U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee reacts on FOXNEWS story on UNDP's assistance to Syrian Dictator (BASHAR)

House Foreign Affairs Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman

CONTACT: Brad Goehner and Andeliz Castillo, (202) 225-5021, April 29, 2011Alex Cruz (South Florida press), (202) 225-8200



Ros-Lehtinen Warns of ‘Bucks for Bashar’ Scandal, Calls for End to UN Development Program Aid for Syria

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented on the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) proposed 5-year, $38 million aid plan for Syria. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Given UNDP’s track record of mismanagement, malfeasance, and diversion of funds in Afghanistan, Burma, and North Korea, I am deeply concerned that UNDP assistance to Syria could end up benefitting the Syrian regime. We’ve already had the ‘Cash for Kim’ scandal in North Korea. This aid plan must be terminated to avoid any potential ‘Bucks for Bashar’ scandal in Syria.

“UNDP’s proposed aid package for Syria is premised on the false belief that the murderous dictatorship in Damascus can be a legitimate partner for democratic governance, economic growth, and development. The program proposal itself notes that UNDP will ‘continue to work closely with the government of Syria,’ even as the world witnesses the regime’s escalation of violence and repression against the Syrian people.

“Other UN agencies have also engaged in questionable dealings with the regime. For example, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency banks with the regime-controlled Commercial Bank of Syria, which has been designated under U.S. law for terror financing and money laundering.

“UNDP simply cannot be trusted to behave in a transparent, accountable manner, particularly when it operates in areas governed by rogue regimes. As such, U.S. taxpayer funds must not be contributed to UNDP.”

CSR Takes on the War for Talent

I love following Elaine Cohen's blog because of her insightful posts and book, CSR For HR(reviewed here earlier) about the increasingly important relationship between CSR and HR domain issues. Recently she wrote about the importance of CSR as a recruiting tool, Recruiting for Purpose.

There has been a lot of news lately about poaching for top talent going on in Silicon Valley, where I live. There has also been great news about the improved job market for this year's 2011 college graduates. As the economy improves and more and more employees are expecting their companies to be socially responsible, one of the weapons in the "War for Talent"  that may become more significant will be the company's commitment to social responsibility, community engagement, and philanthropy.

I engaged in a bit of poaching myself here from Elaine's post, the terrific YouTube video of Charlie Rose speaking with Indira Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co and William Green, Chairman of Accenture.  Here are their answers to Charlie Rose's question: '"In the 'war for talent', do you think an explanation of your commitment to the societal question is an important and decisive factor whether  someone chooses to come to work for you?"

Indira Nooyi:
"It the most important deciding factor. They agree to come for one reason that they want be part of the Performance for Purpose."
William Green:
"76% of new recruits by their third question ask about  corporate responsibility."

Right now none of the poaching news stories indicated that employees went over to other companies for CSR reasons. But if HR departments can be more conscious about the potential of  baking CSR into their recruitment message and their job offers, they may win over top talent by reinforcing the cycle of companies caring about becoming more socially responsible, for a variety of good reasons.

UNDP's uncle Helen is aiding Syrian Dictator to crush peaceful protesters

A fox news story shows how UNDP continue to aid the Syrian Dictatorship despite democratic protests


Amid Syrian Crackdown, U.N. Considering $38 Million Aid Plan for Government

By George Russell

While Syria’s government is killing hundreds of pro-democracy protesters, the United Nations Development Program, or UNDP, is considering whether to approve a $38 million, five-year aid program for Damascus, to continue what it calls “a well-functioning partnership with the government.”

Approval of the plan is on the agenda for the next meeting of the development agency’s 36-member Executive Board, slated to begin on June 6.

The U.S. is among a dozen Western nations that are board members. Among other things, the program calls for UNDP to “continue to work closely with the government of Syria,” led by President Bashar Assad, while strengthening its collaboration with “NGOs [non-government organizations], the private sector, the donor community and local authorities”—all of which may be impossible to do amid the Assad regime’s ugly crackdown and its aftermath.

The proposal says little about political conditions under the Syrian dictatorship, except to note mildly that the country’s “democratic governance needs strengthening.”

When queried about whether the program would be approved as scheduled, a UNDP spokesman told Fox News that the question of whether to go ahead with the approval “is currently under discussion.”

Members of the U.N.’s on-the-ground country team in Syria, which is lead by UNDP, “will revert to us on their recommendations soon,” the spokesman added.

