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Connecticut lawmakers co-opt privacy bill to allow police use of drones armed with tear gas, explosives

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Connecticut lawmakers are pushing a bill that would legalize the use of armed drones for police officers. The state’s judiciary committee approved a bill on Thursday titled, “An Act Concerning the Use and Regulation of Drones” that would ban weaponized drones for use by anyone except for police officers, according to Gizmodo.

The bill would allow police officers to use drones armed with tear gas, incendiary devices, explosives, and “remote deadly weapons.” If the bill is signed, it would go into effect in October, 2017.

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In its original form, the bill did not include a provision to allow police to equip drones with arms. Rather, as David McGuire, the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut tells Raw Story, “The underlying bill was strong because it only authorized police to use drones with a warrant for surveillance.”

The original bill required officers to obtain a warrant before surveilling individuals suspected of a crime, and would require police to report annually how they used drones. “It protected privacy and free speech rights,” said McGuire.

The added provision, McGuire said, “turned a bill that was about protecting peoples’ rights into a bill that violates peoples’ civil rights by allowing use of force.”

State Senator John Kissel told the Associated Press that the committee added the provision “for very limited circumstances.” Kissel said, “We can certainly envision some incident on some campus or someplace where someone is a rogue shooter or someone was kidnapped and you try to blow out a tire.”

The United States has seen a growing militarization of police forces in recent years. The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri that followed the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014 drew public attention to the 1033 Program — or the National Defense Authorization Act — that allowed the transfer of excess military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies.

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During a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas in July 2016, police used a robot equipped with a bomb to kill a sniper who had killed five police officers, setting a new and dangerous precedent for policing.

McGuire tells me, “We have been struggling with the issue of militarization of police — this [bill] would be escalating that in a serious and unprecedented way.”

“This amendment would send a terrible message to over-policed and victimized communities,” McGuire said. He added that the last few years have been spent working to rebuild community trust in law enforcement.

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If the bill passes with the added amendment, Connecticut would be the first state in the country allowing police to use drones with lethal weapons. “I think you would see more use of force,” said McGuire. But he remains positive that the bill can go back to its original intent.


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Trump panicked White House attorney will flounder on TV during Senate impeachment trial: report

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President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have begun to debate how best to handle the impeachment trial. And one of the key questions at hand is who will represent Trump in the Senate.

One obvious choice would be White House counsel Pat Cipollone. But according to The New York Times, there is a problem: Trump is scared that he might not be particularly good on national television.

"Mr. Cipollone is expected to represent Mr. Trump at the trial, along with the president’s outside lawyers," reported Sheryl Gay Stolberg. "But the president has also been quizzing people about who his lawyers should be, and has noted Mr. Cipollone’s lack of TV experience, as the trial will be televised, a person involved in the planning said."

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Russia went looking for puppets in America — and they found Trump and the Republicans

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The Russians wasted decades infiltrating the left attempting to gain purchase in American political life. There was the Communist Party USA, of course. Established in 1919, the CPUSA grew through the 1930s and boasted a membership of about 100,000 at the beginning of World War II. A hundred thousand! Whoop-de-doo!

This article first appeared in Salon

Then there were the spinoff lefty parties like the Socialist Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Workers World Party, the Socialist Labor Party, the Progressive Labor Party — we could go on listing one splinter group after another with “socialist” or “labor” or “workers” in its title. They were tiny groups with memberships that were sometimes less than 100, and they would all deny being infiltrated by the Russkies, naturally. So would the “New Left” groups that came later, like SDS and The Weathermen. Nobody wanted to admit they were under Russian influence. Everything they were doing, from opposing the war in Vietnam to civil rights to fighting for free speech, was being done for completely pure reasons.

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2020 Election

William Barr made it clear this week that he’d sign off on a sham investigation into the Dems’ 2020 nominee

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

A perfect storm propelled New York's sleaziest real estate developer to an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite winning three million fewer votes than his opponent, but Nate Silver made a compelling argument that the letter James Comey sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day announcing that the FBI was re-opening its probe into Hillary Clinton's emails was decisive.

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