Won’t Talk To Contact Tracers? There’s A Subpoena For That
Rockland County, New York is ramping up to issue subpoenas to Constitution-minded citizens who tell contact tracers to pound sand. If you don’t obey the subpoenas, the court can issue an arrest warrant and the police show up at your door.
Those who were actually served with subpoenas didn’t have as much backbone as they professed: “County officials said Thursday that after issuing eight subpoenas, all eight people were now cooperating with contact tracers.” ⁃ TN Editor
Officials are resorting to subpoenas to compel people in Rockland County to cooperate with contact tracers as they probe a new virus cluster
Sources tell News 4 they’re aware of at least three large parties in Rockland in recent weeks; one was held by someone with COVID June 13
The state Department of Health is also investigating a separate possible cluster in Westchester County linked to a drive-in graduation ceremony
Health officials are investigating a new cluster of eight or more COVID-19 cases in Rockland County tied to a large party earlier this month, but they’re running into trouble with contact tracing because people refuse to cooperate.
The county plans to resort to subpoenas, as it did during its measles outbreak some years ago, to compel people to work with contact tracers as they work to contain a new potential outbreak. It may mark the first time in the tri-state area that such a measure has been taken over COVID contact tracing noncompliance.
That party linked to the new potential cluster was the first of three large parties in Rockland County in the last two weeks. It was hosted June 13 by someone in New City who was sick with coronavirus at the time, sources say. County officials said Wednesday that the host knew they were symptomatic and held the party anyway.
Officials trying to contain further spread say multiple people who attended one or more of the three parties have refused to cooperate with contact tracers. That strategy, along with testing, is critical to mitigating future spread, officials say.
Daily Percentage of Positive Tests by New York Region
With all of New York state in some phase of reopening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is shifting his focus to monitoring test results on a daily basis across each region to identify potential hotspots before they emerge. Here’s the latest tracking data by region. For the latest county-level results statewide, click here
Rockland County has the highest percentage of daily positive tests (1.2 percent as of Wednesday) of all seven counties in New York’s Mid-Hudson region. While that is still a low number compared with the metrics seen earlier in the crisis, health officials are leery it could quickly surge upward — especially if they can’t find the emerging positive cases early and isolate them through tracing efforts.
The rolling seven-day average of positive daily tests for the Mid-Hudson region is at 1 percent, the same as the rest of the state. That seven-day average isn’t available to a county level on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s website. Mid-Hudson, which is now in Phase III of the reopening process and recently resumed indoor dining, also includes Westchester County, the source of a separate new cluster.
Police Robots Are Being Used For Social Distancing Control
If robots are being implemented elsewhere in the world to help police with enforcement of social distancing and face mask compliance, you can bet your bottom dollar that America will soon follow suit. Technocrats have an engineered answer for every conceivable problem. ⁃ TN Editor
Covid-19 is accelerating the adoption of police robots in several cities such as Tunis in Tunisia, Guangzhou in China, and Chennai in India.
In south-east Asia, the city-state of Singapore leverages its Smart Nation resources to alleviate shocks from Covid-19. The robot car O-R3 and robot dog Spot patrol public parks and broadcast messages that remind people to maintain safe-distancing. The police robots “Matar” patrol a migrant worker dormitory and government quarantine facility. Autonomous drones patrol the skies above industrial zones, which are deserted due to the city-state’s lockdown, to deter opportunistic criminals.
Globally, the pandemic is compelling police forces to navigate more challenges. In the United States, inadequate protective gear exposes police officers to the risk of contracting the disease. In Australia, frontline workers, including police officers, encounter incidents of “spitting attacks”. In Singapore, a person knifed an enforcement officer who was performing safe-distancing duties.
The pandemic, which is the first to ravage the world in the Industry 4.0 era, offers an opportunity for police forces to boost smart policing in keeping pace with the changing world. Old methods of policing are insufficient to ease the unprecedented pressures from additional duties to support pandemic controls while concomitantly fighting crime. Across emergency services, Industry 4.0 technologies such as robots are shifting from novelty to necessity.
The World Economic Forum describes robots as “a game-changer in pandemics” and “can provide contact-free alternatives”. Robots can help enforce quarantines and safe-distancing as they are not susceptible to fatigue and disease. They can ease the physical and mental pressures that police officers face while working extended long hours in high-risk environments. This benefit extends to other government officers who are empowered by public health laws to enforce pandemic controls.
