Stage & Theatre
Where’s the Outcry Over Reviving TV News Censorship, Ex-NBC Exec Asks? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Stage & Theatre
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 14:30
Hard-Won First-Amendment Freedom is Again in Bureaucratic Crosshairs, Lawyer Says

While recent protests over proposed legislation addressing media entertainment piracy were loud and widespread, a veteran TV executive says the public seems unaware of an even greater threat to our free speech and a free press.

“People voiced concern about whether SOPA and PIPA (the House and Senate piracy bills) would limit free speech on the Internet. But the resurrection of television’s old Fairness Doctrine, so government could again edit and censor news is a far more ominous threat,” says Corydon B. Dunham, former 25-year NBC-TV executive and author of Government Control of News: A Constitutional Challenge (www.freespeech.authorsxpress.com).

“The Federal Communications Commission has drafted a new policy for government control of news.  And even though a special study last year recommended that such a censorship policy be scrapped, it’s still pending, with the potential for action. Frankly, I’m surprised there is no outcry or debate about this political threat to distort news and speech and suppress them.”

The FCC’s proposed new Localism, Balance and Diversity Doctrine mirrors many aspects of the long-dead Fairness Doctrine, he says. That doctrine was revoked in 1987 when the FCC and the courts found that it had suppressed news, chilled speech, imposed censorship, prevented criticism of the administration then in office, and created an atmosphere of “timidity and fear.”

“The new localism doctrine is very similar.” Dunham says. “It would force television stations to provide government ‘localism’ in news production and coverage – as well as revise news reports to comply with government dictates on news balance and viewpoint diversity. Failure to comply could mean loss of the station license to broadcast.

“It may sound good to some people, but in the past, government investigations and regulation enforcement deterred news broadcasts about public and political issues. to keep their broadcast licenses, stations had to conform their news and political reports to what they believed FCC commissioners would approve or revise news reports to what the commissioners did approve.

“The FCC itself finally revoked that doctrine as against the public interest. Since the FCC is planning to transfer to the internet the broadcast spectrum now used by local TV, news websites ultimately could fall under the new Internet rules.”

Here are some highlights of the old doctrine and the new one:

• The Fairness Doctrine ruled TV news broadcasters from 1949 to 1987. Believing that the communication power of this, at the time, new medium concentrated great power in few hands, the government mandated that broadcast stations provide what the FCC would decide and dictate as  appropriate “contrasting view” coverage.

• Under the Localism Doctrine, enforcement would not only be the job of the FCC, but also of a local board added at each station to monitor programming, including news. the members of that board would be required to recommend against a station’s license renewal if  they thought station programming news was not complying with this new FCC  policy on localism, balance and diversity.

• Under localism rules, a three-vote majority of five politically appointed FCC commissioners at a central government agency would make local news judgments. They would override independent, local TV reporters and editors to impose government agency views on what should be reported and how.

“This new policy, if activated, would directly target news and speech on television and enable an administration to use news coverage to manipulate and influence public opinion about important public and political issues,” Dunham says. “The effect would inevitably be something quite different from independent news.”

That isn’t speculation, Dunham notes. It’s history.

About Corydon B. Dunham

Corydon B. Dunham is a Harvard Law School graduate. His Government Control of News study was initiated at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Smithsonian Institute, and expanded and developed for the Corydon B. Dunham Fellowship for the First Amendment at Harvard Law School and the Dunham Open Forum for First Amendment Values at Bowdoin College. Dunham was an executive at NBC from 1965 to 1990. He oversaw legal and government matters and broadcast standards. He was on the board of directors of the National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Corporate Counsel Association, and American Arbitration Association among other posts.

 
Charlie Brown Returns to TLP’s Stage PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Stage & Theatre
Written by Melissa Parsons   
Monday, 06 August 2012 14:33

Mount Carroll, IL-The Magic Owl Children’s Theatre at Timber Lake Playhouse is presenting the classic musical for kids of all ages, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. The show, staged by TLP Artistic Director James Beaudry, enjoyed a successful week-long run earlier in the summer and returns August 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th at 11 a.m. All tickets are $6 and the show runs about an hour.

