Armed police drones now legal in North Dakota

Armed police drones now legal in North Dakota

Drones are becoming more and more utilized in a variety of different fields. Businesses such as DHL and Amazon caught the attention of many by making use of these robotic apparatus to make deliveries. Media outlets have also been known for using drones to capture hard-to-reach shots for breaking news. Now, the lawmakers at North Dakota add to this growing list, being the first U.S. state to legalize the use of armed drones for law enforcement.

As NPR reports, the passing of the new law allows North Dakota law enforcement to make use of armed drones equipped only with “less than lethal” weapons such as rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag cannons, and Tasers. The law also requires the police to obtain a search warrant before these drones can be used.

Republican state Rep. Rick Becker was Dronethe main proponent of the original bill and is none too happy with how parts of the law had turned out, emphasizing his views that drones should not be weaponized. He had first introduced the bill to push for measures requiring police to obtain appropriate search warrants before making use of drones to survey areas for evidence. However, hurdles in the legislative process caused him to make certain compromises. He was quoted by the website Arstechnica, saying, “…the committee accepted amendments and I didn’t fight them because I wanted the bill to pass at least to require warrants.”

Despite these compromises, Rep. Becker sees the law’s passage as a decisive step away from concerns of privacy invasion. However, Arstechnica notes that he remains determined to introduce a new bill that will advocate for the “non-lethal” use of police drones.

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Can Copyright Claims Get Out of Style™: Is Taylor Swift in the Legal Right?

There are many posts making the rounds on various platforms on social Taylor Swiftmedia, claiming of the avarice from Taylor Swift and her legal team over the disputes regarding her copyrighted phrases. Some of the phrases that have been reportedly copyrighted are “This Sick Beat” (from the song “Shake It Off”), “Nice to meet you, where you been?” (from the song “Blank Space”), as well as “1989” – the title of the singer’s most recent album as well as it is her birth year.

In the website Etsy, where there are many people who make a small business through crafting (from fan-art prints to mugs printed with her likeness), there have been several users who have been approached in a demand to take down their wares with the singer’s copyrighted property. Majority of these people are fans of Swift and her work but the action from her legal team has sparked some backlash for her allegedly threatening to sue her own fans.
The question, however, remains. Is Taylor Swift in the right to threaten lawsuits on the grounds of copyright
infringement for this?

Copyright law is, unfortunately, quite difficult in any kind of legal battle. Swift’s battles are some of the earliest recorded claims of this kind of situation. However, with the rise of illegal downloading, many artists are attempting to make sure that they make the most out of their pieces due to the competitive industry. Though seemingly inane phrases uttered by anyone – and certainly not exclusively penned by Swift – she is the first to have copyrighted the phrases in America, therefore giving her some method of control over merchandise that may be specifically linked to her work.

This kind of move is more to protect her brand than it is an outright move against her fans but there are still repercussions to this choice that Swift cannot just, to borrow a phrase, Shake (it) Off™.

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Under new law, terminally ill patients given access to medication not approved by FDA

The only drugs administered to the public are those that have been investigated and thus approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This can often be a long and uphill battle, taking many drugs years to reach consumers.  However, when the already approved medications given to a terminally ill patient aren’t working, many are arguing that they should have a “right to try” medications that have not received final approval from the FDA.

Twenty-two states in the United States have already approved this law and other states are following.  These “right to try” laws state that under correct protocol, terminally ill patients have the right to drugs not approved by the FDA.   When a patient has tried all other treatment options and still remains in critical condition, this new law can offer some hope if an unapproved drug can possibly help.  Some are saying this law gives some hope to those who have lost all.  If some patients were forced to wait until the drug was approved by the FDA, many would die before the process was complete.

“Right to try” activists are calling for the new law to be approved in more states.  Some states have even seen unanimous votes in the House and Senate in approval of the law.  According to families of terminally ill patients such as Dalton Powers, whose dad suffers from ALS, this new law has allowed access to treatments and medications that may not be officially approved for 10 more years. Due to reasons such as this, it seems as though more states will move forward with “right to try” laws.

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The Debate around Death with Dignity Laws

shutterstock_125077214Several months back, a 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard chose to end her life through physician assisted suicide. Before she died early in November 2014, she wrote a column for CNN to explain her difficult and controversial decision. Just a year after she had been married in 2012, Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was given a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. Having learned her treatment options (and the physical, emotional, and psychological suffering that would go with it), she soon decided that death with dignity was her best option. Maynard moved to Oregon with her family from California, because it is one of only 5 states where physician assisted suicide is authorized in America.

Physician assisted suicide, which is more popularly referred to as death with dignity or end-of-life choice, is a medical option available for terminally ill and mentally sound individuals that have been given a fatal prognosis by their physicians. When a patient opts for an end-of-life choice, he or she will be prescribed a lethal dose medication that they can take on their own or in the presence of their physician—depending on state laws.  Oregon is the first state to have legalized it in 1997 through their Death with Dignity Act. There, a patient opting end-of-life will have to meet eligibility requirements before they can be prescribed with medication that they have to self-administer. Similar legislations have been put into effect in Washington and Vermont in 2009 and 2013 respectively.  Death with dignity is legal in Montana and New Mexico through court decision, but full-reaching laws are yet to be passed. Several other states currently have death with dignity bills pending in their legislative body, among them are Maynard’s home state California. In plenty of these places, death with dignity legislation remains a subject of a very heated debate.

