Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My Crime Fiction: 'Twas A Crime Before Christmas: My Interview With Santa Claus'

As the Christmas season is here once again, I'd like to offer my short story, Twas a Crime Before Christmas, which originally appeared in The Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2009.   

Twas a Crime Before Christmas: My Interview With Santa Claus

By Paul Davis

As a crime reporter and columnist, I was compelled to look into a report of a burglary of an unemployed construction worker on Christmas Eve in South Philadelphia.

The burglar or burglars broke into the home early on the morning of the 24th. They stole the family’s TV and other household goods. They also took a dozen or so wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree that were intended for the family’s two children.

I interviewed the victim, who was so devastated by the burglary that he could hardly speak. I also spoke to a detective who said he presently had no leads on the case but he planned to keep working it, and I spoke to a local priest who told me that the church was collecting donations for the poor family.

Lastly, I spoke to a man of great wisdom and experience. The jolly old fella was kind enough to pause during his special night out to talk to me about crime.

I interviewed Santa Claus as he was packing up his sleigh and getting ready to head off on his magical trip, bringing toys and goodies to good children around the world.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow and the beard on his chin was white as snow. His eyes twinkled and his dimples were merry. His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. He looked like a candidate for a heart attack.

And he smoked. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath (the Surgeon General would not approve). He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot (PETA would not approve) and his clothes were tarnished with ashes and soot (Mrs. Santa would not approve). With a lumpy sack over his shoulder, he looked like a homeless person.

I asked Santa Claus if the public’s fear of crime had changed how he did his job.

“The increased use of car and home burglar alarms makes my journey tougher, I must say,” Santa said. “As you know, my miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer make such a clatter, they set off every car alarm on the block.”

Santa also said that home burglar alarms has made his surreptitious entry, via the fireplace, most difficult. When he slides down the chimney, he sets off alarms, which wakes the household and brings the police.
Santa went on to say that the alarms ruin the surprise for the children and he is often detained by the responding police officers, who demand identification and administer alcohol tests.

Fortunately, Santa looks like a right jolly old elf, so the police officers have to laugh, in spite of themselves. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head give the people who thought they were being robbed the knowledge that they had nothing to dread.

“I once had my sleigh and reindeer stolen while I was in a home setting up the toys, and I must admit that I paused to enjoy the milk and cookies that a child left me,” Santa said. “But with some kindly police officer’s help, I was able to recover the sleigh and reindeer rather quickly. You see my lead reindeer has a bright red nose and we were able to spot him from about three blocks away.”

Santa said his brush with crime made him understand why families were installing burglar alarms and why they were more concerned about a strange old fat man in red entering their home in the middle of the night. He told me that he was looking into some kind of security system for his sleigh as well.

I asked him about the burglary that occurred that morning in South Philly and he replied he was well aware of the sad incident.

“I plan to visit the house tonight on my rounds and with a little magic I’ll leave them some special gifts under their tree,” Santa explained. “I also did a little investigative work to find the crooks, as I have powers the police lack."

Santa said he discovered who the crooks were and he tipped the police off. He also plans to leave the crooks lumps of coal in their stockings, which will be hung with care in the local jail.

“Don’t they know I’m watching?” Santa asked. ”I know when they have been naughty or good. My surveillance techniques are finer than the FBI’s.”

“This should be a joyful time of year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Santa said. “This should be a time of love, charity and good cheer.”

The interview concluded, he sprang to his sleigh and to his team gave a whistle and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

(With apologies to Clement C. Moore and my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Mob Talk 25: A Look At Organized Crime In South Philadelphia, New York And New Jersey

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss the mob in South Philly, New Jersey and New York.

You can watch the video via the below link:


Saturday, December 15, 2018

My Crime Fiction: 'A Christmas Crime Story'

As the Christmas season is here once again, I’d like to offer my short story, A Christmas Crime Story. 

The story originally appeared in The Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine in 2003.

You can read the story below:

A Christmas Crime Story

By Paul Davis
To get in the true spirit of the Christmas holiday, some people go to church, some people go to the homes of family and friends, and some people go out and shop.

Me? I go to cop bars.

Cops are great storytellers. Perhaps its because they observe a segment of life that’s dramatic, tragic and funny. Perhaps its also because they spend so much time cruising on patrol that they’ve had the time to develop and hone their story-telling skills.

