Friday, February 29, 2008

Prince Harry: Courageous Matt Drudge: Inexcusable


As I've written before...people shock the hell out of me!

It happened again.

Irresponsible journalism set a new standard yesterday when Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report published the news of Prince Harry's location on the front lines in Afghanistan. This shocking, appalling, and reprehensible leak of information placed not only Prince Harry's life at even greater risk, but also placed the risk of all of the soldiers serving along side him -- ALL of the soldiers serving alongside him.

Matt Drudge's lack of professional and personal judgment is inexcusable. Reporting highly dangerous information that puts the lives of many people at serious risk during a time of war -- or any time -- for the purposes of a "scoop" drops lower than tabloid journalism.

I am ashamed that an American "journalist" sunk to such horrendously low levels.

What an amazing young man, Prince Harry. He deserved, as did all of the soldiers serving alongside him, respect for their individual lives. The courage displayed by Prince Harry as well as all of the troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq is commendable and humbling. These men and women deserve every ounce of protection that can be provided to them.

Kudos to the media and news outlets that kept the location of Prince Harry secret. You did your job and you did the right thing.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

What Does Your Moniker Reveal About You?


The Internet is an interesting place. It allows us to travel throughout the world without ever leaving our home town. It provides ways of building bridges without ever pounding a nail. It opens doors of opportunity to meet people who speak a different language or live under a different set of stars.

Yes, the Internet is an interesting place. Given all of these incredible possibilities to create unlimited growth in life what do most people do? Hide behind a fake moniker.

I understand that predators, identity thieves, and hackers exist, but my guess is that most people choose a fake moniker so they may not be held accountable for their actions or their words. I wonder how many people who leave nasty comments would actually say those words to the face of the individual writer. My guess is not many.

Not long ago I started reading The Huffington Post each morning. I do enjoy Alec Baldwin's blogs and Erica Jong's, but for the most part, I find THP to be no different from a number of the media channels on television -- heavily biased. That said, what amazes me more than anything onTHP is the level of nastiness contained in some of the responses to the blogs. Each blog on THP is written by a guest author whose true name and picture are included.

Granted, the level of celebrity and expertise of a number of the bloggers is what brings advertising dollars and readers to THP, but that aside, KUDOS to the celebrity writers who are courageous enough to write a blog, express an opinion, propose a thought, and take the heat. I wonder how many of the responders who enjoy no celebrity whatsoever -- the majority of the world and most likely those in their own community have no clue as to who they are -- would have guts enough to respond if their own name and picture were attached to their response. I wonder what words they would choose then, if they would even have the guts to write anything at all.

Sometimes when I venture around the web and read what people write in their comments, I get the feeling that for some people, the Internet has become their own personal dumping ground.

I have always believed that one of the measures of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. Most of us have heard it said that the true character of a man comes out when he's under pressure, but I don't agree with that statement. I believe that a person will act under pressure just how they were trained or better yet, trained themselves to act. No, I believe that another test of a man's true character is how he treats his enemy when his enemy is down. It's easy to be full of integrity and character when our friends are down, but what about an enemy?

As we listen and watch and watch and listen to the candidates running for president, I hear them calling for change, speaking of hope, talking about a new politics and I see vast numbers of people cheering louder and louder each time one of these declarations is spoken into a microphone, and yet when I read blog responses written by large numbers of these cheering crowd members [of each candidate], I wonder about the character of the followers as they hide behind their fake monikers typing vicious attacks against the blog writers or their fellow responders.

And this type of behavior is not limited to political blogs only.

Constructive criticism, agreement to disagree, thoughtful discussion, intelligent proposal of a different viewpoint are all exceptional means to the building of ideas and relationships. And each creates progression toward positive change.

If the Internet or life, in general, is a big dumping ground, then I guess we each have three choices: 1. Do we walk around the trash acting like it doesn't exist so our own personal world isn't affected? And in doing so leave the world exactly as it is. OR 2. Do we walk on top of the trash trudging upon what is in our own path and dealing only with what sticks to our own shoes? And as a result making some piles smaller but still leaving all the trash and smell behind. OR 3. Do we walk through the trash cleaning up all that we can? And as a result creating a more user friendly path for those that follow.

