Thursday, January 23, 2020

Former FBI Agent And Podcaster Jerri Williams Interviews Former FBI Agent Q. John Williams About 'The Irishman,' Frank Sheeran


Jerri Williams (seen in the above photo), a former FBI special agent and author of crime fiction, produces a true crime podcast. 
In her latest podcast she interviews Q. John Tamm (seen in the below photo), a retired FBI special agent who worked in the Philadelphia FBI office on the labor racketeering squad.
He investigated Frank Sheeran, the subject of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, and doubts that Frank Sheeran murdered Jimmy Hoffa and Crazy Joe Gallo.  
You can listen to the podcast via the below link:
You can also read my Washington Times On Crime column on Frank Sheeran via the below link:

Former NYPD Detective Sonny Grosso, Whose Work Inspired ‘The French Connection,’ Dead At 89


The New York Post reports that former NYPD detective and TV and film producer Sonny Grosso has died.

Former NYPD detective Sonny Grosso, whose police work with partner Eddie Egan was used as the plot for the classic 1971 cop flick “The French Connection,” died Wednesday. He was 89.
Grosso’s death was confirmed by his longtime friend, and former NYPD captain, Ernie Naspretto.
Grosso died in Manhattan after battling a long illness, Naspretto said.
“He had a good run,” Naspretto said of his friend.
Grosso’s foray into Hollywood began with “The French Connection”, as he and Egan consulted on the film and served as the real-life inspiration for fictional detectives Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo.
He went on to become a prolific producer and consultant for television and movies, working on shows such as “Kojak,” “Night Heat” and “Baretta.” 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
https://nypost.com/2020/01/23/former-nypd-detective-sonny-grosso-whose-work-inspired-the-french-connection-dead-at-89/


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My Washington Times On Crime Column: A Look Back At Joseph Wambaugh's 'The Onion Field'


The Washington Times ran my On Crime column that offered a look back at Joseph Wambaugh’s classic true crime book, The Onion Field. 

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant and the author of classic police novels such as “The New Centurions,” “The Blue Knight” and “The Choir Boys,” turns 83 on Jan. 22.

Mr. Wambaugh has also written classic true crime books such as “Echoes in the Darkness” and “The Blooding,” but he said he was born to write one true crime book in particular, “The Onion Field.”

Mr. Wambaugh had published two novels prior to “The Onion Field.” Still a working cop, he took a three-month leave of absence to write “The Onion Field.” He read thousands of pages of court transcripts, and he interviewed more than 60 people involved with the case.

The 1973 book tells the tragic true story of an LAPD officer named Ian Campbell who was murdered in an onion field in 1963, as well as the sad aftermath of Karl Hettinger, his surviving partner who suffered psychologically from the ordeal. The book also covers the arrest, trial and conviction of Gregory Powell and Jimmy Smith, the two criminals who kidnapped and murdered the young officer.

The two plainclothes officers pulled over Powell and Smith, who were committing armed robberies. Powell got the drop on Ian Campbell and placed a gun in his back. He ordered Karl Hettinger to hand over his gun, and the officer did so reluctantly. The two criminals then drove the two officers to an onion field in Bakersfield, where Ian Campbell was shot and killed. Karl Hettinger escaped by running through the onion field.

The LAPD brass released a memorandum that essentially branded Hettinger a coward for giving up his gun. They made him attend roll calls and repeatedly tell his story to the assembled cops. 

I asked Mr. Wambaugh what compelled him to write a non-fiction book about the case?

“This case always fascinated me because I was on the job when it happened,” Joseph Wambaugh told me. “I’d seen Karl Hettinger around police headquarters, and he looked like such a sad guy. When he got fired from the police department for shoplifting, I thought it must have some relationship to the kidnapping. So I had it in the back of mind and after my success with the first two books, I started talking to people and I was off and running with it.”

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/21/a-look-back-at-joseph-wambaughs-the-onion-field/


  
Note: Below are photos of Karl Hettinger, Ian Campbell and Jimmy Smith and Gregory Powell:







Tuesday, January 21, 2020


The FBI released the below information:

Preliminary statistics show overall declines in both violent and property crime in the first half of 2019 compared to the same time frame the previous year, according to FBI crime statistics released today.
The Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report covers January through June 2019. It contains data from more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide that voluntarily submitted information to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
According to the report, all categories of violent crime offenses decreased between the first half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, including:
  • Robbery (-7.4 percent)
  • Rape (-7.3 percent)
  • Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (-3.9 percent)
  • Aggravated assault (-0.3 percent)

Property crime also declined during the same period, specifically:
  • Burglary (-11.1 percent)
  • Motor vehicle theft (-6.7 percent)
  • Larceny-theft (-4.2 percent)

The full Crime in the United States, 2019 report will be released later this year.

