Monday, 26 December 2011

$150 million Predator Drone helps arrest $6,000 cow theives


When the Brossart family prepared for the Sheriff to storm their property, due to charges of refusing to return stray livestock, they scanned the surrounding trees and fields.

They should have been looking up.

As an armed standoff escalated, Sheriff Janke borrowed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Predator Drone for surveillance of the 3,000 acre property. The unarmed plane was used to track suspects and confirm they had laid down their arms before SWAT teams moved in to make the arrest. The incident, which occurred in the summer, was the first known case of a drone being used to assist in the arrest American citizens on American soil. However, the department has borrowed the Predator Drones several times since.

Congress approved the purchase of the Predators in 2005 for the Customs and Border Protection to look for smugglers and illegal immigrants. Although charges have been made that there has been no public debate and Congress has not approved the use of the drones for civilian police forces, officials in the Customs and Border Protection point to tacit approval given by Congress during budget requests. In those requests, "interior law enforcement support" was cited as part of their mission.

The Supreme Court has long ago given approval of aerial surveillance, stating that anything that could be viewed from the air was legal without a warrant. However, whether the lawmakers had in mind a silent plane that could stay in the air for 20 hours is a question being asked by many privacy advocates.

However, drones are becoming more popular with local law enforcement due to budgetary constraints. Although a Predator Drone can cost $150 million dollars, smaller cheaper aircraft can be had for as little as $5,000 to several hundred thousand. And with an hourly operating cost at $30 an hour, it certainly looks attractive compared to a helicopter’s $500 an hour operating cost.

Of course, with the lower price tags come less capabilities. These are not high tech stealth planes capable of sneaking up on someone. As a Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman said, the planes sound like flying lawn mowers.

Meanwhile, privacy advocates are not the only interested parties in this debate. Pilots are concerned as more drones fill the airspace with no clear regulations. Pilots and safety organizations want to see the drones fall under the same regulations as all other planes.

Regardless of the pending debates, the reality is that drones are here and their prices and capabilities mean they will continue to be used.

So next time you see that scene in the movie where the bad guy parts the curtain to check the parking lot for cops, maybe he should be looking up too.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Trivia

Continuing my departure from my usual topics of blood, gore, murder and mayhem, I offer some Christmas trivia. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with serial killers.

OK, well, maybe question 30 and the bonus question.

Good luck and I promise to be back with more kills, thrills and chills on Boxing Day.

 1) How many times does Santa check his list?

2) The Grinch is as cuddly as a ______?

3) It would of been a laugh to see Mommy doing what last night?

4) One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say what?

5) Good tidings to you, and all of your what?

6) Who was seated next to me a day or two ago in the song Jingle Bells?

7) Why do I want my two front teeth for Christmas?

8) What did Frosty The Snowman do when they placed the magic hat on his head?

9) What does Alvin want for Christmas in The Chipmunk Song?

10) On the eleventh day of Christmas, what did my true love send to me?

11) I'm dreaming of a White Christmas with what?

12) What do Janice and Jen want for Christmas in the song It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas?

13) In The Polar Express movie, what is "The First Gift of Christmas?"

14) In The Polar Express movie, what word does the conductor punch into the ticket of "the young man with all the questions"?

15) In The Polar Express movie, what sort of "liquid refreshment" is dispensed to the children during their trip?

16) What is the name of the rabbit in the magic hat in Frosty the Snowman?

17) What was the little girl in Frosty the Snowman's name?

18) In Frosty the Snowman, what was the name of the magician with the "Magic Hat"?

19) How much did Lucy charge for a psyciatric session in the classic Christmas TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas?

20) What was "the most likely" reason that The Grinch hated Christmas?

21) Who narrated the original 1966 TV show How The Grinch Stole Christmas?

22) What was Dr. Seuss' real name?

23) In the Christmas Classic, It's A Wonderful Life, what happened every time a bell rang?

24) The name of Scrooge's deceased business partner in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was?

25) What is the name of Tiny Tim's father in the story, "A Christmas Carol"?

26) What did Frosty The Snowman have for a nose?

27) How many gifts would you receive if you received all of the gifts in the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas"?

28) In the song "Winter Wonderland", who do we pretend the snowman is?

29) "Miracle on 34th Street"-a man on trial claiming to be Santa Claus. What convinces the judge he is Santa Claus?

30) What early slasher film was John Carpenter's Halloween originally to be a sequel to, according to lore?