My hats off to bloggers, celebrity bloggers, and responders who courageously write constructive, intelligent thoughts on the Internet. Agreement with someone's opinion is not necessary to the building of an idea or a relationship bridge, nor is it necessary to the creation of change, the emergence of hope or the beginning of an era of new politics, but being open to those differences and the possibilities of growth while walking through those differences is.

If a glitch in the system occurred right now and all of the fake monikers revealed true names, I wonder how many people would find themselves scrambling to delete all of their postings.

Post as if you were to be found out.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jericho the New 24

As I sat waiting to discover why the engine light in my car came on the other day, I picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly sitting on the coffee table inside the dealership. Flipping through the pages I came across a review of the CBS show Jericho – a show I happen to like very much. It didn’t take long to determine that the reviewer was not of the same mind set. When he wasn’t declaring his dislike for the show’s lead actor, Skeet Ulrich, he was obsessing with his idea that the show is based upon conspiracy theories – of course, none of which he buys into.

What became blaringly clear in his writing is that he’s never read, nor is he obviously aware of Pat Frank’s 1959 classic American novel, Alas, Babylon.

Growing up during the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear attack was very much a part of every school kid’s life. We learned that our desks were to be used for protection and that images of mushroom clouds could haunt our dreams.

One of the best books I’ve ever read is Alas, Babylon. I was first introduced to the book in 1977 and to this day, it continues to remain on my all time favorite list. The setting is Fort Repose, Florida and the United States has just been attacked with nuclear bombs. Communities are isolated, the majority of the country’s leaders are dead, communication is almost nonexistent, food becomes scarce, disease flourishes, and those you once trusted become those you must fight for survival. Sounds like a good plot for a television show!

Jericho is Alas, Babylon set in the 21st Century.

For those that fought for Jericho to return to the airwaves…KUDOS TO YOU! And kudos to CBS for listening to their viewers. The first run of this fantastic show brought characters to the screen rarely before seen: a likeable and heroic IRS agent (Alicia Coppola), two kids who become Jericho’s largest suppliers of food, dry goods, and one of the region’s most valuable commodities – salt (Erik Knudson and Candace Bailey), a young deaf girl trying to grow up in a world turned upside down (Shoshannah Stern), and a black undercover government agent who had recently moved his family to this very white Kansas town (Lennie James).

Being an enormous Gerald McRaney fan, I am still disappointed that he is no longer on the show, but the addition of Esai Morales as Army Major Edward Beck is proving to be very interesting to the show’s plot line.

As for the Entertainment Weekly reviewer’s take on Skeet Ulrich…well, I couldn’t disagree more. Skeet’s portrayal of Jericho’s lead hero, Jake Green, is outstanding. During the show’s first episode we learn that Jake left Jericho under a veil of criminal suspicion and eventually went to work for a private American security firm in Iraq. The show begins with the bombs going off as Jake is returning to Jericho.


Skeet Ulrich’s portrayal of a good guy constantly getting mixed up with the scum of the earth, knowing the right choices but not being able to figure how to make them, and being a hero yet always needing to be guided into that role by a mentor figure is like watching the little boy who holds the dam back with his finger. A constant pressure is building, but he MUST keep his finger on that hole.

As the story and characters of Jericho continue to become intertwined as did the story and characters in Alas, Babylon, I have designated Tuesday nights as my new “do not call me” night, which used to be reserved for that hour on Monday nights when Jack Bauer was saving the world. You know, a hundred years ago before season six.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Starbucks: Doing it Right!

Kudos to Starbucks.

For three hours today, all 7, 100 Starbucks stores will be closed for barista training.

Granted, I do not like the taste of Starbucks coffee, but in a time when customer service seems to be at an all time low, I'm pleased to see a company take action to improve their customer experience. Plus, I believe this type of corporate action builds employee spirit. When employers understand that an employee who cares is one of the businesses greatest assets, customer service always improves.

Now, if Howard Schultz will, once again, have a Starbucks store on Main Street in Park City, Utah and, once again, become a significant sponsor of the Sundance Film Festival, I will really be pleased! No two ways about it...coffee and independent film go hand in hand. And kudos to Starbucks...they always did it right at Sundance.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Soul Mates

Soul mates.

