eschatology

Artificial intelligence and the end of the Earth

Tech companies now acknowledge that they are failing to meet their carbon emission reduction goals because of the mega-computing necessary for artificial intelligence—as if AI were something good and inevitable rather than ultra-dystopian. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry exploits carbon concerns to lubricate its comeback—with even countries like Kenya now planning reactors, amid oppressive and iniquitous social conditions. Even apart from the risk of devastating accidents, the normal functioning of nuclear power constitutes an ongoing disaster due to the dilemmas of waste disposal and the despoliation of indigenous lands by uranium mining. Climate disaster versus nuclear disaster is a false choice posed by omnicidal techno-capitalism. The only way to salvage a dignified human future lies in the abolition of fossil fuels, nuclear power and artificial intelligence alike. So argues Bill Weinberg in  Episode 234 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Israeli activists mobilize to protect aid trucks

For months, groups on the Israeli far right have traveled to the crossings where aid is moved from the West Bank to the Gaza border in an effort to disrupt the shipments—even attacking drivers and attempting to destroy the supplies. But now, other groups of Israelis are boarding buses from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and heading to those crossings to try and help the trucks complete their passage into Gaza to deliver the aid. This has sparked stand-offs near the border between right-wing groups such as Tzav 9 and pro-coexistence groups such as Standing Together.

Israeli official broaches nuclear strike on Gaza

A member of the Israeli cabinet broached a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip Nov. 5, making outraged headlines in the Arab world. Jerusalem Affairs & Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party said in a radio interview that there are "no non-combatants in Gaza," and using a nuclear weapon on the Palestinian enclave is "one of the possibilities." The comment was immediately repudiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement saying that Eliyahu has been suspended from cabinet meetings "until further notice." Eliyahu is not a member of the special "war cabinet" formed for the Gaza campaign, Netanyahu's office emphasized, adding: "Eliyahu's statements are not based in reality. Israel and the IDF are operating in accordance with the highest standards of international law to avoid harming innocents. We will continue to do so until our victory." (The Guardian, Haaretz, Politico)

Podcast: Oppenheimer and techno-hubris

In Episode 185 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg reviews the Oppenheimer movie, and discusses the legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer 78 years after Hiroshima. Manhattan Project dissidents like Leo Szilard petitioned to stop the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. But such sentiment was overruled by Harry Truman's geopolitical imperatives—and what Freeman Dyson called the "technical arrogance" of Oppenheimer and his circle. Now, as open Russian nuclear threats continue to mount in Europe, we are poised at the brink of unparalleled catastrophe. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Artificial intelligence and the abolition of humanity

In Episode 183 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant on the dangers of artificial intelligence, this time focusing on the threat it poses to human evolution. The advent of Elon Musk's Neuralink brain implant technology, now approved for human testing by the FDA, actually portends the ultimate abolition of humanity, and its replacement by a conditioned post-humanity stripped of all dignity and reason. But there are signs of human resistance to robot rule that we must fan the flames of before it is too late—such as the current strike by Vancouver dockworkers against their replacement by automation. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Defiant Israel to expand West Bank settlements

Israel's right-wing nationalist government announced new plans June 18 to approve the construction of thousands of new buildings in the occupied West Bank, despite pressure from both the US and EU to halt settlement expansion. Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has just been granted authority over approval of West Bank settlement construction in a cabinet decision, tweeted in explicitly annexationist language: "The construction boom in Judea and Samaria and all over our country continues."

Israel's paramilitary plan advances

The Israeli cabinet on April 2 authorized plans for a paramilitary "National Guard" sought by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to target violence and unrest in Palestinian communities within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said that a committee comprised of Israel's existing security forces is to determine the guard's responsibilities, and whether it will be subordinate to the Israel Police or take orders directly from Ben-Gvir, as he demands. Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded by calling the plan an "extremist fantasy of delusional people," and slammed a decision to cut budgets from other ministries "to fund Ben-Gvir's private militia." (Al Jazeera)

Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions

Israel's new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a brief visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, flanked by a heavy security detail and a fellow Orthodox Jewish worshipper—eliciting immediate outrage from both the Palestinian leadership and the Jewish state's own allies. The Palestinian Authority called the move "an unprecedented provocation," with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site "into a Jewish temple." He called on Palestinians to "confront the raids into al-Aqsa mosque." Hamas warned that Israel is approaching a "red line."

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