As a writer, I’ve talked to cops in station houses, in patrol cars, on the street and in bars. I’ve listened to their concerns, prideful boasts and sorrowful confessions. I’ve accompanied cops on patrol and witnessed them handle insane, intoxicated and incongruous citizens. I’ve observed how they console crime victims and their families. I’ve seen how they cope with the aftermath of criminal violence and man’s inhumanity to man. And I’ve come to appreciate their black humor, which like military humor, is a necessary safety valve to get them through the bad times.

I especially like to frequent cop bars during the holiday season and listen to cops at their very best. Some cops gather at bars after work to relax, drink and tell their stories. At this time of year, they are in very good spirits, a bit happier, a bit giddier and a bit more talkative.

Cops are generally in good spirits despite the fact that the holiday season is a busy one for them. It’s a sad commentary, but the holiday season is a peak time for crime.

Criminals certainly love the holiday season, but not for spiritual or sentimental reasons. It’s simply a time of grand opportunity. And criminals certainly don’t take a Christmas vacation. As joyous and hopeful people go out to worship, shop, dine and visit family and friends, criminal predators go out and pickpocket, shoplift, mug, steal and burglarize.

My recent columns in the local newspaper covered the annual Christmas crime spree and over the years I’ve reported on and chronicled a good number of crime stories during the holidays. I recall covering the story of a do-gooder delivering toys to needy families who was viciously assaulted and robbed. Another story concerned two kids playing with their Christmas gift, a paint ball gun, when an irate neighbor came out and shot them with a real gun.

One year while out on patrol with the cops, I came upon a young couple who had started out drinking and getting high for the holidays and ended up with one murdering the other. I once covered a story about a man with a car full of gifts who ran into a store for a pack of cigarettes. He came out to no car, no gifts and no Merry Christmas for him that year.

I’ve covered an assortment of other stories about armed robberies, thefts, purse snatchings and other crimes during the holidays as well.

Despite the crime and tragedies I’ve seen, I still love the Christmas season. I love the lights and decorations, the hustle and bustle and all of the trimmings. I love Christmas music and often sing along, although admittedly off-key.

This particular year, even more than others in the past, I was in very good spirits, having recently recovered from severe spine and nerve damage that crippled me and caused God-awful pain. I spent several months in the hospital and convalescing at home. I’ve suffered with a bad back for many years, dating back to my years as an amateur boxer and playing other sports, and as a young sailor working on a U.S. Navy tugboat and an aircraft carrier. The build-up of damage to my poor back finally took its toll and crippled me.

The doctors at the hospital ruled that I was not a surgical candidate, determining that any operation would be too risky. As I was deathly afraid of surgery, this diagnosis suited me fine. So they loaded me up with wonder drugs and placed me in physical therapy. The physical therapists, trained by Saddam Hussein’s secret police, I suspect, got me to my feet and ran me through a series of painful but ultimately beneficial exercises.

When I initially collapsed during the summer in my bedroom, I thought the searing pain in my groin and back was akin to being shot with a high-powered rifle. My wife called 911 and the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Rescue Paramedics rushed me to the hospital. Despite being in great pain, I managed to joke with the attending doctors and nurses that first night in the hospital.

This is the most painful day of my life, I told them - and I’ve been to Vietnam.

And I’m married.

And I have a teenage daughter.

I got a few laughs, which helped to lighten my pain, as I am a ham to the end. In addition to the fine medical professionals who cared for me, it was my wonderful wife and family - who were often the brunt of my jokes and asides – who helped me get through the worst time of my adult life.

Within the period of five months, I went from being bed-ridden in great pain, to twirling around the hospital halls in a wheelchair, to walking a few painful steps with a walker, to finally walking into a cop’s bar aided by a cane this fine Christmas season.

I’d recovered sufficiently enough to go out and stop by Johnny Drum’s Bar & Grill, a great little cop’s bar in South Philly. I had a lot to be thankful for this year and I visited Johnny’s place expecting to run into some lively characters that felt likewise.

I was somewhat disappointed to first encounter Sgt. John Snyder at the bar. Snyder was known as one mean cop. He was of average height, a bit stocky and had a large, pan-shaped head topped with thinning dark hair. He was an unhappy, gruff and miserable man. A cop once made the comment that Snyder "barked" rather than spoke.

