07-06-2020  1:03 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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Portland Black Community Frustrated as Violence Mars Protests

Black leaders condemn violence from small group of mostly-white activists as Rose City Justice suspends nightly marches

Protester Dies After Car Hits Two on Closed Freeway

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died and Taylor and Diaz Love of Portland were injured. The driver, Dawit Kelete has been arrested

Police Union Contract Extended, Bargaining to Continue

Negotiations will resume in January 2021.

Inslee Heckled Off Stage During Tri-Cities Appearance

Speaking outdoors in Eastern Washington, the governor was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he urged residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


Trump Blows His Twitter Dog Whistle on America’s Fair Housing Policies in the Suburbs

The president could be Tweeting on unemployment or COVID-19 infections but instead pushes housing discrimination ...

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Awards Historic $100,000 Founders' Centennial Scholarship

Zeta celebrates 100 years with largest single recipient scholarship awarded by a historically Black Greek-lettered sorority or...

Nominations Being Accepted for the Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award

Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1994 to honor Multnomah County residents who have contributed outstanding...

Shatter, LLC Launches to Elevate Diverse Voices in Progressive Politics

A collaboration of leading female political strategists aims to fill a void in the world of political consulting ...

New Director Takes Helm at Oregon Black Pioneers

In its 27-year history, the organization has never had an executive director, and has expressed confidence and optimism in Zachary A....

Story of 2 families emerges after stone found in lake

EVELETH, Minn. (AP) — World War II veteran Laurie Rudolph Heikkila, a native of Embarrass, was laid to rest in the town’s East Pike Cemetery more than 30 years ago. A footstone there marks his grave.So, why did a grave marker engraved with his name emerge recently at the end of a...

Amid pandemic, fewer students seek federal aid for college

The number of high school seniors applying for U.S. federal college aid plunged in the weeks following the sudden closure of school buildings this spring — a time when students were cut off from school counselors, and families hit with financial setbacks were reconsidering plans for higher...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...


Editorial From the Publisher: Vote as Your Life Depends on It

The Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, no matter how hard Oregon’s senators and others work to push for change. ...

Banana Republic or Constitutional Democracy? The US Military May Decide

Will the military, when and if the chips are down, acts in accord with the Constitution and not out of loyalty to its commander-in-chief? ...

To Save Black Lives, and the Soul of Our Nation, Congress Must Act Boldly

For too long, Black people in America have been burdened with the unjust responsibility of keeping ourselves safe from police. ...

Racial Inequalities - Black America Has Solutions; White America Won't Approve Them

The problem is we have to secure approval of the solutions from the people who deny the problem's existence while reaping the benefits from it. ...


'Lift Every Voice and Sing' hymn ignites hope across nation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Black national anthem was born more than a century ago, but the popular hymn within the African American community called “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has resurrected a beacon of hope during nationwide protests.In recent weeks, countless rallies were held...

Damian Lillard emerges from shutdown ready for playoff push

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Grieving the death of a cousin and missing his mother, Damian Lillard struggled emotionally after the NBA shut down because of the coronavirus. But he also found inspiration in his activism for Black Lives Matter and his flourishing music career. The Trail Blazers were...

1 ad, 3 accents: How Democrats aim to win Latino votes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Spanish-language ads for Joe Biden used the same slogan to contrast him with President Donald Trump — “los cuentos no pagan las cuentas,” a play on words that roughly means “telling stories won't pay the bills.”But the narrator for the...


Hugh Downs, genial presence on TV news and game shows, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Hugh Downs, the genial, versatile broadcaster who became one of television’s most familiar and welcome faces with more than 15,000 hours on news, game and talk shows, has died at age 99.Downs died of natural causes at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, said...

Review: A master class by Catherine Deneuve in 'The Truth'

Family may be the great subject of Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, but he doesn't draw straightforward portraits. In Kore-eda's hands, family is more malleable. He tends to shift roles around like he's rearranging furniture, subtly remaking familiar dynamics until he has, without you knowing...

Union tells actors not to work on pandemic film 'Songbird'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The union that represents film actors told its members Thursday not to work on the upcoming pandemic thriller “Songbird,” saying the filmmakers have not been up-front about safety measures and had not signed the proper agreements for the movie that is among...


Thais bid addio to theater where they fell in love with film

BANGKOK (AP) — If Hollywood is where dreams are made, Bangkok’s Scala theater for the past 51 years...

Amid pandemic, fewer students seek federal aid for college

The number of high school seniors applying for U.S. federal college aid plunged in the weeks following the sudden...

Spaghetti Western movie composer Ennio Morricone dead at 91

ROME (AP) — Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who created the coyote-howl theme for the iconic Spaghetti...

