Rule, who went to work briefly at the Seattle Police Department when she was 21, began writing for magazines like ‘True Detective‘ in 1969. She has published more than 1,400 articles, mostly on criminal cases.
Scott Thompson, a spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health, said Rule died at Highline Medical Center at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Rule’s daughter, Leslie
Rule, said on Facebook that her mother had many health issues, including congestive heart failure.
“Rest in peace to our beloved true crime author and former Seattle police officer, Ann Rule.”
— Rule’s publisher, Simon & Schuster
Rule passed peacefully and was able to see all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren before she died.
Rule’s first book, “The Stranger Beside Me,” profiled Bundy, whom Ann Rule got to know while sharing the late shift at a Seattle suicide hotline.
“A lot of writers in her genre focused on the predators. That’s what made her special. She had a great empathy for the victims.”
— Rule’s daughter Leslie
“Rest in peace to our beloved true crime author and former Seattle police officer, Ann Rule,” Rule’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, Tweeted.
Rule, who went to work briefly at the Seattle Police Department when she was 21, began writing for magazines like “True Detective” in 1969. A biography on her author website says she has published more than 1,400 articles, mostly on criminal cases.
Rule has written more than 30 best-selling true crime novels, chronicling some of the most heinous murders. Read the rest of this entry »
“It sure would be nice to get over a Manhattan traffic jam with one big leap on a skateboard,” Mark Ulriksen says about his cover for this week’s issue.
An anthology of science fiction/fantasy stories told in the form of fictional kickstarter crowdfunding pitches, using the components (and restrictions) of the format to tell the story. (There is a link to a preview on the Humble page).
I got this bundle recently. This book is original and inspiring (if you have an imaginative mind). Interesting to see how these imaginary kickstarter pitches, with a description, goals and comments, suggest a story. Some titles: The Spirit of Mars: Fund a Sacred Journey to the Red Planet, Catassassins!, A Practical Mechanism for Overcoming the Directionality of Temporal Flow, Life-Sized Arena Tetris! Prima Nocta Detective Agency Needs You, and many more. Read the rest of this entry »
Depressed New York Times staffers, reported to be on suicide watch since the scandal began, struggle to endure the hardship of working at a newspaper that accurately lists Ted Cruz’s bestselling book.
KATIE MCHUGH reports: The New York Times acknowledged on Wednesday that the book, A Time for Truth, belongs on its best-seller list and gave it a no. 7 ranking in nonfiction, after snubbing it and accusing the Cruz campaign of making “strategic bulk purchases.”
Harper Collins sent an inquiring email to The New York Times last week after the book’s impressive sales were ignored by the paper.
“We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold,” spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said, according to Politico. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week.”
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Cruz’s campaign furiously attacked The New York Times for their deliberate omission.
“The Times is presumably embarrassed by having their obvious partisan bias called out. But their response — alleging ‘strategic bulk purchases’ — is a blatant falsehood. The evidence is directly to the contrary. In leveling this false charge, the Times has tried to impugn the integrity of Senator Cruz and of his publisher HarperCollins,” Cruz campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler told Politico on Friday.
Amazon also pushed back. An Amazon spokeswoman said that A Time for Truth: was a bestselling book and they found no evidence of “unusual bulk purchase activity.” Cruz’s book currently ranks as the number-one best-selling book in “Political Conservatism & Liberalism” on Amazon. Read the rest of this entry »
Are professional ethicists good people? According to our research, not especially. So what is the point of learning ethics?
Eric Schwitzgebel writes: None of the classic questions of philosophy are beyond a seven-year-old’s understanding. If God exists, why do bad things happen? How do you know there’s still a world on the other side of that closed door? Are we just made of material stuff that will turn into mud when we die? If you could get away with killing and robbing people just for fun, would you? The questions are natural. It’s the answers that are hard.
“Shouldn’t regularly thinking about ethics have some sort of influence on one’s own behaviour? Doesn’t it seem that it would? To my surprise, few professional ethicists seem to have given the question much thought.”