Full Report 



A Little Humor: Medical School Exam


While waiting for his wife to be x-rayed, an elderly man struck up a conversation with a young doctor.

The elderly man recalled when he took the entrance exam to attend medical school many years before.

“One of the questions asked us to rearrange the letters PNEIS into the name of an important human body part which is most useful when erect,” the elderly man said.

“Those who answered “spine” are doctors today,” said the elderly man. “The rest of us are just hanging around telling jokes.”

Note: The above photo is Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers.   

Monday, January 20, 2020

Mob Talk 37: Former FBI Agent Disputes 'The Irishman,' An Open Letter To The Mob From A Former Mobster, And Other Organized Crime News


Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser offer their take on the Martin Scorsese film The Irishman and whether the film offers an aucurate version of the murder of Jimmy Hoffa in their Mob Talk 37.

They offer the view of a former FBI agent who shadowed alleged Jimmy Hoffa triggerman Frank Sheeran for year. They also discuss the open letter to the Mob from a former Genovese associate turned cooperator who now thinks the Mob is attempting to murder him. 

And they discuss a young associate of reputed Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Joey Merlino, who is taking some heat with a superseding indictment. 

You can watch Mob Talk 37 via the below link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1yef_jZVZA 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tale Of Crooks, Drugs, Prostitution And Murder: My Washington Times Review Of "Many Rivers To Cross'


The Washington Times ran my review of Peter Robinson’s Many Rivers To Cross.

Peter Robinson’s fictional character Detective Superintendent Alan Banks has been the protagonist of a long series of popular crime novels, beginning with 1987’s “Gallows View.” 

Originally a detective working in London, Banks grew disillusioned with the big city and transferred to a fictional English town near Yorkshire called Eastvale.

Mr. Robinson’s detective character and stories were adapted for a British TV series called “DCI Banks,” which aired on British TV from 2010 to 2016.

Banks has moved up the ranks to become a detective superintendent, and in “Many Rivers To Cross” he and his squad must investigate the murder of a teenage boy left in a trash can, what the British call a “rubbish bin.”  

“Banks put on his thin latex gloves, slowly opened the bin and recoiled from what he saw there: a boy’s body with his knees tucked under his chin, curled up, almost like a fire victim,” Mr. Robinson writes. “But it wasn’t a pugilistic position, and there had been no fire; the boy had been deliberately crammed into the bin.”

The rubbish bin belonged to an elderly retired nurse who told Banks that she didn’t know the boy and didn’t how he ended up in the bin outside of her house.

Banks’ investigating team consisted of Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot and Detective Constable Gerry Masterson. They discovered a bit of cocaine in the boy’s pocket, and after a medical examination they learned the boy had been stabbed to death. He was identified as a Syrian immigrant who had managed to travel to England all on his own,

The police later investigated another victim not far from the boy in the bin. Howard Stokes, a down-and-out diabetic and heroin addict in a wheelchair was found dead by two young boys who were playing in an abandoned house in a housing area being cleared for redevelopment.

Banks interviews a wealthy property developer named Connor Clive Blaydon, whom the coppers call “dodgy.” Although he had no criminal record, his partners in redevelopment deals are well-known to Banks. His partners are Timmy and Tommy Kerrigan, a pair of brothers who are local “villains,” as the British call criminals.

“Timmy and Tommy Kerrigan were, on paper at least, owners of the old Bar None nightclub, now renamed The Vaults, just across the market square from where Banks and Joanna were sitting, along an amusement arcade, also on the square. They were crooks and thugs, suspected of involvement in drug dealing and prostitution, but Banks and his team had never been able to find enough evidence to charge them with anything,” Mr. Robinson writes. “Timmy was suspected of an unhealthy interest in teenage girls, whereas Tommy was gay and preferred young boys. Tommy also had a sadistic streak and a nasty temper, ready to explode at a moment’s notice."

