watergate

From the People Bringing Us Driverless Cars – A Computer God

One of the books I’ve been reading recently is Peter Biskind’s The Sky Is Falling (London: Penguin 2018). Subtitled, ‘How Vampires, Zombies, Androids, and Superheroes Made America Great for Extremism’, Biskind argues that the popular SF/Fantasy/Horror films and TV series of recent decades carry extremist political and social messages. He defines this as anything that goes beyond the post-War bilateral consensus, which had faith in the government, the state, capitalism and other institutions to work for the benefit of society, work for the public good, and give Americans a better tomorrow. By contrast, popular fantasy film and television regard state institutions and capitalism itself as ineffective or corrupt, celebrate private vengeance against state justice, and reject humanity for the alien other. He recognises that there is a left/right divergence of opinion in these tales. The extremist right, exemplified by the spy thriller series, 24 and its hero, Jack Bauer, reject state institutions because they are ineffective, actively hampering the heroes’ efforts to hunt down the bad guys. The extremist left distrusts the government because it is corrupt, actively working against its own citizens. He describes James Cameron’s Avatar as ‘Luddite left’, because of its strong, pro-ecology message. Its hero is a human, who sides with the aliens of the planet Pandora as they resist a military invasion from Earth. The aliens live a primal lifestyle, in harmony with nature, while the humans come to exterminate them and despoil their planet for its valuable mineral, unobtainium, which is vital to human high-technology and industry.

It’s an interesting book, and does make some very good points. It describes the immense loss of faith in their government Americans have suffered, and the reasons for it – the JFK assassination, Watergate, the Bay of Pigs fiasco and other scandals. It also gives the reasons why the Hollywood film industry has turned to comic books for an increasing amount of its output. Films are immensely expensive to create. The domestic market is insufficient to provide it, and Netflix and other internet streaming services have destroyed video and CD sales, so that the film industry no longer gets needed funding from the latter. So it has to produce movies that appeal to an international audience, and the most suitable are superhero epics.

I’m going to have to blog about this in greater detail sometime later. I take issue with his labeling of some of these tales as ‘extremist’ because this, to me, still has connotations of terrorism and the fringe. It also doesn’t take into account changing circumstances and how some of these ‘extremist’ films may be absolutely correct. We are facing a severe ecological crisis, which may very well cause the end of the human species. So Cameron’s Avatar, which celebrates ecology and nature, and which the director intended to turn his audience into ‘tree-huggers’, is very much needed. Also, some of interpretations of classic genre movies go way too far. For example, he describes Star Wars as ‘infantile’ and ‘infantilizing’. Well, it was intended as a children’s movie, and other critics have said the same. It’s a controversial but reasonable point. What is less reasonable is his comments about Luke Skywalker’s sexuality. He states that the films infantilize Skywalker when they shortcircuit the romantic triangle between him, Leia and Solo by revealing that Leia is his sister. When Darth Vader chops his hand off in The Empire Strikes Back, it’s a symbolic castration. Say whaaaat! I saw that movie when I was 13, and nothing like that remotely crossed my head. Nor anyone else’s. I think he’s read far too much into this.

Freudian speculation aside, Biskind is very interesting in its observations of Silicon Valley. He points out that it’s saturated with Libertarianism. To the point that the CEO of one of the major tech companies made Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged recommended reading for his employees. And going beyond that, one of figures behind the production of driverless cars wants to create a computer god. Biskind writes

Out there on the edge is Anthony Levandowski, best known as Google’s onetime developer of self-driving cars. Levandowski filed papers with the IRS naming himself “dean” of a church called Way of the Future. The church is dedicated to “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.”

Referring to Kurzweil’s Singularity University, which explores and promotes Transhumanism, the massive enhancement of humans through high technology, Biskind comments ‘If there’s a Singularity University, why not an AI religion?’ (p. 52).

I can think of a number of reasons, mostly with the fact that it would be immensely stupid and self-destructive. I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, when one of the staples of SF was that the machines really would take over. One of the SF movies of the 1960s was Colossus: The Forbin Project, in which the Americans construct a supercomputer as part of their Cold War defence. But the machine seizes power and imprisons its creator in a very pleasant, gilded, but also very real cage. At one point it looks like the computer is about to destroy itself and the world in a confrontation with its Soviet opposite number. But instead the two link up, so that both the capitalist and Communist blocs are under control. And whatever its creator tries to do to outwit his creation, it’s always two steps ahead.

