Media Ignores Israel Connection to Eric Schmidt’s Push For NY “Smart Cities”
4 Comments 20 May 2020 Posted by Whitney Webb
With NY Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announcing that former head of Google, Eric Schmidt, would lead an effort to “reimagine” post-pandemic life in the state, media reports have failed to note that the groundwork for that “reimagining” was laid last year and intimately involves the state of Israel.
In recent weeks, considerable media attention has been given to the decision by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo to tap former Google executive Eric Schmidt to lead a 15-member panel tasked with “reimagining” New York’s post-pandemic tech infrastructure as well as its education, economic and healthcare system. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was also recruited for this initiative by Gov. Cuomo, leading some American media outlets to criticize the venture as turning New York “into a Silicon Valley science experiment.”
However, it is much more than merely a Silicon Valley experiment. As The Last American Vagabond reported last month, Schmidt currently chairs the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), which discussed plans last May regarding how to re-make American society to foster the mass adoption of AI-driven technologies, including so-called “smart cities” and related systems of mass surveillance. That commission includes key people, not just from Silicon Valley, but also the U.S. military and intelligence communities – a testament to how the divisions between Big Tech, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence have become increasingly blurred in recent years.
Unsurprisingly, one of the main initiatives that the Schmidt-chaired New York panel is set to promote is the fast-tracking of “smart city” implementation as outlined by the Schmidt-chaired NSCAI. The use of the term “reimagining” in the announcement that Schmidt would chair this panel also underscores this point, given that Google’s “smart city” subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, describes itself as “reimagining cities from the Internet up.” Smart cities are more accurately defined as cities that are micromanaged by technocrats via an all encompassing system of mass surveillance and a vast array of “internet of things” devices that provide a constant and massive stream of data that is analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI).
Notably, Cuomo’s appointment of Schmidt to lead this panel aimed at “reimagining” life in New York came right before news broke that a Google subsidiary was scrapping its plans to build a smart city prototype in Toronto. Schmidt still chaired Google’s parent company, Alphabet, when that deal was first negotiated in 2017. At the time, Schmidt had said that Google’s effort to turn Toronto into a “smart city” had come “from Google’s founders getting excited thinking of ‘all the things you could do if someone would just give us a city and put us in charge’.”
Though smart cities have been largely unpopular among Americans to date, the coronavirus crisis has led to a spate of positive PR pieces promoting their implementation, such as a recent piece in Wired which claims that “smart city planning could slow future pandemics” and an article from Forbes about how “smart cities are protecting against coronavirus.”
While the current coronavirus crisis and Schmidt’s increasingly public role in ushering in AI-driven technological “solutions” throughout New York have given a boost to the smart city agenda, the plan to create these cities in New York was in the works well before coronavirus. However, those pre-pandemic smart city plans intimately involve one key actor that has, thus far, gone unnamed in recent media reports – the state of Israel.
Who will build New York’s Smart Cities?
Last June, NY Governor Cuomo announced a $2 million partnership agreement with the Israel Innovation Authority, a branch of Israel’s Economy Ministry, that aimed to “further strengthen economic development ties between New York State and Israel.” The agreement was specifically related to the “co-development and commercialization” for technologies related to smart cities, cybersecurity and drones (unmanned aerial vehicles), among others.
A key component of this partnership was the creation of the “Smart Cities Innovation Partnership (SCIP),” which Cuomo’s office described as “a new initiative that will share innovative technologies, research, talent and business resources between cities in New York and Israel.” It was also stated that “New York and Israel will contribute an equivalent amount of matching resources” to the project. Cuomo, at the time, also said that New York’s Incubator programs for start-ups – an initiative with funds exceeding $5 million — would “implement a new focus on Israeli companies,” as opposed to local companies.
Regarding this new “Smart Cities Innovation Partnership,” Dr. Ami Applebaum – chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and Chief Scientists of the Israel’s Economy Ministry – stated the following:
“As technology advances and touches every facet of our daily lives, the future of Smart Cities is just around the corner and highly depends to [sic] new and innovative technologies. This collaboration between the ESD (Empire State Development of New York State) and the Israel Innovation Authority, facilitated by our Americas Operations desk and the Ministry of Economy, Foreign Trade Administration (FTA), headed by Mr. Inon Elroy, Economic Minister to North America, will provide startups an opportunity for pilot validation sites to address the strategic concerns of both States such as cybersecurity, supply chain, energy, health, transportation, wastewater, water, civic engagement, parks, public works, and safety.”
