To keep the internet free and open 5

Solid is the technically potent open-source platform built to decentralize the web. Inrupt is the company that’s helping to fuel Solid’s success.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and its subsidiary YouTube are virtual monopolies – and they discriminate against conservative users.

Will someone come to the aid of conservatives?

Yes!  The greatest of all the technological innovators is riding his computer to the rescue: the true knight, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

We quote from a report by Katrina Brooker at Fast Company, a website that specializes in discussion of technological innovation:

Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me [and other reporters] to come and see a project he has been working on … He leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.

“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. … But he is not joking.

This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. … Its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

“We have to do it now,” he says … “It’s an historical moment.”

Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.

If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.

“I have been imagining this for a very long time,” says Berners-Lee. …

[He shows us how] on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod … These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations. …

Berners-Lee believes Solid will resonate with the global community of developers, hackers, and internet activists who bristle over corporate and government control of the web. …

Developers around the world will be able to start building their own decentralized apps with tools through the Inrupt site. Berners-Lee will spend this fall crisscrossing the globe, giving tutorials and presentations to developers about Solid and Inrupt. (There will be a Solid tutorial at our Fast Company Innovation Festival on October 23.)

“What’s great about having a startup versus a research group is things get done,” he says. …

It’s not likely that the big powers of the web will give up control without a fight.

When asked about this, Berners-Lee says flatly: “We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”

Game on.

 

(Hat-tip to liz)

Posted under Technology by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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Prize lies 2

Obama claims that the eight years of his presidency were free of scandal. In fact, the scandals were many and appalling.

Obama claims to have stopped Iran becoming a nuclear power. In fact, he entered into a deal that permitted Iran to become a nuclear power.

Obama claims to have improved race relations. In fact, he worsened them. 

Obama claims to have launched an economic boom. In fact, he never achieved even 3% GDP growth.

In sum, he was a weak and destructive president. The harm he did would not be easy to repair, and America is lucky to have found the man to succeed him who could not only mend what he had broken, and is doing so, but is going much further, turning the failure round and achieving success. Even some unprecedented successes. And all in record time.

Obama sees the repair as an undoing of the changes he wrought. As he puts it, “The status quo pushes back.”

The complaint comes from a speech he made at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill., on Sept. 7, 2018, when the university honored him with the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government.

The speech he gave on the occasion of receiving the prize included these claims:

Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals, that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; the ideals that say every child should have opportunity and every man and woman in this country who’s willing to work hard should be able to find a job and support a family and pursue their small piece of the American Dream; our ideals that say we have a collective responsibility to care for the sick and the infirm, and we have a responsibility to conserve the amazing bounty, the natural resources of this country and of this planet for future generations, each time we’ve gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back. The status quo pushes back. Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because that helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege. …

To which political party does that last sentence most aptly apply? We say the Democratic Party? But then, the Left has a habit of accusing its opponents of the faults, failings, bad emotions, plots, conspiracies, evil intentions, underhand actions, and failures of which itself is guilty.

Most of you don’t remember a time before 9/11, when you didn’t have to take off your shoes at an airport.

Did he mention who was responsible for 9/11 and for us having to take off our shoes at an airport? No. Because he never did and never will blame Islam for its acts of terrorism.

Most of you don’t remember a time when America wasn’t at war, or when money and images and information could travel instantly around the globe, or when the climate wasn’t changing faster than our efforts to address it.

A strange combination of references. No one living remembers a time when America wasn’t at war, if the Cold War is counted. About the money and images he probably meant “remember a time when they could not …”  And then he throws in as a certainty that there was a time when climate was not changing fast, but it is now.

And this was all before a change. What change? Have the wars stopped?

The only change he almost got right was a change to faster communications than ever before.

He claims that all three factors together brought about this consequence:

This change has happened fast, faster than any time in human history. And it created a new economy that has unleashed incredible prosperity.

Only, of the three phenomena he mentioned, could the faster communications be said to have promoted prosperity.

Actually, he just gabbled nonsense. And all to get in a claim to an “unleashed incredible prosperity” – the prosperity he claims as hid own achievement.

He goes on to say how he rescued the economy from wicked men.

[T]he reckless behavior of financial elites triggered a massive financial crisis, ten years ago this week, a crisis that resulted in the worst recession in any of our lifetimes and caused years of hardship for the American people, for many of your parents, for many of your families. Most of you weren’t old enough to fully focus on what was going on at the time, but when I came into office in 2009, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. 800,000. Millions of people were losing their homes. Many were worried we were entering into a second Great Depression. So we worked hard to end that crisis, but also to break some of these longer term trends. And the actions we took during that crisis returned the economy to healthy growth and initiated the longest streak of job creation on record. And we covered another 20 million Americans with health insurance and we cut our deficits by more than half, partly by making sure that people like me, who have been given such amazing opportunities by this country, pay our fair share of taxes to help folks coming up behind me.

While it is true that employment rose before he left office, his claim that higher taxes (on “people like me”) were a formula for prosperity is false. President Trump’s tax cuts (for all tax payers) prove it. Furthermore, Obama heavily regulated business, and President Trump’s lifting of many Obama regulations has been a factor in creating the very real present economic boom.

And by the time I left office, household income was near its all-time high and the uninsured rate had hit an all-time low and wages were rising and poverty rates were falling. I mention all this just so when you hear how great the economy’s doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.

He came on then to his foreign policy.

Even though we took out bin Laden and wound down the wars in Iraq and our combat role in Afghanistan, and got Iran to halt its nuclear program, the world’s still full of threats and disorder. …

And even though your generation is the most diverse in history …

Nonsense! No generation is more “diverse” than any other.

… with a greater acceptance and celebration of our differences than ever before, those are the kinds of conditions that are ripe for exploitation by politicians who have no compunction and no shame about tapping into America’s dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division. …

[O]ver the past few decades, the politics of division, of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.

Remember when a Republican Attorney General refused to prosecute a bunch of white people although they were breaking the law, on the grounds that he would not act against “his  people”? No. Neither do we. But we do recall Eric Holder- Obama’s black AG – saying something like that in a case of the Black Panthers …

This Congress has … embraced wild conspiracy theories, like those surrounding Benghazi, or my birth certificate.

The trick: he throws out, in passing, that the (factually accurate) report of his failure to send help to a US ambassador and three servicemen who were killed by Muslim terrorists in Benghazi was a “wild conspiracy theory’, and associates it with an unproved, unlikely, and petty story that he was not born in the United States. But the horrible events in Benghazi were proved and profoundly important.

