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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

Corruption

Cop Who ‘Accidentally’ Killed Daunte Wright Arrested on 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charges

Elias Marat

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The former Minnesota cop who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop will now face charges of second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor announced on Wednesday.

The brutal killing of Wright, which comes amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last May’s killing of George Floyd, threatens to spark a new round of nationwide protests against police brutality and discriminatory policing.

On Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed that Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, would be charged.

On Wednesday morning, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter, the bureau announced in a statement.

Potter was taken into custody in St. Paul and will be booked at Hennepin County jail.

On Tuesday, Potter resigned as demands for justice for Wright reverberated nationwide. Her resignation coincided with that of the city’s former police chief, who claims that Potter accidentally grabbed her Glock when she thought she was reaching for her Taser during the Sunday traffic stop.

Wright’s family and attorneys have rejected the claim that Wright’s death was merely the result of an “accident” and are demanding accountability and sweeping reforms of policing in Minnesota.

Potter could face up to 10 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine, per Minnesota law.

“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” said Wright family attorney Ben Crump in a statement.

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” the statement added.

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Corruption

Trump “Pretty Likely” to Land in Jail For Many Alleged Crimes, Legal Analyst Says

Elias Marat

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Legal experts continue to say that it remains likely that former President Donald Trump could land in jail if convicted on one of the many legal challenges he faces.

Throughout his life, Trump has been involved in a number of lawsuits – both as the subject and instigator of them – but he is currently facing no less than 29 lawsuits and is also the subject of several criminal lawsuits, including one which saw his tax returns opened up to lawyers.

Trump is being investigated for potential bank, tax and insurance fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office calls “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” reports the New York Times.

The former head of state denies any malfeasance and has said that he is “proud” of his tax returns.

However, legal analyst Jay Michaelson told Daily Beast’s The New Abnormal that Trump is “pretty likely” to face jail time if found guilty.

“Trump’s lawyers will always come up with something, but there should be no reason why the grand jury won’t get these financial records tomorrow,” Michaelson said.

“Will he go to jail for, like, the rest of his life? Probably no,” he continued. “Is it possible that this would lead to criminal charges that would carry jail time? I would say that’s pretty likely, and we could have a grand jury indictment fairly soon.”

Last month, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump legal team’s appeal to keep his tax returns closed from prosecutors. The move opens the door to the returns being shown to a grand jury in New York.

Following the ruling, Trump denounced the move as a result of him being a victim of “’the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country.”

“In the meantime, murders and violent crime are up in New York City by record numbers, and nothing is done about it,” he added. “Our elected officials don’t care. All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump.”

“I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!”

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Corruption

Minneapolis Police Lieutenant Calls Chauvin’s Use of Force On George Floyd “Totally Unnecessary”

Elias Marat

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The head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division flatly denounced former officer Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd as “totally unnecessary.”

Lt. Richard Zimmerman testified on Friday about his over three decades of police training and the lethal dangers of the techniques used on Floyd on May 25, 2020.

Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, is currently facing trial for his role in the killing of Floyd, 46, a Black man, by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

“Once you handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as quickly as possible, because it restricts their breathing,” Zimmerman said, adding that being handcuffed “stretches the muscles back through your chest and it makes it more difficult to breathe.”

“That would be the top tier, the deadly force,” he said, noting that escalating to such a degree goes against use-of-force training at MPD. “Because if your knee is on someone’s neck, that can kill them.”

When asked if such force was necessary, Zimmerman responded that it was “totally unnecessary” given that any potential threat from Floyd had been subdued.

“First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” Zimmerman said. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they would have to feel to use that type of force.”

Continuing, Zimmerman noted that handcuffing a person quickly alters the permissible use of force that can be used in a situation.

“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way to, they’re cuffed, how can they really hurt you?” he said. “That person is handcuffed, and the threat level is just not there.”

At that stage, the use of force quickly declines, he added.

“If they become less combative, you may just have them sit down on the curb,” Zimmerman said. “The idea is to calm the person down and if they are not a threat to you at that point, you try to, you know, to help them so that they’re not as upset as they may have been in the beginning.”

Derek Chauvin has faced at least eighteen complaints during his 19-year career with the Minneapolis police, including six times in which prosecutors claim the former officer used force against arrestees.

However, these incidents – like George Floyd’s own criminal record – won’t be introduced to jurors in the Chauvin trial so that the defendant isn’t punished for prior misconduct, and is instead evaluated on the charges he faces for the death of Floyd: third- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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