An aviation bill Congress is rushing to approve contains a little-noticed section that would give authorities the power to track, intercept and destroy drones they consider a security threat, without needing a judge's approval.
Supporters say law enforcement needs this power to protect Americans from terrorists who are learning how to use drones as deadly weapons.
They point to the Islamic State terrorist group's use of bomb-carrying drones on battlefields in Iraq, and warn that terrorists could go after civilian targets in the United States.
Critics say the provision would give the government unchecked power to decide when drones are a threat. They say the government could use its newfound power to restrict drone-camera news coverage of protests or controversial government facilities, such as the new detention centers for young migrants.
The provision is tucked in a huge bill that provides $1.7 billion in disaster relief and authorizes programs of the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates drones. The House approved the measure Wednesday by a 398-23 vote, and the Senate is expected pass it on to President Donald Trump's desk in the coming days. The White House signaled support of the drone provision in July.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, introduced the Preventing Emerging Threats Act this year. It would give the Homeland Security Department and the Justice Department power to develop and deploy a system to spot, track and shoot down drones, as unmanned aircraft are called. Officers would have the authority to hack a drone operator's signal and take control of the device.
The bill was never considered on its own by the full Senate or the House. Instead, in private negotiations that ended last weekend, it was tucked into a "must-pass" piece of FAA legislation.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote in a recent op-ed that the threat of drone attacks "is outpacing our ability to respond." She said criminals use drones to smuggle drugs across the border, but worse, terrorists like the Islamic State are deploying them on the battlefield.
"We need to acknowledge that our first and last chance to stop a malicious drone might be during its final approach to a target," she wrote.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement this week that the measure "would finally give federal law enforcement the authority we need to counter the use of drones by drug traffickers, terrorists and criminals."
The National Football League's top security executive recently endorsed the bill. The official, Cathy Lanier, a former Washington, D.C., police chief, said the NFL is alarmed by an increase in drone flyovers at stadiums.
Opponents including the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the proposal gives the government unchecked power to track and seize drones without regard for the privacy and free-speech rights of legitimate drone operators. It exempts the government agencies from certain laws, including limits on wiretapping.
The bill provides no oversight or means to question a government decision about what is a "credible threat" and what is an "asset" or "facility" in need of protection when drones are nearby.
News organizations are increasingly using drones. They deploy them to cover natural disasters like the recent flooding from Hurricane Florence and also controversies such as the Trump administration's construction of new camps for migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Being able to see footage of protests, the size of protests, being able to see facilities like those at the border is useful — those are newsworthy events," said India McKinney, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Without a specific means to protect First Amendment rights — something not in the bill — "it's entirely feasible to think that the DOJ or DHS could just decide that a drone owned by a news organization provides a credible threat and then destroys the footage," she said.
The National Press Photographers Association has joined in opposing the provision.
"It will chill newsgathering using drones by news organizations and individual journalists," said Mickey Osterreicher, lawyer for the press photographers group.
Dhaka, Sept 28 (UNB)- National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India pressed charges against 3 members of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen ), Bangladesh(JMB) for their involvement in terrorist act of planting three IEDs in and around Bodhgaya temple complex on 19th Jan 2018.
NIA filed the charge- sheet in Special NIA Court, Patna in a case over recovery and explosion of IEDs in Bodhgaya Temple Complex, Bihar, according to a release published on NIA website.
The charge-sheeted accused are Paigambar Sheikh alias Abdul Aziz son of Late Hazrat Ali, resident of Kankuria, PS Samshergunj of Murshidabad, Ahmad Ali alias Kalu, son of Late Hussain Ali, resident of Ratanpur, PS Samshergunj, and Nur Alam Momin, son of Mansur Momin, resident of Kamat, Mominoara, Dhulian, PS Samshergunj of the same district in West Bengal-all members of JMB.
Investigation has also revealed the involvement of accused Jahidul Islam alias Kausar of Jamalpur, Bangladesh, Mustafizur Rahman alias Shaheen of Birbhum, West Bengal and Adil Sheikh, Dilwar Hossain, Abdul Karim of Murshidabad, West Bengal and Arif Hussain alias Anas of Barpeta, Assam.
