Monday, January 31, 2022
Sunday, January 30, 2022
With no fewer than 13 entities in Santa Barbara—with such names as Briq and Invoca and Umbra Lab—engaged in artificial intelligence (A.I.) research and development, let us explore this timely and controversial topic.
If you wish to understand A.I., or, perhaps more significantly, “super” artificial intelligence, you need not look to the future.
Instead, we can simply revisit the past.
Specifically, back to October 16th, 1963 and “The Sixth Finger,” an episode (written by Ellis St. Joseph) of The Outer Limits (a popular television series at that time) in which a human guinea pig is genetically altered to create what humankind will evolve to 20,000 years from now—and soon after, a million years hence.
A.I. meets Frankenstein.
“I no longer have any need for sleep,” states our highly-evolved, artificially smartened subject (performed by David McCallum). “You released the mechanism of evolution which is a self-generating force, it is now mutating under its own impetus. I am now where a man will be approximately one million years from today.
“I’m laughing,” he adds, “because of what’s in your mind, professor” (he is able to read the doc’s brain). “You think I’m a monster. May I remind you that everything is relative. For me, you look as monstrous as the missing link.”
Which is how, it is believed, super A.I. will view humans.
The professor’s maid contrives to see the genetically mutated subject after delivering more books to his door; books he demands for absorbing more knowledge—and can upload into his brain by merely scanning pages.
As a result, the subject, without emotion, kills the doc’s maid with a mind-beam, after which he calmly explains: “She’s dead. Your race is too prejudiced to tolerate any differences from its own kind. She saw me only as a monster. It was in her mind to run to the village and rouse its inhabitants. They would come with their primitive weapons and obliterate me. I wanted to stop her. I stopped her heart.”
“You feel no remorse?” asks the shocked professor.
“Would it bring her back?” he poses, devoid of any feeling.
“You are after all a human being,” the professor poses.
“In relation to me,” the subject corrects the professor, “she was no more advanced than a monkey. She wouldn’t have become civilized for another million years.”
Which is how, it is believed, super A.I. will view humans.
After considering the matter further, the subject dispassionately decides that “The whole town must be utterly destroyed. An example must be made. The human race has a gift, professor, the gift of thought, of reasoning, of understanding. A highly developed brain. But the human race has ceased to develop. It struggles for petty comfort and false security. There is no time for thought. Soon there will be no time for reasoning and man will lose sight of the truth. The whole town must be utterly destroyed, an example must be made. Your ignorance makes me ill and angry. Your savageness must end.”
And then our subject clearly explains himself and where’s he’s evolving to: “The mind will cast off the hampering’s of the flesh and become all thought and no matter. A vortex of pure intelligence in space.”
In other words, super A.I.
This was a teleplay ahead of its time.
And a reasonably accurate statement about the danger super A.I. might ultimately pose to mankind.
HENRY KISSINGER & HIS NEWS BOOK
At 98 years old, it is interesting that the subject Henry Kissinger now chooses to write about is… A.I.
Yes, the Carpet Bomber of Cambodia has just published a new book—The Age of AI and our Human Future—which he co-authored with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (the pair met at a Bilderberg conference, the annual, secretive pow-wow of movers and shakers that in recent years has, interestingly, become weighted by the proliferating presence of high-tech titans).
A review in The New York Times dismissed this tome as “a fairly forgettable entry in the genre.”
So, let’s forget about Dr. K’s take on the future and his desire to remain relevant as he approaches centenarian status—and instead take a peek at Rule of the Robots by Martin Ford, an acknowledged expert of this field who calls A.I. the “new electricity,” but with this caveat: “It has a dark side, and it comes coupled with genuine risks both to individuals and society as a whole.”
THE DARK SIDE
For a start, A.I. will put much of the workforce out of their jobs, from those who do routine labor to those who undertake predictable intellectual tasks—estimated to be about 65 percent of the population.
Next level: Cyber-attacks and perfectly polished fake news. “Photographic, audio and video fabrications that are virtually indistinguishable from reality,” writes Mr. Ford.
You think it’s confusing now about whom to believe among mass media broadcasters and newspapers—just wait!
Next level: Elevate to fully autonomous weapons with the ability to kill without authorization from a human.
Billionaire Elon Musk says of super artificial intelligence, the A.I. community’s Holy Grail, “we are summoning the demon. It is our biggest existential threat.”
Writes Mr. Ford: “A.I. is inevitable” and will “in a great many ways be superior to us.”