Smart policing for new normal
The challenges that police forces encounter today could evolve and shape the new normal in the post-pandemic reality. Health experts warned that Covid-19 could linger after the pandemic ends. The economic recession that follows could exacerbate socio-political tensions in some cities, hence creating conditions for unrest and terrorism. To address these challenges, it requires more than deploying more robots as boots on the ground.
To fully realise smart policing, police forces should enhance the integration of robots in three areas. Firstly, police forces should review their operational processes to include doctrines that guide the use of robots in frontline duties. Robot operators should coordinate with police intelligence units to ensure real-time analytics of the data that robots collect while patrolling. They should also be mindful of the legal and ethical issues that could arise from human-robot interactions.
Contact Tracing: When Game Night Turned Into A Nightmare
When an unskilled, $17/hour “contact tracer” shows up on your doorstep, how will you respond? Will he or she be able to wreck your life in a few short minutes? Follow the saga of Henry Kron and his family.
Be sure to see all the headlines and the video at the end of the story! There’s more. Much more. That’s why it’s “to be continued…” ⁃ TN Editor
Henry Kron and his wife Helen had just enjoyed a family dinner time with their two pre-teen daughters, Leanne and Elise. Henry headed to the coat closet to get the girls’ favorite board game off the top shelf.
He had promised that this would be “game night” and they were all looking forward to it.
Actually, life was just starting to look good again after the extended lockdown during the global pandemic. That one had cost Henry his last job and finding a new job was next to impossible with 40 million other Americans out of work at the same time.
In fact, the lack of income for several months left them unable to make their house payment for two months in row. They came within an inch of being foreclosed. Their retirement fund wasn’t large, but it took the whole thing just to get caught up.
With a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, Henry had finally landed a good job. Even though he would be on probation for the first 90 days, he was determined to do whatever it would take to keep the job.
Just as they decided who would get to roll the dice to start the game, the doorbell rang.
Henry went to the door thinking “Who would call on us at this time of the evening?” He certainly was not expecting anyone.
As he opened the door, there stood a soldier in a crisp, clean fatigue uniform.
“Mr. Kron?” he asked.
“Yes,” replied Henry, “is something going on in the neighborhood?”
“No, sir,” he replied, “I am here to give you and your family a coronavirus test because we received a report that you have unknowingly been exposed to someone who actually had the virus.”
“What? Who was that?” Henry asked.
“I’m not at liberty to say, sir,” he replied, “All of that kind of information is private and confidential.”
Henry immediately thought back to the restaurant he and his wife visited for dinner two days ago. They were asking each guest to fill out a form with their name and address info, and they did. The waitress said it had something to do with contact tracing rules just implemented in their state.
The soldier explained that testing was mandatory but there would be no cost to him. It would only take a couple of minutes to take samples from everyone in the household.
Reluctantly, Henry consented. What else could he do?
After signing the HIPAA agreement and liability waiver, the soldier took a quick cheek swab of all four of them.
“I will take these kits to the lab for processing tonight,” he said, “and I will personally get back to you in the morning with the results.”
“Oh, and Mr. Kron, until you hear from me, please remain at home, just in case.”
After this intrusion, game night was overshadowed by the fear of “what if”. Nobody really felt like laughing and Henry and Helen had a restless night after the girls went to bed.
Just after breakfast the next morning, the phone rang.
“This is Henry Kron speaking,” he answered as he picked it up with a twinge of dread in his stomach.
“Mr. Kron, I’m sorry to report that your wife Helen tested positive for COVID-19 even though she has no symptoms yet,” the caller said, “so, your family will have to make some adjustments over the next two weeks.”
“What kind of adjustments?” Henry asked.
“Well, you will all have to ‘self-quarantine at home’ and avoid contact with anyone else,” the caller explained. “We can help you with any needs you might have, like groceries or pharmaceuticals.”
“You mean my daughters can’t go to school?”
“That’s correct, sir, they will have to stay home for the duration.”
“Do you mean I can’t go to work?”
“That’s also correct, sir, but only for two weeks. We will test all of you again at the end just to confirm that you are all in the clear.”
Henry was starting to feel a sense of panic. Could they really do this to him?
