Another Note About the Burn Bag–There’s No Easy Way of Doing This, Is There?

Posted: 4:13 pm PT
Updated: 10:50 am PT
Updated 11/15, 12:36 am PT
Updated: 11/16 4:51 am ET

In August 2014, we updated our Burn Bag guidance:

Just a quick note on the Burn Bag — we’re not always able to publish the entries you send us, or as quickly as you may want.  The intent remains the same, it’s cheaper than therapy.  We’re still talking about the “I’m feeling blue, I want to scream” things that you can’t put on your blog, things that’s making you tear out your hair or stuff you can’t tell your friends here or at post because — admit it, you live in a very large fishbowl.  As a reminder, kindly check the guidelines for sending your Burn Bag entries here.

One of our regular readers, a former ambassador suggested that some of these Burn Bag entries ought to be submitted not to this blog but to the OIG Hotline. That, of course, is not/not up for us to decide but for the writers/senders of these Burn Bag entries.

In any case, we promised to remind you about the Hotline.

If you need to report waste, fraud or mismanagement, please contact the State Department Office of Inspector General Hotline.   If you need to, you may contact the Hotline via email: oighotline@state.gov or by calling 202-647-3320 or 800-409-9926 or using its online form. Note that it is no longer possible to submit a report using the hotline email. We were told that  the current system of reporting information to the Hotline via the OIG’s online submission form “actually provides more anonymity.” Note that if you are using OIG’s online form, the USG system will probably capture/log your IP address. If you want to preserve your anonymity, you need to use a VPN service or an IP anonymizer.

According to the State/OIG website, examples of allegations that should be reported to the OIG Hotline include misuse, embezzlement or theft of government property or funds; contract or procurement fraud; contractor misconduct; passport and visa malfeasance; fraud, waste and mismanagement of Department and BBG operations; employee misconduct, such as misuse of official position; bribes or unauthorized acceptance of gifts; conflicts of interest and other ethical violations; and defense trade control violations.  Please check out the rest on the OIG Hotline page here.

Today, we are adding an importation notation that folks who submit Burn Bag entries should be aware of.  If you are submitting an entry reporting malfeasance and criminal wrong doing, we strongly urge you to report to a law enforcement office or use the OIG Hotline here. This is not because we are unsympathetic, but because we want you to get the right help. Your blogger is not a lawyer nor a member of law enforcement, and feels inadequate to offer appropriate assistance.

If you are submitting an entry that report or alleged criminal wrong doing that we determine can have repercussions to the safety and well being of other individuals in the community — for example, a report of a sexual predator at post, bureau, or school — we reserve the right to provide that information to State/OIG. That office can then make a decision whether to pursue any investigation.

So never mind — we were told by State/OIG that its “Hotline is not the proper venue to report a rape.” And that the reporting “should be done immediately to the RSO at post or the local law enforcement authority. They are in the best position to offer help with such a crime.” 

What happens if the accused is an RSO?! As we’ve previously blogged here, there is no official guidance in the FAM on reporting sexual assault in the Foreign Service (see The State Dept’s Sexual Assault Reporting Procedure Appears to Be a Black Hole of Grief). We’ve been trying to locate the unclassified cables that were released by DS/OSI in 2015 and earlier this year on sexual assault reporting. We will have a separate post if we’re successful. 

I guess, we will not be forwarding Burn Bag entries to OIG even if the alleged conduct has potential repercussions for other people in the community, we will just publish them in this blog. 

For congressional assistance, California Representative Jackie Spieir has an anonymous hotline and has worked on military rape and sexual assault. Her office can be reached at 202-226-5294  or through https://speier.house.gov/contact/website-problem.

As always, comments are welcome here.

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Blog Notes: On The Road Again, Just For a Bit

I’ll be on the road for the next few weeks so I plan on updating the blog about three times a week for the time being.  I expect to be connected online while on travel. I will continue to be reachable via this blog and via email and will respond to tips and emails as soon as I’m able.

Be well, besties. I’m still only a mouse click away  — D

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Wow! Thank you for making this the blog’s best birthday week!

