Death Of A TemptressP.F. Ford Genre: British Detectives Publish Date: August 19, 2014 Publisher: P.F. Ford Seller: Peter F J Ford DS Dave Slater is suspended from duty. The injustice of taking the rap for a fast-track London detective’s botched investigation hits him hard. To add insult to injury, his boss hands him a closed case for a discreet re-investigation. Is this a chance to redeem himself or a way of ensuring he fails? Ruth Thornhill went missing six months ago. According to the evidence, she ran off with another man, so the Met closed the case. However, Ruth’s sister Beverley refuses to give up. And Beverley has friends in high places.  Slater’s enquiries soon find inconsistencies in the original investigation, and after a near-fatal encounter with a London bus, he realises the stakes are far higher than he imagined. Someone wants him to disappear.  An unlikely ally, in the form of fellow scapegoat DS Norman Norman, helps him uncover disturbing connections between the missing woman, a Chinese businessman, a glossy magazine, an online escort agency, a top London banker and senior officers from London’s Serious Crime Unit. The two uncover a mire of corruption, blackmail, deception and possibly the most cunning murder ever seen. The evidence stacks up against one particular suspect and Slater and Norman close in.  But as with most things in Slater’s life, nothing is ever simple. “If you like your crime with a lighter touch, Death of a Temptress is a refreshing, entertaining mix of mystery and humour that never takes itself too seriously.”  […]
The Agreement S. E. Lund Genre: Erotic Romance Publish Date: March 28, 2014 Publisher: S. E. Lund Seller: Draft2Digital, LLC Journalism graduate student Kate McDermott is a good girl who has done everything she can to please her very powerful and domineering father — a Justice on New York's Supreme Court with hopes for political office. When she decides to write an article about BDSM in popular culture, she tells herself it's just research and nothing personal for she can't afford to become the target of gossip or scandal. She hopes that the carefully worded agreement she writes up will keep her relationship with the Dominant she will interview strictly professional. Then 'Master D' – Drake Morgan – walks into the interview and Kate is mortified for not only is he gorgeous, he's the son of her father's best and oldest friend… Drake Morgan, MD, bass player, philanthropist – Dominant. Known as Master 'D' in Manhattan's BDSM Community, Drake must keep the kinky side of his life secret to protect his very successful career as a neurosurgeon. After a heartbreaking divorce, Drake doesn't do girlfriends, he doesn’t do sleepovers, and he certainly doesn't do breakfast in bed the morning after. He keeps everything in his well-ordered life separate and under his firm control. Then Kate McDermott crosses his path and screws everything up. Now, nothing is neat and tidy anymore, and no longer under control for Drake is smitten and things are going to get messy… The Agreement will stay with you long after you read the final page. 18+ only for mature content. […]
When reports detailed the Trump administration’s planned budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency leaked earlier this month, it seemed like Mustafa Ali was a marked man.
Ali, an agency vet who helped lead the EPA’s environmental justice efforts for 24 years, oversaw an office that was going to lose close to 80 percent of its funding under Trump’s plan. That proposal sent a clear signal that the Trump White House wasn’t all that interested in helping vulnerable communities living amid environmental contamination.
Within a week of the budget leak, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had a three-page resignation letter from Ali on his desk. It was gracious in tone, encouraging Pruitt to seize his “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring people together,” and beseeched him to protect initiatives like the Collaborative Problem-Solving Model and Environmental Justice Small Grants Program that had helped more than 1,400 communities, according to Ali.
Neither Pruitt nor anyone else in the Trump administration has acknowledged his letter, says Ali. Since then, he’s taken a new role at the non-profit Hip Hop Caucus, where he’ll continue to work on environmental and economic justice, as well as voting rights, aiming to “move vulnerable communities from surviving to thriving.”
Ali spoke to Grist about the struggle for environmental justice and the effect that the Trump administration’s proposed cuts would have on veterans and young people. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q. The EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice was created during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, and you worked at the agency through three other administrations after that. During that time, did you feel like there was always progress?
A. Yes, I did. Of course some administrations are a bit more wedded to the issue, but there was always at least incremental progress, moving toward improving the public health and the environment for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous populations.
Q. But your assessment is that environmental justice wasn’t going to be a priority any longer?
A. I was worried about being able to continue this very critical work that many leaders and lots of community folks have invested in for decades. I didn’t want to take steps backward by rolling back regulations that are necessary to protect the health, the environment, the lives of our most vulnerable communities. And that was it for me. I tried to be as patient as I could to see if we were going to prioritize the lives of these communities. And I just didn’t see it.
Q. Is the environmental justice movement only focused on communities of color?
A. There is a false narrative out there. Yes, these issues are definitely about disproportionate impacts that are happening in communities of color, but we also have strong relationships with brothers and sisters who are in Appalachia, who are in the Rust Belt, and many other places. And many low-income white communities are facing very, very similar challenges. This is a movement about people and about health. The environmental justice movement is inclusive, and it touches lots of different people.
