Altruism Today

Nancy Reagan's Role in the Disastrous War on Drugs

March 8th, 2016  |  Source: HuffPo

Nancy Reagan, the former first lady and widow of President Ronald Reagan died on Sunday in California at age 94. Front pages around the world are remembering her life. The stories all talk about the powerful love between Nancy and Ronald and her impactful role as first lady. When highlighting her advocacy, one of the first things that often pops up is her starring role in President Reagan's embrace and amplification of the war on drugs. Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign became her signature issue and a defining legacy for both her and her husband.

Having spent the last 16 years working at the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that believes the war on drugs is a failure and drug use should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal issue, Nancy and Ronald Reagan bring up a lot of emotions for me. While the press often talk about their strength, love and optimism, I see two people who are most responsible for our country's mass incarceration and destruction of millions of people's lives.

Richard Nixon officially launched the drug war in 1971, but his war was modest compared to Reagan's war. Reagan's presidency marked the start of a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration, largely thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law violations increased from 50,000 in 1980 to more than 400,000 by 1997.

Who can forget Nancy Reagan sitting in classrooms and all over our television sets with her simplistic "Just Say No" campaign? It was during this time that the DARE programs were implemented in schools across the country, despite their lack of effectiveness. Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, who believed that "casual drug users should be taken out and shot," founded the DARE program, which was quickly adopted nationwide.

The Reagans' "war at home" was not only ineffective, it was disastrous. Upon taking office in 1981, Reagan shifted drug control resources from health agencies to the Department of Justice. It was under Reagan's guidance in 1986 that the worst of the federal mandatory minimum drug laws were passed into law. These laws included the crack sentencing guidelines that meant that someone possessing just 5 grams (two sugar packets) worth of crack received an automatic 5 years in prison. These laws filled our prisons for decades with low-level drug users.

The irony is that Ronald Reagan's own daughter developed a cocaine problem, but I don't imagine the Reagans pushed for her to serve 5 years in a cage for her addiction. No, it was African Americans, who despite using drugs at similar rates as whites, were targeted by law enforcement and incarcerated at grossly disproportionate rates.

Ronald Reagan's harsh drug policies not only led to exploding prisons, they blocked expansion of syringe exchange programs and other harm reduction policies that could have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from contracting HIV and dying from AIDS.

While Ronald and Nancy Reagan were demonizing people who use drugs at home, their foreign policy objectives included funding the Contras in Nicaragua who played a role in flooding Los Angeles and other cities in the United States with crack cocaine.

While the press attention being given to Nancy's passing obviously mentions Nancy's passion around young people and drugs, the coverage often doesn't do enough to contextualize the Reagans' radical escalation of the drug war. We don't hear enough about the exploding prison populations that continue today to bankrupt our state budgets. We don't hear enough about the war on science and public health that led to so many people contracting HIV - even though the evidence was and still is clear that providing access to syringes does not increase drug use and helps save lives. And we don't hear enough about the militarization of our country, from cops in the schools to SWAT teams routinely breaking down doors.

While Nancy and Ronald Reagan are no longer with us physically, the public hysteria that they whipped up and the draconian, zero-tolerance drug policies that were implemented in the 1980s, are still alive and kicking today.

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)


Wages and Culture: LinkedIn CEO Donates $14 Million to Employees

March 7th, 2016  |  Source: NPQ

When LinkedIn’s compensation committee recently presented Jeff Weiner with his annual stock package valued at $14M, he refused it; asking them to put it back into the stock pool for employees. Weiner’s move is likely designed to communicate fairness and boost morale among LinkedIn employees who have felt the impact of the company’s stock price plunge last month, which eliminated $11 billion in market value.

“We are the same company we were the day before our earnings announcement,” Weiner said during a speech after the plunge. “I’m the same CEO I was the day before our earnings announcement. You’re the same team you were the day before our earnings announcement.”

This gesture echoes that of Jack Dorsey, CEO of fellow tech giant Twitter, who donated $200 million in stock to his employees after a round of massive layoffs at the company. At Gravity Payments, CEO Dan Price opted to reduce his own salary from $1 million to $70,000, vowing to pay no employee less than that.

The premise behind such actions is to motivate through setting an environment that shares both risk and reward, and it is generally accompanies by more transparency. The hoped-for outcome of sharing of information and profits is a more engaged and committed workforce.

