Friday, July 20, 2018

Shady? How Shady, Very Shady.




I have been in and out of Shady Grove Hospital four times in two weeks.

As a diabetic (type 1) I am very familiar with hospitals and residential care facilities. So when I have a physical problem with diabetes, this can lead to schizophrenia, and then you get both at once. It is very important that the medical problem be dealt with first, treating the schizophrenia instead of dealing with the medical problem, could, and in fact did, put me in life-threatening situations.

Every few years I get into a situation where my blood sugar gets very high, and no amount of insulin will bring it down, then after a few days, all the insulin hits at once, and I go into a potentially fatal crisis. So I checked into my nearest hospital, so that I would have the crisis in a situation where immediate medical attention is available.

So, imagine my distress when my friends, no doubt believing they were operating in my best interests, but lying to Doctors, so that I can be admitted to a psych ward is an incredibly dangerous tactic, and would have, of course been vetoed by me, if my friends had thought to discuss the matter with me before employing the bizarre, dangerous and extremely unpleasant tactic.

So I check into the hospital, by ambulance this time, and I start to receive some medical attention, until Louise called and told the doctor I was threatening to kill people on my blog. You are reading my blog, so you can easily check what is written there, the doctor did not check my blog, and put me out of the hospital. So I had another crisis, at home, where no medical attention is available. I checked back into the hospital (see Some Idiot pretending to be a doctor).

Cast out again, and with several hours of walking in hot, muggy weather. The end result of that trip, followed by another health crisis, again outside the hospital.

My friends insist that I go back to the hospital immediately. But this time, while I am being examined in A&E, my friends pile on the lies, to make sure that I get on the psych ward, because they don’t realize you get mental health care OR medical care, but not both. The psych ward people don’t listen to what the patients say (they are regarded as non- rational, and so ignored). This put me in great danger, and also removed my phone. As a result I came as close to death as I have ever been, and that is a lot closer than most people would survive. I am a bit more mentally agile than most people, and even so…



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Some Idiot Pretending to be a Doctor


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I am in the Shady Grove Hospital waiting room with Ashley. There are a lot of people waiting, and some of them are in great distress, one woman in particular, with her two adult children and her husband, was clearly in great distress.

Me and Ashley gave the place the best AA has to offer. Everyone around us got benefits. The couple with the three year old, who was staring to get rambunctious, were delighted by story-time featuring some Princess with exactly the same name as the little girl, and a dinosaur, and Prince Charming and happily ever after and all that good stuff – I just threw in whatever was lying around in the storybook part of my brain. She loved it.

Ashley meanwhile was distributing blankets to the shivering patients. The very sick woman said to me, you know the sound of your voice is making me feel better. So I called Ashley (at my house picking up the wrong phone charger) and I asked her to bring my I Ching.  Anyway, the point is, you read passages from the book aloud. I have been doing this since 1980. I have actually made a living, doing just this, but that was only possible because of special circumstances. I asked her son to text me her room number, when she finally got one, so I could visit and do a reading for her.

The nurse arrived and announced my name. I said “you are not taking me before her. I absolutely refuse to be taken before her. Her husband shed a few tears as he mouthed the Thank-You. No worries mate.

That put me at the back of the line, not next, but last. One good turn deserves another, I guess.

When they finally called me, they didn’t put me in room. The Doctor performed no tests, was very abusive and insulting, gave me a sandwich – said that was all I needed and threw me out of the Hospital at 4:00 am. (He waited for Ashley to leave so he could be sure I was well and truly punished for my crimes in the waiting room) It took me six hours to walk home. I walked for an hour, got lost, went back to the hospital, got directions. The directions were insufficient – My phone was dead, so I couldn’t get a map. So I turned around, went back to the Hospital, and this time got proper directions (delivered as if it were my fault the first directions were inadequate) and then I walked home.

Not the best start to a day.

It gets a lot lot worse.

More later.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

ICU and the Taxis from HELL

So I collapsed about 2:am, and the ambulance took me straight to the ICU (I ran out of gas, parked the bike at the side of the road and walked for six hours in 36 (97) degree heat.