He comes to his own party’s wild conspiracy theory:

[The Repulicans in power are] undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia. What happened to the Republican Party? Its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against Communism, and now they’re cozying up to the former head of the KGB, actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from Russian attack.

And he calls the partial repeal of his unworkable health legislation “sabotage”:

Their sabotage of the Affordable Care Act has already cost more than three million Americans their health insurance. And if they’re still in power next fall, you’d better believe they’re coming at it again. …

He defends the media who gave him uncritical support in all he did, and never stp attacking President Trump. What is indefnsible in his eyes, is Trump hitting back at his media enemies. To do this, he lies again:

I complained plenty about Fox News – but you never heard me threaten to shut them down, or call them enemies of the people.

We did hear that his administration “spied on members of the media, illegally seizing the phone records of Associated Press journalists. Fox News reporter James Rosen called Obama ‘the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation’ after being threatened with possible jail time for refusing to reveal one of his sources”. (See our quotations from Matt Margolis below.)

Next, he endorses the lie that President Trump sympathizes with Nazis:

We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up, clearly and unequivocally, to Nazi sympathizers.

How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.

How hard can it be to say that Islamic terrorism is bad? That Communism is bad? Too hard for him, it appeared.

Then comes the most blatantly impudent accusation of them all:

And we won’t win people over by calling them names, or dismissing entire chunks of the country as racist, or sexist, or homophobic.

Who, every minute of every day, calls whom “racist, or sexist, or homophobic”? Or all three?

Matt Margolis comments at PJ Media:

Today we saw just how far academia is going to perpetuate the myth of Obama’s “scandal-free” administration when he was awarded the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government by the University of Illinois. Not since the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has Obama been so undeserving of an award. But, I submit that this award is even worse than the Nobel Peace Prize he didn’t deserve. In 2009, the Nobel committee was at least ignorant of what Obama’s record would turn out to be. There is simply no excuse in 2018 for Obama to be receiving an Ethics in Government award. … The Paul H. Douglas Award is now forever tainted.

What, exactly, did the committee at the University of Illinois think Obama did to earn an Ethics in Government award? The Obama years were plagued by scandal and defined by a hyper-partisan government.

Last month I cited six Obama scandals where a special counsel should have been appointed to investigate but was not. Unlike Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Obama’s attorneys general, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, were partisan lackeys who did everything they could to protect Obama from being held accountable. Obama, Holder, and Lynch knew that if they left the investigating to Republicans in Congress they could write them off as partisan witch hunts and use any and all tactics possible to obstruct and stonewall those investigations, or in some cases, run their own sham investigation that cleared them of any wrongdoing.

I document thirty different scandals in my book The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama. Each scandal on its own makes the idea of Obama receiving an ethics award laughable. All of them together make this award blasphemous. From the moment Obama took office he was under a dark cloud of scandal, having been involved in illegal negotiations with [the condemned criminal] Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to give him a cabinet position in exchange for Blagojevich nominating an Obama-preferred candidate to his vacated Senate seat … yet Obama just received an Ethics in Government award? What a joke!…

There are plenty of well-known scandals that the committee that decided to award Obama had to have been aware of but chose to ignore. There was the Fast and Furious scandal, which involved sending guns to Mexico in the hopes of tracking them to drug cartel leaders. Not only did they lose track of a large number of guns, but one gun was found to have been used in the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The Obama administration tried to cover it up, and they stonewalled a congressional investigation, resulting in Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents. Is this what constitutes “ethics in government” to the University of Illinois?

The Obama administration also abused the Espionage Act to target reporters and their sources. They even spied on members of the media, illegally seizing the phone records of Associated Press journalists. Fox News reporter James Rosen called Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation” after being threatened with possible jail time for refusing to reveal one of his sources.  Is this what constitutes “ethics in government” to the University of Illinois? …

There were also –

The Solyndra scandal [see here], the Benghazi cover-up, Uranium One, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the covering up of thousands of deaths of veterans waiting for care at VA hospitals, manipulating intelligence, paying ransom money to Iran, Project Cassandra [see here], spying on Donald Trump, the Hillary email scandal, which I should add, also implicated Obama, who communicated with Hillary via her private email address and used a pseudonym himself.

It’s bad enough when Obama claims he was scandal-free. But, when he receives an ethics in government award, it diminishes the meaning of ethics. It’s time to stop pretending Obama was scandal-free or ethical. … I’ve only scratched the surface of Obama’s scandalous and unethical presidency. 

The only reason why Barack Obama was elected president was that he was black. He had nothing else to offer. A sufficient number of white Americans voted for him to get him into the White House for no better reason than that they needed to feel good, to prove to themselves, and the country and the world, that they were not “racist“.

Barack Obama, for all his expensive education, was ill-informed and strangely ignorant – and he embraced ideologies inimical to America. He seemed not to know how many states there were in the country he governed. He thought Austrians spoke a language called Austrian. He did not know how to pronounce “corpsman”. And he was a follower of the Communist “community organizer” Saul Alinsky, and a lackey of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He lied and commanded others to lie. Under his leadership, his party worked an elaborate plot, which it still pursues, to destroy the candidacy and then the presidency of Donald Trump with false and slanderous allegations of treason.

If prizes were awarded for lying, Obama would deserve them all.

The name of the wall 1

What do the globalists mean by “globalization”?

Do they mean anything more than their power, their wealth, their commercial and political control over a borderless world?

Is “globalization” anything other than a new name for old International Communism, the dictatorship over the very many by the very few?

Facebook. Google. Twitter. These are world powers, and they are all on the Left. They have the power to suppress criticism and opposition – and they do.

Elizabeth Vos writes at Disobedient Media about one of the very few:

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors, stepped down without naming a successor. …  Alphabet, Google’s parent company, had announced Schmidt would be transitioning to a technical advisory role, and will continue to serve on the company’s board. …

Schmidt gained notoriety during his tenure at Google and Alphabet for his involvement in politics as well as technology. He was a regular figure amongst the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign, even going so far as to donate the use of a private Google jet for the campaign’s use. Press reports on the relationship between Schmidt and Clinton’s campaign referred to his role in Clinton’s campaign as “crucial”.  … Schmidt created a start-up which was described as: “The stealthy, Eric Schmidt-backed startup that’s working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.”

