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More Darfur Daily “News”

September 2, 2009

Well, the crack communications experts at the Save Darfur Coalition are at it yet again. For Darfur Salvationistas, anti-genocidaires, activists and advocates, last week’s Darfur-related news was dominated by two basic storylines.

First, there was the outgoing UNAMID commander Gen. Agwai declaring that the Darfur region currently suffers more from low-level conflict and banditry than full-scale war.

Additionally, Humanity United, with the help of some “friends” in the save Darfur community, rolled out the SUDAN (ACTION) NOW advertising campaign.

Let’s take a quick peek at what the Save Darfur Coalition highlighted regarding these two stories:

Darfur Daily News – 8/27/09

AFP: Darfur peacekeepers have ended massacres: chief. The outgoing head of the UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur defended his soldiers against persistent criticism of their effectiveness, insisting they have ended the massacres that long plagued the Sudanese region. “I have achieved results,” Rodolphe Adada told AFP in an interview, hitting back at the criticism. “The main result is the end of massacres in Darfur,” he said, as he prepared to step down as head of the world’s biggest peacekeeping operation.

The Atlantic: Obama’s Envoy Agrees: Sudan Is Urgent. Though he doesn’t agree with the calling out of his bosses, President Obama’s special envoy to Sudan does share the sentiment of a coalition of U.S.-based Darfur peace groups that Sudan demands immediate action–action that, from his point of view, is already being taken–a State Department spokesman for Maj. Gen. Scott Gration says.

August 27th, 2009 by Allen Combs

Darfur Daily News – 8/28/09

August 28th, 2009 by Allen Combs

Voice of America: Activists Say General Agwai’s Comments on Darfur Miss the Bigger Picture. A coalition of anti-genocide advocacy organizations has called on the Obama administration to team up with concerned nations and draft a proposal that would bring lasting peace to Sudan. The position came as the commander of the UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur says the region was no longer in a state of war. “The fact that open hostilities between rebel groups and the government militias have dwindled is certainly a good sign that we are one step closer to what would hopefully be an eventual peace. But unfortunately it does not mean the situation is getting that much better for the millions of affected civilians who remain in Darfur,” said Alex Meixner, director of policy and government relations for Save Darfur Coalition.

MinnPost.com: War in Darfur over? Not quite. The war in Darfur is over? That’s what the outgoing general of the United Nations forces in that troubled African region says. “The political and humanitarian crisis in Darfur is not over. Nor is the threat of full-scale fighting over, said Sean Brooks, policy associate of Save Darfur Coalition. “We find Gen. Agwai’s statement surprising, considering that just a few weeks ago he said that the U.N. forces are only at 70 percent deployment and need to be fully deployed to protect the people of Darfur.

The New York Times: As Darfur Fighting Diminishes, U.N. Officials Focus on the South of Sudan. As the fighting in Darfur diminishes after years of conflict, senior United Nations officials say they are focused increasingly on the deteriorating situation in another part of Sudan: the south. The shift in alarm has been building for months, but was reinforced late Wednesday when Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, the departing commander of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, told reporters that the war in Darfur was essentially over. Senior United Nations officials said that while General Agwai was basically correct, they did not want to play down the dire consequences some three million displaced people face in Darfur. Still, they noted, the escalating skirmishes in the south could reignite the civil war there, which in years past proved far more deadly than the conflict in Darfur.

Interesting, if somewhat predictable choices. Why not Agence France-Presse’s “Darfur war over at least for now says departing UN chief” instead of the chosen “Darfur peacekeepers have ended massacres: chief” (or BBC’s “War in Sudan’s Darfur ‘is over’”)? I guess article titles that reinforce concepts like massacres/violence, crisis/urgency, and call into question a General’s field assessment based on firsthand experience are far better for business than more direct AFP/BBC reporting. I mean, we all know of the journalistic powerhouse that is MinnPost.com, but what the hell is an “AFP” or a “BBC?” Am I right?! In other words, SDC is marketing fear and violence in lieu of aggregating and disseminating on-the-ground reporting, commentary, and analysis of the ongoing crisis in Darfur/Sudan.