Advocates of death with dignity say that laws like the ones in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont help patients to take control of their dire situations and die without having to experience having their quality of life be degraded by their illness. They also say that giving a terminal patient the option to end their life saves their family from the pain of having to watch their loved ones suffer and fade away.  On the other side of the debate, opponents argue that death with dignity go against the moral tradition of certain religious and spiritual beliefs. Aside from religious concerns, end-of-life opponents also express concern that physician assisted suicide could be sought by patients who are mentally ill. However, the lawmakers that have proposed death with dignity laws in their states argue that their legislations will have room for stringent criteria and examination to prevent such scenarios from happening.

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Facing a Marijuana Possession Charge

shutterstock_139577978Drug violations in the U.S. are consistently being met with harsh prosecution and punishment. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics have found, there were more than 1.8 million arrests made in 2007 for violations against drug abuse laws. The American Civil Liberties Union also noted that more than half of these arrests involve marijuana. In fact, about 88 percent of drug arrests are usually for the illegal possession of marijuana.

Recent years have seen a controversial debate on the legalization of marijuana. While its use has become less and less taboo in American culture, the law remains stringent against the substance. Only a few select states have decriminalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Even fewer have chosen to legalize it completely. In most of the country, state laws still hold harsh penalties against possession of the substance. Even a small amount found in a person’s possession can lead to some damning consequences.

Generally, marijuana possession at first offense is classified as a misdemeanor. It could lead to a maximum $1000 fine and up to 1 year in jail. The penalty will become stricter at second offense, resulting to a maximum $2500 and up to 2 years’ time in jail. Any subsequent offenses are typically considered a felony, which could require a maximum $5000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Certain states also impose specific penalties based on the amount of marijuana found in an individual’s possession. In Texas, for example, carrying more than 4 pounds of marijuana can already be considered a felony. Punishment would then become more severe, especially if the individual has committed previous offenses in the past.

Facing a marijuana possession charge is no easy matter. Regardless of the popular sentiment for the use of marijuana, the law holds true on a different idea.

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Storing your RV properly

Recreational vehicles or RVs are great to have, especially when you like to go on road trips with your family when the weather is clear and the air is warm. However, they are a considerable investment, and it is necessary to protect them from disuse and the elements during the winter months. In most cases, you will not have the space to store an RV in your garage, and most communities will not allow RVs to be parked for long periods on the street. You will have to place your RV in a storage unit when you will not be using it for some months, and that is something that you have to plan carefully.

Find a Storage Unit

According to the website of Pond Springs Mini Storage, not all storage companies have the facilities to store an RV. Those who live in towns that have this kind of storage can consider themselves lucky. However, that is just step one in your storage plan.

Inspect for Holes

You have to make sure that rodents will not bed down for the winter in your RV and chew on wires and upholstery. They can get through very small holes so even the best storage units will not be proof against them. Check the undercarriage of the RV, and every nook and cranny inside including drawers and cabinet doors for any holes or gaps. Fill it with expanding foam or silicone after first experimenting with it to get a feel for the stuff.

Remove all Food

Remove anything and everything that can be construed as food that can attract rodents and insects. Use a liberal amount of mothballs and make sure that all the surfaces are wiped down with a disinfectant. Defrost and clean the freezer, prop the doors open, and place baking soda to absorb odors.

Close Everything Down

Turn off the main breaker of the RV and the LPG supply valve. Disconnect the battery, and store them where it won’t freeze. Clean the AC filter and leave it out to dry. Close blind and shades but leave drawers and cabinets open to air them. Remove batteries from flashlights and clocks but keep them close by for next time you need them.

Wash the Exterior

Leaving dust and grime on your RV in storage will degrade the finish and paint, so wash it down thoroughly from roof to undercarriage and apply a good coat of wax. Seal any cracks you might see with a sealant recommended by your RV dealer. Remove fabric awning to be washed and dried before storing.

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Parents Battle over Son’s Circumcision in Court

shutterstock_141950806In what may later be the bane of a Florida child’s existence, a legal battle has sprung up between his biological parents over whether or not he should undergo a circumcision. The child named Chase has become the unwitting flag bearer of a movement to prevent child circumcision, featured in signs such as “Let Chase Keep His Foreskin” and ”Don’t Cut Chase’s Penis.”

The 4-year old has been the center of almost all disagreements (a lot of them) between his estranged parents, and this current wrinkle has fed the fodder of the cause some refer to as “intactivism.” Intactivists are those that are vigorously opposed to the practice of circumcision, considering it “barbaric” with healthy risks inadequately offset by possible benefits.