Draft documents outlining the Syrian program, along with those for a handful of other Arab nations currently facing political turmoil, are not available on the UNDP website, even though similar programs for countries ranging from Ethiopia to Honduras are already posted.

Fox News obtained a copy of the Syria document, which optimistically projects that by 2015, with UNDP “enabling” support worth about $12.4 million, the Assad regime will be embarked on a major administrative reform program, “and will ensure increased participation of civil society and the private sector in the reform process.”

The same document projects that by 2015, “the Government will have ensured food security for all, and will have elaborated adequate mechanisms for addressing the consequences of climate change.”

Click here to read the draft country program.

The UNDP program for Syria, like almost all of the development agency’s programs around the world, is “nationally executed”—meaning, it counts on the Syrian government itself to carry out the plan, with supervisory and technical assistance from the UNDP’s local team.

In fact, according to the UNDP’s draft country program, the U.N. group’s activity in Syria is “largely based” on the regime’s own, upcoming five-year plan for 2011-2015, and involves mostly carrying out the wishes of the government itself, through intertwining relationships with many of the key ministries that assure the regime’s control. Among them: Justice, Information, Communications, Social Affairs and Labor and Foreign Affairs, as well as Economy and Trade, Tourism, Transport, Electricity and Environment.

The UNDP document characterizes the Syrian national plan as “a vision of the country characterized by equitable and inclusive human, social and economic development and fuller regional integration.”

In the draft country document, UNDP emphasizes the positive elements in its “cooperation,” including “the simplification of government processes for greater accountability and transparency” in the judiciary and municipal government, as well as support for such new institutions as a “Young Journalist Network. It also calls for creation of a “Media Training Institute effectively implementing training for male and female journalists.”

This would not be UNDP’s first joint venture in journalism with the Assad regime. In 2008, the aid organization signed a five-year, $400,000 project to “provide an influential and widespread English-daily newspaper to English-speaking Syrians and foreigners seeking Syrian news.”

The newspaper, the Syrian Times, would have the “capability of giving the Syrian account of events and news to an international audience seeking the perspective and news from the local source.” UNDP’s task was to offer strategies to “improve the efficiency and intellectual potential of the newspaper,” as well as revamp its business model.

Click here for a copy of the 'Support to the Syrian Times Newspaper' project.

Whatever positive role UNDP lauds itself as playing, however, according to the U.S. State Department 2010 report on Syria, it hasn’t translated into less repression, more accountability, more democratic governance or much noteworthy efficiency.

Along with a lengthy list of brutalities committed by the Assad regime, the State Department notes that “the government imposed severe restrictions on civil liberties: freedoms of speech and press, including Internet and academic freedom; freedoms of assembly and of association, including severe restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and freedoms of religion and movement.”

In the most recent national and municipal elections in Syria, in 2007, the report notes that the balloting was “neither free nor fair,” and according to human rights advocates “served to reassert the primacy and political monopoly of power Assad and the Ba’ath Party apparatus wielded.” It adds that outside observers “uniformly” dismissed official voter statistics as “fraudulent and not representative of observed participation.”

The report also says that “the judiciary was not independent,” and that “approximately 95 percent of judges” were adherents or associates of the Ba’athist party. It notes that “an atmosphere of corruption pervaded the government.”

How UNDP will square those observations with its proposed new program of support for Syria, if and when it is discussed and voted on, remains to be seen. According to the UNDP spokesman, “the finalized program will reflect and depend on developments in Syria.”