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/18/book-review-many-rivers-to-cross/ 

A Little Night Music: Euge Groove's 'Rain Down On Me'


You can listen to the smooth jazz sound of Euge Groove's sax in Rain Down On Me, featuring Peter White, via the below link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FYUd_0sLMg&list=RDA0h3j4Ujw_A&index=7


"Euge Groove has a knack for memorable melodies and for coaxing the max out of his sax - it growls, hits impossibly low notes and always sounds like it's the way the instrument was meant to sound," All About Jazz.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ben Macintyre: World Of The Digital Footprint Leaves Spies With Nowhere To Run


Ben Macintyre (seen in the below photo), author The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, and A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, as well as other fine books on espionage, writes about how the spy game has changed in today’s digital world in his London Times column.

The essence of espionage is concealment: since classical times spies have relied on being able to hide their identities and thus slip from one jurisdiction to another using a different identity, fake papers, a false history. The spy has no name, and many names.

Not any more. In the digital world of continual interconnected surveillance, facial recognition and ubiquitous CCTV, where every computer keystroke leaves a digital fingerprint and our lives are recorded online, it is becoming ever harder to hide an identity. This is a problem for terrorists and criminals but also for spies.

The two principal branches of intelligence-gathering are signals intelligence (Sigint), intercepting exchanges of information via technology ranging from wartime wireless messages to modern day texts and emails; and human intelligence (Humint), information gathered from, and by, individuals. The flood of Sigint in the modern age is a direct threat to Humint, and changing the very nature of espionage.

Intelligence officers have traditionally been sent abroad to operate under diplomatic cover. In 2014 the computers of the US Office of Personnel Management were penetrated by hackers believed to be working for China, and the employment data of 22 million former and serving civil servants, including intelligence officers, were stolen. At a stroke the hackers had exposed the identities of CIA personnel around the world and details of their lives, postings, pensions and pay rises.

Undercover intelligence officers (“legals”) are only one species of spy. Far more numerous are those operating under non-official cover (known as NOCs, or illegals), undercover agents posing as private citizens, businessmen, journalists, extremists, criminals and others, gathering information on the ground. These are also increasingly exposed, since digital sleuthing offers extensive opportunities to check when an identity is real. An absence of online footprints is likely to arouse suspicion.

… In December the US military sent out a memo advising all personnel to avoid using consumer DNA kits, since these might leave permanent digital identifiers. James Bond never bothered about the DNA he left around on his martini glasses: today that DNA could be compared to a signature in a commercial DNA database, or that of a relative, immediately proving that 007 is not who he claims to be.

Even though signals intelligence has expanded hugely (GCHQ, the signals branch, is now the biggest spy agency in Britain), human intelligence remains vitally important. Digital information can be falsified, obscured, deleted and encrypted. The most valuable espionage asset is still a spy on the ground, with direct access to, and the skills to assess the value of, secret information.

One of the best recent examples of the importance, and liability, of human intelligence was the case of Oleg Smolenkov (seen in the above photo), a CIA asset inside the Russian government who supplied high-grade intelligence from within the Kremlin. Smolenkov was exfiltrated in 2017 but he was swiftly found by reporters in the US, who tracked his digital trace. In the same way, the name and address of Sergei Skripal, the MI6 double agent targeted by Russian assassins in 2018, appeared on the Salisbury electoral roll.

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

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/world-of-the-digital-footprint-leaves-spies-with-nowhere-to-run-3bd89l7qz 

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Hell’s Angels And the Pagans In New Jersey


George Anastasia at jerseymanmagazine.com offers a piece on the rivalry of the Hells Angels and the Pagans in New Jersey.

Hell Boy swings a mean stick. 

Just ask Jeffrey Shank.

The two outlaw motorcycle gang members “got together” one afternoon back in April 2018 at a gas station on Elizabeth Avenue in Newark. Shank, who had just left the Hells Angels’ clubhouse a few blocks away, stopped to get some gas for his bike. 

Hell Boy, whose given name is Robert DeRonde, pulled into the station in a pickup truck. A video surveillance camera captured the action from there. DeRonde jumped out of his truck with a metal baseball bat in his hands and leveled his first shot, a two-handed swing from the right side, at Shank’s head. The biker, fortunately, was wearing a helmet. He went down, but then tried to scramble to his feet.

