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Airships to Patrol Venezuela's Skies

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the shadowrun-is-now dept.

Privacy 451

bprime writes "The BBC reports that officials in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, have bought three airship UAVs to keep tabs on the local populace. From the article: 'The 15 metre (49 foot) long air ships are emblazoned with government slogans. Written in bright red are the words, We watch over you for your security.' They're not exactly black helicopters, but how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?"

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Damn! (4, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815503)

And I thought that I was in a rational century without totalitarian governments that have the capabilities to do things like this.

Isn't this out of some SCI-Fi movie?

Re:Damn! (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815581)

You obviously have been living under a rock for your whole life. Haven't you heard of Hugo Chavez's (President for life of Venezuela) hero, Fidel Castro. Fidel has been running a totalitarian government in Cuba for over 40 years now. And of course there is always China. If I spent a little more time I could probably come up with a few more obvious totalitarian governments.

Re:Damn! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815643)

Democratically elected Hugo Chavez? Or does democracy only count when you like the guy who won?

Re:Damn! (1)

KalaNag (871736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815683)

Chavez isn't "President for life of Venezuela"... yet. Give him some more months for that ;)

Re:Damn! (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815737)

The observation was about governments that also have the resources to implement this sort of thing.

There will always be cults and small time dictators, but they usually have a detrimental effect on their people so that the technological achievements that would allow them to do such a massive surveillance initiative would be either out of their reach or not accepted by their people.

This seems to be OK with the people. That just surprises me since it doesn't really add that much to the safety and has the very likely possibility of being abused.

I'll use my other comment example:

Like a highway patrol car going down the road.
Through a ghetto, do you think that the people committing crimes see it and continue, or stop and wait till it's past?
When you're driving and see one stopped on the side of the road, do you slow down until it's out of sight and speed back up? I think most measures like this offer a slight prevention by threat of being caught.

Re:Damn! (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816115)

This seems to be OK with the people. That just surprises me since it doesn't really add that much to the safety and has the very likely possibility of being abused.

It doesn't surprise me one bit. It's easy to scoff at people willing to give up civil liberties for the prospect of safety from our ivory towers at home. It's an entirely different thing to live it.

I have a friend who immigrated from Peru to the US. She is a staunchly anti-Bush person and considers him an overreaching warmongerer who wishes he was a dictator and is taking steps in that direction. She's a major civil liberties and human rights advocate. Yet, in Peru, she was a supporter of hardline dictator Alberto Fujimori. Knowing just these two facts, one may well say, "what gives?" and see this as contradictory. Yet, when you talk to her about life in Peru when she grew up, it's not hard to understand where she's coming from.

In her early life, she grew up in a town called Tayabamba, out in the Andes. The sort of place for which it was a real journey just to get to the next town. When Shining Path started sweeping across the countryside, this was a real threat -- not a mostly imaginary threat like American paranoia about terrorism. The group kept its membership up by sweeping through villages and rounding up all of the men who could carry a gun; people were terrified of them. Later, she moved to Lima, and there had to worry about the drug lords. They would call "strikes" to punish the country; what this basically meant was that if they saw you going to work, they'd shoot you on the spot.

Fujimori largely changed this. He launched a brutal crackdown on Shining Path. When members fled to the universities, which were constitutionally protected from raids, he ignored the laws and sent in troops anyways (greatly angering the students). When drug lords called "strikes", he essentially declared martial law and dispatched the military to the street. Armored vehicles would pick up anyone who was afraid to work and take them all the way there. Fujimori himself stood in the middle of the street downtown, daring them to shoot him, to demonstrate that they had no power over the city. The same sort of thing happened with corruption and monopolies; he largely disregarded the law in his quest to take down the Peruvian equivalent of our 19th century robber barons. Imagine where, if you wanted to buy a bar of soap, it was not only ridiculously priced, but you had to buy it as part of a "bundle" with other, less popular products that weren't selling. That's the sort of control that these people had over the market. While most of Peru lived in utter poverty, these people lived in obscene luxury.