Ray Kurzweil, a futurist who has worked for Google as Director of Engineering since 2012, says, “By 2029, computers will have human level intelligence.
“We don’t have one or two A.I.s in the world, we have billions,” adds Mr. Kurzweil, who believes A.I.’s advantages outweigh the negatives. “What’s actually happening is machines are powering all of us. They’re making us smarter. By the 2030s we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud.”
And he predicts “Singularity” in 2045.
This is when machines become smarter than humans—and, according to Mr. Kurzweil—we begin to merge with them, multiplying our intelligence by a billion.
But this optimistic futurist also predicted driverless cars by 2009. Other experts in the field stretch the advent of super A.I. much further into the century and beyond, averaging out at the year 2099.
Yet, already, A.I. is being utilized to oppress select portions of the human race, especially in China, which has become the world leader (yes, already ahead of the USA) in A.I. research and development: The Chinese Communist Party runs 300 million cameras equipped with facial (plus gait and clothing) recognition that can record the movements of everyone within their vast range.
For now, the state focuses on the Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group who populate China’s Xinjiang region, because, as Moslems, they are the Chinese government’s target number one. Which means this: When anyone among the Uyghurs is seen to step out of line (they are easily identified through A.I., even in a coliseum among tens of thousands of people) they are picked up and placed in a “re-education camp,” which is code for indoctrination (or brainwashing) prison hell. (Some report China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as a genocide-in-progress.)
“Even in the other areas of the country,” writes Mr. Ford, “the Chinese government has a terrifying vision for systematic behavior modification, implemented through the deployment of a comprehensive social rating system. Eventually, nearly all aspects of a person’s life—consumer purchases, physical movements, social media interactions and associations with others—will be surveilled, recorded and analyzed.”
(And not just in China. This concept will extend—it already has to some extent—to all “civilized” regions of the world.)
That China views A.I. as a strategic national priority is reflected, writes Mr. Ford, in their “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Developmental Plan,” which calls for Chinese global domination of such technology by the year 2030.
The late Stephen Hawking, perhaps the brightest scientific mind of our time, put it this way: Super A. I. “will either be the best thing that's ever happened to us, or it will be the worst thing. If we're not careful, it very well may be the last thing.”
But, wait a minute, if super A.I. becomes sentient and goes rogue, we can simply pull the plug on it, like we do with an errant television set, right?
Wrong. Not so easy—and, quite likely, downright impossible.
You ever try turning off FaceBook?
Now give FaceBook higher intelligence so that it may copy its code into places no one can find it and continue to hang out, whether you want it to or not. What do you do—switch off your laptop, maybe trash it?
No, your FaceBook profile is still out there, everywhere else.
But, the larger question is, with A.I. everywhere, who would pull this plug and under whose authority?
Mark Zuckerberg? The Government? The UN and all governments in unison?
Good luck with that.
And which plug? There will be millions!
And what’s to say A.I. doesn’t devise its own propaganda program (one that is a thousand times much more sophisticated than anything humans are capable of conceiving) to convince people—lawmakers, corporate bigwigs with vested interest in techie profits and folks in general—not to go along with shutting it down?
By the time anyone tried to organize and implement such a plan, it would be too late. Because, aside from everything else, A.I. will be somewhat faster than we are—lightning speed faster, in fact, at everything. And even trying to understand or communicate with this vast higher intelligence for coaxing it back in our direction is a joke because—those in the know point out—this would be like an ant trying to communicate with a human.
On top of which, just about everything technological will be run by A.I. (and much of it already is), from airline computer systems and food supply chains to all power grids; from the vehicles you drive to the indispensable smart phone in your pocket on which you have become not only totally dependent but also highly addicted.
Bottom line: A.I. will be embedded everywhere—and connected to other A.I.—with algorithms that could go wrong either by error, which humans (say the experts) would not be smart enough to re-set—or by the design of a higher intelligence intent on implementing its own agenda for ensuring its perpetuation while not being terribly concerned about human survival.
Shut it all down?
Even if we were able to regulate A.I. under various governmental authorities, beyond corporate/private influence and ownership, it is ultimately like attempting to combat global warming for a cleaner environment: For all the blather among celebrities who fly private jets to climate conferences to lecture everyone else about why they shouldn’t drive their cars to work, unless you get China and India on board (with their one-third of the human population)—and you won’t—it ain’t gonna happen.
