zaterdag 22 augustus 2015

U.S. Police State

Why US Police Are Out of Control

Exclusive: U.S. police forces are so out of control there’s not even a reliable database on how many times police officers shoot citizens. So, beyond racism and fear of guns, the problem includes fragmentation in law enforcement and gaps in training among the 18,000 police agencies in the 50 states, notes Daniel Lazare.

America is clearly an outlier when it comes to police brutality. According to The Guardian’s highly useful “Counted” website, U.S. police kill more people in a typical day than police in England and Wales kill in an entire year. Where police in Stockton, California, killed three people in the first five months of 2015, police in Iceland, which has roughly the same population, have killed just one person since the modern Icelandic republic was founded in 1944.
Where the U.S. saw 97 police shootings in a single month (March 2015), Australia saw 94 over the course of two decades (1992 to 2011). And where police in Finland fired a grand total of six bullets in 2013, police in Pasco, Washington, pumped nearly three times as many last February into a 35-year-old Mexican immigrant named Antonio Zambrano-Montes whom they accused of threatening them with a rock.
A screen-shot from a video showing Walter Scott being shot in the back by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager on April  4, 2015. (Video via the New York Times.)
A screen-shot from a video showing Walter Scott being shot in the back by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager on April 4, 2015. (Video via the New York Times.)
What is the reason for vast discrepancy? The Black Lives Matter movement blames racism, which is certainly true as far as it goes, but potentially misleading since its suggests that racism is not a problem in countries like England and Australia, which is definitely not the case.
In a recent analysis, Alternet’s Steven Rosenfeld blamed police reliance on excessive force, an absence of supervision, and a confrontation mentality that leads urban cops to see their beats as veritable war zones. While this is certainly the case, the logic is more than a bit tautological since all Rosenfeld is saying is that police are out of control because police are out of control.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence blames a “continuing arms race between law enforcement and civilians” that causes cops to see every suspect as a heavily-armed combatant. But while the police are plainly upping their firepower – SWAT teams are often more heavily armed than front-line troops in Afghanistan or Iraq – there is no evidence that the average American is following suit.
Indeed, Gallup reports that the proportion of Americans who say they have a gun at home has declined since the 1960s, while sales of military-style assault weapons have so far had a negligible impact on crime rates. So there is no evidence that a street-level arms race is underway or that it is causing police to over-react.
Fragmentation of Police Forces
So what is the real reason that America is off the charts when it comes to police shootings? The most important explanation is one that almost no one notices: fragmentation.
Britain, for example, has some 50-odd separate police forces, the Metropolitan Police Service covering greater London, a slew of regional police forces covering the rest of the country, plus a Serious Organized Crime Agency to deal with higher-level offenses.
Germany has a federal police force plus one police department for each of the sixteen länder, or states, while France, thanks to the Jacobin tradition of centralization, somehow makes do with just three police forces in all: the National Police, the National Gendarmerie, and the Municipal Police, only half of whom are armed. Australia meanwhile has eight police forces, New Zealand has just one, while Canada, somewhat unusually, has more than 200, including two dozen or more among Native American tribes.
So how many police departments does the United States have? The answer: more than 18,000. This includes three dozen or so at the federal level plus a staggering 17,985 at the state and local level – everything from state troopers and city patrolmen to campus cops, hospital and housing police, park rangers, and even a special department of zoo police in the town the Brookfield just outside of Chicago.
Where Britain’s police forces are firmly under the control of the Home Office while France’s are under the Ministry of the Interior, moreover, America’s are virtually autonomous. When the Justice Department sent out a survey on the use of force in 2013, the answers that came back were so jumbled as to be well nigh useless. Some departments sent back information on the use of guns, while others included reports about punches thrown and the use of non-lethal devices such as beanbag guns. Others, including such big-city departments as New York, Houston, Baltimore and Detroit, either did not know or refused to say.
A country that doesn’t even know how many times police fire their weapons or under what circumstances is one in which every local department is a law unto itself, a self-contained barony with its own special rules and customs.
