Friday, September 28, 2007

Firing Tear Gas at Monks in Burma [Update 2]

Sorry, Jeff. This isn't the blog I told you I'd have, but it's still on it's way. In the meantime, I got this email from Diana Lee Hirschi today, and felt it was worth dragging myself away from work for a moment.
Greetings. Suggested political action courtesy France Barrel, Amnesty International:

"May we be free of torture, may there be peace in hearts and minds as our kindness spreads around the world."

Protect the protesters

"May we be free of torture." This was the chant of pro-democracy protesters in Burma (Myanmar) this past week. Yesterday, security forces began a violent crackdown on the protests, led by 30,000 red-robed monks.

The military government's forces clubbed and tear-gassed protesters, fired shots into the air, and arrested dozens if not hundreds of monks. Several people were reportedly shot to death.
You can take action now to prevent more violence by the military government. Send a message today asking the UN Security Council to oppose this violent crackdown and do everything in their power to prevent further bloodshed.
When the people of Burma last staged mass pro-democracy protests back in 1988, the military junta murdered thousands. But history does not have to repeat itself.
Please take action today -- and ask your friends and family to do the same. Together we can act now in solidarity with the brave people of Burma.

Thank you,
Larry Cox
Executive Director

The suggested action is to spend 2 seconds to click on the web page to send Bush a letter asking the UN Security Council to intervene. It's not hard, please take a moment to do it. And if you want more info about what is happening, Google News has it all.

It's depressing that things like this and Darfur are going on, yet Bush thinks it's more important to fight over oil in Iraq.

CNN is reporting that there may be satellite photos to prove the abuses that have been happening. Let's not let this be the only thing done by a Bush to address the wrongs taking place there:
In a plea to Myanmar's ruling military regime, Mrs. Bush said earlier this week, "I want to say to the armed guards and to the soldiers: Don't fire on your people. Don't fire on your neighbors." Her remarks were in a Voice of America interview.

[Update 2]
Burma has now shut down the internet, according to another CNN article.
London-based blogger Ko Htike -- who has been one of the most prominent bloggers posting information about the violence -- has vowed to keep up the fight, saying where "there is a will, there is a way."

"I sadly announce that the Burmese military junta has cut off the Internet connection throughout the country," he said on his blog Friday. "I, therefore, would not be able to feed in pictures of the brutality by the brutal Burmese military junta."


He told a day earlier that he has as many as 40 people in Myanmar sending him photos or calling him with information. They often take the photos from windows from their homes, he said.

Myanmar's military junta has forbidden such images, and anyone who sends them is risking their lives.

"If they get caught, you will never know their future. Maybe just disappear or maybe life in prison or maybe dead," he told CNN.

Why would they take such risks?

"They thought that this is their duty for the country," he said. "That's why they are doing it. It's like a mission."

You don't need to risk your life to help, but speak out - write Bush. And if you know any other action sites on this topic, please let me know in the comments.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pete Ashdown to be featured speaker tonight

KCPW says Pete Ashdown is going to be a featured speaker for tonight's Peace Vigil and War Protest in honor of International Peace Day. The event is being put on by Mormons for Equality and Social Justice, as well as Radical Action Against War.

The event is being held outside of Orrin Hatch's office in Provo at 7 PM tonight (Sept 21). The address is 51 South University Avenue in Provo.
Pete Ashdown, the Democratic challenger for Hatch's senate seat in 2006, will be a featured speaker. He says he'll take the opportunity to emphasize the last phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance, "and justice for all":

"I think that's not just ‘and justice for Americans,' I believe that's justice for everybody on the Earth. I want people to think about justice for people coming home from the war, people who have lost loved ones in the war, people who are in Guantanamo without trial, people in Iraq who have lost loved ones and the numbers of deaths and casualties we've had all around."

I wonder if Hatch will call them nutcakes again? I love that Pete put the Nutcake bumper stickers out during his campaign. It's definitely become a badge of honor, and I (to this day) have people honk and wave at me because of my Nutcake bumper sticker.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lights Off Utah Accomplished Something

I've seen a post or two around that implied Lights Of Utah would accomplish nothing. I'm here posting to prove you wrong.

