Monday, March 28, 2016

Losing weight, losing sanity, losing control

     So last summer I went on a gluten-free/sugar-free/sugar-substitute-free diet and started losing weight -- whether I needed to or not.  But it actually (sort of) worked out well.  My sugar cravings have gone way down -- and I can easily make do when they try to sneak back in again.  There is a lot to be said about breaking a piece of Ghirardelli's 100% cocoa unsweetened chocolate into a cup of hot steamed milk at 3:00 am in the morning when one can't sleep because the whole world is going to hell in a hand-basket and one cannot afford to move to Tahiti.

      But it has been really hard to give up croissants.  Pie.  Birthday cake.  Pancakes!  But I can still eat all the whipped cream I want as long as there's no sugar in it.

    And when I stepped on the scale at the YMCA yesterday, I weighed 102 pounds.  But does all this weight loss make me happy?  No, hardly.  It only makes me want to sneak into Libya or Yemen or Gaza and report on the type of news that even FaceBook isn't telling us because there are no eye-witnesses to the genocides going on in those places who have easy access to computers.  Or sugar.  Or gluten either for that matter.

     But going without sugar and gluten also makes me crazy -- but in a good way.  It magnifies my discontent.  I am suddenly very unhappy that my apartment is filled with junk.  I am now even more unhappy that my very own government is running guns to ISIS and al Qaeda abroad, and is being kidnapped by corporatists and banksters here at home.

     Maybe discontent is a good thing.  It keeps me from resting on my laurels.  What laurels?

     And as for losing control of my life, did I ever really have control of it in the first place?  Even during those staid and normal years when I was getting my Masters degree at U.C. Berkeley?  Or those wild and exotic years when I was hanging out with country-and-western musicians?  Or all those years as a mother when I was basically surviving on chocolate chip cookie dough (as full of sugar and gluten as you can get)? 

     Do any of us ever really have our lives under control?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Sightseeing in Washington DC: Good, bad & really ugly

     Being a tourist in Washington DC can be a truly glorious experience -- or not.

     The area known as the Federal Triangle features a collection of magnificent granite buildings, and tourists and locals alike are in awe of such splendor -- until I realized that the crown jewel of all this architectural awesomeness is a building now named after a war criminal.  Ronald Reagan.

     In the early morning light, I went out to see the breath-taking Iwo Jima memorial.  It was large and impressive and humbling and brought tears to my eyes -- until I noticed that all around the base of the statue, etched in gold letters, were listed some of the many many many "wars" that Marines had participated in, including disgraceful and bloody actions against the Philippines and Haiti.  But the list stopped at Somalia.  Guess there was no point in adding Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine and Libya, seeing as they are still on-going money-pit "wars" and still a source for the incubation of terroristsTo paraphrase the Marines' anthem, "From the Halls of the Munich Olympics to the shores of 9-11, London, Madrid, Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, San Bernardino, Brussels and Kabul".  

     To quote journalist Finian Cunningham, "More than grieving, European [and American] citizens need to get a grip and hold their governments accountable for not just Europeans [and Americans] suffering terrorism but for suffering under the same terrorism in many other countries as well.  Maybe when the Eiffel Tower displays the national colors of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Mali, Yemen or other unfortunate victims of terrorism, especially state-sponsored terrorism, then the grieving process might acquire a more constructive purpose."  But I digress.

    In Washington DC, the Metro subway system is amazing, taking you everywhere that you need to go -- until at the Rosslyn station I experienced deja vu as I took an escalator down down down, three or four stories under the ground.  This was just like the escalator to a subway station at Pyongyang, North Korea -- which was built to also serve as a bomb shelter.  Apparently DC is also ready for war.  If you happen to be in the Pentagon area at the time of an attack from any of the long list enemies that the Pentagon has created, no worries.  Just head for the Metro.

     At the Pentagon City Metro stop, they have a fabulous mall and I was also impressed by it, clearly a mall worth fighting for -- until I saw an electronic billboard that said, "Congratulations, Marines.  The F-35B is now operational!"  Now there is a picture worth a million lives.  Plus Lockheed Martin can now blame Marines for the 391 billion taxpayers' dollars that have been wasted on the F-35A-Z.

     Then I saw the U.S. Capitol's shining dome from afar -- oops, no longer shining.  It was covered with what looked like black garbage bags.  Huh?  Since all of America's money is now going to "war," even one of our most treasured national infrastructure icons has come to this?