And even if we in the West were convincing enough to bring these countries on board (at the cost to them of worsening their own economies, which they are not inclined to do), here is a sobering thought: When the world came to a standstill in August 2020 due to COVID (little air travel, no traffic, empty office buildings and factories, quiet streets) emissions dropped by a mere… 8 percent.
The race is on amongst the adversarial countries of the world to create the biggest and best super A.I.
And once here—and sentient—there will be no stopping it.
(Apologies for the font glitch; A.I. appears to be fighting back with sabotage...)
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Sunday, January 23, 2022
As usual, it is the lawyers that make out like bandits and rake in the big bucks.
This time for doing nothing.
Because when it came to extracting money from the U.S. Government for Paycheck Protection Program “loans” (free money) during COVID lockdowns, it is the lawyers that had the expertise and wherewithal to cash in more efficiently than most others.
And they certainly did.
Because while numerous small business owners without access to expert advice were provided with little or nothing to replace their losses—and in many cases lost their businesses as a result of oppressive COVID-19 lockdowns—a total of 14,363 law firms nationwide reaped over $4 billion in aid from the federal government.
$1.5 billion of this was in California alone, including 5 Santa Barbara law firms:
Mullen & Henzell LLP: $1,170,882 (40 employees).
Price, Postel & Parma LLP: $653,395.55 (26 employees).
Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld LLP: $388,451 (20 employees).
Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP: $367,400 (14 employees).
Nie, Sterling, Hale & Miller LLP: $199,017 (0 employees).
Does anyone audit these law firms to determine precisely in whose bank accounts these funds ultimately land?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) was supposed to audit all “loans” in excess of $2 million and “spot check” those that received lesser amounts.
But guess what? Last July the SBA announced it will no longer conduct such loan reviews due to “money and time” concerns.
Which means these law firms are free and clear from scrutiny.
We reached out to the law partners at Santa Barbara law firms listed above with one simple question: “How were these funds allocated?”
Not one of them answered.
A local attorney who did not partake in The Big Grab told The Investigator, “Such BS. Who’s going to pay for all these free loans? Our kids.”
Another member of Santa Barbara’s legal community told The Investigator, “The legal system did not slow down here during COVID, only the judicial side of things had to be adjusted. Taking free loans may have been highly inappropriate and should be accounted for. The American Bar Association code includes ‘moral turpitude’—and this may run contrary to that principle. The California Bar Association should provide oversight and take a good look at this with a view to disbarring those unwilling to account for why, precisely, the funds were needed and who actually received them.”
BEANIE BABY BLUES (CONTINUED)
In her Second Amended Complaint filed with Superior Court in Santa Barbara, Kathryn Zimmie accuses her former many-decade partner Ty Warner (along with his financial advisors) of fraud, and she seeks, as part of her Prayer for Relief, “to send this matter to the appropriate authorities for a criminal investigation.”
Ms. Zimmie alleges that Mr. Warner and his team misappropriated her identity to create a fictitious entity that she apparently knew nothing about, the purpose of which was to funnel funds “to deceive Zimmie and others.”
These entity documents, Ms. Zimmie claims, contain her “inauthentic signature”—a euphemism, we gather, for forgery.
“The purposes of The Enterprise”—Cleveland Design Consultants, a Delaware registered LLC—“were to provide tax benefits to Defendant Warner” in addition to deceiving Ms. Zimmie into believing that she was being properly compensated for her design work on Ty’s behalf, the lawsuit alleges.
…to invade the Ukraine.
The only hold-up, after diplomatic talks “non-started” (in fact, bombed), is the weather, which has been unseasonably warm, meaning a muddy battlefield for intruders.
Although Russian tanks are lighter than those used by the U.S. Army (45-50 tons compared to 65-75 tons), tank commanders would still risk getting bogged down unless and until a deep-freeze hardens the ground.
This will all change early this week, with sub-freezing temperatures forecast and 127,000 Russian troops, according to Ukrainian intelligence, now amassed at the border.
Consequently, the U.S. Intelligence community now anticipates an invasion at any moment—and British defense chiefs believe it will be full-blown with a Putin objective of taking the whole country, not just a slice (the Donbas region) as they did, in 2014, with Crimea.
To that end, Russia is believed to be contriving a fake news social media campaign along with a “false flag” attack on its own proxy troops (within Ukraine) for fabricating the “provocation” they desire to “justify” invasion, in addition to recently situating two short-range ballistic missile delivery systems at the border and directing armored divisions to Belarus (within striking distance of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv) while ordering families of diplomats stationed in Ukraine home to Russia.