“It’s a national embarrassment,” Geoffrey P. Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminology professor, told The New York Times. “Right now, all you know is what gets on YouTube.”
What does a lack of knowledge have to do with ultra-high levels of brutality? The answer is simple: absence of knowledge means an absence of control, which means that local departments behave with relative impunity. If local cops seem out of control, it’s because the only controls come from local politicians who are often corrupt and racist and therefore tolerant of such behavior on the part of the officers they employ.
The Sandra Bland Case
Just what this means became clear on July 10 when a 28-year-old Chicagoan named Sandra Bland found herself pulled over by a traffic cop in Waller County, Texas, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. As a graduate of nearby Prairie View A&M, a historically black university, Bland knew how small-town police in rural Texas operate. So she was angry, upset and prepared for the worst.
“You seem very irritated,” Police Officer Brian Encinia told her. To which Bland replied:
“I am, I really am.…  I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me, so I move over and you stop me. So, yeah, I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket.”
Bland had a point. When Encinia pulled up close behind her, she did the natural thing by moving over to let him pass. Yet now she found herself pulled over for a technical infraction, i.e. changing lanes without signaling. Encinia’s aggressive driving triggered the incident in the first place, and now his aggressive behavior was upping the ante.
As the argument escalated, Bland found herself thrown to the ground, cuffed and then tossed in jail when she failed to make bail. Three days later, she was found dead in her cell.
This is how a feudal knight behaves, not, supposedly, a modern cop in a democratic society. Encinia was suspended, the FBI stepped in, while the local DA launched an investigation to determine if Bland was the victim of a homicide. But this was only after dash cam footage showing Encinia’s confrontational behavior went viral on the Internet and protesters rallied to her cause. Otherwise, the incident would have been gone unnoticed.
The killing of Samuel DuBose six days later showed another side of the problem. DuBose was not the victim of an over-aggressive small-town policeman, but of a campus cop from the University of Cincinnati. Normally, the biggest problems campus police face are rowdy frat-house parties and overflowing parking lots on graduation day.
But in this case, the university, concerned about mounting crime, had entered into an agreement with the city to allow its police to patrol nearby neighborhoods. For a hapless local motorist like DuBose, the upshot was that instead of dealing with a police department accountable in some fashion to the voters of Cincinnati, he now found himself face to face with an officer answerable only to a university board of trustees, all appointees.
Control wound up scrambled, accountability was slashed, while an ill-prepared cop was thrust into a situation for which he was not properly trained. As a consequence, a minor traffic stop ended with DuBose’s death.
Once again, the local DA went into overdrive. County prosecutor Joe Deters slammed Officer Ray Tensing for making a “chicken crap stop,” dismissing his account as “nonsense” and describing DuBose’s shooting as “the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make.”  “This is without question a murder,” he added.
Loss of Accountability  
But not only was this also after the fact, but the effect was to sidestep the issue of why the city had had shunted off policing to a body far removed from voters’ control. Responsibility rested not only with Tensing, but with the city officials who entered into such an undemocratic arrangement.
So, once again, it was a case of ineffective controls and a lack of accountability allowing police brutality to flourish. If the Black Lives Matter movement had not been in high gear by that point, DuBose’s death would almost certainly have been overlooked as well. But while emotions ran high, awareness of the basic structural issues at hand was nil.
This strange contradiction – outrage on one hand and utter passivity with regard to the larger political issues on the other – begs two questions: why has fragmentation become so massive, and why is it all but invisible?
The first is easy. The problem goes back to the deal that America’s so-called Framers struck in Philadelphia in 1787 in which they not only divided power among three branches of government, but also between the federal government and the states. While the former wound up with the ability to tax, borrow, regulate commerce, and coin money, the latter gained an all but unchallengeable monopoly on local governance.
Things have gotten a bit more complicated since then thanks to the civil liberties movement, the New Deal, the civil rights revolution, and other such events. But to a remarkable degree, the original division of responsibility still holds. While the feds intervene from time to time in urban policy, they do so obliquely while local prerogatives remain sacrosanct.