The very words conjure up images in my mind of Rick and Ilsa, Rhett and Scarlet, Jack and Rose, Nick and Nora, Sam and Molly, Luke and Laura, Ennis and Jack.

Many of my single friends talk of finding their “soul mate” and funny thing…so do many of my married friends. I believe most of us desire to be in a “Jennifer and Jonathon Hart” relationship. Many people dream about and long for that one specific person God has for them…that perfect person for you and only you…a soul mate.

For me, I would love to find that “one” person, but I’ve not even come close to finding a friend of the second cousin of the uncle twice removed from my “one” person. However, what I have found is something equally as great. I’ve discovered that real soul mates come in all kinds of packages, sizes, shapes and ages.

Two perfect examples from my life are my dog, Buster and the real focus of this story: Kristin Abraham and Alfonso Llamas.

It was a typical day at my art gallery. As with many businesses, sorting through large volumes of email is part of the daily routine. Thankfully, on this day I was the recipient of a beautifully written and inspiring proposal in which my gallery was being asked to participate. The email came from The Nomadic Project and was signed by Kristin Abraham.

I immediately visited the website to which I was being directed. WOW!


From The Nomadic Project:

On November 13th, 2005, artist Kristin Abraham and musician, Alfonso Llamas, set out on a yearlong journey across America. While living and working out of their bright orange Honda Element, this husband and wife team explored and created in all fifty states. The artists had a very specific purpose for their grand excursion: wishing to unite a divided nation through art. With the participation of fifty galleries, Abraham's work was displayed separately in each of the fifty states. The artwork and music has now come together in a traveling exhibition to illustrate the journey, coined The Nomadic Project.

Everything inside of me was jumping up and down. Two young people traveling across country with the intent of uniting a divided nation through art! This is the kind of story I live for! Of course, I wanted my gallery to be involved and couldn’t seem to find the keys on my computer fast enough to respond to Kristin’s email.

It was set. Kristin and Alfonso would arrive in Montana that summer.

I will never forget the moment these two young people walked in the door of my gallery. I knew who they were instantly. And four hours later – after nonstop conversation – they were on their way to the next state.

The absolute best description I can use to describe that meeting is “soul mates.” Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that my path was meant to cross with Kristin and Alfonso and theirs was meant to cross with mine.

I couldn’t be happier to share the art, music, and vision these two inspiring nomads have created.

Visit The Nomadic Project today and journey through the deep South, the historic Northeast, the expansive Plains, the deserts of the Southwest, the tropics of Hawaii, the elements of Alaska, and everywhere in between as Kristin and Alfonso tell their story of America through Kristin’s breathtaking art and Alfonso’s emotionally moving music.




Soul mates.

You never know when they are going to walk through your door.

But, when they do…you will never forget them.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Life of a Baby Harp Seal

All MUST be done to stop this horrible, horrible, disgusting hunt. No human being should ever take pride in this type of a hunt or profession. Canada MUST stop permitting the slaughter of defenseless seals.

Please take action NOW. The next hunt begins in March --- PLEASE ACT NOW!!

Visit the Humane Society's website today and sign the petition to Canada's Prime Minister asking him to put a stop to this horrendously cruel hunt. A hunt only for the purposes of creating designer accessories.

https://community.hsus.org/campaign/global_harper_protectseals


Thank you.





from www.youtube.composted with vodpod

Thursday, February 21, 2008

George Bush: 3 Polar Bears/Gray Wolves/ America: 0

February has proved to be a successful month for the Bush Administration. While millions of eyes -- including the media -- are focused on the desire for change NEXT January, the Bush Administration has continued to strike hard against the environment and for illegal court proceedings.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, on February 6, 2008, the Dutch oil company Shell paid a record bid of $105,304,581 to the U.S. Government for a single tract of land in Alaska. The day's auction for 2.8 million acres of federal land in Alaska's Chukchi polar sea brought out the BIG GUY oil companies. Record breaking bids between Shell and Conoco Phillips transpired much of the day.

In the end, the polar bears lost...while they were sleeping. As did the whales and other sea life...as did the native people who use that sea as their means of survival.

Since the acreage is owned by the federal government, Alaska will not receive any of the record $2.7 billion from the day's total sales. But, if the oil companies create a spill, which they are known to do, who will pay the price -- the local people and the sea life.