Four of these accused persons were arrested in Aug 2018 while accused Arif Hussain is still absconding.
Investigation brought out that accused Jahildul Islam alias Kausar is a senior member of JMB and Mustafizur Rahman is his close confidant.
Accused Paigambar Sheikh, Ahmad Ali, Nur Alam, Adil Sheikh, Dilwar Hossain, Abdul Karim and Arif Hussain are all members ofJMB.
The NIA report said, “Accused Jahidul Islam @ Kausar and Mustafizur Rahman @ Shaheen entered into a conspiracy with their other associates to carry out terror incidents in India by way of planting IEDs and carrying out explosions at symbols of Buddhist faith in order to show solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims fighting with Myanmar Government and to cause loss to public life and property, to wage war against Government of India and to overawe the Government of India.”
In furtherance of the conspiracy, the accused persons contacted and assembled together at various places, took hideouts at Jahanabad and Masaurhi in Bihar, carried out reconnaissance of the targets at Bodhgaya and procured explosives and other materials for manufacture of the IED, it said.
Accused Jahidul Islam with the help of other co-accused made 3 IEDs and 2 hand grenades. The IEDs were planted by Adil Sheikh, Dilwar Hossain and Arif Hussain in the premises of Bodhgaya on 19th Jan, 2018 in order to cause loss to public life and property during the auspicious presence of his holiness the Dalai Lama and also during the visit of his Excellency the Governor of Bihar at Bodhgaya, thus committing a terrorist act, it added.
Dhaka, Sep 28 (UNB) - A passenger aircraft has come down in a lagoon off Chuuk International Airport in Micronesia after it overshot the runway, say airport officials.
Images circulating online showed the Air Niugini plane, from Papua New Guinea, sitting in shallow water just off the coast, reports BBC.
None of the 35 passengers and 12 crew onboard flight ANG73 suffered serious injuries.
The cause of the crash is unclear, but investigations are due to begin soon.
"The plane crashed in the lagoon, about 160 yards away from the runway," Chuuk airport manager Jimmy Emilio told the BBC.
"Right now we don't really know what happened. Investigations will start earliest tomorrow, but [for now], operations are starting again as usual in the airport."
Mr Emilio said all those onboard the Boeing 737-800 aircraft were taken to hospital for checks, saying he believed some suffered from "minor injuries".
The aircraft was flying from the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, stopping at Micronesia's Weno island on the way.
New Delhi, Sep 28 (AP/UNB) — The chief justice of India's Supreme Court has presided over a string of recent rulings that grant more rights to women, gay couples and religious minorities, challenging deeply conservative Indian society before he retires next month.
In the latest decision Thursday, Chief Justice Dipak Misra and the rest of the five-member court struck down a 158-year-old law that treated adultery in certain cases as a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
The court called the law, which did not allow wives to prosecute adulterous husbands, unconstitutional and noted that a "husband is not the master of woman." Adultery can still be grounds for divorce in India, the verdict said, but a criminal penalty violated women's protection to equal rights under the law.
The verdict was hailed by activists and left-of-center members of India's Parliament.
"Excellent decision," tweeted Sushmita Dev, a lawmaker and president of the opposition Congress party's women's wing. She said "a law that does not give women the right to sue her adulterer husband ... is unequal treatment and militates against her status as an individual."
Amnesty International India said the decision was "a progressive judgment" and the old law was a "remnant of a time when a woman was considered to be the property of her husband."
The scrapped law allowed men to file charges against other men who had affairs with their wives. Women having affairs could not be prosecuted, but they also couldn't file a complaint against cheating husbands.
Earlier this month, the Misra-led court also struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was "a breach of the rights of privacy and dignity," the court ruled. It added that "history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries."
On Thursday, the court also decided not to reconsider a 1994 decision that would have delayed proceedings in a case over the ownership of the site of a mosque that Hindu hard-liners demolished in 1992.
The court's recent pace of decisions speaks to another feature of Misra's tenure: expediting cases in a country where they routinely take decades to resolve.
There are 33 million court cases pending in India, government figures show.