While I was in the ICU I poached one of their staff to be my personal nurse.  Last time I go to ICU.

I told the staff if they could get me out of there by 4:30 pm so I could pick up my dog (5pm latest) I would donate 100,00 to the unit and a cool million to the hospital.  I would have made the donations anyway, because they earned them.  I applied to join the board.  

They got me to the kerb in front of the hospital by 3:30pm.  The taxi driver from HELL was an hour late, lied that he had been there 30 minutes earlier, and managed to arrive TOO LATE to pick up my dog. I hope that taxi driver goes back to where he came from.

So I went home, on the bus, and got a gas can, and went to get my bike.  Would not start.  So I am back walking, having just been released, in a very unprecedented manner, from the ICU.  Let's say I was not quite 100% - more like 20%.  I went to a gas station, called another cab.  Somwhere long the way i lost my glasses, but My Eye Dr. said my new ones would be ready today, so I went to get them.  The taxi driver (also from HELL) kept going slower and slower and slower, and then if I said turn right, he turned left.  I was fifteen minutes too late to pick up my glasses.

I walked back home, now at about 5% I went into the Twinbrook deli, called one of my drivers.  I went home and fell asleep at about 9:00am.  When I woke up at 3 am I was soaking wet (diabetic - it happens) my room (which is always immaculate) looked like a bomb had hit it.  It's now 5:30 am.  My room is tidy, laundry is in and I wrote up some of what happened.

Also yesterday, placed an order for an everlasting pool $74,000 for one of the two houses I am buying (found the second house yesterday).

I also swung by Cathoilc Charities (I made a wrong turn) and applied to join that board.  I arranged to have my vehicles wrapped.  The merc (SUPERCAR) has been keyed so I am getting a full wrap for that, and I am going to turn the magnificent Redskins Tailgating truck into the all singing, all dancing St Helens tailgating truck, which I inted to fly to England next year and see St. Helens lift the World Club Championship for the third time this century.  I can't describe everything because the design is not complete, but it will have outside screen showing video of the games, & tribute videos.  It will also have one of those tickers, like on times square.   It will say - ST.HELENS  ST.HELENS ST. HELENS July 19 2018 Wigan 0 ST. HELENS 120  ST. HELENS ST. HELENS ST. HELENS.

Supercar will be purple this year.

With any luck, I will be having lunch today with Alex Counts, one of my oldest and dearest friends, and a man who has done more to help really poor people than almost anyone still alive.  I would say he is right up there with Yunus (and me lol) on that score.


Phew! (50% and rising)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Quite a week

Well I’ve had quite a week.

I totally robbed a bank on Tuesday.

 Like this.

 A couple of weeks ago my bank (SunTrust) was late in processing a paypal transfer into my account, and thus the account was overdrawn for a couple of hours. They charged me $35.

 Last Friday, I transferred (instant transfer) $500 to my Bank Account. The transaction showed up as complete on paypal. Didn’t show up at all at my bank. So I printed out the paypal receipt and went to my bank on Saturday morning to sort this out.

 The representative of SunTrust (hereinafter, “The Ape”) asked me if I was happy with my banking service, and I said No. First I cannot login to my online banking anywhere except my phone, because I use the Linux operating system (“Never heard of Linux” - The Ape).

 I do keep a windows notebook for the sole purpose of getting my banking data, but recently that computer also just shows “Request Denied” when you try to login to SunTrust. (“Nothing I can do about that” - The Ape).

 On the subject of the outrageous overdraft charge (“Nothing I can do about that”)

 On the matter of yesterday’s instant transfer disappearing into the ether. (I don’t know anything about that”).

 On his willingness to let me draw cash against the proof that I had already completed a transfer of funds to my account. (“The Bank cannot authorize that.”)

 SO I told him that he was no help at all and that I wanted to close the account. He said I would have to wait for the deposit (which according to him, did not exist) and then close the account. I told him that is what I would do.