Eight years ago, I’d just begun a series of empirical studies on the moral behaviour of professional ethicists. My son Davy, then seven years old, was in his booster seat in the back of my car. ‘What do you think, Davy?’ I asked. ‘People who think a lot about what’s fair and about being nice – do they behave any better than other people? Are they more likely to be fair? Are they more likely to be nice?’
Davy didn’t respond right away. I caught his eye in the rearview mirror.
“Ethicists do not behave better. But neither, overall, do they seem to behave worse.”
‘The kids who always talk about being fair and sharing,’ I recall him saying, ‘mostly just want you to be fair to them and share with them.’
When I meet an ethicist for the first time – by ‘ethicist’, I mean a professor of philosophy who specialises in teaching and researching ethics – it’s my habit to ask whether ethicists behave any differently to other types of professor. Most say no.
I’ll probe further: why not? Shouldn’t regularly thinking about ethics have some sort of influence on one’s own behaviour? Doesn’t it seem that it would?
To my surprise, few professional ethicists seem to have given the question much thought. They’ll toss out responses that strike me as flip or are easily rebutted, and then they’ll have little to add when asked to clarify. They’ll say that academic ethics is all about abstract problems and bizarre puzzle cases, with no bearing on day-to-day life – a claim easily shown to be false by a few examples: Aristotle on virtue, Kant on lying, Singer on charitable donation. They’ll say: ‘What, do you expect epistemologists to have more knowledge? Do you expect doctors to be less likely to smoke?’ I’ll reply that the empirical evidence does suggest that doctors are less likely to smoke than non-doctors of similar social and economic background. Maybe epistemologists don’t have more knowledge, but I’d hope that specialists in feminism would exhibit less sexist behaviour – and if they didn’t, that would be an interesting finding. I’ll suggest that relationships between professional specialisation and personal life might play out differently for different cases.
“We criticise Martin Heidegger for his Nazism, and we wonder how deeply connected his Nazism was to his other philosophical views. But we don’t feel the need to turn the mirror on ourselves.”
It seems odd to me that our profession has so little to say about this matter. We criticise Martin Heidegger for his Nazism, and we wonder how deeply connected his Nazism was to his other philosophical views. But we don’t feel the need to turn the mirror on ourselves.
“No clergyperson has ever expressed to me the view that clergy behave on average morally better than laypeople, despite all their immersion in religious teaching and ethical conversation. Maybe in part this is modesty on behalf of their profession.”
The same issues arise with clergy. In 2010, I was presenting some of my work at the Confucius Institute for Scotland. Afterward, I was approached by not one but two bishops. I asked them whether they
thought that clergy, on average, behaved better, the same or worse than laypeople.
‘About the same,’ said one.
‘Worse!’ said the other.
No clergyperson has ever expressed to me the view that clergy behave on average morally better than laypeople, despite all their immersion in religious teaching and ethical conversation. Maybe in part this is modesty on behalf of their profession. But in most of their voices, I also hear something that sounds like genuine disappointment, some remnant of the young adult who had headed off to seminary hoping it would be otherwise.
In a series of empirical studies – mostly in collaboration with the philosopher Joshua Rust of Stetson University – I have empirically explored the moral behaviour of ethics professors. As far as I’m aware, Josh and I are the only people ever to have done so in a systematic way.
Here are the measures we looked at: voting in public elections, calling one’s mother, eating the meat of mammals, donating to charity, littering, disruptive chatting and door-slamming during philosophy presentations, responding to student emails, attending conferences without paying registration fees, organ donation, blood donation, theft of library books, overall moral evaluation by one’s departmental peers based on personal impressions, honesty in responding to survey questions, and joining the Nazi party in 1930s Germany. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the first chapter of Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ which will be published July 14
Titled ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ it was set in the ’50s and opened with a woman named Jean Louise Finch returning home to Alabama. Ms. Lee’s editor found the story lacking but, seizing on flashback scenes, suggested that she write instead about her protagonist as a young girl. The result was a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’
‘Go Set a Watchman’ will be published on Tuesday. It has undergone very little editing. “It was made clear to us that Harper Lee wanted it published as it was,” Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, said in a statement. “We gave the book a very light copy edit.”