As for the coverage of the SUDAN NOW campaign, in addition to the inclusion of The Atlantic blog post noted above, SDC’s Jerry Fowler posted the following over at SDC’s Blog for Darfur:

Partners for Peace

Our friends at Humanity United and several other groups have launched a new initiative called Sudan Now. We joined with them in a series of print and online ads this week as the Administration’s long-running Sudan policy review appears to be entering its final stages. It’s vital that the Administration get the policy right. Key elements in a strong policy will be that it is:

  1. comprehensive (addressing Sudan’s interlocking crises, including Darfur, implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the war in southern Sudan and the proxy war with Chad);
  2. multilateral (the U.S. must work with other countries that have leverage on the various actors to address these crises);and
  3. based on a balance of incentives and pressures.

Above all, effective implementation of the policy will require the personal and direct engagement of President Obama. More details on what we’re looking for can be found in the letter to President Obama signed by more than 113,000 citizens that I delivered to Special Envoy Scott Gration on August 5.

Meanwhile, we also have partnered with the Sudan Inter-Faith Working Group, a broad array of faith-based organizations, in the Moved by Faith initiative. Together, we are seeking clergy of all faiths to sign on to a letter that tells President Obama that his “strong leadership is critical in realizing peace and justice in Sudan.” The complementary efforts of Sudan Now, Moved by Faith and the citizen sign-on letter show the breadth and passion of the movement calling for President Obama to lead for peace in Darfur and all of Sudan.

August 25th, 2009 by Jerry Fowler

“Friends” at Humanity United?! Don’t you mean “major funder,” Mr. Fowler? A little bit of transparency will not kill you, I promise. Give it a try, you might like it. If not, you can go back to dissembling and misleading.

And if you thought so highly of Humanity United’s current initiative, why didn’t you sign on to the entire campaign (like the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, Stop Genocide Now and Investors Against Genocide) rather than just “a series of print and online ads?”  Could it be that you don’t totally agree with your largest funder on policy or politics, but you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to not participate in some less meaningful way? Or are you just keen on some free publicity for your declining organization?

And why didn’t Save Darfur mention the blog post (below) from POLITICO’s uber-blogger Ben Smith, one of the most widely-read and important inside-the-Beltway political voices in the blogoshpere? Jeez. A big-time political voice highlights a friend’s campaign with a LARGE post that sits at the top of his blog for a blogosphere eternity and it gets nary a mention from Save Darfur? Hmm…

Pressing Obama on Sudan

One segment of Obama’s base that remains largely dissatisfied with the administration is human rights advocates, and in particular the movement formed to stop the genocide in Sudan, which took out ads this week in national and Martha’s Vineyard papers using Obama’s own words on the crisis there to press for action.

The ads are the product of a new group, Humanity United. One consultant to Sudan advocacy groups, Chuck Thies, emails that the move is the product of restlessness among advocates at the administration’s “seeming inaction” and concern at Sepcial Envoy Scott Gration’s statement that genocide in Sudan had stopped.

Writes Thies:

The organizations that lead the advocacy movement are divided on whether or not to hammer the Obama administration (despite having pounded away at Bush). There are those who want to allow the administartion more time to develop a detailed policy and plan of action, and there are others who recall Obama’s words as a Senator and on the campaign trail about the need to take strong, immediate action to protect civillians from the genocide.

Enter Humanity United, the organization funded by Pam Omidyar. HU has heard the voices of those who wish to push Obama harder and thus is spearheading this campaign. It has brought many of the leading Darfur advocacy organziations onboard to varying degrees. The campaign should please most activists and not upset those wishing to give the Obama administration more time. One goal is to unite the activist community like to was in 2006/07 and to a degree 2008. Most activists leaders agree that without a united, vocal campaign there is little hope for more than caretaking in Darfur.

Soemthing to chew on that has not yet entered the public debate: Though the rate of death from violence in Darfur has been greatly reduced in the past year, millions of people still live in unsafe refugee and IDP camps, slowly starving to death. No one suggested the Holocaust genocide ended until the death camps were liberated; the same should be true for Darfur.

