Sunday, January 31, 2021

What Did You Do In The War, Daddy?: A Look Back At The Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk And Ships Of Task Force 77 During The Vietnam War

 I served proudly as a teenage sailor (from 17-years-old to 19-years-old) on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) during the Vietnam War in 1970 and 1971. 

The Kitty Hawk was the Flag Ship of Task Force 77, which served on “Yankee Station” in the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea off the coast of North Vietnam. 

I came across a video about Task Force 77 and the Kitty Hawk that old and young sailors, as well as those interested in history, may enjoy.    

Made in the 1970s, TASK FORCE 77 presents a detailed view of the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier battle/strike force of the United States Seventh Fleet, operating with three aircraft carriers and support cruisers and destroyers. The USS Kitty Hawk is the focus of the film, but other aircraft carriers are shown as well. One section of particular interest is interception of the Task Force by a Soviet trawler at the 18:00​ mark, and work by the ships in the vanguard to prevent it from monitoring them. At the 25 minute mark, an incredible rescue is seen as an airman is thrown overboard by jet blast, and then pulled out of the sea by whale boat and rescue helicopter. 

You can watch the video via the below link:

U.S. NAVY AIRCRAFT CARRIER STRIKE FORCE "TASK FORCE 77" 76194 Xx - YouTube 

Above and below are photos of Kitty Hawk air operations from the aircraft carrier’s 1970-1971 cruise book:

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These Are The Highest Resolution Photos Ever Taken Of Snowflakes: Photographer And Scientist Nathan Myhrvold Has Developed A Camera That Captures Snowflakes At A Microscopic Level Never Seen Before

 As the snow is falling heavily in Philadelphia where I live, I came upon an interesting piece on snowflakes by Jennifer Nalewicki at Smithsonianmag.com. 

The first chill of a winter storm is enough to send most people indoors, but not Nathan Myhrvold. The colder the weather, the better his chances are of capturing a microscopic photograph of a snowflake. Now, nearly two years in the making, Myhrvold has developed what he bills as the “highest resolution snowflake camera in the world.” Recently, he released a series of images taken using his creation, a prototype that captures snowflakes at a microscopic level never seen before. 

Myhrvold, who holds a PhD in theoretical mathematics and physics from Princeton University and served as the Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft for 14 years, leaned on his background as a scientist to create the camera. He also tapped into his experience as a photographer, most notably as the founder of Modernist Cuisine, a food innovation lab known for its high-resolution photographs of various food stuffs published into a five-volume book of photography of the same name that focuses on the art and science of cooking. Myhrvold first got the idea to photograph snowflakes 15 years ago after meeting Kenneth Libbrecht, a California Institute of Technology professor who happened to be studying the physics of snowflakes. 

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

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/these-are-highest-resolution-photos-ever-taken-snowflakes-180976710/?utm_source=smithsoniantopic&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20210131-weekender&spMailingID=44355953&spUserID=NzQwNDU4NTg2NjMS1&spJobID=1922595519&spReportId=MTkyMjU5NTUxOQS2 

A Little Humor: Kids Using Big People Words

Four-year-old students were confused by the teacher insisting that they not use “baby talk.”

“You need to use ‘Big People’ words,” the teacher said repeatedly. 

“John what did… you do over the weekend?”

“I went to visit my Nana.”

“No, you went to visit your Grandmother. Use ‘Big People’ words!” 

She then asked Mitchell what he had done.

“I took a ride on a choo-choo.”

“No, you took a ride on a train. You must remember to use ‘Big People’ words,” she said. 

She then asked little Johnny what he had done.

“I read a book,” he replied.

“That’s great.” the teacher said. “What book did you read?”

Johnny thought hard about it. He then puffed out his chest with great pride.

And said, “Winnie the SHIT.”

Saturday, January 30, 2021

My Crime Beat Column: Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer In 'The Law Of Innocence'

Earlier this month crime novelist Michael Connelly announced on his website that his character Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, would debut in a series on Netflix. The character previously appeared in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer and starred Matthew McConaughey. 

The announcement came as his latest novel, The Law of Innocence, his sixth novel that features Mickey Haller, is now in bookstores.