The first chapter of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ introduces Ms. Lee’s beloved character, Scout, as a sexually liberated woman in her twenties, traveling from New York to Alabama to visit her ailing father and weigh a marriage proposal from a childhood friend. It also includes a bombshell about Scout’s brother.
Mark Judge writes: Ernest Hemingway. Ernie Pyle. Jack London. Christopher Hitchens.
Whatever happened to journalism as a manly profession?
While newspapers and magazines have always attracted many types of writers, the most notable journalists often gained fame and recognition through their bravery in the face of extreme conditions. Hemingway and Pyle were war veterans. Hunter Thompson took on the Hell’s Angels and paid for it with a severe beating. Christopher Hitchens earned his scars through decades of dangerous stories and by challenging the orthodoxies of the culture.
Somehow names like Dana Milbank, Christopher Hayes, and Don Lemon don’t equally inspire.
My father was a writer and editor for National Geographic for thirty years, from roughly 1960 to 1990. From him I got my earliest impression of what a journalist did. A journalist—like a good male novelist—was a man who would go away for several months on a story assignment, usually to exotic-sounding places: Borneo, Australia, Thailand, the North Pole. He would have adventures and, if he was single, might even experience a James Bond-like liaison with a lady or two. Dad would return home tanned, sweaty, sometimes sick and disheveled. And the stories! Almost capsizing in the Caribbean while searching for the spot where Columbus landed in the New World; being chased by government censors for taking pictures in the old Soviet Union; contracting a life-threatening fever in Africa after being warned by a medicine man to not take anything out of the country.
There was an intense physicality to my father’s job; journalism was a job of grit and hard effort, like boxing. There was also a correlation between the roughness of the reporter’s life and the quality of his work. Being in danger, or even knowing that someone you wrote about might want to confront you physically, made you care about honor and accuracy. Jack London, author of Call of the Wild, was a hard-drinking oyster pirate and world traveler who risked his life reporting on the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Russell Baker knew the dirty Depression-era streets of New York.
Eric Sevareid of CBS got his start reporting World War II from Europe, but that was only the beginning of his career of derring-do. As the New York Times obituary of Sevareid noted in 1992, “His was an adventurous life, which included a harrowing month among headhunters in the Burmese jungles. That was in 1943, after the plane in which he was riding developed engine trouble as it was flying over the Himalayas from India to China. Mr. Sevareid and 19 others had to bail out on the India-Burma border but made it out of the jungle on foot.”
Ernest Hemingway began as a journalist, and his experience in the First World War gave his work an introspective and poetic quality, as well as a hunger for pursuing the truth. There were no Twitter wars, with their childish resentment and petty back and forth of gotchas and ad hominem attacks. If two journalists had a beef with each other they dealt with it mano a mano.
My father died in 1996. One year earlier Bill Gates wrote a memo outlining “The Coming Internet Tidal Wave.” Increasingly journalism didn’t require street smarts or derring-do; it often didn’t require journalists to leave their desks at all. Read the rest of this entry »
Much has been said lately about the discovery of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ and when it occurred. Here’s the full story…
Tonja B. Carter writes: Accidents of history sometimes place otherwise unknown people in historic spotlights. Such was my fate when last August curiosity got the best of me and I found a long-lost manuscript written by one of America’s most beloved authors. The manuscript was titled “Go Set a Watchman,” and its author was Harper Lee.
“As Nelle’s estate trustee, lawyer and friend, I would like to tell the full story, fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.”
In the time since it was announced that “Watchman” was found and Harper Lee—or Nelle, her first name, used by family and friends—decided to have it published, much has been said about how it was found, who found it, who knew of its existence, and when it was first found. As Nelle’s estate trustee, lawyer and friend, I would like to tell the full story, fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.