Much as Congress carved states out of the western territories, the states gained carte blanche not only to create as many police departments as they wish, but to carve out an endless number of municipalities and school districts as well, not to mention water and sewer boards, mosquito control commissions, and other exotic flora and fauna.
The upshot is not only 18,000 police departments but more than 90,000 local governments in all, all autonomous, self-governing, and endlessly jealous of their rights and prerogatives.
“[I]f there was a dominant ‘originalist’ notion of how the nation’s governance should work,” notes a prominent investigative reporter, “it was pragmatism; it was pulling together to get done what needed to be done” (Robert Parry, America’s Stolen Narrative, pp. 32-33).
But leaving aside the fact that pragmatism is far from a simple concept – the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on the subject runs to more than 10,000 words – it is difficult to see how such an ornate arrangement can be described as pragmatic when there is no way to determine whether it is still working – or what “working” in this context even means.
Does San Diego County (population 3.1 million), to cite just one example, really need 65 separate fire departments? Does New Jersey (population 8.7 million) really need 565 municipalities and 591 school districts? Couldn’t the same tasks be accomplished more cheaply and efficiently if local government was consolidated?
The same goes for the police. Does America really need 18,000 police departments?  Couldn’t the same tasks be conducted more efficiently and fairly if the departments were consolidated and placed firmly under federal control?
Fear of Centralism
Conservatives will reply that any such nationalization would be tyrannical and that local prerogatives like these are the essence of American liberty. But just as liberty for the pike means death for the minnow, liberty for local pols in Waller County meant the opposite for Sandra Bland.
Americans went to war in 1776 because the British were “erect[ing] a multitude of New Offices, and sen[ding] hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” But with their 90,000 local governments, Americans have wound up saddling themselves with more local officials than George III could ever have imagined.
It’s a system crying for rationalization and reform. But this leads to the second question: how is it that no one notices? Where other countries fiddle with municipal governance as a matter of routine, abolishing some jurisdictions, creating others, and constantly re-adjusting powers and responsibilities, the very idea remains unthinkable in the U.S.
So what is the reason? The answer has to do with what one might call the dark side of pragmatism. If American governance rests on the dual principles of practicality and workability, then it follows that there is no point discussing a reform if it is not remotely in the cards. Indeed, there’s no point thinking about the problem in the first place or even noticing that it exists.
The absurdity of 18,000 autonomous police departments should be apparent to all, yet, for even the most ardent civil-rights campaigner, it disappears from view.
So do other strange aspects of the U.S. constitutional system – a Senate that gives the same number of votes to Wyoming (population 576,000) that it does to a multi-racial giant like California (population 38 million); an electoral college that triples the weight of certain lily-white “rotten boroughs” (as under-populated electoral districts were known in Eighteenth-Century England), or a two-thirds/three-fourths amending clause that, thanks to growing population discrepancies, allows 13 largely rural states representing as little as 4.1 percent of the population to veto any constitutional change sought by the remaining 95.9.
Rather than the elephants in the sitting room that no one wishes to discuss, these are elephants that no one even notices.
Which brings us back to race. Although civil libertarians celebrate America’s 228-year-old constitutional system on the grounds that it locks in the Bill of Rights, the consequences are not remotely democratic. To the contrary, the effect is not only to fragment power from above, but, more importantly, to muffle and disperse democratic political power from below by placing countless obstacles in its path.
As a result, racism is allowed to fester in countless nooks and crannies in America’s over-complicated political structure. The disease thus spreads, infecting one organ after another.
For protesters, the consequence is a curious mix of anger and complacency. Young people take to the streets in response to the latest outrage. They march and chant as they challenge the powers-that-be.  But then the fury wanes, and everyone goes back home. With gyroscopic efficiency, the system rights itself and fragmentation continues unabated.
If you want a picture of the future, to paraphrase Orwell, imagine an endless succession of Sandra Blands hanging in their cell – forever.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

