Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Big Bunch of Coming Books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Rhodes scholar Chaya Bhuvaneswar's JACKSON HEIGHTS, about two Indian-American girls' gritty coming of age journey one summer, as they discover the stark realities of sex trafficking from South Asia into New York's immigrant Indian community and investigate the mysterious death of a girl their age, to Cindy Spiegel at Spiegel & Grau, by Emma Sweeney at Emma Sweeney Agency (NA).


Former FBI agent Noah Boyd's THE BRICKLAYER, featuring an ex-FBI agent who's brought back in by the Bureau to solve a brilliant and deadly extortion plot -- pitched as reminiscent of John Sandford's and Lee Child's bestsellers, to David Highfill at William Morrow, in a pre-empt, for publication in January 2010, by Esther Newberg at ICM (NA).

UK rights to Wayne Brookes at Harper UK, in a pre-empt, by Jonny Geller.


Jim Powell's THE BREAKING OF EGGS, the tale of a 60-something, left-leaning misanthrope who has made his living publishing a yearly tourist guide to Eastern Europe; after a rapacious American publishing conglomerate offers to buy out his travel guide, he journeys out into the world to discover that many of his conceptions about people and politics may be incorrect and that the story of his family may be very different from what he imagined to Arzu Tahsin at Weidenfeld & Nicolson (world), in a pre-empt, by Conville & Walsh, and to Stephen Morrison at Penguin, in a pre-empt (world).

Foreign rights to Einaudi in Italy and HR Ferdinand in Denmark, by Susan Howe at Orion.


Investigative journalist Misha Glenny's THE WORM, explore the new frontiers of crime and politics in an increasingly networked world, to Dan Frank at Pantheon, in a significant deal; to Will Sulkin at the Bodley Head (UK); and to Sarah Maclachlan at House of Anansi, in a very nice deal (Canada); by Clare Conville at Conville & Walsh.

Israeli rights to Ilai Melzer at Books in the Attic, Dutch rights to Haye Koningsfeld at Ambo Anthos, Brazilian rights to Luis Schwartz at Companhia das Letras, German rights to Julia Hoffman at DVA, and Spanish rights to Ramon Perello at Destino.


Actor, producer, and standup comic Jay Mohr's humorous stories of modern fatherhood, including his adventures in test-tube baby conception, as waxes poetic about dirty diapers, spins theories on to spank or not to spank, and ponders questions like "why do kids all wake up so damn early? It's as if they are all preparing for life as longshoremen," to David Rosenthal and Kerri Kolen at Simon & Schusterr, for publication in 2010, by Lydia Wills at Paradigm.


Style writer and children's book author Lesley Blume's first adult book, based on her popular Huffington Post column Let's Bring Back..., offering an amusing and illuminating illustrated encyclopedia of objects, rituals, and ideas from the past that can (and should) be used to better modern life, from fainting couches and courting candles to powder puffs, limericks, and sealing wax, to Emily Haynes at Chronicle, in a very nice deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Kate Lee at ICM (World English).


Barbara Sinatra's MY LIFE WITH FRANK, an honest but loving portrait of life with her late husband, Frank Sinatra, whom she was married to from 1976 until his death in 1998, co-written by Wendy Holden, to Shaye Areheart at Harmony, for publication in 2010, by Alan Nevins at Renaissance (world).

Real Simple marketing executive Sarah Ellis and guitarist for the rock band Antigone Rising Kristen Henderson's TIMES TWO, the sweet, humorous, inspiring story of two women in love who want to have a family together, try for years to get pregnant, and then finally do -- both of them, at the exact same time -- revealing the human side of the gay marriage controversy and the changing face of modern families, to Wylie O'Sullivan at Free Press, for publication in Spring 2011, by Larry Weissman of Larry Weissman Literary (NA).


Andrew Blackwell's VISIT SUNNY CHERNOBYL (and Other Adventures in the World's Worst Environments), an adventurous, thought-provoking romp through the world's most polluted places; equal parts travelogue, expose, environmental meditation, and faux-guidebook, careening through a rogue's gallery of environmental disaster areas in search of the worst the world has to offer -- and our part in it, to Colin Dickerman at Rodale, at auction, by Michelle Tessler at Tessler Literary Agency (NA).


NYT columnist Harvey Araton's WHEN THE GARDEN WAS PARADISE, a Boys of Summer-like account of the New York Knicks championship teams of the early 70's which featured Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere and Earl Monroe and how they presaged the future of the NBA, to David Hirshey at Harper, by Andrew Blauner of the Blauner Books Literary Agency.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

And Now It's Memorial Day 2009....