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News

Gastvrijheid in een geglobaliseerde wereld

Aan de vooravond van het moderne Europa zoals wij het kennen, beschrijft de filosoof Immanuel Kant wat gastvrijheid betekent. Ik vertaal het vrij: “Gastvrijheid is het recht van de vreemdeling om niet vijandelijk te worden ontvangen in het land van de ander. Het is niet het recht om er permanent te verblijven, maar een bezoekersrecht, dat alle mensen toekomt, het recht om gezelschap aan te bieden; dit op grond van het recht van het gemeenschappelijke bezit van de oppervlakte van de aardbol, een oppervlakte die niet oneindig is. En dit betekent dat we elkaar moeten zullen dulden.” In zijn tijd - we spreken hier over eind achttiende eeuw - is het moment al niet meer ver weg dat elk plekje aarde in bezit is van iemand. We zouden ons naar aanleiding van Kants citaat kunnen afvragen of we dan niet beter over ‘gastvrijheid’ kunnen spreken in plaats van over ‘ethiek’. De socioloog Zygmunt Bauman oppert deze these en de recentelijk overleden filosoof Jacques Derrida stelt zelfs dat ethiek gastvrijheid is.
 Wij eenentwintigste-eeuwers leven in deze geglobaliseerde wereld. Globalisering duidt precies op het bewustzijn dat we allen, vriend en vijand, op deze bol leven. Wij leven in deze wereld waarin ethiek betekent dat we de vreemdeling ontvangen in het huis (of land) dat ons toebehoort. Gastvrijheid impliceert dus bezit aan de kant van de gastheer. Zonder bezit, een huis, een bed of een maaltijd, is gastvrijheid onmogelijk. Wij, Europeanen van vandaag, worden dagelijks geconfronteerd met het bestaan van een aanzienlijk deel van de wereldbevolking dat is aangewezen op onze gastvrijheid. De rol van Europa is in dit perspectief cruciaal. De wereldbol werd vanuit Europa gekoloniseerd en tot bezit verklaard. Deze geschiedenis is onomkeerbaar, maar de grondhouding die het Europa van vandaag, precies vanwege het voormalig bezit, kan innemen is die van gastvrijheid.
 Gastvrijheid is niet mogelijk zonder bezit. Europa is vandaag de dag vooral een werelddeel dat onlosmakelijk verbonden is met haar kolonisatiegeschiedenis. Naar het voorbeeld van Alexander de Grote en van de Christelijke missie bezette het de wereld. Maar het zag zichzelf in de loop van de twintigste eeuw steeds meer tegenover het geweld van dekolonisatie geplaatst: nagenoeg alle kolonieën rukten zich in de naoorlogse periode met geweld los van hun koloniserende geweldenaars. Het geweld waarmee de dekolonisatie gepaard ging was inherent aan het geweld van de kolonisatie zelf. Jean-Paul Sartre beschreef het geweld van de dekolonisatie, zoals dat van Algerije dat zich van Frankrijk losmaakte, als een boemerang die op de kolonisators terugkwam. Het mag dan lijken dat kolonisatie in de klassieke betekenis van het woord verdwenen is, de koloniserende handelsgeest van de Europeaan is dat niet: in de multinationals in het bedrijfsleven of het massatoerisme waart de geest van het kolonialisme. De legertenten en missieposten hebben plaats gemaakt voor de plants van multinationals en voor touristsresorts. Europa is te klein voor de Europeaan. De wereld is voorhanden. Gastvrijheid heeft met verovering te maken. Of is het precies het tegenovergestelde?
 Antwoord: beide. De etymologie van het Engelse woord hospitality (of het Franse hospitalité) verraadt onmiddellijk de dubbele connotatie die het woord met zich meebrengt. Het Engelse 'host' kent vanuit de Latijnse oorsprong dezelfde stam als het Engelse 'hostile'. Is het niet opmerkelijk dat gastvrijheid en vijandschap uit dezelfde stam geboren zijn? Een halve eeuw voor onze jaartelling verbaast Cicero zich over deze double bind: “Ik zie dat degene die we een vechtende vijand zouden noemen een ‘gast’ (hostis) heet. Het afschrikwekkende van de feiten wordt dus verzacht met deze uitdrukking. Voor onze voorvaderen betekende ‘vijand’ (hostis) wat we nu aanduiden als ‘vreemdeling’ ”, aldus de Romein in De Officiis (Over Plichten). Deze etymologie is veelbetekenend. De Latijnse term ‘hostis’ beslaat het gehele betekenisveld van ‘vijand’ en ‘vreemdeling’ tot aan ‘gast’. Vijandschap is dus beslist niet een gecorrumpeerde afgeleide van een vermeende oorspronkelijke openheid naar de ander. In Kant’s citaat zien we dit nog terug: de ander heeft het recht op een niet vijandige ontvangst. Maar dat impliceert dat er reden is om over vijandschap te spreken. En het is waar: de gast is precies niet mijn vriend. Hij is vreemdeling, de ander. Waar het om gaat, is dat de ander, ondanks zijn andersheid en ondanks het feit dat ik zijn taal niet versta en ik zijn gewoonten niet begrijp, erken als een volwaardig menselijk wezen en daarom respecteer. Dat we de vijand gastvrij ontvangen leert niet alleen het Nieuwe Testament (het opmerkelijke gebod uw vijanden lief te hebben) maar herkennen we in het moderne idee van krijgsgevangenschap, dat is gebaseerd op fundamentele rechten die vijanden als zijnde mensen hebben.
 Gastvrijheid is dus een gif en tegengif tegelijkertijd en dat heeft niets te maken met een corrumpering van een ‘oorspronkelijk zuivere gastvrijheid’ die overloopt van goedheid. De gastvrijheidsindustrie (hotels, toerisme etc.), waarin gastvrijheid sterk is vercommercialiseerd, is gebaseerd op het feit dat gastvrijheid van meet af aan economisch is: een gastvrijheidsrelatie is een ruilrelatie. De gast vraagt iets dat de gastheer kan geven. De gastheer heeft dat in zijn bezit. Economie is inherent aan gastvrijheid. Vanuit een zuivere reciprociteit (zoals die van de ‘volmaakte’ Aristotelische vriendschap) zou gastvrijheid onmogelijk blijven. Dat maakt onderzoek naar een bedrijfsethiek voor deze sector cruciaal. Hoe is een bedrijfsethiek mogelijk voor een vercommercialiseerde gastvrijheidssector?
 Voor Jacques Derrida, voor wie gastvrijheid een centraal thema in zijn latere werk is, is gastvrijheid de ethiek van de kosmopolitische samenleving. Naast de ethiek van gastvrijheid, die we op persoonlijk niveau kennen en die idealiter de grondslag zou zijn voor de moderne vercommercialiseerde gastvrijheid (al is dat lang niet altijd het geval), is er een fundamenteel recht op politieke gastvrijheid. De traditie gaat terug naar de villes-refuges van het oude Israel (beschreven door de Frans-joodse denker Emmanuel Levinas, niet toevallig de filosoof van ‘de ander’), waar bannelingen ondanks hun ballingschap hun toevlucht kunnen nemen. In de de context van het moderne post-kolonialistische Europa heet dit ‘vluchtelingenbeleid’ op basis van humaniteit. Maar hoe gastvrij is het huidige vluchtelingenbeleid? In navolging van Kant stellen denkers van onze tijd, zoals Derrida of Bauman, de vraag hoe Europa deze ethiek van gastvrijheid kan herwinnen. In plaats van de strategieën van de angst, zoals het neo-fascisme of zich op ‘identiteit’ blindstarende conservatisme en de toenemende drang om van Europa een veilig fort de maken, zou Europa de ultieme consequentie van de oude kolonisatie, te weten gastvrijheid, moeten cultiveren. Dat impliceert niet alleen een ander gedrag van multinationals of een andere houding van de toerist en de touroperator, het betekent ook een kritische reflectie op de economische immigrant (de voormalige ‘gastarbeider’) en een gastvrij beleid waarin het gaat om mensen die geen kant meer opkunnen, de vluchtelingen en asielzoekers die alleen al door hun bestaan een appel op Europa doen om de grenzen niet te sluiten maar te openen. En we weten dat onze gast heus niet onze vriend hoeft te zijn of te worden.