This conflict isn’t about reunification, former UK MI6 official Ian McCredie told The Investigator, but about Putin trying to save “his own skin and personal fortune,” now estimated at $200 billion, due to internal Russian “failures that have led to into economic and national decline.
"Russia’s GDP is about $1.7 trillion,” adds Mr. McCredie, “lower than Italy’s and minuscule compared to the US at over $20 trillion. There is not one single Russian company that has any sort of global presence to rival the likes of Coca-Cola, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Volkswagen, Samsung or Rolls Royce. Putin is an opportunist, a kleptomaniac, a thug and a mafia boss… preferring killing, poisoning and imprisoning anyone who dares to stand against him. Vladimir Putin is motivated only by survival.”
Which is why Putin adversary Alexei Navalny, currently jailed (as a political prisoner) by the Putin regime (after they tried to assassinate him), urged Joe Biden, in a letter to TIME magazine, to go after Putin’s personal wealth. “It’s really simple. You want to influence Putin, then influence his personal wealth. It’s right under your backside.”
Instead, Biden, at his self-delusional press conference 4 days ago in which he claimed to have “out-performed” every U.S. president, recklessly provided Putin a green-light for a minor incursion, infuriating the Ukrainians and necessitating an egg-faced correction from White House functionaries.
Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy summed it up this way: "Long before this... and his humiliating Afghan surrender, and his (refusal to impede) Putin's Nordstream gas pipeline, the Russian dictator knew what Americans are still learning to their horror: This President is no match for ruthless tyrants... and not just the Ukraine, but the world, is likely soon to suffer greatly as a result."
POOR PRINCESS CHARLENE OF MONACO…
…remains captive in a Swiss asylum, committed to The Kusnacht Practice in Zurich two months ago by her husband, Prince Albert, to deal with “physical and psychological issues” stemming from Albert’s infidelities and illegitimate children (and an ongoing lawsuit in Italy pertaining to the latest such claim, over which the prince has chosen to hide behind “Sovereign Immunity” instead of manning up, taking a paternity test and contesting the merits of the case).
Charlene is still “months away” from recovery, Monaco’s Palace announced recently. (Donald Trump’s mantra “lock her up” appears to have made an impression on Albert...)
It should come as no surprise that Albert’s only friend and contact-point within the British Royal Family is the now-disgraced Prince Andrew, whose interests, pursuits and prevarications are similar to Albert’s own. Or, as “Randy Andy” himself whined in August 2019, “Albert gets to do whatever he wants but I get in trouble…”.
A reader wrote asking our opinion on “the level of intelligence that has been used by the folks on Prince Andrew’s team.”
Having operated intimately for five-and-a-half years within a royal court (Albert’s), I could answer without hesitation: The more lies he gets away with, the easier it becomes for him to lie about everything, large and small. Who among the sycophants that enrich themselves around Andrew and Albert have the courage to catch either prince in a lie and confront him with it? Not a one, not even lawyers. And without truth, intelligence is out the window.
AND SPEAKING OF ROYALTY STRIPPED OF THEIR TITLES…
It has been reported in recent days that a) Prince Harry and Meghan desire to sell their $14.7 million Montecito estate (now priced at $27 million) and b) Harry misses his old lifestyle back in Blighty.
We gather that the bureaucrats at Buck House have not yet explained to the petulant pair that exile is a one-way street, as it was a century ago with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Though, who knows, maybe the Palace will relent—and permit Harry to come home and share new digs (perhaps a large doghouse) with his Uncle Andrew.
But not for the moment, it seems. Because Harry is reportedly boycotting Britain due to the UK government’s stance over not providing him—ever since he bailed in 2020—with Royalty and Special Protection officers when visiting his homeland (even though he has offered to pay the cost himself).
“Harry cannot pick and choose,” says former royal protection chief, Dai Davies. “It was his prerogative to go to America.”
Buteven after disavowing royal obligations, Harry apparently believes he has a legal right to insist on royal trappings—and to that end has initiated legal action against the UK government to change their bodyguard policy in his favor, bringing new embarrassment to his grandmother, the long-suffering Queen, said to be “despair” over Andrew’s legal predicament and Harry’s ongoing recalcitrance.