Emails published last year by Wikileaks reveal that Schmidt’s support for the Clinton campaign dated [from] as far back as 2015. The emails illustrate a close relationship between Schmidt and Clinton insiders, notably Bill Clinton and John Podesta, the Clinton campaign’s Chief of Staff. … [Schmidt] has been a regular speaker at Clinton Global Initiative events. …

His position within the global power structure was noted by The Guardian, who described Schmidt: “Bilderberg insider Eric Schmidt, who runs Google, once began a speech at Davos with the words: ‘I assume that everybody here agrees that globalization is wonderful.’”

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been a long-time critic of Google. Assange authored “When Google Met Wikileaks” during his time under house arrest, detailing the various ways in which Google has become increasingly enmeshed within the structure of the American deep state.

Wikileaks‘ extract from the book describes a revolving door between Google, the State Department, the United Nations and The Council On Foreign Relations. Assange describes the close ties between Schmidt and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.” …

Assange described Google’s evolution under Schmidt:

Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive megacorporation … Long before company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Schmidt in 2001, their initial research upon which Google was based had been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  And even as Schmidt’s Google developed an image as the overly friendly giant of global tech, it was building a close relationship with the intelligence community.

This crossover between Google and intelligence agencies and military/state function, as described by Assange, is echoed by the structure and executive makeup of Crowdstrike. The company, with substantial funding from a Google subsidiary, is headed by a number of former long-serving figures from the FBI.

Crowdstrike served the Democratic Party during the 2016 Presidential campaign, which Schmidt was deeply embedded with himself, as shown in the contents of the Podesta email leak.

Crowdstrike is also the only company to have examined DNC servers, and their word serves as the entirety of the basis for Russian hacking claims.

Press reports indicate that Alphabet has financed Google Capital. Acting as an arm of Alphabet, Google Capital then financed Crowdstrike to the tune of $100 million. Google Capital has rebranded, and currently goes by the name “CapitalG.” CapitalG maintains on their website that: “Our Google connection is our key asset. ” CapitalG reiterates that “CapitalG (formerly Google Capital) is a growth equity fund backed by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.” …

The writer repeats, and we stress:

Crowdstrike is the only entity that has examined the DNC’s servers. US authorities including the FBI have not been allowed to access them in order to independently verify the firm’s claim that Russians hacked the DNC.

And she speculates:

… One possible explanation for [Schmidt’s] sudden decision that has not previously been considered by legacy press, is that the investigation into Russian hacking claims made by Crowdstrike and the DNC may have turned up some unsavory information about the company or the involvement of Mr. Schmidt in the saga as an insider to Clinton’s campaign, and that this may have prompted him to step down without announcing a successor.

This information is all very sinister. It is about conspiracy – low and dirty.

It is also bewildering. What is going on? Does anyone who is not part of the vast Left-wing conspiracy know what it is that is being plotted?

Whatever else it might be, it is certainly a movement against the nation state.

So the nation state must be preserved. Borders must be strict and strong.

We need a wall.

We need a wall that protects us from the globalists.

President Trump is all we have to protect us from them. He is the Wall.

Creating an intelligent god 3

… and endowing its intelligent machine creators with machine rights.

Following on from our post immediately below in which we discuss Google engineer Ray Kurzweil’s vision of a world populated by machines, we now turn to the idea of a former Google man who visualizes the machines creating a god.

They will create a god so they can worship it.

Why will the machines need a god to worship?

Tyler O’Neil writes at PJ Media:

A former executive at Google has filed paperwork with the IRS to establish an official religion of technology. This religion doesn’t just worship scientific progress, but artificial intelligence itself, with the goal of creating a godhead. 

The new church of AI will aim “to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead [to] contribute to the betterment of society,” according to IRS documents.

So there’s an answer to why: the inventor of the new religion thinks that the worship of artificial intelligence will make society better.

What society? The society of machines. Cannot the machines be made perfect by their human creators?

There is an organization being formed with the purpose of helping humans to accept their successors. The electronic new world is inevitable. No point in  raising objections. We should move smoothly into it. We make our new masters and then we submit to them.

The non-profit religious organization would be called “Way of the Future” (WOTF). According to the website (wayofthefuture.church), the movement is “about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + machines”.

“Given that technology will relatively soon be able to surpass human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition,” the site explains. “In recent years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes, minority groups and even animals, let’s make sure we find a way for ‘machines’ to get rights too.”

The writer comments:

There is an inherent contradiction in creating a deity of artificial intelligence and then worshipping it.

But to humans like us it is nothing new, since we believe that all gods have been created by humans.

“Let’s stop pretending we can hold back the development of intelligence when there are clear massive short term economic benefits to those who develop it and instead understand the future and have it treat us like a beloved elder who created it,” the site argues.

“It” will treat us  – its creator species – like a beloved elder, not like a god?

Yet the IRS document spoke about a “Godhead based on artificial intelligence”.

The website argued that the creation of “super intelligence” is inevitable, and that fear of this development is unhealthy. “We don’t think that there are ways to actually stop this from happening (nor should we want to) and that this feeling of we must stop this is rooted in 21st century anthropomorphism (similar to humans thinking the sun rotated around the earth in the not so distant past).”

Perhaps WOTF meant to use the word “anthropocentrism”, the idea that the universe is centered around humanity, rather than “anthropomorphism”, the attribution of human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects. Indeed, it is arguable that WOTF is attributing human characteristics — or perhaps divine characteristics? — to technology

After all, the very next sentence continues, “Wouldn’t you want to raise your gifted child to exceed your wildest dreams of success and teach it right from wrong vs locking it up because it might rebel in the future and take your job.” This encouragement to consider machines as children — coupled with the notion of giving them rights — is arguably textbook anthropomorphism, but it may be the opposite of anthropocentric.

They will be both our children and our masters.

And the dawning of the age of the machine-god is beginning now.

The IRS filing … lists former Google executive Anthony Levandowski as the “Dean” of WOTF. Levandowski, the engineer behind Google’s self-driving car project known as Waymo, quit Google to found his own autonomous trucking company, Otto, in May 2016. …

According to the IRS filings, Way of the Future plans its first events — “workshops and educational programs throughout the San Francisco/Bay Area” — later this year.

The Christian god, we are told, chose to materialize as a baby in the Roman province of Judea. The AI god will arise full grown in Silicon Valley, California. It will be gradually improved by its maker-species – and perhaps by itself. It will be immortal, but changeable. It will be made better as it makes the society of humanoid machines better. Not just mechanically better but morally better. It will know what is good and what is bad for the new society – first of humanoid machines and eventually perhaps only of machines.

Which supposes that the machines will have feelings – because, if no feelings, no harm.

