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3 Jun, 2013 15:08

Bilderberg 2013: Just your average charity case?

Bilderberg 2013: Just your average charity case?

As approximately 140 members of the global elite prepare to meet in Watford, England, this week for the 61st Bilderberg meeting, British residents may be surprised to see who is forced to foot the bill for security.

This week, the global movers and shakers will check into the 5-star Grove Hotel outside London for four days of wining, dining and - as the conspiracy theorists would have us believe - comparing notes on how to control the world (June 6-9).

At the same time, thousands of passionate protesters from around the world will gather outside the 300-acre premises, complete with 18-hole golf course, causing traffic jams and general mayhem. Dorothy Thornhill, the mayor of Watford, has raised fears that the activities could also bring "violence."

“I have my concerns about it because it does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance,” she told the Watford Observer. “But I am confident the police will be able to minimize that and give them their right to protest.”

It will be the British taxpayers, however, who will be forced to pick up part of the tab for part of the security expenditures; the global elite that will be in town will have its portion covered by its specially designated status.
Hertfordshire Police said the Bilderberg Group has agreed to pay some of the cost of security through the charity called the Bilderberg Association.

Yes, you’ve heard right. The Bilderberg Group, who is suspected by those with a more conspiratorial slant of mind as having designs on global domination (enter sinister laugh, piano music), is actually an officially registered charity case (# 272706).

“According to its Charity Commission accounts, the association meets the ‘considerable costs’ of the conference when it is held in the UK, which includes hospitality costs and the travel costs of some delegates,” the Guardian reported.

And who pays into the Bilderberg charity fund? As the Guardian reported, the charity receives regular “five-figure sums” from two weighty supporters of its benevolent goals: Goldman Sachs and BP.

Yes, those two cuddly corporate behemoths, which are practically synonymous with well-worn clichés, like corporate malfeasance and insane greed. The former was responsible for blowing a devastating hole in the global economy by hawking a tricky investment product known as a subprime mortgages; the latter was responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which entered the history books as the largest such disaster ever.

Some may see a conflict of interest here, where two corporate monsters are footing the bill for global politicians, CEOs, and other luminaries to eat well and play golf while discussing ways to “steer” the course of the global economy.

Not surprisingly, after years of meeting behind closed doors, the Bilderberg Group seems prepared to meet the public halfway on the question of transparency. This will also involve some added expenditures to the final bill.

“This year there is a press zone, police liaison, portable toilets, a snack van, a speakers' corner – all the ingredients for a different Bilderberg,” the Guardian reported.

A "festival feel" has been promised, it continued.

Meanwhile, activists are planning to hold a ‘Bilderberg Fringe Festival,’ which organizers say will be a peaceful weekend of guest speakers, music and workshops nearby.

Public scrutiny of the 61st Bilderberg meeting promises to be at an all-time high, while media in Britain seems more prepared to report on the secretive event – even gently mock it.

It would be too easy to blame the uptick in Bilderberg paranoia on internet chat rooms, where conspiracy theories are minted faster than wooden nickels. After all, in our hyper-connected age of social media, the best way for a group to attract unwanted attention is to boldly declare: “Elite Only, Democracy Need Not Apply.”

Striving for transparency

Although members of the ‘Bilderberg Steering Group’ say their closed-door meetings are merely “informal talk shops” where participants can freely discuss pressing global issues, it seems to be the unstated rule that participants do not speak publicly about the event.

“Attendees are encouraged not to discuss the proceedings, which fuels the secrecy concerns. Many adopt a ‘Fight Club’ approach to answering questions afterward,” The Washington Post divulged following last year’s meeting. “In other words, the first rule is, you do not talk about Bilderberg.”

This year, the Bilderberg Group (named after the Dutch hotel in which it held its first conference in 1954), has invited a handful of the planet’s most powerful to the luxurious Grove Hotel, where attendees will be able to cavort with their peers away from the glare of democratic oversight. This high level of privacy has attracted a mixed bag of reactions.

“If a hundred of the world’s best-known sports figures or film stars were gathered at some exclusive resort behind closed doors for a private meeting, the entirety of the mass media would be on hand, clamoring for admittance and demanding to know what was going on,” commented James P. Tucker, the late investigative journalist who was one of the first to throw a spotlight on the Bilderberg meetings over two decades ago.

“When the world’s richest bankers, media barons, industrialists, members of royalty and political leaders were meeting secretly and discussing public policy matters that impacted on the course of the world’s affairs, the establishment press never said a word,” Tucker added.

Proponents of the meeting, however, say that collaboration among individuals is possible to occur without the necessity of an exclusive event.

“The idea that the so-called global elite need to have a special retreat in order to hatch sinister plots that run counter to the needs of the people is simply ridiculous,” a former attendee of the event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told RT.  

While no official guest list for this year’s event has been released, the annual gathering has previously welcomed influential personalities including Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller, Tony Blair, the Prince of Wales, Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, not to mention, most surprisingly, a sprinkling of editors of major newspapers.

Ironically, it has been the mainstream media’s deafening silence of the prestigious event that has given Bilderberg most of its largely-unwanted publicity. This year, organizers of the global event hope to reverse that trend, aiming for much-needed transparency and oversight.