This year’s Bilderberg conference begins Thursday.

The secretive gathering of global elites is the stuff of conspiracy theorists’ dreams. Held at the Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol in the Austrian Alps — less than 20 miles away from the summit of leading industrial nations known as the Group of Seven, or G-7 — Bilderberg has an attendee list that reads like a who’s who of imperialism and global capitalism.

The heads of Deutsche Bank, Lazard, Banco Santander and HSBC will be joined by Benoît Coeuré, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank. The vice chairman of BlackRock will also be attending, along with the CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the president of the Royal Bank of Canada.

Big business is also well-represented, with the heads of Michelin, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Siemens Austria expected to attend.

The Guardian observes:

It’s worth noting the growing presence of Google at Bilderberg. The company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is on the group’s steering committee; he’ll be joined in Austria by his vice-president for engineering, advanced technology and projects, and the vice-president of engineering for the not-at-all terrifying sounding Google DeepMind. They, presumably, will be leading the session on artificial intelligence. This will be listened to with great interest by Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and director of Facebook, as he continues his quest to merge with computers. But that’s another story.

Political leadership probably will represent the largest contingent, with the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium attending. They will be joined by Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO; Heinz Fischer, the president of Austria; and David Petraeus — the disgraced former CIA director now working in the private sector — who can enjoy a cozy chat with Henry Kissinger.

While we know who will be there and that they will discuss topics ranging from cybersecurity to chemical weapons threats to Greece, that’s really all we know.

That’s because no notes are taken, and no information is released to the public. No interviews are given, and journalists trying to interview participants at previous meetings have been arrested.

Now, what could possibly be so sinister about such incredibly high-powered participants meeting in closed sessions on an Austrian mountaintop to discuss global strategy?

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