Oakland Warehouse fire: What Caused It

Oakland Ghost Ship before the fire:
old rugs, musical instruments, lanterns,  lots of paper and wooden decorations

Oakland Warehouse Fire: What Caused It
by Susan Basko, esq.

December 3, 2016.  Last night, there was a devastating fire in the Fruitvale area of Oakland, California, U.S.A., in a warehouse that had been turned into an artist live/work space.  The artists called the space Ghost Ship.  Some called it Satya Yuga, or in Hindi,  सत्य युग, which translates into English  as "truth era."  So far, reports are that 9 people died in the fire and many more are dead in the rubble.

Our thoughts and prayers go out for the families and friends of those who died and for those who survived.  May those who died rest in peace.

The Oakland fire department has stated that the building was a maze with many alcoves built in by the artists. The building owner was recently cited for building code violations. To call the Ghost Ship a "fire trap" would be putting it mildly, as seen in the photos posted below.

The photos below show several themes: Misuse of fire, fire hazards, an enormous amount of clutter, dangerous fire trap interior building divisions into small cubbyhole spaces, many lanterns and candles, no clear or easy exits.  This building was the definition of "fire trap."

If you would like to read a basic primer on Venue Safety, please see:
http://suebasko.blogspot.com/2014/02/basic-venue-safety-for-festivals.html

If you would like to donate to a fund to help the fire victims:
https://www.youcaring.com/firevictimsofoaklandfiredec232016-706684

All photos below are inside or in the outside yard at the Ghost Ship/ Satya Yuga Artist Cooperative Live / Work Space in  Oakland, California, where a terrible fire occurred on December 2, 2016, tragically killing many young adults.  All photos are used Copyright Fair Use, owner not known, dates not known, all photos obviously taken at some time before the fire on December 2, 2016, possibly weeks, months, or even years before the fire. Click on any photo to enlarge.


This undated photo appears to be the outside yard of the Oakland Ghost Ship. In it, a fire dancer uses a very high flame while standing on or near an old carpet, amid clutter and overhanging tree branches.  This is, obviously, extremely dangerous.


The photo above shows what appear to be lit candles placed amid
 an altar of antlers, skulls, arrows, and other clutter.


This photo above shows what appears to be a ritual fire burning
 on what appears to be a container on the floor.


This photo above shows an upper and lower deck built into the cluttered space.


Photo above shows unlit candles on an altar.


Photo above shows a hodgepodge of lanterns, a jukebox, clocks, chairs, wood, 
a bicycle hanging from the rafters.  This is fascinating to look at, but is quite a fire trap.


Decaying wood, what looks like an old sled, old music organs, and an array of clutter
 look like a fire could easily start and spread.


Imagine trying to find your way out to an exit during a fire.  


Copyright Fair Use on all photos for the fair use purposes of analysis and review for news.  

Protests: International Standards 2016



Protests: International Standards 2016
by Susan Basko, esq.

The expert panel of OSCE ODIHR has issued, Human Rights Handbook on Policing Assemblies, its latest guidebook on international standards for protests. You can download a pdf of the guidebook HERE.   Previous versions in earlier years have leaned toward vague and euphemistic wording and idealistic expectations.  This 2016 version is more specific and useful, perhaps because of the addition of 10 panelists from police departments worldwide.

On this panel from the U.S., there is Ralph Price, General Counsel of the Office of the Superintendent from the Chicago Police Department.  Chicago has an excellent recent track record of large protests with no major trouble.  Chicago has also been able to hold huge non-protest events with only minor expected problems.  These events have included the November 2016 rally and parade for the Chicago Cubs World Series win, which the City of Chicago estimates had an attendance of 5 million people, making it the largest gathering ever in the United States and the seventh largest gathering in world history.  By any measure, this makes the Chicago Police experts at handling crowds. This sort of real world expertise helps make this new guidebook quite useful.

Note: OSCE ODIHR stands for Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. OSCE has 57 participating nations on 3 continents of Europe, North America, and Asia.

In this guidebook, "assembly" specifically means a protest of some sort.  These guidebook lists "meetings, rallies, pickets, demonstrations, marches, processions, parades and flash mobs."  Glaringly absent is almost any mention of camping or tent protests, which have been prevalent worldwide over the past 5 years.  Page 13 of the guidebook makes this statement, but fails to call it "camping," and fails to mention tents: "Though they (protests) are usually of temporary nature, they may also last for considerable time, with their semi-permanent structures in place for several months." After this brief mention, the topic of camping as a protest is dropped.  In fact, since the Occupy protests, camping protests have become popular worldwide.

Also missing is any mention of a sit-in, which is a short or long term residence inside a building.

Camping and sit-in protests involve the occupation and exclusive use of space meant to be shared by others.  These protests are often highly effective at galvanizing dissent and thus, are highly useful to a democracy.  They are also where law enforcement most needs to be guided and restrained.  If you have been paying attention to the recent police actions against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allied protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline that proposes to send oil through several U.S. States, you have seen protesters sprayed with water in freezing temperatures, attacked with chemical weapons, and injured with projectiles shot from guns. The "No DAPL" protesters have a huge groundswell of support and appear to be holding ground on land that rightly belongs to their tribe.  Yet, stories of abuse by law enforcement against the protesters are cropping up daily.  The photos and videos are hard to deny.

