12-12-2019  12:44 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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Puget Soundkeeper and Waste Action Project Send Notice of Intent to Sue to Ardagh Glass

Violations listed include illegal discharges into the Duwamish River, failure to collect stormwater samples and failure to install required treatment systems

San Francisco Aims to Rein in Tests of Tech Ideas on Streets

Entrepreneurs would not be allowed to test their products in San Francisco's public space unless the tech in question is declared a "net public good."

Portland-area Residents May Vote on Funding for Homeless

There may be a measure on the November 2020 ballot to fund likely hundreds of millions of dollars for increased social services


Oregon Humane Society Celebrates the Adoption of the 11,000th Pet of 2019

Max, a two-year-old Labrador/Weimaraner mix, is going to a new home with the Dunlap family of Damascus ...

EPA Approves Funding for Oregon and Washington to Improve Drinking Water, Wastewater Infrastructure

States estimate $190 million for wastewater, $35 million for drinking water projects in Oregon, and $120 million for...

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Need for Blood Doesn’t Stop for Holidays – Donors Needed

Those who come to give through Dec. 18 will receive a Amazon.com Gift Card ...

Push to accelerate mustang captures draws fire in Congress

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Two House committee chairmen are trying to put the brakes on money for a new Trump administration proposal to accelerate the capture of 130,000 wild horses across the West over the next 10 years.Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nevada, whose high-desert state is home to about half the...

Fewer kids report sex abuse in US juvenile detention centers

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new federal report has found the number of kids who say they have been sexually victimized in juvenile detention centers has dropped across the U.S. compared with past years. But remarkably high rates of sexual abuse persist in 12 facilities stretching from Oregon to...

New Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz predicts success

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz was saying all the right things after being introduced as the new football coach at Missouri, laying out his vision for the once-proud program with unwavering confidence and bold proclamations.Then the former Appalachian State coach made a minor...

LSU's Burrow, Auburn's Brown named AP SEC players of year

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a unanimous selection as the offensive player of the year on The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference football team.The top-ranked Tigers also have the SEC’s coach of the year in Ed Orgeron and the newcomer of the year in freshman cornerback Derek...


Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...


Detroit tops list of hard-to-count cities ahead of census

DETROIT (AP) — When the U.S. Census Bureau starts counting people next year in Detroit, obstacles are bound to arise: The city has tens of thousands of vacant houses, sparse internet access and high poverty — factors that will make it the toughest community to tally.Other Rust Belt...

Fears mount that New Jersey shooting was anti-Semitic attack

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Fears that a deadly shooting at a Jewish market in Jersey City was an anti-Semitic attack mounted on Wednesday as authorities recounted how a man and woman deliberately pulled up to the place in a stolen rental van with at least one rifle and got out firing.A day...

Judge blocks enforcement of LA law that takes aim at NRA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday blocked enforcement of a Los Angeles law requiring businesses that want city contracts to disclose whether they have ties to the National Rifle Association.The NRA’s request for a preliminary injunction was granted by U.S. District Judge...


Eastwood on 'Richard Jewell,' criticism and finding stories

LOS ANGELES (AP) — For his film "Richard Jewell," Clint Eastwood takes aim at the media and federal investigators for what he sees as a rush to judgment after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The 89-year-old director calls security guard Richard Jewell's story "a great American tragedy,"...

Ocasio-Cortez says Fox News airs 'unmitigated racism'

NEW YORK (AP) — A day after Fox News' Tucker Carlson aired a segment describing her congressional district as “filled with garbage,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized the network on Wednesday for airing “unmitigated racism" with no accountability.She tweeted...

'Parasite,' 'Bombshell' get a boost in SAG nominations

NEW YORK (AP) — Scarlett Johansson received two individual nominations, “Parasite” scored a best ensemble nod and both “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" solidified their Oscar favorite status in nominations announced Wednesday for the...


AP Source: Angels, Anthony Rendon reach 5M, 7-year deal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Third baseman Anthony Rendon and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a 5 million,...

Outdated, dangerous childbirth practices persist in Europe

BARCELONA (AP) — When Clara Massons was in labor with her son, a midwife climbed onto her bed and pushed...

Israelis contend with reality of third straight election

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israelis were grappling on Thursday with the confounding reality of unprecedented third...

US hits Iran with new sanctions, hopes for prisoner dialogue

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Wednesday hit Iran with new sanctions that target several...

Rohingya refugees reject Aung San Suu Kyi’s genocide denial

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Rohingya refugees accused former Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi...

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi defends Myanmar army in genocide case

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Nobel Peace Prize winner and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi...

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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