“I’m excited to announce that after a bit of a journey, Mickey Haller will come to life once again on screen - this time in the TV series adaptation of The Lincoln Lawyer coming to Netflix and starring the wonderful and talented Manuel Garcia-Rulfo," (seen in the above photo), Michael Connelly wrote.

 “The Lincoln Lawyer series will be adapted to serve up the complex and mysterious arcs fans know and love with a mix of light-hearted humor and a dose of family dynamics. 

“Mickey Haller, an iconoclastic idealist, runs his law practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car, as he takes on cases big and small across the expansive city of Los Angeles,” Mr. Connelly explains. “Manuel is the ideal Mickey Haller, as Haller follows in the footsteps of his attorney father with the showmanship of his Mexican movie star mother. Manuel brings a powerful dynamic and dimension to the role - one that aligns with the books and will give the show the opportunity to celebrate the Latinx heritage and roots of this Los Angeles-based story.” 

In The Law of Innocence, Mickey Haller faces his toughest criminal case as he is also the client. Falsely accused of murder, the seasoned lawyer represents himself, despite the adage that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. 

After celebrating his victory in a criminal case with friends and colleagues at a bar, Haller is arrested and charged with first-degree murder after he is pulled over by a police officer and during the stop the officer discovers a body in the trunk of his Lincoln Town Car. The dead body in the trunk is Sam Scales, a despicable grifter and con artist who bilked victims out of their donations to phony charitable campaigns. Haller had represented Scales in the past. 

Haller is held in jail without bail due to a judge who holds a grudge against the defense lawyer. He martials his defense behind bars with the help of his legal team. The team includes Michael Connelly’s popular character, retired LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, Haller’s half-brother. The team also includes Haller’s investigator, former biker Dennis “Cisco” Wojciechowski, and his law partner Jennifer Aronson. 

As Haller, the first-person narrator of the crime novel, notes, one is proven guilty or not guilty in a trial, but the defendant is not proven innocent. 

“The law of innocence is unwritten It will not be found in a leather-bound codebook. It will never be argued in a courtroom. It cannot be written into law by the elected. It is an abstract idea and yet it closely aligns with the hard laws of nature and science,” Haller explains.” In the law of physics, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the law of innocence, for every man not guilty of a crime, there is a man out there who is. And to prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world.” 

Haller’s plan is to go further than a jury verdict and expose the true guilty party and make his own innocence clear. 

“The only way to prove I didn’t do it is to prove who did,” Haller tells Scales’ former cell mate in an interview. “That’s the law of innocence.” 

As Haller tells it, a trial often comes down to who is a better storyteller, the prosecutor or the defense. “There is evidence, of course, but physical evidence is at first interpreted for the jury by the storyteller.” 

Haller’s investigation leads to a biofuel scam called “bleeding the beast,” in which the government is cheated out of subsidies for producing recycled oil. The scam is run by Louis Opparizio, a mobster that Haller once humiliated on the stand in a case some years prior. By exposing Opparizio’s shady dealings in court, the mobster lost millions when the Federal Trade Commission reversed a merger he had developed.     

Michael Connelly, a former Los Angeles Times crime reporter, uses detailed research to infuse his crime novels with realistic situations and current events. That realism makes his characters more believable and the plots more interesting.     

Michael Connelly’s The Law of Innocence is a fast-paced, well-written legal thriller. 

The Law of Innocence

By Michael Connelly

Little, Brown, $29, 432 pages.


You can also read my Q&A with Michael Connelly via the below link:

Friday, January 29, 2021

Denzel Washington Talks Playing Law Enforcement Characters Amid Scrutiny In America, Denounces Police Critics

 Tyler McCarthy at Foxnews.com offers a piece on Denzel Washington’s support of police officers. 

Denzel Washington shared his thoughts on playing law enforcement characters amid heightened scrutiny about policing in America. 

The 66-year-old actor has portrayed several law enforcement characters throughout his career including valorous ones in films like "Virtuosity," "Out of Time" and "Inside Man" as well as more nefarious cops in films like "Training Day." He’ll play another cop in the movie "The Little Things" set for release later this month.  

At the moment conversations of police brutality and effectiveness sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement have led to shows like "Cops" and "Live P.D." getting pulled from the air. As a result, Yahoo Entertainment asked the legendary actor how he feels about portraying law enforcement in a climate in which the Black community isn’t keen to see them glorified on screen. 

