The archduke with the dragon tattoo

Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian archduke whose assassination by a Serbian nationalist in 1914 set off World War I, has always been more famous for his death than for his life. But, as Der Spiegel recently reported, thanks to rediscovered and newly published travel diaries from his 1892 journey around the world, readers will be able to get a new look at the complex personality of the young heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne -- who was at once an avid hunter and a conservationist, at once supercilious and vocally anti-imperialist.

Judging by Der Spiegel's report, the 2,000 or so pages of notes, written in a "powerfully elegant" style, give a fascinating account of an adventure that, though high-profile at the time (the entourage at certain points contained over 400 people), seems to have largely been forgotten.

FF (as the archduke signed his name in his notes) was just 28 years old at the time of his journey. Here are some highlights from this not-so-typical grand tour:

  • Getting a dragon tattooed on his arm in Japan
  • A tiger hunt in the foothills of the Himalayas, with 203 elephants
  • Bargaining with a cannibal woman for a bag of nuts
  • A battle with a lizard in Ceylon ("I approached the lizard as St. George approached the dragon.")
  • Tropical birds flying out of a cake, and champagne in the jungle with the Nizam of Hyderabad
  • The hunting list: sting rays in India, crocodiles in Jakarta, kangaroos in Australia, vultures, koalas, skunks, and storks

According to Der Spiegel, FF had nuanced opinions about the United States, which he saw as both heroic and ruthless. On one hand, he wrote, "Citizens of the Union" have the potential "to be larger than life, to be Übermenschen." On the other, he found the Wild West to be disappointing. He lamented the shrinking forests and the suffering of the Native Americans. Moreover, the "hoped-for grizzly bears refused to run in front of his rifle, cowboys cavalierly put their feet on the table in his presence, and smoking was prohibited everywhere."

This is going to be some fantastic reading.



Meet the lawyer defending Osama bin Laden's son-in-law

It's never an easy thing to defend a terror suspect, but this is not Philip Weinstein's first time around the block. Known for his "aggressive" courtroom presence, Weinstein, an attorney at Federal Defenders of New York, entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of his client Sulaiman Abu Ghaith this morning to charges that Abu Ghaith conspired to kill Americans.

Weinstein declined to comment to us and other reporters today, but he's been in the spotlight before for defending Faisal Shahzad, the so-called "Times Square bomber" who attempted to detonate a car bomb in 2010 before it malfunctioned, and Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, a Somali man who pled guilty to conspiracy and hostage taking in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship in April 2009," according to the New York Times.

Weinstein's newest case, involving al Qaeda's former spokesman and Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, has already become politicized as Republican lawmakers criticize the Obama administration for holding the trial in federal court as opposed to a military tribunal, where Abu Ghaith would be afforded fewer rights. However, according to a glowing Times profile of Weinstein in 2010, he appears to be more than prepared to handle the case. The graduate of Cornell and the University of Michigan Law School used to run Legal Aid's criminal appeal bureau for nearly 10 years and has worked on at least two dozen federal trials. 

In 2010, here's what Times reporter Benjamin Weiser found out about him:

William E. Hellerstein, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who had earlier run the appeals bureau and remains a friend, said Mr. Weinstein's appellate background gave him an eye for the mistakes lawyers make and how to avoid them. He said Mr. Weinstein was a methodical and precise lawyer who did not make himself the focus of a trial.

"He doesn't break the furniture," Professor Hellerstein said. "He is a careful, thorough student of the game."

In a narcotics trial in December, Mr. Weinstein represented a client who was convicted, but the jury rejected the government's position on the amount of drugs involved, allowing for the man to receive a mandatory five-year sentence instead of a mandatory 10-year term.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the story is a flattering comment from Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern district of New York, who just so happens to be taking a lead role in the prosecution of Abu Ghaith. Speaking of Weinstein and his colleagues, Bharara calls them "formidable adversaries who always hold us to our proof, as they should." "They have earned their reputation as among the finest public defenders in the country," he adds. Well, looks like he's got his work cut out for him.