SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 04:11:00 PM

Animal Defenders Claim Whole Foods Ain't Holy

On Monday, the Noe Valley outlet of Jeff Bezos' Amazon/Washington Post/Whole Foods Empire, took a nick when scores of animal rights protestors blocked the entrance, clambered to the rooftops, and unfurled a huge poster of Bezos. The Berkeley-based group, Direct Action Everywhere (DAE), claims that Whole Foods is guilty of sourcing and selling the remains of animals raised and slaughtered on farms that engage in "animal cruelty." Thirty activists were arrested and Whole Foods went to court to request a restraining order to prevent DAE from staging future protests at any of its 88 California stores.

Kudos to KCBS

Special reporting kudos to the KCBS radio reporter who cover the DAE protests and informed listeners that the majority of Whole Food shoppers were supportive of the demonstrators and condemned animal cruelty. However, KCBS reported, there was "one shopper" who expressed disapproval. KCBS recorded the aggrieved shopper's complaint as follows:

"I just came here to buy some milk for my babies! And some guy comes up and calls me a 'murderer'!"

It's hard not to feel some sympathy for this fellow. But that was not the end of the story, thanks to the KCBS reporter who was on his journalistic toes. He spotted the shopper exiting the store with his purchase and noticed he wasn't carrying any milk. Instead, KCBS listeners discovered, he had purchased "three New York strip steaks."


A message from Elizabeth Warren's campaign arrived last week announcing Warren's "fantastic plan to combat gun violence and . . . to BAN assault weapons nationwide." The alert insisted: "We MUST turn our anger into action . . . . But cowardly pro-NRA hacks will do anything to stop us." 

You can sign the petition to ban assault rifles here. (But note: the link includes a request for donations to BradyPAC.) 

The problem (Warspeak-wise)? The headline on the emailed announcement read: "Bombshell: Elizabeth Warren just waged WAR on the NRA." 

Oakland Privacy Wins Award, Names Berkeley as a Privacy "Scofflaw" 

Five years ago, the civil-rights watchdogs at Oakland Privacy successfully blocked the implementation of Oakland's Domain Awareness Center—aka, a federally funded, police-state spy center. 

In recognition of this success—and a lot of activism, advocacy and legislative efforts over the years—the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently honored Oakland Privacy with their Pioneer Award for the defense of digital freedom.  

And now Oakland Privacy is turning its attention to Berkeley's privacy protectors—and crying "foul!" According to OP, "The famous progressive village of Berkeley [has become a] surveillance scofflaw." 

The problem: While Berkeley took the lead in passing a surveillance transparency ordinance, 18 months after its unanimous passage, "not one use policy [has been] voted on." Instead, OP charges, the City has introduced an "ever-growing list of evasive maneuvers," has installed covert "biometric time clocks for city workers," has borrowed hi-tech cameras from the federal fusion center to spy on protests, has repurposed license plate readers to canvass crime scenes, and introduced search recognition and movement detection systems in city parks without public notice.
With these concerns in mind, Oakland Privacy will be hosting a press conference on October 15 (5:30 PM at 1231 Addison). The goal: a "community info session to call out this reckless disregard for transparency and consent by the City and demand that they follow the law or we will pursue legal action to halt the unregulated use of these technologies." 

KLOV the Music 

The radio station K-LOV—88.5 on the FM dial—broadcasts a mighty stream of rock gospel hits. The music streams forth like a mighty river and features some of the most talented vocalists you could ever expect to hear backed by orchestrations that are lush and syncopated with beatific beats and perfervid percussion. 

K-LOV (pronounced "Kay-Love") provides an immersive escape from the nerve-wracking noise of "all-news stations" and the chit-chatter of "thought radio." Hitting the K-LOV button is like surrendering to a warm, full-body-hug. It's simultaneously relaxing and stimulating—a great musical experience. 

Jeff and Randy, the on-air hosts, are also quite jolly. On one occasion, they featured the soundtrack from a viral video that I found so intriguing I wanted to track it down on YouTube. I sent off an email to KLOV and immediately received a joyful reply from J&R, filled with positive verbs, affirmative adjectives and an abundance of exclamation points. 

But recently, I rose out of "relaxation mode" and—out of curiousity—tried to actively listen to the lyrics. What I discovered was that much of the music I was enjoying as an "empowering" experience could perhaps best be described as "power ballads about … submission." 