“Wait!” Henry exclaimed, “If I don’t go to work tomorrow, I will be fired from my new job, and if I get fired again, I will lose my house. In any case, I just read that your COVID-19 tests are returning a high percentage of false positives. You can’t do this to me!”
“I understand how you feel, sir, but our contact tracing guidelines are very clear and your cooperation is essential to help keep you and everyone else safe and well.”
“Well, you can stick that in your ear, soldier boy,” Henry exclaimed with rising temper, “I am going to work and that is the end of matter.”
“Sir, it’s not that easy. We require daily contact with you until the two week period is completed, and if you violate the order, you will receive a citation that will cost $500 per day.”
“Furthermore,” he explained, “if you were to test positive before the end of self-quarantine, you could be criminally charged for intentionally spreading the coronavirus, and that could mean one year in jail.”
“Oh, and Mr. Kron? We will also need to know everyone you and your family have been in contact with during the last 7 days.”
Henry’s heart sank. He knew this was the end of the line for him and his family. He was trapped. He had worked so hard for so many years to get where he was, but this would be the final blow that killed it all.
He could seek low income housing, but the application line was a mile long because unemployment was so high. Maybe they would just sell everything and start over somewhere else.
“More sleepless nights ahead,” he told Helen. Their daughters didn’t fully understand, but they knew their parents were very upset. They all hugged, temporarily oblivious to COVID-19. At least they had each other. For now…
NJ Police Use Chinese Drones To Enforce Social Distancing
Human nature is the same across all societies and civilizations. Thus, American officials are potentially just as likely to want to control people as Chinese officials. In this case, it is ironic that Chinese drones are being used to curtail a Chinese virus on American soil. ⁃ TN Editor
Police in Elizabethtown, N.J., are using drones to spy on citizens in areas patrol cars cannot reach. Authorities claim the drones are not taking pictures or collecting evidence, but failure to comply with their orders could lead to a summons or $1,000 fine.
Even worse, the drones come from a Chinese company that sent similar drones across the country — and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned that data collected on these Chinese-owned drones could be compromised and sent back to Beijing.
“The drones make it easier for police to see into certain areas where access by patrol cars is more difficult. That includes tight spaces between buildings, behind schools, and backyards,” an MSNBC anchor explained in a segment on Friday. “Failure to comply could lead to a summons or a thousand dollar fine.”
“It’s just an invasion of your privacy,” a local man told MSNBC.
J. Christian Bollwage, the city’s mayor, responded to the criticism by insisting that the drones could save lives.
“My answer to those people is, ‘If these drones save one life, it is clearly worth the activity and the information that the drones are sending,'” Bollwage said.
“The drones, donated by DJI, a Chinese company, have gone to 43 agencies in 22 states, all to help enforce social distancing rules,” MSNBC reported. “Authorities say the drones aren’t taking pictures or collecting evidence. It’s a high-tech warning against a daily virus.”
Elizabeth Harrington, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party, shared a video of the segment.
“US using Chinese drones to spy on and lecture Americans about a virus caused by communist China,” she tweeted.
DHS warned that Chinese-made drones may be sending sensitive flight data back to their manufacturers in China, where the Communist Party-dominated government can access it. The DHS sent an alert last May warning about the drones, almost a year before American mayors decided to use DJI drones to enforce social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus.
According to CNN, nearly 80 percent of the drones used in the U.S. and Canada come from DJI, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China.
“The United States government has strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access,” the alert stated. “Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made (unmanned aircraft systems)-connected devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities.”
Of Spies, Surveillance And The Rising Police State
The surveillance state is running amok throughout the world, encouraging autocratic behavior from top to bottom of government structures. This is done with technology, by technology and for more technology, but the darkened nature of man does not change. ⁃ TN Editor
For the state, there is one primary imperative—to remain in power at all cost. If this imperative is to be successful, the state must impose, by stealth or deception, a system capable of monitoring all individuals who may pose an immediate or future threat to its dominance.
The COVID-19 “crisis,” produced either deliberately or by an act of nature, provides the state with a nearly airtight pretext for the imposition of further surveillance of the public, in particular political adversaries.
The largely manufactured “war on terror” following the attacks of 9/11 produced the needed climate of suspicion and fear to make possible the implementation of the Patriot Act, “a domestic-surveillance wish list full of investigatory powers long sought by the FBI,” an agency that has for many decades served as a political police force, a fact made public during the Church Committee hearings in the mid-1970s.