Then there's just plain regular crime. My friend's brother once had the shoes stolen right off his feet. Literally. People would go around in pairs -- one would grab the victim from behind and lift him up while the other grabbed the legs and untied the shoes. They weren't emotionless thugs, like a lot of American crime seems; they were just desperate people who really needed the money they could get from selling his shoes, simply in order to eat. They even left him a pair of flip flops to wear home. When people would go to parties, they'd often wear cheap shoes and other clothing on the way there, then change into the nicer stuff when they neared or arrived at their destination so that they wouldn't appear rich and get mugged. This sort of crime was everywhere, part of the daily reality you had to consider for everything you did. When she moved to the US, she had to get used to not having to do all of her old anti-theft habits.

If people see a blimp as having the potential to even reduce these sort of crimes, I'm not surprised that they'd welcome them with open arms.

Re:Damn! (5, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815959)

With all due respect, Mr Chavez is a copycat.

El presidente Antonio Bliar's big brother government bought Predator UAV for police use in the Tyneside area 2 years before Mr Chavez http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6053 144.stm [bbc.co.uk] .

LA Police deployed them 1 year before him: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5051142. stm [bbc.co.uk] .

And overall we are much closer to the stage of "Blue thunder, do you copy..." than Mr Chavez. You are giving him too much credit.

Re:Damn! (2, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815631)

And how does this stop any of the crime that happens under a roof or overhang. Do these people think that the criminals will just hang around while the things take pictures of them? Isn't most crime committed in a place where the criminal has some sort of cover/disguise/privacy from view?

I know that I haven't seen mention of that many crimes where the person didn't avoid some obvious camera or wittiness.
Unless the criminals are really really dumb, this thing is just another officer with a camera patrolling along and I think the exact same reaction will take place as does now when a highway patrol vehicle is seen by the drivers on the road.

They'll act good until it passes.

ATHF reference (3, Funny)

Fezmid (774255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815699)

Reminds me of an Aqua Teen Hunger Force (ATHF) scene where Shake is "The Drizzle." I'm paraphrasing here:

Master Shake: I can summon rainclouds to rain out the crime
Meatwad: Right, so then they go inside and rob banks and kill people.
Master Shake: Yeah, they could do that...

This was supposed to happen in Brazil? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815807)

I thought that is where all this was supposed to start?

Re:Damn! (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815895)

And I thought that I was in a rational century without totalitarian governments that have the capabilities to do things like this.

That was naive. I'll assume you don't mean 2000-2007, as that's not much of a century. I'll also assume you're restricting yourself to the last 50 years, getting around Hitler. Of course then you still have Stalin, so that pushes you into the 60s. Then you get Pol Pot. Idi Amin. The ayatollah. Sadaam. Milosevic. Etc.

Even now, you've got Mugabe, Qadaffi, Chavez, Castro, Putin (that's no democracy, friends), Kim Jong Il, etc.

It's not necessarily irrational to want to be a tyrant. Possibly psychotic, but not irrational. The only question is whether you can pull it off.

One of their slogans... (4, Funny)

Sherloqq (577391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815507)

All your rights and freedoms are belong to us!

Re:One of their slogans... (1)

JimXugle (921609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815815)

We have no chance to survive make our time ha ha ha?

Re:One of their slogans... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18816107)

All your rights and freedoms are belong to U.S.!

There, I've fixed it for you.

Drop the second Y in the sign on the blimp (3, Insightful)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815517)

...and it'll be accurate.

At leat the blimps won't make as much noise as the police helicopters over much of LA in the night.

With Stealth(tm) UAVs, you *won't* see them! (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815639)

There are three reasons you might not see these things over your city -
  • Stealthy UAVs are hard to see!
  • The things might not actually work very well.
  • Your local police and politicians may have some other boondoggle they like better than this one.
Various people have been proposing blimps and other aerostats for cellular and data applications, and every year there's another announcement that they'll be launching Real Soon Now. But they don't. On the other hand, with Glorious Homeland Security Anti-Terrorist Funding, your local police might be able to buy them anyway. The US Military has proposed a fleet of a dozen blimps watching our borders for Drug Enforcement, watching for small planes that are too hard to see from ground-based radar. I don't know if that's been launched yet or not.

