federal jury today convicted two Bucharest, Romania, residents of 21 counts related to their scheme to infect victim computers with malware in order to steal credit card and other information to sell on dark market websites, mine cryptocurrency and engage in online auction fraud, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio.
Bogdan Nicolescu, 36, and Radu Miclaus, 37, were convicted after a 12-day trial of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit service marks, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit money laundering and 12 counts each of wire fraud.  Sentencing has been set for Aug. 14, 2019 before Chief Judge Patricia A. Gaughan of the Northern District of Ohio.
According to testimony at trial and court documents, Nicolescu, Miclaus, and a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty, collectively operated a criminal conspiracy from Bucharest, Romania.  It began in 2007 with the development of proprietary malware, which they disseminated through malicious emails purporting to be legitimate from such entities as Western Union, Norton AntiVirus and the IRS. When recipients clicked on an attached file, the malware was surreptitiously installed onto their computer.
This malware harvested email addresses from the infected computer, such as from contact lists or email accounts, and then sent malicious emails to these harvested email addresses.  The defendants infected and controlled more than 400,000 individual computers, primarily in the United States.
Controlling these computers allowed the defendants to harvest personal information, such as credit card information, user names and passwords.  They disabled victims’ malware protection and blocked the victims’ access to websites associated with law enforcement.
Controlling the computers also allowed the defendants to use the processing power of the computer to solve complex algorithms for the financial benefit of the group, a process known as cryptocurrency mining.
The defendants used stolen email credentials to copy a victim’s email contacts.  They also activated files that forced infected computers to register email accounts with AOL.  The defendants registered more than 100,000 email accounts using this method.  They then sent malicious emails from these addresses to the compromised contact lists.  Through this method, they sent tens of millions of malicious emails.
When victims with infected computers visited websites such as Facebook, PayPal, eBay or others, the defendants would intercept the request and redirect the computer to a nearly identical website they had created.  The defendants would then steal account credentials.  They used the stolen credit card information to fund their criminal infrastructure, including renting server space, registering domain names using fictitious identities and paying for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) which further concealed their identities.
The defendants were also able to inject fake pages into legitimate websites, such as eBay, to make victims believe they were receiving and following instructions from legitimate websites, when they were actually following the instructions of the defendants.
They placed more than 1,000 fraudulent listings for automobiles, motorcycles and other high-priced goods on eBay and similar auction sites.  Photos of the items were infected with malware, which redirected computers that clicked on the image to fictitious webpages designed by the defendants to resemble legitimate eBay pages.
These fictitious webpages prompted users to pay for their goods through a nonexistent “eBay Escrow Agent” who was simply a person hired by the defendants.  Users paid for the goods to the fraudulent escrow agents, who in turn wired the money to others in Eastern Europe, who in turn gave it to the defendants.  The payers/victims never received the items and never got their money back.
This resulted in a loss of millions of dollars.
The Bayrob group laundered this money by hiring “money transfer agents” and created fictitious companies with fraudulent websites designed to give the impression they were actual businesses engaged in legitimate financial transactions.  Money stolen from victims was wired to these fraudulent companies and then in turn wired to Western Union or Money Gram offices in Romania.  European “money mules” used fake identity documents to collect the money and deliver it to the defendants. 
The FBI investigated the case, with assistance from the Romanian National Police.  Senior Counsel Brian Levine of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Duncan T. Brown and Brian McDonough of the Northern District of Ohio prosecuted the case.  The Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this case.

A Little Humor: True Friendship

Friendship between women:

A woman didn’t come home one night. 

The next day she told her husband that she had slept over at her friend’s house. 

The man called his wife’s 10 best friends. 

None of them knew about it.

Friendship between men:

A man didn’t come home one night. 

The next day he told his wife that he had slept over at a friend’s house. 

The woman called her husband’s 10 best friends. 

Eight of them confirmed that he had slept over, and two claimed that he was still there.