Much of what we know about technological surveillance in the wake of 9/11 was gleaned from the revelations of Edward Snowden, a former NSA, and CIA employee. Snowden exposed a number of global surveillance programs, including PRISM and XKeyscore, the former in partnership with Microsoft, Apple, and Google.
“The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin,” writes Jeff Nesbit for Quartz.
The NSA and CIA “research arms” funded “birds of a feather,” including Google, as part of an effort to track and trace individuals across the internet. Funding was provided in part by the National Science Foundation and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as DARPA.
Human beings and like-minded groups who might pose a threat to national security can be uniquely identified online before they do harm. This explains why the intelligence community found [Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s] research efforts [into search engines] so appealing; prior to this time, the CIA largely used human intelligence efforts in the field to identify people and groups that might pose threats. The ability to track them virtually (in conjunction with efforts in the field) would change everything.
During the development of the Google search engine, Brin was in contract with an employee of the defense contractor MITRE Corp, a corporation “leading research and development efforts for the NSA, CIA, US Air Force Research Laboratory and US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command [and] the CIA’s internal Research and Development department,” according to journalist Kit Klarenberg.
The advent of social media further increased efforts to profile, track, and trace individuals. “You don’t need to wear a tinfoil hat to believe that the CIA is using Facebook, Twitter, Google… and other social media to spy on people,” CBS News reported almost a decade ago.
The coronavirus provides an additional pretense to further the already deep reach of the surveillance state and its corporate partners. The national security state has graduated from the exaggerated threat of Muslim terrorists in caves to an invisible pathogen a corporate propaganda media has exploited to frighten an ill-informed public—and thus clear the way for the state to introduce new and more intrusive surveillance.
Google and Apple have teamed up to create a system that tracks and traces individuals allegedly exposed to the coronavirus. “The technology would rely on the Bluetooth signals that smartphones can both send out and receive,” NPR reports.
If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they could notify public health authorities through an app. Those public health apps would then alert anyone whose smartphones had come near the infected person’s phone in the prior 14 days… The companies insist that they will preserve smartphone users’ privacy.
Google, however, cannot be trusted to preserve and respect privacy. In September the corporation was ordered to pay $170 million fine after it knowingly and illegally harvested personal information from children on its YouTube platform. Prior to this, the Silicon Vally tech giant was caught sharing its users’ personal information without obtaining consent. In 2014, Google was fined $22.5 million for implementing a workaround that let it spy on the browsing histories of mobile clients.
As Snowden recently pointed out, after COVID-19 runs its course the data collected will still be available to government and it will “use new causes like terrorist threats to justify continually gathering and analyzing people’s data.”
Vermont: Stores Commanded To Stop Selling Nonessential Items
Vermont has triggered the next wave of “soft martial law” by dictating to stores that they may not sell ‘nonessential’ items, and then handing them a list of contraband items. Incidentally, this is the scenario that was envisioned by the original Technocracy movement. ⁃ TN Editor
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) is directing large “big box” retailers, such as Walmart, Target and Costco, with in-store sales of food, beverage and pharmacy, as well as electronics, toys, clothing, and the like to cease in-person sales of non-essential items in order to reduce the number of people coming into the stores.
“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” said Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle. “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system. We are directing these stores to put public health first and help us reduce the number of shoppers by requiring on-line ordering, delivery and curbside pickup whenever possible, and by stopping the sale of non-essential items.”
The Governor’s Executive Order allows in-person business operations to continue at retail businesses for the following:
f. retail serving basic human needs such as grocery stores, pharmacies, other retail that sells food, beverage, animal feed and essential supplies, provided, these retail operations shall be conducted through on-line and telephone orders for delivery and curb-side pickup to the extent possible;
g. fuel products and supply;
h. hardware stores, provided, these retail operations shall be conducted through online and telephone orders for delivery and curb-side pickup to the extent possible;
i. transportation sector and agricultural sector equipment parts, repair and maintenance, provided these retail operations shall be conducted through on-line and telephone orders for delivery and curb-side pickup to the extent possible;
Large “big box” retailers must cease in-person sales of non-essential items not listed in the Executive Order, including, but not limited to: arts and crafts, beauty, carpet and flooring, clothing, consumer electronics, entertainment (books, music, movies), furniture, home and garden, jewelry, paint, photo services, sports equipment, toys and the like.