From Phil N. Jurus:



The crackle of rifles punctuated the air followed by the metallic sound of the weapons being unloaded and reloaded by the men in uniform.

Again a unison volley as the triggers were pulled and the rifles discharged followed by the cartridges being ejected and the guns reloaded.

Once more, there was the crack of gunfire and the click and swish of spent cartridges being dislodged from their chamber.
“ATTENNNN HUT!” was the next command.

There was a pause where the sound of muted sobs was all that could be heard. Then the painful sound of Taps being played by the bugler filled the air.

My friend and I, aged 6 or 7 at the time, were standing by the cemetery fence a couple hundred yards behind our homes. We watched until the hearse and all the cars filled with mourners drove away and the grave diggers filled the grave, took down the tent and laid the flowers on the fresh mound of dirt. Then we walked to the place where the small American flag had been planted in the earth.

We scoured the grass looking for the shiny brass shell casings, scooped them up and went back to one of our yards to play.

We didn’t understand much more than that a soldier who had gone to war and been killed was now buried in that place and we had some souvenirs of that event.
Soon there would be a star by the name of that person on the Honor Roll of those who served that had been erected in the front of our elementary school.

More than six decades later, men and women are fighting in a war in Iraq. More than Three Thousand Four Hundred have been killed and those graveside rituals are occurring somewhere almost every day.

My grade school playmate is dead. I no longer live near a cemetery. I no longer hear the sound of the rifle’s salute or the orders barked by the commanding officer, or the sound of taps, or the sobs of the mourners. I gather no spent shell casings from the graves. I see no Honor Roll in school yards that list the names of those who served and the names with stars beside them of those who died.

But I see their names, their ages, 19, 21, 26, 32, 39, 45, 53, and the thumbnail obituaries in the newspaper that tell how they died, the unit in which they served, and where they were based.

I see the photographs, “in silence and as they become available”, on the Evening News Hour on PBS. I see the faces, faces I never saw before and faces that no one will ever see again. In the pictures they are usually smiling. I am crying, inwardly and outwardly for the loss of all these lives.

I understand they died fighting in a war.
I don’t understand why they have had to die in “this” war.
I don’t understand why there is “this” war.
Its purpose is as empty as a shell casing.
The tears are my souvenirs.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blogger interviews TwitterWit editor.....

The Groucho Marx of Twitter
Simon Owens:
"I got a chance today to interview and profile the editor of the book, Nick Douglas, about the new literary genre that he sees bubbling up from Twitter and his attempts to capture it:"

If brevity is the soul of wit, then it isn’t inconceivable that a major book publisher would seek to package witticisms in 140-character morsels. Nick Douglas, a former Gawker writer, formulated the idea of collecting funny tweets back in 2007, when the micro-blogging service was a mere twinkle in the eyes of venture capitalists. As one of its early adopters, Douglas observed the rise of a new form of literary humor that relied on a turn of phrase, a twist delivered deftly at the tail end of a tiny sentence that in just a few words quickly built a mode of tension to be subsequently released with a simple syllable. Perhaps before he even realized that he one day wanted to collect these tweets into a book, he began favoriting them, creating his own tiny feed of one-liners and quotable quotes.
A year later he was approached by a literary agent who had read Douglas’ tweets and his writing elsewhere. The agent asked if the writer had any book ideas in mind, a question that eventually led to communication with an editor at HarperCollins. By early this year it had been announced that Douglas, who had been paid a reported five figures, would be editing a book for the publisher, titled Twitter Wit, due out this fall.


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More books on the way...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Mark Keating's THE PIRATE DEVLIN, a swashbuckling historical naval adventure set in the 18th century, to Les Pockell at Grand Central, by by Howard Morhaim at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, on behalf of Jim Gill of United Agents (NA).


Author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid's PURELAND, set in Pakistan and the West, exploring the unmaking of identity - personal, national, sexual, spiritual - at a moment of global seismic shift, following Rebecca Saletan to Riverhead, by Jay Mandel at the William Morris Agency (NA).

