Category Archives: Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Update: Generalissimo Franco* Is Still Dead, And Snopes Is Still An Unethical Website

Snopes.com's favorite in "The Wizard of Oz," and I don't mean Ray Bolger...

Snopes.com’s favorite in “The Wizard of Oz,” and I don’t mean Ray Bolger…

The July 31 Ethics Alarms post detailing how snopes.com, usually referred to as the “fact and rumor check website,” has quietly morphed into just another progressive Democrat online spin-merchant nailed these frauds based on their tortured spin to protect Hillary Clinton and her election prospects from legitimate criticism and, in the case of Clinton’s decade-old defense of a child rapist, illegitimate criticism based on genuine facts that Snopes denied anyway.

That is…don’t ask me why…the most read, linked and shared Ethics Alarms post ever. It even was the target of some of Hillary’s paid online trolls, whom I recognized when I realized they were writing from the same (false) talking points memo. Just to be clear, there is no longer any legitimate dispute that Snopes can’t be trusted, is subject to partisan bias, and is thus 100% useless as a “fact and rumor check website,” since their writers warp facts and debunk the truth when they feel like it.

I ended the July pots on this depressing note for me, because I once used and recommended the site with confidence:

That’s the end for Snopes. Even one example of bias-fed misrepresentation ends any justifiable trust readers can have that the site is fair, objective and trustworthy. Snopes has proven that it has a political and partisan agenda, and that it is willing to mislead and deceive its readers to advance it.

Can it recover? Maybe, but not without…

…Getting out of the political fact-checking business.

…Firing Dan Evon, who used the misleading flag photos, as well as Kim LaCapria.

…Confessing its betrayal of trust and capitulation to partisan bias, apologizing, and taking remedial measures.

With all the misinformation on the web, a trustworthy web site like Snopes used to be is essential. Unfortunately, a site that is the purveyor of falsity cannot also be the antidote for it.

I’ll miss Snopes, but until it acknowledges its ethics breach and convinces me that the site’s days of spinning and lying were a short-lived aberration, I won’t be using it again.

Two developments since this was written are worth noting. The weird one is that the site has been prominently cited as an authority more often since that post than before it. NBC’s FBI action drama “Blind Spot” had a character settle an argument by referring to Snopes, a first, and increasing numbers of news reports and op-eds have cited Snopes as well. Obviously the scriptwriters, reporters and pundits don’t read “Ethics Alarms,” but this is pure negligence. Snopes can’t be trusted. It’s as simple as that.

I have received from readers more examples of Snopes Spinning For Democrats, but this one, flagged by the Daily Caller, is worthy of this brief return to the issue. Continue reading

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From The “When Ethics Alarms Ring” Files: The Saga Of The Kind Repo Man

car-paid-off

Jim Ford is a repo man, the co-owner of Illini Recovery Inc., a company in Southern Illinois. Pat and Stanford Kipping were in arrears in the monthly payments for their car, a 1998 Buick, and he was engaged to repossess it.

The past due amount  was about $350, and the payment amount was $95 a month. The Kippings are elderly retirees, and when he met with them in their home, his task became more and more unpalatable. “I had to get the hell out of there,” he recalled. He was feeling more guilty by the second, and was especially bothered by their explanation that health care costs, especially rising prescription drug expenses, caused them to fall behind on their payments. Ford could see himself in that same dilemma some day.

The Golden Rule can be a bitch.

He felt so badly about taking the car that he stopped to phone a bank official only a block  or so after seizing the car, and asked if he could just pay off the whole loan on the couple’s behalf. That, he learned, would be a red tape nightmare. Instead, Ford followed a friend’s advice and  launched an online fundraising effort in his own name. That attracted support from Ford’s friends and business associates, and in about 24 hours, the appeal had raised the necessary amount, and more.

The Kippings got their car returned and completely paid for, along with an oil change, detailing, and repairs. They also received an extra $1,000, and the week of Thanksgiving, the gift of a turkey from Jim Ford and his friends. When Ford arrived to deliver the car, family members,neighbors and a reporter from a local paper were waiting to be part of the moment.

“They were really really happy,” Ford said. “I don’t know. I was just glad I could help somebody out.”

When ethics alarms ring, good things  happen.

 

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Ethics Hero: Bill Lee, “The Spaceman,” An Integrity Exemplar…And I Really Need One About Now

bill-lee

If you weren’t a baseball fan in Boston during the Sixties and Seventies you may never have heard of Bill Lee, but if you were, he was an unforgettable and unique source of pleasure. Lee joined the Red Sox in 1969 as a junk-balling left-hander with a hippie streak not previously seen in the sport.  He was prone to say things like, “I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I get this guy out.”  The college students around Boston loved him, the old school baseball management types not so much. But he was good, and in major league baseball, good will always trump weird.