 I went home and converted all of my cryptocurrency into cash ($1200) and transferred that into my bank account. When I got the notification that had arrived in my account I went online and bought two tickets to Lockn music festival, with the early arrival and upgrade to the camping pass, the bill came to $800.

 I paid via paypal.

 I got the receipts, I got the notification that the tickets had been shipped, and then I went to a different branch of SunTrust and closed my account – withdrawing $1400 in cash.

 Then I went to the M&T Bank who are offering $150 bonus to anyone who opens an account with a direct deposit of at least $900 within 90 days. They also have a feature where you can design your own debit card. My banker’s name is Emmanuel – an awfully nice young man, who seems genuinely pleased to see me every time I go in, and is very interested in my businesses – which is fun because they are all growing very fast at the moment, and my income is probably ten times the maximum it has ever been – as in I made about $100,000 this week.

 This morning I got a call from the Branch Manager at SunTrust– Tyrone, very nice chap – who said that there was a problem with closing my account because $800 in Paypal charges had just shown up. I told him I didn’t know anyting about it, nothing to do with me, mate, and hung up the phone, and then I blocked his number.

 SO having taken the bank for $800 (for stealing $35 from me) I am now getting ready to deal with my employer, who has been shaving my hours since the second week I worked for him.



 On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see my new house. My friends are forming a limited company to buy this house for me. WE are going to convert the bedrooms to much smaller dorm rooms, and the home will be a residential treatment facility for alcoholics. I will be managing the property and also managing the therapy for all of the individuals who will be living there temporally (6 months).

 During the time they spend in my house they will be obliged to attend one AA meeting and do at least one hour’s chores every day. They will also be able to access workshops, presented by me, on a wide range of topics from individual finance, personal hygiene, dress for less, yoga, mediation, organic gardening and etc.,

 This job provides me a cover for what I am really doing, about which, more later.

Wednesday. I decide to quit my job. I actually like my job very much. I like the people, I love the office. I love that I only work 4 hours a day. And I especially love that I am way awesome on Quickbooks. Even though I am only halftime, I manage more work than the three full-time bookkeepers COMBINED.

Even so, my employer has been stealing from me (shaving my hours) since the second week I worked there.

About three weeks ago, I let him find out that I knew he was stealing from me, and that I had evidence to prove it.

He responded by avoiding me. With the result that my last status report on my seventeen clients read, 2 – waiting for the client to answer questions that have been emailed to them. 1 – all complete and up to date, 14 – waiting for Steve.

When I started this job, I honestly didn’t know how my Quickbooks skills compared with those of professional bookkeepers who have been using Quickbooks, day in and day out, all day, every day,for more than a decade. Turns out I am so much better that those guys, I am in a class by myself.

 Over the course of the the last three months I have gradually accumulated all of the most difficult, years long messes, and for the most part, have cleaned them up in very short order.

 Once the client is in the monthly reconciliation phase (1-3 months) then I can service the account in about ten minutes. Steven pays me about $2.50, for doing this, and then turns around and bills the client for 2 hours @ $75/hr = $150.00. Soon all of his clients will know that this is how it works. I reckon they will leave his company en masse, and most of them will come to me.

 So I formed a new company.



240 997 2214 

Contact: Michael Tew, CEO 

 Bank: M&T Business Checking 

 Quick Books Online 

The website needs a bit more work but it will be ready on our launch date – July 4th. Independence Day. I expect the clients I have removed from Steven will be worth approximately $50,000.00 per year, at the new lower rate of $50.00 per hour, $25 minimum. I further expect that business to be producing $250,000 pa by the end of 2018. 

I have already hired two of the four people who will be working there. The other two, I am sure will be signed up before the 4th, so we will be launching with the full complement of five staff.

My overhead for running this $250,000 pa business from the mansion where I will soon be living (rent free) is about $200,000, most of that being salaries, and the people who get those salaries are thereby available for other work. So I count that as being $50,000 I made this week.

 By Tuesday, that was 51,000.

On Saturday morning I went to Petco to buy some birdseed which I use to stuff meditation cushions.

