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Snowden: Governments Using Pandemic to Build “Architecture of Oppression” Surveillance

Snowden fears that world leaders will hold onto new emergency powers well after the pandemic ends.

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Snowden Pandemic
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(TMU) — In addition to quarantines and lockdowns, some governments like those in China, Taiwan, and South Korea have been using a surveillance strategy called “contact tracing” to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While each country’s contact tracing program has slight variations, all of them are essentially cell phone apps that keep a running record of the user’s heath and the health records of all the people they come into contact with.

If a cell phone comes in close contact with someone who might have the virus, the user receives a text message informing them and then instructing them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

However, the quarantine is not necessarily voluntary, depending on where you live. In some countries, phones have been used as a sort of house arrest ankle-bracelet that will notify authorities if the person being monitored leaves the house for any reason.

These apps are being touted as the way to end the shut down in both Italy and the UK and it appears that officials are going to be taking things in that direction.

At face value, it may appear that this could be a useful strategy in preventing the spread of disease, but privacy advocates and tech experts are concerned that this information could be misused and that the unprecedented surveillance capabilities could be kept and held by corrupt governments long after the pandemic is over.

In a recent interview with Vice, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden expressed his concerns about the coming surveillance program, calling it the “architecture of oppression.”

“Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what’ is being built is the architecture of oppression,” Snowden said.

Snowden recognized that the virus was a serious threat and said that the intelligence community was well aware that it was only a matter of time before a massive pandemic crippled the country, even back when he was working in the NSA.

“There is nothing more foreseeable as a public health crisis in a world where we are just living on top of each other in crowded and polluted cities, than a pandemic. And every academic, every researcher who’s looked at this knew this was coming. And in fact, even intelligence agencies, I can tell you firsthand, because they used to read the reports had been planning for pandemics,” he said.

Snowden questioned the positive numbers that have come out of China in recent weeks and pointed out that the Chinese government has been credited with reducing the spread of the illness because they took such draconian measures during the lockdown.

Perhaps their extreme strategy is not working as well as they say it is, but since the government maintained tight control of any information coming out of the country, it is impossible to say for sure.

“If you’re looking at countries like China, where cases seem to have leveled off, how much can we trust that those numbers are actually true? I don’t think we can. Particularly, we see the Chinese government recently working to expel Western journalists at precisely this moment where we need credible independent warnings in this region,” Snowden said.

In a statement published on Friday, Apple and Google announced that they were teaming up in a rare partnership to develop compatible contact tracing apps, which they claim will work on an “opt-in” basis.

However, according to Bloomberg, the companies are planning to eventually build the contact tracing into the device’s updates.

Apple and Google insist that you will still be able to opt-out of the program if you don’t want to participate, but it is possible that rankings on these apps could be used to gain entry into grocery stores or larger businesses and events once the economy opens up again.

“As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world,” Snowden warned.

By John Vibes | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Corruption

Prison Guard Who Had Sex With Inmate In Front Of 11 Prisoners Is Now Behind Bars

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A prison guard in California now finds herself behind bars after she was caught having sexual relations with an inmate – in one case, performing the act in full view of 11 other prisoners.

Former Fresno County correctional officer Tina Gonzalez, 26, was arrested last May following an investigation by the vice unit of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office’s and its internal affairs division.

Gonzalez, who worked as a prison guard from 2016 to 2019, was investigated after authorities were tipped off that an inmate was having sex with a prison guard who had also smuggled in a phone, reports the Fresno Bee.

In one case, Gonzalez even cut a hole in the pants of her uniform to allow easier access during sexual acts with the unnamed prisoner at Fresno County Jail.

Gonzalez was also accused of having sex in full view of 11 inmates, an act that her former boss says “is something only a depraved mind can come up with.”

Assistant Sheriff Steve McComas, who once supervised the unit Gonzalez belonged to, said that in his entire career of 26 years he has witnessed some “pretty disgusting things” but none as bad as Gonzalez’s conduct.

“She took an oath which she betrayed and in doing so endangered her co-workers’ lives,” McComas said.

“But she has shown no remorse,” he added. “She continually calls and has sexually explicit conversations with the inmate in question and boasts about the crimes she carried out.”