LA Times reporter and author of SNITCH JACKET Chris Goffard's YOU WILL SEE FIRE, about an American priest in Kenya who takes on the country's brutal dictatorship as well as the Catholic church while fighting social injustice, only to die under mysterious circumstances, to Alane Mason at Norton, by Lydia Wills at Paradigm and Seth Jaret at Jaret Entertainment (NA).
UK/Translation: Philip Patterson at Marjacq Scripts


Former Guggenheim fellow and author of FATHER OF FRANKENSTEIN, Christopher Bram's EMINENT OUTLAWS, a group biography of the gay American writers who changed the culture, to Jonathan Karp at Twelve, by Edward Hibbert at Donadio & Olson (NA and translation).

Director of "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" Jeff Feuerzeig and journalist Paul Cullum's DEVIL TOWN, a biography of Daniel Johnston, the singer-songwriter and artist whose songs have inspired and been covered by several generations of indie-rock royalty and whose life - complete with running away to join the carnival, extraordinary art world accomplishment, and persistent and unshakeable madness - has the outsized elements of a fable, to David Patterson at Holt, in a pre-empt, by Nathaniel Jacks at Inkwell Management (NA).


Author and VF contributing editor William Prochnau and aviation journalist Laura Parker, working in collaboration with many of the passengers on USAir flight 1549, to tell MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON, a minute-by-minute in the survivors' own words of the flight that landed in the Hudson River, to Luke Dempsey at Ballantine, for publication on November 3, by Jennifer Joel at ICM (NA).

NYT bestselling author and Salon political commentator Glenn Greenwald's untitled book, about the death of the rule of law in America, and THE INVISIBLE SPECTRUM, which uses the career of Noam Chomsky to examine the relationship between our media and our political discourse, to Sara Bershtel of Metropolitan, by Dan Conaway of Writers House.


Star of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE Alison Arngrim's CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH, a comic memoir of growing up as one of television's most memorable characters -- the devious Nellie Oleson -- with behind-the-scenes stories from the set, as well as tales from her bohemian upbringing in West Hollywood and her headline-making advocacy work on behalf of HIV awareness and abused children, to Kate Hamill at It Books, at auction, by Kent Wolf at Global Literary Management (NA).


Horsemen of the Esophagus author Jason Fagone's THE DREAM SHOT, a narrative account of maverick scientist Stephen Hoffman's crusade to eradicate malaria, offering an intimate look at the grim effects of the disease, the process of scientific invention, the unseen rituals of billion-dollar philanthropy, and the David vs. Goliath battle between a small startup and Big Pharma to come up with a vaccine that will save a million lives each year, to Rachel Klayman at Crown, by Larry Weissman at Larry Weissman Literary (world).
Foreign: kschulze@randomhouse.com


Saturday, May 16, 2009

He's been waterboarded and he says....

From Bill M.:

There's an excellent compilation on Wikipedia under "water-boarding." Don't see that I could add much to the topic except to add that the S.E.R.E. program training used to be taught to us to show us that ALL are breakable. The trick is to know that and be fortified on how to handle the pieces). Somehow the Bush administration twisted that to mean that because some others outside the law might use these techniques it is okay for us to use them when it suits us. Flaying someone alive has been used for the same purpose. To Cheney, I suppose it's okay for us to do that too.

It's amazing how much rhetoric is stirred up regarding water-boarding, torture and whether the U. S. should condon the use of torture for interrogation. The bottom line is, while generations of people since before the crusades recognized water-boarding as torture and almost all countries have signed the Geneva Conventions (the U.S. not among them), that if the United States approves water-boarding's use even under any special circumstances it thereby acknowledges the right of any other country, organization or group to use water-boarding against any U.S. soldier or citizen that it considers, or has even been suspected of being, one who has broken their laws, in "legal" combat or otherwise. What we are saying is that there are no "Rules of War" and anything goes if one thinks it will work. The alternative to "Rules of War" is the loosening of "The Dogs of War". God help us all if that profound lack of distinction is considered permissible. Civilization regressed.


Friday, May 15, 2009

The Sitting Ducks for Getting Taxed....

From The Christian Science Monitor:

The tyranny of taxing 'sin'

Scrambling for revenue, politicians are pursuing higher taxes on junk food, alcohol, and tobacco – a clear threat to individual liberty.
By Patrick Fleenor
from the May 14, 2009 edition

Washington - Sin is big, at least in the minds of federal and state lawmakers. The US Senate is currently considering a soda tax to help pay for healthcare reform. In New York, Gov. David Paterson (D) wants a sin tax on non-diet sodas, and West Virginia Delegate Margaret Staggers (D) supports "a heckuva junk food tax." Nationwide, Democrats and Republicans have proposed higher taxes on alcohol and especially tobacco.