     Then a friend took me to the most beautiful mosque in the District -- but if the current crack-down on freedom of religion continues apace, then before we know it, Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism could easily get cracked down on too.  That's a very dangerous precedent to set.  But then the Christianity of Jesus that I have come to know and love, already no longer exists either, having been replaced by bigotry and hate.

     Then I visited the Newseum, a heart-warming tribute to American journalism.  It was housed in a beautiful new and modern building -- but its displays were truly depressing.  Its display of Pulitzer-Prize-winning photos only reminded me of war, war and more war.  The exhibit on Vietnam reminded me of all the abject horror that America is capable of creating in foreign lands.  And the exhibit on civil rights in the 1960s reminded me of America's excellence in producing injustice.  How can we even dare to export claims of "Humanitarianism" and "Democracy" after seeing this exhibit of what life was (and still is) like for minorities here at home.

     But I should have known from the start that Washington DC was going to be a contradiction and a conundrum when I flew into "Ronald Reagan Airport" -- named after a man who almost single-handedly started our country on a downward spiral of cruelty, inhumanity, lies, "war" and economic collapse.  Does this mean that Congress is going to have to change the airport's name again too?  To the "Reagan Bush 1 Bush 2 Obama Clinton 1 Clinton 2 Trump War Criminal Airport" -- just to keep our list of war criminals real?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dear AIPAC: My holocaust is bigger than your holocaust!

     Well, I finally did it.  After thinking about it for many years now, I finally sent off to for a DNA testing kit.  First you send them some spit and then they test it for DNA -- so that you can find out who your ancestors are.

     "We will send you the results in six to eight weeks," they told me.  Goody!  Now I can actually find out once and for all if our old family legend is true or not -- that my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Ballard Johnston was a full-blooded Cherokee.  If so, that would make me one-sixteenth Original American.

     And speaking of dead ancestors, I just flew off to attend a conference in Washington DC entitled "Israel's Influence: Good or Bad for America" and that got me to thinking about Israeli neo-colonialists and how they are always bragging about the size of the Jewish holocaust in Germany under the Nazis, and using that sad and terrible event as propaganda to justify creating a whole new Muslim holocaust too -- like the Jewish holocaust gives them the right to kill as many Muslims as they want.

     That's just plain bull-dookie.

     That would be like saying that just because 80 to 100 million Original Americans were killed by European colonizers, descendants of Original Americans now have the right -- no, even the duty -- to go out and kill as many Chinese or Chileans or Canadians as they want and steal their land too.

     But guess what?  I really don't want to kill anyone or steal anyone's land, no matter how the test results come back.  Does that make me a self-hating Cherokee?  I like to think not.

PS:  The DC conference was a big success, giving me hope that perhaps there might someday be an end to the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians.  I certainly hope so.  Don't you?  Doesn't AIPAC too?  Apparently not. 

     But always remember, AIPAC, that my holocaust is bigger than your holocaust -- and then just shut up about it.  Why?  Because the horror that happened in Germany sixty years ago isn't even your holocaust to begin with.  It belongs to the Jews, not to some Israeli neo-colonialist fascist hypocrites, racists, bullies and thugs who pretend to be Jews.

PPS:  Here's a link to Hillary Clinton's speech to AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) this week -- where she practically gives away the whole American farm.  Gag me with a spoon!

      But I do agree with one statement that she made.  "If you see bigotry, oppose it.  If you see violence, condemn it.  If you see a bully, stand up to him."  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

AIPAC's Dilemma: Jewish Sanders or War Hawk Clinton? 

     When the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee holds their annual convention in Washington DC this March, who are they gonna endorse for the Democratic presidential nominee?  Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish -- or Hillary Clinton, the ultimate war hawk who will support anything that Israeli neo-colonialists decide to do with regard to making "Greater Israel" a reality?

     Will AIPAC choose to support the Jewish race and/or religion by going with Sanders, the ultimate Jewish grandpa?

    Or will AIPAC go with neo-colonialism and choose Hillary Clinton, the goy who will obviously support attacking Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, the Gulf States, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq (again) and anything else that might get in the way of creating the "Greater Israel" neo-colonialists' wet dream -- even if the USA gets in the way?

     This is gonna be very interesting to see how AIPAC's choice turns out.  

     I'll bet you a bagel that they'll choose Clinton.