And today the Bush Administration won another victory over the environment...

Just hours ago, the Bush Administration announced plans to remove the Northern Rockies gray wolf from the endangered species list. With only 1,500 of these wolves currently in existence, this act allows Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to kill all but a mere 300. Not nearly enough to keep the species alive and vital.

This amazing animal once numbered in the hundreds of thousands and now, only 1,500 remain. Years of hard work to restore the gray wolf back to its original habitat have been set back.



And the Bush legacy continues...

Amnesty International USA reports:

This week, the Pentagon announced it would seek the death penalty for six detainees at Guantánamo Bay who are suspected of conspiring in the September 11 attacks.

We don't know if these suspects are guilty. And because of the sham system of justice Guantánamo Bay, we'll never know.

The U.S. government has admitted that the CIA tortured at least one of the suspects, then the FBI, with the roadmap provided by the CIA, interrogated these same suspects following approved interrogation techniques. And the Bush administration is passing off that tainted info as "evidence."

As one former Navy admiral and judge advocate general said, "Once you torture someone, it is hard to untorture them."

As millions cheer for change NEXT January, the Bush Administration continues business as usual.

www.savewolves.org

www.ifaw.org


Monday, February 18, 2008

I DO CARE.

Two days ago I received a FWD to my inbox that I'd received once before, but deleted it after reading only the first two lines. This time I read it in full.

YIKES!

A feeling of disgust that I'd deleted the FWD the first time washed over me. Why didn't I read it and respond to the sender then? If I were at a party and heard someone actually saying the words written in the FWD, I would constructively and in love respond to the storyteller. So, why did I not do that with an email?

Having been a Flight Attendant for United Airlines and having worked United flight 93 for more than two years, I felt even more disgusted in my heart that I did not respond sooner.

Correcting my own lack of action, I responded to the second sender and now respond to the writer of the FWD and all those that forward the email: "WRITTEN BY ONE ANGRY WOMAN."

For those that may not have received this FWD or may have deleted it like I did, here it is with my response following:

Letter from one "Angry Woman"

I don't know who wrote it but they should have signed it. Some powerful words. This woman should run for president. Written by a housewife from New Jersey and sounds like it! This is one ticked off lady. (or Ann Coulter, my addition)

"Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001?

Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet? Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia

I'll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called "insurgents" in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs.

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured: I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank: I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed "special" food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being "mishandled," you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts: I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled "Koran" and other times "Quran." Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and-you guessed it-I don't care!!

If you agree with this viewpoint, pass this on to all your E-mail friends. Sooner or later, it'll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior!


If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete button. Should you choose the latter, then please don't complain when more atrocities committed by radical Muslims happen here in our great Country!

And may I add: "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem" -- Ronald Reagan.

I have another quote that I would like to add AND......I hope you forward all this.

"If we ever forget that we're One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under." Also by Ronald Reagan.

One last thought for the day: In case we find ourselves starting to believe all the Anti-American sentiment and negativity, we should remember England's Prime Minister Tony Blair's words during a recent interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America, he said: "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out."

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ

2. The American G.I.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

YOU MIGHT WANT TO PASS THIS ON, AS MANY SEEM TO FORGET BOTH OF THEM. AMEN!

My response:

I'm sure that to many this email "sounds" good and righteous; full of American pride and supportive of our troops; Christian.

But to me...

The content of this email "written by one angry woman" is NOT the America I believe in and it most certainly does NOT describe the Jesus Christ I believe in.

I DO CARE that Jesus came for and died for ALL humans, not just Americans.

I DO CARE when people misrepresent Jesus as an American soldier fighting only for Christians.

I DO CARE that Jesus was a Jewish carpenter who came for ALL humans and went to the cross for ALL our sins.

I DO CARE that Jesus tells us to love our neighbors -- not just those people that believe in the bible, but ALL of our neighbors.

I DO CARE that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies -- meaning we will have them -- but no where in the bible are we ever told to hate them or believe that Jesus didn't come for them too.

I DO CARE that the fact that Jesus came for ALL humans, died on the cross for ALL our sins, was resurrected and now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for ALL of us is among the things that separates Christianity from all other religions.