Hell Boy moved in, swinging from the left side this time, and cracked Shank across the back and shoulders several times. The camera then picked up two other men closing in, one wielding what appeared to be a long metal pipe that he used to bash Shank across the ribs and back.  

The three hitmen then left the scene with Shank crumpled in a ball next to his bike. DeRonde, who later pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was sentenced to four years in prison, was a member of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, according to authorities. Shank was an associate of the Hells Angels. The gas station attack was a vivid example of what law enforcement investigators contend is an escalation in tension between the two rival biker gangs who are vying for control and dominance in one of the darkest and most brutal segments of the underworld. 

The New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) aired the video at a hearing in Trenton back in October that focused on what investigators say is growing concern over the violent resurgence and expansion of the Pagans.

The three-hour hearing included testimony from investigators who have tracked the activities of the club. They said there has been a rise in both membership and assaults over the past two years.

The hearing also included recorded testimony about life in the biker underworld from three former club members whose voices were disguised to protect their anonymity. And finally, there were appearances by three alleged leaders of the New Jersey branch of the organization, all of whom repeatedly cited their fifth amendment right against self-incrimination while refusing to answer nearly every question posed to them.

Like the mob, the bikers believe in a code of silence. 


And like the mob, bikers have always used violence as both a negotiating tool and a way to settle disputes. The beating at the gas station was a little of both. Authorities say the Pagans are trying to move into Hells Angels territory in both North Jersey and New York. 

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

https://jerseymanmagazine.com/the-hells-angels-and-the-pagans/?fbclid=IwAR0EsewMAtDSdaKDR7YMDjORLJ3fonU45ZXWAY9De9RVb0MeJuE9iQ8aKdE

A Little Humor: Ring The Bell (Yes, Another Ditzy Blonde Joke)


Passing an office building late one night, a ditzy blonde saw a sign that read, “Press bell for night watchman.”

She did so, and after several minutes she heard the watchman clomping down the stairs.

The uniformed man proceeded to unlock first one gate, then another, shut down the alarm system, and finally made his way through the revolving door.

“Well,” he snarled at the blonde, “what do you want?”

“I just want to know why you can’t ring the bell for yourself?”

Note: The above photo is of Goldie Hawn, who portrayed a ditzy blonde on TV’s Laugh-In. 

FBI: Casino Dealer And Player Conspired To Cheat Two Maryland Casinos Out Of More Than $1 Million


The FBI released the below information:
After just a few hours of playing baccarat at a Maryland casino in September 2017, Chenguang Ni headed home to New York with more than $850,000 in winnings.
The odds of winning any given hand of baccarat stand at just under 50 percent. But Ni and his tablemates won an astounding 18 of 21 hands—including one run of 14 straight wins.
The next day, the casino called the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. Ni had cheated, they believed, and one of their dealers had likely helped him. But the dealer they suspected, Ming Zhang, denied any involvement when questioned by the casino.
“The casino knew there had been cheating,” said FBI Special Agent Jason Bender of his investigation of the case. “What wasn’t known was exactly how the player did it.”
Baccarat games are played with eight decks of cards. The dealer—called the banker—typically spreads the cards on the table to show the players that they are standard decks, shuffles them, and then places them into a holding container for play.
The banker then deals two cards to the player position and two cards to the bank position. A player bets on whose hand will come closest to nine—the player or the banker—or if they will tie. There is only a single player hand no matter how many players are at the table, and extra cards are dealt out only under certain prescribed circumstances.
A player who knew the order of the cards in the deck could predict the outcome of each game with absolute accuracy. The casino concluded that Ni must have known the order of the cards.
By reviewing the casino’s surveillance footage and conducting interviews, FBI agents confirmed that Ni had convinced the other gamblers at the table to follow his lead that night. These unwitting accomplices were given money by Ni and told to bet along with him and then hand over their winnings at the end of the game.
Soon after, the casino dealer confessed to his role in the scheme. Zhang, who worked at two Maryland casinos, admitted he met with Ni over the summer of 2017. The two men agreed that Zhang would alert Ni of his upcoming shifts as a dealer at the casinos. He further agreed to not shuffle a section of cards in the baccarat deck after they had been fanned in front of players.
Ni found a way to use his phone to take images of the cards as they were fanned out. “Then he and the other gamblers he recruited would sit there for a while, playing smaller bets just to move the cards along and keep their seats,” Bender explained. During this time, Ni excused himself from the table on several occasion to go to the bathroom to review the images of the deck.
Bender said that Ni didn’t have to memorize each card in the unshuffled section of the deck but only needed to recognize the sequence of cards that would signal the unshuffled cards had come up. “Then he just needed to remember the either/or sequence of the bets—as in player, banker, player, player,” Bender said.
Investigators learned the pair had also carried out a similar plan at another casino where Zhang previously worked, and the take from that casino was nearly $200,000.
By the time agents came to Ni, their evidence was strong. Ni pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen funds and was sentenced to 13 months in prison. Because Ni is not a legal resident of the United States, his case will be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after he has served his sentence.
The dealer, Zhang, was fired from the casino and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in December 2019. He was also given three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution equal to the full amount of the illicit winnings.
In total, investigators found the pair cheated the casinos of $1,046,560.
Bender explained that although these casinos are big business, a portion of the casino’s profits go into the Maryland education trust fund. “Part of that revenue belongs to the state of Maryland, and part of the theft affects state education funding,” he said.
He also warned would-be cheaters: “You should assume you will be caught.” Bender said that the casinos usually detect cheating while the player is still at the table. “But even if you walk out, the evidence of the crime is going to be captured.”
In other words, the odds are overwhelmingly against you.