Cast Shot of Charlie Brown.jpg

Charles Schultz’s beloved Peanuts characters were a mainstay of American comics and television for half a century, and they continue to entertain us in reruns today. Featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, Sally and Schroeder, the stage production is full of the joyous wonder, good humor and naive wisdom of these characters that resonate with both children and adults. The musical, based on the original comic strips, was written by Clark Gesner and began its life as a record album in 1966. A year later, the stage adaptation opened in New York City, where it ran for over four years.

The cast includes six performers from TLP’s resident acting company. Charlie Brown is played by Tim Wessel, who thrilled audiences as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys & Dolls. Anne-Marie Trabolsi, praised for her comedic deadpan as Urleen in Footloose, is Sally Brown, Charlie’s sister. Henry McGinniss (Ren in Footloose) is Schroeder. Zak Jacobs, known for his tremendous skills as a dancer, takes on Linus. Lucy is played by Hayley Gribble, who was unforgettable as Adelaide in Guys & Dolls. Joe Capstick, Nathan Detroit to Gribble’s Adelaide and currently starring as the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret, plays the lovable Snoopy and serves as choreographer for the production.

Tickets are available by calling the box office at 815-244-2035 during regular business hours, 11 a.m. through 6 p.m. daily. They may also be purchased online www.timberlakeplayhouse.org. Timber Lake Playhouse, located at 8215 Black Oak Road in Mount Carroll, IL is the state’s longest-running professional summer theatre.

Timber Lake Playhouse, What’s Your Story?

This program is partially supported by a grant for the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Production Sponsors are Kunes Country Auto Group and Compliance Signs.

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Why is White-Collar Crime on the Rise? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Stage & Theatre
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 06 August 2012 08:07
COO Advocates Values-in-Action Courses for All Students

Barclays, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan – it seems every time we turn around, another financial giant is accused of lying, cheating and stealing.

It’s not your imagination, says Rakesh Malhotra, a longtime COO who has worked in Asia, East Europe and United States and led cross-cultural diverse teams.

“White-collar crime convictions in the United States alone have increased 17.8 percent in the last five years alone,” he says. “Last year, the Securities Exchange Commission filed a record 735 enforcement actions.”

And it’s not just hedge fund operators and money traders. White-collar crimes include identity theft, cheating on taxes, health-care fraud – crimes as readily committed by employees at the local big-box store as suits in penthouse offices.

“The problem is one of values,” says Malhotra, author of Adventures of Tornado Kid: Whirling Back Home Towards Timeless Values (www.FiveGlobalValues.com). “I have worked in several countries, recruiting, hiring, training and retaining employees. I found that in every culture, the same core values play a key role in the success of both employees and the corporation.

“Unfortunately, they are not taught in school – not in grade school or in most business schools. While we would benefit from having values taught at all age levels, for now they are learned mostly from parents, mentors, inspiring teachers and others who shape young lives.”

It’s as important for the business to have what Malhotra has identified as five essential global values as it is for the employees, he says.

“The business has to show that these ethics are implemented and acted upon. Otherwise, the employee with values, the one instructed to, say, lie about a product, will feel secure about reporting such conduct without being fired.”

What are these values and how can they be taught?

• Responsibility: There is nothing more fundamental to being an adult in our society than accountability. Parents can create cause-and-effect circumstances, such as letting a teen borrow the car provided they put gas in it. Breaking such a pact though, because of a bad grade in school, creates a mixed message. When children learn responsibility, they know that happiness comes from doing the right thing.

• Compassion: It’s not just a term for being nice; compassion is a form of intelligence – an empathetic ability to see a situation through another’s eyes and to feel what another person feels. When adults are compassionate, they reach out to help others because they can feel others’ pain – and the relief and gratitude of help, sympathy or encouragement.

• Integrity: Integrity is the glue that holds together all of the values. When given an option to stray from our values, such as lying for the sake of convenience, integrity is there to hold us accountable.

• Peace: Our ability to manage conflicts amicably is a direct result of a peaceful mind and attitude. Those who value peace view anger, jealousy and hostility as the barriers to communication that they are. In all settings, business and domestic, conflicts will arise – it is inevitable. We must work through these peacefully if we are to move forward.

• Love: You must love what you do, passionately. Do your work and your organization in some way contribute to the welfare of people? That is the reason for your passion. With love, you contribute to the greater good and feel gratified.