I'm not sure how many cars we made up for tonight by turning off our lights, but I'm glad we did it. I'm in the middle of a move, and I was packing kitchen stuff as my phone reminded me it was 10 minutes until Lights Off. I didn't hear it. I also didn't hear my boyfriend calling. I did happen to see my phone lit up, and called him back. He told me he wasn't ready for Lights Off, because he had more work, but that he would turn all the lights off, and only use his computer. I rather panicked, because moving is a bit difficult without light. Then I realized that I'd invited at least 5 other people to take part, who said they would, so I couldn't bail. Besides, I worked my ass off cleaning up the kitchen after my housemates, even though I haven't used said kitchen in weeks (I won't even go into the old chinese food dumped over dishes filling both sinks).

So, I turned out all the lights in the house, and waited out front for my sister to pick me up (my Jeep's in the shop).

Upon arriving home (my boyfriend's, where I'm moving, not the old house I'm moving from), I was informed that after my boyfriend turned out all the lights, he realized the coffee pot was boiling.

I love coffee. In fact, I think that my bloodstream has about 50% coffee at all times. Without coffee, I've been known to punch people. For no reason.

I recently bought a "2 minute coffee pot". Turns out, it keeps the water hot at all times, like commercial makers do. So, when I flip the switch, I have coffee faster than I can brush my teeth.

Except it heats the water at all times. I kept thinking about feeling guilty, but I justified to myself that a "little" environmental waste was nothing next to killing people because I didn't have coffee, right?

But, it boiled when he turned the lights out. So he turned it off. And I'm going to leave it off. I'm going to buy a coffee pot that has a timer and makes coffee at the time I tell it to, rather than one that heats water all day for no reason.

So, I don't know how many cars that would equal, but I know that it's making me waste less power heating water for the sake of heating water. And my boyfriend, who normally can barely put up with my activism, did have the lights turned out, though candles were lit and he had a flashlight going. But, he heard about this from more than just me, and felt it important enough to participate without my prodding. And he will eternally make fun of me for leaving lights on now, which will make me even more anal about turning them off. And I won't make fun of him for unplugging the toaster anymore.

So, to all you naysayers, something positive did happen because of Lights Off Utah. And if it takes babysteps to make a difference, I'm more than willing, no matter how insignificant you think it may be.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lets Talk About Sex

Let's talk about sex.

Today's video is brought to you by the letter "B", as in "Bribed", and the state of "Alaska", and the number 400,000. But, we're not talking about that.

Romney Pride

Mitt wishes you a great Pride Weekend, how sweet!

Just in case you want more information, Crooks and Liars has some good coverage.

Congress, I'm Watching

I can't wait to get this set up on my blog. "Congress, I'm watching" is the latest widget created by Open Congress to encourage citizen awareness and interaction with Congress. You can display your support or opposition to any bill, and it provides a quick link to the bill's page on, so you can quickly find out if there's been any activity. They also provide RSS feeds, if you use a reader, that allow you to track the bill, as well as news or blog coverage about it.

On an unrelated note, while trying to find an option that would allow me to put JavaScript in my blog so I could paste their sample in, I clicked "Post Options" where the default was set to disallow comments. That might explain why I haven't had a soul comment on my blog in months, though I know I've got at least one or two readers out there. *sigh*

Lights Off Utah is tomorrow!

Don't forget, tomorrow evening is Lights Off Utah.

If you haven't yet, take a moment to register, and enter for a chance to win energy saving products.

There's a door poster you can print out saying you support the event (and possibly explaining to people coming to your door right about then why your lights are off - if they can read it!).

No Confirmation Without Whitehouse Documents?

I had been under the impression that most of the Senate Democrats had been castrated upon being sworn in. And indeed, they may only be bluffing, but they're at least pretending that they have balls today. From the NY Times:
Two Senate Democrats warned Monday that the Judiciary Committee would delay confirmation of President Bush’s choice for attorney general unless the White House turned over documents that the panel was seeking for several investigations.


But two Democrats who will have a powerful say over whether Mr. Mukasey gets confirmed — Senators Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Charles E. Schumer of New York — vowed on Monday to use the nomination to extract information from a reluctant White House.

“All I want is the material we need to ask some questions about the former attorney general’s conduct, on torture and warrantless wiretapping, so we can legitimately ask, ‘Here’s what was done in the past, what will you do?”’ Mr. Leahy, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said.


The White House wants Mr. Mukasey confirmed by Oct. 8, when the Senate leaves for its next recess. But Mr. Leahy said there would be no quick confirmation without the documents. He said he had told the White House counsel, Fred F. Fielding, that “cooperation with the White House would be central” to scheduling hearings.

My only worry is that Bush has used recess appointments in the past to make his choices permanent without Senate confirmation. I may have missed it, but I don't recall this (excess) power being taken away from Bush.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Generation Obama Countdown for Change Fundraiser

Saturday night, the Utah chapter of Generation Obama held a fundraiser at The Woodshed. It was a wonderful success, and a great time!

