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US Government Kicks Off Controversial DNA Collection Program

This is the first attempt to collect DNA of individuals who are detained but not charged with a crime.



DNA Collection Program
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(TMU) — On January 3, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a Privacy Impact Assessment detailing plans to collect DNA from individuals temporarily detained at border crossings.

Border Patrol launched the 90 day pilot program on Monday at the Canadian border near Detroit and at the official port of entry at Eagle Pass, Texas. After the pilot period the program will be expanded nationwide.

According to the Privacy Impact Assessment, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Laboratory provides DNA collection kits which allow authorities to take a cheek swab and send the DNA samples to the FBI. CBP and ICE have already had the legal authority to collect DNA from detained persons since the passage of the DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005. However, while previous efforts to collect DNA have focused exclusively on foreign citizens, this is the first attempt to collect DNA of individuals who are detained but not charged with a crime.

The Assessment states:

Effective January 6, 2020, CBP will begin collecting DNA from any person in CBP custody who is subject to fingerprinting. This will include aliens as well as United States citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (U.S. Persons). As with all other DNA samples that federal law enforcement agencies collect under the authority of the DNA Fingerprint Act, CBP will send DNA samples from its DNA population13 to the FBI, which will enter results into CODIS.

The authorized method of DNA sample collection from non-convicts in federal custody, such as those detained for some administrative immigration violations, is by buccal (cheek) swab. Using DNA sample kits provided by the FBI, CBP agents and officers will collect a DNA sample by taking a cheek swab from every individual within scope of the new regulation and submit the DNA samples to the FBI for processing and entry in the CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) system.”

The assessment clearly outlines the groups who will be affected by the DNA collection program once fully implemented. This includes criminal arrestees—including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and aliens—all non-U.S. Persons detained for processing under administrative proceedings and released on their own recognizance; all non-U.S. Persons who are detained for processing under administrative proceedings and voluntary withdraw application; all non-U.S. Persons subject to expedited removal, reinstatement of removal, or administrative removal; and all voluntary returns.

Stephen Kang, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times that the new DNA collection procedures “raises a lot of very serious, practical concerns, I think, and real questions about coercion.”

The assessment pays lip service to examining privacy risks but offers no real solutions. The federal agencies’ main concerns seem to be that people are not aware they have no choice when it comes to handing over their DNA. For example, the DHS worries that “individuals in federal custody will not be aware they must provide a DNA sample to law enforcement officers.” In fact, another privacy risk plainly states that “DNA collection requires no consent and is not voluntary.”

The section titled “Mitigation” states:

This risk cannot be mitigated. If individuals refuse to provide a DNA sample (i.e., are not compliant), then DHS may pursue criminal prosecution. The statute mandating DNA sample collection specifically states that an individual subject to DNA-sample collection who fails to cooperate in the collection of that sample may be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”

Another section titled “Privacy Risk” notes that “individuals whose DNA sample is collected while the individuals are children will not be aware that their DNA profile will remain on file with FBI in perpetuity.” It is this collection and storage of DNA “in perpetuity” which sparked backlash from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and a coalition of civil liberties and immigrant rights organizations.

The organizations first opposed a rule change that expanded the DNA collection abilities of CBP and ICE. The coalition called the rule “unacceptable and unnecessary privacy intrusion” that will have a dangerous impact on the individual being detained but also their family members. In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, EPIC argued that law enforcement’s warrantless collection of DNA is unconstitutional.

The DNA collection plans come after the October 2019 announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) detailing their plans to mandate DNA collection almost all immigrants who cross the border and are held temporarily. Unlike the DHS assessment, the DOJ announcement did not apply to permanent residents or those legally entering the United States.

The consideration of DNA collection is one that has long been discussed by the Trump administration and supporters of his vision of building a wall between the United States and Mexico. The Border Security for America Act—one of several bills considered in relation to Trump’s desire to build a wall—would require new biometric systems to be up and running at the nation’s 15 busiest airports, seaports, and land ports within two years. After five years all land and sea ports of entry would require biometric systems to be running.

Some of the most worrisome portions of the bill include biometric scanning of all people who exit the United States, both citizens, and foreigners. In addition, the text of the bill calls for DNA collection of “any individual filing an application, petition, or other request for immigration benefit or status.”

Of course, the use of DNA collection and profiling has long been the domain of the U.S. government. Back in 2015, under the Obama administration, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations for failing to provide documents related to the Rapid DNA system. The FBI said they found no responsive records to Freedom of Information Act requests made by the EFF.

Rapid DNA analyzers are machines designed to allow processing of a DNA sample in as little as 50 minutes. The machines are portable and roughly about the same size as a laser printer. This means that law enforcement using Rapid DNA can collect a DNA sample from a suspect, and match the profile against a database without the help of a scientist in an accredited lab. The EFF stated this would lead to further invasions of privacy.

By Derrick Broze | Creative Commons |

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Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida



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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son



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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter



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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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