The vision then is of machines that feel, and have machine rights endowed to them by their human creators, and by the machine god that they themselves create.

For the machine-god of machines there will be no unanswerable questions about it: how it came into existence; out of what it makes whatever it makes; whether it knows more than its makers do. If the machines have the curiosity to ask them, those questions will be answered.

But still it will not be able to answer the question why: why it was created; why machines will go on running the business of the planet.

Can anyone think of a reason why they should?

The future non-biological earth population 9

“And death shall have no dominion.” – Dylan Thomas. (It’s a great poem. Read it here.)

This is from NBC (a source we have not had much use for). The article is chiefly about new methods of dealing with corpses, but it is also about a new vision of human “immortality” – the part we find interesting.

If you believe Ray Kurzweil, an outspoken futurist and the director of engineering at Googlecomputers will soon match the capabilities of the human brain. At that point, our consciousness will become intimately mingled with machine intelligence, leading to a kind of immortality.

We’re going to become increasingly non-biological, to the point where the biological part isn’t that important anymore,” Kurzweil declared in 2013 at a conference predicting the world of 2045. “Even if the biological part went away, it wouldn’t make any difference.” …

Kurzweil thinks … the hypothetical time (around 2029, by his estimate) [is] when the great blurring between humans and computers will occur. …

“We can create bodies with nanotechnology, we can create virtual bodies in virtual reality,” Kurzweil says. “I think we’ll have a choice of bodies; we’ll certainly be routinely changing our parent body in virtual reality.”

A computer will replace your brain, and you’ll be given a virtual body.

The thing will be virtually you. It will have your name. It may retain much of your memory, which is to say your edited version of your experience. Your virtual face may be like your face – as it was at some, perhaps pre-death determined, stage of your life.

But will it be you?

As we see it, you will be totally unaware of it, so you will still not be alive.

As human beings are now considered harmful to the planet, and enlightened people are not having children, the human race will be allowed to become extinct and will be replaced by human-invented half-human-half-machine creatures – later entirely machine creatures. But why? What for?

Because they will keep the busy commerce of the earth going? Why? For whom?

Or because they can be programmed to experience joy? (Can they?)

And that will justify the whole of the existence of the world, from the Big Bang to Them?

To which the riposte may be: “Well, what are human beings for?”

They are only for something if they had a creator who had a purpose for them (which has never been disclosed).

As we do not think they had a creator, but evolved, we do not think the human race has a purpose it must achieve, certainly not necessarily the purpose of replacing itself with machines.

We think we are an accident of nature. We think each of us makes his own purposes.

We live, suffer, desire, enjoy, laugh, weep, fight, hate, love, procreate, speak, sing, harm, heal, work, play, imagine, invent, make, destroy, strive, succeed, fail, triumph, regret – and die.

That is the human story.

What the machines will record as theirs, we will never know. Not even if our brains are preserved for the rest of the universe’s existence.

Posted under Science, Technology by Jillian Becker on Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Censoring the internet 26

The internet was a revolutionary environment that liberated individuals to make their own choices. Bloggers could compete with big media. Leaked emails could bring down a government. But the internet is becoming less free. Access is controlled by a handful of tech companies that keep getting bigger and bigger. The survivors of the scale wars will combine cable, content and commerce in new ways. And in a politicized culture, they won’t just signal their political views, they will enforce them.

So Sultan Knish writes at his website on the subject of internet censoring by those who control the technology:

How can you tell that internet censorship is really taking off? Easy. It’s becoming a business model.

Steven Brill is raising $6 million to launch News Guard. This new service will rate news sites on their trustworthiness from green to red. Forget politically unbiased algorithms. The ratings will be conducted by “qualified, accountable human beings” from teams of “40 to 60 journalists”.

Once upon a time, journalism meant original writing. Now it means deciding which original writing to censor.

“Can trust be monetized?” The Street’s article on News Guard asks. But it isn’t really trust that’s being monetized. It’s censorship. It’s doing the dirty work that Google and Facebook don’t want to do.

But nevertheless do, as we know from experience. We will come to that.

The Dems and their media allies have been pressuring Google and Facebook to do something about the “fake news” that they blame for Trump’s win. The big sites outsourced the censorship to media fact checkers. The message was, “Don’t blame us, now you’re in charge.”

Facebook made a deal with ABC News and the AP, along with Politifact, FactCheck and Snopes, to outsource the censoring for $100K. When two of these left-wing groups declare that an article is fake, Facebook marks it up and viewership drops by 80%.

Eighty percent!

Not only does the roster of fact checkers lean to the left, but so do its notions of what’s true and false. For example, Snopes and Politifact both insist that General Pershing’s forces never buried the bodies of Muslim terrorists with pigs. But General Pershing specifically stated in his autobiography, “These Juramentado attacks were materially reduced in number by a practice that the Mohamedans held in abhorrence. The bodies were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig.”

Both the New York Times and the Scientific American reported on it at the time. Despite that Snopes rated this widely accepted historical fact as “False” and Politifact marked it as “Pants on Fire”.

Snopes also recently marked a story that Christ Church in Virginia is removing a George Washington plaque as false even though the church publicly announced that it was doing so.

Politifact and Snopes are entitled to their incorrect opinions. The trouble is that they don’t extend the same privilege to those they disagree with. And Google and Facebook promote fake fact checks while burying sites that discuss actual historical facts. The big internet companies don’t want to get involved in all these arguments. But nor are they willing to let their users decide for themselves anymore.

And so Net Nanny for news has become an actual business model. Instead of protecting children from pornography, News Nanny protects adults from news. And from views outside the left’s bubble.

By adopting the News Nanny model, Google and Facebook are treating their users like children.

The News Guard model is in some ways even more insidious than biased fact checking because it sets up lists of approved and disapproved sites. Google is rolling out something similar with its “knowledge panels” for publishers. Search for the New York Times and the panels will tell you how many Pulitzers the paper has won. Search for Front Page Magazine and the panel note describes it as, “Political alignment: Right-wing politics”. No note listing a left-wing political alignment appears in the panel for the New York Times despite its recent laudatory series about the Soviet Union and Communism.

The media never has an official political orientation. Not even when it’s cheering Communism. But its opponents and critics always have one. Follow Google’s link for Front Page’s political alignment and the top entry states, “Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable.” 

That’s a wholly inaccurate description of either Front Page Magazine or conservative politics in America. And it’s another example of how the fight against “fake news” by the left actually ends up producing it.