Large “big box” retailers must:
Restrict access to non-essential goods. Stores must close aisles, close portions of the store, or remove items from the floor.
Only offer non-essential items via online portals, telephone, delivery, or curbside pickup, to the extent possible.
Except in the event of emergencies threatening the health and welfare of a customer, showrooms and garden sections of large home improvement centers should be closed.
Horowitz: It’s Time To End The Great American COVID-19 Police State
Except that tyranny is raising its ugly and toxic head, there is no excuse or rationale to implement a police state in America because of COVID-19 or any other disease. Citizens must contend for Civil Liberties at every level of government. ⁃ TN Editor
We now have the most severe, widespread, and protracted form of martial law in our nation’s history … except as it applies to dangerous criminals who are undeterred and released. How much worse will we allow this to get until we call a foul on these gross constitutional violations?
As I observed last week, states have wide latitude to forcibly quarantine individuals or groups of people from the general population. But they don’t have the power to shut down the entire general population. Also, as the Supreme Court has said many times, there are times when life, liberty, and property can be infringed upon, but it must be narrowly tailored to the least invasive means needed to achieve the compelling state interest. What is happening now is anything but narrow.
Consider the following:
A 19-year-old woman was given a citation and forced to go back home after a state trooper in York County, Pennsylvania, caught her simply “going for a drive.” She was alone in a car, the ultimate social distancing. There is no way under any emergency power that such a broad, arbitrary and gratuitous edict can be justified under the Constitution, given the severity of its restriction on personal liberty. Meanwhile, subways are still open!
Numerous states have arbitrarily banned nonessential medical services, defined as pretty much anything that is not an urgent emergency. It would be one thing if the areas were overrun with COVID-19 patients, but as I reported yesterday, these hospitals are in fact empty and are now laying off vital medical staff because of the unlawful edicts.
In Los Angeles County, a paddleboarder was arrested for being in the ocean … alone! The San Diego sheriff bragged about giving people a $1,000 citation for sitting alone in their cars at the beach. Again, no violations of federal health and distancing guidance occurred. This is straight unconstitutional fascism.
David Schuster of Winnebago, Minnesota, was hit with a criminal complaint after he was caught playing cards with three of his buddies in his bar. The bar was closed to the public, but the policeman saw the lights on. He faces up to 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. I’m sure that bar was spreading the virus as much as subways and buses. Perhaps more than the 86-year-old anti-abortion protester who was given a citation by San Francisco police for dropping leaflets against abortion. Meanwhile, abortion clinics are open while hip replacements are banned.
Evidently, the virus is worse at night and attacks people when it’s dark. Cities like Laredo, Texas, are now adopting a mandatory curfew after 10 p.m. unless you are wearing an ID or have a letter that shows you are an essential worker. A city government that has no problem harboring illegal aliens and bristles at immigration enforcement as “show me your papers: totalitarianism has no problem applying it to Americans walking or driving alone, which has zero bearing on spreading a virus.
For years we were told that to use the military more aggressively at our international border to repel an invasion – the quintessential use of the military – was somehow a violation of the Posse Comitatus law, which bars the feds from using the military to enforce domestic laws. Now, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the same man who championed the program of training Saudis on our military bases, is signaling that governors can use the National Guard to enforce house arrest edicts.
Google is now developing a tool to track people to see if they are following the edicts. The New York Times already publicized a heat map of movement based on cell phone data. For years, law enforcement has been stripped of every tracking tool to catch criminals and terrorists. Everything was a concern for alleged criminals’ privacy. Now, they are searching for any innovative means to use against everyday Americans.
The same states that couldn’t set their conditions for early voting or regulate abortion clinic health standards without a federal judge intervening are now free to crush our life, liberty, and property at their most basic level – free of any due process, time constraints, or judicial oversight. The only judicial review now is for abortion clinics, criminals, and illegal aliens.
The Slippery Slope From Handwashing To House Arrest
The bigger risk to America is when the abnormal becomes the new normal after the threat of COVID-19 subsides. Too many autocrats in leadership are overstepping the Constitution and are emboldened to continue the abuses. ⁃ TN Editor
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”—Viktor Frankl
We still have choices.
Just because we’re fighting an unseen enemy in the form of a virus doesn’t mean we have to relinquish every shred of our humanity, our common sense, or our freedoms to a nanny state that thinks it can do a better job of keeping us safe.