I DO CARE that until Christians stop brandishing the bible as a weapon of hate, the world will continue to NOT see Christ, but only imperfect Christians... and the world will continue to reject the Christ of Christianity.

I DO CARE for the families that lost loved ones on 9/11 or to other terrorists' actions and more importantly, I DO CARE that Jesus loves and cares for them more than any of us ever could.

I DO CARE that Jesus not be made into a political figure for any reason, EVER.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in...

Is the world leader in defending human rights.

I DO CARE that in 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt chaired a United Nations General Assembly committee that wrote and adopted the language in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In brief:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Abbreviated)
1. Right to Equality
2. Freedom from Discrimination
3. Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
4. Freedom from Slavery
5. Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
6. Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
7. Right to Equality before the Law
8. Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
9. Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
10. Right to Fair Public Hearing
11. Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
12. Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and
Correspondence
13. Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
14. Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
15. Right to a nationality and Freedom to Change Nationality
16. Right to Marriage and Family
17. Right to Own Property
18. Freedom of Belief and Religion
19. Freedom of Opinion and Information
20. Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
21. Right to Participate in Government and Free Elections
22. Right to Social Security
23. Right to Desirable Work and Join Trade Unions
24. Right to Rest and Leisure
25. Right to Adequate Living Standard
26. Right to Education
27. Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of the Community
28. Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
29. Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
30. Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights

I DO CARE that the America I believe in fights for and stands for these human rights.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in has a constitution that provides the right for all religions to be respected equally under the law.

I DO CARE that America was attacked on September 11, 2001 by radical extremists, NOT all people who are Muslim, are Sikh, wear a turban, live in the Middle East, are from Iraq or Iran or another Middle Eastern country, or are of Arab, Sikh, or Muslim heritage.

I DO CARE that on September 15, 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man wearing a turban, was shot and killed at his gas station in Mesa, AZ by a man calling himself a patriot.

I DO CARE that Mr. Balbir Singh Sodhi's murder was the first of nineteen "retribution" murders in the aftermath of 9/11.

I DO CARE that emails like the one "written by one angry woman" [and others like the one falsely telling of a beverage distributor driver witnessing an Arab and/or turbaned bar owner cheering the attacks of 9/11] continue to spread hatred, mistrust, and fear regarding my fellow Americans simply because they are of Arab, Sikh, or Muslim heritage and/or faith.

I DO CARE that my Muslim, Sikh, and Arab friends in America (and around the world) now live in a state of personal alert and emails like the one "written by one angry woman" and others only perpetuate the hardships on my friends and fellow Americans.

I DO CARE that thousands of Americans AND Iraqis have died in a war that was started based upon a foundation of lies and misinformation.

I DO CARE that emails like the one "written by one angry woman" and others falsely state what the America I believe in stands for.

I DO CARE that emails like the one "written by one angry woman" and others falsely state what kind of freedom the America I believe in stands for.

I DO CARE that emails like the one "written by one angry woman" and others falsely state what kind of freedom American troops have fought and died for.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't torture or use cruel, inhumane treatment.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't hold people without charge, without hope, and without end.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't kidnap people off the street and ship them to countries known for their brutality.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't condone prisoner abuse and excuse high-ranking government officials from the responsibility for that abuse.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't justify the use of secret prisons.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't rob people of their basic dignity.

I DO CARE that the America I believe in doesn't spy on its citizen illegally.

I DO CARE that emails like the one "written by one angry woman" support the kind of hatred, fear, and false Christianity written about in that very email, as a directive for the presidency of the United States of America.

I DO CARE that God gave me a voice not to use just for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others including those I don't know, have never met, look differently from me, live in another country, and/or have a different spiritual belief system than I do.

I DO CARE.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Toy Soldiers, the Game of Risk, and the Department of Defense

I've referenced the Richard Gere/Julia Roberts Pretty Woman dialogue in my writing before -- time to pull it out again. People shock the hell out of me!

I recently learned that back in July of 2007, a presidential commission revealed that the Department of Defense is penalizing WOUNDED veterans by not providing them with their full enlistment bonuses. AND in some cases, WOUNDED VETERANS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO RETURN THE MONEY THEY'VE ALREADY RECEIVED.

In other words, the financial incentive is only if the veteran makes it around the board and passes Go without getting injured. Am I the only one or does it sometimes feel like the current administration thinks they are sitting at a board game with toy soldiers and play money? Like Risk or Monopoly with each square being a different country.

