Iraqi attacks against coalition troops every 15 minutes

Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year.

According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. "It’s getting to the point now where there are eight-, nine-hundred attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four-an-hour attacking our forces," says Woodward.

The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public.

"The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" he tells Wallace. "Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know," says Woodward.

"The insurgents know what they are doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are.

“Who doesn't know? --The American public," Woodward tells Wallace.



Your tax dollars at work: Record $448 billion Pentagon budget

Iraq alone is costing the U.S. about $8 billion a month. To get your head around what $8 Billion dollars a month is, this works out to your tax dollars being spent in Iraq at the rate of $185,185.19 per minute!

Now we learn from an Associated Press article that another infusion of money--- $70 billion more for military operations-- will be needed next spring.

With final passage of pending bills, Congress will have approved $507 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan and heightened security at overseas military bases since the September 11 attacks five years ago, according to the Congressional Research Service.

And the measure enjoys sweeping support, despite the brief debate sparked through partisan exchanges over the Iraq war.

"If the president had told us the truth, that Iraq and Saddam Hussein ... presented no real threat to us, that there was no likelihood of weapons of mass destruction, that there was no connection to al Qaeda ... would this Congress have voted for war?" said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York. "I don't think so."

So little progress has been made on other bills that the Pentagon measure also carries a stopgap funding bill to keep open, through November 17, agencies whose funding bills won't have passed.

Only the homeland security measure is expected to also pass before members of Congress leave Washington to campaign.

Army to end Halliburton deal

The Army will discontinue its multi-billion dollar contract with oil services giant Halliburton Co. to provide logistical support to U.S. troops worldwide, The Washington Post reported.

Halliburton, formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has drawn scrutiny for its work in Iraq from auditors, congressional Democrats and the Justice Department, which is investigating potential overcharges for fuel, dining and laundry services.

Texas-based Halliburton is the world's second-largest oil services company and the U.S. military's biggest contractor in Iraq. Last year, the Army paid the company more than $7 billion under the contract, the Post said.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee and a frequent Halliburton critic, welcomed the move away from the exclusive contract with Halliburton as a good first step. "When you have a single contractor, that company has the government over a barrel," Waxman said. "One needs multiple contractors in order to have real price competition. Real competition saves the taxpayer money."


Soros Gives $50 Million to Help Poor in Africa

The financier and philanthropist George Soros said that he was contributing $50 million to support a sprawling social experiment, organized and led by the economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, that aims to help villages in Africa escape grinding poverty.

Mr. Soros's money will, among other things, pay for fertilizers and improved seeds to raise crop yields, classrooms to improve literacy and health clinics to reduce deaths in 33 villages in 10 African countries. The hope is that poor subsistence farmers will begin earning more income by selling crops at market.

The strategy, which Mr. Sachs has been pursuing through his nonprofit group, the Millennium Promise, since 2004, is to tackle the myriad problems of poverty all at once by providing villagers with relatively inexpensive technologies and approaches, including mosquito nets that prevent malaria and stoves with chimneys that reduce deadly indoor air pollution.

Mr. Soros's contribution is a philanthropic departure for him. He has largely focused on fostering democracy and good government. But he said in an interview that he believed that this undertaking had humanitarian value for the participating villages, as well as some chance of building a successful model that could be copied.

[Excerpt of an article by Celia W. Dugger, The New York Times]


Celebrity and new British philanthropy

Bill Clinton has agreed to speak. Michael Douglas will present a special award, and Sir Richard Branson and Lakshmi Mittal are bringing along tables of guests. After dinner, Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, will give his first major live performance for more than 28 years.

Tonight, London's A-list will be on a red carpet near Tower Bridge. The likes of the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and the ballerina Darcey Bussell will rub shoulders with the supermodel Lily Cole and the television presenter Trinny Woodall.

Champagne will be guzzled by the bucketload, and six-figure sums bid for "once-in-a-lifetime" auction lots. On paper, it promises to be the biggest charity bash since, well, since the last one.

The launch of the Fortune Forum may herald something more important, though. Behind the velvet ropes, organisers want Mr Clinton to help transform the face of British philanthropy.

For their £1,000-a-head, 500 guests are buying into a new era of US-style fundraising where, to borrow from tonight's line-up, Deepak Chopra lectures on how "spirituality can heal the divisions of the world", and Dave Stewart "sings for spiritual awareness".