Ruud Welten

Artikel gepubliceerd in Dante Magazine (Magazine van de Tilburg School of Humanities) Voorjaar 2011, p. 13-15. Alle rechten voorbehouden.

How to gauge the success of the State Department's new internal social network, Corridor.


Corridor's Success Metrics

Last week, I wrote about Corridor, the State Department's new internal social networking portal. This week, I want to examine some ways that its administrators can illustrate to their leadership that their investment in Corridor is returning results. Here are the top four metrics I think they should look at:

  • Membership and activity - especially among senior leadership
  • Reduction in email volume among members
  • Profile search volume and creation of ad hoc working groups
  • Integrating (or replacing) duplicative systems

Membership and activity - especially among senior leadership

Of course, the first metric of success is: are people joining the site and are they using its features? A more sophisticated analysis would look more closely at senior leadership and see if they are sharing articles with their staff, using the sites resources, and encouraging those under their supervision to turn to Corridor to accomplish their tasks more easily and quickly.

Senior leadership sets the tone and directs the activity of an office. When the office directors and other executives lead by example, their staff is more likely to follow them. More importantly, the senior leadership will add value to the content on the network. In State, as in any organization, staff is more likely to click on a link that is sent by those above them in the chain of command, and Corridor can make it easy for higher-ups to share the articles they find important.

