North Dakota first to give coppers armed drones

Lucky intern gets to volunteer as test subject for drone taser

It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.

The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones…

And as we all know…

Even “less than lethal” weapons can kill though. At least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far, according to The Guardian. Bean bags, rubber bullets, and flying tear gas canisters have also maimed, if not killed, in the U.S. and abroad.

RTFA for a great deal of pro-and-con discussion. Not all of it very bright. But, when today’s class of state legislators in involved with corporate lobbyists, I’m surprised when any mention of civil liberties is allowed to creep into a question.

Coming – $470M GM plant to build and sell electrified vehicles in China


SAIC already plans to build an electric Lavida with Volkswagen

Building on its current momentum within the region, General Motors announced it will be part of a new venture to construct an electrified vehicle factory in China.

GM is joining SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and Wuling Motors to build the $470 million plant. A GM representative said the factory will be dedicated to producing only “new energy vehicles,” China’s term for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Annual capacity is expected to be 200,000 vehicles per year…

This new factory expands on a collaboration already in place between GM and SAIC Motors. Last month, GM announced that it is creating a new vehicle family from the ground up, which will replace several existing models. SAIC Motors is working alongside GM to develop the powertrain architecture and engine for this new line…

GM noted that this product line will be manufactured and sold in China, Mexico and India, among other regions.

“There are no plans to export the vehicles to mature markets such as the United States,” said GM.

GM does well in China. They sell more Buicks there than anywhere else in the world. Yes, they still look like Buicks to me. But, informed consumers + government support = equals an opportunity to market products more in line with forward-looking values.

Which is why there are no plans to offer any of these cars in the United States.