Flash mobs are also listed in the "Types of Assemblies"  (pg 15), but are only minimally addressed thereafter.  This may be because a peaceful flash mob will usually be over and gone before there can be any police response.

Another topic that is missing from the guidebook is the manner of making arrests.  This is glossed over.  In the U.S., there has developed a widespread practice of police forcing a person to the ground to arrest the person.  This has led to many cases of injury and to physical abuse committed by police.  The arrestee is often ordered or forced to the ground, usually for no apparent reason.  Often, a police officer places a knee into the back of the person on the ground.  This surely causes injury to anyone and has been known to cause severe injury and death. Numerous videos show multiple police officers piling onto a person on the ground. Many videos show the person on the ground being kicked, beaten, or even shot (though shooting is usually in individual encounters and not in protest situations.)  The method and manner of arrest is an issue of dire, immediate importance in human rights with regard to policing.  The guidebook would have been far more balanced if the panel had included those who plan and participate in protests, rather than such a theory-only based panel.  It is way past time for any groups interested in human rights to address the manner and method of making an arrest.

Another topic that is missing is the widespread practice of targeting peaceful leaders for arrest.  Again, including panelists with real protest experience would have been useful.  Leaders of protests are often "picked off" by police in what are essentially random kidnappings.  Again, there is often video to show that such arrests come about with no provocation or need.

Another major topic that the guidelines do not address is the jamming or other interference with wifi or phone signals, and/or the use of stingrays to gather data from devices.  These actions by police to sabotage personal and journalistic media and communications should be prohibited.

 Thus, I suggest that in future versions of such OSCE ODIHR guidebooks on policing for protests:
  1.  That additional panelists be included to reflect a more well-rounded viewpoint, including those who plan and participate in protests;
  2.  That camping protests be addressed;
  3. That sit-in protests be addressed;
  4. That the specific method and manner of arrests be addressed and that police be prohibited from requiring or forcing any person to lie on the ground;
  5. That the practice of targeting peaceful leaders for arrest be prohibited.
  6. That police should be prohibited from jamming or interfering with wifi or phone signals or from using stingrays to gather data.

Among the positive highlights of the guidebook as the topics relate to the protesters or those engaged in the assembly , I have found these things (These are being numbered for use in referencing them; they are not in any order of importance.)

1. Freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right and, as such, is considered one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. (pg 12)

2. That protests often block traffic or cause inconvenience: "Many assemblies will also cause some degree of disruption to routine activities; they may occupy roads and thoroughfares or impact traffic, pedestrians and the business community. Such disruption caused by the exercise of fundamental freedoms must be treated with some degree of tolerance. It must be recognized that public spaces are as much for people to assemble in as they are for other types of activity, and thus the right to assemble must be facilitated. (pg 13)

3. That there must be a balancing act between the different people wishing to use the space: "Where peaceful protest interferes with the rights and freedoms of others it will often be the responsibility of the police to balance respect for of those rights with the right to freedom of assembly." (pg 14)

4. That there is a human right to peaceful assembly, but not to engage in violence against property or people:  "The right to assemble is a right to assemble peacefully. There is no right to act in a violent manner when exercising one’s right to assemble. If an individual acts violently while participating in an assembly, then that individual is no longer exercising a protected human right. However, violent acts by isolated individuals do not necessarily affect the right to assemble of those who remain peaceful." (pg 15)

5. Even if the protesters fail to comply with regulations (such as local regulations that may require a permit) police should still facilitate the protest:  "It should be noted that even though an assembly organizer or individual participants may fail to comply with legal requirements for assemblies, this alone does not release the police from their obligation to protect and facilitate an assembly that remains peaceful." (pg 15)

6. What is "peaceful assembly"?   "Peaceful Assembly: An assembly should be deemed peaceful if the organizers have professed peaceful intentions and the conduct of the participants is non-violent. Peaceful intention and conduct should be presumed unless there is compelling and demonstrable evidence that those organizing or participating in that particular event themselves intend to use, advocate or incite imminent violence. The term “peaceful” should be interpreted to include expressive conduct that may annoy or give offence, and even conduct that temporarily hinders, impedes or obstructs the  activities of third parties. 2 An assembly should be considered peaceful, and thus facilitated by the authorities, even if the organizers have not complied with all legal requirements. Lack of such compliance should not be an excuse to inhibit, disrupt or try to prevent an assembly." (pg. 14-15)

7. What is not "peaceful assembly"? "Assemblies that incite hatred, violence or war, aim to deliberately restrict or deny the rights of others or aim to intimidate, harass or threaten others, in violation of applicable law, are not considered to be protected assemblies. Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law, and that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.” (pg 15)

