Monday, August 31, 2020

Chinese National Charged With Destroying Hard Drive During FBI Investigation Into The Possible Transfer Of Sensitive Software To China


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

A Chinese national and researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles has been arrested on federal charges of destroying evidence to obstruct an FBI investigation after he was observed throwing a damaged hard drive into a dumpster outside his apartment, the Justice Department announced today.

Guan Lei, 29, of Alhambra, was arrested pursuant to a one-count criminal complaint unsealed this afternoon during his initial appearance in United States District Court.

The criminal complaint alleges that Guan, who was in the U.S. on a J-1 non-immigrant visa, threw a damaged hard drive into a trash dumpster near his residence on July 25. 

 The FBI recovered the damaged hard drive after Guan was not allowed to board a flight to China and after Guan refused the FBI’s request to examine his computer.  The affidavit in support of the complaint notes that the internal hard drive “was irreparably damaged and that all previous data associated with the hard drive appears to have been removed deliberately and by force.”

According to the complaint, Guan is being investigated for possibly transferring sensitive U.S. software or technical data to China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and falsely denying his association with the Chinese military – the People’s Liberation Army – in connection with his 2018 visa application and in interviews with federal law enforcement.

Guan later admitted that he had participated in military training and wore military uniforms while at NUDT.  One of Guan’s NUDT faculty advisors in China was also a lieutenant general in the PLA who developed computers used by the PLA General Staff Department, the PLA General Armament Department, Air Force, military weather forecasts, and nuclear technology.  

NUDT is “suspected of procuring U.S.-origin items to develop supercomputers with nuclear explosive applications” and has been placed on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List for nuclear nonproliferation reasons, according to the affidavit.

In addition to destroying the hard drive, the complaint alleges that Guan concealed digital storage devices from investigators and falsely told federal officials that he had not had any contact with the Chinese consulate during his nearly two-year stay in the U.S.

During his initial appearance this afternoon, Guan was ordered detained by a United States Magistrate Judge, who scheduled an arraignment for Sept. 17, 2020 .

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The felony offense of destruction of evidence carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service has provided substantial assistance during the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Will Rollins and George Pence of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Yaser Abdel Said Now In Custody


The FBI released the below information:
Yaser Abdel Said, a capital murder suspect wanted in connection with the homicide of his two teenage daughters, Amina and Sarah, was taken into custody without incident today in Justin, Texas, by the FBI’s Dallas Field Office. Said was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on December 4, 2014. Said is currently in federal custody and will soon be transferred to Dallas County.
“The FBI-led Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force has worked tirelessly to find Yaser Abdel Said. These experienced investigators never gave up on their quest to find him and pledged to never forget the young victims in this case,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “Said was placed on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List nearly six years ago for the heinous act he committed against his daughters. His capture and arrest bring us one step closer to justice for Amina and Sarah. We want to thank our partners at the Irving Police Department for working with us to apprehend this dangerous individual.”
“On January 1, 2008, the Irving Police Department opened a murder investigation after two young girls were found shot to death. Since that night, the members of the Irving Police Department and our partners with the Dallas FBI have tirelessly pursued justice for Amina and Sarah,” said Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey. “Even after 12 years of frustration and dead ends, the pursuit for their killer never ceased. Today’s arrest of their father, Yaser Said brings us closer to ensuring justice is served on their behalf.”
Said took his daughters Amina (18) and Sarah (17) for a ride in his taxicab on January 1, 2008, under the guise of taking them to get something to eat. He drove them to Irving, Texas, where he allegedly shot both girls inside the taxicab. They both died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Based on an investigation by the Irving Police Department, on January 2, 2008, a capital murder-multiple warrant was issued for Said’s arrest. On August 21, 2008, a federal unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant was issued by the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas.
The search for Said was coordinated by the FBI’s Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force, which is composed of FBI special agents and officers from the Carrollton, Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, and Irving Police Departments and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Yaser Abdel Said was the 504th person to be placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, which was established in March 1950. Additional information concerning Said and the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives can be found at fbi.gov/wanted.