"I have the utmost respect for what they do, for what our soldiers do, [people] that sacrifice their lives," Washington told the outlet. "I just don’t care for people who put those kind of people down. If it weren’t for them, we would not have the freedom to complain about what they do." 

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

Denzel Washington talks playing law enforcement characters amid scrutiny in America, denounces police critics | Fox News 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Unsafe At Any Site: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On A Look Back At Safehouse's Planned Supervised Injection Site In South Philly And The U.S. Attorney Who Helped Thwart It


Philadelphia Weekly published my Crime Beat column on Safehouse's planned heroin injection site in South Philly and the U.S. Attorney who helped thwart it.

You can read the column via the below link or page:



Note: You can click on the above to enlarge. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Babylon Bee: Google Reports Sudden Spike In Searches For 'Can You Take Back Your Vote For President' Among Biden Voters


 

The Babylon Bee offers another satiric political piece.

U.S.—Google has reported a sudden spike in searches for the term "can you take back your vote for president" among Biden voters.

There were some 70 million searches for the term during Biden's first week in office, sources at Google confirmed Tuesday.

"We, uh, think this must be because people are so happy to have voted for him, that they, uh, want to... take back their vote and then cast it again?" said a Google spokesperson. "Because he's clearly doing such a fantastic job. It can't possibly be because people have regret for voting for someone who turned out to be pro-war, had no COVID-19 plan like he promised, and walked back his promises on the $15 minimum wage."

"I mean, the guy was in office for 50 years, so it's hard to say exactly what his positions are and what he might do when he's in office."

At publishing time, Google had manually scrubbed the search trend from its servers and replaced it with "can you vote for Joe Biden a second time because he's so amazing."

You can read more humor pieces like this via the below link:

Google Reports Sudden Spike In Searches For 'Can You Take Back Your Vote For President' Among Biden Voters | The Babylon Bee

 

West Virginia Woman Sentenced For Willful Retention Of Top Secret National Defense Information And International Parental Kidnapping

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

Elizabeth Jo Shirley, of Hedgesville, West Virginia, was sentenced today to 97 months of incarceration for unlawfully retaining documents containing national defense information and 36 months of incarceration for international parental kidnapping. 

Shirley, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information and one count of international parental kidnapping in July 2020. Shirley admitted to unlawfully retaining a National Security Agency (NSA) document containing information classified at the Top Secret/Secret Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) level relating to the national defense that outlines intelligence information regarding a foreign government’s military and political issues. Shirley also admitted to removing her child, of whom she was the non-custodial parent, to Mexico with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of the custodial father’s parental rights. 

“Shirley betrayed the trust of the American people when she took classified information from her work with the Intelligence Community,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division. “She then sought to profit from her betrayal by seeking to sell this information to Russia, one of America’s foremost adversaries, in order to further her criminal abduction of her daughter. This sentence will hold Shirley accountable for her violations of the American people’s trust,and serves as a warning to others who would seek unlawful profit at America’s expense.” 

“Shirley held a position that required the highest level of trust,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Powell for the Northern District of West Virginia. "When she committed these crimes, she not only broke that trust, she potentially endangered the very people who employed her and her neighbors. National security is one of our highest priorities. Shirley deserves her sentence and not a day less.” 

“Ms. Shirley was trusted with our nation’s highest-level documents when she was given a high-level security clearance," said Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman of the FBI’s Pittsburgh field office. "But she betrayed that trust and put our country at risk by stealing classified national security documents, which she later hoped she could sell to Russian officials. 

We must safeguard this information from foreign adversaries. Today’s sentence shows the FBI will not let anyone get away with putting the lives of American citizens at risk.” 

Shirley served on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, and in August 1994, the Air Force granted Shirley her first TS/SCI security clearance. After leaving active duty, Shirley served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and later in the U.S. Navy Reserves. While serving in the Air Force, she worked on assignments with the NSA. 

From May 2001 to August 2012, Shirley held various positions with the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, and at least five different cleared defense contractors. 

In connection with these positions, Shirley held TS/SCI security clearances at various times.