The story begins in June 2011 when Sam Pinkus, who was Nelle’s literary agent at the time, contacted her sister, Alice, and asked that he be allowed to examine and inventory Nelle’s assets. Alice, who has since died, was an attorney and until the last few years of her life handled most business matters for Nelle, who lives in an assisted-living facility. Mr. Pinkus was particularly interested in having the original manuscript for “To Kill a Mockingbird” examined and appraised. He said he needed to open Nelle’s safe-deposit box, where it was assumed the manuscript was held.
The box was opened some months later, on Oct. 14, at a bank in Monroeville, Ala., Nelle’s hometown and mine. Present that day: Mr. Pinkus, Justin Caldwell, an appraiser from Sotheby’s, who came to Monroeville at his request, and myself. Nelle’s safe-deposit box contained several items, including an old cardboard box from Lord & Taylor and a heavy, partially opened but tightly wrapped mailing envelope sent from Lippincott, the original publishers of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to Alice Lee and postmarked Jan. 3, 1961.
“The story begins in June 2011 when Sam Pinkus, who was Nelle’s literary agent at the time, contacted her sister, Alice, and asked that he be allowed to examine and inventory Nelle’s assets.”
The Lord & Taylor box contained several hundred pages of typed original manuscript. After we all read a couple of pages, someone mentioned that the first page was not the first page of “Mockingbird,” but rather seemed to be a later chapter. I was then asked to retrieve a copy of the “Mockingbird” book so that Mr. Caldwell could compare what actually ended up in the book with the first page of the manuscript. After returning with a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I then left the meeting and didn’t return. According to recent press reports, Mr. Pinkus and Mr. Caldwell spent about an hour examining the documents.
The next day I received an email from Mr. Caldwell, the Sotheby’s appraiser, saying “it was so nice to meet you yesterday and to get to see that manuscript.” He made no mention of the existence of a second, unknown book. And the following day, Sam Pinkus wrote to me that “Nelle is under no obligation to Sotheby’s whatsoever, including no obligation for Nelle to sell or auction the items.” Again, no mention of a second book.
One of the few unambiguously heroic figures in American literature was originally conceived as a segregationist
Sam Sacks writes: Ever since the announcement in February that a second novel by Harper Lee had been found among her papers, untold numbers of readers have been counting the minutes until its publication. And why not? Ms. Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) is the most beloved novel in American history—more popular than even the Bible in numerous polls.
[Order Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Enhanced Edition) (Harperperennial Modern Classics) from Amazon.com
But the anticipation has somewhat obscured the awkward details about “Go Set a Watchman,” as the novel is called (the title comes from the Book of Isaiah). Although it is set in the mid-1950s, around 20 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” it is not a sequel. Ms. Lee, who is now 89, wrote it first, submitted it to a publisher in 1957 and, on an editor’s advice, refashioned it into the book that’s now assigned in grade schools all over the country.
Properly speaking, “Go Set a Watchman” is a practice run for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and it existed before anybody could have known that small-town Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch would become a symbol of the nation’s moral conscience. All this throat clearing is not meant to damp the enthusiasm of expectant readers but to introduce a friendly word of caution. “Go Set a Watchman” is a distressing book, one that delivers a startling rebuttal to the shining idealism of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This story is of the toppling of idols; its major theme is disillusion.
There’s little hint of darkness as the novel begins. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch, better known to us by her childhood nickname Scout, is returning to Maycomb, Ala., for a two-week vacation. For the past five years, Jean Louise has been living in New York City trying to make it as a painter. Her older brother Jem—I regret to report—has died of a heart attack. But her father, Atticus, is still hanging on. Seventy-two and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, he is cared for by his priggish, busybody sister Alexandra.
Then there’s a brand-new character, Henry Clinton. Henry is Atticus’s protégé at the law firm, and he has carried a torch for Jean Louise since high school. She is hardly off the train before he is again proposing marriage, which she coyly declines: “I want to be like Dr. Schweitzer and play until I’m thirty.” This is how the two talk, trading enough sassy banter to fill a Hepburn-Tracy movie.
