New: SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Monday April 09, 2018 - 12:13:00 PM

Wake Up! Your Home Has Just Washed Away!

With a powerful Pineapple Express bearing down on California this week, emergency officials sent out an alert advising residents in regions burned by last year's wildfires to keep their cellphones charged. It was critical, the officials explained, that people at risk of flood damage should be able to hear a call for an emergency evacuation.

A question: Does it make sense to issue a warning when (1) people are asleep in their homes, when (2) the rainstorm is at its worst, and (3) evacuation routes are likely to be blocked due to flooding?

Another question: Wouldn't it make more sense to take a pro-active approach: Evacuate people before the storm hits, when (1) people are awake, (2) the sun is out, and (3) the roads are dry?

Just asking.

The Chronicle Gets a Bad Wrap

The Chronicle recently ran a powerful front-page story on the impact plastic waste is having on the world's oceans. Unfortunately, the Chronicle's home delivery teams didn't get the message. Our newspaper continues to arrive wrapped in plastic—even on dry and sunny days. Makes the Chron look clueless. 

Grave New World  

The Wall Street Journal calls the corporate practice of "inversion" a "controversial tactic to reduce taxes by reincorporating overseas." So, if "corporations are people," wouldn't that make "reincorporation" a form of "reincarnation"? So what do we call these new corporate changelings—"clones," "drones," "zombies"? 

Trump to America: This Land Ain't Your Land 

The NRDC recently sent out an alert: 

[Donald] Trump did the unthinkable and eviscerated protections for two of our most cherished national monuments, Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. 

America has never seen such a devastating assault on our treasured public lands. Grand Staircase-Escalante was reduced by nearly half and Bears Ears was sliced into two fragments, reducing the original monument's overall size by an outrageous 85%. 

Trump is rushing to hand over millions of acres of wilderness lands and Indigenous cultural sites to the fossil fuel and mining industries. 

You can send a protest letter at this link:"> 

Dear Secretary Zinke: 

You must have misheard the lyrics to Woody Guthrie's famous anthem to the American landscape.  

Woody sang: "This land is land is your land, this land is my land."  

He did not sing: "This land is ore land, this land is mine land." 

Al Jazeera Visits Berkeley for Free Speech Doc 

Back on January 25, a news crew from Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based global news organization, visited the Berkeley campus to film interviews for a program on the collision of political extremism and "free speech." 

The 30-minute Faultline documentary has just been released. (You can watch the complete broadcast below.) 

In addition to resurrecting film clips of Berkeley's historic Free Speech Movement, the film crew also interviewed three FSM vets—Anita Medal, Steve Lustig, and yours truly. The final result, as the title reveals, is less about philosophical debates over the First Amendment and more about the tactics of the Black Bloc anarchists that comprise the anti-fascist (Antifa) clique. 

One surprising take-away from the up-close-and-personal interviews with protagonists on both sides of the Great Trump Split, is how reasonable the Alt-Right reps sound when contrasted to members of Antifa. 

Alt-right provocateur Joey Gibson winds up sounding like the voice of reason—decrying violence and promoting the First Amendment. The most self-righteous, hateful, and intolerant diatribes come from participants in Antifa. There are a couple of exceptions, including a martial arts motor-mouth and an athletic street-scuffler named "Hex." Both men appear unmasked and take full responsibility for their politics. 

During one filmed confrontation, Hex is shot at close range and goes down bleeding. Recuperating in a hospital, he refuses to bring charges against the woman who shot him. Hex explains he doesn't believe in "the concept of prisons." Instead, he calls for the application of "restorative justice." 

There is something inherently troubling about individuals who practice politics while wearing masks. The Alt-Right may be bare-faced advocates of white supremacy, but the masked minions of Antifa combine the anger of True Believers with the vitriol of anonymous-and-unaccountable Internet trolls. Especially disturbing is the super-spooky trio of Antifa plotters gathered in the dark around a glowing laptop for a doxxing session—faces hidden, voices altered. That's an image that haunts me nearly as much as the scenes of actual violence. 

At the end, both Gibson and Hex emerge as somewhat thoughtful guys, not simply mindless thugs. I'd feel comfortable sitting down and sharing a beer with either of them. 