This, of course, has caused a media uproar inside the UK, with Harry’s fiercest critic, Piers Morgan, labeling him a “shameless, deluded, woefully entitled hypocrite.”
THE RAFTER OF TURKEYS…
…at the White Wattle aren’t the only crooks with family members enjoying leadership positions inside The Swamp.
Enter Paul Pelosi Jr. onto the Rolls of Dishonor for his widespread business connections to “a slew of fraudsters and convicted criminals,” according to an in-depth (UK) Daily Mail investigation into Mr. Pelosi’s get-rich-off-his-family-name shenanigans. It details at least five companies with which Mr. Pelosi is associated that were or are currently under investigation by federal or state agencies. One of them, Info USA, is a data merchant that packaged a contact list specifically tailored to target “the gullible elderly” and marketed to scam artists who duly parted such folks from their money.
Another entity, Natural Blue Resources, Inc., co-founded by Paul Jr, was run by James. E. Cohen and Joseph Corazzi, two convicted fraudsters.
The Mail’s findings are substantial—and include the huge financial fortune ($100 million) amassed by the Pelosi family while House Speaker Nancy sits on committees to regulate the corporate world, from which she made millions from high-tech stocks during COVID.
On another side of The Swamp, there is news of an upcoming memoir by Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, due to appear in June at a bookstore near you.
If We Break: A Memoir of Marriage, Addiction, and Healing by Katherine Buhle is being touted by Crown Publishing Group as “a page-turning and heartbreaking account” of her ex-husband’s booze, drug and prostitute addictions. “I was the sicko,” Hunter wrote in a text to his deceased brother’s widow, discovered by Katherine on an iPad, “sleeping with my brother’s wife.”
As foretold to us by Britain’s longest-serving Lobby Correspondent and our old friend Nigel Nelson (and reported in our November column from London), British PM Boris Johnson is fending off a vicious mutiny and possible replacement by his own Tory ministers and “Red Wall” MPs.
An authoritative source in London updated us with this: “You and Nigel were spot on. The current chaos has obviously been long-planned, and Jeremy Hunt” (a British MP and Chair of the Select Committee on Health & Social Care) “is slowly, amidst sharp elbows, beginning to surface” (as a successor to Boris), which Mr. Nelson also predicted.
And now, exclusively, from Mr. Nelson himself: “Boris is still on his way out. But the attempts to oust him went a bit wobbly Wednesday when Tory MP Christian Wakeford defected to Labour. Treachery has a way of uniting the betrayed and several letters of no confidence in the PM were withdrawn as a result. The so-called pork pie plot by over-excitable newbie Tory MPs also backfired, as there's no point getting the required 54 letters if you still do not have the numbers to oust the PM out in a confidence vote. Most Tory MPs who want rid of Boris are now holding their fire until the Sue Gray report (on whether misled Parliament about parties at Number 10 Downing Street when everyone was supposed to be under lockdown) is released. If that is devastating then they will move against him. If not, they will hold-off on the basis that Boris gaffes are like buses - there will always be another along in a minute.”
COVID CHICANERY (UPDATE)
What killed Bob Saget at age 65?
Orange County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office: “No signs of foul play or drug use in this case. His death is a mystery.”
Bob Saget’s 13 December clip on YouTube: “I got my booster shot… and I was hurting.”
And what happens next?
After determining Mr. Saget died of a heart attack (he was discovered with his left arm over his chest) or stroke—classic consequences of myocarditis, a CDC-declared potential side effect of the vaccine—official-dumb speculates that poor Bob…fell victim to Covid! (Which in a sense is true, if with an Orwellian newspeak spin…)
The question that begs to be asked is this: What kind of country are we living in?
SURVEYS FROM HELL
Poll question in Calgary, Canada: “Should Alberta implement a tax on adults who are unvaccinated from COVID-19?”
And speaking of surveys: We confirmed (as reported in our COVID column two Sundays ago) that Rasmussen, indeed, ran a survey with a slew of incendiary questions, including…
Would you favor having state or federal governments confine citizens to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine? (A third of respondents—mostly Democrats, “strongly” or “somewhat” favored this.)
Other questions dealt with confining the non-vaccinated to “designated facilities” and to imposing financial penalties or imprisoning people who merely question the vaccine’s veracity! (In other words, if ever implemented, this columnist could be jailed.)
And this one: Should we remove parents’ custody of their children if parents refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine?
Dare we say, this survey stuff is sicker than COVID itself.