Whatever we give up willingly now—whether it’s basic human decency, the ability to manage our private affairs, the right to have a say in how the government navigates this crisis, or the few rights still left to us that haven’t been disemboweled in recent years by a power-hungry police state—we won’t get back so easily once this crisis is past.
In Washington, DC, residents face 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine if they leave their homes during the coronavirus outbreak. Residents of Maryland, Hawaii and Washington State also risk severe penalties of up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for violating the stay-at-home orders. Violators in Alaska could face jail time and up to $25,000 in fines.
Of course, there are exceptions to all of these stay-at-home orders (in more than 30 states and counting), the longest of which runs until June 10. Essential workers (doctors, firefighters, police and grocery store workers) can go to work. Everyone else will have to fit themselves into a variety of exceptions in order to leave their homes: for grocery runs, doctor visits, to get exercise, to visit a family member, etc.
A quick civics lesson: Martial law is a raw exercise of executive power that can override the other branches of government and assume control over the functioning of a nation, state, or smaller area within a state. The power has been exercised by the president, as President Lincoln did soon after the start of the Civil War, and by governors, as was done in Idaho to quell a miner’s strike that broke out there in 1892.
In areas under martial law, all power rests with the military authority in charge. As British General Wellington wrote, “martial law” is not law at all, but martial rule; it abolishes all law and substitutes for it the will of the military commander. Military personnel are not bound by constitutional restrictions requiring a warrant, and may enter and search homes at without judicial authorization or oversight. Indeed, civil courts would no longer be functioning to hear citizen complaints or to enforce their constitutional rights.
Thus far, we have not breached the Constitution’s crisis point: martial law has yet to be overtly imposed (although an argument could be made to the contrary given the militarized nature of the American police state).
It’s just a matter of time before all hell breaks loose.
If this is not the defining point at which we cross over into all-out totalitarianism, then it is at a minimum a test to see how easily we will surrender.
Curiously enough, although Americans have been generally compliant with the government’s suggestions and orders with a few notable exceptions, there’s been a small groundswell of resistance within parts of the religious community over whether churches, synagogues and other religious institutions that hold worship services should be exempt from state-wide bans on mass gatherings. While many churches have resorted to drive-in services and live-streamed services for its congregants, others have refused to close their doors. One pastor of a 4,000-member church who stood his ground, claiming that the government’s orders violate his right to religious freedom, was arrested after holding multiple church services during which attendees were reportedly given hand sanitizer and made to keep a six-foot distance between family groups.
It’s an interesting test of the First Amendment’s freedom of assembly and religious freedom clauses versus the government’s compelling state interest in prohibiting mass gatherings in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Frightened People Shed No Tears For Loss Of Freedom
Humanity is eating itself. The more frightened people become, the more willing they are to accept any dictator who will protect them. Of course, no dictator will protect his subjects and that is the irony of the entire coronavirus stampede. ⁃ TN Editor
The last days and weeks of the coronavirus epidemic give an interesting insight into the human psyche. Elementary liberties are restricted all over the world, such as the freedom of movement or private property. Yet most people accept these restrictions without blinking, as the state declares their indispensability.
A chronology of the events in Madrid: on Sunday, March 8, a large World Women’s Day demonstration against the alleged rule of the Patriachate was held. There were 120,000 particiants, and members of the government took part in it, marching side by side in the first row.
They had called for strong participation. Just one day later it was announced that starting on Wednesday, March 11, kindergartens, schools, and universities in Madrid would be closed. Since Sunday, March 14, there a curfew has been in place, which is enforced by police and military force. Cyclists and joggers trying to keep fit in the fresh air have been fined heavily.
Spaniards are no longer even allowed to be in the private gardens of apartment blocks, even if families take turns using them. In short, we are no longer allowed to use our own gardens. They have been temporarily expropriated.
Most people are little bothered by the fact that the state is violating their freedom massively. They regard it as necessary and good. They do not question the state´s authority to restrict our freedom at all. Rather, they denounce those who want to move freely and make use of their property rights. When two brothers were seen playing soccer in the garden of an acquaintance’s apartment block, the police were called.