We have it from various sources that some of the fine folks at the Save Darfur Coalition thought quite highly of this post. And yet it didn’t make the final cut for the Blog for Darfur or Darfur Daily News. It makes one wonder if the mere presence of Chuck Thies,  a “consultant to Sudan advocacy groups” as well as a former Save Darfur employee (who was the driving force behind the now famous Save Darfur rallies in NYC and Washington, DC in 2006), played some role in the exclusion of the post at Blog for Darfur and/or Darfur Daily News. So here’s the question: Did Jerry Fowler’s jealousy of Mr. Thies or Mr. Thies’s proximity (real or perceived) to the Darfur advocacy community have an impact on the decision not to include this widely-read/circulated and very relevant piece on any SDC-related sites? For those familiar with the situation, it’s hard to believe that one or both of these didn’t play some role in the exclusion.

Regardless, Save Darfur continues to promote only the “news” that reinforces their outdated narrative of fear, crisis, and violence, promotes SDC as the undisputed leader of the Darfur advocacy “movement”, while also pandering to the few remaining Big Donors. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

SDC’s Amazing Shrinking Conflict of Interest Policy

August 31, 2009

Step right up ‘n behold the Mysterious Main Attraction at our Crazy Carnival of Conflict, folks!  This one’s a real doozy too.  You see, unbeknownst to most, the Save Darfur Coalition’s employee handbook has gone through all sorts of interesting little transformations since its creation, and I invite you to come explore them with me.  Together, we’re about to enter a mystical world full of merriment and wonder: the world of employment law!

Okay, okay.  So as carnivals go, its really not that merry or wonderful.  But come on; why the long faces?

Okay, okay. So as carnivals go, it's really not that merry or wonderful. But come on; why the long faces?

Here’s SDC’s Conflict of Interest and Outside Employment Statement from a SDC employee handbook that was last modified on August 3rd, 2007.  (If you don’t want to read the two handbook selections in their entirety, just skip to the bottom where I discuss the differences between the two documents.):

CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT STATEMENT

In General

Save Darfur Coalition expects its employees to conduct work according to the highest ethical standards of conduct.  Employees are expected to devote their best efforts to the interests of the organization.  Work activities that appear to create a conflict between the interests of the organization and an employee are not acceptable.  Save Darfur Coalition recognizes the right of employees to engage in activities outside of their employment that is of a private nature and unrelated to Save Darfur Coalition’s work.  However, the employee must disclose any possible conflicts so that the organization may assess and prevent potential conflicts of interest from arising.  A potential or actual conflict of interest occurs whenever an employee is in a position to influence a decision that may result in personal gain for the employee or an immediate family member (i.e., spouse or significant other, children, parents, siblings) as a result of the organization’s work. Although it is not possible to specify every action that might create a conflict of interest, this policy sets forth the ones that most frequently present problems.  If an employee has any question whether an action or proposed course of conduct would create a conflict of interest, she or he should immediately contact the Deputy or Executive Director to obtain advice on the issue.  The purpose of this policy is to protect employees from any conflict of interest that might arise.

Violation of this policy may result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.

Outside Employment

Employees are required to obtain written approval from their supervisor before participating in outside work activities.  Approval will be granted unless the activity conflicts with the organization’s interest.  In general, outside work activities are not allowed when they:

  • prevent the employee from fully performing work for which she or he is employed at Save Darfur Coalition, including overtime assignments;
  • involve organizations that are working with or seeking to work with Save Darfur Coalition, including actual or potential vendors; or
  • violate provisions of law or Save Darfur Coalition’s policies or rules.

From time to time, Save Darfur Coalition employees may be required to work beyond their normally scheduled hours.  Employees are expected to perform this work when requested.  In cases of conflict with any outside activity, the employee’s obligations to the organization must be given priority. Employees are hired and continue in Save Darfur Coalition’s employ with the understanding that Save Darfur Coalition is their primary employer and that other employment or commercial involvement that is in conflict with the organizational interests of Save Darfur Coalition is strictly prohibited.

Political Activities

In order to retain its tax-exempt status, Save Darfur Coalition is prohibited from participation, intervention and/or involvement, either direct or indirect, in support of, or in opposition to any candidate for elective office.  Accordingly, all employees are expected to refrain from engaging in political activities on Save Darfur Coalition property in order to avoid allegations that the private actions of its employees are in reality the actions of Save Darfur Coalition.

Organizational Affiliation

Whenever a staff member chooses to hold a position in any outside organization based on her or his expertise and her or his affiliation with Save Darfur Coalition, such representation shall be approved by the Deputy or Executive Director.  Such representation shall cease upon her or his resignation or termination of employment from Save Darfur Coalition.