About Rakesh Malhotra

Rakesh Malhotra has worked in, lived in or traveled to more than 40 countries. During this time, he studied human behavior in relation to core values as a means hire, promote and manage effectively. He has focused on what influences performance and what makes some employees perform at a higher level than others. Malhotra holds a master’s in Public Administration and several diplomas in business education.

 
revisionist history on tax increases, economic success PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Stage & Theatre
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:50

Floor Statement of Sen. Chuck Grassley

Revisionist History on Tax Increases, Economic Success

Delivered Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012

 

Over the past few years, my colleagues on the other side have come to the floor repeatedly to present a revisionist story regarding the fiscal history of the last two decades.  On several occasions, I have come to the floor to refute this history.  Yet, again and again, the other side continues to present the same distorted facts, including just last week.

 

The general misguided argument is that all the economic and fiscal success of the 1990s is thanks to the Clinton tax increases, and the 2001 and 2003 bipartisan tax relief is responsible for all our economic and fiscal ills.

 

Neither of these claims is supported by the facts or a basic understanding of economics.

 

Let me begin with the Clinton tax increase.  Many on the other side of the aisle argue that Clinton tax increases are proof that tax increases will not harm our economy today.

 

They frequently ask, “If our economy grew in the 1990s with higher marginal tax rates, how can it be bad to raise marginal taxes to these former levels?”  Engrained in this argument is the assertion that tax hikes can actually be good for our economy.

 

This assertion fails to take into account the numerous economic factors that occurred alongside the Clinton tax increases. The fact is the economy grew, not because of the 1993 tax increases, but despite them.

 

The economy of the mid-1990s is a result of economic conditions that we may never see again.

 

It was a time of great economic expansion due, in large part, to the advent of the internet economy.  The internet spawned new technologies and created efficiencies in our economy that have never been matched.   In turn, these new technologies and efficiencies spurred startup businesses and new industries.

 

And, many seem to forget the huge Y2K fear that gripped the nation, causing billions and billions of dollars in government spending that helped prop up what became the infamous internet bubble that blew up on all of us.  Nevertheless, before the bubble burst, these factors led to historically low unemployment and high workforce participation.

 

Claiming this was due to the Clinton tax increase is equal to Vice President Gore’s claim that he invented the internet.

 

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle would be hard-pressed to find many economic studies indicating tax increases are stimulative.  The focus of economic research in this area is not about whether tax increases are harmful or beneficial to the economy.  Rather, the focus is on the degree to which tax increases are harmful.

 

Admittedly, there are wide variations in the views of economists on the responsiveness of individuals and businesses to taxes.  However, even studies by economists who can hardly be labeled as conservative have concluded that tax increases have a significant negative effect on the economy.

 

For instance, a 2007 study by Christina Romer, President Obama’s former chief economist, found that “tax increases are highly contractionary” and “have very large effects on output.”

 

In fact, this study found that a tax increase of one percent of Gross Domestic Product could lower real GDP by as much as 3 percent.

 

Another likely contributor to the growth of the 1990s was the peace dividend we reaped from the end of the Cold War.  We have Ronald Reagan’s stare down with the Soviet Union to thank for this.

 

The end of the Cold War allowed for a reduction in government spending as a percent of GDP.  Coupled with priorities pushed by the Republican-led Congress to reach a balanced budget and reform welfare, spending as a percent of GDP dropped to its lowest point in over 30 years.

 

With the government spending less of the people’s money, more was left in the hands of the private sector. This allowed the private sector to innovate, invest, and create jobs.

 

The peace dividend is also the largest contributor to reigning in deficits in the 1990s.  The biggest source of deficit reduction, 35%, came from a reduction in defense spending.

 

The next biggest source of deficit reduction, 32%, came from other revenue because of the growing economy.

 

Another 15% came from interest savings.

 

The Clinton tax increases, on the other hand, only accounted for 13% of the deficit reduction.  That’s right, only 13%.

 

There are further factors that contributed to the economic growth of the 1990s, including the expansion of free trade and the 1997 reduction in the capital gains tax rate.  However, in the interest of time, I won’t go into these or other factors.

 

However, one thing is clear: The economic growth in the 1990s was not thanks to the Clinton tax increase.  Nor was it a major player in bringing our deficit into balance.