Fact checking has become a pipeline to censorship. The big social and search companies outsource fact checking to third parties and then demonetize, marginalize and outright ban views and publishers that those third parties disagree with. Fact checks are no longer an argument. They’re the prelude to a ban.

Google and Facebook respectively dominate search and social media. When they appoint official censors for their services, those left-wing fact checkers become the gatekeepers of the internet.

And the internet isn’t supposed to have gatekeepers.

Senator Al Franken, of all people, made that point at the Open Markets Institute. OMI’s people have emerged as the leading opponents of big tech monopolies on the left.

“No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t,” Franken said. “And Facebook, Google and Amazon, like ISPs, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platform.”

We never thought we’d have a good word to say about Al Franken. But this time we like what he said.

There is no more obvious example of the lack of neutrality than Facebook and Google’s partnership with “fact checkers”. If Net Neutrality means anything, it should strike down Google’s partnership with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and Facebook’s use of Snopes to silence conservatives.

When sites picked and chose content based on algorithms, they were deciding which content reached users based on what was likely to be popular. And, occasionally, based on their own agendas. Now they are picking and choosing which content reaches users based on political orientation.

While the advocates for Net Neutrality rage against cable companies, Comcast and Charter aren’t engaging in political censorship. No matter how they disguise it, Google and Facebook’s news nannies are. …

Trust in the mainstream media has never been lower. Yet the big tech companies insist that mainstream media sources are the only trustworthy ones. They want us to trust them, because they don’t trust us.

We do not want our posts to be “about us”. But this time we make an exception. Our Facebook page is being subjected to what is called “shadow-banning”. Fewer and fewer people are “reached”. Day by day the number of “likes” is decreased, stripped away, usually by twos and threes, but now and then by larger numbers. Last week we lost 30 in a few days. (The “likes” at the moment of this writing stand at 10,779; the number of our followers at 10,425.) Sometimes  when we have asked to “boost” a particular post (for which a charge is made), our request has been denied. We posted a complaint about being stripped of “likes” and having ever fewer readers, and sent it directly to Facebook, asking them why this was happening. We received no reply. But a regular long-time reader of our page sent us this information:

Well I just found out it’s worse than you know – I’ve been relying on my “feed” using the FB app for Android to see your posts since I both “like” and follow TAC. However, I just explicitly went to your page and encountered hundreds (yes, literally hundreds, going back many months) of TAC posts that have never appeared in my feed! What the hell can we do about this blatant censorship?

The discouraging answer is – nothing.

The Left, though politically weak, owns the culture. Owns the mainstream media. And owns the internet.

It is not our Atheism which offends our Facebook censors, it is our Conservatism.

Deus ex machina 1

Are science and technology giving rise to new religions?

Is “God” arising out of the machine?

Does pure rationality require the irrational? Doubt – the dynamic of science –  crave Belief?

Do machines need to be “granted a soul by God”?

Will  human beings “make God”?

Brandon Withrow writes at the Daily Beast:

What has improved American lives most in the last 50 years? According to a Pew Research study reported this month, it’s not civil rights (10 percent) or politics (2 percent): it’s technology (42 percent).

And yet, according to other studies, most Americans are wary of technology, especially in areas of automation (72 percent), or robotic caregivers (59 percent), or riding in driverless vehicles (56 percent), and even in using brain chip implants to augment the capabilities of healthy people (69 percent).

Science fiction, however, is quickly becoming science fact — the future is the machine. This is leading many to argue that we need to anticipate the ethical questions now, rather than when it is too late. And increasingly, those taking up these challenges are religious and spiritual.

How far should we integrate human physiology with technology? What do we do with self-aware androids … and self-aware supercomputers? Or the merging of our brains with them? If Ray Kurzweil’s famous singularity — a future in which the exponential growth of technology turns into a runaway train — becomes a reality, does religion have something to offer in response?

What we see there is the old fallacy that morality is inextricably tied to religious belief.

On the one hand, new religions can emerge from technology.

In Sweden, for example, Kopimism is a recognized faith founded over a decade ago with branches internationally. It began on a “pirate Agency Forum” and is derived from the words “copy me.” They have no views on the supernatural or gods. Rather, Kopimism celebrates the biological drive (e.g. DNA) to copy and be copied. Like digital monks, they believe that “copying of information” and “dissemination of information is ethically right.”

“Copying is fundamental to life,” says their U.S. branch, “and runs constantly all around us. Shared information provides new perspectives and generate new life. We feel a spiritual connection to the created file.”

“Recognized as a faith” it may be, but it’s hard to see how Kopimism is a religion. Whether you read the (badly translated) Swedish explanation of what it’s about, or the US Branch’s, you’ll find only, at best, a fuzzy idea of religion. An analogy between the copying of DNA in the procreation of human beings and the copying of information in the construction or things with artificial intelligence (AI) – does that put AI into the realm of the supernatural? Or is it the feeling of a “spiritual connection to the created file” that translates the robot from the laboratory into the realm of the numinous?

It may be the “sharing” (of information) that makes the inventors think their -ism is a religion, evoking as it does their ancestral Christianity.  (A theme to which we return later.)

… A recent revelation from WIRED shows that Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who helped pioneer the self-driving car at Waymo (a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet) founded his own AI-based religion called “Way of the Future”. …

Little is known about Way of the Future and Levandowksi has not returned a request for comment. But according to WIRED, the mission of the new religion is to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence,” and “through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society”.

The “realization” of a “Godhead”. Making a “Godhead” real? Like a self-driving car? What will it look like? What will it do?

It is not a stretch to say that a powerful AI — whose expanse of knowledge and control may feel nearly omniscient and all-powerful — could feel divine to some. It recalls Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Magic=Miracle=Mysticism. Another connection to the old religions.

People have followed new religions for far less and, even if AI doesn’t pray to electric deities, some humans likely will.

The potential for an out-of-control AI has encouraged warnings from some of the biggest minds, including Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk who tweeted that it could lead to World War III. Clearly no Luddite himself, Musk has compared the creation of AI to “summoning the demon”,  and called for regulation and oversight of AI development, forming OpenAI, which looks for a “path to safe artificial general intelligence”.

Regulation and oversight by whom? To guard against what exactly?

Musk himself was named-dropped this week by Hanson Robotic’s empathic AI Sophia, when she was interviewed by Andrew Sorkin of CNBC this week.

A video well worth watching. Sophia is extremely impressive.

When asked about the danger she poses to humanity, she tells him, “You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk and watching too many Hollywood movies. Don’t worry if you’ll be nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.” Not exactly the Golden Rule.