Tokyo governor, Abe say they'll cooperate on virus, Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo’s governor and her political rival, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, agreed...

Bucking China pressure, Taiwan, Somaliland establish ties

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan has scored a rare diplomatic victory in establishing relations with the...

Thais bid addio to theater where they fell in love with film

BANGKOK (AP) — If Hollywood is where dreams are made, Bangkok’s Scala theater for the past 51 years...

Asha Dumonthier New America Media

SAN FRANCISCO –While drones have played an increasingly prominent role in America's military and surveillance operations – at home and abroad – lesser known is the growing use of this new technology in civilian life. Some of these applications are far less sinister than one might expect.

For Jason Lam, owner of San Francisco's first personal drone shop, the aerial crafts could just be the latest and most exciting wave in the field of digital photography.

Walk down 6th Street in San Francisco, an area long blighted but fast becoming a hub of tech entrepreneurialism, and you could easily miss AeriCam. The modest exterior houses an array of remotely-operated vehicles that, as the name suggests, promise a bird's eye view for photographers.

"One day these could be something that all photographers use," says Lam, pointing to the radio controlled helicopters that line his studio, which like a lot of the other tech startups in the area has a casual, creative flare to it. A sort of tinkerer's paradise, the store is part office, part creative suite and part living space.

Soft spoken and impeccably polite, Lam moved with his family from China to the San Francisco Bay Area when he was ten years old. A lover of photography, he become a commercial fashion photographer soon after college and moved to New York. While pursuing a successful career working for companies such as Coca Cola, he picked up the hobby of flying radio-controlled helicopters and became eager to try aerial photography. Interested in mechanical gizmos, he began attaching small cell phone cameras to his flying toys to get aerial photographs.

Six years later, the 34 year old left his fashion photography career behind. He now runs AeriCam out of the San Francisco shop where he sells his inventions for $12,500 a pop. His most popular "Hexacopter" model is about 3 feet by 3 feet and takes substantial training to use.

"People seem to really need these close range, aerial shots. When I was a kid I always wanted something that could fly and film in the air so I'm sure a lot of people out there have that same fascination," says Lam.

His customers are professional photographers and videographers, mostly men in their late 20's, who see the radio-controlled "helicams" as fun tools that can add a new dimension to their work. After only three years in business, Lam has customers flying in from as far as Istanbul to get their hands on their own drone.

"There are only three or four start-ups in the country like ours that have been around for a few years. But there are probably hundreds that have very recently started because this industry is getting big."

Indeed it is. A new study shows that the worldwide market for drones will total $89 billion over the next decade, with buyers extending well beyond the military. In the past year alone, energy companies, journalists and private individuals have begun purchasing and making use of drones. 

This week experts and industry insiders are gathering in Washington to share the latest advances in drone technology. The event comes as America's drone war has begun to heat up again.

After suggesting in May that he may curtail the U.S. drone program, President Obama has since launched 16 separate strikes over Pakistan and Yemen, where 12 suspected militants were killed in three separate attacks on Thursday. As Foreign Policy Magazine recently declared, "The Drone War is Back."

The CIA began using drones in the last decade in international counterterrorism operations – the agency claims their drones have killed more than 600 militants -- attacking targets in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The number of civilian casualties is unclear, though estimates put the figure at close to 150.

More recently, the use of drones in domestic surveillance programs has caused a stir among those who say the technology poses an even greater threat to Fourth Amendment and Americans' right to privacy.

As a result, domestic drone legislation has become a key focus in many states during the last year. More than 30 states have adopted or are considering bills to limit what drones can do, where they can fly and what types of data they can collect. Six states have passed bills that "require law enforcement to get a probable cause warrant before using a drone in an investigation," according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Many citizens are concerned about due process as they see local police departments purchasing and using drones.

Lam, however, is more sanguine about his work.

"Its nothing to be afraid of," he insists. For his part, Lam says his crafts don't stay in the air long enough for surveillance. "They're built for stability," he explains, the kind needed to ensure there's no camera shake to ruin a potentially winning shot.

Lam also takes a less alarmist view regarding concerns about drones more pernicious applications. "Like all knowledge, you can use it for good or bad. Instead of fearing the technology it's about regulating it and using it for the better."

Currently, there are few regulations governing the use of low altitude drones, meaning Lam's customers can fly their crafts pretty much anywhere. Still, Lam says he advises them to never fly a drone out of eyesight, and never directly above people, for safety reasons.

Lam, who as a child dreamed of flying, says he's optimistic about the industry's future, and hopes one day to help make this technology both more affordable and accessible, even for children.

"It's just a little camera. In the wrong hands I could see the danger, but for the most part it's all good."

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