“Go Set a Watchman” is told in the third person, but it stays close to Jean Louise’s perspective and contains the familiar pleasures of Ms. Lee’s writing—the easy, drawling rhythms, the flashes of insouciant humor, the love of anecdote. Read the rest of this entry »
Brendan Bordelon: New York Times Exposed; Publisher Finds ‘No Evidence’ for NYT’s Exclusion of Cruz’s Book from Bestseller ListPosted: July 11, 2015
HarperCollins has concluded that the New York Times’s rationale for excluding Senator Ted Cruz’s book ‘A Time for Truth’ from its bestseller list is ‘without merit’.
Brendan Bordelon reports: After a reportedly exhaustive internal review, publishing house HarperCollins has concluded that the New York Times’s rationale for excluding Senator Ted Cruz’s book A Time for Truth from its bestseller list is without merit.
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“HarperCollins Publishers has investigated the sales pattern for Ted Cruz’s book ‘A Time for Truth’ and has found no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization,” the publisher said in a statement on Friday.
“In a statement, the Cruz campaign accused the Times of perpetuating a ‘blatant falsehood,’ saying the paper ‘has tried to impugn the integrity of Senator Cruz and of his publisher Harper Collins.’”
On Thursday, Politico reported that the Times refused to put Cruz’s book, released June 30, on its bestseller list despite the fact that it had sold more copies than all but two of the other top titles.
“The paper came under withering criticism for the choice, with many conservative commentators suggesting that the Times kept Cruz from the list due to political animus.”
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) July 9, 2015
The Times explained that their analysis of book sales goes “beyond simply the number of books sold” and that the “preponderance of evidence” showed sales “were limited to strategic bulk purchases” rather than individual buyers.
‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ a tell-all about Hugh Hefner’s empire by ex-Playboy bunny Holly Madison, has become an instant best-seller
Mark Armao writes: A juicy tell-all memoir by former Playboy bunny Holly Madison has become one of this summer’s surprise best sellers. Ms. Madison joins a growing list of unlikely authors including “Humans of New York” creator Brandon Stantonand YouTube makeup sensation Michelle Phan who have leveraged large social media followings into best-selling books.
“In her book, Ms. Madison writes that her experience at the mansion was a far cry from the glamorous, carefree lifestyle depicted in the show.”
“Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny” is described in the author’s note as the “never-before-told story of the Playboy Mansion and the man that holds the key.” The title debuted at No. 1 on The Wall Street Journal’s latest best-selling books list, which uses data provided by Nielsen BookScan. As of Thursday afternoon, the book was No. 7 on Amazon’s ranking.
“It’s been a really big surprise,” Ms. Madison said. “I thought it would be a sleeper, and that people would read it and tell their friends about it, and that it would be kind of a slow growth. I never expected this kind of attention in the beginning.”
Published by Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, the book’s first announced print run was 100,000 copies. Strong preorder demand led the publishers to go back to press multiple times before the book’s June 23 release, according to publisher Lynn Grady. HarperCollins is owned by NewsCorp., which owns Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Since its release last week, the book has sold more than 23,000 hardcovers, according to Nielsen BookScan.
“She describes Mr. Hefner as a ‘controlling megalomaniac’ who enforced a strict 9 p.m. curfew for his harem of ‘girlfriends’ and forbade them from fraternizing with mansion staffers.”
Ms. Madison’s career richly demonstrates the opportunities available in today’s social-media-fueled, reality-TV star-making machinery. The 35-year-old former model grew up in a small town in Oregon before making her way to Los Angeles to become an actress.
She was working as a waitress at Hooters before becoming a regular at Playboy pool parties, eventually earning the title of Hugh Hefner’s No. 1 girlfriend. Read the rest of this entry »
Robert Nason writes: In Alfred Hitchcock’s films, the lack of information—or the possession of it—can have deadly consequences. The titles are revealing: “Suspicion” (1941), “Notorious” (1946), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934, 1956). In his concise, insightful book on the director, Michael Wood asserts that in Hitchcock’s films there are “only three options: to know too little, to know too much . . . and to know a whole lot that is entirely plausible and completely wrong.”