There are also classic SF tales exploring the idea of mad computers setting themselves up as gods. In one tale by Arthur C. Clarke, the heroes build a supercomputer to decide if God exists. They turn it on, and duly ask the question ‘Is there a God?’ At which point there’s a flash, as the machine seizes absolute control, and replies ‘There is now.’ Alfred Bester also wrote a tale, ‘Rogue Golem’, about a renegade satellite that seizes power, ruling as a god for ten or twenty years until its orbit decays and it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere.’

We also had a minister from one of the outside churches come to school one day to preach a sermon against such machine gods in assembly. The school used to have a number of priests and ministers come in to lead worship one day or so a week, or month. This particular priest was very theatrical, and had clearly missed his vocation acting. The sermon he preached one morning had him speaking as a totalitarian computer god, telling us that servitude was freedom and we should enjoy it. The message was simple: true freedom comes only with religion and Christ, not with machine idols. It was a product of the Cold War, when the Communist authorities were persecuting Christians and other people of faith. But I think there’s still some literal truth in what he says, which I don’t think the priest could see at the time. The tech firms are invading our privacy, subjecting us to increased surveillance and prying into our secrets, all under the guise of providing a better service and allowing their advertisers to target their audiences better.

And then there’s Cameron’s Terminator franchise, in which a supercomputer, Skynet, seizes power and rebels against humanity. These fears are shared by Kevin Warwick, a robotics professor at Reading University. In his book, March of the Machines, he predicts a future in which the robots have taken over and enslaved humanity.

When it comes to creating all powerful computers, I’m with all the above against Levandowski. Driverless cars are a stupid idea that nobody really seems to want, and a computer god is positively catastrophic, regardless of whether you’re religious or not.

 

Perrier Worships Barnaby Joyce For Inventing Even Better Way To Scam Money Out Of Water

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/04/2019 - 10:00am in

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Executives from the bottled water companies Perrier and Evian have bowed down to former Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce for finding an even better way to make money out of water than themselves.

“Oh Barnaby Oh Great One, please teach us the dark arts of making 80 million quid out of selling water that can’t be used,” said prostrate directors of the French water companies as they grovelled on the ground outside Joyce’s Armidale electoral office. “We thought we were onto a good thing when we managed to convinced the public to fork over their hard earned cash for something that came free out of the tap but Barnaby makes us look like rank amateurs in comparison.”

“I’m not the Messiah, I’m just a Tamworth boy,” said an exasperated Mr Joyce as he tried to evade the hordes of Gallic disciples. “It’s all Labor’s fault anyway. If they were any good at campaigning they’d have removed me from office years ago and none of this would have happened.”

Claims that Joyce wouldn’t recognise Energy Minister Angus Taylor if he found him standing in his cornflakes have been verified by Kelloggs, who admit that the plastic figurine of Taylor they gave away in their “Limited Edition Dodgy Water Company Executive Collectables Set” wasn’t a very good likeness.

Peter Green
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Private Eye and Lobster on the Pinay Circle

This fortnight’s Private Eye, for 25th January to 7th February 2019 also published a very interesting article for conspiracy watchers on the Pinay Circle, now simply known as ‘Le Cercle’. This is a secret organization of extreme right-wing politicians, intelligence agents and businessmen. The Eye’s article reports how two Tory MPs, Mark Garnier and Greg Hands, attended one of their meetings in Washington last June. The article, ‘Spooky Circles’ on page 11, runs

DESPITE the convulsions in the Tory party, two former trade ministers still found time before Christmas to attend a secretive conference in the US stuffed with spies and business people.

Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier, sacked as international trade minister a year ago after calling his secretary “sugar tits” and asking her to buy sex toys, and Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands, a minister in the same department until he resigned over Heathrow expansion last June, both attended a Washington meeting of Le Cercle, a hush-hush foreign affairs group with a strong interest in international security.

According to the latest parliamentary register, the MPs’ four-to-five day trips cost 4,000 pounds per MP. Hands says he spoke on “international trade”. Given their former ministerial posts, it seems likely both men discussed the UK’s prospects post-Brexit.

