You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2007.

The end of this miserable year known as 2007 CANNOT come soon enough for me–8 hours and counting! While there were some things for which I’m grateful (finally passing the CSET, the wonderful children I had for my student teaching experience, incredible friends who have stood by me, my dear Rudy, starting this blog on 1-8-07 and sharing it with so many, along with other positive events), this past month or so of dashed hopes, turmoil, loss, and sadness, in addition to other disappointments and struggles over the past year, has me BEYOND anxious for the beginning of a new year and all that it can hold. Yes, I realize that January 1st of ANY year is just a date on a calendar and that if we choose to have new beginnings in our life we can (and should) start at any moment of any day in any month, but I’ll stick with my somewhat naive way of thinking that 12:01 AM on 1-1-08 WILL be my new, fresh beginning. For me it will represent being atop a mountain looking out on a sunny, green, peaceful and happy landscape known as 2008, with a quick look over my shoulder at something akin to a dark and dreary, war-torn past known as 2007.

It is with this intention of doing things better and to completion, that I’ve imposed an online break for myself. I haven’t been blogging on a consistent basis lately anyway, but when I do blog it does take time, and right now, with the current major upheaval in my life, it’s time I know I need to spend prioritizing areas of my life, and living to my full potential. In a way I feel like a parent telling their child that they can’t go out to play until their homework is done. At this particular point in my life “homework” equates with “figuring sh*t out”, and play is spending time online whether it’s blogging or reading many other fine blogs out there (see my blogroll ;)).

So, my friends, I leave for this mini-break (mind you, knowing me it might only be a few days! ;)) hoping you all have not only a happy and safe New Year’s Eve, but a new year filled with happy moments, appreciation for life, special people (and pets!) to share it with, and the fulfillment of dreams you’ve tucked way for too long, which you will NOW (hopefully) pull out for 2008. Take care, and I’ll see you soon!

Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas is having an enjoyable Christmas Eve (more so than it appears my pooch Rudy did in the accompanying picture; rest assured his tail WAS wagging at the time), although for most of you it’s already Christmas. I’m coming down off of too much sugar, and a bit too much of the yummy Wilson Creek almond champagne, so thought I’d pop on over and post a quick blog.

My nephews and I have been tracking Santa Claus on NORAD tonight (really fun site I was turned onto last Christmas–thanks Donna!), and as pathetic as it sounds, even though they’ve just gone to bed I’m quite sure I’ll keep checking the updates and watching the videos. Hey, it’s fun to “be a kid” for a little bit. I suppose it’s that “wishful thinking” state which has me posting this video of Santa’s trip to Paris, France, since I’m hoping maybe one day I’ll be spending the holidays there myself. Hey, I DID say it was wishful thinking. Right now NORAD has Santa tracked in Tucson, Arizona, so at least he’s getting closer to good old SoCal.

Speaking of SoCal, thanks to WordPress I’m having a white Christmas without having to head up to the mountains. Until January 2nd, the good folks at WordPress are giving us the gift of blog snow. (Anyone else getting a visual from The Breakfast Club right now? lol)

We opened family gifts early since the Chargers were playing the Broncos on Monday Night Football. No way in heck we’d be focusing on what the kiddos were opening while the game was on, and the nephews had NO problems with being given a MUCH earlier gift opening time. I’m sure they’ll be hoping the Chargers play every Christmas Eve if it means getting at those presents earlier! I’m just wishing the Chargers had been playing as well all season as they did tonight in their dominance over the Denver Broncos (23-3). Always nice to pull out a win over a division rival.

Before I head off to “help Santa” with a last-minute request in a note my five-year-old nephew penned for the jolly old man in the red suit tonight (this is in addition to the note to the right asking for a guitar), I’ll leave you with a classic rendition of “Santa Baby” by the absolutely amazing, Ms Eartha Kitt. Thanks for sending it along to me, Janice–love it. Off to put on those elf ears!

Perhaps if there were pictures instead of words he might read it? Nah, probably not.