People denounce playing children, who are regarded as harmful to public health, and put up posters saying “Quédate en casa” (stay at home). This is a block warden mentality. The most worrying thing is the high number of willing state collaborators. The parallels with the past are unnoticed. No one seems to care, and it is not even discussed.
If people are just scared enough, they entrust themselves to a (temporary) dictatorship without grumbling. They give up their freedom in the hope of being saved by state leaders advised by wise experts. Fear makes people controllable. Instead of protesting against the violation of their property rights, they clap their hands every day at 8 p.m. in Spain. Initially, the applause was mainly to show support for doctors and nurses, but in the meantime cheers for the police have been mixed in.
The state leaders plan the violation of liberty centrally. They do not have the necessary information to give a rational answer to the coronacrisis. They take into account the benefits of the curfew and economic shutdown but not the costs, because these are not quantifiable.
One of the immediate costs is the loss of a more rapid immunization of the population. But there are other health costs. Being confined to one’s own four walls, with the corresponding lack of physical exercise, will lead to increased cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, strokes, and thromboses, among other things. The psychological burden of being locked up is especially immense. The psychological strain will cause some marriages and families to break up; trauma and depression will be created.
The economic collapse triggered by the political reaction to the coronavirus has its own health costs, such as entrepreneurs who suffer heart attacks and unemployed people who fall into depression or alcohol.
‘Geofence’ Warrant Traps Innocent Bike Rider At Scene Of Crime
Police can now get warrants to demand that Google give up ‘geofence’ records of everyone who was near the scene of a crime. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time can get you busted as a suspect and possible arrest. ⁃ TN Editor
The email arrived on a Tuesday afternoon in January, startling Zachary McCoy as he prepared to leave for his job at a restaurant in Gainesville, Florida.
It was from Google’s legal investigations support team, writing to let him know that local police had demanded information related to his Google account. The company said it would release the data unless he went to court and tried to block it. He had just seven days.
“I was hit with a really deep fear,” McCoy, 30, recalled, even though he couldn’t think of anything he’d done wrong. He had an Android phone, which was linked to his Google account, and, like millions of other Americans, he used an assortment of Google products, including Gmail and YouTube. Now police seemingly wanted access to all of it.
“I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew the police wanted to get something from me,” McCoy said in a recent interview. “I was afraid I was going to get charged with something, I don’t know what.”
There was one clue.
In the notice from Google was a case number. McCoy searched for it on the Gainesville Police Department’s website, and found a one-page investigation report on the burglary of an elderly woman’s home 10 months earlier. The crime had occurred less than a mile from the home that McCoy, who had recently earned an associate degree in computer programming, shared with two others.
Now McCoy was even more panicked and confused. He knew he had nothing to do with the break-in ─ he’d never even been to the victim’s house ─ and didn’t know anyone who might have. And he didn’t have much time to prove it.
McCoy worried that going straight to police would lead to his arrest. So he went to his parents’ home in St. Augustine, where, over dinner, he told them what was happening. They agreed to dip into their savings to pay for a lawyer.
The lawyer, Caleb Kenyon, dug around and learned that the notice had been prompted by a “geofence warrant,” a police surveillance tool that casts a virtual dragnet over crime scenes, sweeping up Google location data — drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections — from everyone nearby.
Still confused ─ and very worried ─ McCoy examined his phone. An avid biker, he used an exercise-tracking app, RunKeeper, to record his rides. The app relied on his phone’s location services, which fed his movements to Google. He looked up his route on the day of the March 29, 2019, burglary and saw that he had passed the victim’s house three times within an hour, part of his frequent loops through his neighborhood, he said.
“It was a nightmare scenario,” McCoy recalled. “I was using an app to see how many miles I rode my bike and now it was putting me at the scene of the crime. And I was the lead suspect.”
A powerful new tool
The victim was a 97-year-old woman who told police she was missing several pieces of jewelry, including an engagement ring, worth more than $2,000. Four days after she reported the crime, Gainesville police, looking for leads, went to an Alachua County judge with the warrant for Google.
In it, they demanded records of all devices using Google services that had been near the woman’s home when the burglary was thought to have taken place. The first batch of data would not include any identifying information. Police would sift through it for devices that seemed suspicious and ask Google for the names of their users.
Kenyon said police told him that they became particularly interested in McCoy’s device after reviewing the first batch of anonymized data. They didn’t know the identity of the device’s owner, so they returned to Google to ask for more information.