I recently checked out the lyrics of some of the leading Christian rock music on the GodTube website. Here are some revelations. 

"The Motions"Matthew West: 

I don’t wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me. 

"Where I Belong"Building 429 

"This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus." 

"Only Hope"Switchfoot 

“So I lay my head back down. And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours . . . . I know now You’re my only hope.” 

"All the Poor and Powerless," All Sons and Daughters 

“Shout it! Go on scream it from the mountains! Go on and tell it to the masses! That He is God!” 

Healing Rain – Michael W. Smith

“Only You, the Son of man can take a leper and let him stand.” 

There Will be a Day – Jeremy Camp

“I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced. To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery, O, this is why, this is why I sing.” 

I Surrender – Hillsong

“Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within. Lord have Your way, Lord have Your way in me. Like a mighty storm, stir within my soul. Lord have Your way. Lord have Your way in me." 

Our God – Chris Tomlin

“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?” 

How He Loves – David Crowder Band

“We are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” 

And consider this example—a powerful piece of Christian Rock that begins with an anti-war message but ultimately seems to conclude that the world is a sad and hapless place where our best hope is to escape life's miseries by dying so that "we'll see Jesus face to face." 


Dire—and Drier—Warnings 

Here's an excerpt from David Wallace-Wells' new book, The Uninhabitable Earth—Life After Warming (pp. 226-7):
"The threat from climate change is more total than from the [atomic] bomb. It is also more pervasive. In a 2018 paper, 42 scientists from around the world warned that, in a business-as-usual scenario, no ecosystem on Earth was safe, with transformation 'ubiquitous and dramatic,' exceeding in just one or two centuries the amount of change that unfolded in the most dramatic periods of transformation in the earth's history over tens of thousands of years. 

Half of the Great Barrier Reef has already died, methane is leaking from Arctic permafrost that may never freeze again, and the high-end estimates for what warming will mean for cereal crops suggest that just four degrees of warming could reduce yields by 50 percent. 

If this strikes you as tragic, which it should, consider that we have all the tools that we need, today, to stop it all: a carbon tax and the political apparatus to aggressively phase-out dirty energy; a new approach to agricultural practices and a shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet; and public investment in green energy and carbon capture." 

And Here Are Two Suggestions: 

• 42% of US military spending [Pentagon budget: $718 billion] could plant a trillion trees—enough reforestation to stabilize and restore the planet's climate. 

• 25% of the money the Pentagon plans to spend on new nuclear weapons over the next decade [$1.2 trillion] could be used to plant a trillion trees, thereby preventing planetary extinction. 

Source: Global Effort to Plant a Trillion Trees 'Overwhelmingly' Among Most Effective—and Cheapest—Solutions to Climate Emergency: Study 

Bernie v. the Billionaires 

Bernie Sanders recently proposed a thought experiment: "Clear your mind for a moment and count to 10." 

Bernie followed up with this zinger: "In those 10 seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. Think about that." 

Fact is, millions of Americans—including many Amazon workers—are forced to find multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Meanwhile the three richest Americans (all men, all white) control more wealth than the bottom half of our citizenry. 

So Sanders is proposing an Extreme Wealth Tax that would apply to the top 0.1 percent. (Elizabeth Warren also has a Wealth Tax proposal.) 

Sanders predicts the long-term impact of his "Ban the Billionaires" tax would effectively reconfigure the US economy by redistributing billions of bucks to reduce income inequality. By the way, as Berkeley Prof Robert Reich points out, there's a significant difference between "income" and "wealth." Income is something to have to earn, dollar any dollar. Wealth is something you already possess and attempt to manage through investments designed to increase that wealth. Bern's rich-tax would cut the wealth of billionaires in half over 15 years and go a good way to eliminating the overwhelming economic power of America's elite oligarchy. 

Sanders has laid out how much moolah five of our wealthiest oligarchs would need to repatriate under this plan. (The tab could top $4 trillion over the next decade.) 

The Walton family—$14.8 billion
Jeff Bezos—$8.9 billion
Charles Koch—$3.2 billion
Sheldon Adelson—$2.6 billion
Rupert Murdoch—$1.28 billion 

For some reason, many millionaires would not "feel the Bern burn" since Sanders would allow anyone trying to squeeze by on less than $32 million to be exempt from any tax increases. 

A Closing Thought 

Given the threat of rising global temps, is it still appropriate to end our messages with the word "warmly"? Perhaps we should start signing off with "Temperately yours."