A US appeals court has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents can conduct in-depth searches of phones and laptops, overturning an earlier legal victory for civil liberties groups. First Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch declared that both basic and “advanced” searches, which include reviewing and copying data without a warrant, fall within “permissible constitutional grounds” at the American border. Lynch ruled against a group of US citizens and residents objecting to invasive searches of their electronic devices. The group includes Sidd Bikkannavar, a NASA scientist who was detained and pressured to unlock a secure government-issued phone.
I recently traveled to Venezuela to be an observer for its National Assembly election and was struck by a stark difference between the ways Venezuela and the United States are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. My experience at the airport in Caracas, Venezuela, gave me a taste of what a coordinated public health approach looks like in practice, compared to the disjointed politicized approach in the United States. Airports in the United States are currently serving as uncontrolled portals of disease spread. Venezuela demonstrates it doesn’t have to be this way and that mitigating the spread of infection can be done in an empowering and compassionate way, rather than an oppressive way.
The coronavirus pandemic is breaking records every day in the United States, filling up intensive care units, overwhelming hospital systems and exhausting health care workers. A record 203,000 Americans tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, and the seven-day average is above 170,000. Despite significant advances in treating the disease, more than 1,500 people are dying every day, the highest level since May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that the US will record 300,000 deaths by the middle of December, and there could be as many as 21,000 new coronavirus hospitalizations each day.
The science is clear. If we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the same rate we have been doing for the past decades, 80 years from now, our planet will be at least four degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels. "And the warming won't stop there," climate researcher and oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf told DW. "It will continue to rise to seven or eight degrees over the next 100 years. Human civilization won't survive that." Normally, we respond to danger quickly; we put out fires, run away when we feel at risk, and protect our children in every way we can.