An Israeli worker displays a photo of former Mossad agent Sylvia Rafael in a memorial book in the Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center at Gliliot Junction near Tel Aviv

An Israeli worker displays a photo of former Mossad agent Sylvia Rafael in a memorial book in the Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center at Gliliot Junction near Tel Aviv / AP

This biography, apparently the first ever published about a female Mossad agent, starts out as a derring-do tale of a beautiful and dedicated young woman prepared to operate behind enemy lines, whatever the risk.

Sylvia Rafael, however, become trapped behind her own lines—bereft of love and family life for years because of her undercover work.

In the end, the substitute family which provided her with identity and purpose during those lonely years—the Mossad itself—failed her in a botched operation in 1973 which led to her imprisonment.

Four More Detainees Release from Gitmo

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba / AP

Four more detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were released from the prison and sent to Afghanistan, according to an announcement made by the Pentagon on Saturday.

Iranian-American Human Rights Activist Blasts Beverly Hills Hotel

Lisa Daftari

Iranian-American human rights activist and journalist Lisa Daftari blasted the Beverly Hills Hotel last week while accepting an award at a gala being hosted in the controversial hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who has come under fierce criticism for imposing Sharia law in his country and oppressing women.

Hillary Loves Castro

AP

Hillary Clinton was the main architect of the deal reached with Cuba and her advocacy towards opening a new relationship with the Castro regime began almost immediately when she became secretary of state, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin.

Paramount Bans ‘Team America’ Screenings

Kim Jong Il Dead

In response to Sony’s refusal to release The Interview over threats of violence from hackers believed to be angry over the comedy’s plot involving the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un several theaters said they would screen Team America: World Police instead. However, Paramount won’t allow their North Korean dictator assassination comedy to be screened either.

Castro Visit to White House Not Ruled Out

Raul Castro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A White House spokesman on Thursday declined to rule out an eventual visit to the White House by Cuban President Raul Castro a day after President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize U.S. relations with Havana.

EU Court Says Hamas Should Be Removed from Terror List

Palestinian members of the marine unit of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, ride in a pickup truck as they take part in a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 14

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas should be removed from the European Union’s terrorist list, an EU court ruled on Wednesday, saying the decision to include it was based on media reports not considered analysis.

Bill Clinton Creeps on Daughter of Guy Who Tried to Buy New York Senate for Dems

Bill Clinton creeps on daughter of John Catsimatidis / Twitter

A picture of Bill Clinton with the daughter and wife of New York City’s grocery store king John Catsimatidis exploded on Twitter last night, for very obvious reasons. The Catsimatidis family has long been close with the Clintons. John Catsimatidis raised more than $750,000 for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid in 2008, and often lets …

A Dictator’s Best Friend

AP

“It’s a sad day for freedom,” Marco Rubio told Bret Baier after President Obama announced he would normalize relations with Cuba. Not a sad day, senator: a sad year.

If there was a theme to 2014, it was Obama’s persistence in bailing out dictators and theocrats from political scrapes and economic hardships, his tenacity in pursuit of engagement with America’s adversaries no matter the cost to our strength, principles, credibility, or alliances.

Review: ‘Criterion Designs’

Criterion collection

A while back, during one of Barnes and Noble’s frequent half-off Criterion Collection sales, a friend on social media snarked, “half off a DVD, or still way more than the cost of a subscription to Hulu, where you can stream every Criterion disc.”

The joke, like much great humor, was equal parts funny and sad. Funny, because it’s true, of course, and reveals something about a society that is slowly but surely giving up on physical media. Sad, because its very truth reveals how much we have lost in the drive to elevate content—digital data, bits, ones and zeroes compressed as much as possible in order to offer cheap and fast downloadability—over every other concern.

I Left My Head in San Francisco

Workers in Paris clean the guillotine after beheading  a serial killer / AP

When the horror cult classic Faces of Death (1978) was first released on video, the cassette cover came with a warning: “This feature contains graphic depictions of autopsies, dismemberment, physical cruelty, human combustion and electrocution. It should not be viewed by children, the elderly or the squeamish.”

