clock menu more-arrow no yes

Vox Sentences: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s aerial surveillance of the entire city of Baltimore!

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

The federal government might mandate tech that would limit trucks to 68 mph or less; striking miners kill Bolivia's deputy interior minister; Baltimore's police secretly surveilled the entire city.


Easier rider

Portland Press Herald / Gordon Chibroski via Getty
  • The federal government has released a proposed regulation that would require manufacturers to put speed-limiting devices on all trucks and buses over 26,000 pounds. [The Verge / Andrew J. Hawkins]
  • Depending on vehicle type, allowed speeds would top out at 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour. At least, that's what regulators are proposing — there are 60 days for public feedback before the rule is finalized. [Reuters / Timothy Ahmann and Joseph White]
  • Speed-limiting devices are already present in plenty of cars — they're what prevent sports cars from going as fast on the road as they do on the track.[HowStuffWorks / Patrick E. George]
  • Federal officials are pushing the new regulations as a way to reduce highway fatalities. Speeding trucks kill about 1,000 people a year — and collisions involving large trucks or buses killed 4,000 people in 2014. [Trucks.com / Clarissa Hawes]
  • Those fatalities are worse in places with higher legal speed limits — which is a big reason supporters of the regulation hope the final rule doesn't increase maximum speeds much beyond the 68 mph in the proposal. [Trucks.com / Carina Ockedahl]
  • The trucking lobbies are split on the proposal. The American Trucking Association has welcomed federal mandates for speed-limiting technology. But the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association worries that speed-limiting devices will increase danger by causing road rage. [Overdrive / Matt Cole]
  • It's possible, though not likely, that the regulatory push could backfire. When another agency proposed that the trucking industry test drivers for sleep apnea — a condition that can make drivers exhausted and erratic on the road — the trucking industry reacted by not only quashing the proposal but taking to Congress to strike down existing regulations. [Huffington Post / Michael McAuliff]

A mining not-so-cooperative

AFP / Aizar Raldes via Getty
  • Striking Bolivian miners beat the country's deputy interior minister to death Thursday, after kidnapping him as he was on his way to negotiate with them. [BBC]
  • His body was found wrapped in a blanket by the side of the road where miners had erected a roadblock.
  • The miners, who represent the country's "cooperative" mines (an association known as FENCOMIN), have been on strike for several weeks after a change to national mining law. [TeleSUR / Dimitri O'Donnell]
  • Earlier protests have also been violent: Miners and police held a prisoner exchange earlier in the month, and at least two miners were killed yesterday at a roadblock gunfight.
  • They're demanding the ability to produce more material than currently allowed under environmental law, and to contract directly with private companies to sell their product — remedies they think will help them turn around the industry after a tough few years. [Reuters / Daniel Ramos]
  • FENCOMIN isn't exactly a leftist workers' collective; many of its members are medium-size mines that treat their workers extremely badly. [Jacobin / Jeffery R. Webber]
  • But they've been an important part of the electoral coalition of President Evo Morales, which now appears to be fraying badly. [AP]

Citywide surveillance isn't this cute and unthreatening

Lightrocket / Roberto Mochado Noa via Getty
  • A report by Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this week revealed that since January, Baltimore police had used aerial surveillance technology developed for military use to secretly monitor the city. [Bloomberg Businessweek / Monte Reel]
  • This isn't the first time Baltimore has been surveilled — the FBI sent planes to monitor the skies over the city during its protests last spring — but everyday monitoring by local police is a new frontier. [Ars Technica / Sean Gallagher]
  • The funding for the surveillance system (a Cessna plane with wide-angle lenses) came from Houston billionaires Laura and John Arnold, who are up-and-coming philanthropists interested in, among other things, criminal justice reform. [WSJ / Scott Calvert]
  • But the Arnolds weren't revealed as the donors until this week — despite Maryland law about out-of-state donations — because the grant was funneled through a local foundation. [Baltimore Sun / Justin Fenton and Doug Donovan]
  • At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argues this is a fundamental violation of community trust — basically a fireable offense for the police. [The Atlantic / Conor Friedersdorf]
  • But Matthew Feeney of the Cato Institute points out that it might not be a violation of the Constitution, at least as interpreted by the current Supreme Court — which has often shrugged off law enforcement surveillance as just something a person can expect in everyday life. [The Hill / Matthew Feeney]
  • The US isn't nearly as far down that path as Britain, which has not only ubiquitous surveillance cameras but, now, highly trained facial recognition detectives to watch the footage and bust repeat petty offenders. [The New Yorker / Patrick Radden Keefe]
  • Supreme Court justices tend to understand tech's threats to privacy when it happens to things they themselves do. If surveillance tech stays in places like Baltimore, it might not seem too big an imposition. [Vox / Dara Lind]

Miscellaneous

  • A federal court has ruled that the University of North Carolina doesn't have to enforce the state's "bathroom law" against transgender people for now. (It's a temporary injunction.) [BuzzFeed News / Chris Geidner]
  • Movies have to include that boilerplate about how "any resemblance to real events is purely coincidental" at the end because Rasputin's murderer once sued MGM for getting the murder wrong. [Slate / Duncan Fyfe]
  • Gov. Paul LePage of Maine says that 90 percent of the drug dealers busted in his state are black and Latino. (The state is 95 percent white.) He says he has a binder of their faces. So the Maine ACLU filed a FOIA request. [ACLU of Maine]
  • Olympic goddess Katie Ledecky can't swim at her own neighborhood swimming club. [WSJ / Kristina Peterson]
  • Just one of the great tidbits in this deep dive on the Choco Taco: Bureau of Land Management employees working Burning Man demanded Choco Tacos as part of their compensation. [Eater / Jason Cohen]

Verbatim

  • "The fish lies there, prostrate, surrounded by streaks of water that mark its trajectory after its path was interrupted by my face." [The Awl / Martin Bergman]
  • "7:30 pm. Google cyanide. Ethically harvested version available?" [Medium / Sara Schaefer]
  • "All I know is that with David Butt, I am able to confidently stay the woman I am, one who was not born with the last name Butt." [Reductress / Courtney Paige Barnett]
  • "She shot Ernest Turley on purpose — because the Ouija board she and her mother consulted said that her father must die in order for Dorothea to marry a handsome cowboy." [HiLobrow / Lynn Peril]
  • "'If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,' Bornstein wrote. Asked how he could justify the hyperbole, Bornstein said,'"I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead.'" [NBC News / Anna R. Schecter, Chris Francescani and Tracy Connor]

Watch this: Why you shouldn’t drive slowly in the left lane

It isn’t just a matter of courtesy to the people driving behind you — it’s a real question of safety. [Vox / Christophe Haubursin and Joseph Stromberg]

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.