Bonus)
What Serial Killer was featured on a German Advent calendar for children?







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Answers



1) Twice!
2) Cactus!
3)  Kissing Santa Claus!
4)
Rudolf With Your Nose So Bright,
Won't You Guide My Sleigh Tonight?
5) Kin!
6) Miss Fanny Bright!
7) So I could wish you Merry Christmas!
8) He began to dance around!
9) A Hula Hoop!
10) Eleven Pipers Piping!
11) Every Christmas card I write!
12) Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk!
13) A bell from Santa's sleigh!
14) BELIEVE
15) Hot Chocolate!
16) Hocus Pocus!
17) Karen!
18) Professor Hinkle!
19) Five cents please!
20) His heart was two sizes too small!
21) Boris Karloff!
22) Theodor Geisel!
23) An Angel Got His Wings!
24) Jacob Marley!
25) Bob Cratchit!
26) A button!
27) 364 presents!
28) Parson Brown!
29) The US Postal Service delivers mail to him.
30) The Canadian movie Black Christmas.
Bonus) Fritz Haarmann, who murdered 24 young men and boys in the 1920s.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

RABMAD

Given my usual topics, you likely think this is some short form for Rabidly Mad Killer.
OK, geez, maybe that would be a cool thing.

I can see it now, the killer signs all his letters in blood, frothing at the mouth….

But wait, it’s Yule today, a time of celebration in our household when the candle burns all night to mark the suns return toward the cold north. Happy Times. So, this time around, I’m going to talk about something uplifting.

Sorry, no murder and mayhem but that will be back next week.

Instead, let’s talk about giving back.

I was brought up to believe it is more important to give than to receive, That charity should be part of your life. To be thankful for what you have and to share that bounty with others less fortunate. This is something my wife and I have tried to instill in our children as well and I am proud to say we have succeeded in this generation of me first and you whenever.

In that spirit, I have celebrated this Yule by signing up with RABMAD, author R.S. Guthrie’s brainchild.

RABMAD stands for “Read A Book, Make A Difference”.

It is a group of excellent authors who want to give something back. Most of them are Indie authors such as myself who care about their world and want to donate a percentage of the proceeds from their books to worthy causes.

I chose the Terry Fox Run, an incredible charity that supports Cancer research in Canada. The Foundation is named after Terry Fox, a Canadian hero and amazing human being.

So please check out the authors in RABMAD. Not only will you read some incredible books, you have the pleasure knowing that you are giving something back just by reading their books.

I want to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season -- a safe and joyous time for all my readers.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Long Island Serial Killer - 10 victims, 1 Killer say police

As with many writers, I am often asked where I get my inspiration.

In the case of the two sequels I have planned for Two Graves, my inspiration came from the Long Island Serial Killer.

I was in New York, attending a writing conference, not long after they found the first bodies. Naturally, it was in all the news. The first bodies had been found while police searched for a missing woman, Shannan Gilbert, along Ocean Parkway in Long Island. She has still not been found. Instead, police have found 10 bodies – eight women, a young Asian male and a toddler.

Initially the Suffolk County Police department had considered the possibility that there was more than one killer. It was even speculation that one could be a former police officer. The consensus now seems to be a single killer and he has likely been killing for as long as 15 years. However, they do not suspect Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance is related to the Long Island Killer.
Police have only been able to identify five women: Melissa Barthelemy, 24, Amber Lynn Costello, 27, Megan Waterman, 22, Maureen Brainer-Barnes, 25 and Jessica Taylor, 20. All of these women worked as escorts, advertising on Craigslist.
Jessica’s head and forearm were found the Gilgo Beach area while her torso had previously been discovered in 2003, in Manorville, over 40 miles away. This seems to be a common MO with this killer, in order to hinder the identification of the victims, police suspect. The killer has even gone as far as surgically removing a tattoo of one victim.
The fact that he has dumped the remains around Long Island suggests he is familiar with the area. Not likely he would be driving around asking for directions with a torso in the trunk.

The addition of Asian male, who died five to ten years ago, is not totally inconsistent with the other victims. A man of small build, he was dressed in women’s clothing, suggesting he might have been involved in the sex trade.

Likewise, the toddler has been linked through DNA to one of the other victims although they were buried four miles apart.

So for a writer of deviant serial killers, what isn’t to be inspired by?

Will you recognize the Long Island Serial Killer when you read Too Many Graves? Not likely but you will know that he inspired me and set the gears in motion.