“It was obvious that Gillani was setting me up, he was well aware of my personal feelings about US Drone attacks in Pakistan. I didn’t approve of them, a classic “end justifying the means” scenario as we searched for senior leaders of Al Qaeda without regard for civilian casualties. We euphemistically referred to these civilian deaths as collateral damage. Al Qeada kept civilians, women and children, as shields hoping to stop the attacks. Drones are a relentless and effective weapon, they fly where angels fear to tread without regard for weather or enemy fire. Drones are killing machines, devastating weapons, designed to search and destroy with laser beam efficiency. In off the record conversation Washington justifies their use as being less costly than fighter jets in both monetary and human terms, our highly trained jet pilots are replaced by technicians in a Montana cave. Gillani was a wily old fox, he knew he was boxing me into a corner and that my sense of decency and morality would trump my oath of office. I could decline his invitation and suggest that my charge d’affaires stand in for me but that creates a diplomatic conundrum or I could accept, exposing my strongly held views and inviting reprisal from Washington. I chose the latter.”
(Click on cover to hear a 5min audio sample of Nick’s performance)
Katrina has been waiting for her Prince Charming…
Katrina Alexander’s bland life has her wondering if she’ll ever find the true love she’s spent her life hoping for. With no current prospects, and a boring job, she’s just about given up. Running into her high school sweetheart at her ten year high school reunion has her wondering if maybe she’d met him long ago.
He’s faced with his mortality and in a race against time…
Damon Garratt is a self-made billionaire, but aside from his massive fortune has little else to show for the years that have gone by. Without love or a family, he’s feeling empty. Seeing Katrina brings up old feelings from the past, and suddenly he can see his future more clearly. Racing against the clock, can he convince Katrina to give him the one thing he desperately needs – an heir?
©2013 Terry Towers (P)2013 Terry Towers
December 9, 1933: Happy 80th birthday, Ashleigh Brilliant! The humorist’s output is almost entirely epigrams, which he tries to limit to seventeen words apiece.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says.
The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.
However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.
“I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” Mr Bezos told CBS television’s 60 Minutes programme.
“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”
‘Ready to enter’
From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place”
The service will be called Prime Air and comes as Amazon is looking to improve its efficiency to boost growth.
Amazon also posted a video on its website showing a drone picking up a package from one of its warehouses and delivering it to the doorstep of a customer’s house.
However, it still has to wait for permission from US regulators.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the use of drones for police and government agencies, issuing about 1,400 permits over the past several years.
Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to all kinds of drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016.
Existing regulations are in place to minimise the risk of injury to people on the ground, said Dr Darren Ansell, an expert on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from the University of Central Lancashire.
“The UAVs do not currently have the awareness of their environment to be able to avoid flying into people. To deliver goods to people’s homes for example in residential areas, the UAVs must overfly densely populated towns and cities, something that today’s regulations prevent.
“Other things to consider are security of the goods during the transit. With no one to guard them the aircraft and package could be captured and stolen,” he said.
Amazon said: “from a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place.”
The FAA was “actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles”, the company said, adding that it hoped the green light would be given as early as 2015.
“One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.”
Zookal, an Australian textbook rental company, announced earlier this year that it would start using drones to make deliveries from 2015 if approved by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Australian law allows the use of unmanned aircraft for commercial use.