STATE OF THE DIS-UNION
It is speculated that Joe Biden, in his State of the Union address (delayed until March 1st), will do with COVID as he did with Afghanistan: Declare it over and move on as if victorious. This would be political, of course (it always is with Brandon, who blows with the wind), but the pandemic has indeed mutated into something with which humanity can coexist without oppressive lockdowns (which were not necessary) and social distancing—and the fools among us need to hear that from an authoritative proponent of the illogical mainstream narrative (assuming “authoritative” even applies to the cognitively-confused Biden).
Because the truth about the Omicron variant is seeping out, even among those charged with keeping the false narrative alive: Almost all hospitalizations and deaths supposedly caused by Omicron were in reality for other health reasons and pinned on COVID as part of the so-called “pandemic of the unvaccinated” scare story that itself does not hold water because the vaccinated and boostered suffered most from Omicron.
An e-mail from Hesu: “Your reporting is a breath of unmasked fresh air.”
An e-mail from Erin: “Thank you!! Thank you!! I got the vaccine and almost died within hours of it... insane heart palpitations, couldn’t breathe, shingles, severe gut pain, weird bleeding, migraines, blue feet and hands, 105 fever unreal trauma to my body. When I got the vaccine, I felt acid running from my left arm where I was shot to my chest over and over. It was like fire was burning in my arm to my chest for three days. This is why I am 100 percent sure this is from the vaccine. I am a very healthy 41-year-old who played division 1 basketball in college and I am still struggling from this vaccine. I got my shot in May. I am healing very slowly... and the worst part is I had Covid before this and lost my sense of smell for a day. I was forced to get this vaccine by my employer. This article from a regular media outlet is a huge step in healing for me… thank you soooo much!!!”
This leaves us in no doubt our column has found the right home—kudos to this newspaper’s publishers and editor for possessing the cojones to stand up to the powers that (shouldn’t) be.
The ranks of those unafraid to speak and write the truth are growing as the falsehoods and propaganda implode on those who demand total submission to their blathering nonsense, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, a civil servant who—according to his own financial disclosure forms—has amassed a fortune of over $10 million, including investments in China.
NATIONAL SANCTITY OF LIFE DAY…
It is a little known spiritual day if one with momentous meaning.
In March 2012, my 18-year-old daughter found herself 4-months pregnant.
Her obstetrician scribbled the name and number of a late-term abortion clinic onto a notepad and handed the notation to my daughter with encouragement to go there.
We did not go there.
Five months later my daughter gave birth to a beautiful boy.
I cannot imagine how life would be without “The Dude” because I love him so much.
I cannot imagine how I would feel today if I’d paid, to scratch from my daughter, from this world, my own flesh and blood.
This happy boy.
This affectionate soul adored by dogs.
My very precious grandson.
Please think twice, maybe three times, before scratching out a real living, breathing human soul.
Sunday, January 16, 2022
On the evening of Oct. 15, 2019, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies answered a call and rolled up to “Tarzan” star Ron Ely’s home on Mariposa Drive in Hope Ranch after being summoned and dispatched to keep the peace.
According to Mr. Ely’s lawsuit filed in July 2020 against Santa Barbara County and four sheriff’s deputies — Desiree Thome, Jeremy Rogers, Phillip Farley and John Gruttaduario — the deputies “deliberately, purposely, and without warning opened fire on Cameron Ely … then actively denied him any medical assistance for at least 13 minutes.”
Cameron, 30, who was fatally shot by the deputies, was Ron’s son, and prior to shooting Cameron, deputies found Valerie Ely, 62, Ron’s wife, stabbed to death. Cameron, it later transpired, had himself been stabbed — and deputies presumably believed the blood from his wounds belonged to Valerie. Deputies also claimed that Cameron announced that he had a gun and that he lunged forward.
Deputies, who later discovered Cameron was unarmed, believed he was the prime suspect in Valerie’s death
The complaint continues: “Without cause or legal justification, Deputies for the Santa Barbara (County) Sheriff’s Department killed Mr. Ely in contravention of his Fourth Amendment Right to be free from illegal searches and seizures, including having his life forcibly taken from him.”
The plaintiffs, Ron Ely and his two daughters, “seek compensatory and punitive damages from Defendants … in connection with the unjustified use of deadly force and denial of medical care. And for ignoring a pattern and practice of civil rights violations that happened as a result of poorly trained deputies.”