“Some claim that Hitch was a sadist who took ‘pleasure in seeing beautiful women in harm’s way.’ Mr. Wood argues that Hitchcock worked out his own fears on film: ‘Far from enjoying the torments of these women at risk, he identified with them.'”
Hitchcock was born on Aug. 13, 1899, the son of a greengrocer. Members of this economic class, Mr. Wood says, were suspicious of the posh people above them and the unruly ones below. Hitchcock’s films would abound with upper-class villains and fearful mobs. As a Catholic, Hitchcock was an outsider in Protestant England; he would later be an English outsider in America.
Shy, chubby and intelligent, the young Hitchcock had few friends. He preferred attending sensational London trials—and movies. Instead of fan magazines, Hitch—as he preferred to be called—avidly read technical film journals and landed a job designing movie title cards. As a fledging director of silents, he was influenced by the shadowy lighting and dynamic camera movements of German Expressionist cinema. He would combine their beauty and atmosphere of anxiety with a dash of black humor and a blonde in jeopardy. All the ingredients were in place for his third feature, “The Lodger” (1927), the film “in which he became Hitchcock,” as Mr. Wood puts it. The title character is suspected by everyone as a Jack-the-Ripperish killer. Is he or isn’t he? “Innocence and guilt,” Mr. Wood notes, “leave many of the same traces.”
When Hitchcock came to Hollywood in 1939, he had already imparted alarming warnings to his British countrymen in a recent string of thrillers. He would send the same message to Americans: A menace threatened not only Great Britain and the United States but civilization as a whole. In many of Hitchcock’s great British films, from “The 39 Steps” (1935) to “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), we’re usually not told who the spies are working for, but there’s little doubt who the enemy is. Likewise, in his early Hollywood film “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), the “peace activist,” suavely played by Herbert Marshall, is actually a spy working for the unnamed foe.
While some Hitchcock films deal with global threats, the truly frightening works dwell upon more intimate dangers. In the film that was the director’s personal favorite, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), Joseph Cotton plays a dapper killer of wealthy women, proving that evil could lurk even in anytown America. In “Strangers on a Train” (1951) and “Rear Window” (1954), brutal murders occur, respectively, in an amusement park and a middle-class apartment building. Hitchcock became an American citizen in 1955, the same year that his hit television program “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” debuted. Mr. Wood suggests that the habitually fearful Hitchcock worried about “losing what he most cared about” at the pinnacle of his career, and this contributed to the richness of his confident yet melancholy films during the next few years.
Mr. Wood devotes more space to “Vertigo” (1958) than to any other Hitchcock film. In this masterpiece of misinformation and obsession, Jimmy Stewartplays a retired private investigator fascinated by a suicidal woman who is hardly who she seems to be. In “North by Northwest” (1959), Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a shallow Madison Avenue advertising man thought by enemy spies to be an American intelligence officer who in fact doesn’t exist. Read the rest of this entry »
HAVANA (AP) — A U.S. foundation will ship nearly $900,000 in supplies to build a state-of-the-art facility to preserve Ernest Hemingway’s books, letters and photos – the first major export of construction materials to Cuba since President Barack Obama loosened the trade embargo on the island.
The Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation has been trying for years to help Cuba stop thousands of pages of documents from slowly disintegrating in the baking heat and dripping humidity of the sprawling homewhere the American writer lived and worked outside Havana from 1939 to 1960. Officials with Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council, which runs the Finca Vigia, have been enthusiastic about building a conservation laboratory but said they didn’t have the funds or supplies to do it.
High-quality building materials are virtually impossible to find throughout much of Cuba, with homeowners forced to buy paint and water pumps stolen from government agencies and pay overseas travelers to bring items as large as sinks and kitchen cabinets in their checked luggage. In state-run hardware stores, a request for an item as mundane as a box of screws can provoke peals of laughter from salesclerks.