How long 'til we see them in the U.S.? (5, Insightful)

netbuzz (955038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815533)

Here's my guess: Better not be until after the repeal of the Second Amendment.

The LAPD is already trying this (4, Interesting)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815687)

The LAPD is already trying to use UAV's in Los Angeles. The only thing holding them up is a squabble with the FAA.

http://www.engadget.com/2006/06/22/l-a-drone-groun ded-disciplinary-action-possible/ [engadget.com]

Re:The LAPD is already trying this (5, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816067)

I thought helium was holding them up.

Re:How long 'til we see them in the U.S.? (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815703)

So your saying instead of government slogans like "Don't do drugs!" they should just paint them with big bullseyes?

Re:How long 'til we see them in the U.S.? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815883)

The likelihood of knocking a UAV out of the air with small arms is pretty slim.

Hmmm, (5, Insightful)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815537)

New Socialist government, airships with slogans. The Venezuelans wanted this guy in power, so they got what they wanted.

Re:Hmmm, (4, Informative)

Zeros (1016135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815583)

No we have been trying to kick him out for a while but he keeps cheating in elections. Damm electronic elections >.>

Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18816065)

Bullshit. The *majority* of Venezuelans *do* want Chavez. That's why he is there. There is a small but vocal segment of people that don't share his socialist ideals, but they are the *minority*.

Re:Hmmm, (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816077)

No we have been trying to kick him out for a while but he keeps cheating in elections. Damm electronic elections

Why should we bother? As long as he doesn't invade other countries, let them be. The CIA usually screws things up when they tinker in such. Plus, it is still a democracy dispite how the economy works (although that may change). If people vote for a central-controlled economy, let them have it.
       

Never (1)

Shifty Jim (862102) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815545)

"They're not exactly black helicopters, but how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?"

Never.

Because ours actually ARE black helicopters.

Naw - right after next big RICO siezure. (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815829)

... how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?

Never. ... Because ours actually ARE black helicopters.


Naw. As soon as a major city has a big enough RICO siezure to buy 'em.

Helicopters cost a LOT to operate. They spend over an hour in the shop for every hour in the air. They MUST be maintained because there are a LOT of moving parts that are single points of failure - most involving a crash if they fail.

Airships can be very redundant and even if they crash they tend to do so gently (unless you paint them with thermite and fill them with hydrogen).

It's easy for police departments to buy big ticket items with RICO money. But their ongoing upkeep has to keep paying off, so it helps to keep that low.

Helicopters are good for point work - like assisting chases or patrolling highways during rush hour. But for ongoing surveillance they're expensive. And noisy, which tends to heisenberg ongoing crime out of their view.

Lets hope ... (1)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815549)

... The local populace enjoys target practice.

Re:Lets hope ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18816129)

Hell, I would build a trusty Sopwith Camel and go after the things.

Flying or crashing.. (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815553)

The real question is not how long until you see these flying over US cities, but how long until they start getting shot down over US cities by angered citizens with some know how.

Re:Flying or crashing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815863)

I'm going to bet a lot longer than you think, given that shooting down a blimp isn't as easy as you probably believe. I've had the good fortune to have numerous blimp flights courtesy of a good contact, and in chatting with the crew they got shot at fairly regularly. (Bear in mind this is just an advertising blimp doing no harm to anybody, but put guns in the hands of bored idiots and they'll shoot at pretty much anything). A bullet hole or ten will cause a slow leak that will need patching for economic reasons, but it won't bring down a blimp.

Re:Flying or crashing.. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816009)

Shooting down an airship is tough. You can punch several big holes in it and it will still take it a while to even notice.

Meanwhile, if remote-sensing platforms start getting shot down they'll quickly be upgraded with trace-the-projectile-back sensors to let the cops go after the shooters.

Fan of the Second Amendment that I am, I doubt that it would turn any city's copseye-in-the-sky airship program into a shooting gallery. (If it would, it already would have done so for cop helicopters or big brother "traffic" cams. Helicopters are EASY, and fixed cameras are sitting ducks.)

