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Though he’s sold a scant 500 of them, Defender-DNA inventor Bob Smith is optimistic about his new product. “I get so excited when I look at it now,” he says. “It could go so far it’s unreal.” A standard personal alarm supplemented by an auto-injecting needle, the device is supposed to collect a DNA sample from one’s would-be attacker. Currently, such a sample would be useful only if the assailant were one of the 141,600 violent or sex offenders cataloged in the FBI’s National DNA Index System, or one of the approximately 260,000 in state databases. But many politicians and police departments across the country advocate adding DNA samples of nonviolent criminals to their local databases; New York City police commissioner Howard Safir would like to take a sample from everyone who is merely arrested. Widening the pool even more, New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani recently said he favors obtaining the genetic fingerprints of all the city’s newborns. Smith says his product is the defense of the future.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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