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scan0034 (Photo taken near the end of my McCareer at my old office within McDonald’s Oak Brook, IL global home office.) Fifteen years ago tomorrow, I retired, at the very cusp of the Millennium, vowing I’d worked enough in one century, and wouldn’t make that mistake in another.  In early 1985, I’d joined McDonald’s as head of corporate communications, a position I would hold for 15 years. At my retirement party, in a take-off on Ernest Hemingway, I’d noted that I’d spent much of the 1970’s with McDonald’s national public relations agency, Golin/Harris, which I referred to as my golden salad days, then from the mid-80s through the 90s at McDonald’s corporate office, as the hearty main course of my career, and then in the new 21st century began the savory dessert course of so-called retirement. And like most desserts, this final course, over the last 15 years, has been sweet and savory. Thanks to all who have been along on all, or even part, of my continuing journey. Cheers for the New Year!

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I wonder if increasing incidents of violence by and against police are another symptom of emerging class struggle in American society, brought on by dramatically increasing economic bipolarity, which itself is inculcated by lack of family values and education and reduced middle class opportunity on the one hand, and increasing economic and political leverage and social insularity by the highly educated and wealthy on the other?

Have things really changed for the have-nots? The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median age of front-line fast food workers, earning just above the minimum wage, is now more than 29, unlike the teenagers employed in such low level jobs in the 1950s through 90s. And 50% of those workers are now on public assistance, vs. 25% in the general population, indicating the inadequacy of such low wages. We see police increasingly armed to the teeth. The numbers of the underemployed and those not even seeking employment is soaring.

Meanwhile, we see the dissolution of conventional political parties on the right and left, as so-called representative government seeks solid bases of social support among a fractured and politically disillusioned populace. Five percent of the population controls 95 percent of the wealth generated, and for the common man and woman, the costs of education for youth and retirement for the aged soar, with diminished resources to pay for the empowerment of education and dignity in old age.

All of this social stress is further exacerbated by the costs of funding unending military adventures, while American domestic infrastructure grows old and unreliable.

The solidarity and survival of the American experiment in democratic government, “of and by the people,” is imperiled, as evidenced by such growing symptoms and consequences of class struggle, and further unwinding of our culture is in store, unless the people awaken to the values of a society with mutual respect, common purpose and honor among its citizenry.

Post-tornado support campaign wins Ebeling PRize at Bradley University

December 18, 2014

Empowered Media, a team of Bradley University public relations students, has been awarded the Ebeling PRize for the top senior public relations campaign completed this semester.

With the support of the Washington, Illinois community and its leaders, Empowered Media partnered with Five Points Washington, the Washington Chamber of Commerce, and Washington Township United Fund, to host the kickoff event to the first ever Washington Strong week. The November event, “Cooking Up Community,” was a celebration of solidarity for residents and businesses affected by the November 2013 tornado that devastated that community. Local businesses set up booths at the event and Washington residents came together to socialize and participate in many activities.

The Empowered Media team includes seniors Samantha Pallini of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Erika Kubik of St. Charles, Missouri, Taylor Stephens of Edina, Minnesota, and Anna Wilks of Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Ebeling PR-ize™ was conceived by Bradley alumnus Chuck Ebeling and faculty member Dr. Ron Koperski, and is a competitive program among Bradley’s senior public relations students in their capstone course. It was first awarded in 2004.Students in the capstone course form “agency” teams and are responsible for planning and implementing a real, coordinated public relations campaign on behalf of a local business and a compatible community service organization. Campaign submissions and judging criteria are based on the nationally recognized Silver Anvil Award competition administered by the Public Relations Society of America.

Ebeling served as a public affairs officer in the Army and later held public relations positions with several major agencies and national corporations before joining McDonald’s Corporation, where he rose to the position of chief spokesman and vice president of corporate communications. A 1966 graduate of Bradley, he was inducted into the University’s Centurion Society in October, 2011,  in recognition of his achievements in business, public life, and his profession.P1020523

In general, I applaud the torture report and the spirit of transparency demonstrated by self-questioning U.S,. motives and results of such horrid actions by the CIA and their contractors.. But…

1. Critics seem to have a point when they question why the report does not contain a “defense” of the actions taken by the CIA, et al. That looks like partisan politics, which is Dick Cheney’s challenge. Why didn’t the report include testimony or evidence countering the charges?

2. When one opponent pointed out that, scurrilous tough the U.S. torture was, that if it were applied as a standard universally, the U.S. actions would actually raise the level of treatment of such prisoners by many other nations. We know that is true. Why was that perspective absent in the report?

3. Most un-nerving to me is the question: If the level of mistreatment of prisoners by US intelligence agencies is so venal, then why is not the killing and maiming of militants and innocents by armed forces, in direct and clandestine combat, including by drones and bombing, not equally or more greatly condemned?

Rollin Stone CoverRolling Stone magazine has got into hot water, as being widely reported today, over bad, poorly researched  reporting of a supposed gang rape at a college fraternity. I personally experienced such a case of Rolling Stone sloppy reporting some years back, when the magazine attacked the journalism school of one of the nation’s top colleges. They took quotes from the informal Q&A session following a guest lecture I gave on campus totally out of context to support the false premise of their reporter, who had it out for the college. Their story was widely picked up by other major national media, such as was the recent rape story they broke, and that Rolling Stone story could have had major reputational consequences for my organization, as the recent story did for college fraternities. The Rolling Stone’s bad reporting nearly cost my job, and only the intercession of the chairman of my board, who was a frequent skeptic of news stories, saved my position. Yet that badly reported Rolling Stone story has followed me for many years.

Rolling Stone has done some break-through reporting over the years, but their standards of cross-checking and journalistic integrity have often gone wanting, and other more diligent news media and magazine readership are wise to look more deeply into accusations made by Rolling Stone before taking their stories to the bank.  .

2e9fba9c_242259The NBC news tonight reported that the population of giraffes has dropped by 40% in just 10 years, to about 80,000. When I took this photo of giraffes out on the great Masai Mara plain of Kenya about  10 years ago, and wrote about our safari it in an essay titled “The Masai Mara Hood Ornament,” I reported that wildlife in East Africa was then down about 60% since the 70s. Why? Climate change, human development, poaching, legal hunting. If the global human population had dropped as much over the past 10 years, we would have seen almost 3 billion people die. While the loss of so many of these magnificent animals is shocking in itself, perhaps their devastation makes them canaries in a coal mine:for mankind.

Everyone is taking about the new film, Intersteller, about a dying earth and the search for another planet for our species. A recent episode of The Newsroom dramatized the announcement, over a year ago, that carbon levels in the atmosphere and their consequences for mankind may be irreversible. And meanwhile we spend more and more on war and see renewal of primitive tribalism all around the globe, despite the internet and global communication.

I’d like to think there will still be giraffes, and people around to watch such wonderful animals, in the next century. What might we do to increase the probability of that?.  .

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