Help Stop the Next War Revisited 

The March 15 edition of Smithereens, included a warning: 

Are we heading toward a new "Tonkin Gulf" that could trigger a global conflict? 

On March 17, the Russian Defense Ministry reported with alarm that US naval strike groups were moving into position for a missile attack on Syria: "Strike groups of naval carriers with cruise missiles are being formed in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, in the Persian Gulf and in the Red Sea." 

Meanwhile, the Directorate of the Russian General Staff has accused the US of planning a "fake" chemical attack to justify its aggression. 

Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskov, warned: "We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria." 

For the Record 

In mid-March, a packet of detailed information about these warnings was sent to Senators Feinstein and Harris and to Rep. Barbara Lee. The information also was shared with all three major news networks, along with the note that read: "I have saved a copy of this request. Should there be a 'false flag' incident in Syria—and a US 'response'—I want to have a record of this prior warning." 

More details are available on the Environmentalists Against War website. 

Worth Remembering 

The breaking news of a deadly chemical attack in Syria is alarming: as is the predictable Trump/Pentagon response. 

There is no doubt that a war crime has been committed but, in light of recent warnings and a long history of countries misleading there people into war, we need to ask the question: Is this a staged "False Flag" incident designed to trigger a pre-planned military attack? 

Remember the Maine

Remember the "Tonkin Gulf Attack"? 

Remember Iraq's "Weapons of Mass Destruction"? 

Remember "I saw Saddam's troops throw babies out of incubators"? 

Remember US medical students "at risk" in Grenada? 

Remember the false reports of earlier Syrian government gas attacks? 

Remember the UK "nerve gas" attack that has not yet been linked to Russia? 

Remember Russia's March 17 warning that the US was planning to stage a chemical attack in Syria to provoke a military "response"? 

Don't Let Washington Lie Us Into Another War: 

Demand an Independent International Investigation! 


No surprise here, we all knew it 

EPA-pick Scotty Pruitt 

is bad news, bears, so let's review it: 

Climate change? "There's nothing to it." 

The Clean Air Act? "We must undo it." 

Clean Water Act? "We can't renew it." 

Lead in water? "Learn to chew it." 

Tailpipe smoke? "I vow to spew it." 

Off-shore oil? "I shall imbue it." 

Oil and coal? "I'll get right to it." 

Monsanto's Roundup? "Let them brew it." 

Polar bears? "I won't rescue it." 

Atomic waste? "I don't intuit." 

Stewardship? "I shall eschew it." 

On wilderness? "I'll drive right through it." 

Sierra Club? "I plan to sue it." 

That high-priced jet? "OK, I flew it." 

The Big Oil Lobby? "I think I'll woo it." 

Corruption news? "I'll try to skew it" 

If that won't work? "I won't pursue it." 

"My need for greed? I thought you knew it." 

The public's trust? "I slashed and slew it." 

Your legacy? "I think I blew it." 

Our planet's future? "Don't care! Screw it!" 

Ad Dendums 

Somehow I never noticed that there were ads in the news section of the Chron until this one caught my eye: 

"UltraSound Fat Destruction. If you can pinch it, we can shrine it." 

According to the ad, VShapeUltra somehow uses ultrasound to "freeze" body fat. "Tighten, tone and terminate those stubborn fat cells…." 

And that's not all. The same medical provider ( in Walnut Creek) also offers to blast off unwanted body hair with just three laser treatments and, if you're already bald, $199 will buy you a "1 FDA Skinpen Microneedling Treatment" to "improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles & scars." (Not to remove 'em, mind you, just to make them look better.) For another $199 you can upgrade to the (and I quote) "Vampire PRP facial – reapply your own blood plasma." 

Speaking of Grave Events 

Awhile back, deeply troubled by the news from Gaza, I went online to the Presidential Homepage to leave a message calling for an end to the bloodshed. 

In order for the message to be authenticated, I first had to answer one of those "Are-you-a-real-human?" riddles. 

The Challenge Question read: 

"The list—thumb, ankle, library and chest—contains how many body parts?" 

(Emphasis added.) 

I did not sleep well that night.