Petco have an animal adoption event every weekend. I was heading for the birdseed, when my dog hailed me. It was love at first sight, and Tony Tew will be joining the family next weekend.

 Currently he is here.

 I think that’s most of the main events.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

An event without consequence

One afternoon, when I was about fourteen years old, I left the family gathering in the kitchen and walked through the dining room, down the corridor and round the corner to the sitting room where I picked up the phone book and looked up the number for the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children. I knew this organization existed because five years earlier I had passed their office on my way to the swimming pool every Friday morning for a year. I had often thought that the people there would be able to tell me if the situation in my family was sufficiently out of the ordinary to qualify as cruelty. I had tried to talk about it with friends, but nobody would listen.
I dialed the number and described the scene in the kitchen. The woman at the other end of the phone asked me a series of questions. I think she was reading from a script. I answered the questions truthfully for a minute, maybe two, but I was anxious to get off the phone and she encouraged me to hang up when I said I was worried about being discovered.

The telephone company, as part of their regular billing process, provided my father with the date and time of the call, and from there he was able to deduce that the culprit was either myself, or my younger brother Colin, who was thirteen at the time, but as he was writhing on the floor, doing his best to limit the damage from the severe kicking he was getting, he wasn’t actually able to make that call himself. Raymond, another possible culprit, even though at only eleven years of age, such a calculated act of defiance would seem to be quite extreme, was trapped by furniture and unable to avoid witnessing the accustomed horror.
Had my father asked, I would have told him it was me. But I think he felt justified in hating all three of us, for, after all, it was our “bad behavior” that had brought these embarrassing and infuriating do-gooders to plague his life. I am sure he never considered the possibility that he might have been in the wrong. When they finally let go of him, after two years, during which time he had to refrain from some of the usual violence in the home as he was being “investigated”, he had a lot more pent up anger than just one of us could absorb.
He tossed all three of us out of school at the earliest possibility. In the case of my younger brothers, this was at age sixteen. I was seventeen, and half way through two years of college prep.
I was grounded for something or other, probably coming home late which I did a lot – eleven instead of ten-thirty kind of stuff, but my old man thought he could change any behavior with the right kind of punishment so I was under some kind of household arrest for an extended period, and on Sunday night I was home alone with my baby brother Geoff asleep upstairs after my parents went to the local pub for their weekly gathering with various relatives. My brother, being familiar with my parents’ schedule, arrived with his girlfriend to take advantage of the lack of adult supervision. I went out for a walk.
I came back an hour later, completely unaware that in the interim father had returned to collect a leash for the dog and discovered my disrespect for the boundaries of my prison. On Monday night, between arriving home from work, and heading out to the rugby club, father informed me that I was going to have to pay rent if I wished to continue living in his house. This would entail my leaving school and getting a job.
I was academically gifted, and, although I wasn’t enthusiastic about homework, I paid enough attention to score well on exams. I also engaged with extra curricular stuff. I was secretary of what passed for student government, for example, and my headmaster told me at my exit interview that I was short-listed to be a prefect in my senior year. This was despite a complete lack of interest or competence in any sport whatsoever. On the other hand, I was reading Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, Robert Graves and Fyodor Dostoyefsky in my free time while concentrating on Math Chemistry and Physics for schoolwork. I took every opportunity for stage performance, singing, dancing whatever I could get, both at school and in more than one amateur drama group.
I had always expected to complete a baccalaureate degree before going out into the real world. I was totally unprepared mentally. I had given the matter no thought at all. And suddenly I am sitting in the unemployment office explaining that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – “something constructive” I think I said.
......

More than two decades later I was standing in a pub on Christmas eve with my older brother, David. My surprise was genuine when David told me that father was still trying to find out who it was that dubbed him in to the RSPCC so many years earlier. I had totally forgotten making that call, because, as far as I was aware at the time, nothing had happened as a result. It was an event without consequence, and so I never had cause to think of the matter again.
As David described a situation where father had been the subject of a two year investigation it came rushing back to me. If only Colin and Raymond could rush back also. But by the time of this conversation both of those boys were dead. And they had both died deliberately, efficiently and alone.
There is a painfully exquisite entanglement of coincidence that binds these and other events together with some things of consequence on a far larger scale.

