Did you know that the National Football League is a nonprofit, and hasn’t paid a dime in taxes since 1966? As a lifelong football fan, I was shocked to discover that I haven’t just paid to watch games and bought NFL merchandise since I was 6 years old — I’ve been paying higher taxes as an adult to make-up for the NFL’s share. Some of my best memories are football related. I remember standing in line in 1987 to get John Elway’s autograph, and the famous playoff drive. I love the parity of the NFL, and I believe the league provides an important service by ensuring that the league remains strong and that competitive games are well-organized. But that service doesn’t justify the NFL being granted nonprofit status — like soup kitchens and charities have — that allows it to avoid paying taxes, especially as top executives are paid up to $29 million per year. I was shocked to learn that the last time the NFL paid taxes was 1966, when lobbyists convinced Congress to pass an obscure provision that expanded the definition of 501(c)6 not-for-profit organizations in the Internal Revenue Code to include “professional football leagues.” The 1966 law gave the NFL a way to skirt taxes, while also granting it an uncommon antitrust exemption allowing it to create a monopoly to negotiate TV rights at the same time! Since then, the NFL has shelled out big money to keep its sweetheart deal. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NFL has spent $2 million in campaign contributions since 1992 and spent $12.7 million on lobbying efforts since 1998, knowing that its fair share of taxes would be many millions more. As Republicans in Congress vote to cut food stamps and obstruct the extension of unemployment benefits, it’s time to highlight the hypocrisy of letting a multi-billion operation like the NFL get away with paying no taxes while they stick us with the bill. Though the NFL has successfully held back efforts to make it pay its fair share for nearly 50 years, Congress has the opportunity to change that by updating the Internal Revenue Code. Legislation to do just that was introduced last fall, but we need Congress to get behind it. As the biggest game of the year approaches, millions of casual fans are paying more attention to football than at any other point in the year. Now is the perfect time to put pressure on Congress to revoke the NFL’s nonprofit status. REFERENCES: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/12/nfl-tax-exempt-status-rootstrikers-roger-goodell http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/18/nfl-tax-exemption-debate-congress-tom-coburn/4110381/ http://www.ibtimes.com/nfl-nonprofit-flap-outraged-petitioners-tackle-tax-exempt-status-national-football-league-1410272 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/10/how-the-nfl-fleeces-taxpayers/309448/ https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/900195-nfl-2012-990.html PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Runyon | Pro Football Schedules (http://profootballschedules.com/falcons-vs-broncos-photos)
Has BP hired internet “trolls” to threaten critics of its handling of the 2010 oil disaster?
This is horrifying. But not at all surprising.
Have gay rights groups abandoned Bradley Manning?
Mainstream LGBT rights groups like Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have stayed quiet about Manning
Gay 25-year-old US army private Bradley Manning stood trial for supposedly aiding the enemy by passing classified information to Wikileaks, including several hundred thousand pages of army reports, diplomatic cables and information that detailed the killing of civilians by American soldiers. His verdict is expected today.
The trial, which ended last week, was marked by government intimidation of the media and comes after Manning spent almost a year in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, prompting international outrage.
One of the interesting factors is that two of the largest and most well funded LGBT rights groups in the US have stayed quiet about Manning, his reprehensible treatment in custody and his trial. Why has Manning, whose revelations about the US Army’s actions epitomize social justice in action, gotten the cold shoulder from the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)? The silence of these groups has been deafening.
First, Manning is the opposite of everything that these groups seek to portray as the image of “gay Americans”. I use those quotes because the majority of LGBT Americans don’t conform to these upwardly mobile, white, polished, virile male stereotypes. Manning doesn’t look like CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. With his slight frame, lower-class background, questioning of his gender identity, inability to hold down a typical job, general dorkiness and dysfunctional family life, Manning does not fit the poster boy image that GLAAD or the HRC would hold up and promote. It’s bizarre because Manning is actually what many, if not most, LGBT people have been at one point or another – an outsider, a loner, a person who does not fit in or conform.