Perhaps something similar should have been done with Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found. Or at the very least smelling salts could’ve been tucked inside, considering such anecdotes as the early exploits of Viennese phrenologist Joseph Rosenbaum who, in 1808, decided he needed the skull of a recently deceased actress, Elizabeth Roose, for his collection.

Homer and The Bible at The Met

Reliefs showing the battle of Til Tuba / The Trustees of the British Museum

In Denmark at the start of the 19th century, a young archaeologist named Christian J. Thomsen was given the intimidating task of organizing a growing horde of ancient objects being stockpiled in preparation for the eventual foundation of a National Museum of Antiquities. As David W. Anthony relates in his splendid The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, Thomsen made the decision to separate and display his collection in three large halls: one for objects made of stone, one for objects made of bronze, and one for those made of iron.

Obama Admin Blocks Release of Report Detailing U.S. Covert Action in Iran

AP

The Obama administration is stalling the release of a key report detailing U.S. covert action in Iran due to concerns that information about America’s activities there could harm ongoing negotiations with Tehran over its contested nuclear program, according to officials in the State Department’s Office of the Historian.

DIA: North Korea Planned Attacks on US Nuclear Plants

N. Korean leader Kim Jong Un at parliament session

North Korea dispatched covert commando teams to the United States in the 1990s to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in a conflict, according to a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report.

The DIA report, dated Sept. 13, 2004, reveals that five units of covert commandos were trained for the attacks inside the country.

According to the report, the “Reconnaissance Bureau, North Korea, had agents in place to attack American nuclear power plants.”

Four More Detainees Release from Gitmo

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba / AP

Four more detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were released from the prison and sent to Afghanistan, according to an announcement made by the Pentagon on Saturday.

Iranian-American Human Rights Activist Blasts Beverly Hills Hotel

Lisa Daftari

Iranian-American human rights activist and journalist Lisa Daftari blasted the Beverly Hills Hotel last week while accepting an award at a gala being hosted in the controversial hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who has come under fierce criticism for imposing Sharia law in his country and oppressing women.

Review: ‘Criterion Designs’

Criterion collection

A while back, during one of Barnes and Noble’s frequent half-off Criterion Collection sales, a friend on social media snarked, “half off a DVD, or still way more than the cost of a subscription to Hulu, where you can stream every Criterion disc.”

The joke, like much great humor, was equal parts funny and sad. Funny, because it’s true, of course, and reveals something about a society that is slowly but surely giving up on physical media. Sad, because its very truth reveals how much we have lost in the drive to elevate content—digital data, bits, ones and zeroes compressed as much as possible in order to offer cheap and fast downloadability—over every other concern.

I Left My Head in San Francisco

Workers in Paris clean the guillotine after beheading  a serial killer / AP

When the horror cult classic Faces of Death (1978) was first released on video, the cassette cover came with a warning: “This feature contains graphic depictions of autopsies, dismemberment, physical cruelty, human combustion and electrocution. It should not be viewed by children, the elderly or the squeamish.”

Perhaps something similar should have been done with Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found. Or at the very least smelling salts could’ve been tucked inside, considering such anecdotes as the early exploits of Viennese phrenologist Joseph Rosenbaum who, in 1808, decided he needed the skull of a recently deceased actress, Elizabeth Roose, for his collection.

Homer and The Bible at The Met

Reliefs showing the battle of Til Tuba / The Trustees of the British Museum

In Denmark at the start of the 19th century, a young archaeologist named Christian J. Thomsen was given the intimidating task of organizing a growing horde of ancient objects being stockpiled in preparation for the eventual foundation of a National Museum of Antiquities. As David W. Anthony relates in his splendid The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, Thomsen made the decision to separate and display his collection in three large halls: one for objects made of stone, one for objects made of bronze, and one for those made of iron.