8. If some of the protesters are violent, police should deal with those individuals and not deny the whole group the right to assemble: "If individuals or small groups of people engage in acts of physical violence during an assembly, the police should always ensure that their response is proportionate and focuses on those who are engaged in violent behaviour rather than directed at the participants in the assembly more generally. This is true whether the violence is directed against the police, individuals, property, people within the assembly or those perceived to be in opposition."  (pg 18)

Example from recent news: Such a situation was seen at a recent protest in Portland, Oregon, after the 2016 presidential election.  A very large protest took place.  A small subset of individuals came armed with bats and metal bars, and broke windows on shops and smashed the windows and metal on cars.  The Portland police were heard on videos telling those not engaged in the violence to separate themselves from the violent protesters and go protest at a different location where peaceful protests were being held.  The police then declared the area a riot and stated that all present were under arrest.  Overall, it appeared that the Portland police did a good job of protecting the rights of the peaceful protesters while being able to arrest a significant number of the violent protesters.

9. Costs of Policing should not be charged to protesters or organizers.  Insurance coverage should not be required: "The costs of providing adequate security and safety (including policing and traffic management operations) should be fully covered by the public authorities. The state must not levy any financial charge for providing adequate policing. Organizers of non-commercial public assemblies should not be required to obtain public-liability insurance for their event." (pg 21)

NOTE:  I would like to see this expanded to say that a City should open its available public restrooms for use by those in an assembly or protest.  Other nearby facilities, such as park benches, picnic tables, public transportation stations and bus stops, drinking fountains and water spigots, electrical outlets, bicycle racks, and other existing facilities should be open and their use not denied to protesters.

10. Police should not interfere with or restrict media journalists.  No distinction should be made between media organizations and independent journalists.  People should be allowed to video or photograph the police.  Police should not confiscate or damage cameras, cell phones, or other equipment of the journalists. (pgs 33-34)

11. That police officers may never act as agents provocateurs: "That officers must not act as agents provocateurs and may never instigate, participate or incite illegal actions within the assembly." (pg 71)  This topic is limited to a single sentence, but should instead be printed in huge bold letters taking up an entire page.  There are many stories of police acting as agents provocateurs and trying to incite violence or entrap protesters.  It is heartening to see this despicable practice prohibited by OSCE ODIHR.

12. Policing Strategy:  Part II of the guidebook, which is pages 42-125, deals with the police planning and strategy.  Topics include the use of water cannons, chemical agents, impact round (less than lethal weapons), and firearms.  Notably absent is discussion of the use of a sound cannon or LRAD.   If you are involved in planning protests or in giving legal advice or assistance to those who do plan protests, you should read this entire section.  It will give you a picture of the details of planning, infrastructure, and expense that go into running a police force that can properly handle public assemblies. (pgs 42-125)  It can also help you understand the rights of protesters and how to protect them from harm.  Although each city in the U.S. and each city worldwide all have different specific laws regarding public assembly, there is a commonality to the approach.  This guidebook is an attempt to get the OSCE member nations all on the same framework of respect for human rights in peaceful assemblies.

NOTE: My personal observation has been that the more organizers and protesters or participants in public assemblies are aware of the laws, rules, regulations, and practices of the police and city, the more likely the protest is to be peaceful.   The more people can engage in peaceful protest, the better the democracy.  Protest and assembly are basic human rights that lead to better government.

So, too, the more aware that people are of the possibility that there may be people who show up at a peaceful protest with the intent of disrupting it with violence or chaos, the more likely the peaceful ones are to separate themselves from the violence.  Knowledge is a powerful thing.


More about OSCE:

The OSCE has 57 participating States from Europe, Central Asia and North America:
    • Albania
    • Andorra
    • Armenia
    • Austria
    • Azerbaijan
    • Belarus
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Bulgaria
    • Canada
    • Croatia
    • Cyprus
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Georgia
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Holy See
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Kazakhstan
    • Kyrgyzstan
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • Moldova
    • Monaco
    • Mongolia
    • Montenegro
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Russian Federation
    • San Marino
    • Serbia
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Tajikistan
    • the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
    • Turkey
    • Turkmenistan
    • Ukraine
    • United Kingdom
    • United States
    • Uzbekistan









 




About my involvement with OSCE ODIHR: Susan Basko, the author of this article, is a lawyer in the United States of America. Among other things, she assists those who want to plan a protest.  She is open in helping people from the wide spectrum of political and personal viewpoints.  IN 2012, she assisted OSCE ODIHR in a study of protests throughout the world, with her expertise being lent to the U.S. protests taking place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Oakland, California.  Ms. Basko was invited by OSCE ODIHR to participate in a summit of leaders and activists from around the globe.  That meeting was held in Vienna, Austria. Ms. Basko contributed by making proposals for international laws to require nations not to interfere with internet or phone signals during a protest.  That proposal was accepted by the assembly and became part of the recommendations for laws sent to the 57 participating nations.  Ms. Basko sees OSCE ODIHR as the organization making the biggest impact worldwide to protect the human rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the media.

Leonard Cohen on Why you Need a Music Lawyer



Leonard Cohen on Why you Need a Music Lawyer
by Susan Basko, esq.

Listen to the first 55 seconds of this video to find out why you need to have a music lawyer read over an contracts before you sign them.  Before.