 

Today, we cannot rely on the unique economic conditions we experienced in the 1990s, some of which were artificial, to buttress the negative effects of a tax increase.    In fact, we are in the middle of one of the worst economic eras since the great depression.

 

Unemployment has remained above 8% now for more than 41 straight months – almost 3 ½ years.  Economic growth has been anemic.

 

Each passing day economic indicators are pointing more and more to the chance of a double dip worldwide recession.  Last Wednesday, it was reported that Great Britain’s economy contracted at a rate of .7%. Then on Friday, it was reported that our own economy is stalling.  Real GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.5%, continuing its downward trend for 3 straight quarters.

 

In a recent blog post, Nobel Laureate Economist Gary Becker addressed the question of whether raising taxes on high-income earners is a good idea.

 

In his post, Professor Becker entertained arguments by supporters of tax increases by hypothesizing that there is a 50-50 chance that higher taxes on the so-called rich would damage the economy.

 

Of course, I believe, as does Professor Becker, that in reality this chance is much higher than 50-50.  However, even granting the other side this generous assumption, he concluded the benefit of raising taxes was outweighed by the potential damage they would cause.

 

According to Professor Becker, even if richer individuals only slightly reduce their work hours and effort at work, the gain in tax revenue from these individuals would not be great.

 

In contrast, “the cost to the economy in the chance that higher taxes greatly discourage their effort is likely to be substantial in terms of fewer hours worked and less work effort by high income individuals, reduced incentives to start businesses, less investments in their human capital, investing abroad rather than in the US…, , and even migration abroad.”

 

Yet, my colleagues on the other side are pushing billions of dollars in tax increases.   Just last week, they voted to increase taxes on nearly 1 million flow-throw businesses.  Their vote to increase taxes on job creators came on the heels of an Ernst and Young study detailing its ramifications.

 

This study concluded that these proposed tax hikes — on top of 3.8 percent tax increase on dividends, interest, and capital gains that was added to pay for so-called health reform — would reduce our economic output by 1.3 percent.  The Ernst and Young study also found that real after-tax wages would fall by 1.8 percent as a result of President Obama’s policies.

 

Even in the face of this information, my colleagues on the other side seem all too willing to gamble with the chance that our stalling economy can withstand such a hit.  By doing this, they are playing Russian roulette with our economy.

 

To my colleagues I ask, how certain are you that tax increases on job creators won’t be damaging to the economy?   If you have any doubt, don’t pull the trigger.

 

Let me shift gears a little bit to address the record of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief.

 

Just as a perfect storm of good economic conditions blew at the back of the Clinton Administration, a perfect storm of bad economic conditions and unpredictable events blew in the face of the Bush Administration.

 

It is undisputed that, at the end of the Clinton administration, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was projecting a ten-year budget surplus of $5.6 billion.  Keep in mind, though, that CBO’s projection was based on assumptions that did not pan out.

 

CBO failed to predict the bursting of the tech bubble that was so beneficial in previous years.  CBO also could not predict the September 11, 2001, tragedy that wreaked havoc on our economy.

 

In reaction to the economic recession from these events, Congress enacted the bipartisan 2001 tax relief that cut tax rates across the board, providing tax relief to virtually all taxpayers.

 

Then, in 2003, Congress expedited this relief so the benefit of lower rates would take effect more quickly.  This resulted in one of the shortest and shallowest economic recessions on record.

 

The economy grew for 25 straight quarters, making it the fourth-longest period of economic expansion since 1930.  Additionally, we had 47 straight months of private sector job gains.

 

Moreover, the expanding economy led to higher than expected revenue.  That’s right.  Revenue actually rose in the years following the tax relief, peaking at 18.5% of GDP in 2007; well above the historical average of around 18%.

 

In fact, CBO projects that, if we extended all the 2001 and 2003 tax relief today, revenues would once again exceed the historical average.  Under this scenario, the CBO projects that by 2022 revenues will reach 18.5 percent of GDP.

 

From 2004 to 2007, the deficit also shrank from a high of $412.7 billion to a low of $160.7 billion.  That means the budget deficit was cut by more than half in just three years.

 

Given the trillion dollar deficits we are experiencing under President Obama, a deficit below $200 billion would be welcome news.