Financial Interest in Other Business

An employee and her or his immediate family may not own or hold any interest in a supplier or vendor of the organization, except where such ownership or interest consists of securities in a publicly owned company and that securities are regularly traded on the open market.

Acceptance of Gifts

No employee may solicit or accept gifts of significant value (i.e., in excess of $25.00), lavish entertainment or other benefits from potential and actual donors or suppliers.  Special care must be taken to avoid even the impression of a conflict of interest.

An employee may entertain potential or actual donors if such entertainment is consistent with accepted business practices, does not violate any law or generally accepted ethical standard, and the public disclosure of the facts of such entertainment will not embarrass the organization.  Any questions regarding this policy should be addressed to the Executive or Deputy Director.

Work Product Ownership

All Save Darfur Coalition employees must be aware that Save Darfur Coalition retains legal ownership of the product of their work.  No work product created while employed by Save Darfur Coalition can be claimed, construed or presented as property of the individual, even after employment by Save Darfur Coalition has ended or the relevant project completed.  This includes written and electronic documents, audio and video recordings, system code, and also any concepts, ideas, or other intellectual property developed for Save Darfur Coalition, regardless of whether the intellectual property is actually used by Save Darfur Coalition. Although it is acceptable for an employee to display and/or discuss a portion or the whole of certain work product as an example in certain situations (e.g., on a resume, in a freelancer’s meeting with a prospective client), one must bear in mind that information classified as confidential must remain so even after the end of employment, and that supplying certain other entities with certain types of information may constitute a conflict of interest, a violation of law and Save Darfur Coalition policy.  In any event, it must always be made clear that work product is the sole and exclusive property of Save Darfur Coalition.  Freelancers, Interns, Consultants and temporary employees must be particularly careful in the course of any work they discuss doing, or actually do, for a competitor of Save Darfur Coalition.

Reporting Potential Conflicts

An employee must promptly disclose actual or potential conflicts of interest, in writing, to his or her supervisor.  The supervisor will then bring to the attention the actual or potential conflict of interest to the Executive Director, or his or her designee.  The Executive Director will then determine whether approval is granted.

WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY

The purpose of this policy is to state clearly and unequivocally that Save Darfur Coalition   prohibits discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation against any employee who provides information or otherwise assists in an investigation or proceeding regarding any conduct which he or she reasonably believes to be a violation of any laws, rules, or regulations, and which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or threatens to disclose such violation.  Everyone at Save Darfur Coalition is responsible for assuring that the workplace is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment and retaliation prohibited by this policy.  No manger, employee, agent, contractor or subcontractor of Save Darfur Coalition has the authority to engage in any conduct prohibited by this policy.

This policy protects any employee who:

  • Discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor an activity, policy or practice that is in violation of a law, rule or regulation, which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety;
  • Provides information, testifies, participates in, or otherwise assists in a proceeding before any public body conducting a hearing or inquiry into any violation of a law, rule, regulation, policy, practice or activity by Save Darfur Coalition, which violation creates or presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety;
  • Discloses or threatens to disclose to a public body an activity, policy or practice that is in violation of a law, rule or regulation, which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, provided the employee had previously brought such activity, policy or practice to the attention of a supervisor and afforded Save Darfur Coalition a reasonable time to correct such activity, practice or policy;
  • Provides truthful information to a law enforcement officer relating to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense; or
  • Discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or public body, or refuses to participate in any activity that the employee, in good faith, reasonably believes violates any law, rule, regulation, or declaratory ruling which may present a significant threat to the health of a client or employee receiving health services from Save Darfur Coalition.

If an employee engages in any of the activities listed above, Save Darfur Coalition will not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against him or her in the terms or conditions of employment because of that activity.

Any employee who believes that he or she has been the subject of prohibited discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation or is aware of any conduct which may be prohibited by this policy is strongly encouraged to report immediately the facts forming the basis of that belief or knowledge to his or her supervisor, or the Executive or Deputy Director.  Any employee who witnesses any conduct which may be prohibited by this policy must immediately notify his or her supervisor.

Upon receiving a complaint, Save Darfur Coalition will promptly conduct a thorough investigation.  It is the obligation of all employees to cooperate in such an investigation.  Those responsible for the investigation will maintain the confidentiality of the allegations of the complaint and the identity of the person(s) involved, subject to the need to (a) conduct a full and impartial investigation, (b) remedy any violations of Save Darfur Coalition   policies, or (c) monitor compliance with Save Darfur Coalition policies.