I call it my life.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Two Days in Nineteen Ninety Eight.

I have been a hunger activist since 1980. From street level volunteer work to the corridors of power, where policy is determined in Washington DC.

I have also lived and worked among the homeless in various places in England and Australia, and in Los Angeles, CA and Washington DC in the United States.

For the period 1986- 1989 I was Legislative Director of RESULTS. In this capacity I was responsible for the creation of a microcredit program at the US Agency for International Development, and for establishing a relationship between RESULTS and microcredit that continues to expand, to the benefit of the poor and disadvantaged all over the world.

My boss at the time, and the other full-time staff member, was Sam Daley Harris, founder and Executive Director of RESULTS. Currently, Sam is CEO of the Center for Citizens Empowerment and Transformation.

During the early part of the campaign to get the Congress to earmark funds for microcredit, (then called micro-enterprise), I was ably assisted by RESULTS group leader and intern from Cornell University, Alexander M. Counts, currently President of the Grameen Foundation.

Congressman Ed Feighan of Ohio agreed to introduce the legislation. The staff person, serving as Legislative Director, and Chief of Staff for Rep. Feighan, was the very capable Mr.George Stephanopoulos, currently anchor of ABC's Good Morning America.

The two senior technical advisers were Dr. John Hatch, founder and managing director of FINCA (now retired). FINCA is one of the largest and most successful microcredit institutions in the world, with lending operations all over central and south America, as well as eastern Europe and Africa.

And Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010.

It is my view that the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh is the most successful human endeavor in existence. This was my view in 1985 when I first came across micro enterprise, and lobbied in the RESULTS management committee for the inclusion of Grameen Bank as an institution RESULTS should specifically support.

It was view in 1987 when, at my insistence, micro enterprise became the sole focus for the first RESULTS engendered legislation, which it was to be my job, as Legislative Director, to shepherd through the congressional maze.

It remains my view. The source institution is targeted for destruction by the government of Bangladesh (as of today, July 8, 2014) and may well disappear as a result, but the enormous influence that single institution has brought to bear on economic development in favor of the poorest and most disadvantaged will probably endure for centuries.

This is now supported by the fact of close to 100 million of the world's poorest families who currently enjoy a sustainable escape from poverty through the workings of micro-credit.

And the sustained drop in birth-rates that micro-credit is certainly a factor in creating in Bangladesh is very significant -- demonstrating conclusively that the most efficient path to a stable population is to focus on improving the conditions of the poorest women.

There are many other profound, and significant external benefits to micro-credit, but I have written of this elsewhere and that is not my purpose in this journal.

This story of two days in 1988 is singular, and of interest principally to the millions who were facing starvation at the time. But for those few million people it is a very significant story, and I place it here for the public record.

As best as I can remember, this is what happened over the course of two days in 1988.

***

In January or February of that year, Sam Harris and I had a meeting with Mr. Kelly Kammerer, who was the most senior AID official at that time in Washington, DC.

Mr. Kammerer had requested the meeting to discuss the possibility of a search for common ground. The Agency had found itself on the opposite side of many of our recent campaigns, most particularly micro-credit, and wanted to see if there were some issues on which we could work together.

This meeting had been scheduled six weeks earlier, at about the time the passage of the continuing resolution sealed our victory in the initial micro-credit campaign.

The day before the meeting Sam handed me a letter as I arrived at the office at about 9:30 in the morning. The letter was from a RESULTS volunteer in Leeds, England. On the first page, the word famine had been underlined in red.

In the UK there was a rumor of an impending famine in Ethiopia.

(Less than three years earlier one million Ethiopians died as a result of famine, although aid efforts had prevented starvation for some seven million others before it was over. This event, which some remember as the "Live Aid" famine because of the concert organized by Irish musicians Bob Geldorf and Midge Ure, which resulted in a massive, though belated, aid effort.)