But I could be surprised. I used to think that un-suppressing private citizen concealed-weapon carry would reduce crime but only after a short bloodbath while the crooks learned that victims were now sometimes armed. Turns out crooks are smart enough to figure that out right away, so you get a precipitous crime drop without a bloody "learning period".

Already happening in the U.S. (0, Troll)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815555)

There have been reports of this already,
and I'm fairly certain that the domestic airlines
have already been outfitted with underbelly cameras
for that purpose. If you are near a major airport,
watch the patterns of the planes when they arrive
for landing. I believe that you will observe that
successive planes do not follow the same flight path,
but actually have slightly overlapping flight paths,
even when they are all going to land on the same runway.

Re:Already happening in the U.S. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815657)

What's with it with all those
people writing their comments
with line breaks every few words
to the point that their posts
look like they should be poems?
Is it so hard just to keep your
posts on one fucking line? If not,
at least make it rhyme, you dimwit.

Re:Already happening in the U.S. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815717)

FT
W!

Re:Already happening in the U.S. (1)

zenray (9262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815751)

Not sure about airplanes with underbelly cameras, even though it sounds like a good idea. (LOL) I do know that down here in Texas along the border the State goverment has a whole lot of internet linked cameras looking at sections of the Rio Grande River. At least they did a few months ago. A test program that I think will come back. Over by Falcon Dam, a few miles north-west of my location, the ICE, Border Patrol or somebody has a tethered blimp monitering the border. It gets blown around in bad weather. At this point they don't have enough Border Patrol types to monitor all this so they use National Guard troups untill they can recruite and train some more agents.

Re:Already happening in the U.S. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815827)

Take off your tinfoil hat. These are usually due to noise regulations. The airport and the FAA in general want to have reasonably constant flight routes, but people living directly underneath don't want a jumbo jet flying directly over their house every 15 minutes. Thus, there is some randomization in flight routes, to help reduce the effects of noise pollution.

Re:Already happening in the U.S. (2, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816139)

It also helps to avoid the wake turbulence of the preceding aircraft.

An airplane generates a pair of trailing vortices from the wing tips as an unavoidable consequence of producing lift. These are like a stretched out smoke ring - through the wings, back through the air on both sides, to where the wings were when it took off - although they don't stay in place forever.

The vortices expand and move slowly downward, until they are dissipated on the ground below the flight path - providing a slight overpressure that transfers the weight of the passing aircraft to the ground under its flight path.

Meanwhile the concentrated spinning tubes of air are a real problem for any following plane until they've had a chance to spread out and sink.

Re:Already happening in the U.S. (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815945)

If you are near a major airport, watch the patterns of the planes when they arrive for landing
Does your head get hot under all that tinfoil? Can you propose any even remotely plausible reason for the government conspiring with private airlines to secretly film the area of cities leading to runways at airports? I can't figure out if this post is most appalling for its lack of understanding of surveillance, geography, aviation, politics, or law. Maybe all at once. Where exactly are these invisible camera hiding given the close proximity with which anyone can observe aircraft at any given airport?

Airship pilots are expensive and rare. (1)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815559)

It's much cheaper to imitate England. We can put up cameras, some of which can be cheap dummies, and hire Clear Channel to monitor the stuff for us like they do their radio stations.

WOO HOO! Gotta' go patent this idea!

Recent News Anywhere Else in the World (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815567)

Something has happened elsewhere in the world. But how long until someone uses it to criticize Bush?

Re:Recent News Anywhere Else in the World (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815899)

Listen, retard. There are already posts made by self-righteous americans attacking that evil socialist state for their disrespect for personal liberties, although this whole "security forces using aircrafts to monitor the population" is being done in the US of A for over a decade. Do you not see the hypocrisy? "They are evil because they do it but we are the land of the free because we do it". How unreasonable it is to point out your own hypocrisy?

Re:Recent News Anywhere Else in the World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815941)

More importantly, how long before he gives us an excuse to?

But, no, you're right, we should probably ignore the possibility of civil rights abuses until they actually HAPPEN. That seems to be working out for us, so far, right?