In July 2019, Shirley took her six-year-old daughter to Mexico with the intent to contact representatives of the Government of Russia to request resettlement in a country that would not extradite her to the United States. Shirley took with her to Mexico national defense information, which she had unlawfully retained. While in Mexico, Shirley prepared a written message to Russian government officials, referencing “an urgent need” to have “items shipped from the USA related to [her] life’s work before they are seized and destroyed.” 

On Aug. 13, 2019, the U.S. Marshals Service and Mexican law enforcement located Shirley and her daughter at a hotel in Mexico City. Mexican authorities arrested Shirley pursuant to an arrest warrant the West Virginia State Police (WVSP) had obtained on a charge of concealment of a minor from a custodian. 

The FBI subsequently executed search warrants on numerous of Shirley’s electronic devices, including devices she took to Mexico in July 2019 and devices the FBI seized from her Martinsburg storage unit in August 2019. Pursuant to the search of the storage unit, the FBI located the NSA document underlying the willful retention of national defense information offense. In addition, pursuant to searches of the electronic devices, the FBI found an Office of Naval Intelligence PowerPoint presentation containing information classified at the secret level and messages Shirley had drafted to Russian government officials while in Mexico, the latter of which the Central Intelligence Agency has determined to include information classified at the secret level. 

The FBI Pittsburgh field office and WVSP investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Lara K. Omps-Botteicher and Trial Attorney Evan N. Turgeon with the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Webster County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of the case. Chief U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh presided.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cal Thomas: Media's Swoon Over Biden Nothing New When Considering The History Of Journalism


Cal Thomas in his column at the Washington Times looks back on bias and sensationalism in the history of journalism. 

There is a perception, supported by many surveys, that what passes for contemporary journalism is more biased, even propagandistic, than in earlier times. One of the definitions of “journalism” on Dictionary.com will affirm that attitude for many: “writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition …”

Journalism has, in fact, been infected by bias and sensationalism from the start. In his book, “Infamous Scribblers,” Eric Burns suggests that colonial journalism would often make today’s tabloids look like real news. Their slogan could have been “all the unfit news we print.”

Newspapers of those days published unverified scandals and statements by rival politicians that would today be considered slanderous, even libelous. 

Kiss Of Death From The KGB: Lipstick Gun, Umbrella With A Poison Syringe And A Fake Tooth For Storing Cyanide Among The Soviet Spy Relics Set To Sell For Up To $365,000 At Auction After A KGB Espionage Museum In New York Was Forced To Close Due To Covid

 Sam Baker at the Daily Mail offers a piece on the auction of KGB lethal spy gadgets.

An incredible collection of Cold War relics, including a number of Soviet disguised weapons, is set to be sold at auction - and is expected to sell for £365,000.

Historian and collector Julius Urbaitis, 57, who worked as the consultant on the HBO series Chernobyl, amassed the remarkable group of gadgets over a 30-year period, procuring almost 400 items in that time. 

The items were put on display at a KGB Espionage Museum in New York back in 2019, where Urbaitis was the curator, but the coronavirus pandemic has meant the gallery has had to close down and sell off the collection. 

 

Mr. Urbaitis filled the museum with items from his personal collection, like a listening device used by Adolf Hitler, and artifacts and replicas acquired specifically for the museum and enlisted his daughter, Agne Urbaityte, 30, to serve as co-curator. 

One of the most sought-after items in the collection is a KGB spy umbrella which conceals a poison syringe and has been valued at £3,700. 

A spring-loaded syringe is hidden within the shaft fires the needle tip from the end of the umbrella when a trigger near the handle is activated. 

The umbrella is a reproduction of the one thought to have been deployed to assassinate the Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov in London in 1978 - in that incident, a pellet containing ricin was fired into his leg.

Another intriguing item in the collection is a 'kiss of death' lipstick gun used by female operatives which has been valued at an estimated £1,500.

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

Lipstick gun and umbrella with a poison syringe among Soviet spy relics up for auction | Daily Mail Online 

Former Veterans Affairs Doctor Sentenced To Prison For Sexual Abuse Of Veterans

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

A former doctor of osteopathic medicine who previously worked at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia, was sentenced today for depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law by sexually abusing them. 

U.S. District Judge Frank W. Volk sentenced Jonathan Yates, 52, of Bluefield, Virginia, to 300 months in prison and three years of supervised release, announced Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory B. Friel of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Michael B. Stuart of the Southern District of West Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Christman of the Pittsburgh Division of the FBI, and VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. 