Sam asked me to call the aid organizations and see if I could find out what was happening.

I called CARE, Save the Children, and Catholic Relief Services and the USAID Ethiopia Desk among others. I was told that there might be isolated pockets of famine, but nothing like three years ago, nothing like that.

I kept gathering information, because nobody I talked to actually seemed really sure what was happening. Eventually I was referred to Mr. Pierre-Michel whom, I think, was responsible for the United Nations Development Program for that part of of Africa.

I called the number I had been given for this gentleman at UN Headquarters in New York, and I identified myself to the secretary as Michael Rigby, calling from RESULTS in Washington DC. I was surprised to be put through immediately, although I think it is fair to say that due to previous and successful campaigns on behalf of UNICEF and IFAD, RESULTS had a good reputation at the UN.

Pierre-Michel explained the situation, and I report the content of our conversation as accurately as I can recall.

MJR -- I am hearing rumors of an impending famine situation in Ethiopia, and I am told that you are the most knowledgeable person on that matter.

PM -- There are three harvests every year in Ethiopia, the first two failed completely, the third is now lying dead on the ground. Even if it rains tomorrow there is no food for millions of people. We are looking at a situation every bit as bad as 1985. We need to ship a million tons of food, and we cannot do ANYTHING (emphasis in original) because we have not had an official request for aid from the Mengistu government in Ethiopia.

MJR -- I will see what we can do.

Mengistu was deliberately starving millions of Eritreans and Tigreans, and would not request aid, even though these people were Ethiopians, according to Mengistu. This was not the first time famine had been used as a weapon, and it probably wasn't the last, it has been my experience that the real world is often nastier than most people believe possible. Mengistu was holding the capitol of the colonial territory that had been shaped by the Europeans for the specific purpose of corralling long time adversaries in the divide and conquer strategy favored by colonial powers since the time of Alexander.

Mengistu, from the minority tribe, held sway over the others with the secret police, combined with massive brutality formula, much favored by cold war client states. Mengistu stands out though, even in that crowd, for his diversion of aid funds to military equipment, purchased to enforce his reign of terror. For his use of aid convoys as cover for moving his troops, during a massive and life threatening famine. And just for sheer brutality.

Ethiopia switched sides during the cold war, and in 1988, it was a US client state.

I reported the results of my survey to Sam Harris and he said I should call Joan Mower at Reuters and Andy Holmes at Cox Newspapers. I gave both of these reporters the relevant phone numbers and the situation as described above. Then I went back to doing my usual work for about forty-five minutes, at which point Sam suggested I call Andy and Joan again.

I reached Joan first. I asked if she thought she might be able to use the story I had given her and she said "its already on the wire" and "thanks, good story", and then I had an almost identical conversation with Andy.

Sam suggested I call the aid agencies back again. They all reported that they were gearing up for a major effort. Amazing what the attention of a couple of reporters can do.

So I called Pierre-Michel at the United Nations, and asked him how much grain he wanted from the United States. He said it didn't work like that, because it was a donation, the donor countries decided how much they want to give. So I said "in previous famine situations, what proportion of the total has come from the United States", and he said "about a third" and I said "three hundred and fifty thousand tons," and he said "about that, yes".

I reported this conversation to Sam Harris. And later I went home to my wife and baby.

That night Sam called all of the regional co-ordinators, who called all the group leaders, who called all the partners, and the next day more than two hundred and fifty people spread across thirty-five cities and twenty six states scoured the newspapers looking for reports on a famine in Ethiopia. If they found one, they cut it out, and photocopied then faxed (with the masthead and the date) to the RESULTS office. Faxes poured in all morning, and when we left for our 11:30 am meeting with Kelley Kammerer I was carrying nine.

***

In addition to Kelly, and Sam, and myself, at the meeting there were three gentlemen from "The White House" who thought that it would be in our interests to get a hands-on understanding of the Agency for International Development, and they were prepared to fly us to any project we wanted to see, and as many projects as we wanted to see, anywhere in the world, at their expense, for twelve months.