Posted: 11:12 pm EDT

I went away for a bit and when I came back, the Go Diplopundit 2016 campaign was fully funded the morning of March 8.  I did not think it was going to happen today or if it was going to happen at all. But it did.  You folks are amazing closers!  You saved me from having to do my adult coloring books for the next 24 hours while the campaign is winding down!  Instead, I’m like the Bee Gees singing ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive … Hey, that’s only from 1977, okay?

Diplopundit’s first blogpost went up on March 11, 2008 in good, old Blogger. It was about a health care proposal that would have extended health coverage for the children of federal employees. That seems so long ago, doesn’t it?  4,809 blogposts later and 2,932,705 hits from the WordPress’ tally, the blog gets to live another day. This is the blog’s birthday week, so best birthday ever it turns out!

I wrote that perhaps something marvelous will happen. And something marvelous did happen today. My thanks go to over 450 readers who made this possible. The blog is still here because you’re here.  Thank you for making Diplopundit a part of your day and for making sure that we can go on for another year. My thanks also go to the friends of the blog who spent time and energy rallying, both in public and in private, the various parts of the community to come out and support our efforts.  Without all of you, this would have been an impossible task.

I hope to finish writing the thank you notes to everyone in the next couple of days.  For now, sharing below one of the most beautiful Beatles songs. This one is from 1965 and was called “a little piece of art work” by John Lennon. If you want to listen to the superb version from our favorite ginger, click here for Ed Sheeran’s.

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Whoa! Amazing Day, Now the Hardest Part – The Last 48 Hours

Posted: 2:23 am EDT

What an awesome surprise to have folks turn up and rally to get us to the finish line!  The Go Diplopundit campaign went from 76% to 92% practically overnight! Somebody just wrote “almost there, you can’t quit now!”  Thanks for the encouragement and we’re not quitting yet.  The campaign is about $31K from 387 pledges as of this writing. Are we going to make it? That’s up to you.

GFM told us that the time that the campaign will end is not necessarily exactly on the hour, as it is based off the time the campaign was originally launched. To play it safe, we were advised to plan on the campaign ending at 12:00 AM on March 10th. So the next 48 hours will probably be the hardest part.  But perhaps something marvelous will happen, hey?

Fundraising Update: Not Looking Great With 4 Days to Go — Sorry, There’s No Plan B 😢  14 Days to Go or Go Bust 😣 We could use your help to carry on for another year  😌  Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends  😉  Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

Commencing countdown, engines on.  Here’s David Bowie’s Space Oddity from 1969 via Whirled Peace with vintage anti-special effects Enjoy! For Commander Chris Hadfield’s fantastic version on board the International Space Station, click here.

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Fundraising Update: Not Looking Great With 4 Days to Go — Sorry, There’s No Plan B

Posted: 2:09 pm EDT


Our Go Diplopundit 2016 fundraising effort to keep the blog running for another 12 months is entering its last days. Our most dedicated readers have pushed the campaign to the 76% mark! You’re all awesome! We are, however, with five days to go, still facing a gap of about $8K or as they say in some quarters, about two Manolo Blahnik shoes! 😄 Despite the generous contributions of over 300 readers and the tireless efforts of some of the blog’s friends, the likelihood that we will not make it this year is upon us. We’re not going to give you false hope, because frankly, we’re not sure we’ll be able to bridge this gap in the next few days.  

Some of you have written asking about a Plan B. I’m sorry to say that there is no Plan B. If the GFM goal is not met by March 10, 2016, all pledges will be cancelled and no account will be charged.  Donations sent through PayPal will not be accepted and no charges will be made to the senders’ accounts on PayPal. The few who sent recurring monthly donations will also be advised to cancel their PayPal contributions.  We will continue blogging until March 31, after which the blog will no longer be updated. We will also start terminating the blog’s ancillary services after March 10. The blog will stay up for the rest of 2016 while arrangements will be made to conserve its archive.

14 Days to Go or Go Bust 😣 We could use your help to carry on for another year  😌  Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends  😉  Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

Thanks Jim!  Thanks @FSProblems! This, too! Thanks Sadie Abroad!

