The Save Darfur coalition’s vital statistics

by Conor Foley on August 12, 2009

a) 16: b) 35,000: c) 400,000: d) 7.5 million: e) 0

The first figure is the number of fatalities in Darfur for the month of June of this year – the most recent date for which they are available – and is taken from Alex de Waal’s widely-respected Making Sense of Darfur blog.   This notes that 12 of the deaths were ‘probably criminal in nature’ while the remaining four were related to the ongoing political crisis.  This is the lowest monthly total since the start of the crisis and brings the total number of violent deaths in the Darfur region to perhaps 600 so far this year.  For the first nine months of last year, it is estimated that there were around 1,211 deaths of whom around 496 were civilians.

This is way down on the death toll at the height of the conflict in 2003/2004 when the International Criminal Court estimates that around 35,000 people were killed during the government’s counter-insurgency campaign, which is where the second figure comes from.

The third figure is the number of ‘innocent men, women and children [who] have been killed’ in Darfur according to a series of high-profile advertisements and press statements run by the Save Darfur Coalition in 2005 and 2006. This exaggerates the number of violent deaths in Darfur by more than ten-fold.  The adverts were criticised by the Advertising Standards Association and the coalition now use the figure 300,000 instead.  This is a UN guesstimate at the total number of people who have died both from the direct and indirect effects of the conflict.  It is based on the figure used by the main aid agencies during fund-raising appeals in 2005 – when they said that 200,000 lives had been lost – and a comment by a UN official that this figure could now be half as high again.  From my extremely limited experience of counting displaced people and/or dead bodies during refugee crises, I would say that the 200,000 figure was about right when the agencies were using it.  This was half the number claimed by the coalition at the time and the wording of their adverts – which implied the deaths were a result of physical acts of violence was clearly misleading.
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McArdle vs. National Health Care

by John Holbo on August 12, 2009

Discussion is perking along in my McArdle on rationing thread. For the record: she articulates her general case against national health care here, then follows up here. I think it all adds up to a nice illustration of the point I was making in this post (I wish I had made it more clearly, to judge from comments.) McArdle’s opposition to national healthcare is based entirely on slippery slope arguments, arguments from unintended consequences, and suspicions that those who are proposing national health care really want different things than they say they do. Now, this is reasonable. But only up to a point. Because at some point we need something more, but McArdle is quite strident in her insistence that what she has said is enough.

What does she leave out? Arguing only in the ways she does leaves it unclear what she would think about national health care reform if it worked. And the reason it is important to know that is that we really have to know what McArdle’s values really are – her ideals. Let me show how it goes. [click to continue…]