Weiner and Dorsey mark new action by CEOs who are taking the issue of executive compensation and pay ratios into their own hands. While executive pay has been in the spotlight since the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill in 2010, it was just last year that the SEC passed a rule enforcing one of Dodd-Frank’s key provisions, requiring public corporations to reveal the ratio of CEO pay to that of the median worker.

Read on here: http://nonprofitquarterly.org/2016/03/07/linkedin-ceo-donates-14-million-to-employees-wages-and-culture/


Major Donor Demands CEO Resignation at Wounded Warriors

March 4th, 2016  |  Source: NPQ

Source: CBS News  

Fred and Dianne Kane have been dubbed “VIP donors” to the Wounded Warrior Project. They run a charity effort called Tee-Off-for-a Cause, which has raised $325,000 for WWP through golf tournaments. In their outrage at recent reports of wasteful spending at the nonprofit, they have dedicated themselves to a new cause: demanding reform at the organization.

In 2014, for instance, the group’s spending on conferences and staff meetings was at $26 million, a startling increase from less than $2 million in 2010. “Hearing that there was this waste of money, donor dollars that should have been going to servicemen and women that were injured, and that it was spent on their having a good time—it’s a real disappointment,” Dianne Kane told CBS News.

So Fred called the organization, demanding that the CEO, Steve Nardizzi, be fired. (According to CBS News, he is not the only large donor to do so.) But since sources close to the organization say the board signs off on all major spending decisions and also stays at five-star hotels on the organization’s dime, the Kanes may want to think about demanding some changes at that level as well.

The couple also cancelled this year’s charity event and started a petition on Change.org, which reads:

I started a charity in 2009 to support Wounded Warrior Project. Having raised $325,000 for Wounded Warrior Project since 2009, the organization has allegedly misspent donated funds. I call for an open and public, independent audit and full accountability to answer allegations brought forward by the media following investigations and news reports. The WWP has done fantastic work, but I feel they have lost focus and responsibility to donors. Most of the individual donations come from those over 65 years of age. CEO Steve Nardizzi, to this date, has not faced investigative reporters nor appeared in public to answer any of the allegations. WWP claims full transparency and since they operate as a nonprofit, they owe a full, clear and honest accounting to the American public.

I believe in the great work WWP does, but feel that there may be serious governance issues and a lack of control in spending on non-veteran related programs, including, but not limited to: lobbying groups, travel, entertainment and employee “perks.”

This is an excellent example of stakeholder organizing; the petition already has 550 signatures.

“Where is this guy? You lead from the front, good or bad, you don’t hide,” Fred Kane said. “I don’t understand how an organization that has many veterans who value honor and service and chain of command can be led by a guy like that.”

“I feel like I am representing all these people who have donated over the years, all these seniors over 65 sending $19 a month, all these people on fixed incomes,” said Mr. Kane. “If no one is going to talk about this right now and it has to be me, then it has to be me.”


Treating cancer with cannabis? Here is what the experts say.

March 3rd, 2016  |  Source: Greenflowermedia.com

Does cannabis kill cancer cells? A lot of people refuse to believe it; others have seen it happen.

And even the people who have experienced it, couldn’t believe their eyes at first.

“Honestly, right in the beginning, it seemed too good to be true,” says Constance Finley, who first started working with an oncologist in 2012 to treat stage-4 cancer patients with Constance Therapeutics cannabis oil.

“I could not believe that [the successful results] we saw were caused from cannabis oil,” Finley says of the cancer patients she first worked with. “I remember thinking why haven’t we been turning to this plant all this time?”

Finley’s question is exactly right, especially since cancer has been so burdensome in the United States. Statistics show that over 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, while almost 600,000 will lose their lives to the disease.

And here’s a real eye-opener: almost 40 percent of us will likely be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes.

So why has cannabis been continuously buried as a treatment option for cancer?

The question is especially hurtful once you realize that studies pointing to cannabis as a legitimate treatment for cancer go all the way back to the 1970s.

Read on here: http://greenflowermedia.com/article/treating-cancer-with-cannabis-2016-3/


How Can I Teach When My Students Are Packing Guns?

March 2nd, 2016  |  Source: PS Magazine

Texas' new concealed-carry campus law will create an atmosphere of classroom standoff—and make it impossible to have certain conversations.

It is difficult and painful to imagine how the learning environment in my course will change in the fall, when students at the University of Texas–Austin will have the right to attend class with a concealed gun. That these students must meet certain criteria, including an age restriction (21) and state permitting, offers little comfort or security.

Many in the university faculty, like me, harbor serious anxieties over what is known as the "campus carry" law—and its implications for teaching, learning, and personal safety in the classroom.