Here’s the CCR singing it’ll rain a sunny day when it’s over … which could happen next week, hey? — D

 

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14 DAYS TO GO OR GO BUST!  
You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year.  Our Go Diplopundit 2016 fundraising effort to keep the blog running for another 12 months is entering its last two weeks. We’ve made it over the halfway mark but with 14 days to go, we are still about 15K under our goal.  So not impossible to get to our goal but you know how it is.  It feels like the blog has been preparing to die for years and maybe this is the year when we’ll finally exhaust our nine lives.  We have half a dozen readers who made contributions through PayPal. We will not accept those contributions unless we know we’ll make it this year. Some of our dedicated readers have also made supplemental contributions to get us to the finish line, but even with our best efforts, the possibility that we may have to join Jeb! in suspending our campaign er, sorry, blogging, is real🙂. Let’s see what happens in two weeks, okay? 
— DS

We could use your help to carry on for another year  😌  Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends  😉  Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

Thanks Jim!  Thanks @FSProblems! This, too! Thanks Sadie Abroad!

A NOTE TO OUR READERS: Our fundraising effort to keep the blog running for another 12 months is entering its last few weeks (Go Diplopundit 2016). We are cautiously optimistic but also realistic. We have more readers than ever before but the donation/ad revenue hybrid to fund the blog is difficult to sustain.  We will see through GFM II until March 10.  This is the year when we’re going to just let the river run as the song goes.  You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year.

Thanks! — DS

We could use your help to carry on for another year  😌  Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends  😉  Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

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We could use your help to carry on for another year

Posted: 1:38 am EDT

Our fundraising effort to keep the blog running for another 12 months is entering its 5th week (Go Diplopundit 2016). We’ve reached the halfway mark on February 10 but have so far raised 38% of the funding goal.  There are still four weeks to go so we are cautiously optimistic but also realistic. We have more readers than ever before but the donation/ad revenue hybrid to fund the blog is difficult to sustain.

Screen Shot

Last year was a gift that extended the blog’s presence for 12 months.  We could still get funded (or win the lottery, hey :-)) but this year could also be an already familiar story from the past.

In any case, we will see GFM II through until March 10.  This is the year when we’re going to just let the river run as the song goes.  You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year. Thanks!

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Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends

 

One of our donors recently wrote to say that we are performing “an invaluable service” but that as a former FSO, our blogposts have often left him dismayed.

We wrote to thank him for his support and apologize that we have often been the bearer of not so happy news. We like to think of this as a mission to keeping it real.

For those who’ve been with us for quite a bit, it is no secret that we write about the good, the bad and the ugly. So why do we write/publish stuff that you can’t read in the official or trade publications?

There’s a good reason for that.

Real life is not like the glossy pages of an in-house magazine. If the American public only reads about the successes and the fun stuff, it will have a skewed view about what still remains a misunderstood institution. And when we only hear the happy talk, well, it disrupts the order of the universe.  As they say, if the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. In monitoring the worldwide available universe, we see yin and yang, the oscillations, the back and forth swings of life.

So we are on a mission on looking at life, the way it is, without goggles and often times with loose ends, with questions but no answers. It’s not for every one; some folks may not necessarily want to read what we write, but it’s a free country, we’re fine with that.

We’re the last stop in this corner, come by for a chat, hang around, poke us to help us do better, and we’ll try not to bore you to tears.

A quick GFM II update — we’ve reached the 3rd week mark today with $9,461 of $34k or 28% of our set goal. We still have 5 weeks to go and the highs and lows are to be expected. We’ll see where we are when we reach the halfway mark at the end of next week.

Thanks for sticking with us! — D

We’re at GFM Go Diplopundit until March 10, 2016.

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Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

Posted: 2:35 am EDT

 

It took some work but we finally got the GFM II campaign off the ground. We’ll see if we can keep the blog going for another 12 months. If successful, this will fund the blog from March 2016-March 2017.  If you find some value in the work we’ve done year after year since 2008, we hope you will continue supporting us in 2016. Check it out here!

 

 

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