Renu Mehta, the socialite and former fashion designer who organised the bash, said: "We are hoping to completely change the culture of giving in Britain, by stimulating philanthropic habits you'd normally only expect to see across the Atlantic. There are billions of pounds in untapped charity money wasted in the UK. We need to provide a system that helps people to give, and will get our levels into line with what you'd call the bigger nations. If it works, we will create a new generation of British philanthropists."

[Excerpt of an article by Guy Adams, The Independent (UK)]


Campaign to get Americans to help when there isn’t a Disaster

Recognizing that procrastination is an enemy of good intentions, a new public service effort, to be announced today, aims to persuade Americans to actually act upon their altruistic impulses.

The campaign, called "Generous Nation," is epitomized by its theme, "Don’t almost give. Give," which will be reiterated in television and radio commercials and print and online ads as well as on dontalmostgive.org, a dedicated Web site. The campaign is being produced by the Advertising Council, the nonprofit organization that coordinates pro bono campaigns on behalf of the agency and media industries.

Generous Nation" is one sign of an increased national focus on charity, philanthropy and what the wizard of Oz called "good-deed doing." That comes after a five-year period of unprecedented giving in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Southeast Asian tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

The goal was to determine "how we might tap into that generosity once these tragedies are off the front pages," said Peggy Conlon, president and chief executive at the council in New York.

[Excerpt of an article by Stuart Elliott, The New York Times]

Brave attempt to help Africa

One generation ago, what became known as "the green revolution" doubled food production in parts of Asia and Latin America, reducing malnutrition and lifting millions out of poverty.

Now the Rockefeller Foundation, whose scientists helped to lay the groundwork for that breakthrough, is teaming with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to repeat the success in Africa. Last week the two charities announced an initial pledge of $150 million over five years to start down that road.

The money will boost African seed-breeding programs that develop higher-yielding strains of local crops. It will fund the training of African scientists so that the seed-breeding programs can be enlarged. And it will bolster the distribution networks that bring seeds and fertilizer to farmers.

Legions of development experts have locked horns with Africa's rural poverty and then retreated hurt. The continent's physical capital is rudimentary: Irrigation systems and rural roads to get food to market are scarce. Its human capital is no better: African farmers are held back by sickness and illiteracy. Its social capital constitutes another handicap: The legal framework needed to permit the licensing of seed technologies to private distributors is often missing, and perverse regulations often make it difficult to farm for profit. Add in water scarcity and soil erosion, and you can see why previous calls for a green revolution in Africa have come to little.

[From a WaPo editorial]


Gates, Rockefeller Charities Join to Fight African Hunger

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined with the Rockefeller Foundation to launch a new development initiative for sub-Saharan Africa that they said would revolutionize food production and reduce hunger and poverty for tens of millions of people.

Modeled on the Rockefeller-pioneered "green revolution" that transformed farming methods and staved off widespread famine in much of the developing world nearly a half-century ago, the initiative coincides with a new round of Western concern about the long-intractable problems of the poorest continent.

Home to 16 of the 18 most undernourished countries, Africa is the only part of the world where food production has decreased in recent years. At the same time, political upheaval and conflict there are seen as providing fertile ground for extremists.

Widespread famine in Africa has spurred high-profile relief efforts over the years, from United Nations programs to celebrity fundraising concerts such as Live Aid in the 1980s and Live 8 last year.

The alliance is the first Gates venture into poverty and development after years of focusing largely on global health and education. Gates has said he will step down from direct management of Microsoft in 2008 to work full time on foundation activities.

[Excerpt of an article by Karen DeYoung, The Washington Post]


Philanthropy Google's Way: Not the Usual

The ambitious founders of Google, the popular search engine company, have set up a philanthropy, giving it seed money of about $1 billion and a mandate to tackle poverty, disease and global warming.

But unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes.

One of its maiden projects reflects the philanthropy's nontraditional approach. According to people briefed on the program, the organization, called Google.org, plans to develop an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline.

The philanthropy is consulting with hybrid-engine scientists and automakers, and has arranged for the purchase of a small fleet of cars with plans to convert the engines so that their gas mileage exceeds 100 miles per gallon. The goal of the project is to reduce dependence on oil while alleviating the effects of global warming.

