A final look into the morass
Every so often, times come when we need another Woody Guthrie. This is another of those times, but hope for any sanity died. We keep looking, but the day will never come. The only viable argument against suicide is that it will accomplish nothing.
Honest Charlie, et al.
We only need to stop and think to sink into a deep depression these days. We have been wanting to write our next final edition [this may be the fifth in the series] but we wanted to be able to continue with the same integrity as usual and without the Orangman cometh. Well, it simply is not going to happen. He will not let it no matter what and even the scum of the earth that follow him will not be swayed nor exterminated.
Not even stealing top secret classified documents and scattering many of them around his resort has managed to get him locked up, something that should be done in the interest of National Security. We here have never been known to take such matters seriously as they are usually exaggerated and used for extremely ridiculous purposes. [Perhaps the most well known is the assassination of John F. Kennedy to continue and increase our participation in the Viet-Nam war, but there have been others as well.]
The only reason to take this nonsense seriously is the hypocrisy behind it. Why had it been such a national issue when anybody had stolen anything labeled SECRET by the government before and now not much seems to be happening? All of a sudden there are all sorts of legal complications?
Still, it seems as though the major differences between Hitler's brown shirts and Trump's Maggats is that some of the latter may have a GED and most of the former were under the influence of a far more accomplished public speaker. Right now, Orangeman's legacy, his outstanding accomplishments, unlikely to be even equaled is that he is the only President who managed to be impeached twice while being elected only once.
To put it another way, he has been impeached twice as many times as he has been elected.
The issues with this guy seem to be two-fold. On the bottom, we have a mess of semi-literate bozos, clearly misused by our system, but too ignorant or stupid to realize that it is huge and profitable billionaires and their corporations that abuse them. Instead, their anger is directed at others in the same economic situation, but with different color skin, different superstitutions or religions, and so on. For a long time, they were all convinced that Islam was the problem, or black people, or some group called Antifa, and so on. It seems clear now, that most of the trouble here is domestic terrorism. It seems popular to call it “semi-Fascism". Much more popular with these bottom feeders is the term "Christian Nationalism," although the "Christian" part of it seems quite irrelevant.
Anybody have any real idea of how much money is involved in the scam of these maggots for Trumps "legal fund"? I have the sense it is like Steve Bannon's fund to build the wall along the Mexican border.
There is another side of it. While many of those who participated in the recent attempts overthrow the last election break down in tears at their sentencing as they really believed that the lawfully elected President, Trump, had called them to help him stay in office. They really did.
Some other strange or cynical things have been done. The entire abortion controversy is obvious. While many candidates for office featured long statements on their web pages about the “sanctity of life" during their primaries, those pages were obfuscated immediately after they had been nominated.
Kansas had a great deal to do with this. Kansas has been Republican for a long time and often associated with Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, but Dodge City is more appropriate if we are going to use such analogies. It does seem clear, despite semi-fascist tendencies, that women today do not like being raped and then forced to carry an unwanted child to term (at which time these forces decide the kid is on its own).
Similar things happened in other issues under an earlier administration. A bill was passed with great right-wing opposition. After it passed and the funds became available, several right-wing politicians who opposed the bill proudly announced that the federal money was available and that the voters could contact his office for details.
No, that party has gone mad, quite mad. When this country nearly bankrupted itself in the Great Depression, FDR ran and won, giving as his reason to “save my friends from themselves." He called a special session of congress, used the radio, passed dozens of valuable programs, and did save the country. Ever since, these right-wing money worshippers have been doing their best to eliminate all the programs he instituted. They are even coming after Social Security. In 2007, George Bush Jr. tried to move its money into the stock market. Enough stood in his way and soon the market crashed, he left office, and Obama had to repair the damage.
Well, I’m truly tired of this project, so I'm going to leave it at there. First a note on Ukraine and then an interview over Google and Israel as partners. The details about the murder of the reporter seem to be becoming more available, but I may post them later.
Still, other matters deflect our attention. We said here that the only reason that Ukraine, or the Ukraine [depends on whose side you take] could possibly survive a Russian attack was if a stand-up comedian was in charge because that is who would have the talent to handle this insane situation. Such is the situation right now. It requires all the talents of a stand-up comedian to recognize all the absurdities involved in the situation. In addition, all of our wars seem to be involved to fund the arms industry and Biden has managed to accomplish that without cajoling a single American citizen or resident to serve as a human sacrifice. We have Ukrainians to serve that purpose, an accomplishment Biden should be noted for as a major part of his legacy.
