The Humanitarian Times

April 1, 2000


- LARGE Y2K-DISASTERS DID OCCUR, AFTER ALL, BUT WERE COVERED UP cleverly by the same networked computer systems, which, secretly, took over the world & now control all news info (Reuters, AFP).

- CHINA ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT TAIWAN MUST ACCEPT THAT IT IS PART OF CHINA, along with strong signals that it might first annihilate Taiwan with its many missiles & then invade Taiwan, killing everyone. China said that it was very very serious about this, this time for sure, really. In Taiwan, plans were discussed to double investments (FDI) in China in the next 5 years, expecting to achieve greater than 50% equity stake, at which point Taiwan would own mainland China outright.

- COLOMBIA, AFGHAN & BURMA DRUGLORDS PROPOSE CONTROVERSIAL $2B AID PLAN for small rural farmers in California, Oregon & Washington, to promote alternate crop schemes among current narcotics (principally marijuana) cultivators. At a meeting of leaders of the 3 countries, pledges of new assistance were made, saying that it is hoped that this foreign aid could remove much of the illicit drug supply currently circulating in the US & Europe (& now driving prices very low).


- HAITI FINALLY GIVES UP, AFTER YEARS OF TRYING TO GET DEMOCRACY. Last week, a few days after the embarrassment of postponing national elections a ninth time, the Haitian govt. formally gave up, & asked the int. community to re-divert democracy-building aid into other sectors. It also asked whether Haiti, as a country, could simply be administered as a bureau of USAID, the EU, or, in the best of all worlds, by Apple Computer or CISCO company.

- CARE (USA) LAUNCHED ITS OWN $80M satellite IN HIGH earth orbit ON MONDAY in an effort to protect & ensure "humanitarian space".

- VIOLENT CONFLICT NOT MITIGATED, US POLICIES COME TO A DEADLY END: US Assistant Sec. of State Jamie Rubin & UN Representative Richard Holbrooke traded blows in a bitter & bloody fist-fight last night in a NY restaurant after arguing & then daring each other over who was more tough & more smug. It began when Holbrooke realized he was jealous that Rubin was move loved in Kosovo & Bosnia. Holbrooke taunted Rubin asking, "have YOU ever negotiated a peace agreement? Have YOU ever been on the edge of battle, looking Milosevic in the eye?" Afterwards, Rubin phoned his father & asked him to have Holbrooke removed from govt. employment. This morning, Rubin's wife & CNN correspondent, Christianne Amanpour, sent CNN's instructions to Madeline Albright, detailing how she is to respond.

- BRITISH NGOs ESTABLISH NEW MECHANISM TO MONITOR AMERICAN NGOs. Concerned that US & Canadian NGOs were overly preoccupied with simply providing foreign aid (& not attentive to deep ironies & paradoxes), a new consortium was established, composed of British organizations that will specifically evaluate US NGOs & issue detailed, profound & frank criticisms based on the findings. These reports will be circulated among British experts.


- FOOD AID COALITION ARTICULATES NEW VISION FOR U.S. AGRICULTURAL AID; Several NGOs, in concert with the farm lobby, convinced the Senate & House Agriculture committees this week to phase out Title II food aid & instead appropriate the equivalent value of money directly to NGOs & to farmers. In addition, a new program is to be introduced whereby roughly $500M in farm equipment (mostly large tractors) will be purchased with USG funds, given to NGOs, which they will then monetize on intl. markets, in order to spend the proceeds on NGO staff salaries.


- INFORMATION OVERLOAD DISASTER STRIKES SEVERAL INTL ORGANIZATIONS; An unexpected, rapid-onset disaster of catastrophic proportions hit a number of international aid groups this month, including IOM, ICRC, CRS, IRC, Mercy Corps & Save the Children last week when a number of senior staff in each organization collapsed in bewilderment & exhaustion, unable any longer to keep up with the barrages of emails & reports sent to them. OFDA Director Roy Williams announced that $20M of relief was being spent, through IQC arrangements, to deploy information specialist firms into these organizations, to help before it was too late. They will filter, read & respond to emails & do web searching.

- NEW ECOSOC U.N. COMMISSION TO REVIEW & ADVISE ON DOOM: The Sec. Gen. this week established a blue-ribbon commission to prepare a report for the General Assembly on trends & vulnerabilities related to the particular problem of doom. He is asking several very important persons, who could become valuable allies in administrations to come, to serve on this commission, including former USAID Administrator J Brian Atwood, former OFDA-dir. Andrew Natsios, & Hunter S. Thompson who started this whole thing when he asked K Annan: "but what about the doomed?"

- WHO, FAO, ILO & UNESCO ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT, SAYING "ME TOO" or, more precisely, "Don't forget that we too can help in humanitarian emergencies as well. We are UN agencies, after all."

- WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CALLS FOR SPECIAL SUPPORT FOR FEMALE AID WORKERS: WFP Dir. Catherine Bertini appealed today for more donations along with extra recognition of the growing special needs of humanitarian aid workers who are female, noting that, in all, over two-thirds of all humanitarian aid workers are women, or young adults.

- RAPID FIELD DEPLOYMENT PROPOSED FOR FOREIGN POLICY DEBATERS: The governments of Norway, Sweden, Japan, Germany & the US have pooled funds to create a new non-governmental organization named "Pundits Without Borders" which will ensure that theoretical discussions about the long-term meaning of conflicts can be stood up in the most remote locations. One NSC official said that such an organization was necessary because, in the field, there are so many writers, reporters & other experts with useless criticisms, clichéd ironic perceptions & vague un-budgeted or idealistic solutions, that trying to get them all to work constructively was "like herding cats."

- RELIEF UPDATE: OVER 950 NGOs RESPONDED TO DISASTER IN EGYPT THIS WEEK: After an Egyptian airplane was forced into a dangerous landing, which made front-page headlines with touching images of frightened passengers, every western NGO responded by sending emergency airplanes, with their logos visible, to the crash site, filled with medicines, Gatorade, winter clothes, protein & plastic utensils. Several of these private planes collided, tragically killing 293 aid workers.

- MSF ANNOUNCES INTENTION TO COLLABORATE & MERGE WITH OTHER NGOs: Recoiling from the shock of recognition that MSF has been too independent & often insulting of other NGOs, the major MSF agencies, France, Belgium & the Netherlands, decided at their annual summit last week that each would attempt to work much more closely with other NGOs. MSF France will seek to submerge its identity within Ireland's Goal, & will coordinate more with French athletes; MSF Netherlands is merging with California's Direct Relief International to specialize simply in airlift of surplus commodities; & MSF Belgium has decided to become a branch of the Belgium government, primarily funding other intl. NGOs. To demonstrate their new courageous commitment, MSF staff also agreed to give up smoking.

- NEW BUSINESS CONSORTIUM DISCUSSED CRISIS ROLES IN GENEVA LAST WEEK: Amid displays of their tanks, rocket launchers, tens & plastic sheeting, multinationals corporations held a large expo in which company presidents claimed that for-profits are best equipped to respond to complex emergencies because they are able to be full-service providers, for example, providing weapons to all sides, landmines as well as landmine-clearing teams, & warehouses and other commodities for relief, & relief delivery itself (which, they acknowledged, they intended to subcontract to NGOs who have all that volunteer labor). They can achieve efficiencies of scale, flying diamonds & other goods out on the same transport that carries in maize flour & surplus drugs.

- CONF: "THE END OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, in the POST-POST-COLD WAR ERA" Policy-makers will meet April 10-15 at the OMNI Sheraton in Washington, DC, to debate whether or not the end of the Post-Cold War era holds unpleasant global shocks. Since the Post-Cold War era brought an uneasy alliance around transition aid to independent societies, will the new era invite increasing fragmentation, confusion, anarchy, dismay, gloom, chaos & failure of coordination? One of the speculative keynote papers will project ahead to emerging crises expected in the Post-Post-Post-Cold-War era.

- NEW TRAINING WORKSHOP TO STRENGTHEN TOT TRAINERS: Fearing that they had too few courses to offer, Red-R has announced a new workshop in order to impart kills for those persons responsible for training the key individuals who train trainers in training-of-trainers workshops. Bangkok May 10-15.

- NEW BOOK: HESPERIAN FOUNDATION's "WHERE THERE IS NO S.R.S.G." joins the other Hesperian texts on health care, women's health care, dentistry, community health & veterinary medicine. This is a valuable how-to text, replete with simple, appropriate drawings for field personnel, about how to stand-up a low-cost, public program for serving as Special Representative (SRSG) to the UN Sec. General. Without requiring any technical training, & intended for indigenous NGO staff based in countries in crisis, it steps the reader through basic tasks such as traveling to capitals, writing country summaries, track-II diplomacy, bending NGOs to your will, sending a cable to the UN headquarters in New York, chiding dictators, & negotiating the termination of multi-party civil wars. Chapters also address special-sector SRSG functions, for example, how to serve as Special Representative to the Sec. Gen. on debt relief, or on small livestock & pets, or on martyrdom.

- NEW BOOK: "MY HUMANITARIAN LIFE" BY SENATOR JESSIE HELMS (1999 Raleigh: Philip Morris books division) in which the long-term Senator & head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee persuasively yet humbly explains why he alone represents the views of the American people.

- PAPERS, DELIVERABLES & PROJECTS WERE COMPLETED & DELIVERED ON TIME this week by consultant Steven Hansch, who said his next job was to prepare contingency plans in case hell froze over. Also, - NGOs everywhere agreed not to compete with one another; UN agencies agreed to pool all their funds, the UNDP proposed that it be merged with the World Bank, & James Wolfensohn and Madame Ogata got married.


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April 1, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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