The investigation generally will include, but may not be limited to, discussion with the complaining employee, the party against whom allegations have been made, and witnesses, if appropriate.  Save Darfur Coalition prohibits retaliation against any employee who makes a complaint under this policy or participates in Save Darfur Coalition’s investigation.

In the event that an investigation establishes that an employee has engaged in conduct or actions constituting discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation in violation of this policy, Save Darfur Coalition will take corrective action up to and including termination of employment.

Pretty standard, no?  But apparently that had too many pesky rules or was just too darn specific for SDC, because here’s that same section of a later version (now just called the Conflict of Interest Policy) of their handbook that was last modified on October 28th, 2008:

CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY

In General

Save Darfur Coalition expects its employees to conduct work according to the highest ethical standards of conduct.  You have a responsibility to avoid conduct or actions that may create or appear to create a conflict of interest with Save Darfur Coalition.

A conflict of interest may arise if you take actions or have interests that are inconsistent with the interests of the organization or that interfere with your ability to perform your job effectively on behalf of the organization.  While it is not possible to list every type of conduct or action that creates or appears to create a conflict of interest, this policy outlines the most common ways in which a conflict of interest may arise.  All employees must avoid conduct or actions that create or appear to create a conflict of interest pursuant to this policy.  If an employee has any question whether any action or proposed course of conduct would create a conflict of interest, she or he should immediately contact the Chief Operating Officer or President to obtain advice on the issue.

Violation of this policy may result in discipline, up to and including termination of employment.

Outside Employment

Employment by employees outside of Save Darfur Coalition may create or appear to create a conflict of interest.  Generally, an apparent or actual conflict of interest will arise from any outside employment that:

  • prevents the employee from fully performing work for which she or he is employed at Save Darfur Coalition, including overtime assignments;
  • involves organizations that are working with or seeking to work with Save Darfur Coalition, including actual or potential vendors; or
  • violates provisions of law or Save Darfur Coalition’s policies or rules.

Any employee who is employed outside of Save Darfur Coalition must advise their supervisor of such employment.  Save Darfur Coalition reserves the right to prohibit any outside employment that creates or appears to create a conflict of interest.

Political Activities

In order to retain its tax-exempt status, Save Darfur Coalition is prohibited from participation, intervention and/or involvement, either direct or indirect, in support of, or in opposition to any candidate for elective office.  Accordingly, all employees are expected to refrain from engaging in political activities on Save Darfur Coalition property, including through the use of any Save Darfur computers, or on Save Darfur Coalition business in order to avoid allegations that the private actions of its employees are in reality the actions of Save Darfur Coalition.

Organizational Affiliation

Whenever a staff member chooses to hold a position in any outside organization based on her or his expertise and her or his affiliation with Save Darfur Coalition, such representation must be previously approved by the Chief of Staff or President.  Such representation shall cease upon her or his resignation or termination of employment from Save Darfur Coalition.

Acceptance of Gifts

No employee may solicit or accept gifts of significant value (i.e., in excess of $50.00), lavish entertainment or other benefits from potential and actual donors or suppliers.  Special care must be taken to avoid even the impression of a conflict of interest.

An employee may entertain potential or actual donors if such entertainment is consistent with accepted business practices, does not violate any law or generally accepted ethical standard, and the public disclosure of the facts of such entertainment will not embarrass the organization.  Any questions regarding this policy should be addressed to the President or Chief Operating Officer.

Reporting Potential Violations of Conflicts of Interest Policy

If you become aware of any conduct that violates this policy, you should immediately report the violation to your supervisor, unless you are reporting a violation by your supervisor.  If you believe your supervisor may be violating this policy, you should immediately report the violation to the Chief Operating Officer.

Upon receiving a complaint, Save Darfur Coalition may promptly conduct a thorough investigation.  Any resulting investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible and information relating to the investigation will be disclosed only to those with a need to know.  It is the obligation of all employees to cooperate in such an investigation.

In the event that an investigation establishes that an employee has engaged in conduct in violation of this policy, Save Darfur Coalition will take corrective action up to and including termination of employment.

WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY

Save Darfur Coalition   prohibits retaliation against any employee as a result of their reporting, or threatening to report, unlawful activity by Save Darfur Coalition, or any of its employees, agents, contractors, or subcontractors.  No manager, employee, agent, contractor or subcontractor of Save Darfur Coalition has the authority to engage in any conduct prohibited by this policy.

Any employee, who believes they have been retaliated against in violation of this policy, must immediately notify the President or Chief Operating Officer.

Important:  If you have a complaint regarding a potential violation of the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy, you must follow the reporting procedure set forth in that Policy.

Upon receiving a complaint, Save Darfur Coalition may promptly conduct a thorough investigation.  Any resulting investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible and information relating to the investigation will be disclosed only to those with a need to know.  It is the obligation of all employees to cooperate in such an investigation.

In the event that an investigation establishes that an employee has engaged in conduct in violation of this policy, Save Darfur Coalition will take corrective action up to and including termination of employment.

As you can see, lots of changes have been made from top to bottom.  The sentence “A potential or actual conflict of interest occurs whenever an employee is in a position to influence a decision that may result in personal gain for the employee or an immediate family member (i.e., spouse or significant other, children, parents, siblings) as a result of the organization’s work” has been removed from the In General section.  The Whistleblower Policy has been drastically gutted and what remains of it has been tweaked.  Specifically, note that the earlier version says “Upon receiving a complaint, Save Darfur Coalition will promptly conduct a thorough investigation,” while “will” is replaced with “may” in the later version.  That’s my favorite.  Essentially, they changed it to say that even their willingness to investigate something as serious as a potential conflict is selective.  That takes balls, gentle reader.  Additionally, while the Work Product Ownership section has simply been moved to a different part of the handbook, the Financial Interest in Other Businesses section has been removed entirely.  This standard part of most handbooks, sometimes known as a “kickback clause,” refers specifically to conflicts that arise from personal or family interests.

Now, lots of organizations change their employee handbooks over time, often to provide further clarification of some policy.  Perhaps their lawyers alert them to a new law or some specific occurrence merits a deeper explanation of a particular rule.  For example, if some employees have a habit of dressing inappropriately, an employer may go into further detail in the Dress Code section.  But the trend is generally toward providing more, not less, clarification of a policy.  If anything, employers typically over-explain the rules in an effort to protect both themselves and their employees.  So what would prompt SDC to remove information instead?  Why on earth would any employer want the rules to be more vague?  What would make SDC shrink, rather than expand, their conflict of interest policy?

FUN WITH NUMBERS: How Developmental Aid Flows Around the Globe

August 28, 2009

Welcome, accountabilibuddies, to the first of our new series of posts that we’re ingeniously calling FUN WITH NUMBERS. Our inaugural post features numbers brought to us by the fine folks at visualeconomics.com.

With Save Darfur’s incessant Rain Man-esque yammering for national and world leaders to “prioritize” Darfur/Sudan — whatever the hell that means — we thought we’d take a closer look at just how much developmental aid flows into Sudan and where that figure falls in relation to other aid-receiving nations. According to a recent post over at visualeconomics.com…

So what we see here is that, according to the most recent data from the respected Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, Sudan receives $2,104,000,000, which places it in the 7th position around the globe just behind #6, Pakistan and ahead of #8, Nigeria.

Now, in terms of U.S. developmental aid flowing to Sudan, the country receives $725 million, which falls behind only Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of U.S. development aid flows. If that’s not “priority” status, I don’t know what is. Top 5? Top 3?

And, yes, we at SDAP know very well that developmental aid is not the only or even lead indicator of ill-defined “prioritization”, but it’s one good, quantifiable way to gauge commitment from the United States and the international community to development in Sudan.

Tip o’ the teeny, tiny hat to teeny, tiny Squirrely McNutt II!

Is the war in Darfur over? (Maybe…for now.)

August 27, 2009

Today the BBC is reporting that the outgoing head of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Gen. Agwai, believes “the vicious fighting of earlier years had subsided as rebel groups split into factions.” General Agwai said, “Banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that.”

Money quotes:

Sudan analyst Gill Lusk said his comments were “unhelpful” because they could lead people to believe that Darfur’s problems had been solved.

“There has been a large decline in fighting in Darfur, and that is undoubtedly a good thing for the people,” she told the BBC.