Sam said we didn't need to fly anywhere, and we were quite prepared to cover our own expenses for research, if they would only point out to us which of their programs benefited the very poorest people, we would be happy to make them famous. They replied that there were no programs which benefited the very poorest, they preferred to target assistance a few rungs up, so that the benefits trickle down to those at the bottom. "In that case", said Sam, "we have nothing further to talk about".

At that point the White House contingent left, and, into the highly charged silence that followed their departure, I interjected, "Kelly, have you heard anything about a possible famine situation in Ethiopia?" He said, "I think there was something in this morning's clippings" and undoubtedly glad to change the subject, he checked his whole file while I laid my nine on the square glass coffee table in front of me.

It wasn't a big table and so the photocopied newspaper clippings completely covered it, and were bending at the edges.

Kelly pulled out two sheets from his file of about twenty or thirty photocopies.

I looked right in his eyes and I said. "Kelly, how long will it take to ship three hundred and fifty thousand tons of grain to Addis Ababa?". 

He said that the Agency's emergency allocation was good for something like thirty-nine thousand tons, and three hundred and fifty thousand also exceeded some other threshold, so that it would require primary legislation, for which you would have to arrange a special session of this committee and that committee and a whole bunch of other committees and then you get the President to sign it and then you can get three hundred thousand tons.

As he spoke, and named the committees we'd have to bring together, I ran through a best case scenario in my mind. If we really pushed, we could make a big enough deal out of this situation that the various committees would rapidly find a quorum, and still it was going to take months. So when he had finished speaking I responded "So, August" , this being a date several months from when this conversation was taking place.

He seemed a little surprised, 'cos I think he knew that if we really pushed it we could make all that happen by August. I certainly believed we could have done so, and I am also sure we would have done so had that proved necessary. Kelly said, "Yes, that might be possible by August."

"Kelly", I said, with some considerable feeling, "Tens of thousands of people will be dead by then."

He said that he would bring the matter up at the daily briefing of the Agency Administrator, Mr. Alan Bond.

Now I reckon Kelly is looking at me, like I'm someone from the crew that has just turned down the bribe (free travel, anywhere for a year all-expenses paid) and I am offering him peace and quiet in return for a few hundred million dollars worth of food aid.

And he knows that on day one of this campaign, at eleven thirty in the morning, we have press in eleven (my nine and Kelly's two) newspapers. This situation is as new for Kelly today, as it had been for me the day before. He knows that we are only just getting started, and he knows that we overcame the administration's opposition in the recent micro-credit, IFAD and UNICEF campaigns. He has some idea about what we can do with that much press, although I think we still surprised a lot of folks with the passion with which we took on the issues we cared about.

I think that the swift response of the RESULTS volunteers had helped make it clear to Mr. Kammerer that we were very serious about this matter. As for the amazing coincidence of this meeting having been scheduled six weeks earlier - who can say? A cubic centimeter of chance, perhaps.

I don't know what Kelly Kammerer said to Alan Bond but I think its likely he recommended a significant response.

***

Over the course of the next few days we sent out at least twenty six newspaper clippings in daily mailings to a whole bunch of Congressmen - all the members of the relevant committees, all the members whose districts were covered by whatever particular newspaper printed the item (and once you got on our list you got all of them, whether they were in your district or not). A whole bunch of AID people, committee staff, aid agencies, and people at the UN. We had volunteers calling the Congressional Aides, we had letters to the editor published all over, and we got them on the desks in the Congressional offices on a far shorter lead time than anyone else in Washington.  No clipping service could match what was going on at RESULTS, because we had at that time, a couple of hundred unpaid volunteers that actually cared.  Such a thing cannot be bought (as demonstrated above, lol).

To make stuff happen, in Washington at that time we had a couple of cheap IBM clone computers (and sufficient expertise on hand to make them productive) and we had Sharon Mason - our secret weapon of a secretary, originally a volunteer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. And we had me & Sam.