If "we" truly want change, then "we" need to act NOW!

For more information on how YOU can be a change agent NOW, please visit www.iava.org and sign this letter to your Congressional Representative:

H.R. 3793 - Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act

Troops who are discharged for injuries they've sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan should be entitled to their full enlistment bonuses. I stand with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in supporting the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act (H.R. 3793), and hope you will do the same.

We cannot continue to nickel and dime these men and women who have given so much to serve our country. Please support H.R. 3793.

Thank you.

When you sign this letter on IAVA's website, the letter will automatically be sent to your Congressional Representative.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this unfair issue, please contact Rob Timmins, the IAVA Field Director, at rob@iava.org.

Please take the time to support wounded veterans today -- sign and [click] send the letter (on the IAVA website) to your Congressional Representative! Thank you!

And thank you to all veterans.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cheering for Change...

The names Halliburton and Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) give me the heebie jeebies anyway, but reading today's New York Times article regarding KBR's behavior toward female employees filing reports of rape, sexual harassment, and/or sexual assault while working in Iraq, AND the San Francisco Chronicles' February 4th article regarding Halliburton's and their subsidiary, KBR's building projects in the United States of America (detention centers) really makes my hair stand on end.

I am just as much of a Barack Obama supporter as the next Latino, black, white, male, female, South Asian, Asian, Euro, Native, Northeastern, Southwestern, Midwest, Northwestern, Southern, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Atheist, Jewish, Evangelical, liberal, conservative, single, married, college educated, non-college educated, low income, high income, middle income, employed, unemployed, blonde, brunette, tall, skinny, old, young, retired, pet owning AMERICAN, but what I don't understand, is if "we are the change we've been waiting for" then why are "we" allowing the current administration to get away with all that it has and continues to get away with while "we" are cheering on and putting a whole lot of hope in ONE person to make a whole lot of changes?

Why aren't "we" filling auditoriums with rallies demonstrating against torture, a war that should have never happened, illegal detentions, illegal court proceedings, shabby treatment of veterans, genocide, an out of control budget, etc., and now we learn...the building of detention camps on American soil...again? If "we" really want this change, then why aren't "we" demanding more from our government NOW? Why are "we" (the we we've been waiting for) showing that it's fine to wait for change to come next January? Why aren't "we" demanding change from the current administration that got us into this mess "we" are wanting out of?

I feel extraordinarily passionate about and am enjoying the thrill of this election ride, but the one thing that scares the begeebies out of me is the thought of how much could be the current administration be getting away with while "we" are all cheering for change rather than demanding it?

San Francisco Chronicle article:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/04/ED5OUPQJ7.DTL&hw=Endgame&sn=001&sc=1000

The New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/world/middleeast/13contractors.html?ex=1360645200&en=b19508e4345a913b&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lighting Up the China Cabinet of Human Rights Violations

As we approach the 6 month countdown to the Summer Olympics, reports of China's increased pressure on [Chinese] human rights activists to be silent or those already in custody to plead guilty to crimes against national security continue to emerge. China has long been known for their horrendous human rights violations.

Human dignity and triumph of the human spirit lay at the heart of the Olympic games.

Somehow having the Olympics in China feels a bit like the scenario of an abusive husband pushing his wife to win not only the beauty contest, but the individual self-esteem prize also. Will the world be like the neighbor, friend, or relative that turns a blind eye to the abuse, but applauds when the wife covers her bruises with makeup and smiles as she walks down the runway?

Will the rest of the world stand up to China's human rights violations and use this opportunity to apply pressure on China to change their stance on human rights?

Maybe "the rest of the world" starts with you. To find out how you can join your voice with many other voices in applying pressure to China to treat their citizens fairly and with the respect deserving of all human beings, visit www.amnestyusa.org. Your voice can make a difference in the life of another human being.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Clicking for a Better World!

If you have a giving heart but lack time and/or money, then Care2.com is for you! In less than 5 minutes a day, you can give to no less than 10 worthy nonprofit organizations simply by clicking a button on your computer AND it doesn't cost you anything. With each button you click, sponsors give to that specific charity. While you are required to set up a Care2.com account, which is free, the privacy settings are very good and you provide only the information you wish. Care2.com also offers a free email address to each account holder.