Hang on, let me get back to you. Some nice gentlemen in black jumpsuits have just rappelled from my rooftop and swung through my window. Something about public dissent no longer being classified as "free speech ..."

Floating target (5, Funny)

avronius (689343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815575)

Hmmm...

The Venezuelan government buys 15 meter long airships for surveillance.
The city of Caracas has the "worlds worst figures for gun death".

So, taking a bit of a leap [jump with me if you wish]... The government of Venezuela is providing expensive 15 meter long floating targets for the people of Caracas to shoot at instead of shooting at each other...

You know, it just might be crazy enough to work...

Re:Floating target (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816127)

Encouraging people to shoot into the air is unlikely to reduce gun related deaths.

-Peter

How long till they get shot down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815587)

After all, I'm sure that those with vested interests not to be monitored have the means to bring those down...

Chavez response... (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815593)

I'm sure his response to this would be, "EL DIABLO, George Bush, is trying to keel me. I am searching for his infidels."

lol (2, Insightful)

KalaNag (871736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815595)

I'm Venezuelan, and didn't know anything until I read it here... Anyway, like almost everything that this government does, it's pretty sure that this will be used more for political/social control than crime prevention. And I can see the "control room" dismantled in a few months, all of the equipment broken/stolen and the ships rusting...

Re:lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18816069)

> And I can see the "control room" dismantled in a few months, all of the equipment broken/stolen and the ships rusting...

True. Watching Venezuela's infrastructure fall apart is like reading Atlas Shrugged. It's doubly ironic that the only real difference is that instead of going "on strike" (as they did in Rand's book), the productive workers are getting fired by the very government that claims to want to protect them.

Not new (1)

dbrutus (71639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815599)

Chicago has fixed point cameras spreading throughout high crime areas. In the UK the fixed point cameras can and do verbally chide petty scofflaws (litterers, jaywalkers).

Re:Not new (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815869)

I used to live in Oakland, CA where a police helicopter would fly over my neighborhood almost nightly. Most of the time, they would concentrate their spotlight search on a local school.

From a civil rights perspective, how is this any different from police car units patrolling your neighborhood?

What's this gotta do with America? (3, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815601)

They're not exactly black helicopters, but how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?"

First of all, why try to make this into some kind of "America bad" diatribe? Does everything have to end up connecting with the supposed lost liberties in America? This has nothing to with the US.

Next, it already has happened in America at least once that I'm aware of. There was a Fuji blimp in the air 24/7 over NY during the Republican National Convention in 2004. Rumor had it that it was there for security, both against terrorism and all the protesters that were trying to "brownshirt" the convention.

Finally, how is this any different than all the cameras on every street corner in cities like London?

Re:What's this gotta do with America? (0, Flamebait)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815911)

Venezuela *is* in America, so it has gotten everything to do with it. I guess you are mumbling about the USA, which is only a small part of North America, never mind South America...

Re:What's this gotta do with America? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816083)

Venezuela *is* in America, so it has gotten everything to do with it. I guess you are mumbling about the USA, which is only a small part of North America, never mind South America...

Maybe you should take that up with summary writer, bprime [faster-pc.net] , who posed the question:

They're not exactly black helicopters, but how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?"


I get your point, but I was simply using America in the same reference as the summary.

Re:What's this gotta do with America? (1)

pieinthesky (310645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816137)

Venezuela *is* in America

Thank you! I always wondered why America was smaller than North America...

Re:What's this gotta do with America? (1)

umbra_dweller (797279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815937)

It's not really that different. But slashdot is hardly a fan club for the London cameras either.

Though I will admit, the comparison to America does seem a little out of place in this summery.

What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815603)

I wonder who has the contract for patching bullet holes in these things? Or, given that Venezuela's adjacent to some places with significant political instability, ground-to-air missiles? I don't even think it'd have to be for cause: just, hey, look, I wonder what will happen if we shoot at that?

Re:What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815645)

I wonder who has the contract for patching bullet holes in these things? Or, given that Venezuela's adjacent to some places with significant political instability, ground-to-air missiles? I don't even think it'd have to be for cause: just, hey, look, I wonder what will happen if we shoot at that?
I just hope they fill these ones with helium.