And across the US in Los Angeles, we had Dorsey Lawson - a little old lady from Pasadena whose half-time staff position is largely responsible for the fact that RESULTS has such a strong presence in California.

We were the kind of organization where the Executive Director, and the Legislative Director regularly spent Friday evenings standing at the counter in the photocopy store, folding letters and stuffing them into envelopes.

***

Within a few days Alan Bond was in Addis Abbaba where he announced an immediate shipment of ninety thousand tons.

The rest of the world, (prodded by [among others], RESULTS partners in England, and Canada, and Germany and Australia as well as the larger United States organization.), quickly emulated the United States, (whose subsequent further contributions brought them close to three hundred thousand tons by the time it was all over) and almost all one million tons were committed in about two months.

Not all of the aid got to where it was most needed, and probably ten thousand people did die as a result of famine that year, but that's a lot less than a million. And that's got to be a good thing.

Dreadful conditions, and frequent outbreaks of violence continue to make parts of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia very difficult places to live. But for a few months, many of the people who do the right thing were calling the shots, and so it allowed some of humanity's brighter lights to shine for a while. And that's a good thing too.

I offer the above story which can be checked by interviewing any of the people named above, should there be any question about my character.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Washington, DC 1989


The $50 million micro-enterprise earmark established by the US Congress came with a requirement that the agency for international development (USAID) was to report annually to Congress on their progress in expanding the availability of micro-finance.

In their first report, the agency stated that $58 million had been allocated for micro-credit development with programs in place in dozens of countries. We were skeptical. The agency had been very reluctant to accept a congressional mandate for what we believed to be a new program; that they would have overspent in the first year did not seem credible. We needed to find out exactly what was included in that fifty eight million, and so we hired a specialist, with central American experience, to go and look at the programs on the ground, and report back on what exactly the agency was calling micro-credit.

It was essential that we obtain the list of projects that the agency had included in their calculations.

Danielle was able to discover the identity of the person tasked with assembling that list. When this person was let go by the agency, he took with him a copy of the database – which had been assembled on an already obsolete Amstrad computer, presumably to hinder our access to the data in the event of a successful FOI petition. FOI can easily take two years – we had weeks, not months, to get that project list.

Danielle Y is a very skilled and dedicated individual. She has remarkable courage, and a razor sharp intelligence. In addition, she was also traffic stopping beautiful. I hired her before I met her. We did telephone interviews, and so I can honestly say I was astonished when this ravishing beauty walked into my office, ready to undertake a mission that would involve investigative reporting, writing and traveling, by herself, through some pretty dangerous country.

Well Mr. X, formerly of USAID was also very taken with Ms. Y, and knew she needed what was on that disk in his possession. He showed up in my office one morning about eleven o clock. I think he’d already had a drink.
He handed me a five and quarter inch floppy disk, and said, “It’s an Amstrad disk. If you can read it, you can have the data on Africa, as a good faith gesture.” I took the disk from him as I sat down at one of the office PC’s. I knew already that I wouldn’t be able to read the disk, so my feigned exasperation was a theater to distract, while under his nose I made a replica, an exact copy. Bit by bit by Byte the dos diskcopy command meticulously duplicates exactly the 10110 etc., ad infinitum. If the original is unreadable by that dos computer program, then the copy is equally so. But when returned to a computer that can read the program on the original disk, the replica will work just the same. Some tidbit of knowledge I had gathered one day when flicking through a text on computing. After a few minutes of recreating my high-school acting career, I handed back the disk saying I couldn't read it.

Thus an hour later, when Danielle came into my office, having escorted Mr. X to the door after their private meeting, she said, almost in tears “We had it in our hands!” I produced the copy with a little flourish. “Yes, and now we have a copy of it in our hands. Take this to Debbie P’s house. She has an Amstrad computer. Get your self a printout and start planning your trip.”

Danielle’s report was sufficient to stir the Congress into mandating an advisory committee, and our credibility was such that we were able to have a great deal of influence in who was on that committee, and thus further our goal of microfinance for the very poorest women, and not that other stuff the agency was into in central America under President Reagan.