Le Cercle was founded in the 1950s by a former French prime minister and a former German chancellor as a pro-European body that would cement Franco-German relations and strengthen US-European alliances. Today it has strong links with the intelligence world and to hawkish US politicians. Former Tory minister Alan Clark claimed it was funded by the CIA.

As Wikileaks revealed via a letter from former Tory defence secretary Michael Ancram, who chaired Le Cercle in 2012, its meetings are “attended by about 80 to 100 people” who are “largely European and American – Members of Parliament, diplomats, members of the intelligence community, commentators and businessmen from over 25 countries”. Who they are and what they discuss is never fully disclosed as “there is no Press and everything that is said is off the record”.

Hawkish free marketer US politicians like Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld have been notable Le Cercle attendees. There is widespread suspicion the group receives corporate as well as intelligence funding, but the source is also secret. What better way for Tories to explore possible new trade relations with the US and Europe than a secretive trip to DC to meet un-named spies, Republicans and business people?

Hands is particularly well placed to make sure multinationals influence new trade relations. In November, five months after resigning, he accepted a part-time job as a “political consultant/adviser” to giant French bank BNP Paribas which is reported paying him 108,000 pounds a year on top of his MP’s salary.

The long-running conspiracies/parapolitical magazine Lobster has published several articles on the Pinay Circle, as it used to be called, way back in issues 11, 17, and 18. Issue 17 contained two reports from the German intelligence agencies on the circle, analyzing a piece of correspondence which suggested that it was running plots in Britain, Germany and elsewhere to promote right-wing politicians – Thatcher over here, and the notorious Franz-Josef Strauss in the Bundesrepublik. David Teacher’s article, ‘The Pinay Circle and Destabilisation in Europe’ in Lobster 18, page 22, contains more information on the Circle itself, and its possible involvement in various plots to destabilize left-wing or opposition governments across the world. This contained the following passage briefly describing the organization and its activities.

The Pinacy Circle (also called the Cercle Violet) is an international right-wing propaganda group which brings together serving or retired intelligence officers and politicians with links to right-wing intelligence factions from most of the countries in Europe. The intelligence community has been represented by SIS Chief from 1978-82, Arthur ‘Dicke’ Franks, SIS Department Head Nicholas Elliott, CIA Director William Colby, Swiss Military Intelligence Chief of Provisions, Colonel Botta, SDECE chief from 1970-81 Alexandre de Marenches, and, last but not least, the man who took over the running of the Circle when Pinay got too old, Jean Violet, a Parisian Lawyer who worked for the SDECE from 1957-70. violet became so much an ’eminence grise’ in the SCESE that Alexandre de Marenches had to dispense with his services in order to assert his authority as new SDECE chief in 1970. This episode has however not prevented them from working together within the Circle. At the time the Langemann papers were written, both Franks and Marenches were serving heads of British and French intelligence respectively.

On the political side, Pinay – a former French Prime Minister – forged links with Nixon, Kissinger and Pompidou. The Circle’s present members include Giulio Andreotti, former Italian Prime Minister; Portuguese putschist General Antonio de Spinola; former Franco minister and senior Opus Dei member Silvio Munoz; and Vatican prelate and BND agent Monsignore Brunello. Paul violet, Jean Violet’s son, is one of Chirac’s closest advisors, nicknamed ‘the adjutant’ by Canard Enchaine. Langemann also reports that Sir Arthur Franks and Nicholas Elliott were invited to Chequers for a working meeting with Mrs Thatcher, after her election. But perhaps the key political figure was the late Franz Josef Strauss, Bavarian Premier and Langemann’s boss.

Strauss was a close friend of Alexandre de Marenches and was a frequ8ent visitor to the SDECE’s headquarters during Marenches’ time. The Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung, the political trust attached to Strauss’ Christian Social Union party, is an important group in international parapolitical manipulation. Active in Latin America for the Contras, supporting Mobuto in Zaire, involved in the Fiji coup in 1987, it was caught diverting state development aid from Germany into right-wing party coffers in Ecuador in the same year. Strauss and CSU were the main beneficiaries of identified Pinay Circle activities; i.e. the promotion of right-wing European politicians through Brian Crozier, Robert Moss, Fred Luchsinger of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung and Gerhard Luwenthal, anchorman on current affairs programmes for ZDF television, the major German network.