Friday, August 28, 2020

14 Mostly Accurate CNN Headlines From The Last 6,000 Years Of Human History


CNN was recently mocked for a video news clip of their reporter declaring that protests were mostly peaceful as cars and buildings burned brightly behind him.

So the Babylon Bee joined in and offers a satirical piece on CNN covering events in history.

CNN has been there from the beginning, always running toward the important stories and absolutely never covering them up. We went through CNN's archives and dug up these 14 headlines they published while covering some of the most significant events of human history. They are truly a bastion of truth and honesty in journalism.

2348 BC: Watery But Mostly Peaceful Flood Destroys Earth

1025 BC: David Circumcises 200 Philistines In Mostly Painless Medical Procedure

33 AD: Mostly Peaceful Crowd Demands Jesus Be Crucified

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

Goumba Johnny: Jesus Was Italian


Being half-Italian and growing up in South Philly's "Little Italy" area, I got a kick out Goumba Johnny's bit on Jesus being Italian.

You can watch the bit via the below link:

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

You can read about Goumba Johnny via the below link:

https://www.goumbajohnny.com/about

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On James Lee Burke And 'A Private Cathedral'


The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on James Lee Burke (seen in the below photo) and his new novel A Private Cathedral.

In a previous column, I asked James Lee Burke if his Cajun cop character Dave Robicheaux, the first-person narrator of the Robicheaux series, was in any way autobiographical. “The character defects are all mine,” he replied.

James Lee Burke’s latest Dave Robicheaux novel, “A Private Cathedral,” is a mixture of gritty, realistic crime, mythology and the supernatural. This is his 40th book and his 23rd novel featuring Dave Robicheaux.

Mr. Burke said that “Robicheaux,” “The New Iberia Blues” and “A Private Cathedral” are intended as a trilogy, The trilogy, Mr. Burke noted on his website, “Deals with the times in which we live and my feelings about the great mysteries that beset us for most of lives. I am in my eighties, but the passage of the years has left me with little knowledge and less wisdom, at least when I try to deal with the questions whose answers seem on the edge of my vision but escape into the light when I try to touch them.”

Dave Robicheaux is a flawed hero; a struggling alcoholic who is often unable to stem his rage and acts of violence. He is haunted by his Vietnam War experiences, the loss of his wives, and the violence and cruelty he has seen as a police officer over the years. In “A Private Cathedral,” Robicheaux again faces the wealthy and corrupt, and the criminal and psychotic, plus an adversary from another time and place.

... Mr. Burke’s novels have always had a touch of the supernatural, but in this novel, the supernatural is center stage with Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcel encountering a serpent-faced time-traveler named Gideon Richetti. Richetti, who calls himself a “Revelator,” commits pure acts of evil and nearly kills Purcel, but as one reads on, Richetti becomes more complicated.

... Although I disagree mostly with his political views, I believe James Lee Burke is one of our best modern crime novelists. “A Private Cathedral” is a well-written, insightful and interesting crime novel. 

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



You can also read my previous On Crime column on James Lee Burke via the below link:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, A Former Navy SEAL, Spoke Of Heroism And Duty, At Home And Abroad, At The 2020 Republican National Convention


Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL and combat veteran, is an impressive young and intelligent congressman.

He spoke last night at the Republican Nation Convention about heroism and duty, at home and aboard,

You can watch and listen to his speech via the below link:

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

When Ernest Hemingway Went From Writer To Fighter In WWII


Colonel Charles T. "Buck" Lanham was a soldier who wanted to be a writer. Ernest Hemingway was a writer who wanted to be a soldier.

The two men met in Europe in WWII and became good friends. Lanham was the commanding officer of the 22nd Infantry Regiment and Hemingway was a combat correspondent for Collier's magazine.