Re:What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (2, Informative)

KalaNag (871736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815759)

Ehmm... This is to be used in Caracas, where the most "politically inestable" factors are the mid-class citizens angry with the government, and the poverty-belts citizens surrounding the others. All of them may be armed, but none of them have SAMs or Stingers AFAIK.

Re:What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815885)

My point being that it's much easier to get those sorts of weapons in Caracas than in, say, Hamburg. Consider with which country Venezuela shares its longest border, a border that is, to the best of my knowledge, largely unpoliced.

Re:What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (1)

KalaNag (871736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816105)

Geographically, Caracas is about 1000km away from its three land borders (Colombia, Brazil and Guyana). The fact that Caracas is so dangerous have little to do with being in the same neighborhood with Colombia, and much more with the fact that there is a generalized social crisis that started _before_ Chavez, but got worse in the last years.

You _could_ find SAMs near the borders, but if they were easily available in the main cities, they would have been used already in the higly profitable business of armored car hijacking, but they haven't.

You may find some assault rifles, a grenade or two, plenty of shotguns and handguns, but nothing more powerful... yet.

Re:What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815823)

Approximately "Mira! Un camera! Vamos a destruirlo!"

And yes, my Spanish is rusty.

Re:What's spanish for "Hey, look, a target!"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815931)

"Mira, una camara!(...)". What comes next may vary, depending on _who_ is saying that, and the type/range of the weapon at hand. I for one will be on my roof for some days... looking at our clear blue sky... ;)

In ...* UK, (3, Informative)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815605)

it's already there [subjunctive.net] . The first time I saw this I was sure it's some kind of pro-privacy ad, but apparently it's dead serious [parapundit.com] :(

*- Insert your favorite totalitarian government style

Re:In ...* UK, (2, Funny)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815879)

Well, if they go with the airship surveillance, I think they should make them giant spherical balloons which look like giant eyeballs in the skies, and light them up at night for an even more ominous effect. After all, if we're going to live in a surreal dystopian future of eyeballs in the sky, it ought to at least look like what it is.

We already have them, don't we? (1, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815617)

The summary asks, "how long do you think until we see similar measures in high-crime American cities?" Didn't I read about surveillance blimps already in the air over Washington DC, several years ago? Google says, YES [newsmax.com] !

Re:We already have them, don't we? (2, Insightful)

cHALiTO (101461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815835)

Ah, but this time it's done by teh t0talitar14n g0vernm3nt of commun1st ch4vezz!!one!!!! See?? there's no privacy in venezuela!!!

I still think this sucks, but I'm getting tired of this kind of "we're the civilized world, the light, people that have different socioeconomic/politic views than us are obviously wrong, so they must have come to power by force, they're terrorists/dictators/communists/liberals (which are of course all the same), and therefore inherently evil" bullshit.

(sorry, I'm having a bad day)

Re:We already have them, don't we? (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816001)

Yeah, I live near Miami and I've been seeing these too, but much bigger,and especially during the Super Bowl. But instead of some slogan, they're covered with advertising. Stuff like MetLife, GoodYear, etc.

Damned government! Oh, wait...

Re:We already have them, don't we? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18816095)

Yeah, what the hell is up with the people who try to insert insightful dialogue into these stories without running every single word through Google, anyway?!

I mean, I don't know about the rest of you, but *I* sure as hell have a complete and total knowledge of EVERYTHING that's happened within the news for the past 30 years. This sort of speculative drivel is absolute lunacy, especially when it's no longer speculative at all!

Chavez is a totalitarian thug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815625)

Period. Even if you agree with his dislike of George Bush, he is sending democracy in Venezuela back decades.

Airships...Where have I heard that before? (3, Funny)

justinbach (1002761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815635)

Oh, right:

It's horrible! Hugo Chavez has been transformed! Please find the magic wand so we can change him back!


Let's just hope that Koopa's [wikipedia.org] not involved this time...

Re:Airships...Where have I heard that before? (2, Funny)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815747)

heh, I was thinking: When did Cid/Sid work for Venezuela?