Q. What will happen without a fully-staffed Office of Environmental Justice?
A. It means less information. Communities for years have been struggling to capture the information needed to verify and support what they’re seeing on the ground — health impacts, those types of things. Information is critical. The geographic information systems (like the EJSCREEN mapping tool) allow people to plug in their address and get a much better understanding of what contaminants are in the air or water near their community and what are some of the possible health impacts. Not having information means you’re weakening those systems and you’re weakening the ability for people to be able to protect themselves. So that’s a challenge.
Q. Who can fill that information gap going forward?
A. There are some really great organizations that have already been helping out. You have the Union of Concerned Scientists who have been doing work with some of vulnerable communities. Thriving Earth Exchange is another one. And then there are a number of colleges and universities.
Q. Are there other unforeseen consequences to the sharp budget cut the Trump administration is proposing for the EPA?
A. The EPA has been hiring a lot of veterans over recent years, because veterans get a preference for federal government jobs. So when you’re talking about cutting 3,000 jobs, or maybe 5,000 jobs, a big part of that is going to be veterans. And then some of the newer hires are young people who have done everything right. They went to school, did well, got a job. And now you’re going to cut those positions.
I always think about that quote from Dr. King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Sometimes we don’t realize that we’re all connected. The communities I focus on, the most vulnerable communities, a number of veterans live in those communities after they come back home. And young people live in those communities. So the question to be answered is: Do you really care about these folks’ lives?
According to the cover article in today’s issue of the journal Nature, the iconic reef off the coast of Australia suffered unprecedented coral die-off after last year’s record-breaking bleaching event. Now, as the Southern Hemisphere hits late summer temperatures, central and southern sections of the reef — areas which avoided the worst of last year’s bleaching — are in trouble.
“We didn’t expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years,” coral researcher Terry Hughes told the New York Times. Hughes led the team that conducted aerial surveys to document the bleaching last year, as well as subsequent surveys to assess just how much of that bleaching turned into dying.
Bleached corals don’t always turn into dead corals — some are able to recover when temperatures drop. Er, if temperatures drop. If water temperatures stay high and corals stay bleached, they will eventually starve to death. Without coral building reefs, whole ecosystems may disappear, along with the food, tourism, and jobs they support.
Hughes and his coauthors found that even corals in pristine, protected water were likely to be suffering from heat stress, meaning the only thing left to do to protect corals is, you know, address climate change.
Mustafa Ali helped to start the EPA’s environmental justice office and its environmental equity office in the 1990s. For nearly 25 years, he advocated for poor and minority neighborhoods stricken by pollution. As a senior adviser and assistant associate administrator, Ali served under both Democratic and Republican presidents — but not under President Donald Trump.
His departure comes amid news that the Trump administration plans to scrap the agency’s environmental justice work. The administration’s proposed federal budget would slash the EPA’s $8 billion budget by a quarter and eliminate numerous programs, including Ali’s office.
The Office of Environmental Justice gives small grants to disadvantaged communities, a life-saving program that Trump’s budget proposal could soon make disappear.
Ali played a role in President Obama’s last major EPA initiative, the EJ 2020 action agenda, a four-year plan to tackle lead poisoning, air pollution, and other problems. He now joins Hip Hop Caucus, a civil rights nonprofit that nurtures grassroots activism through hip-hop music, as a senior vice president.
In his letter of resignation, Ali asked the agency’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, to listen to poor and non-white people and “value their lives.” Let’s see if Pruitt listens.
In December, when Musk got stuck in traffic, instead of leaning on the horn or flipping off the other drivers, he decided to build a new transportation system. An hour later, Max Chafkin writes in Bloomberg Businessweek, “the project had a name and a marketing platform. ‘It shall be called The Boring Company,’” Musk wrote.
Musk told employees to grab some heavy machinery and they began digging a hole in the SpaceX parking lot. He bought one of those machines that bores out tunnels and lays down concrete walls as it goes. It’s named Nannie.
Musk is the grown-up version of the kid who decides to dig to China: He doesn’t pause to plan or ask what’s possible, he just grabs a stick and starts shoveling. Maybe that’s the approach we need. As Chafkin points out, “Tunnel technology is older than rockets, and boring speeds are pretty much what they were 50 years ago.” And Bent Flyvbjerg, an academic who studies why big projects cost so much, says that the tunneling industry is ripe for someone with new ideas to shake things up.
Musk is a technical genius. But the things that make tunnels expensive tend to be political — they have to do with endless hearings before local government councils and concessions to satisfy concerned neighbors and politicians. For that stultifying process, at least, Musk’s new company is aptly named. If Musk figures out how disrupt local land-use politics, it would mean he’s smarter than anyone thinks.
As promised, President Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court a judge in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Neil Gorsuch, like Scalia, is an “originalist,” who interprets the Constitution the way he thinks the founders intended, and a “textualist,” who favors the plain meaning of statutes and the Constitution. Gorsuch is a very conservative judge who would likely rubber stamp much of Trump’s reactionary agenda […]