Yates previously pleaded guilty on Sept. 17, 2020, to three felony counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. According to the plea documents, Yates rubbed the genitals of two veterans and digitally penetrated a third veteran’s rectum under the guise of legitimate medicine, when in fact he acted without a legitimate medical purpose. This conduct, performed while Yates was acting under color of law in his capacity as a VA physician and a federal employee, deprived the veterans of their constitutional right to bodily integrity and caused them pain. According to the plea documents, the veterans had sought treatment from Yates to manage chronic pain through osteopathic manipulative therapy. Several veterans addressed the court at sentencing, describing the trauma and mental anguish that Yates had caused them. Yates surrendered his medical licenses as a condition of his plea agreement. 

“The sentence today reflects the seriousness of this defendant’s misconduct. In a despicable betrayal of his oath, he used his specialized medical knowledge and expertise to sexually abuse his own patients. He has now been held accountable,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory B. Friel of the Civil Rights Division. “It is a testament to the bravery of our veterans that so many came forward to bring this defendant to justice.” 

“Military veterans who serve and sacrifice to protect our nation deserve only the best of care. Yates betrayed his oath as a physician and the veterans under his care,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Stuart for the Southern District of West Virginia. “Today, Yates has been called to account for his heinous acts. While his prison sentence will not undo the significant harm Yates inflicted on the victims, we hope that it will ease their pain. I want to commend the incredible work of the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs-OIG in this investigation. I also want to thank the victims and their families for their unwavering support during the prosecution of this case.”

“Yates committed hideous crimes in a hospital room, which should be a sanctuary for patients,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman. “The facts of this case are disgusting and these patients and their families deserved better care. While today’s sentence won’t take away what happened to these patients who dedicated their lives in service to our nation, Yates will never be able to hurt anyone again. Hopefully, this will serve as justice for his victims.” 

“This sentence is the culmination of the exceptional work of the Office of the Inspector General special agents and our law enforcement partners,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “Our thoughts are with the veterans who suffered horrific abuse by a doctor entrusted with their care, and we remain vigilant in our efforts to keep all VA patients safe from harm.” 

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the Veterans Affairs Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Samantha Trepel and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey of the Southern District of West Virginia, and Assistant Chief Kilby MacFadden of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at http://www.wvsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.wvsd.uscourts.gov/. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Babylon Bee: Biden Grants Citizenship To Everyone Who Voted For Him

 The Babylon Bee takes a satirical shot at Biden.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Joe Biden signed an executive order this morning granting citizenship to everyone who voted for him.

Some ten million people are expected to receive citizenship through the executive order, making it the largest instance of amnesty in our nation's history.

"If you voted for me, darn it, man, you deserve to be an American," Biden said at a press conference this morning. "Thank you for your service, and welcome to America. You're all Americans in my book -- clean, articulate ones."

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

Biden Grants Citizenship To Everyone Who Voted For Him | The Babylon Bee 

A Look Back At Rod Serling's 1963 'Twilight Zone' Episode 'The Thirty Fathom Grave'

 I was a huge fan of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone when I was a kid in the 1960s. 

Perhaps because I was anxiously waiting until I was 17 so I could join the U.S. Navy (which I did in 1970), one of my favorite episodes was The Thirty Fathom Grave, which aired on CBS in 1963. 

Written by Rod Serling (seen in the below photo) and directed by Perry Lafferty, the episode is a haunting, supernatural tale about a Navy destroyer that encounters a banging noise from the deep. 

The ship’s captain (Simon Oakland) is dealing with the odd behavior of a previously outstanding chief petty officer (Mike Kellin) when he and his crew discover the noise is coming from a submarine that was sunk 20 years before. 

“Incident one hundred miles off the coast of Guadalcanal. Time: the present. The United States naval destroyer on what has been a most uneventful cruise,” Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone's writer, host and narrator, said as he appeared at the beginning of the program. “In a moment they’re going to send a man down thirty fathoms to check on a noise maker – someone or something tapping on metal. You may or may not read the results in a naval report, because Captain Beecham and his crew have just set a course that will lead this ship and everyone on it into The Twilight Zone.” 

The episode was intelligent, innovative and insightful. I believe today's viewers will enjoy the program and Navy veterans will especially enjoy it.