I recall previous Christmas seasons when Snyder would be at the end of the bar by himself, miserly nursing his drink. In addition to being foul-tempered, Snyder was a notorious cheapskate.

"Merry Christmas, Ebenezer," I’d greet him in jest during those holiday visits. "Bah, humbug," he’d respond, playing along begrudgingly with my take on Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story, A Christmas Carol. I joked around, but in truth he was truly as mean-spirited as Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge.

Sgt. Snyder was widely known as "The Cop Who Busted Santa Claus." As the often-told story goes, Snyder pulled over a man dressed as Santa on Christmas Eve a few years back. Observing that the red-suited, false-bearded man was slightly inebriated, Snyder promptly placed him under arrest.

He slapped the handcuffs on the man and then had had his car towed. The tow truck took the car, despite the jolly old soul’s somewhat slurred pleas that his car – a modern-day sleigh - was full of toys destined for children at an orphanage. A crowd had gathered on the street and booed the police officer’s actions. He cursed them and threatened to lock them all up.

"And a Merry, Merry Christmas to you as well," one bystander sarcastically remarked.

More holiday-spirited police officials quickly released the man dressed as Santa. The man, outraged by his treatment, promptly called a TV station and told his story. The mayor, the police commissioner and other police brass were not happy with the lead news story run on Christmas Day. The national press picked up the story and this did not help Philadelphia’s image. "The Cop Who Busted Santa Claus" complemented an earlier story of Philadelphia sport fans pelting Santa with snowballs at a ball field.

A cop once told me that Snyder had him out walking on South Street on a very cold and windy Christmas Eve night. Snyder sternly ordered the beat cop not to hang out in a store, sucking up heat, coffee and merriment. Of course, the cop quickly escaped the bitter wind and cold and stepped into a shoe store for hot chocolate and conversation with the store owner and customers.

When the cop looked out through the store window and saw Snyder’s car roll down South Street, he stepped out and stood in front of the store, shivering. "Have you been hiding in a store?" Sgt. Snyder barked. "No, of course not" the cop told him. "Although it is really cold out here, Sarge."

Snyder placed his bare hand on the cop’s badge and found the metal to be nearly as warm as the hot chocolate in the beat cop’s stomach.

The chastened police officer told every cop, everybody, the story. "Do you believe it? The SOB chewed me out on Christmas Eve!"

There were also tales of Snyder locking up kids whose only crime was being merry. Sgt. Snyder was a one-man crime-fighting machine during the holiday season, targeting not thieves and crooks, but rather the people whose only crime was to be too joyous.

To his credit, he still talked to me despite the two negative stories I wrote about him in the past. One of my columns covered "The Cop Who Busted Santa Claus" and I wrote another that dealt with Snyder’s arrest of a honeymooning couple who were visiting the Italian Market. Their crime? The happy couple, who were married on Christmas Eve, asked the good sergeant to pose with them for a photo. He didn’t like their attitude and placed them under arrest for disorderly conduct.

But this year, as I approached him at the bar, I saw that Snyder was clearly a changed man. Over a few drinks, he told me why.

A day earlier the gruff sergeant responded to the call of a residential burglary. The victim told the responding officers that among the stolen valuables were his military awards and other mementos of the Iraq War. He told Snyder that he had just returned from Iraq as a medically discharged soldier due to combat wounds.

"Who’d steal this stuff?" he asked Snyder. "Who would steal children’s toys at Christmas?"

The burglars stole the gift-wrapped presents from under the Christmas tree. The young former soldier was saddened by the loss of his gifts to his wife and children. He said he was not insured and he could not afford to buy new gifts. Snyder, the well-known mean, jaded and cynical cop, was truly touched by this young veteran who had just returned from war.

Snyder felt empathy for someone for the first time in many years. He thought back to his own return from Vietnam so many years before. He recalled how he then yearned to become a cop. He also yearned to marry his high school sweetheart and to have kids with her. He accomplished all that he set out to do, and now, in the midst of a crime scene, he wondered why it had all soured for him.

He marriage suffered from his penny-pinching, his chronic petty complaints, and his foul temper. His wife finally drew up the courage to throw him out of the house one night after he came home drunk, mean and violent. He would never hit her or the kids, he assured me, but he often gave the inanimate objects in the house a real good beating.