Hemingway was not content to just report on the war. He became engaged personally in several combat incidents.   

Lanham later said that Hemingway was the bravest man he knew.

After the war Hemingway told Lanham that the character of Colonel Richard Cantwell in his novel Across the River and Into the Trees was based in part on Lanham and in part on Hemingway himself.


David Sears at HistoryNet.com offers a piece on the wartime friendship of the writer and the soldier.

You can read the piece via the below link:

https://www.historynet.com/when-ernest-hemingway-went-from-writer-to-fighter.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Historynet+%28HistoryNet+%7C+From+the+World%27s+Largest+History+Magazine+Publisher%29


You can also read my Washington Times review of Hemingway at War: Ernest Hemingway's Adventures as a World War II Correspondent via the below link:

http://www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2017/01/my-washington-times-review-of-hemingway.html


Babylon Bee: Nation's Cats Endorse Trump In Hopes Americans Will Go Back To Work And Leave Them Alone


The Babylon Bee offers a satirical piece on the nation’s cats endorsing Trump for relection.

CHARLOTTE, NC—At the Republican National Convention this week, the nation's largest cat lobby endorsed Trump in hopes that the economy will be reopened and Americans will go back to work.
The cats condemned Biden's plan to keep everyone at home and endorsed Trump's plan to send Americans back to work.

"Biden wants to lock down the country," said one tabby cat, addressing the Republican Cat Caucus. "This would be disastrous for our plans to crush human -- err, our plans to lie around and do absolutely nothing all day."

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Legendary Actor Sean Connery Is A Navy Veteran



Miguel Ortiz at WeAreTheMighty.com notes that actor Sean Connery, who recently turned 90, is best known due to his role of Navy Commander James Bond in the movies, but few know that Sean Connery also served in the Royal Navy.

Miguel Ortiz points out the other military roles Sean Connery portrayed in his career.

"Bond. James Bond." These are Sir Sean Connery's first lines in 1962's Dr. No as he brought Ian Fleming's spy of mystique to life on the silver screen. Ironically, Fleming didn't want the working-class, bodybuilding Scotsman to portray his suave and dapper British super-spy.

However, Connery went on to play the role a total of seven times, and each time was met with critical acclaim. In 1964, Fleming even wrote Connery's heritage into the Bond character, saying that his father was from Glencoe in Scotland. 

On August 25, 2020, the veteran actor celebrated his 90th birthday. What many people don't know about him is that before he played Commander James Bond, Connery was a sailor himself.


In 1946, at the age of 16, Connery enlisted in His Majesty's Royal Navy. He received training at the naval gunnery school in Portsmouth and was assigned to an anti-aircraft artillery crew. His first and only ship assignment was the Illustrious-class aircraft carrier HMS Formidable. After three years of naval service, Connery was medically discharged due to a duodenal ulcer.


After leaving the Navy, Connery went into bodybuilding and football (the European sort). Though he was offered a contract with Manchester United, the short-lived career of a footballer deterred him. "I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23," Connery recalled. "I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves."

Connery started his acting career onstage in the 1953 production of South Pacific. Back in uniform, albeit a costume, Connery played a Seabee chorus boy before he was given the part of Marine Cpl. Hamilton Steeves. The next year, the production returned out of popular demand and Connery was promoted to the featured role of Lt. Buzz Adams.

When Connery made the transition to motion pictures, it wasn't long before he was portraying military men again. Less than two weeks after Dr. No was released in the UK, The Longest Day hit theaters with Connery playing the role of Pte. Flanagan. 

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

  
Note: Although Ian Fleming initially thought Sean Connery was wrong for the role of James Bond, he soon agreed that the actor was a good choice. As for Ian Fleming giving James Bond a Scottish background after meeting Sean Connery, it should be noted that Ian Fleming, also a Navy veteran having served in British naval intelligence during WWII, based much of James Bond on himself, and Fleming himself was a Scot. 