I recently watched The Thirty Fathom Grave and enjoyed it once again. 

You can watch The Thirty Fathom Grave via the below link:

https://d2isvgrdif6ua5.cloudfront.net/cinemr_com/597321846240579584/720.mp4 




Stu Bykofsky: "Sour-Faced" Gov. Kenney? Sen. Kenney?

I interviewed Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney some years ago when he was a city councilman and I was a columnist for a South Philly weekly newspaper. I agree with former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky - he was a different man then. 

Stu Bykofsky offers his take on the “sour-faced” Philly mayor on his website:    

This is the kind of person he is. 

When running for reelection in 2019, Mayor Jim Kenney refused to debate Republican candidate Billy Ciangalini, basically sticking his thumb in the eye of critics who said he owed the concept of democracy a little show. In a city that hasn’t elected a Republican mayor in more than 70 years, he wasn’t in much danger from Ciangalini, who ran a barely there campaign. Kenney showed his contempt for political process. 

Please, God, spare me from this job. 

And now rumors circulate that he may be interested in running for governor or U.S. Senate. I wonder a) why, and b) how can he possibly win? 

I think Kenney ran for a second term because he didn’t have anything better to do. He ran for mayor in the first place on an impulse, when someone else dropped out, and, like a dog chasing a car, didn’t know what to do when he caught it. 

I don’t think highly of him as a politician now — I was a big fan when he was a Councilman concerned with quality of life issues. I also don’t think much of him as a man — having turned his back on his wife, Maureen, his mentor, former State Sen. Vince Fumo, even members of the Jokers Mummers club, where he spent a couple of happy decades before he went to progressive reeducation camp, and learned his former friends were low-life racists. 

He’s become a different man today, and seemingly not happy with what he has become. 

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to fellow progressive Larry Platt, editor of the Public Citizen:

“Even before a once-in-a-lifetime plague and a racial conflagration rocked our city, Philadelphia had the dubious distinction of having America’s most sour-faced mayor,” Platt wrote. 

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

https://stubykofsky.com/gov-kenney-sen-kenney/ 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Semper Cop: Happy Belated 84th Birthday To Joseph Wambaugh

Happy belated birthday to Joseph Wambaugh, the former LAPD detective sergeant and author of classic true crime and cop novels who turned 84 on January 22nd. 

Over the years, I've interviewed Joseph Wambaugh several times and I've reviewed many of his outstanding books.   

You can read my Philadelphia Weekly Crime Beat column on Joseph Wambaugh via the below link:

  Love cops? Hate cops? Read Wambaugh - Philadelphia Weekly

You can also read my Washington Times On Crime column on Joseph Wambaugh's The Onion Field via the below link:

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

And you can read my long-form Q&A with Joseph Wambaugh via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: Semper Cop, My Q & A With Joseph Wambaugh

And you can read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of Joseph Wambaugh's Hollywood Station below:



Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Washington Times: 10 Notable Achievements Of The Trump Presidency

The Wall street Journal once noted that the only thing admirable about President Trump was his policies.

That’s how I feel. 

I voted against Trump in the Republican primaries, but I voted for him as president twice. I thought Trump was a huckster and populist and not truly a conservative, but I saw him as the lessor of two evils. 

I thought he was a spoiled rich man’s son who had never been in a fight in his life and dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, but talked like a tough guy.  

I thought he was a deeply flawed man; unintellectual, shallow, thin-skinned, petty, and crude. 

And I suspect those character flaws and his overbearing personality overshadowed his policies and his achievements and cost him the election.   

But love him or hate him, he and his administration achieved great success during his four-year term in office. His policies on the economy, law enforcement, border security and the military did in fact make America great again.                

The Washington Times, where I offer my On Crime column, presented a fine editorial this past Thursday that listed Trump’s 10 notable achievements.   

Thursday marks the first (full) day of the rest of former President Donald Trump‘s life, but don’t expect him to go gentle into that political good night. That’s just not his style — or temperament. 

And with a new NBC News poll finding that fully 87% of Republicans approve of Mr. Trump‘s job performance, we wouldn’t bet against Mr. Trump seeking to become the first ex-president since Grover Cleveland in 1892 to seek a nonconsecutive second term. 