The kids, grown now and on their own, rarely spoke to him. He thought of them as he watched the veteran’s children. The sight of these kids, sitting close together on the couch, perhaps wondering if the crooks would come back, if Santa were coming now, or whether Jesus still loved them, broke Snyder’s heart.

Snyder made the rounds of the local veteran’s organizations the next day and told the story of the veteran who had been victimized. He collected a good bit of money from the veterans, from his fellow police officers and he personally donated a large sum himself. Having secured the list of stolen items from South Detectives, he ventured to the stores and purchased nearly all of the stolen items.

He also called his wife, sweet-talked her, told her he was a changed man and asked her to accompany him when, like Santa Claus, he would deliver the replacement gifts to the veteran and his family.

He was truly beaming as he told me this Christmas crime story. I had never seen him smile before.

He told me how the veteran’s kids were so happy they cried. The veteran was embarrassed, but thankful. Snyder explained that his fellow veterans and the local cops wanted to help him and his family.

By helping the veteran, Snyder recalled the true meaning of Christmas. He felt the joy of giving and of goodness and loving - even in a cruel and sometimes evil world.

"I have to run," he said, finishing up his story and beer, "I’m celebrating Christmas with my wife, my kids and all of my grand kids."

Before he left, Snyder, to everyone’s astonishment but mine, bought a round for the house.

"Merry Christmas to one and all," he barked.

FBI: 30 Years Later, Still Actively Seeking Justice In The Bombing Of Pan Am Flight 103

The FBI offers a piece on the bombing of Pan Am Flight  103.

Most Americans were awakened to the reality of terrorism on September 11, 2001, but more than a decade earlier, a few days before Christmas in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, bound to New York from London and carrying mainly U.S. citizens, was blown out of the sky by a terrorist bomb over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.
In all, 270 souls perished. On board the aircraft were citizens of 21 countries, including 189 Americans. On the ground, 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed when the plane’s burning wings plunged into a quiet neighborhood just after dinner. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, children as young as 2 months old, and college students returning home from a study abroad program lost their lives in what was the largest terrorist attack in American history until 9/11.
The bombing, believed to be carried out by Libyan intelligence officers in retaliation for U.S. actions against then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was a transformative event for the FBI, one that changed the way the Bureau investigates terrorism and assists victims of crimes.
You can read the rest of the piece and view photos and videos via the below link:

Friday, December 14, 2018

My Washington Times Review Of The James Bond Continuation Novel, 'Forever And A Day'

The Washington Times ran my review of Anthony Horowtiz’s James Bond continuation novel, Forever and a Day.

I’m not fond of continuation novels, as some writers, like Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have a unique style that truly can’t be imitated. But I understand that the authors' iconic characters, Philip Marlowe, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, are so popular that their many loyal readers want to read more about them, just as they enjoy watching the characters portrayed on TV and on film.

Anthony Horowitz, the author of 40 novels, including two Sherlock Holmes continuation novels, and the creator of the TV series “Foyle’s War,” which I liked very much, is the latest writer to offer a James Bond continuation novel, following Kingsley Amis, John Pearson, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks.

The late Kingsley Amis, author of “Lucky Jim,” wrote the James Bond continuation novel “Colonel Sun” in 1968. Mr. Amis was an admirer of Ian Fleming and he wrote of the “Fleming Effect,” which he called the fusion of a vivid imagination with an air of authority that swiftly carries the reader along on fantastic stories that Ian Fleming himself called “improbable but not impossible.”

I don’t believe Mr. Horowitz captured the Fleming Effect, but he comes close.

I was weaned on Ian Fleming as a preteen and teenager. I devoured his novels about the British secret agent with the license to kill. I loved Mr. Fleming’s description of exotic places, people and products. I also loved his unforgettable characters, such as villains like Goldfinger and Blofeld, women like Domino and Honeychile, and James Bond’s friends, like Felix Leiter and Darko Kerim. James Bond fought the good fight against Soviet killers, international criminals and malicious madmen. Ian Fleming’s novels are far darker and much more complicated than the films and I’ve reread the thrillers a good number of times over the years.

Mr. Horowitz penned an earlier James Bond continuation novel called “Trigger Mortis.” Like that novel, “Forever and a Day” was commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate and contains original material from the late Mr. Fleming. Utilizing his ideas and unpublished story notes is a good idea and a good hook.