I didn't care much for Sean Connery's last outing as James Bond in Never Say Never Again, but knowing the actor's background, I got a kick out the scene with Sean Connery and Kim Basinger in a shower together on a submarine. "It wasn't like this when I was in the Navy," Bond/Connery said.   

Man's Best Friend: National Dog Day 2020


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Otto Penzler: 'The Third Man' Is The Greatest Crime Film Of All Time


Otto Penzler (seen in the below photo) is the president and CEO of MysteriousPress.com, the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and the editor of many anthologies of crime stories. 

As a noted authority on crime, espionage, suspense and mystery stories, Otto Penzler has been ranking, analyzes and celebrating the 106 Greatest Crime Films of All-Time for CrimeReads.com.

He has selected The Third Man as the greatest crime film of all-time.

I’d have a hard time picking just one film as the greatest all-time crime film, but The Third Man would most certainly be in my list of top ten crime films.

The 1949 film, directed by Carol Reed and written by the great thriller writer Graham Greene, is a classic film and one of my favorite crime films.

Harry Lime, portrayed By Orson Welles in The Third Man, is a great, evil character. Lime is a post-World War II black marketer who masterminds a plot to sell diluted penicillin to hospitals, which contributes to the death of many children.

Lime is unseen and only talked about for roughly half of the film and when he is finally introduced, we see only Lime’s face in the shadows, briefly lit in a dark alley in Vienna. Lime is seen quickly in profile, with a wry, smug and self-satisfied look on his face.

He is, as one reviewer called him, "a charming monster."

When Lime confronts his old friend, writer Holly Martins, played by Joseph Cotton, Lime excuses his actions in a now famous speech (written by Welles, not Greene).

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance," Lime explained. "In Switzerland, they had brotherly love. They had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

The film, made richer by the black and white film noir style and the Anton Karas zither music, is truly unforgettable.

You can read Otto Penzler’s piece on The Third Man via the below link:



You can also read my On Crime column on Otto Penzler in the Washington Times via the below link:

Monday, August 24, 2020

Great Scot: Happy 90th Birthday To Actor Sean Connery


Sean Connery has been one of my favorite actors since I first saw him in 1963 as Ian Fleming's iconic character James Bond in Dr. No. 

In addition to being the best Bond in my view, the "Great Scot" has also appeared in such fine films as The Man Who Would Be King, Robin and Marion, The Untouchables and The Wind and the Lion.

As Biography.com notes, today is actor Sean Connery's birthday. He is 90.


Sean Connery was born on August 25, 1930, in Fountainbridge, Scotland.

In the 1950s, he was cast in numerous films and television programs. In the early 1960s, he landed the lead role of James Bond in Dr. No.

He continued to work regularly in film thereafter, and in 1987, won an Academy Award. Connery appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1990. In 2003, he starred in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

You can watch read the rest of the piece and watch a film clip of Sean Connery's bio via the below link:



You can also watch a video of Sean Connery in his introduction as James Bond in Dr No via the below link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLXoZ69ce-I

Note: The above photo shows the cover of Sean Connery's book On Being a Scot.

NASA Researcher Arrested For False Statements And Wire Fraud in Relation to China’s Talents Program: Texas A&M University Professor Working On U.S. Space Projects Allegedly Hid Affiliations With Chinese State Owned Academic And Commercial Institutions


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

A criminal complaint has been unsealed today, charging Zhengdong Cheng, 53, of College Station, Texas, for conspiracy, making false statements and wire fraud. 

Texas A&M University (TAMU) Professor Zhengdong Cheng is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon today at 10 a.m. in Houston, Texas.  Authorities took him into custody Sunday, Aug. 23. 

Cheng allegedly led a team conducting research for NASA. According to the criminal complaint, for several years he willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company.  The terms of Cheng’s grant prohibited participation, collaboration or coordination with China, any Chinese-owned company or any Chinese University, according to the charges.