Deray sued by Cop for Incitement: Far-Fetched

Deray McKesson
Deray sued by Cop for Incitement:  Far-Fetched
by Susan Basko, esq.


Tuesday, November 9, 2016.  Yesterday afternoon, a lawsuit was filed against Deray McKesson of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement by an unnamed police officer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The police officer claims that the BLM activist, popularly known as Deray, incited violence during a protest in Baton Rouge.  The officer was injured by a man who threw a rock or piece of concrete at his face.  The officer does not claim that Deray played any part in the rock throwing, nor does he name any words spoken by Deray that allegedly would cause the other man to throw the stone.  Nor does he claim that Deray ever spoke with the man who threw the rock. Rather, he claims that Deray was present at the protest, he is a BLM leader, and that he was speaking with others at the protest.  The officer claims that Deray was "ordering" others.  The officer also sued Black Lives Matter, which is not an organization, but a movement of people nationwide in protest of police killings of Black people.  You can read about the lawsuit against Deray in this article in the Daily Kos.  There is some sort of affiliation of BLM chapters, but Deray's group does not belong to it.  Rather, he is a founder of a group called Campaign Zero, which seeks to end police violence by collecting data and strategically affecting Use of Force policies and police union contracts.

Deray was arrested at the protest in Baton Rouge, as seen on video live streamed by both himself and his friends.  At the time, Deray was walking in a legal space along the side of a road. From the video, there was nothing discernable as being illegal in Deray's actions.  He was simply walking along in a protest with his friends, when he was set upon and dragged off.  Several days after the arrests, Baton Rouge announced it would not be charging about half of those arrested, including Deray.  Such arrests still severely chill rights by making people less likely to participate in protests, which is their legal right as forms of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.

Deray and a group of others filed a federal class action lawsuit against the Baton Rouge saying the police violated the civil rights of the protesters by acted in a militarized and aggressive manner toward them.  You can read about this here in the Guardian.

This lawsuit by the Baton Rouge police officer is highly unusual in several ways:  First, if any incitement to violence had taken place, it would be a crime that could be prosecuted, and not usually handled as a private action tort, or lawsuit.  Second, it is very unusual for a police officer to sue someone as an unnamed John Doe.  Third, "incitement to violence" requires words that are an imminent call to violence, and in this case, no such words have been alleged.  It is not even alleged that Deray ever spoke to the man who threw the stone.  The known words of Deray that are heard on video have Deray stating that the protesters had been peaceful and the police had not been.  It is very far-fetched that such words could be considered incitement, aside from it being even more far-fetched that the man throwing the stone even heard the words.  Fourth, neither Deray nor his group called the protest.  It would be extremely unusual to try to hold Deray responsible for what happened at the protest.

In any protest group or other gathering, there can be people who either come to cause trouble or get caught up in the moment.  Each person is responsible for their own behavior.  Incitement involves an exhortation or urging to imminent violent action. There simply is no known evidence that any such thing happened at the Baton Rouge protest.

The lawsuit against Deray also claims he did not try to calm down the protesters.  However, from Deray's perspective, it was the police who were out of control, overly aggressive, militarized, and acting inappropriately toward peaceful protesters.  From the videos, it looks as if Deray was simply trying to keep himself and his closest friends out of harm's way.

What makes this lawsuit even more far-fetched is the nature of Deray himself.  For the past month or so, I have been blessed with being granted a coveted spot at seminars run by Deray at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.  I've had the opportunity to hear and learn from Deray, to meet and listen to his closest associates in Campaign Zero and the Black Lives Matter movement.  There is no way on earth Deray incited anyone to violence.  I'd describe Deray as highly intelligent, well-spoken, calm, funny, slight nerdy,  friendly, busy, practical.  I could picture him participating in a spelling bee or a math contest, not in a gun battle.

When Deray was arrested, he seemed surprised, so much so that naysayers online claimed it was staged. Nope, he was just a goody two shoes walking along, shocked to be arrested and hauled off for no particular reason.  The wide-eyed "deer in the headlights" look in the pics of him being arrested is genuine.  Deray's response to the lawsuit against him has been that he hopes the Baton Rouge Police will return his bookbag.

Deray's associates from the BLM movement are strikingly brilliant and filled with hope and ideas.  One such is Sam Sinyangwe, who gathers and charts data on police department Use of Force policies and killings by police.  Another is Brittany Packnett, a graduate of the prestigious George Washington University in St. Louis, who trains educators as her full-time job and volunteers to help raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement.  Anyone who is hoping to find swaggering tough-talking throwbacks to the 1960 radical days will be surprised that the BLM movement is run by top-tier graduates of prestigious schools, with perfect diction, poise, grace, seemingly boundless natural energy, positive enthusiasm, and a strong dose of humor.  There is much good-natured laughter in our seminars.

Deray was formerly a 6th grade math teacher at a Baltimore public school with violence problems.  Just yesterday, Deray stated that he he disagreed with many people and thought there should be police in schools, or at least in schools with problems of violence.  But he does not think police should be handcuffing kids and taking them to the office, but rather than they should be on hand for incidents of violence.  This does not sound like a man who would incite someone to toss a rock at another human.