The partnership specifically called for the establishment of five “Smart Cities” in Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) regions in New York that would interact with “test bed sites” created in Israel. This means that this “smart city” partnership only involves the creation of smart cities in New York, not Israel, but gives Israeli companies a major role in designing these five New York smart cities.
Though the press release from last year claims this would be an “equal venture,” an article on the SCIP published by The Jerusalem Post in March asserts that New York’s state government will be funding the entire $2 million project, giving $1 million to the Israel Innovation Authority and $1 million to Israeli companies. The New York government website, however, currently states that the $2 million partnership involves New York state giving $1 million exclusively to New York-based companies and the Israel Innovation Authority giving additional $1 million exclusively for Israeli companies seeking to develop New York-based projects.
On March 18, the SCIP was launched “via educational outreach and solicitation of interest in different New York localities.” The five “winning” New York municipalities, who will be announced in July, will be required “to designate physical or virtual sites to be used in new pilot technologies” sometime over the course of 2020, with those “smart city” technologies being implemented in early 2021.
The selection of the projects will be overseen by Eric Gertler, President and CEO of the Empire State Development (ESD), who was nominated to the position shortly after Cuomo announced the NY-Israel Smart City partnership and returned to a trip from Israel. Notably, Gertler is also currently chairman of the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) and is on the Board of Governors for Tel Aviv University and Israel’s Technion. He also has long-standing close ties to Mort Zuckerman, a Zionist media mogul who recently came under fire for his ties to his former business associate, Jeffrey Epstein. Gertler used to work for Zuckerman as former co-publisher of the Zuckerman-owned New York Daily News and Gertler is also a trustee of Zuckerman’s family foundation.
Smart Cities and CyberNYC
The initiation of the SCIP followed the launch of another major New York partnership with Israel that created two new, massive cybersecurity centers. Those cybersecurity centers, built in New York City and funded by New York taxpayers, are managed by private Israeli companies with close ties to Israel’s government, pro-Israel lobby organizations and Israeli intelligence-linked firms. Known as “CyberNYC” and first announced in 2018, the program officially seeks to “spur the creation of 10,000 cybersecurity jobs and make New York City a global leader in cyber innovation.”
However, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and SOSA –the two Israeli companies set to run these two “CyberNYC” centers – have been rather clear that they view the centers, not as a “collaborative” effort, but as a means for providing Israeli cybersecurity companies a foothold in the American market and as a springboard for their global expansion. A report I previously wrote for MintPress News noted that both JVP and SOSA are Israeli government and military contractors and are also connected to Israel’s intelligence apparatus, particularly companies started by former members of Israel’s Unit 8200 signal intelligence unit. Notably, SOSA’s “CyberNYC” center in particular is associated with the America-Israel Friendship League, chaired by the President of New York’s ESD Eric Gertler who is involved in the NY-Israel “Smart Cities Innovation Partnership.”
Though there are numerous other such connections, the most crucial and relevant to note is that the “CyberNYC” initiative directly involves the participation of the Unit 8200 “start-up incubator” called Team8. As I previously reported for MintPress:
“Team8, particularly its presence in New York, has long been associated with the push by pro-Israel political donor and American hedge fund manager Paul Singer and Israel’s government to make Israel the global cybersecurity leader as a means of preventing countries from boycotting Israel over human rights violations and war crimes. Team8’s role in CyberNYC will see them not only finance part of the initiative but also training cybersecurity workers who will be hired as part of the partnership.”
Team8, in addition to being closely tied with controversial Unit 8200-linked companies like Cybereason, also has developed close ties to former U.S. government officials, including the former head of the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA) Mike Rogers, who now works for Team8. Another notable U.S. connection to Team8 is the fact that one of Team8’s leading investors is none other than Eric Schmidt, who is now set to “reimagine” life in New York at Cuomo’s behest. In addition to Team8, Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors fund is heavily invested in several Israeli “internet of things” companies and other Israeli hi-tech start-ups.