Such politicians are often called "nanny-staters" because they think the proper role of the state is to scold the people in the same way a nanny scolds children. Don't touch that chocolate!

But it's probably not politicians' love of scolding that keeps these tax hikes coming – it's their love of money. They want to spend more, and they'll take whoever's money is easiest to grab.

Sin taxes are easy to get enacted for several reasons, but the biggest is that each allegedly sinful product is consumed by a minority of the public. So it's the classic danger of democracy that Alexis de Tocqueville warned about two centuries ago: the tyranny of the majority.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Keep That Water Flowing...

From News 8 San Diego:

Last Hurdle For Largest Desalination Plant In West

San Diego's water board has given Poseidon Resources final approval to begin constructing the largest desalination plant in the Western hemisphere


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Some Most Unusual Books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


New York Social Diary contributing editor, CEO of wealth management firm
Lebenthal & Company, and active figure on the NY social scene, Alexandra
Lebenthal's debut novel, telling the story of four Manhattan socialites
whose perfect Upper East Side lives get turned upside down when the
economic collapse wreaks havoc on their pampered existences, to Karen
Kosztolnyik at Grand Central, by Richard Curtis of Richard Curtis
Associates (World).

Sandi Tan's THE BLACK ISLE, a "ghost history" of Singapore, in which an
elederly psychic recounts her amazing role in the growth of the city
state from a backward island haunted by countless spirits to a sleek
center of world finance, to Mitch Hoffman at Grand Central, in a very
nice deal, by Barbara Braun at Barbara Braun Associates (world).

Poet Jillian Weise's THE COLONY, the story of a 25 year-old who starts
up a relationship with a swashbuckling, suicidal cowboy and develops a
friendship with Charles Darwin, all at the Cold Spring Harbor Colony,
where her missing leg will be re-grown, to Anne Horowitz at Soft Skull,
in a nice deal, by Julia Kenny at the Elaine Markson Agency (NA).


Swedish crime writer (with over 3 million copies sold in Sweden, and
translated into 25 languages) Camilla Lackberg's debut THE ICE PRINCESS,
set in the coastal town of Fjallbacka, where a young writer tries to
solve the murder of her childhood friend, to Jessica Case at Pegasus, in
a two-book deal, on behalf of Tara Hiatt and Harper UK.


Thrity Umrigar's THE CLARIFYING PRINCIPLE, the story of four 50-year-old
Indian women and what happens when one of them, now married and living
in America, learns she is dying and comes to feel deeply how much she
missed by leaving behind her three best women friends from college, and
their decision to travel from India to be with her one last time, to
Claire Wachtel at Harper, by Marly Rusoff of Marly
Rusoff & Associates (world, excl. Germany).

Soldiers of Salamis author Javier Cercas's THE ANATOMY OF A MOMENT,
telling what lay behind the attempted coup in the Spanish Parliament on
23 February 1981 by exploring the moment when Lieutenant-Colonel Tejero
and the Guardia Civil burst into the Cortes and fired their weapons, and
were, unbeknownst to them, captured on tv cameras, to Bill Swainson at
Bloomsbury UK, with Anton Mueller, at Bloomsbury, by Gloria Masdeu at
the Carmen Balcells Agencia Literaria.


Journalist and CEO Margaret Heffernan's WILLFUL BLINDNESS, exploring the
psychological, social and organizational mechanism whereby critical
faculties are impaired and disabled in individuals and groups, even
nations and societies; arguing that the tendency to deliberately blind
ourselves to the obvious, to refuse to face facts and look the other way
is at the root of human behavior; drawing on examples from business and
finance, science, psychology, sociology and history, to George Gibson at
Bloomsbury, at auction, by Joelle Delbourgo at Joelle Delbourgo

Canadian rights to Kristin Cochrane at Doubleday Canada, in a pre-empt.
Foreign: Natasha Fairweather at AP Watt


BE LIGHT: FILMING THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, the story of the past hundred
years through the movies and how motion pictures and their makers were
shaped by the era's cultural, political, and aesthetic movements, and
how movies both reflected and influenced the very century that saw the
birth of its defining -- and most popular -- art form, to Jonathan
Galassi of Farrar, Straus, by Steve Wasserman at Kneerim & Williams
(world English).