Note: The above photo is of Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland from the classic 1970 film MASH.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'The Last Stone'

The Washington Times published my review of Mark Bowden’s true crime book, The Last Stone.

Mark Bowden is mostly known as a writer who covers military conflict in such nonfiction books as “Black Hawk Down,” “Killing Pablo,” and “Hue 1968.” But he also wrote true crime books based on his journalism while he was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire,” was about a University of Pennsylvania dental student and later a practicing dentist who was the head of Philadelphia’s “Yuppie Conspiracy,” a major drug operation. “Finders-Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million,” was about a hapless, drug-addled South Philly man who found $1 million dollars that fell off an armored car — and lived to regret it.

Now Mark Bowden has returned to the scene of a crime he reported on in 1975 when he was a cub reporter for the Baltimore News-American. In “The Last Stone,” he offers a look back at a horrendous crime and writes the sad ending to the story.

On March 29, 1975 Katherine Lyon, age 10, and Sheila Lyon, age 12, went missing from a Washington, D.C., suburban area shopping mall. Despite full press coverage from Richmond to Baltimore and a full-court police effort, the two children were never found.

The book opens a week after the girls went missing and Lloyd Welch, an 18-year-old, seventh-grade dropout with a headband over long, thick brown hair parted in the middle and a sad effort at a mustache, walked into the Wheaton Mall in Maryland and told a security guard that he knew something about the missing girls. The security guard called the police and two detectives quickly showed up to question him.

“He was scrawny and acned and mean; life had treated him harshly, and it showed. And, man, could he talk,” Mark Bowden writes. “Lloyd was a con artist. Words tumbled from him pell-mell, as if their sheer number and urgency could persuade. Whatever was true in what he said came wrapped in slippery layers of guile.”

After the two girls vanished, area children were placed on lockdown. The case was given even more notoriety as their father, John Lyon, was a local radio personality. A week after the girls were reported missing, past the point most experts agree diminishes greatly the chance that the victims will be found alive, the cops in Montgomery County, Maryland, were desperate for information and a break in the case. They were flooded with tips, but none were useful.

Lloyd Welch was taken from the mall to police headquarters and questioned. Once a tape recorder was turned on, Mr. Bowden tells us, Lloyd did what he did best. He lied.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Mark Bowden about his book Hue 1968 via the below link: 

A Little Humor: The New Manager

A new manager spends a week at his new office with the manager he is replacing.

On the last day the departing manager told him, “I have left three numbered envelopes in the desk drawer. Open an envelope if you encounter a crisis you can’t solve.”

Three months later there is a major drama, and everything goes wrong.

The manager feels very threatened by it all and then he remembered the parting words of his predecessor. 

He opened the first envelope. 

The message inside read, "Blame your predecessor!" 

He does this and gets off the hook.

About half a year later, he encounters another crisis.

The manager quickly opens the second envelope. 

The message read, "Reorganize!" 

The manager reorganized his department and the crisis abated.

Three months later, another crisis occurred.

He then opened the third envelope. 

The message inside read, "Prepare three envelopes".

Note: The above photo is of me when I was the administrative officer of a Defense Department command on the Quartermaster compound in South Philadelphia back in late 1990s. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Two Real Life Gangster Tales Ripe For The Silver Screen

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia (seen in the below photo), who wrote a book on gangster movies, offers a piece at on two recent true crime books that might make good crime films.

I agree that one of the books, Lee Server’s Handsome Johnny, The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin, which I reviewed for the Washington Times, would make an interesting film or TV miniseries. (A young Johnny Rosselli appears in the above mugshot).

I’m not convinced that the second book, Gianni Russo’s Hollywood Godfather: My life in Movies and the Mob, can even be called true crime, as the stories written by the sometimes actor who played Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather are a bit too much to be believed. He should have called the book fiction.

In George Anastasia’s piece he writes about his gangster movie book and the two crime books.  