PS:  I'll be in Washington DC on March 18 for the "Israel's Influence: Good or Bad?" conference.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Revolution in Phoenix: Indians, Giants, me & 1776

     You can't just go to a convention in Phoenix and not see the rest of the town, right?  The tourist voice in me kept crying out, "Don't just hang around the convention.  Don't just stay in your motel!"  So I went out to see some of the sights.

     In the middle of a cold winter for the rest of America, the weather in Phoenix is currently 92 degrees.  I kid you not.  But the upside of all this sunshine is that a lot of parking lots in Phoenix are covered with solar-paneled carport-like shades.  If every parking lot in America produced solar electricity this way, we'd never again have to import crappy oil from war-torn countries or frack for crappy oil at the expense of our aquifers.  Works for me.

      Then I went museum-shopping.  There is a very nice Indian museum with lots of authentic Kachina dolls, and a very nice art museum with an exhibit of French high couture designs, and a very nice light-rail system to get me there too.  And a really great public library.  And lots of professional sports teams including the Diamondbacks and Suns -- plus the SF Giants are in Scottsdale right now, working out for spring training only ten miles away. 

     And there was also a Revolutionary War reenactment going on.  Who could possibly want to miss that?  So I spent two hours on a bus to go see it, thinking it would be a bunch of Arizona right-wing zealots and survivalist militia crazies trying to repeal the Constitution (again) -- which is definitely a Must See.  But it wasn't like that at all.  It was history buffs trying to recreate the real thing.  Got my photo taken holding a musket.  Well worth the two-hour bus ride back to my motel.

      Which brings me to the concept of revolution itself.  Isn't it time that America finally had another revolution?  Can one get arrested for even suggesting such a thing?  But what kind of revolution would be best?  To start with, how about a Revolution of Truth?  Let's make it a law that if the MSM doesn't tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the evening news, then you go to jail.  Lie detectors all around!

     Or perhaps we could stage a Revolution of Morality -- where "Thou shalt not kill" finally becomes the law of the land and "war" becomes totally revolting instead.  And the first salvo of that particular revolution would be to cut the Pentagon budget in half and stop funding "Greater Israel".  Who needs another superpower stretching from the Euphrates to the Nile?  America can't even get the morality of its own "Superpowerness" under control, let alone pay for the birth of yet another immoral one too.  The only thing standing in the way of Bibi's "Greater Israel" dream right now seems to be a few determined Palestinian children with slingshots.

     And speaking of the revolting idea of creating another superpower in the Middle East, do we really want Israeli neo-colonialists to start living their dream of getting their hands on all that Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni, Kuwaiti, Gulf State and Saudi oil?  Hell, they already own the US Congress and The Bomb.  Why give them a monopoly on Middle East oil too?  Let's just tell them to build solar carports in Tel Aviv instead -- on their own dime.

     Or how about us staging an American Money Revolution?  Let's throw out the Federal Reserve and Citizens United.  Let them eat cake.

     And also let's have an Election Revolution too.  Tired of having party bosses, big media, shady Supreme Court justices, Jim Crow voter laws and blatant election fraud determining who gets to buy seats in Congress and rent the White House these days?  The Green Party's Dr. Jill Stein is the most qualified and honest candidate for president right now -- but have you ever even heard of her?  Hell, no.  Well why not?

    Want my own opinion on the next election?  I'd much rather have Sanders face Trump than be stuck with Clinton and Cruz.  Both Clinton and Cruz represent everything I now find revolting about the American oligarchy, Wall Street and War Street.  At least Trump and Sanders are outsiders and haven't yet actually walked the "war, bankster and bigotry" walk that is so popular in government right now.

     And let's not forget having an Ecological Revolution!  Yale's latest ecological performance scorecard doesn't even list America in the top five performers at all.  But America does have the dubious distinction of having invaded three out of the five countries listed at the very bottom of the scorecard.  Yeah, that too is revolting.

     And then we also need a Climate-Change Revolution -- unless of course we are content with the thought of the human race being extinct by the year 2028.  Screw that.

     What kind of American Revolution would you recommend?

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Yesterday, today (and hopefully tomorrow) in Aleppo, Syria

     I shouldn't even be posting these reports from my friend in Aleppo, Syria, because I surely wouldn't want him to get into trouble with the US, Turkey, ISIS and the Saudis -- just for telling the truth.  But.  I just can't resist because these are such excellent and authentic on-the-ground eye-witness reports.  My bad.