I promised Jackie Beat I wouldn’t post any of the videos I took of her FANTASTIC holiday show “Give ‘Til It Hurts” at Bourbon Street in San Diego on December 12th, until after her holiday tour ended. (We did agree on one I posted the day after the show.) Well folks, the tour was completed this past weekend in San Francisco, so yours truly is about to unload upon you several holiday gifts via the hilariously witty, somewhat twisted (in a very good way), and totally talented mind of drag queen superstar, Ms Jackie Beat. For those of you who haven’t heard of Jackie before, shame on you because I posted about her recently so that means you haven’t been a regular reader of this blog. Tsk-tsk. I will forgive you, though, and still share these little gems with you. Keep in mind that due to language and content they are TOTALLY for mature audiences only, and narrow-minded, homophobic, no-sense-of-humor folks also need not view. I’m sure those of you with such viewpoints can find some Jerry Falwell or Bill O’Reilly videos somewhere.

Here are a couple videos to tease you with, and quite honestly the most mild I can share on this blog. 😉 The first video is a prelude to the second, and shows precisely why I didn’t pop my hand up when Jackie asked who in the audience is straight. I know enough about Jackie’s equal-opportunity-offending sharp tongue to know that while its outcome is hilarious to watch, it’s not necessarily something I want to be on the wrong side of yet. The second video is Jackie’s version of “Silver Bells” titled “Go to Hell”–perfect holiday sentiment, no? (We’ll see what you say AFTER the holidays!) You can watch more of the videos here, then head over to Jackie’s web site to buy some CDs!

Okay, I gave you your gift, now where’s mine? 🙂

Jackie using a “straight prop” to set up “Go to Hell”

Jackie Beat-“Go to Hell”

(***CIGNA response added below on 12/23***)How unfortunate it is that it takes the death of such a young individual, Nataline Sarkisyan, to get people to pull their heads out of the sand and realize how unfair and unjust the health care system is in the United States. We get Los Angeles television stations in my area and it goes without saying that this local, heartbreaking story has been topping all our newscasts. As horrible as it sounds to say, I am glad to see that this case and its dire results due to CIGNA’s horrific money-grubbing choices, is also getting the national (and international) attention it needs in order to garner action by those fed up with the constant stream of people dying much sooner than they need to–all in the name of insurance companies making a profit.

I blogged about Nataline’s passing shortly after hearing the news (including informational links and a video by her brother), but so much more information and responses are coming out, so I thought I’d create this blog entry to list them. I’m including in the California Nurses Association section below, a video they put together focusing on the fight on Nataline’s behalf on the day she died. The first video posted here is a CNN report. I’ll add more links and videos as I run across them.

Too late for transplant“-CNN

California Nurses Association (CNA) web site:

Real People DENIED Real Healthcare: Nataline Sarkisyan

CIGNA 12/21/07 statement-Press-Telegram

“Our deepest sympathies are with Nataline’s family. Their loss is immeasurable, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

“We deeply hope that the outpouring of concern, care and love that are being expressed for Nataline’s family help them at this time.”

What you “deeply hope” CIGNA, is that your callous disregard for human life exhibited in this case, and most assuredly countless others, does not come back to bite you in the ass. I, on the other hand, hope it most certainly does! Please allow me to take the first bite, on behalf of Nataline and all the others you have sent to an early grave.

Michael Moore web site:

December 22nd, 2007 4:19 pm

“Today I call upon the Los Angeles district attorney to investigate and consider bringing criminal homicide charges against CIGNA Health Care for their role in the death of Nataline Sarkisyan. If their decision was one of incompetence, then manslaughter charges should be filed. If it was a premeditated decision — where CIGNA knew in advance that Nataline would most likely die — then their corporate officers should be arrested and the full extent of the law brought to bear upon them.

“This is one more example why we not only need universal health care for all our citizens, but also to eliminate the concept of private, profit-driven ‘health care.’ Nearly every candidate running for president has a plan that leaves companies like CIGNA in charge. This must not happen and I call upon the democratic frontrunners to show some spine and say so.”

UCLA health care web site (Nataline had been a patient at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA) :

Everyone at UCLA Medical Center — the administration, physicians and staff — are profoundly saddened by the death of Nataline Sarkisyan, as we are by the death of any child in our care. Our hearts go out to the Sarkisyan family and to everyone touched by her life.

“In a Dec. 11 letter to Cigna, four doctors had appealed to the insurer to reconsider. They said patients in similar situations who undergo transplants have a six-month survival rate of about 65 percent.

The letter sent by the UCLA doctors questioned the company’s explanation that it does not cover experimental or unproven treatments, saying Nataline’s case was neither.

One of Nataline’s doctors, Robert Venick, declined to comment on her case. UCLA Medical Center staff refused to make her other doctors available for comment.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

***ADDED 12/24/07***

CIGNA defends actions over denial of transplant-CBS2.com

In a memo sent to Cigna employees today, Cigna President David Cordani and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Kang said the company consulted its own experts who doubted the effectiveness of the procedure.

“In this case, rather than going through our standard method of appeal, we went directly to not one, but two independent experts in the field who agreed that the procedure in question, given the patient’s particular circumstances, would not have been an effective or appropriate treatment,” the pair wrote in the memo.

I’m disgusted, saddened, frustrated, and heartbroken for the family and friends of 17-year-old, Northridge, CA resident, Nataline Sarkisyan. After what had to be the very definition of the ultimate emotional roller coaster day, tonight (12/20/07) family and friends of Nataline are grieving her passing. Earlier the same day, family, friends, and members of the California Nurses Association protested in front of CIGNA‘s Glendale offices. About ten minutes into the protest, while Nataline’s mother was speaking, she was notified that CIGNA was making an “exception” and reversing their refusal to allow Nataline the liver transplant doctors said she desperately needed; with a liver transplant (a donor had been found when Nataline was in better shape) her chances of survival were 65%, without it she had NO chance of survival. Sadly Nataline’s condition worsened that same evening and she died.

I am so sick of hearing about innocent people who have been faced with the misfortune of ill health and disease, DYING because bean-counters and pencil-pushers make life and death decisions that should ONLY be made by doctors! When, oh when, are people going to become fed up with hearing painful stories such as this one, and FINALLY take action to FORCE our government, our politicians, and the health care community to change things?! It can be done, folks, and if you don’t believe me I IMPLORE YOU to watch Michael Moore’s SiCKO, especially the bonus features which show how Oslo, Norway has done it. France has health care for it’s citizens, England has done it, why in the ever loving HELL isn’t the country which is supposedly the leader of the free world, able to do it for THEIR OWN CITIZENS?! Oh wait, we know the answer to that and yes you can hear the same sounds I hear right now: ka-ching, ka-ching. It’s all about the almighty dollar, people, all about the money.

Sorry if this post might not be very focused, but when I heard the news Thursday night that Nataline had passed I just had to come here to let the emotions I’m feeling somehow pour themselves out via my keyboard. To have witnessed on television Nataline’s family being told that CIGNA was going to allow the transplant, right in the middle of the protest, then to be truly shocked to have the news come on hours later to report that Nataline had passed…well, it’s just something that’s made me pretty emotional. I have to note that as I flipped channels to catch the story on the various Los Angeles stations, I can honestly say that this is one of the few times where you could tell that each and every reporter was obviously personally affected by the heartbreaking news they were sharing with the viewers.

Please, please, PLEASE do whatever you can to help change our unfair and broken health care system, my friends. No more people should be denied access to life-saving health care just so the HMOs can continue to make money hand over fist.

Media

Take Action

***Added***

  • I just found this video made by Nataline’s brother (who had recently donated bone marrow to her) which was posted on December 18th, 2007, two days prior to her death. What an obviously devoted brother she had!

Cigna Health Denies My 17 yr old sister’s Insurance Claim

For Immediate Release
December 21, 2007

RN’s Statement on Death of Nataline Sarkisyan: ‘CIGNA Should Have Listened to Her Doctors And Approved the Transplant a Week Ago’

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who tragically died last night just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry.

On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA’s denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan “does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services,” to which the doctors replied, “Nataline’s case is in fact none of the above.”

“So what happened between December 11, when CIGNA denied the transplant, and December 20 when they approved? A huge outpouring of protest and CIGNA’s public humiliation. Why didn’t they just listen to the medical professionals at the bedside in the first place?” asked Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center.

On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls to its offices across the country while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA – all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care.

CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome “a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders – and the way they do that is by denying care.”

“It is simply not possible to organize major protests every time a multi-billion corporation like CIGNA denies care that has been recommended by a physician,” DeMoro said. “Having insurance is not the same as receiving needed care. We need a fundamental change in our healthcare system that takes control away from the insurance giants and places it where it belongs – in the hands of the medical professionals, the patients, and their families.”

 

Unfortunately I only heard about “A Day Without a Bag(links below for free giveaway locations) just now on the KTLA news. (And no, “A Day Without a Bag” does NOT mean a day without ME! ;)) While advance notice for readers in the Los Angeles area (where today’s event is taking place) would have been ideal, I figured it’s better to get some information out a bit late and possibly reach at least a few folks, rather than not promote this exciting and important event at all. If nothing else this late posting will hopefully raise awareness of the growing movement toward abolishing disposable plastic bags, and of the harmful effects created by them on marine life, our resources, and our environment. Perhaps it might also persuade some of you to not only go a day without disposable bags in your own life, but to also consider creating a similar day community-wide in YOUR neck-of-the-woods…just a thought (hint-hint).

I bought reusable bags at Albertsons (grocery chain) about a year ago for about $1 each, and I have to say they are some of the strongest, sturdiest bags I have ever come across. Not only do I feel like I’m doing my part in cutting down on the waste plastic bags create, but I also get a small rebate each time I shop and use them (something like a nickel). My local Costco also offered appropriately “Costco size” (and we all know how big Costco size items are! ;)) bags in a bunch of either four or six, but sorry to say I don’t remember the cost since I didn’t purchase them at that time. IKEA is also selling their very large bags, too.

I think the only hard part about using reusable bags is actually remembering to take them into the store! Countless times I’ve left them at home after emptying them of their grocery store visit contents, so I have now taken to forcing myself to return them to the car the minute I’ve put the groceries in the fridge or cupboards. Proud to say that it usually works. 😉

Here’s some information about “A Day Without a Bag” on the Heal the Bay web site:

Our holiday gift to the environment! Join thousands of shoppers in L.A. County in giving up disposable bags in favor of reusable totes for 24 hours.

Read Heal the Bay’s Op Ed, “Paper or plastic — better yet, neither“, from last Friday’s L.A.Times

Los Angeles County residents use 6 billion plastic bags each year and recycle only 5% of that total. Instead, they become part of the plastic-dominated litter stream, putting added pressure on scarce landfill, fouling our public spaces, degrading already weakened watersheds and threatening marine life.

Help reduce plastic bag usage this holiday season — and year-round — with the A Day Without a Bag campaign!

1. BYOB
Show your support for A Day Without a Bag by shopping exclusively with reusable totes. Join us on Thursday, December 20th at a bag giveaway location or a participating retailer (see “In-Store Promotions“) to receive a free reusable bag.

If you miss the free giveaway, you can purchase reusable bags online (see “Buy Reusable Bags“). Then, make it a habit to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) when shopping anywhere, anytime!

2. Get Informed
Discover why we should make every day A Day Without a Bag. Come to one of our bag giveaway sites and find out how to reduce plastic bag consumption and adopt sustainable practices year-round, or learn more now (see “Learn More” sidebar at right).

While this video is geared toward a particular area of Australia, the first two minutes hold some very powerful universal images and statistics showing the damaging effects of plastic bags on our environment and wildlife. Please take a couple of minutes to watch it…thanks!

Would love to write a more in-depth blog entry on the fantastic Make It Right organization, but don’t seem to be able to find the time and am worried I’ll forget to post about it at all. I first heard about it a couple nights ago when Brad Pitt (founder of Make It Right) was the hour-long guest on Charlie Rose on PBS (clips/link to the interview are offered below). Here’s some information from the Make It Right web site that will help you understand their vision:

In December 2006, Brad Pitt convened a group of experts in New Orleans to brainstorm about building green affordable housing on a large scale to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Having spent time with community leaders and displaced residents determined to return home, Pitt realized that an opportunity existed to build houses that were not only stronger and healthier, but that had less impact on the environment.

Previously, Pitt sponsored an architecture competition organized by Global Green with the goal of generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. Several of those designs are currently under construction in the Lower 9th Ward and the project inspired him to expand his efforts.

After discussing the hurdles associated with rebuilding in a devastated area, the group determined that a large-scale redevelopment project focused on green affordable housing and incorporating innovative design was indeed possible.

The group settled on the goal of constructing 150 homes (one of the larger rebuilding projects in the city), with an emphasis on developing an affordable system that could be replicated.

To demonstrate replicability, Pitt determined to locate the project in the Lower 9th Ward, one of the most devastated areas of New Orleans, proving that safe homes could and should be rebuilt. Pitt hopes that this project would be a catalyst for recovery and redevelopment throughout the Lower 9th Ward and across the city of New Orleans.

Having listened to one former resident’s plea to help “make this right,” Pitt was inspired to name the project “Make It Right” (MIR).

While I’ve never been one of those folks to go ga-ga over Mr. Pitt (although he IS admittedly adorable!), I do have to say that after seeing the Charlie Rose interview I am incredibly impressed with Brad’s down-to-earth nature, the thought he puts into his answers, and his apparent genuine desire to truly improve the quality of life for others while at the same time respecting and bettering our environment. Count me in as someone who has now developed a healthy respect and admiration for Brad, and who also finds him even MORE adorable than before–beauty, brains, AND compassion! You are a fortunate lady, Angelina! 😉

Below are a couple of short videos clips of Brad on Charlie Rose, but for the interview in its entirety click here.

PART I-Brad Pitt on Charlie Rose-12/17/07

PART II-Brad Pitt on Charlie Rose-12/17/07

First off, CONGRATULATIONS to my San Diego Chargers (long-time Chargers fans like myself stake claim on the team, hence the “my”) on becoming the AFC West Division Champions! (insert crazy, pathetic dancing) Mind you, a 9-5 record is not where Chargers fans thought we would be at this point in the season, after coming off the incredible season we had last year, but we’ll take it. Our team has been through some tumultuous times this year, from the head coach change to most of the coaching staff changing as well, from Merriman’s suspension to Rivers’ hit-and-miss effective efforts, so to be able to somehow keep it all together and have more wins than losses is something worthy of a bit of pride.

Second, FOX 11 in Los Angeles you are officially dubbed the Scrooge of this holiday season by all Time-Warner subscribing Chargers fans in the Temecula Valley area (Southwest Riverside County…just northeast of San Diego County). For some absolutely ridiculous reason you opted to NOT show yesterday’s Chargers-v-Lions game and instead showed the Eagles-v-Cowboys game! ARGH, which definitely makes you worthy of being added to Santa’s naughty list for life!!! We were seriously in shock when we flipped on the FOX station (something I try hard to NOT do too often ;)) and didn’t see the Chargers game as we have all season on the various LA networks. Was bittersweet to see the constant positive updates online on NFL.com and realize we were missing such a high-scoring game. Trust me, Chargers fans deserve to see some fun after having endured some seriously disappointing times this season, yet FOX 11 decided to keep that fun away from those of us just outside San Diego County lines. Lumps of coal in your stockings, FOX 11, lumps of coal!

Here are some previous Chargers-related posts I’ve done. Fingers crossed that the good Chargers streak continues! Back to the pathetic, celebratory dancing. 😉

From ASPCA MySpace bulletin:

MUST-SEE TV: CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, “LYING DOWN WITH DOGS”
Don’t miss this very special episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Focusing on the brutal and illegal world of dog fighting, the episode was created in close consultation with two ASPCA experts considered leaders in their field—Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Initiatives, and Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Forensic Veterinarian and the country’s only “animal CSI.” The pair has assisted in the prosecution of several high-profile dog fighting and animal cruelty cases, including the recent Michael Vick case.

The episode will air tonight, December 13, from 9:00 P.M. to 10:00 PM, EST/PST on CBS. For more information on dog fighting, please visit ASPCA.org.

I’m in DIRE need of some happiness, so Will Ferrell to the rescue; well, Will in “Elf”. Have to say when I first saw Elf in the theater I was a bit disappointed, but that darn movie has totally grown on me. I’m not really sure why I didn’t dig it from the get-go, but quite often when something is so hyped up like that it’s bound to be a bit of a letdown. The clip I’m including below from Elf is when Buddy Elf discovers New York–hilarious! I’ve added other Elf clips in the VodPod to the left, and here is a nearly 8 minute video of Buddy Elf heading off to find his father in New York.

Another favorite holiday flick of mine, albeit more for Thanksgiving, is “Home for the Holidays“, with an OUTSTANDING cast (Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Durning, Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes, and more!) and tons of humor I think we can all relate to–at least in MY fairly dysfunctional family. 😉

In a short bit I’ll be off to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters at one of my new favorite venues, Anthology in San Diego, since the most awesome of radio stations (not that I listen that much anymore) KPRI is having a private listener gig there with BHTM. I saw Ozomatli there in August at another KPRI event and it was great, so I’m really looking forward to tonight being the same.

Another “happy moment” came today when my Chargers slugged it out with the Titans and pulled out a win in overtime. Quite a down-and-dirty win, but a win is a win, baby!

So despite life being on the incredibly sucky side for me the past few weeks, I guess there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for, yes? 🙂 Enjoy the videos below and in the VodPod, and have a great week!

Buddy discovers New York

“Home for the Holidays” trailer

“It’s Alright”-Big Head Todd and the Monsters
(My fave BHTM song. :))

“Boom Boom”-Big Head Todd and the Monsters
(Sooooo hope they play this shake-your-ass song tonight!)

Today’s email from the Human Rights Campaign:

 
  Take  action against hate crimes  
 

The hate crimes bill has been derailed.

But we’re not giving up.

We’ve made huge progress already, and we’ll work tirelessly to get this legislation through in 2008.

Dear *****,

As I write this, I am filled with both deep disappointment and gratitude. I am disappointed because our fight for a hate crimes bill has been derailed, but grateful for the historic advances that we were able to achieve this year.

As you all know, we have made momentous advancements this year by moving the federal hate crimes legislation the closest it has ever been to becoming law. For the first time ever, in one year we were able to pass the fully-inclusive legislation through both chambers of Congress – a truly historic feat.

If you recall, the Matthew Shepard Act first passed the House of Representatives back in May as a stand-alone piece of legislation. It then moved to the Senate, where it passed 60 to 39 in September as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) attached the Matthew Shepard Act to the Department of Defense Authorization bill because President Bush had announced that he would veto a free-standing hate crimes bill. By amending hate crimes to this larger bill, Senators Kennedy and Smith thought that we had a better chance of getting the president’s signature. After all, Bush would have to veto the entire piece of legislation – hate crimes AND programs for his war in Iraq – to reject hate crimes protections.

But in a frustrating move yesterday, during the very last legislative step – a conference committee working out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill – we received word that the Matthew Shepard Act would be dropped from the final version of the bill. The hate crimes veto threat issued by the White House and organized opposition by House Republican Leadership cost significant numbers of votes on the right. Iraq-related provisions, which many progressive Democrats opposed, cost votes on the left. Moderate Democrats, many of whom voted for the hate crimes bill in May, did not want to test the President’s veto threat and risk a delay in increased pay for military personnel. All of these factors resulted in insufficient votes to secure passage of the bill with the hate crimes provision.

HRC coordinated a major final push to protect this bill. 40,000 HRC activists responded to our call and wrote to Congress. We helped organize a coalition effort with 120 national and local organizations. We held 11th-hour meetings with lawmakers.

Despite the anger we all feel that we fell short so close to the finish line, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we did succeed in moving hate crimes legislation the closest it has ever been to hitting the President’s desk for signature. And rest assured, the Human Rights Campaign is not done fighting. We are not giving up on efforts to find another legislative vehicle, in the second half of this Congress, to move the Matthew Shepard Act. Yes, we made historic advancements, but we will not be satisfied until we get a President who will use his or her pen to enshrine into our federal law books that violence against the GLBT community will not be tolerated in this country.

We have been a leader in the fight for hate crimes legislation for over a decade, and we’re not about to let this setback deter us. We will not rest until these protections are law.

We also can’t lose track of the bigger picture for 2008. On top of working to advance this bill and the rest of our equality agenda, we are already mobilizing around the 2008 elections. We are investing major resources to:

  • Elect local pro-equality officials who will be tomorrow’s national leaders,
  • Expand our majority in Congress – so that we will have the votes we need to thwart roadblocks like this – and
  • Elect a leader in the White House who would NEVER veto a bill protecting Americans from hate crimes.

These are the moments when your support counts most. Together, we’ll find the right path to victory. We know it is there.

Warmly,
Joe Solmonese
Joe Solmonese
President

Today, December 1st, is recognized around the globe as World AIDS Day. With some crisis or another grabbing the news headlines, it is easy for the importance of AIDS research and funding to somehow be diminished, if not totally pushed aside. While we should all be concerned with this far more often than once a year, I suppose this once-a-year observance at least serves as a reminder that HIV/AIDS is a fight not yet won, one that needs our constant attention and concern, and one that can easily affect each and every one of us.

We are well into the third decade of a scourge that has expanded exponentially beyond a small specific group to almost every corner of the globe. Whilst in some areas, incidence may have turned, prevalence continues to rise and will do so for a long time- more young people will be infected, more orphans will occur.

Yet, today still 70% of infected people don’t have access to life saving therapies. Many still face stigma, economic deprivation and rejection because of their infection. Many still don’t have access to basic information or simple interventions that will reduce risk. This is not the time for complacency nor apathy. It is the time for compassionate leadership that recognises that the voiceless are often those who suffer most- who can they turn to if their leaders do not listen and heed their cries.

–Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M Tutu

Thanks to my friend Davi for reminding me of the following videos. The first video is of Elton John, Axl Rose, and Queen, from the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert to raise AIDS awareness. The second one, the 2001 Artists Against AIDS Worldwide’s All-Star remake of Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On”, is unfortunately just as relevant today as it was then.

ALL-STAR TRIBUTE LYRICS

“What’s Going On?”

Tell me
People dying
People crying
Lord help us

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Oh, brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
That’s right
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Oh my father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today
Barricades, can’t block our way
Don’t punish me with brutality

Talk to me
So you can see

Oh what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah what’s going on
Ahh what’s going on

What’s going on in a world filled with pain
Where’s the love for which we pray
What’s going on
When our children can’t play
Homeless can’t eat
There’s got to be a better way
What’s going on
When we politically blind
Can’t see the signs of endangered times
What’s going on

What’s goin’ on in the world today
I’d rather be dead than to turn my head away
We got this first world vision too
Comfy to lift up our hands in the air
And cry for a switch

Father, father
Father help us, come on
Everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Together we can all be strong
United we stand, divided we fall
Oh you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today
Barricades can’t block our way
Don’t punish me with brutality
Baby talk to me
So you can see

Yeah, what’s going on
Hey, what’s going on
Somebody tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you what’s goin’ on-uh

What’s going on ‘cross seas
Every minute a child dies by this disease
In record numbers indeed
Got momma’s crying out please
My baby hold on
My child ain’t done nothing wrong
Still I want to holler
Ask them why they don’t bother
Oh no, oh no
Make me turn to my father
And ask him why they all got a trapped soul