Thankfully, gathering the numbers for this metric is easy. The set of GS15s and SESes is defined and seeing how often they post, how many links they share, and how many people click on the links are all data at eDiplomacy's disposal. This is perhaps the most important metric of success and can be articulated succintly: "Corridor has a large membership that uses its many features often."

And what do they use those features to do? Answering that question are the other succes metrics:

Reduction in email volume among members

One of the challenges for State, or any large organization, is creating documents that have multiple layers of editorial input. At State, they call it "moving paper." Currently, much of that work is done through email, an imperfect collaboration tool at best. Other work is either accomplished or cooredinated through email as well that would be better done through a social media portal with defined features specific to the tasks, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Asking questions to large groups of people, when only (a) a select few may know the answer and (b) only one person needs to respond. This situation can be better addressed either through a feature like Quora, or Facebook Questions.
  • Locating/storing documents on a shared drive. Through a social media portal, people should be able to tag documents with multiple key words and search for them, making them easier to find not only for themselves, but for others who are looking for them. (NB: the fact that State creates both classified and unclassified documents is an important issue I'll address in a later post on obstacles to success).
  • Finding contact info and creating working groups. Everyone has sent emails along the lines of "Hey, X, do you have Y's phone number/email address/office location?" Or even more difficult to answer: "Hey, X, do you remember that person who worked in Tunisia in 2006?" These types of questions can be answered through a robust personnel database that is searchable through multiple defined fields.

Profile search volume and the creation of ad hoc working groups

The last example in the previous section points directly to another success metric: are offices able to find people for specific vacancies more quickly. Additionally, working groups can be created quickly (outside the strictures of State's staffing protocols) to address urgent needs. Search volume is a straight-forward metric and it will depend heavily on members filling out complete profiles and making those profiles searchable.

Integrating (or replacing) duplicative systems

Of course, State already has a personnel database. It also has internal email, and a host of other features that Corridor can be seen as duplicating. One component of Corridor's success will be either integrating itself with these systems (HR being perhaps the best example), or supplanting those systems (collaboration space and sounding Board - State's online suggestion box- perhaps the best examples). This will result in cost savings for the Department and time savigns for all employees.

I'm curious to know what other success metrics could be developed. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Next, I'll outline the features of corridor and show how they align with the success metrics. Then, I'll write about some obstacles to success that eDiplomacy will have to navigate.

@UNDP: So why not try to figure out which projects work and focus our resources on them?

More Tales of Two Tails

By Guest Blogger | Published April 28, 2011


The following post is by Dennis Whittle, co-founder of GlobalGiving. Dennis blogs at Pulling for the Underdog.

An eloquent 3 year-old would have been better asking “What the dickens are you talking about? Who is defining success? Who says failure is bad, anyway?” – Joe

Earlier I blogged about aid cheerleaders and critics. Each camp argues about the mean outcome of aid rather than the distribution of impact among projects. Both camps agree that some projects have positive results and others negative. So why not try to figure out which projects work and focus our resources on them?

I got some great and insightful comments and a few nice aid distribution graphs from readers. Here are some key themes:

1. The mean *does* matter if the distribution is random. In other words, if we can’t predict in advance what types of projects will succeed, we should only spend more resources if the mean outcome is positive.

2. Many people believe that on average the biggest positive returns come from investment in health projects.

3. We should also look at the distribution of impact even within successful projects, because even projects that are successful on average can have negative impacts on poorer or more vulnerable people.

4. Given the difficulty in predicting ex-ante what will work, a lot of experimentation is necessary. But do we believe that existing evaluation systems provide the feedback loops necessary to shift aid resources toward successful initiatives?

5. “Joe,” the commenter above, argues that in any case traditional evaluators (aid experts) are not in the best position to decide what works and what doesn’t.

From reader Steve White: "Here is my graph based on two stylized facts about aid projects: 1) most projects have very marginal impacts (agricultural tools to villages, microcredit, school construction, textbooks, scholarships, deworming...) and 2) some health projects have HUGE impacts (vaccinations, DDT, bednets)." The two bars represent impacts between -1 and 0, and between 0 and 1

From reader Daniel Kyba: "Those which do a good job are the ones with defined and observable measures - profit/loss; live/die and so on. These measures provide a form of a feedback mechanism at the project level to which the aid provider can respond. As you move towards the world of fuzzy concepts and measures that is where the ineffectiveness occurs, due to the lack of feedback mechanisms and because there is less definition of success/failure."