Actress Stefanie Powers's ONE FROM THE HART, with NYT bestselling author
Richard Buskin, covering the author's career that commenced during the
last days of the star-studded studio system; her extensive, ongoing
involvement with wildlife conservation; and her close relationship with
the talented but troubled Oscar-winning actor, William Holden, to
Mitchell Ivers at Pocket, by Frank Weimann at The Literary Group (world).

Musician John Forté's memoir about his life and career, including his
journey from Brownsville, Brooklyn to Phillips Exeter to The Fugees,
followed by over seven years in prison for drug trafficking before
having his sentence commuted by President Bush last November, to David
Rosenthal at Simon & Schuster, with Sarah Hochman editing, for
publication in spring 2010, by Ed Victor at Ed Victor Ltd. (world


Popular Science editor Seth Fletcher's BOTTLED LIGHTNING, a narrative
account of the advent of the lithium-ion battery and the technological
and cultural transformations it has enabled -- including the rapid
miniaturization of consumer electronics, culminating in the cellphone,
laptop and the iPhone; the resurrection of the electric car, starting
with GM's moon-shot, the Chevy Volt; and the impending clean-energy
revolution -- along with the resource struggles and geopolitical drama
that could accompany the rise of the lithium economy, to Joseph
Wisnovsky at Farrar, Straus, by Larry Weissman at Larry Weissman
Literary (world English).

National Outdoor Book Award winner Lou Ureneck's CABIN: Two Brothers, a
Dream and Five Acres in Maine, in which the author, through chronicling
the building of a small cabin in the Maine woods with his brother, tells
a deeper story about home, family, the knockdowns and disappointments
that middle age bring, and the healing power of nature, to Paul Slovak
at Viking Penguin, for publication in 2011, by Jill Kneerim at Kneerim &
Williams (world).


Monday, May 11, 2009

FBI Censors Book Manuscript....

From Secrecy News:


A federal court last week rejected most of the objections raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to publication of a 500-page manuscript critical of the FBI counterterrorism program that was written by retired FBI Special Agent Robert G. Wright. The manuscript had been submitted for pre-publication review in October 2001.

"This is a sad and discouraging tale," wrote Judge Gladys Kessler in a May 6 order (pdf), referring to the FBI's handling of the manuscript.

"In its efforts to suppress this information, the FBI repeatedly changed its position, presented formalistic objections to release of various portions of the documents in question, admitted finally that much of the material it sought to suppress was in fact in the public domain and had been all along, and now concedes that several of the reasons it originally offered for censorship no longer have any validity," Judge Kessler observed.

The 41-page, partially redacted court ruling reviewed the facts of the pre-publication review dispute as well as the legal standards for official censorship of such materials, and dismissed all but one government objection to the manuscript. The court also dismissed other government objections to release of written answers to interview questions submitted by then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Some Fascinating Books On the Way....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Neuropsychologist Kylie Ladd's AFTER THE FALL, which follows the origin and fallout of an unexpected affair as told through the eyes of two young, seemingly perfect married couples, to Jackie Montalvo at Doubleday, at auction, by Stephanie Abou at Foundry Literary + Media, on behalf of Curtis Brown Australia (NA).
Foreign: pippa@curtisbrown.com.au

Ernessa Carter's 32 CANDLES, a fairytale of how the town's ugly duckling escapes Mississippi, reinvents herself as a beautiful lounge singer in LA, where, several years later, she runs into her high school crush; unaware of her true identity, he finds himself as in love with her as she once was with him, to Dawn Davis at Harper, in a pre-empt, by Sarah Jane Freymann at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency (World English).


Authors of SHOOTER and KILL ZONE Jack Coughlin and Donald Davis's fourth book in the NYT bestselling Sniper novel series, in which hero Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Swanson is imprisoned and made to look like the perpetrator of a civilian massacre in Pakistan, and must escape, find the engineers of his capture, and recover his honor, to Charles Spicer at St. Martin's, for publication in 2011, by Jim Hornfischer at Hornfischer Literary Management (World).


Priya Parmar's debut THE ORANGE GIRL, with a unique take on the life of Eleanor Gwynn, and her relationship with King Charles II, to Danielle Friedman at Touchstone Fireside, by Tamar Ellman Rydzinski at Laura Dail Literary Agency (North America).

Author of the NYT bestseller OBEDIENCE Will Lavender's DOMINANCE, in which a renowned literature professor -- and convicted murderer -- teaches a controversial night class from his prison cell, and years later aids a former student in her desperate attempt to solve the next generation of murders as the students from the infamous night class are picked off one by one, to Sarah Knight at Shaye Areheart Books, by Laney Katz Becker of Folio Literary Management (World).


NYT bestseller and Newbery Medal winner for GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!, Laura Amy Schlitz's PRINCESS CORA AND THE CROCODILE, the story of a mischievous princess whose pet crocodile, a gift from her fairy godmother, causes much havoc at the royal place, to Mary Lee Donovan at Candlewick, by Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media (world English).
Foreign: Stephanie Abou


Pseudonymous Swede Lars Kepler's crime novel THE HYPNOTIST, to Patrick Janson-Smith at Blue Door, at auction, for two books, for likely publication in 2010, by Susanne Widen at Bonnier.

Rights to Claudia Muller at Lubbe in Germany, for one book; to Marjolein Schurink at De Bezige Bij in Holland; to Johannes Riis at Gyldendal in Denmark, for two books; to Marianne Fugelsø Nilssen at Cappelen Damm in Norway, for two books; to Jorge Oakim at Intrinseca in Brazil, for two books; and to Forlagid in Iceland, for one book. Bonnier reports pending offers in eight more territories.


Jeffrey Meyers's JOHN HUSTON, a biography of the acclaimed and charismatic director of "The Maltese Falcon," "The Treasure of Sierra Madre," and the "The Misfits" among others, detailing his colorful, Hemingway-esque life, to Charlie Conrad at Broadway, by Ellen Levine at Trident Media Group.


Clara Cannucciari with Chris Cannucciari's CLARA'S KITCHEN: Wisdom, Memories and Recipes from the Great Depression, words of wisdom to buck up America's spirits and recipes to keep the wolf from the door by a 93-year-old great-grandmother who has become a YouTube sensation and swept national media with "Great Depression Cooking with Clara," a YouTube cooking show shot by her filmmaker grandson Chris, to Michael Flamini at St. Martin's, at auction, for publication in October 2009, by Sharon Bowers at The Miller Agency (World).


NYT reporter and WP op-ed columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr.'s THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT, covering the entire span of American history, to Anton Mueller at Bloomsbury, by Gail Ross at Gail Ross Literary Agency.


Josh Sundquist's EVERY BIT OF GRACE, the story of how when he was 9 years old, Ewing's Sarcoma, a virulent strain of cancer, claimed his left leg; his amazing journey takes him from his religious up-bringing in a small Southern town, and culminates with him skiing in the Paralympics in Turin, to Josh Kendall at Viking Penguin, for publication in February 2010, by Paul Cirone at Friedrich Agency (NA).


Former federal agent Robert Mazur's THE INFILTRATOR: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel, a true story of global money laundering, an international drug empire, and justice served, to Junie Dahn at Little, Brown, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic. Film rights optioned to 2929 Productions.


38-year-old biologist and "virus hunter," named to Popular Science's Brilliant 10 in 2005 and to Rolling Stone's Top 100 Agents of Change for 2009, Nathan Wolfe's THE VIRAL STORM, trying to "tie together some of the most important events in the history of our species," showing how viruses and humans have evolved side-by-side, but also how viruses have often had the upper hand, arguing that outbreaks like the current swine flu pandemic are due as much to humans invading the world of viruses as the inverse, and discussing how we can fight back, to Robin Dennis at Times Books, reportedly in a six-figure deal, for publication in early 2012, by Max Brockman at Brockman (NA).


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

On the matter of Intelligence....

From Keith Taylor:

The Bush administration justified its invasion of a country which posed no threat to us because “everybody” believed the intelligence. Not everybody. Navy Times published this early in the current Gulf War. KRT



Keith Taylor

I always figured that the most important part of intelligence would be intelligence. Now it shares top billing with loyalty. Both have been taken to new levels. Loyalty has been taken a level up, intelligence a level down.

I have a bit of an insight into this intelligence business because I was once a spy, sort of. The Navy designated me a cryptologist as a young lad of 18 and I worked in that field for 22 years, nine months and 11 days. Although it sounds impressive and I brag about it a bit, cryptologist is not much more than a highfalutin word. Mostly I was a specialist in radio things. We listened to radio signals not meant for us.

Other guys were supposed to figure out what those signals meant regardless of whether it was good news -- or, more importantly, unexpected news. Intelligence is often not conclusive. Folks have to infer things from bits and snips of data collected from here and there. Still the information should be based on what is most likely to be true.

But things don’t always work the way they’re supposed to work. One thing I learned was that no matter how important the job or how many brains it took to do it, the guys who crank out intelligence are humans just like us regular guys. Even people with high IQs share our very human trait of wanting recognition, even praise, for their work. Few things bring praise faster than telling the boss what he wants to hear. And it’s there for the taking. Like looking into a crystal ball, a zealous analyst can infer all sorts of things from nebulous information.

Is there any other way to receive lavish praise from a superior than to tell him what he wants to know? Better yet is there any way to be considered loyal. Our new CIA director, Porter Goss is the one who promoted loyalty to a new level. He is even said to have told the CIA to purge those considered disloyal in favor of those who support the Bush policy in a war – a war that’s gone awry because of poor intelligence by the way.

Looking at the changes being made in our top spy outfit I fear that poor intelligence will soon give way to no intelligence. Sure Goss claimed his spooks would be pure “We provide the intelligence as we see it, and let the facts alone speak to the policy maker.”

Sounds great but he also said “We do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.”

What would a trained analyst would infer from that bit of information?

I was always told that the best immediate use of intelligence was to win battles. The Battle of Midway is often used as an example of the value of knowing what the enemy was going to do. Information gleaned from radio intercepts indicated Japan would attack Midway in early 1942.

Other information, much of it suggested by Japanese actions, indicated the attack would be on the Aleutians. Admiral Chester Nimitz had to make a choice. He couldn’t defend both because his fleet was decimated after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was under pressure from Washington to defend the Alaskan islands.

If he guessed wrong his career would be over. He made a choice based on the reliability and honesty of his top cryptologist, Commander Joseph Rochfort. Nimitz defended Midway and surprised the Japanese fleet which was trying to surprise us. We won the battle and probably shortened the war by a couple years.

What if he had felt his loyalty would have been to skew the intelligence to agree with his bosses?

I would offer some advice to those who crank out intelligence and those who provide guidance to them. It was the best I ever received. In 1947 an old boatswain’s mate, apparently cut from a different cloth than most nabobs, told me, “Let’s stop this damned beating around the bush and you tell me the *$%^(^$ truth! This is getting serious!”

So is this boats. I wonder there is anybody in the spooky world of espionage today like the old boatswain’s mate? My crystal ball is ominously murky on the subject.


//Keith Taylor is retired from the Navy after 23 years as an enlisted man and as an officer in the field of cryptology. He can be reached at krtaylorxyz@aol.com //


Monday, May 04, 2009

US Troops doing the forbidden....

From Al Jazeera:

US soldiers have been encouraged to spread the message of their Christian faith among Afghanistan's predominantly Muslim population, video footage obtained by Al Jazeera appears to show.

Military chaplains stationed in the US air base at Bagram were also filmed with bibles printed in the country's main Pashto and Dari languages.

In one recorded sermon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him".

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Friday, May 01, 2009

These Settlements Are Bad News...

From Secrecy News:


Last January 30, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz disclosed a secret Israeli government database on settlements in the occupied West Bank, and posted the Hebrew text (pdf) of the database on their website. Last month, the ODNI Open Source Center completed an English translation of the 200-page document. Secrecy News obtained a copy of the translation (pdf) which we are publishing today.

The database provides a concise description of each of the dozens of settlements, including their location, legal status, population, and even the origins of their names, which are often Biblically-inspired. Crucially, the database makes clear that unauthorized and illegal construction activity has taken place in most of the settlements.

"An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements - about 75 percent - construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued," according to the Haaretz account. "The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents."

A copy of the database had been requested by Israeli citizens groups under that country's freedom of information law, but release was denied by the Defense Ministry. Haaretz obtained a copy independently and, notwithstanding Israel's military censorship apparatus, proceeded to publish it. See "Secret Israeli Database Reveals Full Extent of Illegal Settlement" by Uri Blau, Haaretz, February 1, 2009.

The English translation of the settlement database prepared by the ODNI Open Source Center is now available here. A copy of the Hebrew original is here.


San Diego Does Not Exist....

There's a situation that is just driving me nuts: Take a look at Calitics post on the Field Poll. Like too many others to count, it completely omits San Diego. We're the 8th largest city in the United States, but it's as though we simply do not exist. And that totally torques me. Is there anyone out there who has an explanation for this continual omitting? If so, I'd sure like to hear what the hell it is.


{Here is the poll. Take a look.}