The suggested donation to the Obama campaign was $5, or $12 if you wanted food, too. Many people donated more, and some purchased t-shirts. I think that the total campaign donations we recieved were around $500, though I'm not certain yet how many people contributed. The idea behind Countdown for Change was that we had a goal of raising $1 for each day left until the Nevada Primary (since Nevada is one of the first 4 "Primary States"), so our goal was $126. We blew that out of the water! And had a good time doing it!

Here are a few photos of setting up:

This is Benny, the owner of The Woodshed, who offered to host the fundraiser to support Senator Obama. Much thanks to him for all of the effort he put into the event! On the right is Paul Lohrenz, who has offered to loan us PA equipment for future Obama events.

Photos of us enjoying the Generation Obama event:

Rob Miller, Vice Chair of the Utah State Democratic Party, speaking to us about becoming more involved with the Utah State Democrats, and how to become a Delegate to the National Convention next year:
IMG_0761 IMG_0762

This was a very fun event, and I look forward to Bowling for Change, which will be the next Generation Obama event, October 19. And if you'd like to learn about the process of becoming a Delegate, the process is listed here.

P.S. If you'd like to help Utah for Obama reach the group fundraising goal of $5,000, click here to donate.

Bushy Math Meets Universal Health Care

From CNN:
The American Cancer Society is devoting its entire $15 million advertising budget for 2007 to highlight the problems faced by Americans who don't have any or enough health insurance.

The society says that, because they lack insurance, people may not be getting the checkups they need to catch cancer early, when treatments are more successful.

The article goes on to talk about the people who will be featured in the ads, and why the organization decided to do this.

I was really glad to see that they were publicly supporting Universal Health Care, and I think it will make a great difference in our nation's decision for the next president.

Earlier today, I watched video of the Women for Obama launch, where Barack spoke about health care, and about not letting the lobbyists throw another $1 billion at Washington to prevent the legislation. Maybe that's why I was so bothered by this:
The ad campaign was criticized as pushing a "political agenda" in a Wall Street Journal op-ed written last week by New York's former lieutenant governor and health policy official Betsy McCaughey.

"These ads will waste money that should be used to continue the society's educational campaign about prevention and detection," wrote McCaughey, chairwoman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

"The evidence shows that universal health coverage does not improve survival rates for cancer patients," the September 14 op-ed stated.

"The American Cancer Society should continue its lifesaving messages about prevention and screening instead of switching to a political agenda. The goal should be to ensure that all patients receive the timely care our current system provides, not to radically overhaul the system."

McCaughey, who served under New York Gov. George Pataki, criticized then-President Clinton's health care plan in 1994 in a New Republic article titled, "No Exit."

How can a public health official say that having health care won't increase survival rates? What evidence is she talking about? Is she using Bushy Math to calculate the survival rates of insured cancer patients vs uninsured cancer patients? I'm appalled.

My 22 year old sister, who currently works at a restaurant, has no insurance. She recently had an ear infection which caused her eardrum to rupture. Having no insurance, she didn't go to the doctor in time. Since then, she's found out that the hole left in her eardrum hasn't healed, and requires surgery. Because she hasn't had insurance, and because of "pre-existing conditions", and because health care is more about the insurance industry than the health of the people, she's probably never going to have this surgery. Half deaf at 22, and not even because she listens to loud music.

How does this fit in with the American dream?

Only Barack

Only Barack Obama could go in front of 150 Wall Street execs and tell them they've been greedy bastards, and that they should step up and take mutual responsibility. And then have them agree with him.

From Senator Obama's blog (which also has the full text of Senator Obama's speech):
here's what the experts are saying about Senator Obama's economic policy...

Bill Daley, Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce (1997-2000):
Senator Obama's challenge to business is right on target. If business leaders don't step up and help solve problems in areas like housing, trade policy, health care and energy dependency, there will be a lot of pressure to retreat from market-based solutions and the climate could be more hostile to business. The kind of reforms Obama is proposing will help lift the incomes of many more people and ensure that American companies can operate freely in markets around the world. The business community should embrace them.

Orin Kramer, General Partner, Boston Provident Partners, L.P. and Chairman of New Jersey State Investment Council:
Senator Obama's approach to current market conditions is balanced and nuanced. There's a recognition, even among many financial market participants, that limited disclosure of off-balance sheet obligations and contingent liabilities are a problem. The failure of oversight of the rating agencies is a problem because it challenges the core principle underlying bank and insurance regulation. I believe he's the first presidential candidate to address those issues and to think creatively about new regulatory approaches.

