Monday, September 15, 2014

Should The LAPD Use Drones?

Dragonfly Drone 
Los Angeles, CA—Let me be the first to say that I find the increasing militarization and spying by police repugnant.  Government at every level is out-of-control.
Today there is a demonstration in progress at City Hall protesting the use of two small multi-rotor drones in possession of the LAPD.  This group is uninformed and unfamiliar with the limitations of these devices also called unmanned aerial vehicles. 
I suspect these demonstrators are confusing these drones with the much larger, multi-million dollar weaponized drones used by or military in combat zones.
However there are substantial benefits of our first responders using multi-rotor drones to deal with instances such as common disasters, searches for lost people and potentially dangerous animals on the loose in neighborhoods.  The diminutive drones can more safely enter tighter spaces than any helicopter.
As a camera drone pilot, former cop and licensed private investigator let me be the first to say the drones just are not helpful for spying. 
The drones don’t stay in the air for more than 20 minutes because of battery limitations and they can only carry smaller cameras.
Getting identifiable pictures of people with those drones is nearly impossible unless the drone is within a few yards of it’s target.
Capturing conversations is another impossibility because of the sound of the motors and prop wash.
Conventional helicopters and the technology of special cameras and other devices is a far superior surveillance tool.  The little multi-rotor drones simply can’t carry the weight of that kind of equipment.
In the case of a fire, earthquake, tsunami, floods or any natural disaster the drone are already proven lifesavers.  Victims needing rescue can be located.  Damage surveys can be made so that needed resources can be quickly allocated.
The benefits of first responders being able to deploy drones in emergency situations far outweigh their possible abuse. 
Here is drone video of a recent flood:

Friday, September 05, 2014

Are $8.00 McRib Mystery Meat Sandwiches and Pink Slimeburgers in your future?

Chicago, IL—Those fast food workers seeking unionization and a $15.00 per hour minimum wage are incredibly delusional.  Frankly if they were smart enough to figure out the folly of the efforts they’d not be working in fast food! 
Fast food appeals to Americans because it’s cheap and fast.  Unionization will kill this necessary industry along with the jobs and some needed training workers are currently enjoying.
Flipping burgers was never meant to be a career but a stepping-stone.  Getting a job at one of the many fast food chains is suited for young people just starting out in the workforce.  
These jobs may also suitable for some retirees supplementing social security and to stay useful in declining years.  An entry-level job in fast food is anything but a suitable career goal.
If burger flippers were paid as skilled workers they would never have incentive to learn and move on to become more valuable to our workforce.
Let’s talk about the fast food products.  Fast food is generally minimally acceptable for healthy diets.  This is the rock bottom of nutrition.  Pink slime and pressed mystery meat processing has made unsalable meat products somewhat acceptable at least in looks.  In the end most of it's really crap.  
Our nation has rapidly declined and is spiraling into joining the Third World.  A $15.00 per hour minimum wage will certainly kill jobs along with important incentive for workers to gain better skills.
The poverty that fast food workers complain about is exactly why fast food is popular.   The poor cannot afford to eat at the sit-down restaurants where burgers are better and cost $8.00. 
Even our middle class has to settle for cheap meals at least part of the time.  Paying for the kid’s braces or gas for the car means more visits to the Taco-Bell for meals. 
If the demands of some fast food workers are met they will actually suffer more than ever.  Not only will their employers shut down but also they will no longer have meals they can afford.
In the end it will be fast food workers that suffer the most with a boost in the minimum wage.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Is This Tyranny or Reasonable Government Regulation Needed For Public Safety?