Zionist Fascism 263

Israeli Ambassadors: The Farcical Face of Modern Apartheid

Israel sees the UN as hostile territory. How apt that it sends ambassadors committed to annexation, whose stock answer to criticism is the claim of 'anti-Semitism'.

By Vijay Prashad 

August 21, 2015 "Information Clearing House" -  Israel's government is not keen on the United Nations. A common sign in the illegal settlements reads, "UNwelcome".

Israel sees the UN as hostile territory. Its ambassadors behave on a war footing. Ron Prosor, the former ambassador, routinely attacked senior UN officials when he didn't agree with them, calling many "anti-Semites".

Israel has now sent a new ambassador to the UN. Danny Danon follows Prosor - both are brash and farcical. Danon is the envoy of the settlers, a fierce advocate of "Greater Israel". 

In a New York Times opinion piece in 2011, Danon wrote that the Israeli government "should annex the Jewish communities of the West Bank, or as Israelis prefer to refer to our historic heartland, Judea and Samaria."

The two-state solution is a senseless idea to Danon, who is firmly committed to the full annexation of Palestinian lands. Danon has written that early Zionist leaders acted with total disregard for international opinion and law, and that "diplomatic storms soon blew over as the international community moved on to other issues".

The disdain shown for international law and the UN is the essence of what in Israel is called 'Danonism'.

Danon has been an irritant to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - he ran against him for Likud's leadership, and despite being appointed three times to senior positions by Netanyahu, continues to belittle him.

It is likely that Netanyahu has sent him to New York to get him out of Israel.

His close links to Christian Zionists in the US indicate that he will ignore the establishment and strengthen ties to friends such as Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. The Christian Zionists and the Israeli settlers are the real base of men such as Danon.

Danon is not the only envoy of the settlements. Dani Dayan, the former head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, is to be ambassador to Brazil. Brazil has been a consistent critic of Israel's settlement policy and recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv during the 2014 bombing of Gaza.
Israel has hoped to appeal to Brazil's growing Pentacostal movement, which has within a strong strain of Christian Zionism. Sending an unapologetic settler such as ambassador snubs Brasilia as Israel reaches out to this section of the population.

Prosor's farewell gift

Israel's outgoing ambassador, Prosor, left the UN with a gift. On 5 March and 7 April of last year, he sent strongly worded letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemning Rima Khalaf, a former Jordanian cabinet minister who is the head of the UN's Economic and Social Commission of West Asia.

Khalaf's agency had released a powerful report, Arab Integration, which was sharply critical of the direction of development in all of West Asia and North Africa. In one section, the report indicated that Israel's claim to being a "Jewish State" was racist.

Prosor wrote that there was "far more fiction than fact" in Khalaf's report, which "alleges that Israel is reviving the concept of 'state ethnic and religious purity'."

The evidence supports Khalaf's team. Bills from Yariv Levin, of Likud, and Ayelet Shaked, of Jewish Home, called for Israel to directly call itself a "Jewish State". Israel, these politicians argue, needs to be open about its apartheid character. Both politicians are now ministers - Shaked for justice and Levin for tourism.

Khalaf's report, Prosor argued, represented "the epitome of modern day anti-Semitism". He accused her of "demonising Israel".

The UN secretary general's office has rejected his claims. It renewed Khalaf's tenure as the head of her group. Farhan Haq, from Ban Ki-moon's office, told me: "The secretary general continues to support Rima Khalaf and he has full confidence in her work."

As the door closed behind him, Prosor decided to toss out more canards against her. This July, in New York, Khalaf raised the question of Israel and its violation of international law.

Khalaf is quoted as saying that the Israeli response to humanitarian flotillas trying to break its blockade of Gaza, "is like the violent abductions carried out by pirates at sea, in the air and on land, which the world does not hesitate to call terror".

Khalaf also said: "In Palestine, international indifference not only allowed the Israeli occupation to keep on grinding for half a century, but spread instability in the region. This eroded the faith in global justice and pushed some people to take justice into their own hands."

Prosor responded to this speech with the same old cliched complaints. Khalaf's comments were, he said, "pronouncements... seeped with anti-Semitism".

Prosor approached Carman Lapointe, the UN under secretary general for Internal Oversight Services and demanded a formal investigation of Khalaf. When asked about the investigation, Lapointe said it never discussed complaints with external parties.

Israel's cavalier attitude toward international law and the UN is enabled by the carte blanche it receives from the US. Despite the daylight between US President Barack Obama and Netanyahu over the nuclear deal with Iran, the US has never threatened to call Israel to account for its violations of international law.