Petr Jansky sent a paper he is working on with colleagues at Oxford about cocoa farmers in Ghana. The local trade association was upset that they could not get pervasive adoption of a new package of fertilizer and other inputs designed to increase yields. According to their models, the benefits to farmers should be very high. The study found that – on average – that was true, but that the package of inputs has negative returns to farmers with certain types of soil or other constraints. Farmers with zero or negative returns were simply opting out.

At first glance, these findings seem obvious and trivial. But they are profound, in at least two ways. First, retention rates are an implicit and easily observable proxy for net returns to farmers. We don’t need expensive outside evaluations to tell us whether the overall project is working or not. And second, permitting farmers to decide acknowledges differential impacts on different people even within a single project.

What other ways could we design aid projects to allow the beneficiaries themselves to evaluate the impact and opt in or out depending on the impact for them personally? And how would it change the life of aid workers if their projects were evaluated not by outside experts and formal analyses but by beneficiaries themselves speaking through the proxy of adoption?

Job Posting, CED Clinical Fellow, Yale Law School

Yale Law School seeks applications for a Clinical Fellowship for a one-year position beginning on July 1, 2011 with a possible second year. The Fellowship is designed for lawyers with at least five years of practice who are interested in preparing for a career in law school clinical teaching. The Fellow will work with the Community and Economic Development (CED) Clinic and will be supervised by CED faculty members Ray Brescia and Robin Golden. The primary responsibilities include supervising students as they represent clients in a wide range of areas (from community development banking to education reform), teaching classes, and working on one’s own scholarship. This year they are looking for a Fellow with particular experience in community development financial institutions, but will consider applicants who have other relevant experience. Fellows will be allowed sufficient time, resources and assistance during the year to engage in research and writing. All work will be conducted with the assistance of the clinical faculty. For a complete description and application requirements, please visit CSO's Symplicity

“Meals for Moms” Campaign Helps Feed Seniors and Lift Spirits

For Immediate Release

Meals On Wheels and Gallo® Family Vineyards team up to help end hunger among senior women in honor of Mother’s Day

ALEXANDRIA, VA (April 18, 2011) - The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is launching its second annual Meals for Moms campaign to raise awareness of homebound senior moms facing the threat of hunger this Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8th). Individuals can visit www.MealsForMoms.org to send a message of hope to a lonely and homebound senior mom or send an e-card to a special woman in their life. With the help of the official sponsor, Gallo® Family Vineyards, the campaign’s goal this year is to send 50,000 messages. All funds raised will go into the Meals for Moms Fund to help Meals On Wheels programs feed homebound senior moms around Mother’s Day next year.

“Most of us are very lucky to know the love of a mother. They are the ones who raised us and often prepared our meals. Now, too many of them are alone and hungry,” said MOWAA President and CEO, Enid Borden. “They deserve better, and that is why this campaign is so very important. Our moms need us.”

MOWAA-sponsored research reveals that a staggering six million seniors are facing the threat of hunger in America, and the numbers are growing. The majority of those seniors are women. Gallo Family Vineyards is a family-owned winery and understands the importance of family, sharing the firm belief that the world is a better place when we don't just take care of our own families, but take care of each other.

“We are proud to join MOWAA in its mission to feed more senior women,” said Stephanie Gallo, Vice President of Marketing at E&J Gallo Winery. “It’s important to find ways to give back. Working with Meals On Wheels is just one of the ways we’re trying to make our community better.”

At www.MealsforMoms.org, visitors can choose from a variety of flowers – including roses, tulips, and lilies – for the virtual bouquet they select to send with a message. Here are just a few examples of the thousands of messages sent to homebound moms across the country last year:

“Happy Mother's Day. Although we cannot meet, I am here caring for you in spirit.”

“I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day! We all know its not easy raising a child and all mothers should get some credit for doing such an important job! So, happy Mother’s Day!”

“Mothers are special! I wouldn't be today the person I am if it wasn't for my great Mother (and Grandma too)! Happy Mother's Day. Hugs & kisses to all.”
About Meals On Wheels Association of America
The Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the oldest and largest national organization in the United States representing those programs that provide meals to people in need. MOWAA’s mission is to end senior hunger by 2020. To obtain more information about MOWAA or to locate a local Meals On Wheels program, visit the MOWAA website at www.mowaa.org.

About Gallo Family Vineyards
Gallo Family Vineyards has been family owned and operated for over 75 years, and the Gallo Family stands behind the quality of every bottle with our Best Taste Promise. Our family of wines (suggested retail price of $4.99 for 750-ml bottles, $8.99 for 1.5-liter bottles, $5.99 for 187-mL four-pack) includes fourteen fruit forward, approachable styles at an affordable price: Chardonnay, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, White Zinfandel, White Merlot, Blush Noir, Sweet Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Hearty Burgundy, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Café Chardonnay and Café Zinfandel. For more information visit www.gallofamily.com or call 1-877-425-5696

We are Meals On Wheels
...so no senior goes hungry®

Is Starbucks Free Coffee on Earth Day Really Cause Marketing?

It’s Earth Day today and how could anyone on the internet miss it? Just check out Google’s cute green logo for the day, or on Twitter and Facebook the uncountable number of #earthday hashtags. One of the largest group of tweets,( my current count for just the last hour was 200), were about Starbucks giving free cups of coffee or tea to anyone who brings their own reusable mug.

As I dashed off to meet a friend, I grabbed two coffee mugs, one for her and one for me to take to the nearest Starbucks and I stopped to think about the consequences and the benefits and the balance between the two, that his type of promotional/ cause marketing may bring about and whether this actually is cause marketing. Several cause marketing pro's, like Joe Waters that writes about a partnership and like wikipedia which defines it as :

Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a "for profit" business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit.

Basic definition of cause marketing is defined by Business Dictionary.com

"Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm's sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return."
HMM! No joint funding, no cooperative efforts between Starbucks and a non-profit, no partnership. So can it be called cause marketing? Well certainly there is marketing and there is a related cause. So now let's look at the benefits to both.

Benefits to the cause:Raising Awareness of Earth Day and about the environment.
Eliminates waste by diminishing the use of paper cups
Inspires other businesses to follow its example by celebrating Earth Day, thus creating a viral effect impact.
Customers feel good about feeling they are part of the cause.
Starbucks lends credibility to the cause because they are a big corporate name.

Benefits to the business: (or return, as stated above)
Creates goodwill for Starbucks for the future
Brings in more sales that day for other products.
Brings in new customers for the future.
Creates awareness about other Starbucks environmental causes

This definitely isn't philanthropy either yet there is a huge expense to Starbucks and with that comes the following downsides:
It costs  a lot to give away the extra drinks.

It brings freeloaders that don’t care about the cause
The environmental impact of the extra water and energy used to make the free drinks might offset the environmental benefits.

Most likely Starbucks has assessed the cost benefit of this cause marketing campaign both for their business and for their cause. But in the end they have brought themselves a lot of great publicity by essentially throwing a big celebration in honor of  a cause that they really do care about.

Filosofie en toerisme op de radio (VRT)

Zaterdag 23 april, 11.00 uur VRT Radio 1 klik hier Het radio-interview is hier te beluisteren.

National Consumer Law Center --Job Posting

The National Consumer Law Center is seeking an attorney to specialize in consumer issues affecting low-income Americans. As a member of NCLCs advocacy staff, the attorney will develop and implement strategies that help combat exploitative practices in the marketplace. The attorney will concentrate primarily on policy and systemic advocacy, research and writing, training, and special reports and projects, including work on the Centers Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project for at least the first one to two years. The position is located in NCLCs main office in Boston. Some travel is required. For a complete description and application requirements, please visit CSO's Symplicity.

2011 ACS Convention Public Interest Fellowships

American Constitution Society will be providing a limited number of Public Interest Fellowships for this year's ACS National Convention. Fellowship recipients must be lawyers in practice for 5 years or less (graduation year 2006 or later) and must work in government or public interest. Fellowship recipients will receive convention registration, lodging and a stipend for travel. For more information, please visit their website.

"Dear M": the transatlantic DNA collaboration of Maurice Wilkins and Leonard Hamilton

This week's post calls attention to a series of correspondence written in the 1950s that documents the DNA research carried by Wilkins and his group at King's College London from 1953 to1960. The correspondence is with Dr Leonard D Hamilton, a British medical researcher and pathologist based in the United States who worked for the Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and later the Brookhaven National Laboratory. He provided DNA samples to Wilkins at King's from 1952 into the 1960s. As my title suggests the two were firm friends and their letters are refreshingly candid. Although these letters do not document the breakthrough research on the structure of the double helix like the similar correspondence between Wilkins and Crick they do give us a good picture of how Wilkins coped with the news and life thereafter.

DNA Samples: Supply and Demand

In 1953, Leonard Hamilton became the principal provider of DNA for the King's team. Samples had previously been provided by a host of other international scientists such as Rudolf Signer, Erwin Chargaff and Harriet Ephrussi and there was a great pressure to produce better DNA samples now it had been established that DNA was the basis of genes.Wilkins and his team were also under pressure to provide a more detailed double helical model to confirm that the structure was correct and not an equally valid alternative structure.

Figure 1: Photocopy of a letter from Wilkins to Hamilton, dated 28 May 1953: Wilkins thanks Hamilton for the DNA sample taken from a mouse sarcoma and generally expresses an eagerness to press on with further DNA research.

 In the above letter, Wilkins shows his excitement over the diffraction image obtained using the S-180 mouse sarcoma sample. He also expresses the need for greater quantities and variant salts and solutions that becomes a constant theme of this correspondence, as this quotation from a letter from Wilkins on the 9 June 1954 reveals:

"As I thought I made clear, what we need is better DNAs and hence I was very disappointed to find all the samples you sent recently were no better than the usual quality. We have not the time to test laboriously numerous samples in the hope one might be good. The three dry samples were have had already and those in solution, owning to a lack of warning, arrived at this end and were held at the airport for several days and appear to have deteriorated". 

The problem of the supply of demand of DNA were exacerbated by the trans-Atlantic nature of the partnership. Communication was the biggest issue. Before the days of global mass-communication, the main medium for communication was by letter or telegram (international telephone calls had only recently been introduced and were very expensive). The frustration was felt on both sides of the Atlantic especially with the additional pressures of journal and conference deadlines. Despite these stresses, they made progress as this quote from Wilkins on 5 November 1954 states:

"The 10 week exposure came off today and is a great success. it is one of the biggest improvements we have ever had in A pictures and is very much better than the best before. Will send a copy soon and I hope I will spur you on to even better things...Good old Leonard!"

Living in the Shadow of the Watson-Crick Model

One of the reasons why these letters make compelling reading is the scattered references to the discovery of the Double Helix. In the letters we get a contemporary commentary on the initial impact of the discovery and personal opinions on some of the key characters such as Francis Crick, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin. Of particular interest is the response of Hamilton who considered that Wilkins and King's College London Biophysics Unit had been hard done by Watson and Crick's model.

Figure 2: Letter from Leonard Hamilton to Wilkins dated October 12 1954: In this letter, Hamilton describes a visit from Rosalind Franklin and also his plan to air off a little "pro-Wilkins propaganda!" at a nucleic acids conference. 
 From the correspondence, it is clear that the battles and wounds caused by the discovery are still fresh but the scientific interest in the findings ( such as the journal Scientific American in Figure 2) are already calling for a narrative of the discovery. Hamilton's repeated opposition to calling the double helix the Watson-Crick model is an example of this increasing scientific interest and his own attempts to inform the American scientific community of the role that King's Biophysics Unit played in its creation. 

Wilkins' own initial thoughts and feelings were somewhat more ambigious. For example, his assessment of Francis Crick in the letter shown in Figure 1 states:

"Taken the Watson Crick model with a grain of salt. Francis is quite certain he can solve all the problems of the universe by pure thought and his lack of facts had lost him many friends temporarily until he recovers from DNA hysteria. I am very fond of Francis but he can be a bit much at times and he can be a ruthless careerist when he thinks it suits him. but keep that quiet to ourselves. We both like him a lot so there is no harm saying this to you".

His reaction is in line with his famous letter to Crick on hearing the discovery where he called Crick and Watson a couple of "old rogues" but accepted the model gracefully. Yet in this letter he does admit a degree of resentment over the Crick's "careerist" tendencies but not enough to irreprecibly damage their friendship. 

Finals thoughts

The correspondence between these two friends is of great reading for anyone interested in the story of the double helix and the DNA research carried out at King's College London. By being both a commentary and account of the DNA research undertaken at King's in the fifties the letters acts as an informal guide to the work being carried out and excellent source of information of the different DNA salts and samples. For me, however, the best aspect of the letters is the openess and informality that Wilkins shares with his friend about his life and research.  

Figure 3: Leonard Hamilton and Maurice Wilkins together in the 1960s.

Final words

"Do please reply soon. The nature of the gene depends on it. What piffle. M"