Can't wait for the reality TV show (5, Funny)

subl33t (739983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815651)

COPS: Caracas

A high speed chase featuring an airship tracking and a donkey powered wood cart through a shanty-town.

Not exactly black helicopters, indeed. (2, Informative)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815669)

Police helicopters aren't exactly black helicopters, either. So these vehicles stay up via buoyancy rather than spinning rotors, and the police look out of them remotely rather than directly. Oh, how scary.

There are rather more worrisome things [amnesty.org] about Venezualan police than their use of UAVs.

Hmmmm (1)

DonCaballero (960895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815677)

Am I the only one thinking of that episode of The Powerpuff Girls where the mayor flew around in a balloon and thwarted evildoers with an extending boxing glove contraption? Come to think of it I probably am the only one. As you were.

Yeah but (2, Insightful)

jhines (82154) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815685)

In the US of A, advertising slogans would be far more likely.

Re:Yeah but (3, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815825)

"This act of fascism is brought to you by McDonalds!"

not for long (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815709)

If they were to try this in the US with slogans like "We watch over you for your security" painted on the sides, I'd guess they would last, maybe, a few hours.

Someone would hole the envelope with a rifle.

Of course there would be the obligatory references to "Big Brother" and such. I can hear the rhetoric now...

Re:not for long (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815819)

Enjoy a new life in the offworld colonies!

f they were to try this in the US with slogans like "We watch over you for your security" painted on the sides, I'd guess they would last, maybe, a few hours.

In... (0, Offtopic)

rnmartinez (968929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815715)

Soviet Venezuela, airship flies you! (?)

typo (3, Insightful)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815731)

We watch over you for your security

There's a misplaced 'y' at the beginning of the 2nd last word, but we shouldn't come down too hard on them for it. It's something a spell checker wouldn't catch.

The *BBC* reports about others' surveillance? (5, Insightful)

0rbit4l (669001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815749)

Wait, the British Broadcasting Company is reporting about some other country's recent foray into domestic surveillance, even invoking "Big Brother"? Isn't this quite an extreme example of the pot calling the kettle black? I mean, I'm glad that they're reporting about it, but where was the critical reporting about the national rollout of CCTV in their own home country?! Instead, we heard no end of "balanced" reports offering apologist explanations regarding the countering of thug violence, terrorism, and antisocial behavior.

Britain in particular hasn't a leg to stand on when it comes to offering a critical view of others' domestic surveillance.

I was in London a few weeks ago (2, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815775)

I never realized before that the medeivals had included video cameras in the ornamentation on the steeples of Westminster Abbey.

Unworkable. (1)

Irvu (248207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815779)

Some might worry that this will be intrusive - a big brother in the skies, spying on people the government wants to watch.

But the man in charge of security in Caracas, Ramon Morales Rossi, played down that idea.


Of Course he says that, what would he say? I find the printing of slogans on them "We watch over you for your security" to be very newspeak.

While it might be true that the dirigibles will help to an extent, they can at least monitor places faster than a foot-mounted officer might get there, I find it unlikely that these will really eliminate or even substantially reduce the crime problem. Evidence from places like Britain and other areas have shown that, at best, such cameras make catching people after the fact sometimes easier but even that constant monitoring isn't necessarily useful.

At the end of the day the goal should be to prevent crime and I find it unlikely that a fleet of such airships would do it in the long term. More likely they will be used at the next anti-government demonstration to gather "intelligence" on the opposition.

At the end of the day, in my experience, crime is driven by economic and political factors and can only be mitigated by that, and by strong community-based policing. I've certainly seen that in my own town were "targeted" neighborhoods (aka Black Neighborhoods") are given little regular police protection (i.e. officers walking beats, getting to know the neighbors, etc) but are the subject of regular well-staged "crackdowns" in which the swat team rolls through watching over them for their security. The police complain, rightly, that when something happens there they get no help from the residents. The residents complain, rightly, that the police aren't there regularly, aren't from there, don't know anyone, and tend to treat them like an enemy population to be suppressed, not citizens whom they protect.

In the most recent incident the police rolled through with the swat team, kleig lights and weapons pointed at anyone they saw in a "drug sweep", noone was caught, it was simply a show of force. Yet all the rest of the nights, the police aren't seen and it is only neighborhood watch groups that get anything done.