 

Yet, CBO projects that, even if all the tax increases in the President’s budget were enacted, deficits would never drop below $500 billion from 2013 to 2022.

 

I will give the President this: He took office in very tough economic times.  The bursting of the housing bubble and the resulting financial crisis gave him a high hill to climb.

 

But, any assertion that that the 2001 and 2003 tax relief is related to these events is without any merit.

 

There is plenty of blame to go around for the housing bubble.  It was the culmination of housing policies spanning administrations of both parties.  It was further fueled by the Federal Reserve providing historically low interest rates and cheap credit.

 

However, the President’s policies have failed at getting us out of this mess. The President’s party passed the President’s nearly trillion-dollar stimulus bill.  He claimed this would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.  However, the unemployment climbed to a high of 10.1% and has never dropped below 8% during his almost four years in office.

 

The President’s party also passed the health care bill, which the President sold as a job creator, and the financial reform bill that was supposed to fix our financial system.  However, both of these bills, which the President signed into law, have actually turned out to be costly to our economy and a hindrance to job creation.

 

Now President Obama appears ready to gamble with the economy.  He appears ready to go all in on raising taxes on our nation’s job creators.

 

In doing so, he is betting that raising taxes on the so-called wealthy will result in a political pay-off, exceeding the chance his actions will throw us back into a recession.

 

It is not so long ago I remember the President saying, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.”  The President’s statement is as true now as it was then.

 

Let’s end the political theater of holding votes for the purpose of campaign ads.  Let’s instead actually do what the people sent us here to do.   Let’s not drive the American economy headlong off the fiscal cliff.

 

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Governor’s Request for Agricultural Disaster Declaration Approved for Additional 50 Counties PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Stage & Theatre
Written by Nafia Khan   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 12:49

Farmers in 98 of 102 Illinois Counties Now Eligible for Federal Drought Relief

CHICAGO – August 1, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 98 of 102 Illinois counties as disaster areas. Approval of Governor Quinn’s latest request means federal disaster assistance is now available to help farmers in an additional 50 drought-stricken Illinois counties.

“While harvest has yet to begin, we already see that the drought has caused considerable crop damage,” Governor Quinn said. “This declaration means farmers across Illinois who are suffering production losses can now qualify for federal assistance.”

A combination of extremely hot and dry weather has stunted crop development across the state, especially in corn, which received inadequate moisture to pollinate. According to the Illinois State Water Survey, precipitation throughout Illinois averaged just 12.6 inches from January to June, making the first half of 2012 the sixth-driest on record. In addition, every month this year has had above normal temperatures, and the statewide average of 52.8 degrees for the first six months of the year is the warmest on record.

“As Illinois continues to suffer from severe drought conditions, this disaster declaration will give farmers and producers across our state access to critically needed resources to help them through the growing season,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I will continue to work with United States Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois to identify other opportunities for federal assistance that will help minimize the impact of current drought conditions on Illinois farm families.”

"Today's announcement demonstrates the essential need for expanding assistance to Illinois' farmers suffering from this summer's extreme drought," said a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). "Access to low-interest loans and other emergency assistance programs will benefit the state's agricultural counties and provide farmers additional protection from crop damage."

“The yield losses being projected could cause farmers cash flow problems,” Illinois Department of Agriculture Acting Director Bob Flider said. “The low-interest, emergency loans this declaration triggers would help them recover.  They can be used to pay not only production expenses, but also family living expenses.”

Topsoil moisture in Illinois currently is rated as 85 percent being very short and 15 percent being short of moisture. Conditions are most critical in southern Illinois, where the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies the drought as “exceptional,” its highest designation.

Farmers who believe they may be eligible for the assistance should contact their county Farm Service Agency offices. Loan applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and applicant’s repayment ability.

In addition to approval of the disaster declaration, Governor Quinn is urging Congress to pass an extension of the federal Farm Bill that includes funding for disaster programs before its August recess. In a letter sent yesterday from the Midwest Governor’s Association to Secretary Vilsack and leaders of Congress, Governor Quinn and governors from three states also ask the federal government to temporarily waive audits of high-dollar crop insurance claims and to develop a comprehensive plan to open up as much federal land as possible for emergency grazing and haying.

For more information on drought assistance, please visit Drought.Illinois.gov.

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