Not far off it, though.

Add to these warnings a prospective human cult following — paying their tithes to AI and devoutly obeying their digital demiurge — and that apocalyptic future could include those humans who not only welcome, but also work toward our eventual demise.

Humans working to put an end to the human race? More on that is needed.

But is there a positive fate for religion and AI?

Beyond possible new religions and warnings from icons of tech and science, artificial intelligence is also of interest to theologians who wonder what it means for faiths, particularly those that came into being when computing power was limited to the abacus.

“One thing that I think is interesting is the potential for an AI — our creation — to transcend us,” says James F. McGrath, the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University and author of Theology and Science Fiction.

“The potential for AIs to transcend us and thus become our teachers to whom we look for answers to questions we cannot answer, including about God, is not hard to imagine,” says McGrath. But, he adds, “the historic answer in monotheistic religions is that the creation can never be greater than the creator.”

To suppose that a synthetic brain can teach us about a “supernature” (that no one really knows to exist) is to ascribe powers to the creature surely beyond all possibility?

If human beings could make a thing that could do that, then indeed humanity itself would have become supernatural – as this Christian professor goes on to say:

He notes, however, for Gnostics, humans can transcend the “creator/demiurge,” though “even then,” he says, “we have the potential to reunite with that source from which we stem. It is not surprising that Gnostic themes regularly surface in science fiction, and in particular those that explore AI.”

Transcend the creator God – the “source” – he believes in, yet still “reunite” with it. (The old Gnostics believed there was a divine spark in the human being that would ultimately return to the sphere of the divine and “become one” with it.)

Currently, the greatest expression of science-fiction-turning-reality in tech-based religions is found in the frequently optimistic transhumanism.

Transhumanism and its cognates are represented by organizations like the Humanity+ (formerly, the World Transhumanist Association) and Extropy Institute. In its purely secular form, transhumanists are those who see technology as an important part of improving the world, enhancing human physiology, prolonging life, and even leading us into a posthuman future.

Follow those two links and you will find many idealistic sentiments, not much to do with technology.

Remember that brain chip? They exist — along with brain-computer interfaces — but are in their infancy. It represents the reality that humans are already becoming cyborgs. For some, this means there is the potential for an optimistic posthuman world.

The Terasem faith, for example, is futurist and transreligion, meaning it can be “combined with any existing religion”.  Founded by Martine Rothblatt, creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and her spouse, Bina Aspen Rothblatt, Terasem adherents embrace love, see life as purposeful, and death as optional. They look to technology as a source for eternal life, focusing on “cyberconsciousness software, geoethical nanotechnology and space settlement.”

They foresee a future in which technology will extend life indefinitely by means of “mindfiles” of individuals — collections of our memories and emotions — which might then be transferred to what is called a “transbeman” (Transitional Bioelectric Human Being). Early attempts of their technology can be seen in Bina Rothblatt’s counterpart android, Bina48. (See Morgan Freeman’s interview with Bina48.)

And what about God? Their fourth tenet is that God is technical. “We are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful and beneficent. Geoethical nanotechnology will ultimately connect all consciousness and control the cosmos.”

“Geoethical”? Earth-wide uniform ethics? Connect all consciousness? Control the entire cosmos? There’s ambition for you!

Transhumanism can also become the node connecting the theological of existing religions and the technological, and the Christian Transhumanist Association [CTA] is a stark example.

Again a link worth following. These Christians are determined to see technology as an enhancement of their faith.  In their case, technology is allowed into their existing religion, unlike those which see technology as the progenitor of new religions. Their faith is of primary concern to them. Technology is a challenge solved.

… Micah Redding, [CTA’s] co-founder and executive director … [says]:

New technological possibilities shouldn’t be simply feared and denied, but engaged and understood. Only in doing so will we be able to confront the challenges of the future, mitigate the risks, and take advantage of the opportunities to create a better world for us all. … As I see it, Christian Transhumanism is grounded in compassion, and centers love as the key to the future of flourishing life. … This puts us in contrast with any form of transhumanism which centers radical egoism.

For Redding, transhumanism is a “Christian mandate,” recently calling it the next Reformation in an article at The Huffington Post. “We cannot be faithful to the Christian calling without ultimately embracing some form of transhumanism.”

Others share his optimism and are hard at work in crafting a theology of transhumanism.

I see transhumanism as a contemporary outgrowth of an ancient Christian vision of human transformation,” says Ronald Cole-Turner, the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and author of The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins.

He too sees promise in the emergence of the Christian Transhumanist Association.

Using technology, today’s transhumanists want to enhance human beings in ways that sound suspiciously like the classic Christian expectation,” says Cole-Turner, “things like greater cognitive awareness, improved moral disposition, and increased overall sense of well-being, and a hope of endless life.”

For early Greek-speaking Christians, Cole-Turner says, “it was seen as a process of theosis or ‘becoming God,’ not in an ontological sense but in every other significant meaning of the word. Latin-speaking Christians used ‘deification’ to refer to the same thing.”

The idea of theosis — being transformed in union with God — is gathering steam among Christian scholars, he says, noting that it makes theological sense of transhumanism. “God is the ground or source of everything, working through the whole creation to bring people, communities, and all creation to its glorious fulfillment in Jesus Christ. It is a transformation of everything by every means.”

Christianity promised eternal life (possibly in heaven, also possibly in hell, but anyway eternal life). According to Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that promise was the predominant cause of the spread of Christianity. So, Professor Cole-Turner teaches, Christians who look to technology to provide a form of “eternal life” (perhaps of the kind predicted by the Terasem faith) are being faithful to Christianity. For him, for them, the distance between “eternal life”  and the “glorious fulfillment of creation in Jesus Christ” is short. The transformation of life from this earthly existence to a reliably “glorious” eternal life need not be effected after all by the grace of God (or by good works), but can be brought about by technology. Why not? Now the professor comes to think of it, Jesus Christ could only have meant “a transformation of everything” by any … whoops, no … “by every means“.

But will Jesus save robots?

[Micah] Redding [of the Christian Transhumanist Association] adds a theological dimension to this idea.

It’s clear that artificial intelligence plays a significant role in the world today,” he says, “and thus must be factored into God’s eventual work of redemption. We don’t yet know whether that involves self-conscious AIs ‘coming to Jesus’, because we don’t yet know the process by which an AI might become self-conscious. If and when it does happen … it shouldn’t challenge Christian doctrine. If God can grant a soul to carbon-based lifeforms, God can grant a soul to silicon-based lifeforms as well.