A portion of “Forever and a Day” is based on an outline Ian Fleming wrote for an American TV series that never came to be. I wish that he had expanded more on the outline, but most of the novel is an original story crafted by Mr. Horowitz.

In this novel, which takes place in the 1950s in a prequel to Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale,” 007 is killed right off. No, not James Bond. The man killed is the holder of the 007 code name that James Bond takes on as he is ordered to investigate the murder of the previous 007 in Marseille, France. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Thursday, December 13, 2018

FBI Released 2017 NIBRS Crime Data

The FBI released information on more than 6 million criminal offenses submitted to its National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) last year, as law enforcement nationwide continues transitioning to the more informative crime reporting system.
Because of its more detailed data collection, NIBRS is set to become the national standard for crime reporting in 2021. It offers more context and allows law enforcement agencies to use resources more strategically to prevent and combat crime.
In 2017, 6,998 law enforcement agencies reported data to NIBRS. About 42 percent of law enforcement agencies who participate in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program are now submitting their crime data to NIBRS, with the goal of completing the transition to NIBRS by 2021.
In his introductory message for last year’s UCR reports, FBI Director Christopher Wray touted the benefits of NIBRS. “We want to have greater transparency and accountability in policing. One way to get there is by improving the data,” Wray said. “That data will give us a more complete picture of what’s really going on in our communities and allow us to do what we need to do to keep people safe.”
Highlights from NIBRS, 2017 include:
  • Data from 2017 contained information on about 5.4 million incidents with 6,290,042 criminal offenses.
  • Of the reported offenses, 61 percent were crimes against property, 23 percent were crimes against persons, and 16 percent were crimes against society (such as animal cruelty).
  • Of the 4,524,968 individuals who were victims of crimes, 23.4 percent were between 21 and 30 years old.
  • A little more than half of crime victims were female, while 48 percent of victims were male.
  • More than half (52.2 percent) of victims knew their offenders (or at least one of their offenders if there were more than one) but were not related to them.
  • Nearly a quarter (24.4 percent) of crime victims were related to the offender.
  • The data showed there were 5,266,175 known offenders (meaning at least one characteristic about the person is known, such as age, gender, or race).
  • Of the known offenders, 41.9 percent were between the ages of 16 and 30.
  • The majority of known criminals (62.4 percent) were men, and 25.5 percent were women.
More NIBRS data is available in the NIBRS interactive map and in the Crime Data Explorer (CDE) tool. The CDE is an interactive tool that allows the public to more easily use and understand crime data through a variety of interactive features, such as tailored reports and the ability to build web applications.
To learn more about the FBI’s transition to NIBRS, visit fbi.gov/nibrs

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Social Security Administration Inpector General Warns Public About Fraudulent Phone Calls Threatening Arrest Or Legal Action

Andrew Cannarsa, the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of Inspector General Communications Director, offers a warning about telephone impersonation schemes.

The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is urging citizens to remain vigilant of telephone impersonation schemes that exploit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) reputation and authority.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) continues to receive reports from across the country about fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to be from SSA.  Recent reports have indicated that unknown callers are using increasingly threatening language in these calls.  The callers state, due to improper or illegal activity with a citizen’s Social Security number (SSN) or account, a citizen will be arrested or face other legal action if they fail to call a provided phone number to address the issue.  This is a scam; citizens should not engage with these calls or provide any personal information.

SSA employees do contact citizens, generally those who have ongoing business with SSA, by telephone for customer-service purposes.  However, SSA employees will never threaten you for information; they will not state that you face potential arrest or other legal action if you fail to provide information.  In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up.

“Unfortunately, scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people, including scaring them into thinking that something is wrong with their Social Security account and they might be arrested,” Stone said.  “I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence.  We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens, so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves.

The OIG recently warned that some of these impersonation calls have “spoofed” SSA’s national customer service phone number, displaying 1-800-772-1213 as the incoming number on caller ID.

The Acting Inspector General urges citizens to be extremely cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it.  If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, you should report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Baby, Its Still Cold Outside: Dean Martin’s Daughter Says She Will Continue To Sing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ After Song Was Pulled From Ohio Station

Stephanie Nolasco at FoxNews.com offers a piece on Dean Martin’s daughter’s reaction to the banning of the Christmas song her father popularized, Baby, It’s Cold Outside.  

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” might be getting an icy reception these days, but Dean Martin’s daughter told Fox News she’s not going to stop singing the classic in front of audiences.