In addition, Schmidt’s former employer, Google, has partnered with the Israeli company Carbyne911 for the implementation of emergency services and 911 call functions for “smart cities.” Carbyne911 is chaired by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and was partially financed by Barak’s close friend Jeffery Epstein. Its software, designed by former Unit 8200 members, has built-in “pre-crime” functionality, among other Orwellian features.
Given that Schmidt’s involvement in the new Cuomo-created panel to “reimagine” New York’s tech infrastructure, it is very disconcerting that media reports have failed to even mention the clear role that Israeli government-backed initiatives, as well as Israeli intelligence-linked start-ups and incubators, are set to have on New York’s future.
These ties are particularly concerning given that Israel’s government and intelligence service has a long history of aggressively spying on the U.S. federal government and/or blackmailing top American politicians, particularly using technological means. In addition, Israel’s government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an explicit policy of creating U.S. dependence on Israeli tech companies in order to counter the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement within the U.S. and to make Israel the dominant global “cyber power.” It is no coincidence, then, that Israel has also been chosen by other countries with strong Zionist lobbies to create “smart cities,” some specifically for “low-income residents,” in places like Brazil and elsewhere in the years since this policy began in 2012.
Of course, while these policies and the NY-Israel smart city partnership are set to be a major boon for Israeli companies and Israel’s geopolitical goals, New Yorkers stand to be the biggest losers of the “reimagining” of their state. Not only are high-paying jobs in New York’s hi-tech future being given to foreigners and foreign-owned companies, but also the already privacy-eroding potential of “smart cities” will be placed largely in the hands of a foreign power. Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.
Bill Gates made donations to MIT through Jeffrey Epstein —here are all of the tech mogul’s connections to the financier
Kat Tenbarge, Benjamin Goggin Sep 8, 2019, 4:24 AM
- Microsoft founder, philanthropist, and former richest person in the world Bill Gates has been connected to the late financier Jeffrey Epstein before.
- Now, an additional connection was reported by The New Yorker, which obtained emails from MIT Media Lab directors that say the convicted sex offender “directed” Gates to donate $US2 million to the research lab in October 2014.
- The latest link comes after reported meetings between the two wealthy men, including one in New York in 2013 that preceded a ride to Palm Beach in one of Epstein’s private planes, along with Gates’ former chief scientific adviser being named as alternate executor to Epstein’s will.
- Epstein’s run-ins with Gates demonstrate yet again how vast wealth opens doors, regardless of one’s criminal background, as Epstein was convicted of two counts of soliciting underage girls for prostitution before his known ties to Gates occurred.
- A spokesperson for Gates told Business Insider that “Although Epstein pursued Bill Gates aggressively, any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between the two is categorically false.”
Through a spokesperson, the former richest person in the world and Microsoft founder Bill Gates has denied having any kind of personal relationship or business partnership with the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Emails obtained and published by The New Yorker suggest otherwise. An email written by the MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito says Gates was “directed by” Epstein to donate $US2 million to the research lab in October 2014.
That joins several other reported run-ins between the two wealthy men, years after Epstein was convicted of two counts of soliciting underage girls for prostitution in Palm Beach, Florida in 2008. In July, Epstein was arrested on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy, and he committed suicide in jail in August.
A spokesperson for Gates told Business Insider that “Although Epstein pursued Bill Gates aggressively, any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between the two is categorically false,” and denied the contents of the email from Ito, saying “Any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.”
Through a wide net of high-profile connections in modelling, business, entertainment, politics, and more, Epstein was able to use his extensive wealth and assets to live luxuriously and influence people, companies, and markets in ways that are still not completely understood. Here are all the known connections between the deceased financier and Gates.
Emails from MIT Media Lab directors say Epstein directed Bill Gates to donate at least $US2 million to the research lab.
One way Epstein wielded his influence was through philanthropy. Institutions including MIT and Harvard have both publicly confirmed that Epstein donated large sums of money to various programs at the universities.
MIT was not as forthcoming publicly, The New Yorker reported, as per emails obtained and published in an article linking Epstein to Gates.