Similar measures? (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815789)

Are police helicopters "similar"? I'd say so.

They started using them about 30 years ago...

Automated Law Enforcement? (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815799)

Come quietly or there will be trouble.

I give them about 10 seconds (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815817)

till they are so bullet ridden that they come down in tatters...

They're there already (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815849)

you just have to have a pair of sunglasses like Rowdy Roddy Piper to see em..

Cool, a new sport (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815875)

slow blimps + gun crime = open season on blimps

my guess is the blimps won't last long...

Why Shouldn't the People Steal? (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815923)

If the government can steal what they want, why not the people? Atlas Shrugged.

Slashdot difficulty setting: 5 (1)

SaberTaylor (150915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815935)

Responses to this article may not include the name Orwell or references to 1984 or the many, many, many derivative fictional works.
That would be like a 1,000,000 Slashbot users having highvoltage kneejerk reactions to every flying robot drone article by quoting Asimov's laws of robotics.
Which he used as a plot device to crank out pulp fiction at a record rate. The only robot he ever used was his toaster. A plot device people, ...

Oh, I'm the first to mention Orwell and 1984. oops.

potshotting UK surveillance cameras? (1)

bitnerd (1091115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815957)

So, I know the UK is not exactly the US in terms of handgun availaibility, but are air rifles or paintball guns allowed? If so, why isn't potshotting surveillance cameras more popular? Seems like a very low-tech, low-cost approach to defeating what are probably high-cost installations. (Even if the actual cameras aren't too pricey, the unionized labor running the cherry-picker certainly is)

How long? You already have it! (4, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18815969)

How long until you see similar measures? You already have it, don't be hypocritical.

'Eyes in the sky' for homeland security [msn.com] . (Date: Aug. 27, 2005) From blimps to do-it-yourself unmanned vehicles, a trend takes flight.

(...)That's okay, a lot of people do, says George Spyrou, president of Airship Management Services, whose blimps are leased to the likes of Fuji Film and have been used as air surveillance and security platforms by the New York Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the Athens police during last year's summer Olympic Games.


But there is more:

Fuji Blimp Helps With Convention Security [airshipman.com] (Date: Aug. 30, 2004), on CNN [cnn.com] also.

(...)At the closely guarded Republican National Convention, even the Fujifilm Blimp has a role in security. Fuji Photo Film USA Inc., the Valhalla, N.Y.-based U.S. arm of the Japanese film maker, is allowing the New York Police Department use of the blimp to bolster aerial patrols above Madison Square Garden.


Caracas is no HappyLand. It has a high crime rate, just like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (that by the way has its own surveillance blimp too). Surveillance is necessary, no, condition sine qua non to allow common people to live their lives without fear to be shot by a pair of Nike shoes (happens a lot in some Brazilian cities, just so you know). That's the situation is most Latin America.

Now, is not it hypocritical that 1) this is BBC reporting, coming straight from the country with the most ubiquitous surveillance system in the world 2) people are so desperate to find something to nail Hugo Chavez for that they need to resort to such FUD because they got nothing else. This is a move by the City of Caracas, not the country of Venezuela, just like the blimps on U.S. are a move from the NYPD, not the Federal Government.

Now stop talking about things you guys don't know about, and quit spreading fud. Come on, "keeping tab on the population".

Didn't this already happen in.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18815973)

DR. Who and the Cybermen when the airships were hovering over London?

Blade Runner lives! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816011)

Life immates art.

Reminds me of Equilibirum (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816013)

Now all they need are big OLED displays that show a constant stream of pro-government propaganda..

Ob (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816039)

In Hugo's Venezuela Blimps watch you!

Cheaper than satellites (1)

Valtor (34080) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816093)

Having a bunch of these over a city is probably cheaper than using a satellite. But what an ugly sight! :)

Now all we need is ... (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18816101)

a rag tag band of resistance fighters, who find a strange and mysterious but important girl or guy in the woods and we can call Venezuela "Final Fantasy land".

My dream is almost here.
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