Second, organizations like the HRC, which had net assets of over $32.7m at the end of last year and claims more than a millions members and supporters, happens to have the financial backing of major military industrial corporations, including Lockheed Martin, which is sponsoring the HRC’s upcoming national gala in Washington DC and Booz Allen Hamilton, a corporate partner for the national event, as well as Northrop Grumman a sponsor of their Los Angeles gala.
US government contracts account for at least 85% of Lockheed Martin’s work, Northrop Grumman is intricately tied to our military and Booz Allen Hamilton is wrapped up in Washington's lobbying morass – kicking into high gear now that legislators are finally considering limits on the NSA's surveillance capabilities.
There was no quid pro quo, however, the HRC and GLAAD know exactly where their bread is buttered. The Human Rights Campaign spent millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours to lobby for the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell, ensuring that patriotic and law-abiding gays and lesbians can continue to serve in the US military and fight its wars in far-flung places.
Each of these defense organizations depends on federal money; therefore, the more able-bodied young men and women who sign up for the US military, the better. The more the American war-making machine expands, even if shrouded in utter secrecy, the better. GLAAD has had Goldman Sachs (that bastion of awesomeness) as a patron of its media awards in the past and Verizon (remember those agreements with the NSA?) as a supporter while doling out awards to men like Anderson Cooper, who came out at the height of his career after following in the footsteps of other journalists, and Bill Clinton, the man responsible for DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Self-censorship is a beautiful thing. It can’t be proven. It occurs as a matter of course and is a great example of the banal, duplicitous intertwined relationships between the military industrial complex, the US government and corporate nonprofits. Why would the Human Rights Campaign risk offending the sensibilities of Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton and Northrop Grumman? Because these and other defense companies, drowning in profit, might turn off the “diversity” spigot that sustains the Human Rights Campaign.
Why wouldn’t GLAAD support a frail, maladjusted young queer man whose efforts exposed US military malfeasance? It’s much easier – and requires no courage whatsoever – to honor those who are privileged and already at the very top of society. Abandoned by these mainstream rights organizations, who will speak up in defense of Manning?
Peter Staley, hanging an Act Up banner at the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Rockville, Md., in 1988.
Silence = Death
Masked guerillero reads magazine. Chiapas, Mexico, 1994.
[Credit : Abbas]
- We demand free quality education as a right guaranteed by the US Constitution.
- We demand the dismantling of Bloomberg’s Panel for Educational Policy. We demand a new 13 member community board to run our public schools (comprised of parents, educators, education experts, community members, and a minimum of 5 student representatives).
- We demand quality instruction. Teachers should ethnically, culturally, and racially reflect the student body. We demand experienced teachers who have a history of teaching students well. Teacher training should be intensive and include an apprenticeship with master teachers as well as experiences with the communities where the school is located.
- We demand stronger extra-curricular activities to help stimulate and spark interest in students. Students should have options, opportunities, and choice in their education.
- We demand a healthy, safe environment that does not expect our failure or anticipate our criminality. We demand a school culture that acknowledges our humanity (free of metal detectors, untrained and underpaid security guards, and abusive tactics).
- We demand that all NYC public school communities foster structured and programmatic community building so that students, teachers, and staff learn in an environment that is respectful and safe for all.
- We demand small classes. Class sizes should be humane and productive. We demand that the student to teacher ratio for a mainstream classroom should be no more than 15:1.
- We demand student assessments and evaluations that reflect the variety of ways that we learn and think (portfolio assessments, thesis defenses, anecdotal evaluations, written exams). Student success should not depend solely on high stakes testing.
- We demand a stop to the attack on our schools. If a school is deemed “failing”, we demand a team of qualified and diverse experts to assess how such schools can improve and the resources to improve them.
- We demand fiscal equity for NYC public schools: as stated in the Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007 by the NYS Legislature, NYC public schools have been inadequately and inequitably funded. We demand the legislatively mandated $7 billion dollars in increased annual state education aid to be delivered to our schools now!
— Ernesto “Che” Guevara
— Jeremy Varon. Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies (Kindle Locations 437-442). Kindle Edition.
— Jeremy Varon. Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies (Kindle Location 332). Kindle Edition.
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