“Once again, we have witnessed the criminal consequences that can arise from undisclosed participation in the Chinese government’s talent program,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Professor Cheng allegedly made false statements to his university and to NASA regarding his affiliations with the Chinese government.  The Department of Justice will continue seeking to bring participation in these talent programs to light and to expose the exploitation of our nation and our prized research institutions.”

“China is building an economy and academic institutions with bricks stolen from others all around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas. “While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities. These conflicts must be disclosed, and we will hold those accountable when such conflict violates the law.”

“As alleged, Zhengdong Cheng knowingly deceived NASA officials about his association with Chinese owned companies and universities, willingly accepted U.S. government funding, and defrauded his university,” said Assistant Director Alan Kohler, Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.  “The FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing those individuals who try and undercut our U.S. research institutions and government agencies by concealing their participation in Chinese talent recruitment programs and to hold them accountable for their actions.” 

“NASA’s funding restrictions are in place to protect taxpayer-financed research dollars and intellectual property,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark Zielinski, NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) - Eastern Field Office.  “We will continue pursue anyone who attempts to circumvent these guidelines and conceal affiliations with Chinese institutions and companies in order to obtain NASA grant money.”

“Dr. Cheng is accused of hiding his affiliation with the Guangdong University of Technology, along with other foreign universities, while disregarding the rules established under his NASA contract during his employment at TAMU,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner.  “These alleged actions came to light through the tireless work of the FBI-Bryan Resident Agency and NASA-OIG investigative teams.  We are grateful to TAMU, TAMU System and TAMU Engineering Experiment Station for providing significant assistance through their partnership with us throughout this case.”

The charges allege Cheng and TAMU received funds based on Cheng knowingly providing false information to TAMU and consequently to NASA.  In addition to the funds, Cheng personally benefited from his affiliation with TAMU and NASA with increased access to unique NASA resources, such as the International Space Station, according to the complaint.  This access allegedly allowed Cheng to further his standing in China at Guangdong University of Technology and other universities.  The charges further allege he held senior research positions there unknown to TAMU and NASA and was able to serve in the People’s Republic of China Talents program.  China’s Talents Plans are allegedly designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.

The FBI-Bryan Resident Agency and NASA-Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of TAMU.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and S. Mark McIntyre are prosecuting the case with the assistance of trial attorney Matthew McKenzie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

CTF 70: U.S., Japan Build On 60 Years Of Regional Cooperation


I recall vividly my visit to Sasebo, Japan in 1971 while stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63).

The Japan port of call was a relief from the long and hard days we spent on “Yankee Station,” off the coast of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, pounding the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong in support of the American and South Vietnamese troops in-country.

The Japanese had been my father’s bitter enemy in World War II, but the old UDT chief frogman was most interested in my visit to our post-war ally and he asked me to write and tell him all about my time in Sasebo and Nagasaki.

I had a grand time in Japan, and I’ve maintained my interest in the country after all these years.

I’ve read numerous books on Japan and I read the online Japanese Times (in English). I’ve met Japanese military people in Washington D.C., and I’ve met Japanese students who were studying in Philadelphia and Japanese tourists who visited Philadelphia. I also correspond with Japanese readers of my website.

So I was interested in reading what the U.S. Navy is doing today in Japan and I read the below piece put out by the Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 Public Affairs Office:  

U.S., Japan Build on 60 Years of Regional Cooperation

The Symbolizing the strength of the two nation's 60-year alliance, the cooperation between forward-deployed naval and air forces, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) represent ongoing combined operations throughout the Indo-Pacific.

"The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group routinely conducts operations to support our nation's commitment to regional stability and freedom of the seas," said Capt. Pat Hannifin, commanding officer, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). "Seamless integration with our allies ensures a lethal and flexible global force, answering the call for prompt and sustained combat operations from the sea. We have utmost respect for our Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force partners and are proud to stand with them on watch in the Western Pacific."