Gonzalez pleaded no contest in April to one count of sexual activity by a detention facility employee with a consenting confined adult, one count of possession of drugs or an alcoholic beverage in a jail facility and a misdemeanor count of possession of cellular device with intent to deliver to an inmate.

When she was being sentenced, Judge Michael Idiart decried her acts as “terrible, stupid” and noted that her career had been “ruined.”

“But I also believe that people can redeem themselves and you have the rest of your life to do that,” the judge added. “Good luck.”

Gonzalez is now serving her sentence of seven months in county jail to be followed by two years of probation.

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Judge Orders New Trove of Secret Ghislaine Maxwell Files to Be Unsealed This Month

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A large trove of secretive files about Ghislaine Maxwell will be unsealed this month, including those shedding light on her relationship with disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a judge ruled on Thursday.

The documents will include details on her finances, as well as “funding received from the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation,” according to court records.

The documents are also believed to detail Maxwell’s extensive connections with powerful men such as Prince Andrew of the British royal family, reports the Daily Mail.

It has long been well-known that Epstein and Maxwell associated with both Clinton and former President Donald Trump. Clinton also reportedly met with accused Maxwell for an “intimate” dinner in 2014.

The documents are a part were filed by Epstein accuser and former “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre in a 2015 civil lawsuit against Maxwell and must be released in mid-July, Judge Loretta Preska ruled in Thursday’s telephone hearing.

Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after she was accused by the British socialite of fabricating the sexual abuse allegations against her and Epstein in the lawsuit, which has since been settled.

Last July, a deposition by Giuffre was unsealed. In the deposition, Giuffre went into detail about alleged “constant” orgies that Maxwell and the late pedophile engaged in on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.

“There’s just a blur of so many girls,” Giuffre explained in the 2015 deposition.

“There were blondes, there were brunettes, there were redheads,” she continued. “They were all beautiful girls. I would say the ages ranged between 15 and 21.”

The island was a place where orgies were a constant thing that took place. And again, it’s impossible to know how many,” Giuffre said, noting that she was “100 percent certain” that Maxwell took part in sexual acts with the girls.

Maxwell is accused of grooming multiple minors to engage in sex acts with Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, by befriending them to ask them about their lives and families while building friendships with the young girls alongside Epstein by taking their victims on social outings or out shopping in the 1990s and 2000s.

Maxwell has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, pending trial.

Her five appeals to be released from jail have all been rejected.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in a lone cell in the special housing unit (SHU) of a federal Manhattan prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.

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2 More Catholic Churches in Canada Burned as Third Mass Gravesite for Indigenous Kids Found

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An additional two Catholic churches have been the target of likely arson in Canada as anger continues to grow in the aftermath of the discovery of over 1,000 human remains belonging to Indigenous children.

The news coincides with the discovery of a third site where 182 unmarked graves were located near a discovered near a residential school in British Columbia’s interior.

Early Wednesday morning, firefighters were dispatched to respond to a fire at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, Alberta, which was basically gutted by the blaze.

“The fire was already fully involved from the basement when the first fire crews got here,” Morinville’s infrastructure general manager Iain Bushell told CTV News. “They entered the building but there was already collapse occurring on the inside of the church so they backed out and it’s been a defensive or exterior fire fight ever since.”

Police officials have described the blaze as “suspicious.”

Roughly an hour later, a fire was also reported at the Catholic St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, reports CBC.

At least seven churches, nearly all Catholic, have come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks. Activists and Indigenous advocates have also defaced Catholic churches with bloody red hand and foot prints, while demonstrations have also been staged involving stuffed animal and the slogan “we were children.”

While it remains unclear what precisely caused the fires, they are believed to be linked to the recent discovery of mass graves and unmarked graves containing over 1,000 human remains near Catholic-run residential schools for First Nations children.

The discovery came just few weeks after the grim discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s bodied by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation in a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Colombia.

Also last month, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced its discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area.

 Another site with 182 unmarked graves was announced Wednesday after an investigation undertaken by the community of ʔaq’am, near Cranbrook, British Columbia.

About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has confirmed that large amounts of Indigenous children fled such residential schools or died there, their whereabouts unknown. Former students have also testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad students died from preventable diseases that rapidly spread in unsanitary conditions, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”

Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are also demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. Activists have also rejected Canada Day celebrations this year to highlight the anti-Indigenous atrocities that the founding of the North American country entailed.

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