Several years ago, I wrote a book with Glenn Macnow, the radio sports commentator, about mob movies. It was called the Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies and it opened with these lines: “Walk into any bar where guys hang out and it’s a good bet they are discussing one of three topics—sports, women or movies. It’s also a good bet that most of those guys can speak with knowledge and intelligence about two of those topics. This is a book about one of them—movies. More specifically gangster movies.”

The book went on to list what we considered the 100 best mob movies of all time and included an essay on each film along with lots of trivia and other stories related to the real life and reel life of the gangster.

Two new books, one published late last year and one that was scheduled to be released last month, have refocused attention on the mob and the movies. The first, and better of the two, is HANDSOME JOHNNY, The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin. Written by Lee Server, the book is a fascinating account of the life and times of one of the more significant—yet least publicized—gangsters in American history.

… It’s American history from the underworld’s perspective and Server has done a great job researching and writing a story that revolves around the dapper, charismatic and soft-spoken wiseguy who could have stepped off one of the movie sets in which he had a hidden interest.

Equally entertaining is HOLLYWOOD GODFATHER, My Life in the Movies and the Mob written by Gianni Russo with Patrick Picciarelli. Russo played Don Corleone’s son-in-law Carlo Rizzi in the classic mob movie and frankly writes that he has used that connection to build a series of careers in both the entertainment industry and the underworld.

His memoir is both incredible and fantastic—incredible as in hard-to-believe and fantastic as in are you making this stuff up? Russo emerges as an underworld Forrest Gump, a character who happened to be on hand for virtually every major mob-linked historic event in the 20th century.

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

And you can read my Washington Times review of Handsome Johnny via the below link: 

A Little Humor: A Letter To God

A little boy wanted $100 and he prayed to God for two weeks but nothing happened. 

Then he decided to write a letter to God requesting the $100.

When the Post Office received the letter addressed to God, a clerk decided to send it on to the White House. 

The President read the letter and he was so touched and amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5.00 bill, thinking that $5.00 would seem to be a lot of money to a child..

The little boy was delighted with the $5.00, and sat down to write a thank-you note to God. 

“Dear God, Thank you very much for sending me the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you had to send it through Washington, DC and as usual, those jerks deducted $95."

Bosch With No Badge: Crime Writer Michael Connelly Talks About ‘Bosch’ Seasons 5 And 6, His True Crime Podcast And His Next Novel

Colette Bancroft at the Tampa Bay Times offers a piece on crime writer Michael Connelly and his Amazon Prime Bosch series.

When Season 5 of Amazon Prime Video’s longest-running series, Bosch, drops on April 19, fans will see Harry Bosch as they’ve never seen him before.

“This is something different,” Michael Connelly says, “Bosch with no badge.”

Connelly is the author of a series — 21 and counting — of international bestsellers about the Los Angeles homicide detective. He’s also deeply involved in the TV series as an executive producer and writer, splitting time between homes in L.A. and Tampa, and between the solitary practice of writing books and the collaborative process of making television.

In earlier seasons, Connelly says by phone from L.A., “we were mining earlier books” for the TV series’ plot arcs. “This time we jumped all the way forward” to the 2017 novel Two Kinds of Truth for the Season 5 story. (The first five episodes were released to reviewers.)

In the first scene of the opening episode, viewers will see a grubby and limping Bosch (played by Titus Welliver) climbing off a cargo plane with a group of dazed-looking street people. They’ve arrived in the middle of the night at a scruffy campsite of old trailers and school buses, guarded by armed thugs. 

“We thought it worked well coming off of Season 4,” Connelly says of the scene. “Bosch had lost his former wife, who he still had a thing for, and he was teetering emotionally. People will wonder what happened” to get him to the camp.

Two Kinds of Truth, like all of Connelly’s books, weaves together complex strands of plot. Its main strands are a new case involving a violent ring of opioid dealers and an old murder case of Bosch’s that’s being reviewed because of new evidence, which could threaten his career.

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Two Kinds of Truth via the below link:

And you can read my interview with Michael Connelly via the below link: