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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utahns press progressive agenda

By Ryan Shelton

Julie Rose told her ailing husband she would join the fight to change the health care system.

However, her husband wasn’t able to see her work — he died shortly after their conversation.

Rose, whose story about the death of her husband was recounted in the movie “SiCKO,” spoke to a crowd after a screening of the film at the U on Friday.

“I promised my husband on his deathbed that I wouldn’t give up his fight,” said Rose, a universal health care proponent and activist. “I believe this is my purpose?if we stick together, we can change the system. Why wait for it to happen when we can change it now?”

The event was part of the Progressive Agenda 2008, a conference that included speakers from around the world and focused on issues with the war in Iraq, global warming and health care reform.

Utah Jobs With Justice, along with The Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice and We the People for Peace and Justice, hosted the two-day event that included panel discussions and workshops aimed at motivating people through education and public discourse.

“We want to inform the public on issues we feel are being ignored,” said Elizabeth Patterson, one of the event’s organizers. “We hope to reignite discussion and encourage people to take action instead of just sitting around watching.”

Conference organizers said they believe the war in Iraq, U.S. health care shortfalls and global warming are all interconnected because the same group of American policy makers enforce the status quo and refuse to change.

“The environmental struggle is the war struggle,” said Larry Lohmann, an environmental activist and author from England. “The war struggle is the health care struggles. The fight can’t be separated.”

However, several people expressed their frustration about the relatively small number of local activists attending rallies and conferences in Utah.

“It’s the same 15 people at every event,” said Kyle Wulle, one of the activists calling for action at the conference. “It’s hard to organize people in Utah because the community is so conservative. A lot of people sign up on e-mail lists and seem eager to get involved, and then they never show up at rallies.”

The conference also featured the screening of “Meeting Resistance,” a documentary about the insurgency in Iraq that looks at the dilemma from the insurgent’s point of view. “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s award-winning documentary about global warming, and “SiCKO,” the Michael Moore film about health care in the western world, were also screened at the conference.

Whatever their standpoint, Utahns need to continue speaking out, said Morgan Chaney, a sophomore in communication.

“We’ve got to take advantage of out first amendment rights,” she said. “I think this conference was a big step for our community.”

[email protected]

Lennie Mahler

Julie Pierce, whose husband Tracy died of renal cell carcinoma, speaks to an audience in the OSH Auditorium about their battle with insurance companies.

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