“But it is the government that turns the tap on and off – they can restart the violence whenever they want.”

Gen Agwai insists the real problem now is political.

BBC Sudan correspondent James Copnall says that view is shared by many within Sudan.

The real problem is, was, and will be political. Obviously, what we need now is a 50-foot-high atrocity slide show on the side of a building in NYC to bring about a political solution in Sudan. (Flyers…er…fliers wouldn’t hurt either.) Thank Jeebus for the Save Darfur Coalition!

Save Darfur’s ’08 990: A Top 10 List

August 24, 2009

Below are the Top 10 things that the Save Darfur Coalition spent more on than direct aid to Darfuris in 2008, according to their most recent 990.

10. GetActive Software, Inc.$118,537.  This software service allows SDC to send millions of emails, most of which are never opened.

This is actually how SDC pays GetActive.  Technology has come such a long way. (Fiber Salary)

This is actually how SDC pays GetActive. Technology has come such a long way.

9.  Professional fundraising fees$258,931.  These are the people they pay to raise them money.  I wonder what the return on investment was?

Were thinking that SDCs fundraising strategy looks something like this. (Surrounded by Water)

We're thinking that SDC's fundraising strategy looks something like this.

8.  Accounting fees - $101,311. Remember, pissing away tens of millions of dollars requires some minimal accounting.

Only a hundred grand to get someone else to deal with your IRS audit and woefully sloppy bookkeeping?  Sounds like a bargain! (Pappas Tax)

Only 100K to get someone else to deal with your IRS audit and woefully sloppy bookkeeping? Sounds like a bargain!

7. Telephone$76,580.  Wanna guess who they bought their phone service from?  M&R Strategic Services, one of their biggest and most influential consultants.  Anyone wanna take bets on what portion of this is M&R’s “service fee” and which part is for actual service from Verizon?

We couldve saved how much by just buying directly from Verizon?! (Pop Art Machine)

"We could've saved how much by just buying directly from Verizon?!"

6. Postage and shipping$162,296.  And they sure ain’t sending supplies to Darfur!

Are all these packages from SDC? Yep. How many are going to Darfur? Hahaha!  That question gets funnier every time you ask it.(Gothamist)

"Are all these packages from SDC?" "Yep." "How many are going to Darfur?" "Hahaha! That question gets funnier every time you ask it!"

5. Occupancy$187,754.  And guess who they rented their office space from!  Did you say M&R? Exactement! C’est vrai, mon ami! (That’s French for “Darn tootin’, y’all!”) See, you’re getting the hang of it…

Yeah, its like this but, thankfully, SDC staffers dont spontaniously break into song all the time.  (Gawker)

Yeah, it's like this but, thankfully, SDC staffers don't spontaneously break into song all the time.

4. Travel$1,025,438One MILLION dollars?! Sweet sassy molassy! Probably for all their international work.  Too bad they have almost no influence internationally. (Damn, Johnnie Walker Blue must be getting more expensive in airport lounges the world over. DAMN YOU, GLOBAL RECESSION!)

How is this trip to Honolulu gonna help us save Darfur again?  Shut your face.  Thats how. (Textually)

"So why did we have to wait to buy one-way tickets the day of the flight for this overseas trip that we've been planning for months?" "Shut your ugly face. That's why."

3. Temporary help$77,033.  They could have hired a mid-level staffer for that!  Or two low-level staffers!

I make $20 an hour sharpening pencils.  (Flickr)

"I make $20 an hour sharpening pencils and blogging...but my opinions don't necessarily reflect the position of the Save Darfur Coalition."

2. Advertising$896,088.  Did you see any SDC ads in 2008?  Neither did I.

After you find Waldo, try finding a SDC ad.  You know, just for giggles.  (Woot)

After you find Waldo, try finding a SDC ad. You know, just for giggles.

1. Their Top 5 Highest Paid Consultants$1,972,817. Ah yes.  The people who really make all the money.

No, Darfuris!  You can not haz!  (Fanster)

No, Darfuris! You can not haz!

MUST READ: The ‘genocide’ in Darfur isn’t what it seems

August 19, 2009

In today’s Christian Science Monitor, Marc Gustafson, a Marshall Scholar and doctoral candidate at Oxford University, argues that “Activist hype, though well-intentioned may have misdirected funds that could have saved lives.” It’s a smart piece that is sure to send Save Darfur into a well-earned PR frenzy.