Just imagine this scenario: It is the first day of class and I, the professor, walk into the classroom, throw my bag on the table; the bag sags open, showing the glimmer of a concealed, holstered gun. How will this make my students feel as I pass out my syllabus and begin discussing my expectations for the course? Will students feel that this is a space designated for learning? Will they feel intimidated? Will they find it a space for open dialogue and discussion? Will students feel welcome and eager to establish a relationship with me? Will they worry about what might happen in the classroom?

In my teacher-training classes, we spend time in the beginning of every semester discussing rules for engagement. We talk about what is necessary for students to feel comfortable talking openly and critically about difficult topics. The most frequently expressed concern among students is their need to feel "safe" to share their ideas freely without feeling judged or intimidated by other students, or by the instructor.

Of this I have no doubt: Campus carry legislation will severely limit my ability to create an optimal learning environment for my students.

Students also want to know these respectfully shared views will not lead to retaliation. As a black female instructor, I know that when a student can bring a gun into class, it creates a barrier to personal safety that no classroom rules for engagement can negotiate. This makes me feel unsafe from the onset. I imagine that for most of my students this will also be the case.

Of course, questions of fear for emotional or physical safety are not what I want on my students' minds while they're taking the course. These fears are certainly not what I want to be thinking about when I'm teaching. Our energies would be better spent discussing what it means to teach, and to teach well.

Read on here: http://www.psmag.com/politics-and-law/the-kids-are-all-armed?utm_source=Pacific%20Standard%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=58c499eeba-daily-rss-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a4fd1bcb7e-58c499eeba-80552053


Nonprofit Cybersecurity: Hospital Pays Ransom to Hackers

February 23rd, 2016  |  Source: NPQ

Headlines this month of the 434-bed Los Angeles hospital whose operations were compromised by hackers should grab our attention. For ten days, the for-profit Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California lost control of its computer system to a specialized kind of viral attack known as ransomware, which can lock up a computer’s hardware or encrypt files in order to hold a victim hostage. A ransom is then demanded in exchange for release of the system, giving the attack its name.

Allen Stefanek, President and CEO of Hollywood Presbyterian, told the story in a statement.

On the evening of February 5th, our staff noticed issues accessing the hospital’s computer network. Our IT department began an immediate investigation and determined we had been subject to a malware attack. The malware locked access to certain computer systems and prevented us from sharing communications electronically. Law enforcement was immediately notified. Computer experts immediately began assisting us in determining the outside source of the issue and bringing our systems back online.

Administrators were faced with determining the most effective way to continue major operations while negotiating with criminals demanding a payoff of 40 bitcoins—about $17,000 U.S. dollars at the time—to give their system back. While stories differ, it appears that Hollywood Presbyterian paid off hackers prior to calling authorities because they believed it was the “quickest and most efficient way to restore [hospital] systems.”


The long deserved/needed criticism of philanthrocapitalism has begun

December 2nd, 2015  |  Source: Philanthropy Daily

While media outlets are scrutinizing politicians this time of year, it has not been the case for Gates Foundation, but the scrutiny of philanthrocapitalistic endeavors has begun.

"IT’S ELECTION SEASON, and teams of journalists are avidly tracking the flow of big money into political campaigns. Sifting financial records and filings, they are laying bare the activities of Super PACs, 501(c)(4)s, and campaign committees. There’s a parallel realm of big-money activity, however, that receives much less attention: philanthropy. With the explosion of the billionaire class, the number of deep-pocketed donors and foundations has mushroomed as well. Many of the new benefactors are Wall Street and Silicon Valley moguls who are seeking to apply to social and economic problems the same zest for innovation and entrepreneurship that they showed in their business ventures.

"The creed of these new philanthropists was brashly outlined in June by Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster and founding president of Facebook, in an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal under the headline, “Philanthropy for Hackers.” Traditional philanthropy, he declared, is “a strange and alien world made up of largely antiquated institutions.” These old-timers have long favored “safe” gifts to well-established institutions, “resulting in a never-ending competition to name buildings at major universities, medical centers, performing arts centers and other such public places.” The new breed, by contrast, has a hacker mindset: It is anti-establishment, believes in “radical transparency,” is given to problem solving, and has an ability to identify weaknesses in long-established systems and to disrupt them. With this “hacker elite” now seeking to upend philanthropy, Parker exhorted them to resist the urge to institutionalize and instead treat philanthropy as “a series of calculated risks” and “big bets.” In a bid to put these principles into practice, Parker launched a foundation bearing his name, with an endowment of $600 million and a commitment to finding new ways to fight allergies, malaria, and cancer."--Mike Massing, The Intercept


Calling all student in search of scholarships

November 19th, 2015  |  Source: Good Call Scholarship

The GoodCall Scholarship Search Engine is one of the largest databases of scholarships on the web.