I can feel what was bothering Marvin
Why his words forever remain
Dealing with these modern day problems
‘Cause of ignorance surrounding me and my constituents
Too many infected
Too many lives diminishing
Nobody say Protestants, Jews, Blacks, and Whites, Latinos and Asians
Pray together
Less fight
We better unite
As genocide chemical war
And the rich and the poor
Know that God delivers a cure

It’s a shame our reality is devastating
People praying for a cure
Dying while they’re waiting
Ask the Lord for the comfort and strength to face it
All the kids with dreams
Won’t get the chance to chase it
Makes me sad
Think about the lives they would’ve had
Think about the orphan babies got no moms and dads
How can we sit back and not try to make it right
We gotta come together
We gotta fight for life

Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
We got human beings using humans for a bomb
But everyone wanna live
Don’t nobody really want to die
You feeling me right
I can’t be watching people die (die)
And watching people cry
Let me break it down for a minute
If there’s enough room here for you and me
There’s plenty of room for some humanity

Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)
Somebody tell me what’s going on
(What’s going on)

Not sure how many of you caught “My Night at the Grammys” on CBS Friday night (rub it in that you all probably have much more exciting social lives on a Friday night than I have right now! ;)), but I watched it and have to say I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the show. Only bummer is that they rarely showed the entire performance being showcased, but they showed enough to get me motivated to seek the videos out on YouTube. (Man, I sure do love YouTube! :))

The show gave me some serious flashbacks (feeling old since I remember actually watching Michael Jackson in ’88, Babs and Neil in ’81, Marvin Gaye in ’83!), and instilled in me an even deeper appreciation for the immense talent of the artists on the show. What I wouldn’t give to have an ounce of the energy Beyonce had in her duet with Prince; the ability to belt out a tune like Melissa and Joss did in their duet; or the coordination to come even close to ANY of the moves Michael made look so easy. Ain’t gonna happen!

Watching Michael’s performance of “Man In The Mirror” reminded me of how much I love the lyrics of the song and how much they’ll always ring true. It also brought back vivid memories of (gulp–gonna show my age here) his “Off the Wall” tour (white gloved hand and high water pants) being the FIRST concert I ever attended–with my high school boyfriend AND his entire family at the San Diego Sports Arena (not sure how I survived THAT adventure). The Sports Arena had the WORST sound on earth, and more than likely still does. Another concert at that venue was brought to mind when Tina Turner performed “What’s Love Got To Do With It” , since I’d seen her open for Lionel Richie (stop laughing at me…I also saw The Commodores a few years earlier!) there when she was launching her big comeback. Prince’s performance reminded me of the ridiculous scalper prices we paid for tickets to see him in Long Beach for the Purple Rain tour.  At least I think that was the tour…all I remember is the seats sucking and us having to walk around the arena all night to get better views.  Was a nice view of his, um, uh, ‘lower portion’ in the see-through type pants he was wearing. 😉

I was made aware of Joss Stone and Mary J. Blige, thanks to the Grammys, and what powerhouses they both are. (I kind of feel like Mary’s “No More Drama” should be my theme song for this stage of my life. ;)) And who wasn’t impressed with not only Melissa’s singing that night with Joss, but the fact that she was so strong despite dealing with cancer–what a role model.

One of the other fun parts of the show was being reminded of some of the wild fashion crazes we’ve gone through over the years by way of what the performers were wearing, but also via the audience shots; shoulder pads, big hair, huge earrings! It was also nice to see performers on stage or in the audience, who are no longer with us.

Here are a few of my favorites from the Top 25 shown on “My Night At the Grammys”…enjoy!

Mary J. Blige “No More Drama” Grammys 2002

Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone “Cry Baby” and “Piece of My Heart” Grammys 2005

Prince and Beyonce “Hits Medley” Grammys 2004

Michael Jackson “Man In The Mirror” Grammys 1988

 

“Man In The Mirror”
I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

 

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

 

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

 

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

 

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

 

(Chorus repeats)

Sniffin’ out the info

Photobucket

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