Chase Culpepper 
Anderson, SC-- Chase Culpepper is an ordinary 16 year-old and like millions his age it’s time to apply for a driver’s license.
Well it turns out that Chase is not exactly ordinary but a male that apparently identifies as a female.  That may bring discomfort to a lot of people but not Chase or his mother.  He dresses as a girl and looks the part.
The lad completed and submitted the license application and passed both the written and actual driving test.  Now it was time to stand before the camera for that driver’s license photo. 
The motor vehicle clerk could not help but notice Culpepper’s face adorned with cosmetics and his application indicates he is male.  There is apparently a departmental directive that prohibits applicants from wearing a disguise.  Ignorance and the clerk's rather nasty attitude took over and the boy was told to wash his makeup off or not get a driver’s license.
The make up was no disguise like a fake beard, wig or mask.  The makeup did not really alter Culpepper’s appearance.  The other factor was that the lad like many girls did not want to be caught in public without it. 
The boy buckled to the clerk and washed his face but frankly with his blond tresses and female attire he still did not look much like a boy.  The license was issued. 
That’s not the end of this tale because the boy and his mother felt this action by the clerk was both discriminatory and insulting.  They have unsuccessfully demanded a new photo with the makeup. 
The argument here is quite simple.  Culpepper wears makeup all the time and without it he may appear different. He is who he is.
The funny part about this is that women are routinely seen in public with and without makeup and they for the most part are readily recognized as the same person. 
I think it’s fair to say if this were a woman not wearing makeup that same clerk would have thought nothing about taking the photo and issuing the license.
This was not about concern of a disguise but an effort to exercise a bogus authority over the young gender bender.  Pretending this was really out of concern for some kind of identity fraud to fool cops during a traffic stop is laughable.  
I guess we have forgotten that photos never appeared on our driver’s licenses until the late 1970s!  We had the photo technology for many decades before that but did not bother to use it!   
When did we give government the power to tell us how to dress, wear our hair or use makeup?  The answer is we did not! 
This was really about a clerk’s personal disapproval of Culpepper’s lifestyle.  You may not agree with Culpepper or his approving mother but when did we ever allow government to get involved in absolutely every aspect of our lifestyles?     
The motor vehicle clerk involved was unreasonable, petty and abusive.  Culpepper should get a new photograph the way he actually appears every day.  
Young Culpepper has since found a lawyer and filed a lawsuit.  As usual the taxpayers will get punished for the misdeeds of government officials.  
This is not about a lifestyle or morality but simple government tyranny. 
There is a way to end this kind of abuse and that's to strip government workers of the personal immunity that we mistakenly have given them. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

American Justice and Star Chamber Proceedings. It’s Time to Reform or Scrap The Grand Jury System!

Dr. Roland Frisler, the late President of The People's Court of Germany
Phoenix, AZ—I have my own personal quote about the American justice system.  “If justice happens it’s usually by accident and for all the wrong reasons.”  After 40 years inside the system this is how I view the reality of Criminal Justice.
Pictured above is Dr. Roland Frisler, the late President of The People’s Court of Germany.  He’s an example of pretend justice somewhat similar to what we did in our own infamous Salem Witch Trials. 
The Star Chamber was an English court of law that sat at the royal Palace of Westminster from the late 15th century until 1641.  They were set up as a secret court for dealing with “special people” that they could not convict in the other courts. 
Judicial tyranny always develops anywhere that people take freedom and fairness for granted.  
Arizona has a thriving Death Row.  Some are there because they deserve it and others are there as a result of absolute tyranny.  Innocents will perish along with the guilty.
Our need for retribution and revenge seems to always outgun our sense of fairness and justice.  A simple arrest and TV news story is enough proof for most people these days.
We’ve seem to have forgotten that we fought many wars in this young nation to insure liberty, freedom and fair trials.  Our cemeteries our filled with young men and women that gave their lives so we’d not have Star Chamber Justice in America. 
Debra Milke,  the young Phoenix mother who was condemned to the gas chamber is first in my mind when it comes a judicial horror story.  Milke was held in solitary confinement for nearly 24 years waiting to be put to death under color of law even though she was innocent.  Milke was sentenced to death because on the lies of a serial perjurer that just happened to be a cop. 
In thousands of less notable cases lives and families were destroyed by our evil and corrupt judicial system.  People are wrongly accused, tried and bankrupted even when they are ultimately acquitted.
At the state and local level prosecutors use and abuse the Grand Jury system to force trials without actual Probable Cause. 
A Grand Jury True Bill or Indictment is considered a legal finding of Probable Cause that a crime occurred and that the accused probably committed it.  
The most mind-numbing part of the Grand Jury system is that defense lawyers are not allowed to participate in the proceedings or even be present.  What happens in the Grand Jury Room is always a closely protected secret.
Prosecutors are free to either soft pedal a case preventing a deserved Indictment or to simply railroad anyone they wish.  By the way prosecutors enjoy legal immunity for their misconduct! 
The fact is that there is a somewhat cynical saying by lawyers, “Any prosecutor worth his salt can indict a ham sandwich.”  This is by no means an exaggeration. 
A Grand Jury consists of 23 people and at least 12 must agree on any Indictment or True Bill.
The Grand Jury has immense powers of investigation.  They can subpoena any person or document they wish for examination.  Prosecutors can’t prevent this but the people chosen for the Grand Jury are too ignorant or timid to do their sworn duty! 
The problem is the Grand Jurors are led through the cases by prosecutors that always steer them away from doing the things they were empowered to do! 
If a defense attorney were allowed to be present in these proceedings he or she would ask them to use their power to investigate and bring in the evidence and witnesses.  Disallowing defense lawyers is where fairness fails.
Rather then hear from witness that the Grad Jurors are free to cross-examine they simply allow prosecutors to put a cop or two before them to tell us what they remember that the real witnesses told them!  Of course the cops nearly always only remember the things the prosecutor wants to hear.
If the Grand Jury really investigated these cases there would be far fewer indictments and false convictions.  Instead prosecutors play a game of keeping the Grand Jury in the dark as they indict anyone they wish.
If you’re accused in an indictment of a crime of course you may still be acquitted at trial.  The problem is by the time you are tried in the one to three years later you will be bankrupted, fired from your job, divorced and homeless. 
Except in Florida there is no government compensation for your legal fees or bail. 
The cure?  Eliminate the Grand Jury and use Preliminary Hearings as a sort of a mini-trial.  Allow the defense attorneys to subpoena documents an hear the actual witnesses testify under oath. 
If we are to retain the Grand Jury system, defense lawyers must be allowed to participate as an equal to the prosecutor. 
Secret Courts and our present Grand Jury system are un-American and just plain wrong.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Music Copyright Infringement Dilemma is Troubling, There Must be a Solution!