Lee was an excellent a reliever for four years before becoming a Sox starter in 1973, then won 17 games that season and the next two as well. The success was secondary for his often-stoned fans than his non-conformist attitude and determination to be himself at all costs. He was well-read, well-educated, opinionated and funny, and at various points in his Red Sox career, wore a gas mask, a coonskin cap and a propeller-topped beanie onto the field. Once, when the umpires refused to halt play in a downpour, Lee came out of the dugout wearing rain gear and carried an umbrella to the mound. This and other exploits caused him to be nicknamed “The Spaceman.”

Twice, once with the Red Sox and later with the Montreal Expos, Lee went on strike, refusing to play to protest the elimination of one of his friends from his team’s roster. The last time he did it, it ended his career.

Lee made up his own rules and principles, so he’s a different kind of Ethics Hero.  Above all else, however, the Spaceman has integrity down to a life-style. When he was at his zenith with the Red Sox, he often said that baseball was a still just a game to him, that it was what he loved to do, and that he didn’t care about the money. He would play baseball for whatever was available, he said, or just for the love of it. My father, who didn’t get Bill Lee, thought he was grandstanding.

He wasn’t. Continue reading

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Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #2

...and that mission is "Make sure children are raised to be afraid of Republicans."

…and that mission is “Make sure children are raised to be afraid of Republicans.”

[This is the second of four posts exposing recent screeds and missives that demonstrate  various degrees and kinds of ethics rot spreading from the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck. The first is here.]

II. The Evanston/North Shore YWCA

Karen Singer, the CEO of the Evanston/North Shore (Chicago) YWCA sent a post-election letter that read in part,

Dear Friends,

We walk through our doors at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore each morning determined to make our communities more just and equitable, determined to work for women’s empowerment and equality, for a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body, for freedom from violence, and for people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultures and religions to feel that they are embraced, have opportunity, are respected and that their lives are valued.

Yesterday morning, we walked through our doors and felt that instead of a glass ceiling shattering, the floor had dropped out from under us. We sat and grieved together for what seemed to be a national affirmation of everything that is antithetical to what we aspire to and hold as our most cherished values.

We are all searching for an explanation; a way to get our heads around something we are struggling to understand. How can the climate and rhetoric of hate, racism, violence against women, and fear have been given its ultimate validation?

Mia, a staff member who answers our domestic violence crisis line, wrote something yesterday that especially resonated with us:

“(My son) stayed up with me until 12:30 am. He went to bed knowing it was probably over, but saying that maybe it wasn’t. There was a tiny bit of hope in his heart. The Cubs taught him about late night miracles last week. Still, I could hear the despair in his voice when he said, ‘I don’t want to go to school tomorrow, Mom.’”

“In the morning I came downstairs immediately after hearing him get up. I hugged him long and hard, with tears in my eyes, tears that are still in my eyes as I type this. I said, ‘I love you.’ And then I said, ‘You have to go to school today. You have to go to school for all those girls and Latinos and blacks and gays and Muslims at your school who were just told by America that they are not valued. You have to show up for them.’” Continue reading

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Election Extra! This News Story Illustrates Why You Can’t Trust Hillary Clinton: Corruption! Conflict Of Interest! Lies! Cover-Up! And Of Course, The Mainsteam News Media Doesn’t Want You To Understand It, Which Is Part Of The Story Itself

[ I apologize: this is long. I also think it is important: I know this may be a tipping point for me. I hope you’ll read it, and share it.]

Yesterday, I saw this news item from Reuters, one of the few respectable news sources on the U.S. election that has not been distorting and withholding information to tip public opinion one way or the other. I tracked it all day to see whether the mainstream news media would highlight, or even mention it.

Significantly, the information involved came in a post-workday news dump on a Friday, a technique that has become a favorite of the Obama administration, and has been adopted by its party too.  If you missed it, in other words, that was the intention.

I’ll bold the most critical points:

Reuters:

The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, and sought to meet the former U.S. president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta’s account, was published last month by WikiLeaks.

Clinton signed an ethics agreement governing her family’s globe-straddling foundation in order to become secretary of state in 2009. The agreement was designed to increase transparency to avoid appearances that U.S. foreign policy could be swayed by wealthy donors.

If a new foreign government wished to donate or if an existing foreign-government donor, such as Qatar, wanted to “increase materially” its support of ongoing programs, Clinton promised that the State Department’s ethics official would be notified and given a chance to raise any concerns.

Clinton Foundation officials last month declined to confirm the Qatar donation. In response to additional questions, a foundation spokesman, Brian Cookstra, this week said that it accepted the $1 million gift from Qatar, but this did not amount to a “material increase” in the Gulf country’s support for the charity. Cookstra declined to say whether Qatari officials received their requested meeting with Bill Clinton.

Officials at Qatar’s embassy in Washington and in its Council of Ministers in the capital, Doha, declined to discuss the donation.

The State Department has said it has no record of the foundation submitting the Qatar gift for review, and that it was incumbent on the foundation to notify the department about donations that needed attention. A department spokeswoman did not respond to additional questions about the donation.

According to the foundation’s website, which lists donors in broad categories by cumulative amounts donated, Qatar’s government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years.

The Clinton Foundation has said it would no longer accept money from foreign governments if Clinton is elected president and would spin off those programs that are dependent on foreign governments.

“MATERIAL” INCREASE

Foundation officials told Reuters last year that they did not always comply with central provisions of the agreement with President Barack Obama’s administration, blaming oversights in some cases.(reut.rs/2fkHPCh)

At least eight other countries besides Qatar gave new or increased funding to the foundation, in most cases to fund its health project, without the State Department being informed, according to foundation and agency records. They include Algeria, which gave for the first time in 2010, and the United Kingdom, which nearly tripled its support for the foundation’s health project to $11.2 million between 2009 and 2012.

Foundation officials have said some of those donations, including Algeria, were oversights and should have been flagged, while others, such as the UK increase, did not qualify as material increases.

The foundation has declined to describe what sort of increase in funding by a foreign government would have triggered notification of the State Department for review. Cookstra said the agreement was designed to “allow foreign funding for critical Clinton Foundation programs” to continue without disruption.

The State Department said it has no record of being asked by the foundation to review any increases in support by a foreign government.Asked whether Qatar was funding a specific program at the foundation, Cookstra said the country supported the organization’s “overall humanitarian work.”

“Qatar continued supporting Clinton Foundation at equal or lower levels” compared with the country’s pre-2009 support, he said. He declined to say if Qatar gave any money during the first three years of Clinton’s four-year term at the State Department, or what its support before 2009 amounted to.

In another email released by WikiLeaks, a former Clinton Foundation fundraiser said he raised more than $21 million in connection with Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday in 2011.

Spokesmen for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Bill Clinton did not respond to emailed questions about the donation.

Now let’s get this out of the way up front: the import and significance of the facts in this story were covered up…by Clinton, by her Foundation, by State, and by the news media.This story was buried in October by the Donald Trump “pussy-grabbing” video, and the news media focused the public’s attention on little else. Continue reading

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Don’t Feel Too Bad, Americans: Ethics Alarms Aren’t Ringing In Canada, North Korea Or Japan, Either

It’s an International Ethics Dunce parade!

donald-trump-humane-society

1. Ontario, Canada

The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society in Ontario thought it would be really clever to use the Donald Trump phrase that many believe disqualify him to be President in an ad to adopt kitty-cats. It featured a photo of Trump and said, “You don’t have to be a star to grab a pussy … cat.”

Amazing. Not one person in the chain of custody of this—I would say obviously, but when so many people miss it, I guess it’s not—offensive ad had an ethics alarm sound.  Nobody had the sense, prudence or guts to say,

“Uh, guys? Hello? You do realize that this is using a phrase describing sexual assault while alluding to the one who used it to describe sexual assault? You do realize that “pussy” alluding to female genitalia is vulgar and uncivil, right? No? Here, let me explain it to you…or hwo about this: there is no way this won’t spark criticism. Is that what you want?”

Sure enough,  the ad promoting cat adoptions this week for $50, was taken down shortly after it appeared this week.

The society offered a pathetic apology. Melanie Coulter, executive director of the humane society, “explained” it was an attempt to make light of the U.S election campaign, though it also “made light” of sexual assault, contemptuous attitudes toward women,  and obscene rhetoric.

“We are obviously sorry if people are offended by the ad — that wasn’t our attempt in the least,” Coulter said. “Our attempt was to find homes for cats that need them.” She also added that the shelter took in more than a hundred cats in the last week.

For the record, the rationalizations here are…

3. Consequentialism, or  “It Worked Out for the Best”

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”

It also suggests that I need to add “We meant well” to the list as a sub-rationalization to #13.

****

contest-winner

2. Kuroishi, Japan

Continue reading

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Ethics Heroes: North Carolina Democrats

gop-firebombing

Someone firebombed a Republican Party office in North Carolina over the weekend, and added some graffiti telling “Nazi Republicans” to leave town. Police are investigating; I don’t know why, since Donald Trump, responsible and fair as ever, already announced that the Clinton campaign did it.

trump-tweet-ncInspired by a tweet from University of North Carolina’s School of Information Science’s Zeynep Tufekci, David Weinberger of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Technology launched a campaign on GoFundMe to rebuild the ruined office. He wrote on the fund’s page,
Continue reading

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