The lab’s director, Ito, along with its former Director of Development and Strategy, Peter Cohen, and other Media Lab staffers sustained efforts for a number of years to receive anonymous donations from Epstein, and gave him the ability to influence how they were spent, The New Yorker reported.
Epstein also helped the MIT Media Lab receive funding through donations from his other powerful, wealthy associates, including Gates and the investor Leon Black.
The aforementioned email sent by Ito in October 2014 said: “This is a $US2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein.” Cohen replied with “For gift recording purposes, we will not be mentioning Jeffrey’s name as the impetus for this gift.”
The denial from the Gates spokesperson contradicts the contents of the emails, but The New Yorker also published an email from Epstein to Ito where the financier wrote “GAtes [sic] would like a write up on our one science program for tues next week.”
Ito asked Epstein to specify what type of write up, and Epstein replied “more specofic [sic] so that he can fund.” The lab ultimately secured $US7.5 million from Gates and Black, the founder of one of the largest private-equity firms, seemingly using Epstein as the primary go-between contact.
A spokesperson from the MIT Media Lab directed Business Insider to the open letter MIT’s president wrote following the exposé, announcing an internal investigation.
Gates’ former chief scientific adviser was named as Epstein’s will’s alternate executor, leaving him “shocked.”
Two days before his death, Epstein signed a last will and testament that named one of Gates’ closest connections as alternate executor of his estate, if his longtime lawyers were not able to carry out their duties.
Bloomberg reported that Boris Nikolic, an immunologist and biotech entrepreneur who formerly served as Gates’ chief scientific adviser until 2014, was “shocked” to see he was named alternate executor by Epstein.
“I was not consulted in these matters and I have no intent to fulfil these duties, whatsoever,” he said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg. His spokesperson also says Epstein never invested in Nikolic’s funds or had any business dealings with him.
Similarly, the spokesperson for Gates told Business Insider that “Epstein never provided tax or estate services to Bill Gates.”
Gates met with Epstein at least once in New York in 2013, and flew on one of his private planes to Palm Beach, according to flight records.
Gates’ spokespeople have not denied that the two met, as CNBC reported they did multiple times before Epstein’s death, including at one point in New York in 2013, when Gates was still the chairman of Microsoft.
“Bill attended a meeting in New York with others focused on philanthropy. While Epstein was present, he never provided services of any type to Bill,” the Gates spokesperson told Business Insider.
Sources with direct knowledge told CNBC that Epstein’s business associates “aggressively” pursued Gates in the lead-up to the meeting on the sex offender’s behalf, bombarding him with calls and contacts.
The meeting apparently preceded a flight Gates took on one of Epstein’s private planes to Palm Beach, Florida, where the financier was a registered sex offender. Gates is listed on the flight logs of one of Epstein’s planes as having taken a trip from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where Epstein was arrested in July, to Palm Beach on March 1, 2013.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gates denied donating through Epstein or travelling to Florida with him.
“I met him. I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him. I didn’t go to New Mexico or Florida or Palm Beach or any of that,” he said. “There were people around him who were saying, hey, if you want to raise money for global health and get more philanthropy, he knows a lot of rich people. Every meeting where I was with him were meetings with men. I was never at any parties or anything like that. He never donated any money to anything that I know about.”
Gates has been close with Epstein’s other famous friends, including the scientist Steven Pinker.
Sarah Jacobs/Business InsiderSteven Pinker
The social scientist and psychologist Steven Pinker has been pictured seated next to Epstein at a dinner before, and joins a long list of influential scientists and researchers who had ties to the convicted sex offender. Pinker also flew on Epstein’s private plane that was nicknamed the “Lolita Express,” since his accusers testified that they were sex trafficked on it.
Pinker is Gates’ favourite author, and the multi-billionaire helped propel of the scientist’s writing to commercial success.
Given that Epstein surrounded himself with people who were renowned for their intelligence, along with their bank accounts and social standing, it’s no surprise that he and Gates ran in the same circles or had meetings with each other in the room.
Of course, at the times he encountered Gates, he was convicted pedophile, but as the last few years of his life illustrated, that never stopped Epstein from living lavishly and wielding his power and influence. The emails obtained by The New Yorker suggest there may have been an even closer connection between the two than previously known.