Throughout the operation, Ikazuchi and the Reagan Strike Group operated and trained together, conducting integrated flight operations, high-end tactical training, maritime defense exercises, and a replenishment-at-sea. Ikazuchi and Reagan were also joined by the America Expeditionary Strike Group to enhance integrated operations across a multi-domain warfighting environment. This training strengthened collective integration efforts in support of international norms that foster peace and stability.

Professional integrated engagements allow regional allies the opportunity to build upon existing strong relationships, and reinforce the international rules-based order.

"The Japan-US Alliance contributes to maintaining regional peace and stability," said Cmdr. Sugiyama Yasuhiro, commanding officer, JS IKAZUCHI, "The bilateral exercise such as we conducted will make our relationship stronger. We are making steady progress to realize the Free and Open Indo-Pacific."

Previous integrated operations this year include USS America (LHA 6) with JS Kunisaki in January; four Destroyer Squadron 15 ships with JS Suzunami and Sawagiri in February; USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) with JS Terazuki in April and again with JS Kashima and Shimayuki in June; the USS Reagan Carrier Strike Group with JS Teruzuki during a trilateral exercise in July; a mine countermeasure exercise involving USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USS Patriot (MCM 7), and JS Uraga and Bungo also in July; and most recently integrated operations with USS Mustin (DDG 89) and JS Suzutsuki which concluded August 18th.

During the operation, Reagan also conducted joint integrated training with United States Air Force B-1B Lancers. Collaboration between joint service resources adds an additional layer of training value and ensures operational commanders have a more diverse field of options to complete any given mission.

The United States remains committed to working with regional allies and partners to protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful use of the seas by all states. Exercises and operations stand for a free and open Indo-Pacific, which the United States has supported, alongside its allies and partners for more than 70 years.

USS America (LHA 6), the flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, consists of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54).

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed carrier strike group and one of America's most visible symbols of resolve. Operating together alongside allies and partners strengthens each nation's collective commitment to international rules-based order.

Note: In the above U.S. Navy photo the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group joined Japan's Murasame-class destroyer JS Ikazuchi (DD 107) to conduct joint integrated operations in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 15, as part of ongoing shared commitments to regional stability through cooperation. 

You can click on the above and below U.S. Navy photos of the joint operations, as well as a photo of the USS Kitty Hawk, circa 1970:






Sunday, August 23, 2020

Babylon Bee: Good News: Vaccine Shows Promise In Clinical Trials. Bad News: It Also Resurrected Hitler As A Zombie


The Babylon Bee offers a satirical piece on the side effects of the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine.

ATLANTA, GA—A recent attempt at making a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus has shown mixed results. The latest tests have shown that the trial vaccine does cause an increased immune response to the novel coronavirus. On the other hand, the corpse of Adolf Hitler somehow got exposed to the vaccine, and it has resurrected him as an evil zombie.

“It feels like we’re on the right path,” said researcher Shelly Weaver as she nailed boards to the research facility window. “The results on the immune response are exactly what we wanted to see. At the same time, we probably should have kept the test vaccine away from the corpses of genocidal dictators. Still, it’s better to know it could resurrect them as zombies now rather than find that out later.”

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

EU Parliament Members Urge Trump To Pardon Snowden As AG Barr Explains His Strong Objection To Idea


Andrew Blake at the Washington Times offers a piece on the European Parliament calling on President Trump to pardon the traitor and spy Edward Snowden as Attorney General Barr (seen in the above photo) spoke of his opposition to a pardon.

President Trump faced added pressure Saturday to pardon former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden on the heels of Attorney General William P. Barr announcing his opposition.

Marcel Kolaja, a vice president of the European Parliament, released a letter signed by more than two dozen colleagues urging Mr. Trump to grant Mr. Snowden a presidential pardon.