The US has neither the will nor the probity to do so. After all, if the US took international law seriously, it would have to call itself to account for its criminal war against Iraq.
Vijay Prashad is a columnist at Frontline and a senior research fellow at AUB's Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs. His latest book is The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2014 paperback).
Copyright al-Araby al-Jadeed,

Turkey's Terror

Harut Sassounian Headshot

Turkey Pays Former CIA Director and Lobbyists to Misrepresent Attacks on Kurds and ISIS

Posted: Updated: 
Thousands of articles have been published worldwide in recent weeks exposing Turkey's strategic trickery -- using the pretext of fighting ISIS to carry out a genocidal bombing campaign against the Kurds who have courageously countered ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The Wall Street Journal reported on August 12 that a senior US military official accused Turkey of deceiving the American government by allowing its use of Incirlik airbase to attack ISIS, as a cover for President Erdogan's war on Kurdish fighters (PKK) in northern Iraq. So far, Turkey has carried out 300 air strikes against the PKK, and only three against ISIS! Erdogan's intent in punishing the Kurds is to gain the sympathy of Turkish voters in the next parliamentary elections, enabling his party to win an outright majority and establish an autocratic presidential theocracy.
To conceal its deception and mislead the American public, within days of starting its war on the Kurds, Ankara hired Squire Patton Boggs for $32,000 a month, as a subcontractor to the powerful lobbying firm, the Gephardt Group. Squire Patton Boggs includes former Senators Trent Lott and John Breaux, and retired White House official Robert Kapla. The Gephardt lobbying team for Turkey consists of subcontractors Greenberg Traurig, Brian Forni, Lydia Borland, and Dickstein Shapiro LLP; the latter recently added to its lobbying staff former CIA Director Porter Goss. Other lobbying firms hired by Turkey are: Goldin Solutions, Alpaytac, Finn Partners, Ferah Ozbek, and Golin/Harris International. According to U.S. Justice Department records, Turkey pays these lobbying/public relations firms around $5 million a year. Furthermore, several U.S. non-profit organizations serve as fronts for the Turkish government to promote its interests in the United States and take Members of Congress and journalists on all-expense paid junkets to Turkey.
Among the U.S. lobbyists for Turkey, perhaps the most questionable is Porter Goss, CIA Director from 2004 to 2006, who has agreed to sell his soul and possibly U.S. national secrets for a fistful of Turkish Liras.
It is noteworthy that in a report Mr. Goss filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, he avoided answering the question regarding his compensation from the Turkish government. He simply wrote: "Salary not based solely on services rendered to the foreign principal [Turkey]"!
In the same form, filed on April 23, 2015, Mr. Goss described his services for Turkey as follows:
1) Provide counsel in connection with the extension and strengthening of the Turkish-American relationship in a number of key areas that are the subject of debate in Congress, including trade, energy security, counter-terrorism efforts, and efforts to build regional stability in the broader Middle East and Europe;
2) Educating Members of Congress and the Administration on issues of importance to Turkey;
3) Notifying Turkey of any action in Congress or the Executive Branch on issues of importance to Turkey;
4) Preparing analyses of developments in Congress and the Executive Branch on issues of importance to Turkey.
It is significant that Dickstein Shapiro LLP, Mr. Goss's employer, misled the Justice Department, by reporting two days prior to the start of his employment and three days before the Armenian Genocide Centennial, that the former CIA Director had already met on behalf of his lobbying firm with nine members of Congress to discuss "US-Turkish relations."
Most probably, hiring Porter Goss as a lobbyist for Turkey was a reward for his staunch support of Turkish issues, while serving as a Republican congressman from Florida from 1989 to 2004. During the October 2000 debate on the Armenian Genocide resolution in the House International Relations Committee, Cong. Goss, the then Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, testified against the adoption of the resolution, using the excuse that it would harm U.S.-Turkey relations. Nevertheless, the genocide resolution was adopted by a vote of 24 to 11.
It is bad enough that former Members of Congress are selling themselves to anyone who is willing to pay them. But, the former director of the CIA...? This is more than unethical; it is a grave risk to U.S. national security. The American government must not allow the sale of its top spymaster to the highest bidder! What if North Korea offered him a higher price? Would Mr. Goss jump ship and lobby for an enemy state just to make a few more dollars?

West Supports Saudi Fascism

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Why Is The West Reluctant to Cut Ties With Saudi Arabia? 

By George Galloway For Press TV.

Saudi warplanes have been bombing Yemen for twenty weeks without a UN approval. Saudi Arabia's war, which has claimed many lives, has the full support of the West, mostly from the US and Britain. On human rights in Saudi Arabia itself, calls are being made from around the globe for the Saudi regime to release a prominent writer from prison.
Posted August 21, 2015

George Galloway is a British politician, broadcaster, and writer. From March 2012 to March 2015 he was the Respect Party Member of Parliament for Bradford West.