If the Baton Rouge police officer suing Deray is hoping to pose Deray as a tough talking bad guy, he's got quite a surprise coming.   It is too far-fetched.

How to Make a School Spirit Music Video for Youtube



How to Make a School Spirit Music Video for Youtube
By Susan Basko, Esq.

12 Simple Steps, each of which take a good deal of time, work, and attention to detail:

1. TEACHER SUPPORT:  Gather the support of a teacher who will sponsor the making of the video.    Any enthusiastic teacher will do.

2. STUDENT VIDEO CREW: Find a few students who like to do video production.  A music video such as the one above can be made using a GoPro type of camera that is worn on a hat.  A good cellphone video camera can also be used to make such a music video.  You don't need an expensive or fancy or big camera.

3. PLAN YOUR VIDEO: Plan how you will make your video so that you have as little editing to do as possible.  Youtube itself has a  simple video editor that is compatible with Youtube and easy to use.  Or the people on the video team may have their own video editing program.

Note: One mistake a lot of these school walk-through videos (like the one below) are making is having the featured people walking backwards.  The camera person should walk backwards, with the featured people walking toward the camera.  The camera person should walk a few feet ahead of the featured performers, but be walking backwards.  The camera person will have an assistant to guide the way.   Plan this out and practice and you will see that the video looks much better with the main performers walking toward the camera.

4. CHOOSE A SONG or SONGS.  Our good friends at Youtube have made arrangements so that you can use many popular songs for free to make your own music video for Youtube!  The songwriters and record labels have agreed to let us use their music on Youtube videos and Youtube puts ads on the video.  That way, the music people are making a little money from your video.  This is ONLY for use on Youtube and not on any other video uploading site.  Keep in mind, a Youtube video can be linked onto Facebook, Twitter, or in emails, and can be embedded onto almost any website or blog - if you set the settings on your video on your Yutube channel so that it can be shared by linking and embedding.

5. YOUTUBE POPULAR SONG LIBRARY.  Here is a link to the music library of popular songs.   https://www.youtube.com/music_policies  If the song is on the list, you are allowed to use it on your Youtube video.  You will need to buy a copy of the song someplace, such as Itunes or Amazon.

6. SONG POLICIES.  Find a song and read the "Policies" that apply to it.  https://www.youtube.com/music_policies
You can use the search bar on the page to find the song you like.  Click on the little arrow by the song to find out the Policies related to the song.  If the song you want to use is on the list, you don't need any sort of licensing.  Youtube worked out this deal especially for Youtube users so you can make cool videos with the great music that you love!

7. YOUTUBE CONTENT POLICIES.  Keep in mind, Youtube NEVER allows any video that shows any person who has not given their permission to be in the video.  Youtube does not allow any video to show any person or mention their name unless that person has given permission.  Youtube also does not allow anything that says anything bad about any person (defamation), or that invades anyone's privacy, or anything that is shocking, violent, gross, sexual, illegal, or anything that promotes illegal drug use, violence, terrorism, hate, racism, or any other such thing.

This excellent school video from Canton High School uses snippets of many songs:


8. TRY TO INVOLVE EVERYONE AT YOUR SCHOOL.  If you look at both of these videos, you will see that they include everyone from the school.  Include students of all races, all sizes. Include the students with disabilities.  Include the book worms and the shy students.  Watch these videos for clever ideas on how to do this.  On Youtube, you can find many other examples of school spirit videos.  Some use cameras on drones for aerial shots.  Some have a talking or acting component -- though these videos are not usually as strong as the spirit videos that use only music.

Here's another good one that uses a lot of songs. This is from Lexington High School:


9. REHEARSE THE VIDEO.  SHOOT THE VIDEO.  Once you have the video all planned out, the individuals who will lip synch or dance or speak should rehearse their parts. Then there should be a day when everyone gathers to do a big group rehearsal and to shoot the video.  You should rehearse and shoot the video on the same day, since it will be hard to gather all those people more than once.

10. EDIT AND UPLOAD YOUR VIDEO. After the video is shot, it will need to be edited.  It is best if you plan in advance to have as little editing as possible. For example, while you are shooting the video, you can have the music playing over a boombox so all you need to do is match up the video with the song using the boombox audio that is on the video. Practice this a bit and you will find what works best for you.

11. UPLOAD YOUR VIDEO AND SET YOUR SETTINGS.  Once your video is made, upload it to a Youtube video channel.  It is best to create a channel just for the video so that no one feels that the school spirit video message is being mixed with any other messages. Someone will need to watch the Message Inbox on the channel in case there are problems with take down requests. You will also want to be sure to check the box to allow someone to moderate the comments so that negative comments don't spoil your video.  Or it may be easier to simply Disable Comments.  If you disable comments, you will lose some encouraging comments, but you will also avoid the nasty haters.

