Monday, June 25, 2007

Wake up Red Cross - Time to Wag the Dog

Charitable donations rose by only 1% in 2006 and would have been almost flat but for the first instalment of Warren Buffet's gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. Multi billionaires can't back-up media buzz on new age of philanthropy without more help from the merely rich. What the charitable world really needs is a good disaster. 2006 certainly had its share of bad news, but nothing triggered a donations surge like Katrina or the Southeast Asian tsunami. Drought, disease and brutal intrastate conflicts produce tremendous need in Africa, but lack of a single, defining event to generate the necessary flood tide of publicity is holding donations down.

Isn't the solution here obvious? Sudan and Congo need to declare war on each other. No new hostilities necessary. Existing internal problems are more than adequate to generate necessary footage of unprovoked massacres, starving refugees plodding along dusty roads in near hopeless pursuit of safe haven. Declared war will create the big bang - the universal gasp of silence which war producer/director Dustin Hoffman will fill with a tapestry of violence and suffering to produce avalanche of private donations, even emergency services from UN, EU.

Are French fries back on the menu? Always sad to lose punching bag that guaranteed a quick laugh, but there is a new France in the news. Socialist candidate Royale generates buzz which can only get juicier if split with domestic partner Hollande leads to nasty battle for control of party. New President Sarkozy brokers EU compromise with force of personality - hyperactivity now considered asset rather than basis for classification and treatment - and... maybe French had a point on Iraq?

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