Sicilian Cosa Nostra Clans Hit In Dawn Raids Over EU Farm Subsidies Fraud


Lorenzo Tondo at the Guardian offers a piece on the arrest of Cosa Nostra members in Sicily.

Police in Sicily have arrested 94 people, including alleged mafia members, in dawn raids, following large-scale EU agricultural subsidies fraud.

The raids have been described as one of the largest operations focused on the Sicilian mafia, or Cosa Nostra.
Prosecutors claimed Sicilian mobsters had fraudulently received more than €10m in agricultural aid since 2010, including funds for thousands of hectares of “ghost” farmland in the east of the island – land that was either non-existent or owned by the Italian state or regional government.
Two Mafia clans, the Batanesi and Bontempo Scavo families, are believed to be at the centre of the alleged fraud, according to investigators. The two had been in conflict with each other for years but recently decided to end their turf wars and instead team up in their illicit activities.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Washington Times Piece On Allowing The Military To Carry Personal Firearms On Military Bases


The Washington Times published my piece on allowing military personnel to carry personal firearms on military bases.

On Jan. 13, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Dec. 6 attack on the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida was an act of terrorism.

The attack was carried out by a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was assigned to the base for pilot training. Motivated by jihadist ideology, he entered the base and shot and killed in cold blood three American sailors and wounded eight others prior to being killed by security forces.   

“During and after this heinous attack, there were many specific acts of courage, and I want to draw special attention to two U.S. Marines: Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Maisel and Staff Sgt. Samuel Mullins,” Mr. Barr said at the press conference. “They were outside the building when they heard gunfire and, although unarmed, they ran into the building to confront the shooter. Their only weapon was a fire extinguisher that they had pulled off the wall as they ran toward the gunfire. Who but the Marines?

“We are grateful as well for the bravery of the base personnel and local law enforcement responders who initially arrived at the scene and engaged the shooter.”

Although the security response to the shooting was quick and effective in taking out the shooter, perhaps had those brave Marines been armed with their personal firearms rather than a fire extinguisher, fewer people would have been shot and killed.

I stood my fair share of security watches while serving in the U.S. Navy, and later as a Defense Department (DOD) civilian I oversaw physical security and other programs for a tenant command at a naval base in Philadelphia. DOD policy prohibited military and civilian personnel from bringing their personal firearms onto the naval base, even if they possessed a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms, and even though our military people had more training and more experience with firearms than the armed civilian contract security officers we employed to guard the base.

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/15/allow-the-military-to-carry-personal-firearms-on-m/  

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Little Humor: Class Clown And The School's Group Photo


After the school’s group photo was taken, the teacher tried to persuade the students to each buy a copy.

“Pictures are keepsakes,” the teacher said. “Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, ‘There is Jennifer, she is a lawyer now’; or ‘That is Michael, he is a Doctor now’, or “Remember Johnny, our class clown, and how he was always making jokes in class.'”

