100% Humidity
110 Degrees!

Literary Looting

Joseph Braude, author of The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for its People, the Middle East and the World, was apparently lending a hand by helping Iraqis clear away a bit of historical clutter. He was busted by US Customs for possession of "4,000-year-old Mesopotamian artifacts" which were "marked on the bottom with the letters 'IM' and a serial number."

The author of a book on rebuilding Iraq was arrested at Kennedy International Airport for allegedly smuggling stolen 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian artifacts out of Baghdad, authorities said Saturday.

Joseph Braude, author of "The New Iraq," was released on a $100,000 bond after a preliminary appearance Saturday in federal court.

Braude, 28, brought the priceless artifacts into the United States on June 11, U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said. He was arrested Friday night after arriving at the airport on a flight from London, she said.

Braude bought the three cylindrical stone seals, made of marble and alabaster, for $200 during a visit to Baghdad in June, authorities said.

"These items are not souvenirs, but stolen goods that belong to the people of Iraq," said Martin Ficke, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in New York.

Do check out the reader reviews of his book on Amazon. The first one smells author-written to me.

MEANWHILE: A new kind of ape has been discovered in, of all politically unpleasant places, the Congo.

"It doesn't look much like a gorilla, it doesn't look like a chimpanzee," said primatologist Shelly Williams, who captured a bit of video of the female mystery ape with a baby.

Pictures of the rare ape are scarce. Wildlife photographer Karl Amman, who was first to spot the mysterious mammals a few years ago, said the animal has feet that are about two inches bigger than the average gorilla and is more flat-faced than other apes. Its behavior also sets it apart from other apes, researchers say.

The mystery ape often sleeps in big ground nests. Chimpanzees, for example, usually nest in trees to stay away from predators. And the mystery apes hoot when the moon rises and sets, something chimps don't do for fear of attracting lions and hyenas, Williams said.

There's hope for bigfoot yet!

We're in Texas at Armadillocon and I've been having too much fun to blog. Ellen Datlow promises pictures of Bruce Sterling entertaining baby Elizabeth with his Swiss Army knife.