“We must not persecute those who put public interest above their personal well-being and security,” said Mr. Kolaja, a Czech politician and member of the nation’s Pirate Party.

Mr. Barr, the head of the Department of Justice, revealed in an interview published the previous day that he is “vehemently opposed” to pardoning the admitted leaker, meanwhile.

“He was a traitor and the information he provided our adversaries greatly hurt the safety of the American people,” Mr. Barr said about Mr. Snowden, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Snowden, 37, leaked classified information to the media in 2013 about the U.S. National Security Agency and its vast domestic and international surveillance capabilities.

He was overseas when the Justice Department charged him that summer with violating the U.S. Espionage Act and theft of government property, and he has not returned home since.

Seven years later, Mr. Trump just recently told reporters he would “look at” Mr. Snowden’s case and possibly consider allowing him to return home without risk of prosecution.

… Presently a resident of Russia, Mr. Snowden faces a maximum sentence of decades in federal prison if put on trial in the U.S. and convicted of all counts he currently faces.

Mr. Trump previously called Mr. Snowden a “traitor” and a “spy who should be executed.”

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



You can also read my Washington Times piece on Snowden via the below link:

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Great Scot: Sean Connery At 90: An Untouchable Actor And The Ultimate James Bond


I’ve been a huge fan of Scottish actor Sean Connery since I was a kid and first heard him say those immortal words on screen, “Bond, James Bond,” in Dr. No.

The great Scot went on to portray Ian Fleming's iconic character James Bond in other films such as From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, and then acted in other fine films such as The Man Who Would be King, The Hill, and The Hunt for Red October.

Paul Whitington at the British newspaper the Independent takes a look back at Sean Connery’s life and work as the actor turns 90.

On one of their various televised travelogues, Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan engaged in a testy duel of Sean Connery impressions. "I'll have a vodka Martini, shaken not stirred," they hissed at each other, their faces contorting into worried scowls as they tried to register the trademark rumbling rasp. They weren't bad either, but then again, everyone thinks they do a good Connery.

At one point in the mid-1980s, few nights out remained unpunctuated by a ham-fisted round of Connery impersonations, whether on the relatively safe ground of 007 - "Ah, Miss Moneypenny", "The name is Bond, James Bond", and so forth - or the more experimental territory of Brian de Palma's Untouchables, in which Sean played a Chicago-Irish beat cop. "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."

Even as I write those words, I can hear the great man growling them, a testament to his enduring place in the canon of late 20th century popular culture. Connery turns 90 on Tuesday and although he retired from cinema almost 15 years ago, his legend is undimmed. Earlier this month, the Radio Times conducted a poll on the best Bond ever - as usual, Connery came in first. Inevitably, it's his seven years as 007 that dominate public perceptions of his career, but there was a whole lot more to Sean Connery the actor than that.

It all began in Edinburgh in the working class enclave of Fountainbridge, where Thomas Sean Connery was born on August 25, 1930. The son of a factory worker and a cleaner, he worked as a milkman before joining the Royal Navy at 16. A keen bodybuilder, he was also a decent footballer, and considered turning professional before wisely deciding acting might be a better long-term bet.
Early turns (invariably as a hoodlum) in British films like No Road Back and Hell Drivers led to a breakthrough role opposite Hollywood star Lana Turner in the melodrama Another Time, Another Place. He already had a reputation as a hardman and when Turner's jealous mobster boyfriend Johnny Stompanato visited the London set and pointed a gun at Connery, the actor disarmed and humiliated him.

Perhaps it was this edgy air of menace that saw him land the role of James Bond above the better known Cary Grant and David Niven. The first Bond film Dr No exceeded its producers' wildest expectations, and from the moment Connery appeared seated at a casino table, is asked his name and says quietly: "Bond, James Bond," he was an international star.

Six sequels followed, the best of them probably From Russia With Love, but by the early 1970s, Connery was tired of the increasingly cartoonish role, weary too of using toupees to hide his baldness. And after he left the franchise, he set out to deconstruct his typecasting by taking on more varied and challenging roles.