12. POST LINKS AND EMBEDS.  Once the video is up on Youtube, if you have the "Sharing" setting set so that anyone can link or embed the video, you can encourage all the students to post the video on their Facebook and Twitter pages, to email it to their families and friends, and embed it on their blogs or websites.  This is a great way to share your school spirit!

And most of all, have fun!



Vendome Underpass Tent City, Los Angeles

Vendome Underpass Tent City, Los Angeles
by Susan Basko, esq.

In the City of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., Vendome Street has an underpass beneath the 101 Freeway.  As in many underpasses throughout the Unites States, people with no other place to live have made their homes in a tent camp lining the sidewalks and embankment below the busy road above.

 These photos are all taken from Google maps.  They are all Copyright by Google 
and are used here in Fair Use for purposes of analysis and commentary.  
According to the note on the photos, the Google maps truck took these photos in March 2015.


 On that day in 2015, each side of the street had about 6 tents, with a few additional tents up higher on the embankment.  Notice how the tents have been neatly spaced apart, each one next to a support post.  This will provide support for the tent.  It may also provide each tent's occupants with a bit of privacy behind the post for engaging in toilet activities.

Living under the freeway provides some shelter from heat, cold, wind, and rain.  Los Angeles does not get snow.  Temperatures range from about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) on a cold winter day to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) on a hot summer day.  In the summer, the nights tend to cool down.  

In the summer, the temperature in the underpass will be cooler than out in the sun.  However, it is very noisy living below a road above, with the constant roar of cars and trucks driving at high speeds.  There may also be mice, rats, and other animals.  There is always a danger from robbers or violent people.

 There are also no running water, toilets, or showers.  
This woman appears to be washing her hair with bottled water.

 Perhaps she and this man hauled the bottle of water to their tent home in this shopping cart.

 This shopping cart looks like they might use it to collect recyclable bottles.  In California, purchasers of water and drinks in plastic bottles pay a tax of 5 cents per bottle.  Many people living on the street make money by collecting empty bottles and bringing them to a recycling center, where they are paid 5 cents per bottle.  Many of them steal shopping carts from stores to have a vehicle in which to collect bottles and to store and haul their personal belongings.  Most water bottles are easily crushed, which allows many to fit into a cart.  A cart filled with bottles might net a collector $5 or $10.  This is a bare subsistence living for many people in Los Angeles.


Here she is catching a few rays of early morning sunlight for hair washing.  The location of their tent, near the end of the underpass, allows them to enjoy the sunshine a bit.



This appears to be a buggy or cart laden with a tent, a little pink baby suit, and a collection of other personal possessions.  These items are most likely beloved by their owner. 

This looks like a young woman in a white dress.  She appears to be standing behind her tent.  There appears to be a fence to keep her from going up onto the embankment.

But, here she is behind the fence.  Maybe someone cut an entry in the fence.  The area on the embankment might be used for toilet activities, for cooking or lighting a small fire for warmth, or for storing or hiding belongings.  

This tent has a tidy set-up.  Notice the shoes are set outside the tent.   Supplies are off to the side.  A blanket is hung on the fence, possibly to dry it or to provide a private dressing area.  A towel draped over the entry to the tent provides privacy, while allowing air circulation inside the tent.

That same tent appears here on the right.  To its left is a much larger tent. 

The larger tent, shown here on the right, has a shopping cart stowed next to it.   A shopping cart is a prized possession among people who live on the streets, because it can be used for collecting recyclable bottles. In California, small water bottles bring 5 cents apiece, which can add up to a few dollars that can buy food for the day.

Next to the big greyish tent is this smaller orange and white small dome tent. Perhaps because the  tent is so small, the occupant has many items stored outside around the tent.  Notice the occupant in the tent takes up most of the inside space.  The tent is just big enough for sitting or lying down.


The Google truck usually drives around just after sunrise. This looks like a woman in her pajamas.  Maybe she is getting ready to go to her job?  Many homeless people in Los Angeles are employed, but do not make enough money to pay the very high rents and security deposits of multiple months' rent.  

The blue tent has a wheelchair parked outside.

The resident of this tent may be disabled and get around in a wheelchair.  It looks like a mattress is stowed along the fence.

The next door neighbor living in the orange and white tent has many interesting objects on display, including what appear to be gold-colored statues of animals.  There is a shopping cart.  A red plastic box provides storage.  A plastic bag full of things hangs on the fence.


This is a map of where Vendome Street passes below the Freeway.  It is a residential area.

This is how the area looks from the sky.

These are nearby home listings with prices from May 2016.  These are simple, small houses.  Most of them are about 1,000 square feet with 2 or 3 bedrooms.  The asking prices are around $600,000.  To buy a $600,000 house, one would need a $120,000 down payment and a yearly salary of about $192,000.  Very few people make this much money.  This is why there are so many people living in tents and vehicles in major cities in the U.S.


There is the neighborhood of houses for those who can afford them.  
For those who cannot, there is this tent camp below the freeway.  
This is very common in major cities in the U.S.

Thank you to Google maps for the pictures.  
Photos used in Fair Use for purposes of analysis and commentary.