The foundation’s proposal to send four shipping containers with as much as $862,000 of materials ranging from nuts and bolts to tools and roofing was approved by the U.S. government in May, after Obama created a series of exemptions to the embargo. The exceptions include permission for Americans to export supplies donated for the purpose of supporting the Cuban people in fields such as science, archaeology and historical preservation. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah Laskow writes: Late in May, when the Boston Public Library was still missing a Rembrandt etching worth $30,000 and a 16th century Dürer print worth $600,000, the situation looked bad. More than a dozen staff members were searching through tens of thousands of prints and drawings, without any luck, and the local press was reporting on a recent audit that had scorched the library for its less-than-stellar inventory management. “It is critical that the BPL have an inventory report that should list each item it owns,” the auditors wrote. “This consolidated inventory list does not exist.”
“These collections are vast. If you’re talking about a couple hundred items, it’s easy to go through once a year and make sure everything’s there. But when you’re talking about millions of items…if it took you 2 minutes to inventory each time, a full inventory can take years.”
— Kara M. McClurken, who heads preservation services at University of Virginia Library.
Then, last week, just one day after the library’s president announced her resignation, the two prints turned up—just 80 feet from where they were supposed to be.
In Boston, the value of the prints that went missing was high, and as a result, the reaction—press coverage, police involvement—and the consequences were severe. But the problems identified in Boston are far from unique to this one library.
Across the country, in city art collections and special collections of public libraries, one-of-a-kind items are routinely misfiled, misplaced, lost or stolen. And sometimes, routine mistakes and slipshod documentation grow into a much more intractable problem, with large portions of public collections being managed by institutions who have no idea what’s in them and no full inventory of their holdings.
“Librarians are trained to catalogue books and CDs. Art is an outlier. “With cutbacks, librarians are asked to do more with less, and artwork gets put on the back burner.”
— Camille Ann Brewer, the executive director of University of Chicago’ Black Metropolis Research Consortium
For instance, a library in Paterson, New Jersey, lost 20 pieces of antique furniture and bronzes and waited six years to report the loss to police. An Indiana library couldn’t find four paintings by the German artist Julius Moessel and never even tried to collect the insurance. An audit in Long Beach, California, found that about an eighth of the city-owned art collection could not be accounted for. The New York Public Library is missing a handful of maps dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries—and didn’t even notice it had lost one of Ben Franklin’s workbooks, until the person who inherited it offered to sell it back to the library. (The NYPL is currently suing for possession.) The Chicago Public Library has lost the vast majority of the 8,000 books, some of them now rare and valuable, that were donated to the city in 1871 and made up the library’s original collection. In 2011, the San Francisco Civic Art Collection wasn’t even sure how many pieces were in its collection. How did this problem first come to light? Well, some of its valuable pieces were found basically just lying around in a dank, watery hospital basement.
These problems aren’t restricted to a city level, either. At the Library of Congress, the inspector general noted in a recent report that “there is no comprehensive inventory or condition statement which covers the Library’s collections.” An examination of six presidential libraries found that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library had inventory information for only 20,000 of its 100,000 items. Read the rest of this entry »
London (AFP) – Britain has been forced to move some of its spies after Russia and China accessed the top-secret raft of documents taken by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, British media reported.
“We know Russia and China have access to Snowden’s material and will be going through it for years to come, searching for clues to identify potential targets.”
— Intelligence source, to the Sunday Times
The BBC and the Sunday Times cited senior government and intelligence officials as saying agents had been pulled, with the newspaper saying the move came after Russia was able to decrypt more than one million files.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information,” a Downing Street source said, according to the newspaper.
“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information.”
— Downing Street source
Downing Street told AFP on Sunday that they “don’t comment on intelligence matters” while the Foreign Office said: “We can neither confirm or deny these reports”.
The BBC said on its website, meanwhile, that a government source said the two countries “have information” that spurred intelligence agents being moved, but said there was “no evidence” any spies were harmed.
Snowden fled to Russia after leaking the documents to the press in 2013 to expose the extent of US online surveillance programmes and to protect “privacy and basic liberties”.
The Sunday Times said other government sources claimed China had also accessed the documents, which reveal US and British intelligence techniques, leading to fears that their spies could be identified. Read the rest of this entry »