Misra is stepping down as chief justice next week when he turns 65, the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court judges.
He joined India's highest court in 2011. His 13-month tenure as chief justice has won him accolades from advocates of disadvantaged groups but drawn unprecedented criticism from other members of the bench.
In January, the four most senior justices held a news conference against Misra, who as chief justice controls the court's roster and decides who will take which cases, listing a litany of problems that they said afflicted the court and risked undermining India's democracy. Misra met with the dissenting judges, who continued on the bench.
Washington, Sep 28 (AP/UNB) — Glued to high-stakes testimony on his Supreme Court nominee, President Donald Trump and his allies were shaken by Christine Blasey Ford's emotional appearance on Capitol Hill Thursday, but heartened by Judge Brett Kavanaugh's forceful pushback against the woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.
Trump missed hardly a moment of the proceedings, relying on DVRs to keep up on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday from his private office on Air Force One as he traveled from New York to Washington, and continued monitoring back at the White House, where Ford's voice echoed from TVs around the building.
Within moments of the eight-hour proceedings concluding, Trump tweeted his approval of Kavanaugh's performance and called on the Senate to move swiftly to a vote. "His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting," Trump said. "Democrats' search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!"
At a GOP fundraiser at his Washington hotel later Thursday, Trump described the hearing as "brutal" and "hard to watch" but praised Kavanaugh's performance. He described Kavanaugh as a "great guy" and a "great man," according to an attendee who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to describe Trump's speech publicly.
Ford's tearful recounting of allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school, led Trump to express sympathy for Kavanaugh and his family for having to listen to the testimony, according to two Republicans close to the White House but not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. They added that Trump expressed some frustration at the process — and the staff work — that led Kavanaugh to this point.
After seeing Ford's powerful testimony, White House aides and allies expressed concern that Kavanaugh, whose nomination already seemed to be teetering, would have an uphill climb to deliver a strong enough showing to match hers.
White House officials believe Kavanaugh's passionate denials of Ford's claims, including the judge's tearful description of the impact the accusations had on his family, met the challenge. A White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said the West Wing saw the judge's opening statement as "game changing" and said Trump appeared to be reacting positively.
Signaling the continued White House support for Kavanaugh, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted praise for Sen. Lindsay Graham after the South Carolina Republican railed against Democrats, accusing them of treating Kavanaugh "despicably." Sanders tweeted that Graham "has more decency and courage than every Democrat member of the committee combined. God bless him."
Trump's son, Donald Jr., also tweeted his review: "I love Kavanaugh's tone. It's nice to see a conservative man fight for his honor and his family against a 35 year old claim with ZERO evidence and lots of holes that amounts to nothing more than a political hit job by the Dems."
Going into the hearing, Trump had grown increasingly frustrated, angry at members of his staff — and, in particular, White House counsel Don McGahn — for not better managing the confirmation process for his second Supreme Court nominee. McGahn, who is set to depart his post in coming weeks, had advocated for Kavanaugh, seeing his confirmation as the crowning achievement of his tenure — and part of a decades-long effort to install more conservatives on the high court.
Trump has also criticized Republican leaders in Congress for not speeding the process along, leading to days' worth of revelations against Kavanaugh. White House aides have bemoaned the drip-drip-drip nature of the emerging allegations and thought a faster process could have avoided Ford's testimony.
As the day unfolded, White House aides and allies offered a mix of optimism and frustration. Viewing the hearing from their desks, some aides expressed concerns that Ford appeared highly credible, though others noted there were still gaps in her decades-old story.
How the proceedings were playing out on television was a key anxiety. Some White House officials were not pleased with the questioning from Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, saying she did not effectively target the weak spots in Ford's narrative and worrying that the Democrats had seized the moment.
But many felt the proceeding took a turn once Kavanaugh appeared. Aides said they thought Kavanaugh was effectively fighting back and expressed optimism he could survive the process.
Trump has also told allies that he wished Kavanaugh's Fox News interview Monday had gone better, believing it was a missed opportunity to change the momentum around the story, according to the two Republicans and another outside adviser. And White House allies noted the importance of how Fox would cover the proceedings in shaping Trump's reactions.