Participating nonprofit organizations include:

Amnesty International; The Breast Cancer Fund; The Humane Society of the United States; Children International; The Jane Goodall Institute; Wildlife Conservation Society; The Support of Oceana; International Fund for Animal Welfare; The Nature Conservancy; Stop Global Warming

Kudos to the sponsors supporting the work of these excellent organizations:

Pet Promise; Saturn; Nature Made; Organic Style; Green Mountain Coffee Roasters; eBooks.com; Lincoln; Turbo Tax; Nature Valley; Seaworld/Busch Gardens; Horizon Organic

Please, set up a Care2.com account and start clicking!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Network: A Movie for the 21st Century

Guest author, retired MAD Magazine editor, Al Feldstein brings another subject to our attention -- TV News. As a film producer, I am very familiar with this incredible movie Al spotlights. Rent it if you've never seen it. Even if you have seen it, be sure to got to the link and listen to the speech given by Ned Beatty. WOW!

Al Feldstein writes:

In 1976, a wonderful movie entitled "Network" was released.

"Network" was a 1976 satirical New Hollywood film about a fictional television network, Union Broadcasting System (UBS), and its struggle with poor ratings. It was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, and stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

In it was a wonderful scene in which Ned Beatty, as a Media executive, loudly berates Peter Finch, as a Network Talking head, from lamenting the state of America and its fading Democracy over the air.

Go to:

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechnetwork4.html

...and listen to it...ALL of it...

...and weep for your country.

MAD-ly yours,
Al Feldstein

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Winery, Land Trust Partner to Protect Wildlife Habitat, Open Space

As a member of both the Board of Advisors and the Development Committee for The Vital Ground Foundation, I am happy to publish this wonderful news. Today's press release provides an excellent example of how nonprofit organization and for profit companies can work together toward a common goal.


MISSOULA, MT — Ten Spoon Vineyard + Winery and the nonprofit Vital Ground Foundation today announced a new partnership to benefit wildlife habitat and open space values in Montana and the Northern Rockies. Ten Spoon will donate one dollar to the Missoula-based land trust for every bottle of its Prairie Thunder organic red wine sold.

“This is a very generous offer Ten Spoon has extended to us,” says Vital Ground’s executive director Gary Wolfe. “We’re pleased to be involved with a company that not only offers outstanding products, but is truly committed to protecting the landscapes and wildlife we all love.”

Vital Ground recently made regional news with a 2007 report documenting its work in western Montana’s Swan Valley, where the group permanently protected nearly 600 acres of privately owned wildlands that year adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The protected areas are important corridors for rambling grizzly bears and winter range for elk.

Andy Sponseller and Connie Poten, Ten Spoon’s owners, are themselves no strangers to conservation.

In the early 1990’s, Sponseller helped found Save Open Space, now renamed Rattlesnake Land Trust. SOS’s first project was the Waterworks Hill Conservation Easement negotiated with the Peschel family. It put more than 100 acres on the hills north of Interstate 90 off limits to development. Connie Poten originally purchased the pastureland where the vineyard and winery now reside in 1991 to protect it from development.

“For us, supporting Vital Ground through sales of Prairie Thunder just makes sense,” says Sponseller. “Connie and I both have worked to protect open space and habitat values. Vital Ground is out there doing it every day. We appreciate that and we want to be part of the effort.”

Poten and Sponseller planted their first grapes in 1998, built the winery in 2000 and launched the first commercial wine sales in 2003. Montana-grown, certified organic grapes and fruit make up 65% of Ten Spoon’s production. The remainder comes from certified organic family vineyards and orchards in Washington, Oregon and northern California.

A special blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel grapes grown at Redwood Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County, Prairie Thunder offers the silky, rich flavors of dark cherry, coffee and chocolate on a berry field, with a hint of strawberry splashing through. No sulfites are added to any Ten Spoon wines. Prairie Thunder is available in retail shops across the state of Montana. A list of shops can be found on the winery’s website. The winery also ships wine by FedEx Ground to other states.

Visit www.tenspoonvineyard.com, email info@tenspoon.com, or phone the winery at (406) 549-8703 for more information.