Robert Wolf, Wall Street Executive
I am certainly in agreement with Senator Obama that all of Wall Street is awaiting tomorrow's Fed meeting with keen interest. More importantly, financial institutions will be supportive of the Senator's views that products created by and sold by Wall Street professionals need to have complete transparency. This is the right way to do business, both morally and intelligently, in order to establish trust with the investor community and the general public. The key to success in our "free" market society must include an open architecture with respect to our business practices and these practices must reflect the highest ethical standards. I know that many of the messages delivered today by the Senator will gain support by both the private and public sectors.

Click here for more reviews.

Friday, September 14, 2007

D'Ambrosio and Hinkley Dodge

Apparently, Hinkley Dodge bought out D'Ambrosio Chrysler Jeep. I've had a problem or two with D'Ambrosio, but overall, I would prefer to buy a Jeep from D'Ambrosio than someone else, when I get my next one.

Until today.

Backing up a few weeks, I went to Jiffy Lube to get my inspection done. They told me I passed emissions, but not the inspection, due to an unspecified leak in the exhaust. That was a Friday. That night, I went to Idaho with my boyfriend, and returned Saturday. Sunday, I pulled the Jeep apart to find the leak, and found that I had a cracked exhaust manifold. Monday was a holiday. Tuesday they said to bring it in the next morning, letting me know it was covered under the warranty, and assuring me the part was in. Wednesday, I brought it in, and then decided to make them check to see if the part was there. Turned out they had to order it. So, here we are 9 days later. Oh, and I had 15 days to get the problem fixed and Jiffy Lube would reinspect it for free. That's tomorrow, if you're counting. I call to find out about the part, and get told it's in, and transferred to Hinkley's side of the road, because they're handling appointments. They tell me the next appointment is the 23rd.

WTF? Last week, it was same-day. I start to argue, and get told I can do a "walk-in", and bring it in today, and then they "might" be able to get to it Monday or Tuesday. I'm leaving a lot out here. By this point, I was so mad that I ended up yelling, asking if they really expected me to leave my only mode of transportation there all weekend, knowing that they couldn't do anything with it. I'll give it to the lady, she had a smile in her voice the whole time and didn't take my frustration personally.

What it comes down to is that D'Ambrosio has always been same-day service for me, unless there was a valid reason, and this doesn't seem like one to me. After asking a bunch of questions, she said they're shutting down D'Ambrosio's shop, although 'a few' mechanics will still be over there. So, this buy-out means a bigger company that cares less. I don't think they're on the top of my list to buy the new Jeep next year.

Oh, and there doesn't exist a device driver for audio, modem or card readers for my Laptop for XP. So, I get to hope that my restore disk works. And figure out where it is. What a fun weekend!!

[Update] Who knew that manufacturer forums could be productive. Less than 2 hours after posting my driver problem, the question was answered. Turns out I have to download drivers from a different model, install them in an obtuse order and stand on my head while doing so, but hey - at least I have sound, right?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Christmas is coming!

And no, I don't mean Santa's at the mall. That's at least a week away.

I'm talking about the Bethlehem Christmas Project and Christmas Care Packages for Utah soldiers.

The Bethlehem Christmas Project partnered with Musalaha (a non-profit organization promoting reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians) to bring together former Israeli soldiers and Palestinians to deliver Christmas gifts to children in Bethlehem. The goal is to bring some modicum of joy to Palestinian children, build bridges of understanding between Americans, Israelis and Palestinians, and last but not least, educate Americans on the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as perceived by everyday Israelis and Palestinians.

I thought this was a great idea, because it's a "grassroots" effort, and I think that individuals are the only ones who can solve the kinds of problems they are facing. I blogged about the Bethlehem Christmas Project before, and I think it's a wonderful idea. Ali Elhajj, one of the founders, recently sent me a message through Facebook, and I'm waiting to hear back to see how the project is going. I'll give an update when I hear. In the meantime, participate or donate, if you're so inclined.

Today on KCPW, I caught a snippet of two wives whose husbands are deployed to Iraq. They have a project going to send Christmas Care Packages to Utah soldiers. Regardless of how I feel about the war, or the politics of the war, I'm very grateful to the soldiers who are serving this country. Their web site says:
Our goal in this event is to send an individual care package to each Utah soldier for Christmas. They sacrifice so much and go without so many things we take for granted. We would like to give some of that back. Truly, the purpose of this campaign extends far beyond the gift boxes that will be sent; it is an endeavor to generate a sense of unity and community throughout this great state. Utah’s National Guardsmen represent more than just their own families; they represent Utah—
And they do so with pride and honor.

The suggested Care Package items are very basic, so it should be easy for anyone and everyone to participate.

"Upgrading" to XP (Warning: Geek Speak)

This one probably won't interest anyone, except maybe a techie or two, but I have to vent!

I'm starting a new job tomorrow, and the contracting agency was going to supply me with a laptop, because the company I'll be working for will take a couple of weeks to get me set up with one. I said I could use my laptop, and then realized I'd need XP, but I had Vista installed.

I've been meaning to "upgrade" to XP since I bought the laptop, but haven't had the time. Since I took today off between the jobs, it was the perfect time!

First things first, before I began the install, I copied important files to the "restore" partition, and downloaded the wireless drivers. Everything went smoothly. Until I tried to find the video driver.

The video driver wasn't listed on HP's driver page. I went to nVidia's site, where I tried several different drivers, as well as the "discovery" feature, and it kept telling me I didn't have any hardware that worked with it. A couple hours searching through the web, and apparently, I'm the only one with this particular problem. However, someone had a similar problem with a Conexant audio driver, and they tried "updating" the driver, and telling it the location. So, I decided to give it a shot, and lo and behold: I'm finally viewing the "internets" without distortion or ugly page re-rendering! w00t!

Friday, September 07, 2007


Watch the video, click the link and let your representatives know that you don't want to be fooled again.

Tell 'em!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another example of the deception that surrounds Iraq

Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. "If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian," the official said. "If it went through the front, it's criminal."

Is there anything Bush won't deceive us about?

Where in Baghdad did they stay, again?

Where did John McCain and the rest of the "important" government official stay while in Iraq? You know, the ones who came back and said with a straight face that the situation is improved in Iraq.

They stayed here:
I’m sitting on a gilded chair, writing on a gilded table. The floors beneath me are marble, and the chandeliers above are sparkly and crystal. The only reminder that I’m in a war zone is the pair of man-high concrete barriers I can see out my window. “It’s Sunday, man, you’re working too hard,” a national guardsmen just told me. Welcome to Baghdad.

You know, the place where:
Not all that far away, Marine grunts are going weeks without showers or toilets, chomping on rations – and generally maintaining a positive outlook on life. I got my laundry done by a Philippino maid. Yesterday, I listened to a salsa band play in the chow hall, while I supped on alu gobi and navratan vegetable curry.

As Noah Shachtman says in the article:
This isn’t a war. It’s a war convention. Too bad I didn't bring my bathing suit; maybe I would have taken a dip in the big, outdoor pool a few hundred yards away.

Next time one of our officials visits, and wants to come back and tell us how nicely everything is going, I think he or she should try staying in the barracks with the guys who are there for the war, and not the war convention.

What is the Health Care solution?

I've heard a lot of arguments on both sides, about what America should do about the health care crisis. I think there are a lot of misunderstandings about what some of the proposed solutions are, though. But, when I read a story like Suzanne's, I know something has to be done.
Suzanne from Manchester shared her story about falling into Medicare Part D’s “doughnut hole” – the gulf between the low cap of prescription medication costs covered by Medicare and the high threshold for coverage for catastrophic insurance. She said
I was paying maybe $6 to $28 for my prescriptions and I thought, ‘well great, what is everybody complaining about?’ And one day my husband came home from the pharmacy with two of my prescriptions, and he said, ‘you know this cost over $200.’ I had fallen into the doughnut hole.

Although covered by Medicare Part D from January to August, Suzanne has to pay the full costs for her prescribed medicine from September to December. Ballooning costs have forced Suzanne to make a last resort decision. She takes her most expensive drugs, prescribed for her coronary disease condition, every other day.

Our health care system is failing us, and something must be done. Out of all of the proposed plans that I've read about, Barack Obama's health care plan is the one that makes the most sense to me. I think it will achieve the goal of covering Americans, but will also be feasible to get it passed in Congress.
Barack Obama believes we live in the greatest country in the world and that when it comes to health care, America can and must do better. The Obama plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on premiums by:

1. Providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American;
2. Modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and
3. Promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.

I really like that on Obama's health care plan page, he's got a feedback tool, asking for input from individuals. It really makes me confident that when he becomes president, he will be the people's president, and continue making policy decisions with input from American citizens.