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This just in the Queen of England is dead, and so her son becomes King. For ages, Kings ruled by "Divine Right," meaning they were God's designated ruler since God was too busy with other matters. Not a single King disputed this. The current King, now, is Charles III. A quick history will tell you that the first Charles was so bad that Oliver Cromwell deposed him and eventually chopped his head off. (Tines were tough.) For a discussion of this, consult John Milton, Cromwell's Latin Secretary, for details: The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates is a good place to start and Milton was the official voice for this ruler. Well, to move along, Charles II was a pretty wild one. Swift, Pope, Fielding, Dryden and a whole bunch of great satirists flourished and a great deal of drinking and fornication took place, all in good fun. Now we have Charles III. I just figured a bit of background would help.
While all this insanity is going on, Israel is free from scrutiny. I do want to preface this by saying that the reason I found Google so attractive was that in the early days I had a slow-speed connection and it was a new search engine without a lot of graphics to consume a great deal of time just to get started.
FROM DEMOCRACY NOW
A national day of action is planned next Thursday as protests grow against Google’s secretive $1.2 billion program known as Project Nimbus, which will provide advanced artificial intelligence tools to the Israeli government and military. We speak with two of the leaders of the protest: Ariel Koren, a former Google employee who says she was pushed out for her activism, as well as Gabriel Schubiner, who currently works at Google and is an Alphabet Workers Union organizer. ”Cloud technology is extremely powerful, and providing that power to a violent military and to an apartheid government is not a neutral act,” says Schubiner on Project Nimbus. The pair also detail how workers are rising up against what Koren says is Google’s “culture of retaliation.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s show looking at protests inside Google over a secretive project to provide advanced artificial intelligence tools to the Israeli government and military. The Intercept recently obtained documents about what’s known as Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract between Google and Israel. The Intercept reports, quote, “documents indicate that the new cloud would give Israel capabilities for facial detection, automated image categorization, object tracking, and even sentiment analysis that claims to assess the emotional content of pictures, speech, and writing,” unquote.
Over the past year, workers inside Google have been organized against Project Nimbus. Earlier this week, a video was posted online by a group called Jewish Diaspora in Tech, featuring current Palestinian Google workers. To protect their identity, their comments were read by volunteers.
ANONYMOUS PALESTINIAN GOOGLER 1: Google’s Project Nimbus will be a big ugly moment in Google’s history and a shameful and embarrassing engagement. Project Nimbus will demoralize and agonize the many Googlers who truly believe and stand for Google’s mission and values.
ANONYMOUS PALESTINIAN GOOGLER 2: Working at Google was always my dream job, until I learned about Project Nimbus. I feel like I am making my living off of the oppression of my family back home. If Google truly believes in avoiding unjust impacts through the use of their AI, then why are they choosing to profit from a billion-dollar contract with a government and military which consistently violates international law?
ANONYMOUS PALESTINIAN GOOGLER 3: Countless employees have tried to speak out about the violations the Palestinians have endured and have been intentionally ignored. So when opaque military contracts arise like Project Nimbus, it makes me feel like I am working for the bad guy.
ANONYMOUS PALESTINIAN GOOGLER 4: It has become impossible to express any opinion of disagreement of the war waged on Palestinians without being called into an HR meeting with the threat of retaliation.
ANONYMOUS PALESTINIAN GOOGLER 5: As a Palestinian, my feelings of marginalization only grew when I began seeing my coworkers issued warnings, just for having empathy for Palestinians.
ANONYMOUS PALESTINIAN GOOGLER 6: I shared an internal fundraiser in a Google-wide Forum. I was told that the phrase “Support Palestine” was offensive and anti-semitic.
AMY GOODMAN: Again, that video by a group called Jewish Diaspora in Tech, featuring current Palestinian Google workers. To protect their identity, the comments were read by volunteers.
This all comes as a worker at Google says she was forced out of the company for organizing against Google’s secretive work with Israel. In her resignation letter, Ariel Koren wrote, quote, “Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights — to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear.”
Ariel Koren joins us now, along with Gabriel Schubiner, who is a current Google worker, artificial intelligence researcher and Alphabet Workers Union organizer.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I know, Ariel, this is your first television interview. Can you explain what happened to you, the issues you raised, the organizing that’s going on inside Google, and then what took place, why you’re out?
ARIEL KOREN: Yeah. Thank you for having us.
So, I first spoke out about Project Nimbus in November at a time during which I was on disability leave. And I returned to the company from disability leave two weeks after first speaking out about Project Nimbus. Myself and Gabriel were two Google workers who publicly opposed these contracts. Immediately after I returned to the company, my second day back, I was notified that the company had made the decision to move my role overseas to São Paulo, effective immediately. I was given 17 business days to accept the move or else lose my role. And even though I had been given supposedly 17 business days, on just the second day my manager was already communicating to the team that I’d be leaving.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you put this in the broader context? There have been reports that Google has been penalizing employees who speak out on various issues, and several, in fact, have been fired.
