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The future of crimefighting tech is here: drones and robots

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The future of crimefighting tech is here: drones and robots

The future of nonlethal crimefighting is here — and progressives and civil libertarians are losing their minds.

Back on May 6, FBI agents, armed with a search warrant, flew a surveillance drone inside a gun suspect’s apartment in upstate Poughkeepsie. According to court documents, feds used the nonlethal drone to direct those in the home to exit immediately. The drone’s video feed allegedly caught one of three persons inside the apartment tossing a 9mm handgun out of a window. No one in the apartment or any law enforcement officer was injured during the execution of the warrant.

“Flying drones in public air space is invasive enough, but using it inside of a person’s home is completely unconstitutional,” fumed Albert Fox Cahn, a civil-liberties advocate.

No: If officers have the legal right to enter themselves, then sending in an unarmed robot is just as kosher — and safer for everyone.

In New York City, the NYPD’s testing of an advanced robotics “Digidog” was slammed by alarmists and naysayers like Cahn over supposed privacy concerns. City cops first used Digidog to find a gunman hiding in a Brooklyn basement last October, but only when video of the device trotting on a Bronx sidewalk went viral in February did it spark “Black Mirror” comparisons and fury from hysterical pols — pressure that prompted brass to cancel the $94,000 testing contract in April after just seven months.

The NYPD saw the 70-pound Digidog (equipped with lights, two-way communication and video cameras) as a tool to help reduce police and civilian risks of bodily harm. Cops deployed Digidog to the scene of a tense home invasion/hostage situation in the Wakefield section of The Bronx in February and to the site of a domestic dispute at East 28th Street in Manhattan in April.

They didn’t actually send in the mechanical mutt either time, but this shows how the device would be used: to allow reconnaissance and communication in situations where sending in an armed human poses risks to police and civilians.

Yet Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) railed on Twitter about a “robotic surveillance ground drone” being tested in “low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools.” City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán chimed in that it’s “absolutely abhorrent” that the city can spend over $70,000 on such tech while “agencies across the city that deliver essential services and programs are facing cuts.” The deathblow was likely Mayor Bill de Blasio’s words of worry about the unarmed robot.

De Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt explained: “If something undermines trust with the community, is it truly serving its mission? I think not.”

No: It wasn’t the tech undermining public trust, but the pandering pols and cranks like Cahn. This isn’t the beginning of Skynet from the “Terminator” films; it’s just giving front-line law-enforcement officers new tools to safely protect and serve the public, reducing the chances for violent confrontations.

And the sooner such tools become a routine part of policing, the better off we’ll all be.

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Opinion

Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

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Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

When President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last fall, hysterical Democrats declared millions of Americans would lose health coverage with her vote against ObamaCare — and immediately started talking about packing a court they called hopelessly divided.

Two big Supreme Court decisions last week proved reality turned out to be nothing like Dems’ fever dreams.

In a 7-2 decision in California v. Texas, the high court rejected a Republican bid to invalidate ObamaCare — and Barrett was not one of the two dissenters. It ruled that Texas and 17 other GOP-led states didn’t have standing to challenge the law’s individual mandate. The Trump administration had taken their side, while 20 Democratic-run states including New York and California, along with the Dem-controlled House of Representatives, took the other. Only Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented to the majority opinion the liberal Stephen Breyer authored.

How could this be? Last year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared, “Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will be the end of the Affordable Care Act.” In her opening statement at Barrett’s confirmation hearing, then-Sen. Kamala Harris held up a picture of an 11-year-old constituent and accused Republicans of trying “to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take away health care from millions of people during a deadly pandemic.”

Democrats boycotted the final committee vote, filling their seats instead with posters of ObamaCare recipients, implying a vote for Barrett would put those lives at risk.

During the whole childish circus, they insisted Trump had picked Barrett and sped up her confirmation just so she’d be seated in time to hear arguments in the case and dismantle the law. They didn’t bother to look at her record and examine her judicial philosophy — they assumed this well-qualified woman would be the president’s puppet.

