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Photograph by Stephen Laufer

Shock and Awww: Baby dolls and blood made for a graphic display at the Tax Day protest in Santa Cruz.


Vanilla Skies

White unmarked planes spraying chemicals into strange cloud formations known as chemtrails, in a government plot to control the weather, enhance radar surveillance or secretly immunize us against an imminent bioterrorist attack? Local chemtrail conspiracy theorist Vanilla Skies says that just because it sounds crazy doesn't mean it isn't happening, and he's not alone. Adherents to this growing school of conspiracy thought say the alleged spraying leaves broad white plumes that linger for hours (unlike regular contrails that they say dissipate within minutes), sometimes creating tic-tac-toe-like formations that include X's and circles.

And wouldn't you know, they're pleading their case in Santa Cruz, where residents are doing their part to keep things weird by hosting chemtrail booths at the April 27 Earth Day celebration.

Skies, who suspects our guvmint of "stealing the skies to weaken our immune system so it can finish us off with biochemical weapons, while it retreats to underground bunkers," referred a skeptical (to say the least) Nüz to Canadian Will Thomas, who claims U.S. military tankers are spraying aluminum oxide into the atmosphere to deflect a small percentage of the incoming sunlight, so as to prevent catastrophic global warming--without signing the Kyoto treaty.

Thomas, who has written a book called Chemtrails Confirmed that claims to include the results of lab tests, slides, eyewitness reports and air traffic controllers' testimony, not to mention thousands of photos and miles of videotapes from 14 countries, says chemtrails are not toxic per se. "But the small size of the chemicals involved can represent an extreme health hazard and can precipitate mold, fungi, bacteria and viruses that usually live in upper atmosphere," he claims.

Meanwhile, meteorologist Jan Null, a retired lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, says there is absolutely no scientific evidence that chemtrails are anything other than normal condensation trails, noting that when winds are light, clouds spread out and dissipate more slowly.

"Chemtrails are all just pop culture, urban myth," he says, adding that his San Jose Merc Weather Corner column on chemtrails "generated more emails than any other topic to date." Ultimately, he decided never to broach the topic again.

"It just brings out too many wackos," he says.

Besides the Earth Day efforts, supporters and doubting Thomases alike can hear more about Thomas and his Chemtrails Confirmed book and video at the Vets Hall, 7:30pm, April 30.

Happy trails!

More Conspiracies

Following last week's Nüz about Lockheed Martin, Nüz got a call from Bonny Doon resident Roxanne Sterling-Astor, who says reading that story jolted her memory of an incident that happened shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

Sterling says that two nights after the terrorist attacks, she was woken in the middle of the night by a loud rumbling, which turned out to be dozens of trucks going up Empire Grade Road.

"It was very weird, it was like a whole train's worth of stuff, and it was still going on at 4:30am. I don't know where they were going for sure, and I was in a bomb-shock state of mind," recalled Sterling-Astor, wondering if it had anything to do with the LM facility.

Noting that Granite Construction has a Felton plant, whose back entrance opens onto Empire grade, Nüz called the Felton Quarry site, where plant supervisor Eric Gaboury said, yes, they did have a project with Santa Cruz County on Sept. 10, 11, 12 and 13, doing asphalt overlay for the county and involving about 25 trucks hauling asphalt and using the Empire Grade Road back entrance.

Gaboury said the terms of GC's permit specify that they can only have 40 off-hours operations a year (at night or on Saturday) and that they will notify neighbors when such operations occur.

Nüz humbly suggests nearby residents pick those nights to be abducted by aliens.

Taxing Questions

It's not every day you see a woman in a blood-smeared dress pushing a wheelbarrow full of toy dead babies while waving an American flag. Well, maybe it is for you. But not for Nüz. Then again, not every day is tax day, and not every tax day happens midwar in an activist town like Santa Cruz.

"We're a subsect of local peace activists who are willing to do something a little more shocking," said Marlene Winell, as she and fellow demonstrators from Art and Revolution, the Santa Cruz Peace Coalition and UCSC's Students United For Peace marked April 15 by handing out pie charts showing that 27 percent, or $459 billion, of tax dollars go to the military.

"I feel sickened by the idea of victory in Iraq, because of the costs and the very serious consequences that will go on for a long time," said Winell, flanked by "reps" from Halliburton, the oil-field supply company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, and Bechtel, the meganational that will rebuild Iraq--and which has already built the road that Muslim pilgrims travel to get to Mecca.

"When we spend money on the military, we take away from services, such as education and social services. Not that the Iraqis don't deserve rebuilding, but they didn't deserve the destruction, and no one was asking to be liberated. And where are the weapons of mass destruction? The idea they could be shipped to Syria without being seen is ridiculous."

Noting that some passersby called the demo "sick and pornographic, especially because of the dead and bloody babies," Winell said, "We're not sick, but we're pointing at something that is sick and shocking, and the dead babies represents the Iraqi body count, which we'd be seeing if we were in Baghdad, but we're not seeing it here, because the U.S. media has been totally cleaned up."

According to www.Iraqbodycount.com, between 1,878 and 2,325 people are estimated to have died in the war so far, though it's not clear whether these numbers include all casualties, or purely the civilian ones.

Humanitarian Act

Bookshop Santa Cruz is donating 20 percent of its May 1 sales to Oxfam, an international relief agency with a program in Iraq.

"It's important to support these organizations that will turn our donation into food, water and medicine as soon as possible and get it to the people who need it," said BSC owner Neal Coonerty, who credits Montana bookseller Russ Lawrence with the idea. "We hope other Santa Cruz businesses will join us in this effort."

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the April 23-30, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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