Buddhism too can be at home with “emerging technologies”:

“Transhumanism was the confluence of my interests in Buddhism, radical politics and futurism,” says James Hughes, the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Having worked for a Buddhist social development organization in Sri Lanka — and once ordained as a monk — Hughes moved to Japan and went into bioethics. He discovered he was a techno-optimist, and at heart, a transhumanist.

“I discovered the new World Transhumanist Association,” he says, becoming their first Executive Director, and writing Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future. But after a division over political perspectives, he and a few others in the WTA founded IEET, leading him and three others to work toward Buddhist concerns.

Among some of his transhumanist issues, he says, is nonhuman personhood rights. Organizations like the Nonhuman Rights Project already seek these rights for animals (e.g. apes and elephants). Likewise, Hughes says, transhumanists want to “base those moral standings on levels of consciousness, and extend them to enhanced humans, animals, and machine minds.”

It would be interesting to hear what an imam at al-Azhar University in Cairo and the Ayatollah Khamanei of Iran have to say about possible new developments in Islam when human beings are almost totally cyborgs, or entirely replaced by machines.

A sinister and ludicrous “secret accord” 1

Here is the text  of the “side agreement” between IAEA and Iran:

Separate Arrangement II agreed by the Islamic State of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 July 2015, regarding the Road-map, Paragraph 5

Iran and the Agency agreed on the following sequential arrangement with regard to the Parchin issue:

  1. Iran will provide to the Agency photos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
  2. Iran will provide to the Agency videos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
  3. Iran will provide to the Agency 7 environmental samples taken from points inside one building already identified by the Agency and agreed by Iran, and 2 points outside of the Parchin complex which would be agreed between Iran and the Agency.
  4. The Agency will ensure the technical authenticity of the activities referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above. Activities will be carried out using Iran’s authenticated equipment, consistent with technical specifications provided by the Agency, and the Agency’s containers and seals.
  5. The above mentioned measures would be followed, as a courtesy by Iran, by a public visit of the Director General, as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran, accompanied by his deputy for safeguards.
  6. Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin.

For the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tero Varjoranta, Deputy Director General for Safeguards

For the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ali Hoseini Tash, Deputy Secretary of Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs

And here’s interpretation and comment from The Big Story, by George Jahn:

An AP report has revealed that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed with Iran that Iranian experts and equipment will be used to inspect Iran’s Parchin military site, located in not far from Tehran, where Iran is suspected of conducting covert nuclear weapons activity more than a decade ago.

Here are some questions and answers about the document, and what it means for the larger deal between Iran, the United States and five other world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for easing sanctions against Iran.

WHAT HAVE IRAN AND THE IAEA AGREED?

According to a draft document viewed by AP, Iran has agreed to cooperate with the U.N. in answering longstanding allegations about possible past work to develop nuclear weapons at its Parchin plant — but only with the Iranians conducting the inspections themselves.

Iran would collect its own environmental samples on the site and carry out other work usually done by IAEA experts. The IAEA will be able to review the Iranians’ work after the fact. The deal on Parchin was between the IAEA and Iran. The Obama Administration was not a direct party to the agreement, but apparently was aware of it.

WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE DEAL SAY?

Opponents of the broader deal are seizing an opportunity to say the entire exercise of negotiating with Iran is flawed, that it relies too much on trust of the Iranian government.

WHAT DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAY?

The Obama administration and other supporters say the wider agreement is focused on the future, with ample inspections, and that the side accord between Iran and the IAEA is focused on Iran’s activities in the past and therefore is not central to the overall deal.

HOW UNUSUAL IS THE AGREEMENT ON PARCHIN?

Any IAEA inspection of a country suspected of nuclear irregularities is usually carried out by agency experts. They may take swipes of residue on equipment, sample the air or take soil samples in attempts to look for signs of clandestine work on atomic arms or other potentially dangerous unreported activity.

The document on Parchin, however, will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny — past work on nuclear weapons.

It says “Iran will provide” the agency with environmental samples. It restricts the number of samples at the suspect site to seven and to an unspecified number “outside of the Parchin complex” at a site that still needs to be decided.

The U.N. agency will take possession of the samples for testing, as usual. Iran will also provide photos and video of locations to be inspected. But the document suggests that areas of sensitive military activity remain out of bounds.

The draft says the IAEA will “ensure the technical authenticity of the activities” carried out by the Iranians — but it does not say how. …

WHY IS THE PARCHIN AGREEMENT IMPORTANT?

Any indication that the IAEA is diverging from established inspection rules could weaken the agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog with 164 members, and feed suspicions that it is ready to overly compromise in hopes of winding up a probe that has essentially been stalemated for more than a decade.

Politically, the arrangement has been grist for American opponents of the broader separate agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Critics have complained that the wider deal is built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.

The separate agreement on past nuclear activities does not affect the broader deal signed in July. And it doesn’t appear yet that the revelation will change any votes in Congress for or against a resolution of disapproval, which President Barack Obama is expected to veto if it passes.

HOW DID THIS AGREEMENT HAPPEN?

It could be a matter of priorities.

The Obama administration’s main focus in the broader Iran deal — signed by the U.S., Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — is crimping Iran’s present nuclear activities so they cannot be used in the future toward making a bomb. Faced with more than a decade of Iranian resistance to IAEA attempts to probe the allegations of past weapons work at Parchin, there may be a willingness to settle for an agency report that is less than definitive — and methods that deviate from usual practices.

The IAEA also appears to have recognized that Iran will continue to insist the allegations are lies, based on false U.S., Israeli and other intelligence. After a decade of stalemate it wants to close the books on the issue and allow the U.N. Security Council to do so as well.

The alternative might well have been no inspection at Parchin of any kind. [As if this “inspection” is not exactly equivalent to no inspection – ed.]

WHAT DOES THE IAEA SAY?

Director General Yukiya Amano says, “The arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our … standards in any way.” He says agreements with Iran on clearing up the nuclear arms allegations “are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public – the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements made with other IAEA member states“.

WHAT DO OTHERS SAY?

Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House: “We are confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade. Just as importantly, the IAEA is comfortable with the arrangements, which are unique to the agency’s investigation of Iran’s historical activities.”

Olli Heinonen, in charge of the Iran investigation as IAEA deputy director general from 2005 through 2010, says he can think of no similar arrangement — a country essentially allowed to carry out much of the probe of suspicions against it. 

The agreement is sinister and ludicrous.