From today:

     The water situation:  "Water started to return to Aleppo city yesterday, after around two months of a lack of water supply to the city.  It was a deal between the Syrian government and Da'esh [derogatory term for ISIS], where each side was controlling the flow of water to the other side.  Da'esh in al-Bab village can't have water because their water lines comes from Aleppo city.  However, Aleppo water comes from the Euphrates which is under Da'esh control.  So they finally reached to a deal."

      The power situation:  "Red Crescent is helping with the power generators to pump the water as well, because there is no power in the city for five months.  We didn't have water yet at home, but other areas started to have it.

     "And electricity!  We're finally having power at home now for the first time in five months!  It came for one hour last midnight, and for an hour (so far) today at 6:00 am."

From yesterday:

     The ceasefire situation:  "On the 2nd of March, we thought that the ceasefire was over.  Heavy clashes started mid-day in Aleppo city and didn't end till evening.   First the government-held sides had been attacked several times by mortars, then the ambulance sirens were heard for some time, before hearing the first artillery retaliation from government side.  Then it developed to hear some airstrikes later on.

     "What happened?

     "According to news and other witnesses, the fighting was at Castillo junction village, to the north of Aleppo city.  That village and axis were the last smuggling arms way to the [ISIS] terrorists, coming from Turkey.  The clashes were between the YPG Kurds vs. The Nusra Front [al Qaeda] and other armed gangs.  The aftermath of the fight ended by liberating that northern village, and therefore the [ISIS] terrorists in the city are surrounded and have no supply anymore from the Turks.

     "The 'rebel' activists said that the Kurds started the fight and violated the ceasefire to help the Syrian 'regime' in besieging the 'rebels'.  But the YPG sources said that what happened was the opposite.  'First, neither the Nusra Front or Chechen fighters had signed nor agreed on the ceasefire agreement, so the fight with them never stopped,' said the YPG [Kurd] source.  'We didn't start the fight. They started targeting Sheikh Maqsoud district -- the northern one in Aleppo city under the Kurds control -- with nonstop mortar shelling, and they tried to occupy al-Mesherfé Hill, coming from the Castello village.  So we were defending our areas'.

     "It seems that the Syrian Arab Army had backed the YPG and together they made the terrorists under siege now.

      "The Russians recorded five violations to the ceasefire agreement in Aleppo the next day (yesterday) from the Nusra-held areas against the YPG in Sheikh Maqsoud district. Other sources mentioned casualties of two killed civilians and 25 injured ones.

     "However, yesterday was in general a calm day.  Funny jokes started to pop up amid all the merciless fighting, saying that people who used to sleep on despite the bombs, shelling and shooting noises each night for such a long time, are now having difficulties in sleeping in the calm atmosphere of the ceasefire agreement 😃!  

Friday, March 04, 2016

Phoenix, Arizona: Saving the world one crime-novel at a time

     Somebody out there needs to step up to the plate and save the world from total destruction -- and do it right now!  But almost nobody else seems to be doing anything about saving our world.  Nobody seems to even notice or care that just the single factor of "war" alone (and the pollution it causes) is heading us straight towards Doomsday.  So if I want my world to be saved at all, looks like I'm gonna have to do it myself. 

     And so I went off to a murder-mystery readers' and writers' convention in Phoenix AZ last week in order to get some ideas.  The first question I asked, of course, was "Who done it?"  Giant corporations, weapons manufacturers and crooked politicians.  The usual suspects.

     "What?" exclaimed a local Tea Party member.  "You're saying that it's not the homeless, food stamp recipients, undocumented workers and welfare queens who are destroying the world?"  Sorry, no.  Just look at your average homeless person -- cold, hungry, unhealthy and sleep-deprived.  Capable of destroying the world?  Hardly.  So if I'm determined to save the world, it's clearly not gonna happen by me hanging out on skid row!

     But I did score some free crime novels at the convention and planned to get some ideas from them.

     Timothy Hallinan has a new book which is about to be released called "King Maybe" (I got an advance copy!) and its about an anti-hero burglar who steals from the rich.  Now there's a great idea for saving the world.

     Lisa Brackmann also has a new book in the works that's about to be published.  "Go-Between" is its name, and the heroine takes on the for-profit prison system at one point, another great idea.  I would love to be able to save the world one prisoner at a time -- starting by putting as many corporate CEOs, evil banksters and weapons manufacturers in jail as humanly possible.  Alcatraz, San Quentin, Attica, Sing Sing, Leavenworth, Rikers Island.  Just throw out all the prisoners now in there for stupid crimes like smoking weed and replace them with corporate jailbirds.  Great idea!

     Phoenix, for some reason, is a very easy city to get lost in because it's so flat and nondescript.  So I walked five miles east instead of five miles west (or was it north?) and ended up in front of the infamous Maricopa County Jail.  Yep, Sheriff Joe Arpio's bailiwick.

     "But we love Sheriff Joe!" cried one Phoenixonite.  "There's almost no recidivism on his watch!"  Booyah.  Let's send him to Washington so that he can put our corrupt politicians in pink jump suits instead.  Then let's send him to Wall Street to make corporate CEOs live in prison tents in the hot desert sun.  Works for me.

     At one point, Hallinan's anti-hero burglar quotes some guy describing the USA after World War I.  "America is the great unspanked baby of the world."  No one should ever spank a baby.  Ever.  But Sheriff Joe is obviously spanking the wrong crooks.  Paraphrasing Hallinan's burglar, "Senators are just crooks with better healthcare."

      And to quote the blurb on the back of Brackmann's soon-to-be-published book, "An all-too-realistic thriller about for-profit prisons, big-money politics, shady non-profits, the War on Drugs -- and  the people who would kill to keep the system intact...."  Why isn't Sheriff Joe out arresting them?

PS:  Here's another report I just received from my anonymous friend in Aleppo, Syria -- this time about the water, power and ceasefire crises there.   His report is entitled, "Yesterday, today (and hopefully tomorrow) in Aleppo, Syria," and can be read at

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Here's what's really going on right now in Aleppo, Syria --  March 1, 2016

    There's good news and bad news from my friend in Aleppo this week.  The bad news is that ISIS terrorists and their pal Turkey are breaking the ceasefire left and right.  But what can you expect from liars and terrorists?

      About the ceasefire agreement:  "Aleppo city is much more calmer since the beginning of the agreement, besides some violations that took place the first hours of the agreement, and yesterday at 21:50, when two mortars were shelled onto the government-held area, followed by ambulance sirens around 22:00.  In general so far, however, Aleppo city is so calmer than before.  No shells, no jets in the sky, no clashes.  80% better than before."

     Aleppo province:
  "The situation in Aleppo province didn't change much, according to the news.  The terrorists attacked the liberated villages of Nobbol & az-Zahraa with rockets, but there were no casualties.  In other areas of the province, fighting is still on-going:  Syrian Arab Army vs. Nusra & Da'esh; Kurds vs. Turks from the borders; Kurds vs. Terrorists; terrorists vs. other terrorists...  Violations of the ceasefire are from the terrorist groups and Turkey."

     More ceasefire violations:  "Russians recorded 15 violations in Syria in the last 24 hours.  Russia said as well that Nusra terrorists were shelling mortars in Latakya province from the Turkish borders (from Turkey).  The Turks are targeting the Kurds in Tell Abyad border town, claiming fighting Da'esh on the media!"

     On the road to Aleppo:  "Aleppo road had been finally liberated, but needs a lot of repairing.  It had damaged so badly.  Aleppo was isolated for almost a week of tough fighting to take it back.  There were snipers and a lot of mines."

     High prices resulting from the illegal invasion:  "Prices, obviously, started to jump up because nothing was coming in to the city.  Goods and fuel became expensive, partly because of the road battles, and partly because of the dollar rising price.  The crisis traders and merchants were the happiest group of the situation!  Prices will take some time till they go down, when goods and fuel start to enter the city, after repairing the road."

      Corruption vs. Heroism:  "There is news -- or gossip -- about treason that has happened at three checkpoints on the road to Aleppo that has caused setbacks and the loss of hundreds of lives among the Syrian soldiers.  The morale is down regarding such news.

      "While Hezbollah brave fighters and Syrian special forces paid a high price to liberate the long road, others are bribed because there are also corrupted, rotten members in the body.  The war had exposed the worst things in us, but it had motivated others to do the best they could do.  From one side you see the traitors, opportunists and corrupted ones; on the other side there are the brave heroes and martyrs who are defending millions like myself."

      Electricity in short supply:  "The thermal station of Aleppo that had been liberated lately by the Syrian Arab Army, needs billions of dollars to start working again.  Before leaving it, the terrorists made sure to loot everything they can, and sabotage the rest. Even its fuel, they loot as much as they could, and burn the rest. Aleppo is without power (electricity) for 5 months now, and without water for more than 1 month. Repairing that station will needs a miracle."

     And then my friend tells me to take care.  How brave is that.