Rise of the Robots

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When Robots Run the Show 

Posted on Aug 21, 2015
By Peter Richardson

Basic Books
To see long excerpts from “Rise of the Robots” at Google Books, click here.
“Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future”
A book by Martin Ford

There’s good reason to believe that robots will replace more and more workers, especially those who perform routine tasks, in the coming years. According to one analysis, up to 47 percent of jobs in the United States now performed by humans will be performed by machines within two decades. In the past, this sort of job loss was attributed to “creative destruction” — the destruction of something old by something new, which economist Joseph Schumpeter considered “the essential fact about capitalism.” Continuous innovation sustained economic growth even as it destroyed older modes of production. Predictions of long-term joblessness went awry because innovation also transformed our wants and needs. When I was running Fortran programs using punched cards, I didn’t realize I would eventually need a handheld computer that also doubled as my telephone, camera and navigational guide.
In “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” author Martin Ford, software developer and computer designer, predicts that the next wave of job losses will be different. The main reason for this difference, he argues, is Moore’s Law. Formulated in the mid-1960s by Intel founder Gordon Moore, that axiom predicts that advances in chip technology will increase computing power exponentially. When combined with advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, these gains will make robots the most efficient way to perform routine work now allocated to humans.
We shouldn’t underestimate the consequences of accelerating automation, but Ford’s thesis is vulnerable to two sets of counterarguments. The first set is economic. Yes, American jobs are disappearing, but Ford never makes a convincing case that automation — rather than the neoliberal policies we have pursued for decades — is the main culprit. Indeed, it often seems he has read but not fully digested the relevant literature in labor economics, international trade, economic history and political economy. This lack of expertise doesn’t prevent him from offering a wide range of policy prescriptions.
Much of Ford’s book considers the role of automation in various sectors of the economy, not all of which conform to his thesis. By putting robots at the center of his health care discussion, for example, he seems to overlook the real reasons Americans pay so much (and show worse health outcomes) compared with residents of other advanced countries. In the second half of the chapter, however, Ford turns to the well-known drawbacks of the American approach. He concludes that “health care is a broken market and no amount of technology is likely to bring down costs until the structural problems of the industry are resolved.” This conclusion appears to be a setback for his argument, but instead of modifying his thesis, he suggests “a brief detour from our technology narrative” to offer his policy solutions for this sector. Then, having acknowledged a tenuous connection between automation and the 18 percent of the American economy that comprises our health care costs, Ford returns to his robo-centric discussion.
The other main challenge to Ford’s analysis, one he never addresses, is philosophical. More than four decades ago, philosopher Hubert Dreyfus outlined the conceptual limits of artificial intelligence in “What Computers Can’t Do” (1972). Those limits revolve around the difference between computation, which machines do very well, and consciousness, which machines don’t possess. Many in the high-tech community ignored or mocked Dreyfus’ argument, but by the early 1990s, most had conceded that his critique was on point. It resurfaced in 1999, when Dreyfus’ former colleague, John Searle, assessed Ray Kurzweil’s book, “The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence.” Searle called that work “an extended reflection on the implications of Moore’s Law” and argued that Kurzweil, an accomplished high-tech inventor and controversial futurist, had left a “huge gulf between the spectacular claims advanced and the weakness of the arguments given in their support.” The main drawback, Searle claimed, was that Kurzweil had failed to distinguish between artificial intelligence and consciousness. When Kurzweil complained about the review in print, Searle made quick work of him.
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Zionist Nuclear Bomb

When a U.S. president demanded inspections of a nuclear facility in the Middle East (and failed)

Middle East 
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In July 1963, President Kennedy demanded of the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister that he allow U.S. inspections of the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona to make sure that the plant was “devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes.” U.S. support for Israel would be “seriously jeopardized” if the U.S. could not get information on doings at the facility, Kennedy said.
Kennedy stated his demands in a letter to Levi Eshkol dated July 5, 1963, less than ten days after Eshkol became prime minister of Israel. The document is in the Israel State Archive, and is online at the National Security Archive, in a section titled Israel and the Bomb. 