ARIEL KOREN: Yeah, this is a continuation of a larger pattern of retaliation. I think it’s really clear that the message Google was trying to send was, you know, we’re going to oust this worker to scare other workers from speaking out. You know, the intent was to silence workers, but actually I think the opposite is happening. Yesterday, 15 workers, many of whom are Palestinian, spoke out about the deeply entrenched culture within Google of silencing Palestinian colleagues, silencing people who speak out for Palestinian human rights. Folks spoke out about receiving HR warnings just for identifying openly as Palestinian or for sharing news about what’s happening in Palestine. People have been issued pay cuts. They’ve been issued warnings. They’ve been threatened by colleagues and by HR. So the culture of retaliation is immense. And I think workers are starting to rise up. We now have five workers who have spoken out publicly with their names, publicly opposing Project Nimbus, as of yesterday, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Ariel, if you can talk about what this Palestinian, Jewish, as well as other workers’ alliance — the power of this within Google and how management is addressing this? I mean, you speak Hebrew. You speak Arabic. You speak Spanish. You speak — I mean, you are, to say the least, a polyglot.
ARIEL KOREN: Yeah. So, you know, Gabriel, myself, other colleagues within Google, we started to organize a group called Jewish Diaspora in Tech, that is a group that is really growing in number, and I think in power, as well, that is working in solidarity with the Palestine committee within Google, with Palestinian workers, with Arab and Muslim workers who are allied with Palestinians, in addition to workers across identities. And we formed in response to the fact that Google is weaponizing its, quote, “diversity, equity and inclusion” infrastructure in order to, you know, put forward false narratives of antisemitism that are designed to quelch folks who speak out for Palestinian rights. And this is a tool that Google is using to protect its business interests with Israel, and in this case, to silence opposition to Project Nimbus.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Gabriel, could you talk about what — you’re obviously a present employee at Google — what the environment is within Google, and the fact that you’re with the Alphabet Workers Union, you’re one of the organizers, and one of the people who was reportedly sacked at Google was sacked for creating a pop-up message on Google’s corporate network simply informing workers of their protected right to unionize?
GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Yeah, yeah. Thank you for bringing that up. I think, as you mentioned, Google has a history of retaliation. And I see that retaliation as an act of fear. I think that Google is afraid of worker power. And Google has continued — they hired union-busting consultants as part of this, right? They’re trying to make an example of Ariel.
But, as Ariel mentioned, I think this has actually only strengthened the labor movement within Google. Organizing in tech, I think, organizes both — most strongly around kind of classic labor issues, contracting issues, as well as ethical issues, because Big Tech has such a huge influence on the world. And organizing at Google really didn’t start, but I think Project Maven, a contract with the Department of Defense that Google ended up dropping due to worker opposition, really set the tone for how strong tech organizing can be.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you elaborate on that, actually? Could you talk about what Project Maven was and how many people were involved in opposing it within Google?
GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Yeah. So, Project Maven was a contract with the Department of Defense where Google was intended to develop custom AI for drone footage, for object identification on drone footage. Thousands of Google employees signed petitions against this. Critically, a team of engineers close to the project threatened work stoppage. And yeah, just huge employee pushback on this project.
In response to that, Google developed the AI Principles. Since then, Google has actually taken many steps to avoid the responsibilities that it publicly commits to through those principles by claiming that cloud contracts are a neutral technology and that the contract — the AI Principles don’t apply to these contracts. The cloud technology is extremely powerful. And providing that power to a violent military and to an apartheid government is not a neutral act.
AMY GOODMAN: Gabriel, first, are you concerned about your job, speaking out? Have the Palestinian Google workers — you said just in the last day have come out — have any come out publicly? Ariel is already out, but you still work there. And if you can talk more about specifically Project Nimbus and why this cloud computing contract is most alarming to you?
GABRIEL SCHUBINER: Definitely. So, yeah, I mean, you know, there is definitely the possibility for retaliation, but I find a lot of strength and solidarity in my organizing connections with Ariel. With the union, we have a lot of support. And really, I feel like I have —
AMY GOODMAN: Ariel Koren and Gabriel Schubiner. I can tell you we have had so much trouble this morning, our guests in the San Francisco studio. First we lost the audio, then we lost the video. Then we got the audio up. You could hear the scratchiness of it. And now we have just lost the visual.
We want to thank our guests for being with us, Ariel Koren, a former marketing manager for Google Education, an Alphabet Workers Union organizer. We also want to thank Gabriel Schubiner, who currently works at Google, speaking out, still as a worker there now, with Alphabet Workers Union organizing. They have taken on Project Nimbus, a project of Google and its — Google’s relationship with the state of Israel.
That does it for our show. I should say also, you can sign up for our daily news digest email by texting “democracynow” — one word — to 66866 today. And you can watch and listen when you want to subscribe to our podcasts in English and Spanish. You can find them wherever you get your podcasts today.
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