In a hypothetical 2024 “Make America Great Again, Again” campaign, Mr. Trump could cite his administration’s numerous substantive achievements. (Heaven knows he’ll never get credit from Democrats or the mainstream media.) 

So, as Mr. Trump settles back into life as a private citizen, here’s a list — by no means complete and in no particular order — of 10 of the foremost accomplishments of his improbable presidency: 

• The U.S. achieved energy independence, surpassing Saudi Arabia in 2018, becoming the world’s largest producer of crude oil and giving us the lowest gas prices in decades. (This was after President Obama told us we couldn’t “drill our way out” of energy imports from unstable foreign sources.) 

• Three new constitutionalist conservative justices were appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, as were 174 judges to the U.S. district courts and 54 to federal appeals courts. 

… • And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Mr. Trump‘s very first achievement: He spared us from a President Hillary Clinton. 

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/jan/21/editorial-10-notable-achievements-of-the-trump-pre/ 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Babylon Bee: Biden Outlines Plan For Final 100 Days In Office

 The Babylon Bee offers a satirical piece about President Biden.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In prepared remarks given to a room full of giddy reporters, President Biden laid out his plans for his final 100 days in office. 

"Listen, folks, we're one day in and it's been a wild ride. As my term as President comes to a close, it's time for me to lay out my ambitious agenda for my final 100 days."

Sources say Biden will have to move quickly since it's entirely possible his presidency could end well before the anticipated 100 days. The aspirational agenda includes ending all racism, outlawing inequality, saving Earth, bringing world peace, socializing the healthcare system, and requiring home care nurses to serve better tapioca pudding to their patients. 

"I always pledged to be a president for all Americans," said Biden as he outlined his plan. "Foghorn laid an egg on my cabeza and the henhouse needs to close down before the noodle-boat falls in the gravy."

The White House press corps erupted in rapturous cheers, seemingly moved by Biden's inspiring words. It's possible, however, that they're just very excited about Kamala Harris taking over as President.

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

Biden Outlines Plan For Final 100 Days In Office | The Babylon Bee 

Philadelphia Electrical Contractor Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud, Theft Of Union Benefit Funds

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Donald Dougherty, 54, of Philadelphia, PA, entered a plea of guilty today before United States District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson. Dougherty, the owner of Dougherty Electric, Inc., (“DEI”), a well-established Philadelphia-based electrical contractor, pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false federal income tax return and one count of theft of employee benefit funds.

On November 25, 2020, Dougherty was charged by Indictment with multiple charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and theft from employee benefit plans. Also charged with tax fraud was Michael McKale, an accountant who worked for Dougherty. Under the plea agreement between Dougherty and the government announced today, in addition to pleading guilty to tax fraud and theft of union benefit funds, the defendant has agreed to pay $92,913 in taxes due to the Internal Revenue Service, arising from false business deductions for what were actually expenditures for Dougherty’s personal benefit. The defendant also agreed to pay $266,000 in restitution to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“IBEW”) Local Union 5 in Pittsburgh, arising from his failure to make $266,000 in contributions to Local 5’s employee benefit funds in violation of the collective bargaining agreement between DEI and Local 5 in Pittsburgh.

In 2007, Dougherty was charged, pleaded guilty, and imprisoned for filing false income tax returns, tax evasion, making an unlawful payment to a union official, theft of employee benefit funds, and related offenses. During today’s plea hearing, Dougherty agreed to pay all restitution still owed in this previous case. 

“Donald Dougherty has a track record of trying to skirt the law and defraud hard-working individuals,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “But the government also has a track record of convicting Dougherty for his crimes.  And we will continue to do just that with every criminal who attempts this kind of scheme.”

“Engaging in an elaborate scheme to willfully underreport taxable income is a felony,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso. “Today, Donald Dougherty admitted he broke the law by cheating on his taxes. As we approach tax filing season, those who might consider filing false tax returns should be aware of the negative consequences; which could include being branded a felon for life and a lengthy prison sentence.”

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration branch of the Department of Labor, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul L. Gray and Frank R. Costello, Jr.

 


Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Coolest Guy I Ever Met: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On The Late, Great Crime Novelist Elmore Leonard


Philadelphia Weekly published my Crime Beat on the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard.