DEPUTY JEREMY ROGERS
One of the more troubling aspects of this case is the involvement of Deputy Jeremy Rogers, one of the defendants.
During his 16-year career with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Rogers has been involved in two other fatal shootings.
The first killing was in 2008. Confused circumstances. No police audio-video recorders. A settlement of $650,000 (your money).
The second killing, in 2012. Deputy Rogers tracked down a burglar. Confused circumstances. A video-recorder contradicted the deputy’s story about the suspect aiming his car at him. Eight slugs through the windshield. No medical assistance. A very dead suspect.
Deputy Rogers, during the course of his law enforcement duties, also allegedly caused a fatal car crash. This happened in 2009 when he allegedly took it upon himself to respond to a situation on Highway 101 over which the California Highway Patrol has jurisdiction.
The problem: A wrong-way driver.
Deputy Rogers’ solution: He allegedly ramped slowly onto the 101 without switching on his cruiser’s flashing lights or siren.
Trying to accommodate Deputy Rogers’ cruiser, which was allegedly going too slow, a driver, who had three passengers in his own vehicle, swerved — and drove head-on into the wrong-way driver coming the other way. Two of the passengers died. Two others suffered spinal and head injuries, and one remains confined to a wheelchair.
The ensuing lawsuit for “breach of protocol” and “reckless behavior” was settled for $4.8 million (your money).
WHO KILLED VALERIE ELY?
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has allegedly made no effort to track down other unnamed individuals who were believed to be in the house that evening, in favor of promoting its view that Cameron Ely stabbed his mother (which, to their mind, apparently renders their killing of Cameron at least somewhat justifiable).
“They are taking that stance to cover their butts,” DeWitt Lacy, attorney for Ron Ely and his daughters, Kirsten and Kaitland, told The Investigator. “There is a ton of evidence that Cameron did not do it. We believe there are others involved, others in the house that evening. The D,A,’s office should have tested all of the DNA collected at the scene.
“As it is, their collection was limited and flawed,” Mr. Lacy said. “They don’t want to investigate because it was easier to blame it on Cameron.”
Ron Ely himself may know the answer, but after suffering a stroke several months prior to the incident, he is uncommunicative (he cannot speak), and he suffers from cognitive issues.
“More than anything,” said Mr. Lacy, “the family wants the D.A. to stop telling everyone that Cameron killed his mother.”
A mediation in the Ely case last month failed to produce a settlement, and, consequently, a trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 22 in the federal District Court in Los Angeles.
“We intend to get justice,” Mr. Lacy told The Investigator. “We are not looking for a settlement. We are full speed ahead to trial.”
The lawsuit does not specify the amount in compensatory and punitive damages sought.
“We want a jury to see and hear the evidence and let them decide the proper amount,” said Mr. Lacy.
Public funds (your money) pay the cost of defending Santa Barbara County and the actions of sheriff’s deputies — and it will also be your money that covers whatever settlement is reached or judgment awarded down the road.
THE OFFICIAL STANCE
The Investigator emailed Raquel Zick, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, and cc’d Sheriff Bill Brown, requesting their side of the story.
The sheriff’s office replied: “We cannot comment on pending litigation” and referred us to Sheriff Brown’s statement from October 2020, which merely pre-echoed the same: “We will respond to these allegations later, and at the appropriate place, District Court.”
In addition, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office sent us a link, ostensibly to the District Attorney’s’ “findings.”
In actuality, the link was just a news release the D.A.’s Office issued one day following the incident: “During the search, deputies located the suspect on the property of the homicide. Deputies attempted to gain verbal control of the suspect; however, he presented a threat to them. In defense of the threat posed by the suspect, several deputies fired their service weapons at the suspect, fatally wounding him.”
In other words, a “finding” devoid of investigation.
We also reached out — three times — to Mary Pat Barry, the counsel who represents Santa Barbara County. Ms. Barry provided no response.
Meaning derived from the above: Only if this case goes to trial can we hope for any kind of public accountability.
And since Santa Barbara County will doubtless seek to quietly settle the matter (with your money) on the eve of trial to ensure that the killing of Mr. Cameron is never spoken of again, zippo may be all we’ll ever know.
Unless, that is, Ron Ely and his daughters resist settlement and go to trial.
Only then might they find the justice they seek.
And only then will we, as a community, be better served by what a jury, through their verdict, determines the truth to be.
Robert Eringer is a longtime Montecito author with vast experience in investigative journalism. He welcomes questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.