True to form, Johnny in the back of the room said. “And here is the teacher, she is dead now!”

Note: The above photo is of Spanky and the Little Rascals. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Was Hemingway A Soviet Spy?: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Ernest Hemingway


The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on Nicholas Reynolds (seen in the below photos), author of Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961.

I’ve been an Ernest Hemingway aficionado since my early teens. Like many others, I believe Hemingway is the greatest and most influential writer of the 20th century.

Hemingway’s detractors disparage his work by emphasizing his bragging, bullying and boozing. Although Col. David Bruce of the OSS and Col. Buck Lanham attested to Hemingway’s bravery and active participation in combat during World War II, his critics like to zero in on his time as a WWII combat correspondent and brand him as a coward, a liar and a fake journalist.

But the worst accusation against him, in my view, is that Hemingway was a Soviet spy.

According to Soviet and American records, Hemingway was recruited by the Soviet NKVD, the predecessor of the KGB, in December 1940.

Did he commit the crime of espionage? I asked Nicholas Reynolds, the author of “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961?”

“I’d say no,” Mr. Reynolds replied. “The American espionage statutes are loosely-written and he did not violate those. He did arguably violate something called the Foreign Agent Registration Act. If you’re an agent of a foreign government, you have to register.”

I asked Mr. Reynolds, an Oxford-trained historian, former Marine and CIA officer, and former historian at the CIA Museum, why he wrote his most interesting book.

“I was working at the CIA Museum and I was researching World War II intelligence history. I remembered that Hemingway had something to do with the Office of Strategic Services, OSS, in World War II,” Mr. Reynolds said.

He said he read a book called “Spies.” Written by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and a former KGB officer named Aleander Vassiliev, the book is about Soviet espionage in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Mr. Reynolds discovered a chapter on Hemingway that revealed Hemingway had been recruited by the NKVD.

“That upset me a little bit as a lifelong Hemingway fan and a CIA employee. Hemingway always stood for his own brand of rugged Americanism,” Mr. Reynold said. “Rugged Americanism doesn’t usually include spying for the Soviets.”

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/13/was-hemingway-a-soviet-spy/ 













My Washington Times Review of 'El Dorado: A History Of The American West'


The Washington Times published my review of Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West.

H.W. Brands opens his book on the exploration and settling of the American West by noting that any work of history must have a beginning and an end.

“This one commences with the Louisiana Purchase at the start of the nineteenth century, when the United States first gained a foot-hold — a very large one — beyond the Mississippi. It ends in the early 20th century, when the West had become enough like the East to make the Western experience most comprehensible as a piece of America whole rather than a thing apart,” Mr. Brands writes in the prologue of “Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West.”

“Western dreams didn’t die; Hollywood and Silicon Valley would be built on such dreams. But the dreams were no longer as distinctively Western as they once were.”

 “Dreams of El Dorado” is the story of the migrants, missionaries and mountain men, as well as the rovers, ranchers and railroad men who explored and settled the American West.

Mr. Brands recounts the story behind the Louisiana Purchase. Negotiated by President Thomas Jefferson, the purchase of Louisiana created the American West as it would be understood for the next century, Mr. Brands tells us.

“Only a comparative handful Americans — traders, working out of St. Louis, mostly — had penetrated much beyond the Mississippi into the new West. Otherwise Louisiana was terra incognita to nearly all but the Indians who called it home. Jefferson set about filling in the blank space on the map between the great river and the crest of the Rocky Mountains,” Mr. Brands writes.

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/10/book-review-dreams-of-el-dorado/ 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Little Humor: U.S. Senator Gets Mugged


In Washington D.C., late one night, an armed robber wearing a ski mask jumped into a path of a distinguished, well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. 

“Give me all your money!” the robber demanded.

“Do you know who I am?” asked the indignant, affluent man. “I am a United States Senator!”

“In that case,” replied the armed robber. “Give me all MY money!” 

Note: The above photo is of Jim Backus, who portrayed Senator Robert F. Lyons in the TV version of George F. Kaufman’s political satiric play, Of Thee I Sing.

On Crime & Security: Business Crime Prevention


From 2006 to 2010 I wrote an online business crime prevention column.

In the columns, FBI agents, detectives and prosecutors explained crime and how to avoid becoming a victim.

You can click on the below columns to enlarge: