Thursday, July 30, 2009

Latest Selection of Books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly....


Chris Greenhalgh's COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY, a first novel and movie tie-in based on the secret affair between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky in Paris, 1920, at the time when Coco was developing Chanel No. 5, to Sarah McGrath at Riverhead, in a pre-empt, for publication in 2009, by Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management (NA).

Grant Jerkin's AN AMERICAN CRIME, telling the story of an emotionally disturbed wife, a husband who would kill to escape his torturous marriage, and a son who can't defend himself from the accusation of murder, to Natalee Rosenstein at Berkley, by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic (world English).

Film rights optioned to Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (Reversal of Fortune) with Oscar-nominated director Barbet Schroeder (also Reversal of Fortune) attached to direct.


HALLUCINATING FOUCAULT author Patricia Duncker's THE STRANGE CASE OF THE COMPOSER AND HIS JUDGE, to Kathy Belden at Bloomsbury, in a nice deal, for publication in March 2010, by Andrew Gordon at David Higham Associates (NA).

President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States Wayne Pacelle's THE BOND, an exploration of the special relationship between animals and humans, to Peter Hubbard at William Morrow, by Gail Ross at the Gail Ross Literary Agency.

Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction Philip Hoare's THE WHALE, a lively travelogue through the history, literature, and lore of the largest, loudest, oldest animal ever to have lived: the whale, to Matt Weiland at Ecco, at auction, for publication in February 2010, by Anna Stein at Aitken Alexander, on behalf of Gillon Aitken at Aitken Alexander (NA).



Today Show and Access Hollywood correspondent Maria Menounos' THE EVERYGIRL'S GUIDE TO LIFE, a collection of practical tips that every girl can apply toward achieving a more prosperous and healthy appearance as well as enriching her life, to Lisa Sharkey at Harper, in a very nice deal, by Frank Weimann of The Literary Group.


Former White House director of economic policy, economist and NPR commentator Todd Buchholz's RUSH, looking at new science that reveals an important and counterintuitive finding - that happiness is not achieved by taking a prolonged vacation but by fully engaging in challenging situations - with others or even with oneself, to Caroline Sutton at Hudson Street Press, by Susan Ginsburg at Writers House (world).


ADOPTED SON author David Clary's FIRST IN WAR: The Military Adventures of Young George Washington, the neglected story of his early years as a colonial army officer from 1753 to 1758, a career that shook the world (his command fired the first shots of the French and Indian War) and shaped the impetuous and immature Washington into the confident general who would lead the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War, to Roger Labrie at Simon & Schuster, by Jim Donovan at Jim Donovan Literary (world).


Hollywood Gardener to the stars Marta Teegen's FRONT YARD FARM, teaching her French bio-intensive technique for growing lush, beautiful vegetable patches in even the smallest of gardens, to Karen Bolesta at Rodale, for publication in Fall 2010, by Caroline Greeven at The Agency Group.


Kay Bratt's SILENT TEARS: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, A story of adversity, triumph and loss during the author's time spent working as a volunteer in a Chinese orphanage in a heart breaking and uplifting tale of her battle against institutional bureaucracy to help the orphaned children of the Chinese community she lived in for five years, to Terry Goodman at Amazon Encore, by Kevan Lyon at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (world).

Martin Kihn's BAD DOG: A Love Story, the story of an out-of-control Bernese mountain dog named Hola who dragged the author and his wife through ten steps of obedience certification program, which provided touchstones for the author's own recovery from alcoholism (showing "you can't properly train your dog until you learn to train yourself"), to Marty Asher at Pantheon, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House

Joanne Herring's THE WOMAN BEHIND CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR: The Extraordinary True Story of the Real Joanne Herring and how Brains, Beauty, Faith and Cleavage Confronted Communism and Changed the World, from the woman known as the Houston socialite portrayed by Julia Roberts in the film Charlie Wilson's War, telling her full story -- with all its God, guns, and Gucci glory -- in this colorful memoir pitched as equal parts Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Devil Wears Prada, with a dash of Cinderella, to Christina Boys at Center Street, for publication in Spring 2011, by Lacy Lynch at Dupree Miller & Associates (world).


Craig Childs's FIELD GUIDE TO THE END OF THE WORLD, a narrative exploration of the pivotal forces that comprise the "end of the world," not as a singular end point but as a cyclical process that is happening right now, which can be seen in fossils, geologic layers, deep ice cores, sea floor sediments, the ruins of human endeavors, and even the barren surface of Mars, to Dan Frank at Pantheon, at auction, for publication in 2012, by Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management (NA).


Award-winning cartoonist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter and New Yorker illustrator Daniel Clowes's WILSON, his first original graphic novel, to Chris Oliveros at Drawn & Quarterly, for publication in May 2010 (world).

Jeff Smith's BONE: Tall Tales, for publication in Summer 2010, co-written by Tom Sniegoski, plus the BONE: Quest for the Spark Trilogy, overseen and illustrated by Smith and written by Sniegoski, for publication beginning in Fall 2010, again to David Saylor for Graphix, by Vijaya Iyer for Cartoon Books/Jeff Smith.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Now at home...No Problem Killing...

From ....

Casualties of War, Part II: Warning Signs
Monday 27 July 2009

by: Dave Philipps | Visit article original @ The Colorado Springs Gazette

In the back of an armored vehicle at a base in Baquba, Iraq, a soldier leans his head on his rifle. It sometimes proves difficult for soldiers to leave behind the violent mindset of war upon returning home. (Photo: Getty Images)

After coming home from Iraq, 21-year-old medic Bruce Bastien was driving with his Army buddy Louis Bressler, 24, when they spotted a woman walking to work on a Colorado Springs street.

Bressler swerved and hit the woman with the car, according to police, then Bastien jumped out and stabbed her over and over.

It was October 2007. A fellow soldier, Kenneth Eastridge, 24, watched it all from the passenger seat.

At that moment, he said, it was clear that however messed up some of the soldiers in the unit had been after their first Iraq deployment, it was about to get much worse.

Also see:
Casualties of War, Part I: The Hell of War Comes Home •

"I have no problem with killing," said Eastridge, a two-tour infantryman with almost 80 confirmed kills. "But I won't just murder someone for no reason. He had gone crazy."

[Use link above to continue reading}


Monday, July 27, 2009

Classify or not..That is the question...

From Secrecy News....


In 2005, the National Security Agency released a partially declassified (pdf) 1952 history of communications intelligence prior to Pearl Harbor with several passages censored. But this month, the NSA released the complete text (pdf) of the document after the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) determined that there was no justification for continued classification of the withheld portions.

During World War II, "Collaboration with the BRITISH COMINT organization got off to a bad start so far as the Navy was concerned...," according to one newly declassified paragraph from the official history. "For several months U.S. Navy COMINT personnel thought they had been double-crossed by the British and were reluctant to go ahead with collaboration in direction finding and other matters which were greatly to England's advantage throughout 1941." Subsequent cooperation, however, proved "harmonious." Now it can be told.

The NSA document was released in response to a mandatory declassification review request, followed by an appeal to ISCAP, submitted by researcher Michael Ravnitzky. See "A Brief History of Communications Intelligence in the United States" by Captain Lawrence Safford, USN, 21-27 March 1952.

The new disclosure illustrates once again the efficacy of the ISCAP in overcoming the reflexive secrecy of executive branch agencies, including those that are represented on the ISCAP itself. More often than not, the ISCAP has released information that one of its own member agencies said must remain classified.

Fundamentally, the ISCAP's experience over the past decade or so demonstrates the importance of extending declassification authority beyond the original classifying agency. Left to their own devices, agencies will adhere to past classification practices indefinitely. But when such practices are critically examined by others, including others within the executive branch, they often wither before the scrutiny.

If there is a solution to "the problem of overclassification," as requested by President Obama in a May 27, 2009 memorandum, it is bound to involve this kind of independent, external review of agency classification and declassification practices.


Monday, July 20, 2009

"Secret Laws" are bad news for us....

From Secrecy News:


"Government must operate through public laws and regulations" and not through "secret law," a federal appellate court declared in a decision last month. When our government attempts to do otherwise, the court said, it is emulating "totalitarian regimes."

The new ruling (pdf) overturned the conviction of a defendant who had been found guilty of exporting rifle scopes in violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The court said that the government had failed to properly identify which items are subject to export control regulations, or to justify the criteria for controlling them. It said the defendant could not be held responsible for violating such vague regulations.

Accepting the State Department's claim of "authority to classify any item as a 'defense article' [thereby making it subject to export controls], without revealing the basis of the decision and without allowing any inquiry by the jury, would create serious constitutional problems," wrote Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. "It would allow the sort of secret law that [the Supreme Court in] Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan, 293 U.S. 388 (1935), condemned."

Normally, "A regulation is published for all to see," explained Judge Easterbrook, a Reagan appointee who is considered a judicial conservative. "People can adjust their conduct to avoid liability. [In contrast,] a designation by an unnamed official, using unspecified criteria, that is put in a desk drawer, taken out only for use at a criminal trial, and immune from any evaluation by the judiciary, is the sort of tactic usually associated with totalitarian regimes," he said. See the Court's ruling in United States of America v. Doli Syarief Pulungan, June 15, 2009.

The new ruling "could be a very big deal in terms of export controls, and indeed in terms of 'secret law' in general," said Gerald Epstein, a science and security policy scholar who served on a recent National Academy of Sciences panel on export control policy. "This case goes to the heart of the ambiguity of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which give the State Department great latitude in determining what is and what is not covered, and which are administered in a notoriously opaque way," Dr. Epstein told Secrecy News.

Export control policy was addressed from various perspectives in an April 24, 2008 Senate hearing entitled "Beyond Control: Reforming Export Licensing Agencies for National Security and Economic Interests" (pdf) that was published last month.

Last year, Sen. Russ Feingold convened a hearing on the subject of "Secret Law and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government." My prepared statement from that hearing on the diverse categories of secret law is available here (pdf).


Comic Con on the job...on the beach?....

From Voice of San Diego:

It will be a challenge getting around downtown for anyone in a car in coming days as Comic-Con hits the Convention Center. Some may think that it's just a coincidence that large, disturbing-looking killer squid have descended on San Diego's shores shortly before the convention. The rest of us know better.

Do we really have such little faith in Aquaman that we have to worry he doesn't already have this under control?


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Comic Con is almost underway in San Diego....

Comic Con is being set up right now at the San Diego Convention Center. Lemme tell you those people are nothing but working hard. The VIP advance look is Thursday...and Friday morning, Comic Con rolls.

Here's where you go to find out about the past, present and this weekend's blast!!!


Friday, July 17, 2009

The Most Trusted Man In America....

From New York Times:

Walter Cronkite, Iconic Anchor, Is Dead
Defined Role of Television Newscaster

By DOUGLAS MARTIN 6 minutes ago
Mr. Cronkite pioneered and then mastered the role of television news anchorman with such plain-spoken grace that he was called the most trusted man in America.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smoke 'em if you got ' Combat...

From NBC San Diego 7 News Update....

Military's Proposed Ban on Tobacco Goes up in Smoke

Smoke 'em if you got 'em. The Pentagon reassured troops Wednesday that it won't ban tobacco products in war zones.


[Use link above to continue reading]


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Al Qaida not happy about spies...too bad...

From Secrecy News...


From the point of view of an al Qaida military leader, Western intelligence agents are now ubiquitous in the lands of Islam, and their operations have been extraordinarily effective. The Western spies are unfailingly lethal, leaving a trail of dead Islamist fighters behind them. Worst of all, they have managed to recruit innumerable Muslims to assist their war efforts.

"The spies... were sent to penetrate the ranks of the Muslims generally, and the mujahidin specifically, and [they] spread all over the lands like locusts," wrote Abu Yahya al-Libi, an al Qaida field commander in Afghanistan, in a new book called "Guidance on the Ruling of the Muslim Spy" (pdf).

"The spies are busy day and night carrying out their duties in an organized and secret manner... How many heroic leaders have been kidnapped at their hands? How many major mujahidin were surprised to be imprisoned or traced? Even the military and financial supply roads of the mujahidin, which are far from the enemy's surveillance, were found by the spies."

Al Qaida operations have been severely impeded by the intelligence war against them, al-Libi said. "As soon as the mujahidin get secretly into an area on a dark night, they are confronted by the Cross forces and their helpers. Many are killed or captured."

Western spies are found under every conceivable cover, al-Libi wrote. "They have among them old hunchbacked men who cannot even walk, strong young men, weak women inside their house, young girls, and even children who did not reach puberty yet. The spy might be a doctor, nurse, engineer, student, preacher, scholar, runner, or a taxi driver. The spy can be anyone...."

"The occupation armies completely rely on recruiting spies and informants from the Muslim lands they usurped and conquered... The spy lives among Muslims, being one of them: living their life, wearing their dress, eating what they eat... Therefore, he can access what the armed soldiers of the occupation cannot put hands on."

In the new book, published in Arabic (pdf) on jihadist websites on June 30, al-Libi ruminated at length on the religious and legal problem of the Muslim spy. Can there be a Muslim who spies against other Muslims or, since such a person would by definition be an apostate, is a Muslim spy a contradiction in terms? May such a person be killed? (It depends.) To convict a spy nowadays is it necessary to rely on the traditional two witnesses? (Again, it depends.) What about a person who is mistakenly executed as a spy? (God will reward him.)

Pervading the book is a sense of the overwhelming impact of U.S. and Allied intelligence operations on jihadist forces, and the willingness of indigenous Muslims to act with Western intelligence against those forces.

"Everyone who lives in the jihad battlegrounds... knows well that the occupation forces could not do one-tenth of what they do now if they did not recruit spies and informants.... Most of the mujahidin and their soldiers were killed or captured because of the intelligence information that the infidel forces have obtained from the secret soldiers whom they recruit, like swarms of locusts, from the native citizens who talk our language and pretend they are Muslims."

"Guidance on the Ruling of the Muslim Spy" by Abu Yahya al-Libi was translated, rather clumsily, by the DNI Open Source Center. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

The book cited the use of electronic homing devices to guide air-launched missiles to their targets and images of several such devices were included in the original Arabic version of the book (at page 146). The purported use of the devices was discussed in "CIA Drone Targeting Tech Revealed, Qaeda Claims" by Adam Rawnsley, Wired Danger Room, July 8, 2009. also prepared a proprietary translation of the new Al-Libi book, which was reported by Fox News last week.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Just a minute here....

I tell you there's no way alcohol could do this by itself. Absolutely must be SMOKING RELATED or it's not valid data....


Alcohol link in 47% of murders
PAUL MILLAR | ALMOST half the homicides between 2000 and 2006 involved the consumption of alcohol, according to figures in a report.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Sunday, July 12, 2009

How will health fearmongers deal with this?

Hot damn! Have a new candidate for the "pure" people to forbid!

From: SMH News Update...

Words can ease pain, I swear
SWEARING can lessen the feeling of physical pain, scientists have discovered.

[Use link above to continue to read]


NY Times Online Price...Cheap!!!

From Levine Breaking News:

***New York Times Co. said in a survey of print subscribers that its considering a $5 monthly fee for access to its namesake newspapers Web site. Times Co. also asked whether subscribers would be willing to pay a discounted fee of $2.50 a month for access to the site, in the poll confirmed today by Catherine Mathis, a company spokeswoman., the most visited among newspapers sites, is currently free.

Okay. At those prices, I'd continue having the NY Times as my "front page" and to read it online. Wonder what everyone else thinks about this? Is the NY Times online worth $5 or $2.50 a month? Far as I'm concerned, you bet it is.


Hidden American "terrorists"....

From Buzz Flash....

If there's anything this nation doesn't need, it has to be this outfit and all like it. They truly are a danger to our Republic. Unless, of course, Americans desire a theocracy. Then we can be a country like Iran. Neat idea, huh? UGH!!!

Premium: Featured on Rachel Maddow Two Nights This Past Week. "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" (July, 2009 Paperback Edition). Sen Ensign is Only the Latest Errant Bad Boy to Receive the "Spiritual" Support for His Sin from this Capitol Hill Elitist Fundy "Fellowship." They are Also Called the "C Street" Brethren. We Call Them Contemptible Cult Hypocrites. Even Mark "Dick Wad" Sanford Found "Solace" With Them.


Friday, July 10, 2009

No Smoking For Military...

From USA Today:

Ban on tobacco urged in military
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Pentagon health experts are urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ban the use of tobacco by troops and end its sale on military property, a change that could dramatically alter a culture intertwined with smoking.

Jack Smith, head of the Pentagon's office of clinical and program policy, says he will recommend that Gates adopt proposals by a federal study that cites rising tobacco use and higher costs for the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs as reasons for the ban.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

On the Back Porch at Seaport Village in San Diego..

I went walking down at Seaport Village this afternoon. Walked out on N Embarcadero and back, ending up, as always, on the big wooden back porch of the Seaport Deli. It faces the small plaze full of concrete tables and benches with the carousel on the far side and the Fudge Factory, etc on the side. Big trees shading. Great place for people watching since it was over-flowing with all kinds of citizens and visitors.

I go in the Deli, get my coffee and head out on the back porch to enjoy. And there I see two couples and the about 5 year old son of one of them, sitting at a plaza table. The men have gone over to the hot dog place and brought back food.

The 5 year old sees a sparrow on the ground, so tosses a couple of chunks of hot dog bun down for the bird. Those chunks had no sooner hit the ground than out of the trees swooped about 30 birds...sea gulls, pigeons, sparrows...all in one big cloud of squawks and wings just a flappin'. Flat out descended on those chunks of bread. Came down so fast, the one man yelled, "GEEZUS", the women shrieked, and the little boy yelled, "WHAT DID I DO????" I thought I'd die laughing. Liked to have scared the crap out of that little guy.

Ah, how I love people watching from that back porch!


Newsom is Right About Public Plan....

From Levine Breaking News:

GAVIN NEWSOM (Mayor of San Francisco): The president has been telling Americans that a public plan will create competition, lower the cost of private insurance, and improve care. The data from San Francisco is proving that he's right.


Respect Your Body Clock...

From Levine Breaking News:

If you have a hard time crawling out of bed in the morning, it could be that your body is biologically programmed to start the day later. Experts say a spectrum of natural sleeping and waking rhythms exists, ranging from extreme morning people to extreme "night owls." A new study examines how morning people compare with night owls on a strength test and looks at what other physiological processes may contribute to their performance.


Monday, July 06, 2009

To DOD...Put up or else....

From Secrecy News:


Last month, the House Intelligence Committee complained that the Department of Defense has blurred the distinction between traditional intelligence collection, which is subject to intelligence committee oversight, and clandestine military operations, which are not. Because they are labeled in a misleading manner, some DoD clandestine operations that are substantively the same as intelligence activities are evading the congressional oversight they are supposed to receive.

"In categorizing its clandestine activities," the Committee said in its report on the 2010 intelligence bill, "DoD frequently labels them as 'Operational Preparation of the Environment' (OPE) to distinguish particular operations as traditional military activities and not as intelligence functions. The Committee observes, though, that overuse of the term has made the distinction all but meaningless."

Operational Preparation of the Environment (OPE) is an elusive, somewhat mysterious concept, variously described as a form of foreign intelligence collection, covert action, unconventional warfare, or a prelude to any of these. The phrase does not appear in the otherwise comprehensive DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (pdf). It was mentioned in passing in the 2006 Posture Statement (pdf) of the U.S. Special Operations Command, but not in subsequent posture statements.

Some say OPE closely resembles human intelligence collection. OPE refers to "the ability of Defense to get into an area and know it prior to the conduct of military operations," said Gen. Michael Hayden at his 2006 confirmation hearing to be Director of CIA. "An awful lot of those [OPE] activities... are not, in terms of tradecraft or other aspects, recognizably different than collecting human intelligence for a foreign intelligence purpose," he said. "They look very much the same. Different authorities; somewhat different purposes; mostly indistinguishable activities."

From another point of view, OPE is more akin to covert action. "There is often not a bright line between [covert action and] military activities to prepare the battlefield or the environment," said DNI Dennis C. Blair in a written response to questions (pdf) about OPE in advance of his confirmation earlier this year (pp. 15-16).

Though it was neither intelligence collection nor covert action, "U.S. support to and in some cases leadership of irregular resistance to Japanese forces in the Philippine archipelago [in 1942-1945]... stands as a premier example of what military planners today call operational preparation of the environment," according to a historical survey of unconventional warfare in the September 2007 Irregular Warfare Joint Operating Concept (pdf).

Perhaps the most extensive unclassified treatment of OPE (then still known as "operational preparation of the battlespace" or OPB) appears in a 2003 U.S. Army War College research paper, which noted that the term is "seldom used outside of Special Operations Forces channels." OPE "consists of both pre-crisis activities (PCA) and, when authorized, advance force operations (AFO)," both of which are described by the author at some length. See "Combating Terrorism with Preparation of the Battlespace" (pdf) by Michael S. Repass, U.S. Army War College, April 2003. Further discussion appeared in "Leveraging Operational Preparation of the Environment in the GWOT" (pdf) by Maj. Michael T. Kenny, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 2006. OPE should be reconceived as a stand-alone mission with its own doctrine, argued another research paper. See "Ending the Debate: Unconventional Warfare, Foreign Internal Defense, and Why Words Matter" (pdf) by D. Jones, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, 2006.

In any event, "DoD has shown a propensity to apply the OPE label where the slightest nexus of a theoretical, distant military operation might one day exist," according to the House Intelligence Committee report last month. "Consequently, these activities often escape the scrutiny of the intelligence committees.... In the future, if DoD does not meet its obligations to inform the Committee of intelligence activities," the House report concluded weakly, "the Committee will consider legislative action clarifying the Department's obligation to do so."


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Knights in Shining Armour....

That, in today's world, is meant to be a compliment. How times have changed...

I've recently finished reading Ken Follet's 1,100 or so page novel, "World Without End" that is set in medieval times..the 1300's in England.

One of the most horrifying, sickening periods I have ever encountered in all my reading. I'm still having nightmares connected with the events and the people encountered in that book. Cannot get those characters and the evil so commonplace then out of my mind.

Power, money, lust, religion. Driving forces. As always. Think the Taliban are bad? You ain't seen nuthin' yet.

And so I look around at the powers that be in our current world and am reminded of how much some of them would like to have the powers the Lords, Ladies, Knights, Priors, Priests, the Catholic Church, King and Nobles of all kinds had then and just what they did with those powers. All men ruled all women. Period. The common folk had so very few rights that they were almost non-existant. It's a world I would never want to encounter in any way, shape, or form.

Follet is a most excellent writer. The man does intensive research. I highly recommend both of his books..."Pillars of the Earth" about the building of the cathedral, and "World Without End" that concerns that same cathedral some 200 years later. Reading them is entering a world one will not soon forget.