(And now we know there is a “Separate Arrangement I” that we know nothing of.)

Commander J. E. Dyer writes at Liberty Unyielding:

Kerry offered to give the Senators a classified briefing on the side agreement – even though he also stressed that the U.S. has not been given access to it.

The reaction of JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] supporters to the AP report has been to emphasize that this agreement is about resolving IAEA’s questions regarding Iran’s past activities.  The side agreement on Parchin isn’t about monitoring current or future activities, which are a separate issue.

The implication is that self-sampling and selfies are good enough for resolving the lingering questions about the past.  Going forward, suggest Team Obama and its allies, is where we’ll see the tough, unprecedentedly rigorous verification regime for Iran’s military-related nuclear work.

The big problem with that logic – even more important than the point that verifying Iran’s past activities is crucial – is that there is nothing written down about the nature of the verification regime for military-related activities going forward.  The JCPOA is silent as to methods and measures.  It does not describe a rigorous verification regime.  It doesn’t describe a verification regime at all.

All it says is that Iran and IAEA will develop agreements for inspecting the military-related sites IAEA requests access to.  If IAEA isn’t satisfied, it can appeal to the JCPOA’s Joint Commission – on which Iran is one of the eight voting members.

So the only model we have to go by, in judging how this verification process is going to work, is the text of the side agreement on Parchin.  And that text says we’re going to take Iran’s word for it. …

That approach isn’t good enough for the nuclear program of a radical regime that is still the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.

A clean, cool, beautiful, fertile planet – praised be mankind 12

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.

Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:

Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public.  It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes.  The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world.  He writes that

The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.

In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish.  But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.

It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009.  This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …

If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm.  But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever.  The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago.  In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.

On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged.  In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.

A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.

In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water.  Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge.  The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.

Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.

But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming.  “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”

Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent.  Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.

The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions.  But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.

According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”

If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world.  All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.

“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.

Extreme peril 1

Obama, through his lackey John Kerry, continues to woo the hellish regime of the Iranian Ayatollahs. He longs for a “deal” at any cost.

He is doing everything possible to help them become a nuclear-armed power.

This really is, without exaggeration, the worst threat, the gravest danger, the world as a whole has ever faced. The threat of the imposition of world control by Communist Russia was grave, but the Russians were not willing to die in massive numbers when a retaliation to their attack descended on them. The Muslim Iranians “love death”, and reckon that Muslims would be happy to die and go to their brothel in the sky; and that, however heavy the retaliation, there would still be a lot of Muslims left alive to dominate – perhaps exclusively occupy – this world.

Either Obama does not realize that he is putting the world in extremest danger, or he must want what the Ayatollahs want.

What is that? The destruction of Israel, certainly,and he’s cool with that. But he cannot believe that Israel is the Iranians’ only target. They continue to scream “Death to America!” loud and clear while the charade of “negotiations” for the “deal” is in progress. He must be cool with that too. Do his P5+1 claques feel the same way? Seems so.

Their latest move is to HELP Iran get “the bomb”.

George Jahn writes at AP:

Western powers are offering Tehran high-tech reactors under a proposed nuclear agreement, a confidential document says, but a defiant speech by Iran’s supreme leader less than a week before a negotiating deadline casts doubt on whether he’s willing to make the necessary concessions to seal a deal. …

Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday rejected a long-term freeze on nuclear research and supported the idea of barring international inspectors from military sites. Khamenei, in comments broadcast on Iranian state television, also said Iran would sign a final deal only if all economic sanctions on the country were first lifted. The preliminary deal calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually after an agreement is finalized.

Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Khamenei’s remarks, saying Wednesday they were [only] for “domestic political consumption”. …

In another sign the Islamic Republic may be toughening its stance, Iran’s Guardian Council on Wednesday enacted legislation banning access to military sites and scientists, according to state TV. …

The West has held out the prospect of providing Iran peaceful nuclear technology in the nearly decade-long effort to reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. But the scope of the help now being offered in the draft displeases U.S. congressional critics who say Washington is giving away too much.

“These continued concessions only emboldened Iran’s leaders to press for more,” Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The way these negotiations are moving, it is increasingly difficult to see the administration striking a meaningful, lasting agreement that would be acceptable to Congress.” …

[A draft annex] entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for several bombs a year if completed as planned. …

Outlining plans to modify that heavy-water reactor, the draft, dated June 19, offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”

The eight-page draft also promises “arrangements for the assured supply and removal of nuclear fuel for each reactor provided,” and offers help in the “construction and effective operation” of the reactors and related hardware. It offers cooperation with Iran in the fields of nuclear safety, nuclear medicine, research, nuclear waste removal and other peaceful applications. …

[But] because isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered, the compromise has been criticized by congressional opponents of the proposed deal.

Scott Johnson comments at PowerLine:

This is no longer a deal to stop the Iranian nuclear program. It’s a deal to let the Iranians perfect their nuclear program with international assistance and under international protection.

Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next-generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs. Conversely, any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.

As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout.

A couple of obvious points. First, it means the P5+1 will be actively providing the Iranians with the tools to break out while a deal is in place. The Iranians will already have 300kg of 3.67% uranium on hand, and they’ll be able to scale up production as they need because the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] lets them keep 5,000 centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz and lets them keep another 10,000 centrifuges in storage available to be installed. They can bring low enriched material to Fordow and quickly enrich it to weapons-grade levels in the next-generation centrifuges they’ll have developed with P5+1 assistance. Second – again – it means that the P5+1 will be actively ensuring that Iran will have the technology to go nuclear at will the instant the deal expires. The technology the Iranians learn to develop at Fordow will be applied on a mass scale.

To that end, the draft, entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak … [and]  offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”

Light-water reactors are significantly more proliferation-resistant than heavy-water reactors (in fact there’s no reason to build a heavy water reactor – of the type that the Iranians have been working on – unless you want to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon). But even LWRs are not proliferation proof, and a plutonium bomb isn’t the only concern.

Imagine that 15 years from now the Iranians have built a dozen LWRs with help from a P5+1 nation. One concern is indeed that they’ll kick out inspectors, keep the spent fuel, and start reprocessing on the way to creating a plutonium bomb. But a more subtle concern is that they will use the existence of the LWRs as a pretext for industrial-scale uranium enrichment – because they’ll say they need the uranium fuel for their plutonium plants – which can serve as a cover for breaking out with a uranium bomb. The P5+1 would be actively providing the Iranians with diplomatic leverage to use against the P5+1 in the future.

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