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It sounds like something out of a paranoid Hollywood thriller. New surveillance technology that can keep tabs on people — lots of people — for hours at a time. 

This isn't some Michael Bay script, though. The technology is real and, according to an in-depth report by the Washington Post, already being used to solve violent crimes.

Persistent Surveillance Systems is the organization behind the technology. The company, based in Dayton, Ohio, explained to the Post how it works, as well as some steps the company has taken to assuage privacy concerns.

It starts with an eye in the sky: A small Cessna plane flying in a two-mile radius, 8,000 to 10,000 feet in the air for hours at a time. The plane is equipped with 12 high-resolution cameras that take photos every second, according to the Post. The cameras can't detect a person's identity (people and vehicles appear as a pixel), but they can track movement over time, which can often lead to an identification and arrest.

Ross McNutt, president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, told the Post that he wants to use the systems around the country. They have been demonstrated in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Compton, California. They have already solved one crime in Dayton, McNutt told the Post.

McNutt also said he met with leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union to help develop a privacy policy for the technology. According to the Post, police who use the system aren't supposed to examine footage until a crime has been committed, in order to prevent law enforcement "fishing expeditions."

Still, some privacy advocates remain concerned.

From the Post:

"If you turn your country into a totalitarian surveillance state, there’s always some wrongdoing you can prevent,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union. “The balance struck in our Constitution tilts toward liberty, and I think we should keep that value.”

"Totalitarian surveillance state" might be a bit strong, but plenty of Americans have said they are worried about the ever-expanding possibility of incursion into their private lives. The growing use of drones, for everything from fighting terrorists to delivering tacos, is an example. Some communities are attempting to enact laws that limit their use. In Minnesota, state lawmakers are considering enacting standards for the controversial technology, according to an AP report.

Minnesota state Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, told AP he doesn't want to limit the effectiveness of law enforcement. “This is an attempt to balance the needs of law enforcement and the civil rights of Minnesotans and their privacy,” he said. “We want to make sure we use it properly.”

In Deer Trail, Colo., residents plan to vote on whether to make it legal to "hunt" federal drones. The election is scheduled to take place sometime after April 1, the Denver Channel reports.

Even whales are seeing their privacy disappear. According to a report from CBS News 8, whale watchers are now using drones.


NEW YORK (AP) — Gallant guide dog Orlando was just doing his duty. Blind man, guide dog struck by NYC subway Associated Press
Donations pour in for blind man and hero dog after subway fall Reuters. The black Lab bravely leapt onto the tracks at a Manhattan subway platform Tuesday after his blind owner lost consciousness and tumbled in front of an oncoming train.

Cecil Williams, 61, and Orlando both escaped serious injury when the train passed over top of them — a miraculous end to a harrowing ordeal that began when Williams began to feel faint on his way to the dentist.

"He tried to hold me up," an emotional Williams told The Associated Press from his hospital bed, his voice breaking at times.

Witnesses said Orlando began barking frantically and tried to stop Williams from falling from the platform. Matthew Martin told the New York Post that Orlando jumped down and tried to rouse Williams even as a train approached.

"He was kissing him, trying to get him to move," Martin said.

Witnesses called for help and the train's motorman slowed his approach as Williams and Orlando lay in the trench between the rails.

"The dog saved my life," Williams said.

As Williams regained consciousness, he said he heard someone telling him to be still. Emergency workers put him on a stretcher and pulled him from the subway, and made sure Orlando was not badly injured.

"I'm feeling amazed," Williams said. "I feel that God, the powers that be, have something in store for me. They didn't take me away this time. I'm here for a reason."

Williams was taken to a hospital where he is expected to recover, with Orlando at his bedside. Williams, a large bandage on his head, said he is not sure why he lost consciousness, but he is on insulin and other medications.

Orlando, described by Williams as serious but laid-back, was making new friends at the hospital. He will be rewarded with some kind of special treat, Williams said, along with plenty of affection and scratches behind the ears.

"(He) gets me around and saves my life on a daily basis," Williams said.

Williams, of Brooklyn, has been blind since 1995, and Orlando is his second dog. The lab will be 11 on Jan. 5, and will be retiring soon, Williams said. His medical benefits will cover a new guide dog but won't pay for a non-working dog, so he'll be looking for a good home for Orlando.

If he had the money, Williams said, "I would definitely keep him."


A single-page FBI memo relaying a vague and unconfirmed report of flying saucers found in New Mexico in 1950 has become the most popular file in the bureau's electronic reading room.

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