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Rand Paul proposes bill to prevent warrantless drone surveillance

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct surveillance without a warrant.

“I’m not against technology per se,” he explained on CNN. “What I am for are the constitutional processes that protect our civil liberties. So, you know, it’s not like I’m against the police using cars or against them using airplanes or helicopters or robots. But I am for personal privacy for saying that no policeman will ever do this without asking a judge for permission.”

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This year’s Federal Aviation Administration funding bill contained provisions that made it easier for law enforcement agencies to use drones within the United States. The new law requires the FAA to speed up the process by which it authorizes government agencies to operate drones. The law also requires the FAA to allow agencies to operate any drone weighing 4.4 pounds or less as long as it is operated within line of sight, during the day and below 400 feet in altitude.

The American Civil Liberties Union has warned the law could usher in an “era of aerial surveillance.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1980s that the Fourth Amendment did not categorically prohibit warrantless aerial surveillance of private property. The cost of purchasing, operating and maintaining aircraft imposed a natural limit on aerial surveillance. With the advent of drones, however, the ACLU doesn’t see law enforcement agencies being held back by the costs.

“A drone is a very, very powerful way of snooping on behavior,” Paul noted.

His Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012 would require the government to obtain a warrant before using drones to conduct surveillance. However, the government would not be required to obtain a warrant to use drones to patrol the national borders, when swift action was necessary to prevent “imminent danger to life,” or if there was determined to be a high risk of a terrorist attack.

“What I would say is that drones can be used if you have a proper warrant,” Paul told CNN. “But that means you go through a judge. A judge has to say there is probable cause of a crime. But I don’t want drones roaming across, crisscrossing our cities and our country snooping on Americans. And that’s the surveillance state that I’m very concerned about. And that’s what our bill would stop.”

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Watch video, uploaded to YouTube on June 12, below:

[Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]

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There’s no respite from Trump’s vindictiveness and foolishness

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As we know, even in the midst of a national emergency, Donald Trump could find time and bandwidth to continue his retribution campaign.

He dismissed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, for doing “a terrible job,” satisfying his own thirst for vengeance for anyone who actually adhered to law and practice over blind loyalty to Trump himself. Indeed, asked about it the next day, Trump underscored his action by saying, Atkinson “was no Trump supporter, that I can tell you.”

It was an act that we once would have labeled corruption, by Democrats and Republicans – that is using the office for personal purposes – if Congress and too many Americans had not since become inured by so many like instances.

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This is how Taiwan and South Korea bucked the global lockdown trend

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As the coronavirus pandemic sparks global lockdowns, life has continued comparatively unhindered in places like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong after their governments and citizens took decisive early action against the unfolding crisis.

At first glance Taiwan looks like an ideal candidate for the coronavirus. The island of 23 million lies just 180 kilometres (110 miles) off mainland China.

Yet nearly 100 days in, Taiwan has just 376 confirmed cases and five fatalities while restaurants, bars, schools, universities and offices remain open.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose deputy is an epidemiologist, made tough decisions while the crisis was nascent to stave off the kind of pain now convulsing much of the rest of the world.

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Republican ex-lawmaker with coronavirus scolds Wisconsin GOP for forcing voters to risk their health

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On CNN Tuesday, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who is himself dealing with a bout of COVID-19, chastised the Wisconsin GOP for doing everything in their power to block the state elections from being moved — and forcing many voters to stand in line and risk exposure to the virus to cast their ballot.

"I have to tell you, here in Pennsylvania we have a Democratic governor and Republican legislature," Dent told host Don Lemon. "They postponed the election here from April 28 until June 2. Without any controversy. Everybody agreed it was the right thing to do and they moved on. I'm surprised Wisconsin took this risk, knowing they don't have to."

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