And the winner of the Save Darfur Not-Really-A-Campaign-Naming-Contest is…

August 18, 2009

…DON’T FORGET DARFUR!

As they often say on ESPN’s SpotsCenter following a game-winning homerun, jump shot, or touchdown pass, “Winner, winner, CHICKEN DINNER!”

I hate to say, “I told you so”…but…I told you so! However, I’m not only here to gloat, I’m also here to promote the Save Darfur Coalition’s latest greatest opportunity for committed activists to meaningfully participate in SDC advocacy efforts.

Apart from being allowed to vote for the name of the not-really-a-campaign, as an extra, added bonus, YOU now have an opportunity to fund YOUR now named not-really-a-campaign. YOU can help fund YOUR over-sized slide show of humanitarian porn, posters, fliers (I prefer the correct spelling), street teams and press conferences. All it takes is $42,000. By donating now, YOU get to act at a crucial moment to avert a disaster and “make it impossible for world leaders to ignore Darfur and Sudan a moment longer.” Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself…

Dear ________,

Your words. Their images. One unforgettable message to the U.N.

Your words. Their images. One unforgettable message to the U.N.
The Darfur/Darfur exhibit in Paris

If we can raise $42,000 by August 21, we can project the powerful images of the Darfur/Darfur exhibit and mobilize activists on the streets around the U.N.

You can make it happen!

“Don’t Forget Darfur”

Imagine projecting this powerful message—along with the unforgettable images of the Darfur/Darfur photo exhibit—onto a building near the U.N. where world leaders will be sure to see it.

Well, you and I can make it happen, but only if we can raise $42,000 by August 21. Will you help?

Our window of opportunity is short.

We need to secure these funds before the U.N. General Assembly this September, as this could be our best chance to focus the world’s leaders on the millions of people still teetering on the edge of survival in Sudan.

________, your commitment to this campaign is what’s already driving our success. Thanks to the votes of thousands of activists like you, this week we chose “Don’t Forget Darfur” as the name for our all-out campaign this September.

Will you go one step further and help us take your message to the U.N.?

Your resolve and support couldn’t come at a more crucial moment for Sudan.

While millions of Darfuris continue to live in uncertainty and fear in Darfur, violence in South Sudan has sky-rocketed in recent months. If world leaders don’t act now, some experts believe the rise in insecurity in South Sudan could reignite the brutal war that killed over 2 million.

Your donation will support our Darfur/Darfur exhibit—as well as posters, flyers, street teams and press conferences—and could help us avert disaster by bringing the world’s attention back to the fight for peace in Sudan.

Through our massive display of images from Darfur, signs placed in your windows, and a global photo petition to President Obama, our “Don’t Forget Darfur” campaign will make it impossible for world leaders to ignore Darfur and Sudan a moment longer.

I want to thank you in advance for helping us seize this opportunity. I’ll be in touch soon to let you know whether we’ll be able to launch our projection this September!

—Mark

Mark Lotwis
Save Darfur Coalition

Photo credit: Darfur/Darfur

I don’t have the time or energy to critique this criminally stupid email line-by-line.  Suffice it to say, it’s bad on nearly every level imaginable. A few questions immediately spring to mind though:

  1. What does it say when a multimillion dollar organization is begging for pennies?
  2. Are long-time staff members embarrassed when they read that this is what now passes for an “all-out” campaign?
  3. Wouldn’t it be more honest to say that this campaign is moving forward regardless of this fundraising ruse? Planning and preparation are currently moving forward and won’t be halted midstream if Save Darfur comes up short of its fundraising goal. Remember, “your commitment to this campaign is what’s already driving our success.”
  4. Finally, can a glorified slide show, etc. truly “make it impossible for world leaders to ignore Darfur and Sudan a moment longer?” How can anyone take these people seriously when they make such embarrassingly ignorant/misleading assertions? Public awareness and political willingness are not the same thing, Mr. Lotwis.

This email, campaign and organization are absolutely pathetic. If you can’t see that fact now, you should get back to licking toads, eating paste or blowing up small animals with firecrackers. (Note: SDAP does not, in any way, condone cruelty to animals.)

Unfortunately, Sudan, it looks like you’re next in line to be “saved.” For that, I’m very sorry.

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