You can read the column via the below link or the below page:

  How I met the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard - Philadelphia Weekly


Note:
You can also read my previous post on Frank Wilson and Elmore Leonard via the below link:


You can click on the above column to enlarge.





Frank Wilson And The Night Elmore Leonard Came To Philadelphia

In my latest Crime Beat column, which was published today in Philadelphia Weekly, I wrote of the time when the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard came to Philadelphia in 2009. 

As I noted in the column, my friend and former editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Wilson (seen in the above photo), introduced Elmore Leonard at the Philadelphia Free Library. 

Leonard was in town to promote his novel Road Dogs (William Morrow).

Frank Wilson noted that Elmore Leonard (seen in the below photo) was perhaps one of the coolest guys he ever met. I agree that Leonard was a cool old guy. 

I also think Frank Wilson is a cool guy.  

Frank Wilson, who was the Inquirer’s book editor for many years, began a popular literary blog called BooksInq (https://booksinq.blogspot.com) after he retired from the newspaper. The blog was selected by the London Sunday Times as one of the Top 100 Best Blogs in 2009.   

Like me, Frank Wilson is a huge admirer of Elmore Leonard. As he stated in my column, he believed the crime novelist deserved the Nobel Prize. 

"The writing is as good as it gets. No wasted words. As sharp an eye for detail as anyone. Characters as vivid as they get. Characters as vivid as they get.  I've had friends in low places. Dutch got them right," Frank Wilson said in the column. 

I asked Frank Wilson what he thought of crime fiction. 

“It’s a form, like the sonnet,” Wilson replied.” We revere the sonnet, but for some reason some people tend to denigrate prose genres — crime fiction, science fiction. I don’t get it. Middlemarch is by definition better than The Moonstone because the latter is a detective novel. Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels are by definition inferior to what he called his “hard novels”? I’ve read a number of both. Both are great.” 

Although I’ve known Frank Wilson for a good number of years, I asked him for a overview of his life and career. 

“Well, I wrote a book column for my college newspaper and later on became the editor of the newspaper. In the fall after I finished college, I went to work for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. They were about to start a journal, which became the Intercollegiate Review,” Wilson said. “I was the managing editor. I wrote my first professional review for the first issue. It was a review of Dag Hammarskjรถld’s Markings (a great book). I wasn’t there very long. I had a disagreement with the editor and quit. 

Wilson said he then attended Penn graduate school for a semester and later obtained a teaching assistantship at the University of Dayton. His idea at the time was to receive a Ph.D, and afterwards obtain a job at some small upstate college where he would teach English and write poetry. 

“But by then I had already done some freelancing and had got to know the writing world, and I realized one day that I didn’t want to spend my life in the faculty lounge. So I left Dayton and went back to freelancing. I had a column for a while in the old Philadelphia Drummer. I edited for Lippincott, Fortress Press, Running Press and others. I started reviewing books for The Inquirer around 1976, I think. My first assignment was Hearing Secret Harmonies. volume 12 of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. I hadn’t the first 11, but dutiful sort that I am I did read them over the next couple of weeks. 

The freelance book editing dried up in the late ‘70s, Wilson noted, and Lippincott was sold to Harper and the major publishes decided not to hire freelancers. So he made ends meet working on a construction crew building stores. He was then hired at the Inquirer as a clerk (He had a wife and four kids to support; so he said it was no time to be proud). Wilson said the pay was quite good and it enabled him to learn the newspaper business from the ground up. 

“And I continued to review books for the paper. I got promoted to the features copy desk and wrote for the Faith Life section and eventually the book job was open I got the nod. Not long after I got it, they cut the book budget. I kept them cutting space by writing a weekly Editor’s Choice column. Things went very well when Amanda Bennett was the editor, but when Brian Tierney bought the paper, I eventually ran into what Bill Speers in the Newsmakers column used to call “those dreaded artistic differences” with the new management. 

"I was already 67, so I decided to bow out. I continued to review for them after I retired — until they stopped having a book section of their own.” 

Frank Wilson continues to review books and posts everyday at https://booksinq.blogspot.com

Note: You can read my Crime Beat on Elmore Leonard via the below link:

 Paul Davis On Crime: The Coolest Guy I Ever Met: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On The Late, Great Crime Novelist Elmore Leonard