Los Angeles, CA—Like most of my blog visitors I love music.  I have my favorites from Gershwin to The Doors.  The artists that have entertained me deserve all of the reward for their work.  Every musical recording is a labor involving numerous people that worked so hard to create.
The music industry exists because of intellectual property rights.  Without these rights so many of the hits we enjoy everyday may never have pleased our ears.
My video host YouTube has settled most copyright issues with the use of music within the USA.  Advertising and iTunes links have solved many of the problems.
There was also a surprising discovery made by the copyright holders in the form of increased sales when a video featuring their products was popular legitimate sales of the music increased too.  Old forgotten hits suddenly were reanimated into moneymaking popularity once again!
As many of my visitors know I’m into the camera drone technology.  My drones shoot amazing video but the natural sound is the annoying sound of the whirling rotors and motors.  I must replace the soundtrack with music or a voiceover.  Music is the obvious choice. 
There is lots of copyright free music out there but most of it sucks in a big way.  Of course I want to use my favorite material. The problem is that my videos are blocked out in Europe because of unresolved copyright issues.
I want so much to share some great music that matches the videos.  I’d be willing to pay a reasonable fee for the privilege to have these videos seen worldwide. 
I have many friends in Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands where I can’t share these videos. 
I will give you two examples.
While I was in Carmel By The Sea I sent my drone up over the beach for the soundtrack I used my favorite actress on the planet.  She  is a multi-talented Dutch lady, Carice van Houten.  She sang this classic 1930’s American song in her terrific film, Black Book called 100 Years From Today. 
Late this summer I was asked to shot a scene in the Palmdale desert for a film for my film director friend, Pablo Lewin.  The film is in post production right now and I’m not sure what Pablo has in mind for the soundtrack covering my shot.
Pablo gave me permission to show this scene on YouTube and I immediately knew the music I wanted to use!  It’s from the film Baghdad Café but is sung by Patti LuPone and is called, Calling You.   How perfect it was! 
There has to be a way to solve this problem. 
Needless to say my European friends will not be able to see these.  
 Carmel By The Sea
The Palmdale Desert Scene:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Suddenly I Love Miley Cyrus!

Los Angeles, CA—At the 2014 MTV VMA Award Show Miley Cyrus showed that she has a special side. 
Miley brought a somewhat troubled 22 year-old homeless fellow to the Awards show.  The lad, Jesse Helt accepted Miley’s award on her behalf reading from a prepared note.  
It turns out Helt’s wanted on some minor misdemeanor charges in Oregon typically associated with homeless and troubled kids. 
I can’t imagine an incredibly wealthy young lady making a rescue of a potentially salvageable young man.  I hope she follows through to get him educated, productive and self-sufficient. 
I also hope Miley get’s Helt a lawyer and help him get his Oregon troubles behind him.
Miley is taking a risk for sure with Helt.  He could embarrass her and actually damage her career. 
On the other hand growing up as a dirt poor Chicago kid I can really appreciate Helt’s troubled life.  I was drafted for the Viet Nam war luckily avoiding combat.  Upon discharge I was a cop at 22, but I had a little luck and somehow avoided Helt’s difficulties. It was not easy!
Just because I escaped a criminal record and spent nine years as a struggling part-time college student does not mean I could not have hit the pavement hard just like Helt.  
I’d rather been in some college dorm and later gotten help through medical school then being a cop and later private eye.  Or perhaps I could have musical or other show business education so I too could entertain like Miley. 
It never happened to me.  Now, I’m living vicariously through Jesse Helt.  I hope he appreciates Miley’s efforts and makes her really proud.  The odds are against it but only time will tell.  This should be a dream come true for Helt.
Helt can now succeed beyond his wildest dreams and I’m truly happy to see Helt’s incredible opportunity. 
As for Miley Cirus, suddenly I love her for looking out for the less fortunate people in our world and trying to make a difference.  Miley is one brave lady.  I pray for the very best of both of them.