Since its founding in 1990, Vital Ground has helped to protect and enhance more than 417,000 acres of habitat crucial for grizzly and other wildlife in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, and British Columbia. Vital Ground’s headquarters is in the Heritage Hall building in the Fort Missoula Historical District. To learn more or to make a donation, visit www.vitalground.org or call (406) 549-8650.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Spouses in the White House

Something I'm trying to grasp an understanding of is the standard(s) being placed upon the spouses of the presidential candidates and how these standards are being reflected upon the individual candidates.

Let's start with the standard being placed upon the wives of the Republican presidential candidates. Oh, wait...do we even know the names of these women much less which platforms they would support as first lady? Hmmm, perhaps I should come back to this standard because I can't think of one. Oh, maybe that's it...THERE ISN'T ONE! Ahhh, these candidates are being judged upon their own merits .

Moving on to Michelle Obama. An accomplished, well-educated, intelligent woman: undergraduate degree from Princeton; graduate degree from Harvard Law School; vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center; mother; and many other community successes. According to Michelle Obama her platform as first lady would be to help people learn how to balance work and family....okay. Well, at least she was asked. So, I guess Barack Obama is also being judged upon his own merits.

Hillary Clinton. While I believe it is natural to acknowledge that of those running for president, she has the most recognizable spouse. And it is natural for our eyes to look in Bill Clinton's direction. He continues to be very popular among many democrats and throughout the world. However, I am mystified by the questions continually being asked of Hillary as to what position Bill will have in the White House. In fairness, why are not the other candidates being asked if their spouses will "hold" a position in the White House? And why are Bill's accomplishments or lack thereof (depending upon which glasses you are looking through) a reflection upon Hillary's merits as a candidate for president? In fairness, shouldn't we be asking the other candidates to explain what their spouse's strengths and/or weakness are in relation to the respective candidate's ability to be president?

If we are being propositioned to judge Hillary Clinton by her spouse's [mis]deeds, then shouldn't we include a fair assessment of each spouses accomplishments also?

In the event I were ever to be asked...promoting human rights, combating AIDS, poverty, global warming, etc., now those are something I would like to see on the platform of the spouse of the next president of the United States of America. Male or female. Black or white. Republican or Democrat.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Buy Books and Help to Stop Genocide

Still haven't read The Kite Runner? Become a Better You? Giving? John Grisham's latest or Sue Grafton's latest? Well, this is your opportunity to do something good for yourself and many, many people you may never meet. Go to Barnes & Noble and buy as many books as you can this weekend! Follow the instructions below and your purchases will help to stop genocide.

logo
Published on Genocide Intervention Network (http://www.genocideintervention.net)

Feb 1 - Feb 4: Shop at Barnes and Noble, Raise Money for Civilian Protection

This weekend, you can earn money for GI-Net, just by shopping at Barnes & Noble!

Make a purchase at ANY Barnes & Noble in the country from February 1-4 and a percentage of all sales will be donated to the Genocide Intervention Network.

Note: You must mention "Bookfair #223842" at the point of purchase for the donation to occur.

This fundraising initiative applies to all in-stores sales, including books, CD/DVDs, and food and beverages purchased at the Cafe. It does not apply to online purchases.

Thank you to the Hollidaysburg National Junior Honor Society, Save Darfur: Central PA and the Barnes & Noble of Altoona, PA for organizing this exciting fundraising opportunity.


Anderson Cooper: Playground Attendant...and Not a Very Good One

Too bad Anderson Cooper did not provide a better, more professional service to the American public during the Republican presidential debate held last night. Perhaps he would have if the debate had been held outside on a playground instead of inside a library. Perhaps if he had been supplied a whistle instead of a microphone he would have understood his duties more readily.

While I do not agree with virtually all of John McCain's policy positions, I do consider him a true American hero and respect him a great deal. However, as the two "leading" candidates for the Republican party, I would hope that both John McCain and Mitt Romney would start behaving like presidential candidates and not playschool children.

Kudos to Charlie Gibson on the job he did moderating both a Democratic and Republican debate. Best job yet. Had Anderson stepped up to the plate and brought the debate back into focus perhaps the more presidential acting candidate Mike Huckabee and the always thought provoking Ron Paul could have continued to demonstrate an ever-so-short breath of fresh air from the Republican Party.