Important Legal Notice -Domains and Emails Being used Illegally in my name


Legal Public Notice – IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE
From: Susan Basko aka Sue Basko
Date: January 19, 2016
Update: March 20, 2016

My name is Susan Basko or Sue Basko and I am an attorney licensed in the U.S.A. in California and Illinois.  This is a legal notice that I, my personal name,  and my name as a lawyer are being impersonated and infringed upon.  Several domains (websites, emails, etc) in my name are being used for nefarious and/or criminal purposes by two men and associated companies without any permission from me.   

On or about March 11, 2014 and since that time, a man named Jason Scott Leiderman aka Jay Leiderman, a lawyer licensed in California and residing in Ventura, California, began purchasing domain names in my name.  These domains can be used for websites and other purposes and each domain comes with emails, also in my name.   Jason (Jay) Leiderman admitted this transgression against me under questioning from a Judge in a Court in San Jose, California.  Jason (Jay) Leiderman was or is the General Counsel for Via View, Inc., a corporate entity at times in Delaware, Nevada, and California.  A man named James Alexander McGibney, of San Jose, California,  is the owner or president of ViaView, Inc. and an employee of a company called Rosendin Electric in San Jose, California.  It is believed that James McGibney, the man who has been stalking me for over two years with Jason (Jay) Leiderman, is the IT Director of Rosendin Electric of San Jose, California, a company that is involved in construction nationwide.

Rosendin Electric has been duly informed that James McGibney is stalking me and that he and Jason Leiderman own domains and emails in my name and that they run websites in these domains that are defamatory, obscene, dishonest, harassing, and stalking.  Rosendin Electric has been duly informed that their IT Director James McGibney has been found to own hundreds of domain names, dozens of which are in the names of people whom he has been stalking for several years, aside from the domains in my name.

 The domains in my name of which we are aware are now being held in the names of ViaView, Inc and or James McGibney.   I DO NOT  have any contracts or agreements with Jason (Jay) Leiderman, James McGibney, ViaView, Inc., or Rosendin Electric whereby any of these people or entities would have a right or license to use my name, own or use a domain in my name, own or use an email in my name, or communicate as  me, about me, for me, or in any way communicate any information using my name whatever.  These individuals or companies have taken it upon themselves to purchase, hold, and use approximately 5 (five) domains in my name for purposes that can only be classified as illegal, harmful, harassing, or criminal.  These individuals and companies have been given adequate notice that they are to cease and desist in impersonating me and owning domains or emails in my name, and yet the domains in my name continue to be held and operated in the names of one of more of these encroaching impersonators. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO LEGITIMATE REASON FOR ANY OF THESE PEOPLE OR ENTITIES TO OWN OR OPERATE ANY DOMAIN OR EMAIL IN MY NAME.

Both of these men, Jay Leiderman and James McGibney,  are members of or connected with internet hacking or harassment groups Anonymous, Rustle League, Bullyville, and Cheaterville, and thus should be considered dangerous and should not be approached.  Rather, if you see communications that are in the name of Sue Basko but are not from my limited official websites and emails listed below, please contact me at one of the emails, or contact your local police or contact the FBI.  Do not view the illegal websites as they are likely spring-loaded with malware, and do not open or respond to any of the emails.   

THIS IS LEGAL NOTICE THAT THE ONLY VALID EMAILS UNDER WHICH I WILL CONTACT ANYONE ARE:SUEBASKO@GMAIL.COM AND SUEBASKOMUSIC@GMAIL.COM  The ONLY VALID website in my name is SueBasko.blogspot.com and others that may be linked on that page in the sidebar.  The only valid Twitter accounts in my name are @SueBasko and @pacempacem.  Please contact me directly at one of these email addresses and/or file an FBI report about all other communications purportedly from or about me.  

Bike Sharing - How it Works


Bike Sharing - How it Works
by Sue Basko, esq.

You're in a city and you see people ride by on bikes, many of which seem to match.  Then you notice bike stations with racks (called bike docks) and kiosks.  You see people pick out a bike and ride off.  What is this?  It's Bike Sharing! 

Bike Sharing is popular throughout the world.  Bike Sharing combines two of my favorite things - bicycles and the sharing economy.  Each year, more cities add Bike Sharing programs and the existing programs add more stations and  bikes. 

Here is a list of North American cities that have Bike Sharing programs: 

And here is a worldwide map showing which cities have Bike Sharing:  

Bike Sharing programs have different rules and prices in each city.  However, there is a shared commonality among almost all the programs.  This is how it works:

1.  THE BIKES MATCH. All the Bikes in a city are the same.  The seat heights can be adjusted.  Most of the bikes are sturdy and somewhat heavy.  The bikes have a front basket or rack with a bungee cord.  The bikes have lights that go on by themselves. You can tell the Shared Bikes going past on the street because they will all be the same distinctive color.  Bike Shares buy expensive bicycles that are valued at $1000 to $1500 per bike.