“’Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is a cute, flirtatious and romantic song written by Frank Loesser in 1944,” Deana Martin told Fox News.

It won the Oscar for ‘Best Original Song’ in the 1949 film ‘Neptune’s Daughter.’ It’s been recorded by dozens of the world’s top recording artists for over 60 years, including my dad Dean Martin… This song is included in his very successful 1959 ‘Winter Romance’ album and I’m very proud that it has become an evergreen favorite that is played every holiday season.”

“I personally love performing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ and will continue to do so,” added the fellow performer, 70. “Merry Christmas!”

Dean died at age 78 in 1995 from acute respiratory failure. And since then, Deana has never stopped sharing her father’s legacy on stage to new, curious listeners.

“I’m always thinking about dad, what he went through in his life and how the world has changed,” she previously told Fox News in 2017. “He was a sweet, generous man who would just get up and do his thing.”

The song sparked controversy during the holiday season when a radio station in Ohio pulled it from its lineup after a listener expressed concern over the holiday song’s lyrics.

According to Fox 8, WDOK Christmas 102.1 removed the tune after one listener called the radio station and suggested it’s not appropriate to play the 1940’s classic in 2018.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

And you can listen to Dino sing the song via the below link: 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Tis The Season For Christmas Songs: Why I Love Christmas Carols

Christmas carols are being aired on a good number of radio stations now and I hear the usual complaints of it being too early for Christmas carols and how some people truly hate the holiday music. A few years back I had tried to answer these seasonal complaints with a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer on why I love Christmas carols. You can read the piece below:   

Note: Above is the cover of a CD my daughter Brittany bought me a few years back. The CD offers some great, classic Christmas carols.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Inside Europe's Most Powerful Mafia -- The 'Ndrangheta

Tim Lister at cnn.com offers a piece on the ‘Ndrangheta, seen as the most powerful organized crime group in Europe.
(CNN) Back in 2010, Domenico Oppedisano was often seen taking his fruit to market in the town of Rosarno in southern Italy, chugging around in his three-wheeled van. But the 80-year old had another job: he was 'chairman of the board' of Italy's most powerful mafia group -- the 'Ndrangheta.
This week, police in four European countries carried out raids on the ‘Ndrangheta’s sprawling empire of money-laundering and drug-trafficking, arresting 90 people. They described "Operation Pollino" -- two years in the making - as a "decisive strike against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world."

The operation took place the day after the alleged head, or "godfather," of the Sicilian mafia, known as Cosa Nostra, was arrested with 46 other people in the Palermo region of Italy on mafia charges.

But Oppedisano, now in jail after being arrested eight years ago, may not be impressed. The 'Ndrangheta has been the target of raids and even US Treasury sanctions for well over a decade. And yet it has entrenched its dominance of the cocaine trade, forging links with organized crime groups in Latin America, New York, Turkey and Albania. 

Mafia watchers estimate its turnover is probably in the range of about $60 billion a year -- similar to the GDP of Croatia or Bulgaria. And it may control as much as 80% of the cocaine entering Europe.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, December 7, 2018

Go Navy! Army Navy Game 2018

In the above DoD photo Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan offers a high five with the Navy football team during a pep rally at the Pentagon, Dec. 6, 2018. 

And in the below photo one sees a little support for the Navy team from the fleet.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2018: The USS Kitty Hawk Sails Past The Pearl Harbor Memorial In 1970

In the above photo the USS Kitty Hawk is sailing past the Pearl Harbor Memorial in 1970. I was aboard the aircraft carrier that year.

Pearl Harbor Day: Remembering My Late Father, Edward Miller Davis

Every December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, I think of my late father, Edward Miller Davis, who died on this day in 1976. He was 57.
My brother Eddie and I noted at the time that he would have liked to have passed on December 7th, as he was a proud World War II Navy veteran. 

He was a chief Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogman and fought in the Pacific battles on Tinian, Saipan and the Philippines. 

Below is a photo of my father (in the center) with his team, UDT 5:  

Below is a statue of a UDT frogman in front of the UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, where my father and the original UDT trained during WWII:

Below is a photo of my father and my late mother, Claire Wardino Davis:

Below is a photo of my father, me and my older brother Eddie:

And below is a photo of me and my father when I came home from Navy Boot Camp in 1970: