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I can almost not contain my rage at American Airlines! First they screwed up my reservation, which was for a first class round trip from O’Hare to LaGuardia, using miles to upgrade. The result was that they would not let me board the flight I was reserved on, although they admitted they had messed up the reservation. then they scheduled me out on a plane in coach, that was cancelled then on another flight on coach that was late. as a result, I missed my reservation to visit the 9/11 Memorial for the first time.

They also managed to lose my bag, never to be found, so I spent three days and nights in NYC in the clothes I traveled in, despite meetings, dinners, lunches and a Carnegie Hall concert for which I should have been properly dressed.

And then refused 75% of my loss claim for the luggage and its content, after a three-month wait, saying they would not pay for any items valued at over $100 without receipts. Who keeps receipts for clothes over a year old?

All this despite I’ve never had a claim against American before and done hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate and personal business with the airline over decades.

I hate American Airlines, and invite you to as well.

When you see talent, education and compassion come together in young people, the world seems like it has a chance. That was the feeling that several hundred students, faculty and friends at the Loyola University, Chicago School of Communications shared last night, when I had the honor of presenting the Ebeling PR-ize for excellence in cause-related communications to several outstanding student teams, for the 7th year.

The winning team, of the 11 groups competing for the 2013 PR-ize, created the campaign, “Make the Connection. Paint a Brighter Future” innovating social media and creative collateral materials and expanded outreach through art stores in support of an art therapy program that benefits inner city at-risk students.

Honorable mentions went to teams that developed communications campaigns to benefit Chicago Canine Rescue and a program to aid teachers and community organizations to integrate music into the curriculum.

Here are opening thoughts I shared with the students last night:

There are never enough opportunities to celebrate successes in life, and for all of us here tonight, this is one such opportunity. Mahatma Gandhi, if I may be so bold to invoke his name, said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

This is an occasion when we celebrate what has been done for the community by several student groups, and what they have communicated to others to assist these not-for-profit organizations.  Thanks to their individual skills, their professional teamwork, and bolstered by the communications strategies and technologies they have studied here at Loyola, they have made a positive difference.

Today we also celebrate Earth Day, when we take notice of an environment that still sustains our lives, despite many challenges. It’s an environment that sustains our health and physical freedoms as human beings. Whether we are running in the race of our lives, or just cheering on others from the sidelines, we are one people on one earth, and to some extent, what affects each of us affects us all. The events of the past week certainly underline that.

So let me tie this together by observing that there are people watching and learning from what you think, what you say and what you do. The efforts of all the student teams here tonight point toward the reasons that we can remain hopeful.

And what do we think about their efforts? We think they and their results are terrific. So, to paraphrase Gandhi, what they have done and said, and what we all think about them, are in harmony, and we are happy about that. Very happy, indeed.

The archaic structure of the US. senate worked against the will of the vast majority of the American people yesterday when the Senate rejected legislation that would have required minimal background checks for purchasing a gun.

A 21st century democracy requires more of a Senate and Federal government than what we are getting.

Is it time for a new American government, one that is a 21st century evolution of our original American Revolution?

We need a government that reflects the popular vote, not the archaic Electoral College. We need a government with a Senate that reflects the population distribution in our country. We need a House of Representatives that is not gerrymandered to serve partisan political interests. We need a government where elections are federally funded and that rejects being purchased by special interests. We need term limits for Congress, to restore civilian rule of our country.

Our government is not doing its job. Both parties are failures. It’s time — we need a new government, a Constitutional convention, a re-invention of America.

The American news media have a blind eye, a lack of perspective, when they report on many things, including the Boston marathon bombing, the current gun issues before Congress, the U.S. record of foreign military adventures and international relations. There are too many exceptions to American exceptionalism. So perhaps its takes a foreigner, like Australian journalist Bill Hoffman, to see things as they are and hold America accountable. Here’s an excerpt from an article he wrote today, forwarded by a friend who also sees the big picture:

“THE Boston bombing was despicable by any measure, but whether it was the act of external terrorism or internal malcontent it should have surprised nobody.

“The language particularly of the right of US politics has become so loose and unrestrained that its capacity to incite some to extreme actions should never be underestimated.

“Equally a nation that has waged continuous war and constantly been an occupier of foreign countries for the past decade can hardly expect to be immune to bite-back.

“If 1% of the coverage afforded yesterday’s blast had been given inside the United States to the impact on individual civilians of its own military activity there may be a greater appreciation of the potential consequences.

“The United States considers itself the world’s greatest democracy. By some measures that may be true.

“But the reality of its economic system renders many of its citizens powerless.

“Trapped in poverty, the poor gamble with their lives as foot soldiers for military adventurism promoted by the arms industry and energy companies, simply for the right to decent healthcare and education.

“The US spends $711 billion or 4.7% of its GDP on its military, more than $90 billion of which funds its presence in Afghanistan and other conflicts.

“That represents 41% of military spending globally.

“Yet 15% of the American population or 46.2 million people live in poverty, including 21.9% of those less than 18 years of age.

“Limited access to quality education coupled with exposure to media and politicians who show no restraint, in a nation where there is a constitutional right to own weapons with the capacity to wipe out 26 schoolchildren in the blink of an eye, creates a potent mix.

Nobody should be unconcerned about North Korea’s nuclear capacity or religious jihadists. But we should be no less troubled by Iran’s ambitions than by the hypocrisy that ignores the truth about Israel’s arsenal.”

On Morning Joe today, someone suggested we should celebrate Congress, which is apparently getting together on background checks applicable to gun show and gun shop weapon purchases. I guess we are so disillusioned with our Congress, that any little progress at all is cause for celebration. BS. What little Congress has the potential to do to stem gun violence they have proven largely incapable of (biG surprise). What happened to assault gun sale prohibitions, and restrictions on large magazines?

Even if our impotent Congress did everything possible legislatively, it would hardly make a dent in the gun violence issue. Until private ownership of assault guns, large magazines, automatic weapons, and pistols (except small caliber target pistols) are restricted to the police and military, gun violence will continue substantially unabated.

The 2nd amendment calls for “well-regulated militias” to be allowed to be armed. That means the military. Is that so hard to understand? Someone said to me yesterday, “do I think knives should be restricted, too?” No. Guns offer the opportunity for remote killing, and can be wielded with vastly greater efficiency and effect than knives, or bows and arrows. That’s why guns were invented. So let’s get real — guns extend and increase our human ability to damage others, exponentially.

Yes, people deserve to be able to hunt with guns, and defend themselves, but they don’t have to be armed to the teeth with military-type and concealed weapons to do so. People, and even Congress, know this, and our collective failure to act on this knowledge could be the death of us, and not just philosophically.

I’ve been reading on Jefferson and his interpretation of French political issues in the late 1700’s. I particular, I was struck with a few lines in Jon Meacham’s biography where Jon writes, “Debt ridden, France faced a supreme test. In the mid-1780s, partly because of its spending on the American revolution, the Bourbon government of Louis XVI was in a long-term financial crisis, exacerbated by widespread hunger and by anger over the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. Jefferson was shocked…” Sounds something like a description of the USA of today — wracked with the debt of two unfunded wars, widespread unemployment and anger over growing disparity between the rich and poor.

Given the discredited U.S. Congress, a relatively ineffective executive branch and a Supreme Court barely hanging on to its credibility, I wonder how secure our own republic is today, and what will be written about our American political evolution — 200 years from now.

Radio%20Shack%20CT-301%20(3) Cell phones are celebrating their 40th anniversary today. While today there are some 5 billion in use worldwide, in 1987, when I got my first one, a Radio Shack “brick” like the one pictured, there were at best a million in use. My company wouldn’t get me one (I was responsible for corporate communications for McDonald’s), so I bought mine at Radio Shack for $1499, plus a few hundred dollars for accessories, such as a roof-top antenna for my company car. I recall that my wife, Vicki, would not walk with me in downtown Chicago if I was using the cell phone, as she thought it looked pretentious. I do recall using it after a press conference at the Ford Museum in Detroit. All the media people were on land line phones calling in their stories in the press room, and I stepped out into a patio and used my cell. As I looked back into the press room, several reporters were staring out the window in wonder at this revolutionary communications tool. A few years later, all the officers and directors in the communications department had company phones installed. I had been the first with a cell, just as I had become the first company executive outside the information services department to have a personal computer at my desk in 1985. That had required an exemption from the U.S. McDonald’s president. Up to that point, only secretaries were authorized to have personal computers. In the early 90s, I became the first company executive, other than the treasurer, to have a Bloomberg terminal at my desk, allowing 24/7 monitoring of news and market activity. The then-enormous fee for the terminal (around $12G/month) had to be authorized by McDonald’s CEO. Using the Bloomberg tool, we were sometimes able to counter the effect on our stock price of news events perceived as impacting the company from around the world, on a real-time basis, justifying its cost many times over. While I admit I’ve enjoyed the novelty of being an early adopter of new technologies, I’ve found that their strategic use often provided a beneficial business edge.

April 2013

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