In the second important decision, Fulton v. Philadelphia, the court ruled unanimously that the city violated the Constitution’s free exercise clause by suspending Catholic Social Services’ contract because the group wouldn’t certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Yes, all nine justices ruled in favor of religious freedom — putting paid to Democratic complaints the court is out of balance with too many conservatives. It’s far from the only unanimous decision already this term, either. Every justice signed on to decisions written by Gorsuch, Breyer, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, with two of the cases involving immigration issues.

That people of varying political stripes can agree on the law shouldn’t come as a surprise. Supreme Court justices take their jobs seriously — which is more than you can say for Democrats charged with helping choose them.

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Opinion

The undying myth of GOP ‘obstructionism’

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The undying myth of GOP ‘obstructionism’

The media have spent the Joe Biden presidency thus far pressuring moderate Democrats to join the left’s efforts to destroy the filibuster.

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Opinion

Big Labor’s gift to itself and other commentary

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Big Labor's gift to itself and other commentary

Libertarian: Unions’ Gift to Themselves

Big Labor spent millions getting President Biden elected — and now it’s seeking to enact a law “directing federal power and resources to boost flagging” union rolls, laments Reason’s Eric Boehm. The so-called PRO Act “is a grab bag of Big-Labor agenda items that would extend some of California’s awful independent contractor regulations nationwide” and “abolish so-called right-to-work laws in the 27 states that have passed them.” Biden and the unions insist this is about empowering workers, “but if workers were as eager to join unions as [they] seem to think, they wouldn’t need a powerful federal bureaucracy to encourage that outcome.”

Centrist: United Supremes

The most striking aspect of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on ObamaCare and religious liberty was the “absence of ideological divisions” from a high court that “Democratic leaders have declared hopelessly divided along ideological lines,” observes Jonathan Turley at USA Today. The largely united decisions mark “the final collapse of the false narrative that has been endlessly repeated like a mantra in Congress and the media.” Critics may continue to insist that the court is “dysfunctional, divided and needs to be radically changed,” but the justices aren’t “cooperating,” issuing instead an “inconvenient line of unanimous decisions.” Yet even as the court “seems to be saying a lot in one voice not just about the law, but about its own institution,” the media will undoubtedly continue to denounce it, “because politics demands it.”

Crime beat: A Wake-Up Call in Atlanta

The “mind-numbing randomness, brazenness and, even worse, casualness of violence afflicting Atlanta” has the upscale Buckhead neighborhood “wanting to break away from Atlanta to form its own city” with “its own police force,” writes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bill Torpy. Atlanta shootings are up 40 percent this year, but police often see “the same ne’er-do-wells walking the streets the next day,” thanks to a “broken” criminal-justice system. “Buckhead is almost three-quarters white,” yet “in black neighborhoods across the city, victims are widespread, and residents there want police to protect them, too.” But Buckhead can get attention, because its departure would “take away 40 percent of the city’s income.” It should be “one loud wake-up call.”

Culture critic: RIP, Janet Malcolm

At First Things, Helen Andrews assesses the complex legacy of veteran New Yorker magazine scribe Janet Malcolm, who died last week — and whose “cold, precise, unsparing” journalistic style recalled that of the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov. She was born to a psychiatrist father, and “psychoanalysis was a constant presence in Malcolm’s journalism.” The shrink’s couch formed her “eye for the telling detail” and “taught Malcolm a certain bleakness” about the world — and her own profession. Yet her “most famous line” — that “every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible” — helped spread cynicism about reporters. The result, Andrews laments, is that now “every trace of authenticity has been scrubbed from press interviews.” 

Media watch: Suppressing the Truth

“From the lab-leak theory to the Lafayette Square tear-gassing, anti-Trump bias blinded our news media,” declares Wilfred Reilly at Spiked Online. “Except perhaps for the Hunter Biden story,” there was no “potentially major and obviously newsworthy story more intensely suppressed than the lab-leak explanation for COVID’s origins,” but it was just “revealed quite possibly to be correct.” Pols and press called then-President Donald Trump “reckless” for touting hydroxychloroquine, yet “a major study” has found “it increases survival rates for COVID patients by almost 200 percent.” And the claim “Trump had ‘tear-gassed peaceful protesters’ ” to stage a photo-op turned out to be “complete nonsense.” Tellingly, all these facts only came out when Joe Biden became president. This “mainstream-media swiveling” causes “latent social distrust that has no imaginable upside.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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