Archive for October, 2010

CNN iReport’s First #BeAHero Challenge

Thanks to CNN iReport for its first “challenge” in an upcoming month of great ideas.  Today’s challenge was to Be a Hero for charities, whose donations plunged last year by 11 percent.  iReport urged us to donate at least $5 to a good cause by 3 pm EST.   Accepting the challenge, which is tracked using the #BeAHero hashtag on Twitter, I chose to donate to two of my favorite charities: www.Water.org and www.FeedingAmerica.org

 Many of us in the United States can’t even imagine not having fresh drinking water at our immediate disposal, but that’s a sad fact of life for 1 BILLION people wordwide.  2.5 BILLION don’t have access to a toilet.  And yet YOU can provide water for life to one person for $25.  Take a second to think to yourself what costs $25 in your life (a dinner? a tank of gas for a small car?), and what that same amount of money could do to make life truly better for someone unfortunate.  [All statistics courtesy of www.Water.org]

My wife has a passion for eliminating the problem of people going hungry worldwide.  This month, I read the alarming statistic that four people die from starvation every second (here and here).  More conservative estimates range from one person dying from hunger and malnutrition every two to four seconds, and an August report stated that every five seconds, a child dies from hunger. 

Here in the United States, Feeding America (which used to be named “America’s Second Harvest”) serves nearly 40 million people who are at serious risk of starvation.  This organization makes a difference in all 50 states, so please think about the 14 million children who can be helped in the US and donate.  Better yet, donate AND volunteer your time at a local food bank, which I’ve done and enjoyed.

So take the CNN iReport challenge with me.  I look forward to whatever challenge is suggested next.

[UPDATE: I was chosen as one of CNN iReport’s “Everyday Heroes!” So grateful for the opportunity and the challenge.]

Tides Foundation and Glenn Beck’s Advertisers

I recently learned that Drummond Pike, the founder of the Tides Foundation, chose to write a letter to the directors of numerous Fox News advertisers.  He did this because of a now-infamous incident over the summer which directly threatened his safety and the safety of his staff.  More about that incident, and Mr. Pike’s letter itself, is available here, herehere, and here.

I applaud Mr. Pike’s letter, as the gravity of this situation demanded it.  So let me quickly discuss what I am doing about this tonight, and let me urge like-minded people to join me.

I signed the below petition directed at all current Fox News advertisers. Nearly 100,000 people have signed.

http://www.democrats.com/boycott-fox-news-advertisers

I am writing my own letter to the same corporations to which Mr. Pike addressed his, namely:

JP Morgan Chase
GEICO
Zurich Financial
Chrysler
Direct Holdings Americas
GlaxoSmithKline
AstraZeneca
Lilly Corporate Center
BP
The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.

I have direct, day-to-day financial dealings with four of those listed companies, and I can assure you that I will be watching any further developments closely. I believe one month is a fair timeframe to allow the corporations to respond to Mr. Pike’s important letter.

Next, a word about “free speech.” When I visited the Tides website earlier tonight, I discovered something I considered beyond the pale. Multiple supporters of Glenn Beck had come to the site specifically to post comments embracing the fallacy that Tides / Mr. Pike were consipiring to rob Mr. Beck of his right to free speech. I immediately noted that we saw this same argument earlier this year from Dr. Laura Schlessinger, after she used her platform to say “nigger” 11 times, all while scapegoating her own call-in guest.

Dr. Schlessinger and Mr. Beck have the same right to free speech as every American. However, neither they nor the companies that pay them are protected from verbal and financial protest by individuals and boards of corporations.

Although I urge the supporters of these multimillionaire professional radicals to remove the blinders from their eyes, I’m sure it will be of little use. Mr. Beck and Dr. Schlessinger are paid on the basis of viewership as it translates into advertising. They are paid to incite fear and anger.

Imagining that Mr. Beck didn’t have a worldwide media platform on a network that is granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission, he might still find himself on metaphorical thin ice using his rhetoric on a New York street corner. Most of us know that the Supreme Court ruled that shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater is not protected speech. Mr. Beck has a history of wishing for the death of specific politicians. He compared the President of the United States to a commercial jet pilot who was “purposely” crashing a plane into the trees to exterminate us all.

One can find hundreds of examples of this type of despicable, disgusting speech on Glenn Beck’s program. If it were brought before the current conservatively activist Supreme Court, it might very well be considered fully legal. But undeniably legal is our right to shout back. We can demand that our consumer dollars not be funneled back into financing this speech on a worldwide platform. We can demand as shareholders that our companies hold the highest ethical standards in those they support with advertising dollars.

And we will.

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