In the 1980s he enjoyed a career purple patch, bringing charisma and authority to the role of a defecting Soviet sub commander in The Hunt for Red October and winning an Oscar for The Untouchables. He was an inspired choice to play Indy's fastidious dad in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, but my favourite Connery performance was given in The Name Of The Rose, in which he played the medieval sleuth William of Baskerville. In this film, perhaps above any other, Connery proved there was more to him than Bond.

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


Note: The top photo is the cover of Sean Connery's book Being a Scot, and the below photos are of Sean Connery in Dr No, Goldfinger, The Man Who Would Be King, A Bridge Too Far, The Untouchables, and The Hunt for Red October:







Friday, August 21, 2020

Former Army Special Forces Officer Charged In Russian GRU Espionage Conspiracy: Former Green Beret Allegedly Conspired To Provide National Defense Information to Russian Intelligence


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

A Gainesville, Virginia, man was arrested today for conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with United States national defense information.

According to court documents, from December 1996 to January 2011, Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, a former member of the U.S. Army, allegedly conspired with agents of a Russian intelligence service.  During that time, Debbins periodically visited Russia and met with Russian intelligence agents.  In 1997, Debbins was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents and signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve Russia.

“Two espionage arrests in the past week — Ma in Hawaii and now Debbins in Virginia — demonstrate that we must remain vigilant against espionage from our two most malicious adversaries — Russia and China,” said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “Debbins violated his oath as a U.S. Army officer, betrayed the Special Forces and endangered our country’s national security by revealing classified information to Russian intelligence officers, providing details of his unit, and identifying Special Forces team members for Russian intelligence to try to recruit as a spy.  Our country put its highest trust in this defendant, and he took that trust and weaponized it against the United States.”

“Our military is tasked with the awesome responsibility of protecting our nation from its adversaries, and its service members make incredible sacrifices in service of that duty,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.  “When service members collude to provide classified information to our foreign adversaries, they betray the oaths they swore to their country and their fellow service members.  As this indictment reflects, we will be steadfast and dogged in holding such individuals accountable.”

"The facts alleged in this case are a shocking betrayal by a former Army officer of his fellow soldiers and  his country," said Alan E. Kohler, Jr.,  FBI Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division.  "Debbins is accused of giving Russian intelligence officers sensitive information about the units in which he once served and also providing the names of other service members so Russia could try to recruit them.  These actions cannot stand and the FBI will aggressively pursue such cases."

“According to the allegations, Mr. Debbins knowingly provided information to self-proclaimed members of Russia's Intelligence Service, the GRU,” said James A. Dawson, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, the American people and his fellow service men and women should have been able to trust Debbins with secrets and information. Debbins allegedly fell very short of that and exploited his role in the military and his fellow service members to benefit one of our top adversaries for years. Today’s charges are another example of the dedicated and unrelenting efforts of the FBI and our partners, domestic and international, to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who violate this sacred trust and place our national security at risk.”

Over the course of the conspiracy, Debbins allegedly provided the Russian intelligence agents with information that he obtained as a member of the U.S. Army, including information about his chemical and Special Forces units. In 2008, after leaving active duty service, Debbins disclosed to the Russian intelligence agents classified information about his previous activities while deployed with the Special Forces.  Debbins also provided the Russian intelligence agents with the names of, and information about, his former Special Forces team members so that the agents could evaluate whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service.

Debbins is charged with conspiring to provide United States national defense information to agents of a foreign government.  If convicted, Debbins faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James A. Dawson, Acting Assistant Director of FBI Washington Field Office made the announcement.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas W. Traxler and James L. Trump, and Trial Attorney David Aaron of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Terwilliger greatly appreciate the assistance of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, and Army Counterintelligence, along with the United Kingdom's Metropolitan Police and MI5.

An indictment is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.