2.  BIKE STATIONS.  Bike Share programs have Bike Stations that have a kiosk and bike docks. The kiosk is a computer screen on which the users buy a daily membership, choose a bike, report any bike malfunctions, etc.  The Bike Stations are self-serve and automatic. There are no workers present, though most Bike Share programs have a phone number where a customer service person can be reached. Each bike is locked securely into a bike dock.  A bike may be taken from any bike station and returned to that same bike station or to any other bike station.

3. SHORT RIDES.  The object of Shared Bikes is to provide bikes for short rides, such as errands or commutes to and from a train, university, shopping center, or tourist attractions.  Therefore, the system works such that all short rides are included in one price.  That "short ride" might be defined as 30 minutes, 40 minutes, or one hour.  You need to check the Bike Sharing program you are using.  

4. ONE PRICE FOR ALL THE SHORT RIDES YOU CAN TAKE.  Most Bike Share programs allow a user to join for 24 hours, or for one month, or for one year.  Included in that price are all the short rides you care to make.  When the short ride time limit is up, you must return the bike to any dock location at any station.  You must then wait a minute or two and you can check out a different bike, if you like.  You could, in theory, spend your day taking short bike rides, and this would cost you one price.  If any bike ride you take exceeds the "Short Ride" time limit for that city, you are billed for the extra time.

5. EXAMPLES: These are imaginary examples that are typical approximations of times and prices.  Let's say Fun City has a bike share program with 100 stations throughout the city, with 1200 bikes total.  In Fun City, you can buy a 24 hour Bike Share pass for $10 or a yearly Bike Share pass for $75.  

If you buy the 24 hour pass at noon, you have until noon the next day to use the bikes.  You can check out a bike and take as many short bike rides as you like.  Let's say Fun City has a 30 minute short ride limit. You can check out a bike, and as long as you re-dock the bike at any bike station within 30 minutes, it is included in the daily price.  You can then wait a few minutes and take out another bike, if you like.  Or you can go for a short ride in the morning, another short ride in the evening, and several short rides the following morning.  If you are walking down a street and see a bike station and the mood suits you, you can take a bike.  

If you keep the bike for longer than 30 minutes (or whatever the short ride limit is in that city) on any given ride, you will be billed extra for that.  As an example, it might be an extra $2 for the time period between 30-60 minutes.

6. BIKE SHARING YEAR MEMBERSHIP:  If you join a Bike Sharing program for a month (if available) or a year, you will be given a thick plastic "key" which you will insert into a bike dock to unlock any bike.  This is much quicker than a daily membership, where you must choose a bike number at the kiosk.  You just walk up to any bike, put in the key, pull the bike from the dock, adjust the seat, and ride away.  With a Bike Share yearly membership, you can take as many Short Ride trips as you like for one year.  You might take 3 trips per day or 3 trips per month.  Users are encouraged to use the Shared Bikes as much as they like.  

7. CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD NEEDED.  To join a Bike Share, you need a debit or credit card.  Fees for keeping the bike longer than the Short Ride limit are charged to the card.  In some cities, only one bike can be taken out per credit card.  Other cities allow multiple bikes to be taken on one card.

8. NOT FOR CHILDREN.  Bike Share programs are not designed for children.  Most cities limit use of Bike Share bikes to people age 16 and up.  The bikes are the size and design for an adult rider.  

9. BIKE SHARE APPS.  Many Bike Share programs have apps for a smart phone that show the locations of bike stations and how many bikes are available at that station.  Bike Share programs also have websites that have interactive maps showing stations and bike availability.  

10. BRING YOUR OWN HELMET. You need to bring your own helmet and anything else you might need for your ride.











Demo Reels - Using Film Clips


Demo Reels - Using Film Clips
by Susan Basko, esq.

QUESTION:

I am a film editor. An actor friend wants me to make him a demo reel.  I may also want to start making demo reels as a service for other actors.  Do I need to get clearance for all the clips?  I do not want to be sued for Copyright infringement for using the film clips.

ANSWER:   

It seems to be a standard in the industry that actors use the clips in which they act for their demo reels. The clips are small and are limited to the parts where the actors appear.  The clips in themselves are not edited and the audio is not changed and music or effect of any sort are not added onto the clips.  They are kept as is.  The clips give the name of the project and the year. The videos are edited on high end systems so the video and audio look good.

 Sell your services making the video, do not sell the video itself.  The videos can never be monetized (have ads on them).

This seems to be the standard in the industry and I have never heard of anyone being sued who follows this specific pattern. A legitimate film industry professional with a normal sense of fairness would not sue an actor for use of their acting clips in a demo reel -- or doing so would be what marks the person as not a legitimate film industry professional.   It is a known standard in the film industry that actors use their film clips in their demo reels.  However, the film clips must be short and must not be edited or changed in themselves, because this may in itself by a an infringement of Copyright or of artist's moral rights.

 If a lawsuit were to happen, it might be an arguable defense that the demo reel is Fair Use as an analysis or review of that particular actor's skill.

Nothing can ever keep you from being sued. Using only the appropriate short clips in the correct way without making changes will go a long way to providing a solid defense if any lawsuit should arise.  Also, give credit for the clips.

Watch many demo reels  first to see what works and what does not: https://vimeo.com/channels/actordemoreels