Unlike the others, GoodCall Scholarship Engine requires no personal information and it's free to use.

You can check it out here: http://www.goodcall.com/scholarships/search


Foundations Stepping in to Help Cash-Strapped Cities

November 16th, 2015  |  Source: Philanthropy.com

Facing budget cuts and shrinking tax bases, a growing number of cities are turning to private giving to pay for infrastructure, public safety, and other functions traditionally covered by taxpayers, Bloomberg writes.

Detroit is getting hundreds of millions of dollars in foundation support as it recovers from bankruptcy, and economically struggling towns such as Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc., and Madison, Ala., are relying on private funds for economic-development projects and police equipment. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is paying a third of the $12-million cost to replace the lead-contaminated water system in its Flint, Mich., home.

"Government gridlock has left many communities looking for solutions to some of the big challenges they face," said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. "The limitations of political leaders to address the pressing needs of communities have increased pressure on foundations to assume roles that government has historically taken."

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy interview with Ryan Friedrichs, the Detroit city government's liaison to foundation.
https://philanthropy.com/article/Foundations-Stepping-in-to/234211


Stories of those Homeless Who Don’t Fit the “Housing First” Model

October 28th, 2015  |  Source: NPQ

For those who are concerned about homelessness in the United States, it is worthwhile read the “street papers” that are produced and sold by homeless persons in many parts of the country.

The perspectives to be gleaned are frequently revealing, as in the October 7th print edition of Washington, D.C.’s Street Sense. Its cover story by editorial intern Alexandra Pamias asks about those who don’t get served in Housing First programs in Washington—“who get left behind,” according to the headline.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness defines Housing First as:

An approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness…

While Housing First can be used in both short- and long-term interventions, the approach is closely tied to permanent supportive housing and…to rapid re-housing as well.

In Washington, D.C., Housing First has been a part of the city government’s response to homelessness since it was first launched during the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty. Current mayor Muriel Bowser has populated her cabinet with experts who bring extensive Housing First experience to the table, notably Department of Human Services director Laura Zeilinger, whose official bio credits her as having “designed and implemented” the District’s Housing First initiative, and Department of Housing and Community Development director Polly Donaldson, whose prior work at the Transitional Housing Corporation included placing homeless families in transitional housing and permanent Housing First units. In DHCD’s RFP for affordable housing funds issued in August, the commitment to the Housing First model was evident in a requirement that five percent of the housing units in a funded project must be set aside as permanent supportive housing (PSH) units which would be made available following a Housing First model “in which clients don’t have to meet prerequisites before accessing housing and services…[which is] a recognized best practice in combatting homelessness.”

That is a solid expression of DHCD’s intention regarding the prioritization of its use of local affordable housing trust fund dollars, but the challenge is always one of making the model work. Pamias talked with Beau Stiles, the program coordinator for the Georgetown Ministry Center, about the homeless people he meets at his weekly gatherings for guests at the homeless drop-in facility.

Describing a story about one of his guests who believed that Stiles was trying to kill him through sorcery, Stiles averred that one major challenge is how to provide services to homeless people who might be suffering from a mental disorder. The executive director of the Georgetown Ministry Center, Gunther Stern, explained the challenge as “anosognosia”:

It is a syndrome associated with neurological disorders. About half of people with mental illness also have some degree of anosognosia, which is the inability to understand that they have a problem. So they might be yelling and howling at the wind but they don’t perceive that they have a mental illness.

In its Winter Plan for getting homeless people off the streets during hypothermia season, the D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness has expanded street outreach services to the homeless accompanied by the District’s commitment to Housing First. Stern says there will still be people who fall through the cracks of the policy; potentially as many as half of the homeless community will refuse Housing First assistance because of distrust of the system or other reasons, even if there is widespread adoption of the Housing First model.

“The people that I work with are mostly missed by [Housing First] for two different reasons,” Stern told Street Sense. “One is that they don’t get hit because they are too low functioning. Or the second is that they are too low functioning that they are unsuccessful once they receive housing.”




About Value News Network

Value is the only commonality in an increasingly complex, challenging and interdependent world.
Laurance Allen: Editor + Publisher

Connect with Us