Circumcision is a relatively simple outpatient procedure in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, and in many cases the male is an infant or a child. The practice is common in some religions, and some have it done in the belief that it is more hygienic, to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concurs. It is also necessary for some medical conditions. The CDC reports that in 2013 about 58% of all newborn males in the US were circumcised, but that there is a downward trend in the practice.

The parents had a previous agreement in which circumcision would be performed on the child, but the mother balked when the time came for the procedure to be performed, hence the legal battle. The courts have so far favored the father’s side, and no further filings have been made after the Court of Appeals refused to overturn the lower court’s ruling to let the circumcision be performed.

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Factors of Birth Defects

Birth defects can be caused by a number of factors, however, a small amount of these cases are due to third party errors. These third party errors, often caused by doctors or pharmaceutical companies, can be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.  Medical malpractice lawsuits account to a small number of personal injury lawsuits filed in the United States. It is important to first determine whether the birth defect is caused by medical malpractice or negligence before filing an injury lawsuit. There are generally three causes of birth defects, namely 1) genetic, 2) environmental, and 3) unknown. In order to have a strong and valid medical malpractice lawsuit, you should first determine what caused the birth defect. After you’ve determined what caused it, you can contact The Jeff Sampson Law Firm

  1. Genetic causes can be due to a number of factors. First, the single gene defect, where a mutation of a single gene caused the birth defect. Some defective genes can be passed by one parent to the child, while there are instances where the defect will appear only if both parent suffer from the same single gene defect. Chromosomal defects are due to the structure or number of chromosomes and usually occur when something wrong happens during the development of the sperm or egg cell. Lastly, multifactorial defects occur through a combination of genetic and environmental and occur when the child inherits one or more defective gene and is then exposed to an environmental factor that could trigger the birth defect.
  2. Environmental causes of birth defects happen when the fetus (during the crucial developmental stage) is exposed to environmental substances or conditions that could trigger birth defects. The most common environmental factors are alcohol or drug use, infections and STDs, and chemicals or toxic materials.
  3. Unknown causes are those where there is still no medical explanation available yet. About 70 percent of birth defects are of unknown causes.

Legal liability for a birth defect can be established and set as basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit if the birth defect is linked to the mother being exposed to unreasonably dangerous prescription drugs without their knowing of the possible side effects to the babies. Insufficient warnings or blatantly hiding important side effect information would make the drug manufacturers liable for medical malpractice or product liability claims. Likewise, if the doctor performed inadequate prenatal care or made an error during the delivery of the baby that resulted to the birth defect, the doctor, nurses, or hospital can be held responsible for medical malpractice due to negligence.

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True Equality in Marriage: Same-Sex Divorce

shutterstock_219219871Recent data indicates that same-sex married couples are running to catch up with their heterosexual counterparts in terms of divorce rates. With more and more states allowing same-sex marriages, more couples are eligible for marriage it is not unexpected that more of them will also be divorcing. It’s just a matter of the numbers; it is not necessarily a reflection of same-sex relationships.

It is not surprising that marriage-equality advocates would keep this fact on a low profile; it may add fuel for the anti-gay marriage movement, justified or not. However, the trend is toward even higher percentages of same-sex divorce as those who have been partners for years finally get married, leaving the arena to the younger, more impulsive, and less committed.

Same-sex couples who have waited years and lobbied hard for having the privilege of legal status in marriage have presumable gone through the test of time together and tended to stay married more than their heterosexual peers. But that is not true for the more recently together, and while only one percent of gay marriages end in divorce every year (compared to 2% for heterosexual marriages), that is expected to even out in the coming years.

But divorce for same-sex couples are a lot more complicated than heterosexual marriages, mostly because current laws are still in a bit of a mess. The federal Defense of Marriage Act figures into the equation plus different states have different laws on same-sex divorce and disposition of taxes, inheritance, pensions, and other typical issues in divorce. It can take some time before there is true equality for gay couples, not only in marriage but also in divorce, at least in the legal sense. In the meantime, gay couples will have to muddle along as best as they can with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

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Night of the Wrongful Death

car accidentHalloween is considered by law enforcement to be one of the deadliest nights of the year, as it is the one night of the year that children are out on the streets at the same time as adults are getting drunk and behind the wheel. That is an unfortunate combination that, sadly, results in many preventable deaths.

Halloween 2014 ended with the deaths of three 13-year-old girls out trick or treating in California, while in Arizona 5 people (2 children and 3 adults, one in a wheelchair) survived when they were hit by a car while crossing a street but four of them are in critical condition.

In many cases, pedestrians are hit by vehicles operated by an impaired driver who was driving too fast pr failed to slow down at crosswalks. Many of the victims are children, some as young as two years old. But not every accident was caused by high blood alcohol content. One child was struck by a bus on the highway when the adults failed to properly supervise the toddler. On at least one occasion, the victim ran out into the street without looking.

In such instances, assigning fault is not always easy, although leaving the scene, which is what happened in several of the incidents, is already a crime in itself. Such tragic incidents often have long-reaching consequences for all parties concerned. It would be advisable for parents to closely supervise young children and caution older ones repeatedly while trick or treating.

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