Kennedy Eshkol letter, page 1

Kennedy-Eshkol letter, page 2

Kennedy Eshkol letter, page 3
Text below (thanks in part to the Jewish Virtual Library). 
Avner Cohen, author of Israel and the Bomb, writes at the National Security Archive:
Not since President Eisenhower’s message to [David] Ben Gurion, in the midst of the Suez crisis in November 1956, had an American president been so blunt with an Israeli prime minister. Kennedy told Eshkol that the American commitment and support of Israel ‘could be seriously jeopardized’ if Israel did not let the United States obtain ‘reliable information’ about Israel’s efforts in the nuclear field. In the letter Kennedy presented specific demands on how the American inspection visits to Dimona should be executed. Since the United States had not been involved in the building of Dimona and no international law or agreement had been violated, Kennedy demands were indeed unprecedented. They amounted, in effect, to American ultimatum.
What’s the larger context?
In The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy (1991), Seymour Hersh reports that Kennedy was dead-set against Israel getting the bomb and frequently pressured David Ben-Gurion, Eshkol’s predecessor, to agree to inspections at Dimona. Kennedy even sold out his concerns about Palestinian refugees’ return in order to gain concessions on Dimona– much to the consternation of the State Department. Hersh says that the Israelis misled American inspectors at the site, which had gone “critical” in 1962 with the help of the French. And some members of Congress undercut Kennedy’s policy in private communications with the Israelis.
Lyndon Johnson succeeded Kennedy as president on November 22, 1963, of course. He was also opposed to Israel getting the bomb, Hersh says. “A nuclear Israel was unacceptable.” But Johnson was in the end more accommodating: “By the middle 1960s, the game was fixed: President Johnson and his advisers would pretend that the American inspections amounted to proof that Israel was not building the bomb, leaving unblemished America’s newly reaffirmed support for nuclear nonproliferation.”
“Unlike Kennedy, Johnson was not eager for a confrontation,” Michael Karpin writes in The Bomb in the Basement. “He preferred compromise.” Israel achieved nuclear capability in 1966, he says.
Both Karpin and Hersh attribute Johnson’s winking acceptance of Israel into the nuclear club to his sensitivity to the Jewish experience in the Holocaust and the effect of what both men call “the Jewish lobby.” Hersh mentions Johnson’s dependence on financial contributions from Abraham Feinberg.
Here is that Kennedy letter:
“Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
“It gives me great personal pleasure to extend congratulations as you assume your responsibilities as Prime Minister of Israel. You have our friendship and best wishes in your new tasks. It is on one of these that I am writing you at this time.
“You are aware, I am sure, of the exchanges which I had with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion concerning American visits to Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona. Most recently, the Prime Minister wrote to me on May 27. His words reflected a most intense personal consideration of a problem that I know is not easy for your Government, as it is not for mine. We welcomed the former Prime Minister’s strong reaffirmation that Dimona will be devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes and the reaffirmation also of Israel’s willingness to permit periodic visits to Dimona.
“I regret having to add to your burdens so soon after your assumption of office, but I feel the crucial importance of this problem necessitates my taking up with you at this early date certain further considerations, arising out of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s May 27 letter, as to the nature and scheduling of such visits.
“I am sure you will agree that these visits should be as nearly as possible in accord with international standards, thereby resolving all doubts as to the peaceful intent of the Dimona project. As I wrote to Mr. Ben-Gurion, this government’s commitment to and support of Israel could be seriously jeopardized if it should be thought that we were unable to obtain reliable information on a subject as vital to peace as the question of Israel’s effort in the nuclear field.
“Therefore, I asked our scientists to review the alternative schedules of visits we and you had proposed. If Israel’s purposes are to be clear beyond reasonable doubt, I believe that the schedule which would best serve our common purposes would be a visit early this summer, another visit in June 1964, and thereafter at intervals of six months. I am sure that such a schedule should not cause you any more difficulty than that which Mr. Ben-Gurion proposed in his May 27 letter. It would be essential, and I understand that Mr. Ben-Gurion’s letter was in accord with this, that our scientists have access to all areas of the Dimona site and to any related part of the complex, such as fuel fabrication facilities or plutonium separation plant, and that sufficient time be allotted for a thorough examination.
“Knowing that you fully appreciate the truly vital significance of this matter to the future well-being of Israel, to the United States, and internationally, I am sure our carefully considered request will have your most sympathetic attention.
“John F. Kennedy” 

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