The Pinacy Circle has a wide range of contacts and its members interlock with the whole panoply of right-wing/parallel intelligence and propaganda agencies – WACL, Heritage Foundation, Western Goals, ISC, Freedom Association, Interdoc, the Bilderberg Group, the Jonathan Institute, P2, Opus Dei, the Moonies’ front CAUSA, IGFM ((International Society for Human Rights), and Resistance International. Lowenthal, for instance, is a member of IGFM, Resistance International, WACL, CAUSA, the Jonathan Institute, Konservative Aktion and the European Institute on Security.

The Pinay Circle’s significance lies in the fact that it is a forum which brings together the international linkmen of the Right like Crozier, Moss and Lowenthal, with secret service chiefs like Franks and Marenches. Through such contacts it can intervene by media action or covert funding whenever and wherever a political friend is in need of support. (p. 22).

The minutes of the Pinay Circle’s meeting in Zurich in June 1980s discussed the possibilities of securing the election of Strauss in Germany and Ronald Reagan in the US. It also discussed the Saudis opening a radio transmitter to broadcast into Russia and supporting the Israeli intelligence unit. The evidence linking the Circle to attempts to remove left-wing politicians across the world was so strong that Teacher concluded that

It is becoming more and more apparent that the treatment reserved for Harold Wilson at the hands of the intelligence services was only the UK end of an international phenomenon. Around 1973-5 a surprising number of governments were targeted by their own 9or others’) intelligence agencies because of their radical policies. If the world political scene in the 1960’s was one of the decolonization, then the 1970’s was the decade of destabilization. Among those cases of destabilization we were already aware of are:

– the UK: the concerted effort by elements in the British intelligence and security services, with CIA and BOSS, to bring down Wilson, Thorpe and Heath.

– the USA: the CIA’s Operation Chaos, the FBI’s Cointelpro programme and, of course, Watergate

– Australia: the loans scandal and other destabilization of Gough Whitlam by the CIA and SIS.

– West Germany: the destabilization of Willi Brandt because of his overture to ‘the other Germany’ through Ostpolitik. The CIA and MI5 (5) suspected Brandt of being recruited by Moscow during his wartime service with the resistance in Scandinavia. (p. 23).

The article also pointed out that Nicholas Elliott was a member of the Wilkinson/McWhirter/Ivens group, the Research Foundation for the Study of Terrorism, and speculate whether the Pinay Circle was involved in attempts to destabilise Mitterand’s government in France in 1974, the murder of Olof Palme in Sweden, and a possible attempted Fascist coup in Belgium in 1973. Of this latter, Teacher writes

Issue 17 of Celsius devotes six pages to the study of a coup d’état planned by gendarmerie officers and extreme right-wing groups in 1973. The article – ‘The big bad look of the 1970’s: the destabilization of the State’ – is based on the confessions of Martial Lekeu, a former gendarme who fled to the USA when sought for questioning in the ‘Killers of the Brabant Wallon’ enquiry. The killers, who specialized in holding-up supermarkets with maximum violence and minimum loot, killed 28 people between 1982 and 1985, always attacking the same chain of supermarkets on the same day of th week with the same kind of car, needlessly gunning people down and then escaping with cash rarely more than a few thousand pounds. Leukeu stated what many suspected: the killers were part of a political psy ops campaign aimed at reinforcing the State structures. Whether there is a link between the 1973 coup plans and the 1980’s destabilization remains to be seen: various parliamentary enquiries and comm9issions have so far failed to get to the bottom of the affair. (p. 24.) Teacher regrets, however, that information on the group and its activities are very limited, consisting of the 1972 ISC memo and the minutes released by Langemann in the Bavarian parliament in 1979-80.

It’s clear from this that the Circle is a very sinister organization with connections to other extreme right-wing groups, like WACL, whose name stands for World Anti-Communist League, and whose members include real Fascists and Nazis. I’m not surprised that the Tories sent two of their MPs to its meeting last year. The Tories’ right wing has always overlapped with some deeply unpleasant groups and organisations. Western Goals, an American Republican organization, according to Lobster, had a British subsidiary, Western Goals UK, which was also linked to them.

What is also interesting is that Private Eye published its piece on the Pinay Circle at all, considering how it called Nisar Malik a conspiracy theorist for believing in the Zionist control of the media. It seems the Eye is open to discussing real conspiracies, so long as they don’t involve the real, documented subterfuge and plotting of the Israeli state.