Google.org is drawing skeptics for both its structure and its ambitions.

[Excerpt of an article by Katie Hafner, The New York Times]


In Russia, Cautious Generosity

Russia's tycoons, whose flamboyant spending has ka-chinged from Mediterranean isles to London's Mayfair district, have found a new use for their supersize wallets: philanthropic foundations.

The rich are awarding thousands of scholarships to the best and the brightest, promoting arts and culture, funding libraries, schools and universities, supporting the Russian Orthodox Church's growth and improving health-care facilities in a country where 20 percent of the population lives in poverty.

But the long and growing list of worthy projects has a striking absentee, the development of democracy. Donors "are afraid of the political consequences," said Maria Chertok, head of the Charities Aid Foundation in Russia. "For now, areas like human rights and social justice are just too controversial."

This vast country, with its troves of natural resources and strong science education, has generated 33 billionaires and 90,000 millionaires since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"I believe that any businessman who has enough funds, who has more than he needs, has an obligation to give back. It's his destiny," said Dmitry Zimin, 73, who built Russia's second-largest cellular phone company, VympelCom, and created the Dynasty Foundation to support fundamental science, particularly physics.

[By Peter Finn, The Washington Post]


West's "lack of morality when dealing with the rest of the world"

The Clinton Global Initiative conference should surpass its goal of matching last year's efforts. By early Thursday afternoon, initiative organizers said they had 114 commitments amounting to $5.7 billion. In 2005, the conference resulted in $2.5 billion in pledges.

The conference brings together government, business and nonprofit sectors in an effort to spur action on poverty, health care, global warming and religious/ethnic conflict.

On Thursday morning, Afghan President Hamid Karzai joined Jordanian Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu for a panel discussion on managing diversity in a globalized world. All stressed the importance of cultural exchange and education.

Karzai said the West had, at times, exhibited a "lack of morality when it applies to dealing with the rest of the world" because it often did not realize how its intervention or lack thereof would affect itself.

He noted that he had urged Western governments for years before the Sept. 11 attacks to help the people of Afghanistan. "But no attention was paid because you in the West were not hurt," Karzai said. "It was only us and that didn't matter, and that is wrong. Seriously."

[Associated Press]


Branson pledges $3B to fight climate change

British business mogul Richard Branson on Thursday pledged to invest about $3 billion over the next decade to combat global warming and promote alternative energy, saying that it was critical to protect the environment for future generations.

Branson, the billionaire behind the multi-platform Virgin brand, said the money would come from 100 percent of the profits generated by his transportation sectors -- trains and airline companies. It will be invested in efforts to find renewable, sustainable energy sources in an effort to wean the world off oil and coal.

The so-called "rebel billionaire" -- wearing a dress coat with no tie and denim pants -- made the announcement on the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual conference of business, political and nonprofit leaders hosted by former President Clinton.

"Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents," Branson said at a news conference, with Clinton at his side. "We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment. We must hand it over to our children in as near pristine a condition as we were lent it from our parents."

[Associated Press]


Rich debate inheritance: Limit what you pass on?

Actor and playwright Stephen Lang, 54, remembers when, at 7 or 8 years old, he asked his father to buy him a toy submachine gun. The request wasn't extravagant. His father, Eugene Lang, was on the way to becoming a multimillionaire as the founder of patenting firm Refac Technology Development.

But rather than buy Stephen the toy, Eugene suggested they donate what it would cost to charity. It went to a boys' home in Queens.

"I was extremely upset at first," recalls Stephen. But he says the gesture made an impression that remains with him today, and he doesn't seem to mind that his 87-year-old father intends to leave most of his wealth to charity.

When Warren Buffett pledged $31 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in late June, he rekindled a debate among the rich over inheritance: whether it's better to limit what you pass on and not spoil your heirs, or let them inherit the wealth and build on it.

Buffett, 75, has often said that wealthy parents should leave their children with enough money to do anything they want but not so much that they are doomed to do nothing at all. Eugene Lang shares those sentiments.

Best known for creating the "I Have A Dream" Foundation, he has given away $150 million - more than half of his net worth - with much of the rest also earmarked for charity. After putting his three children through college, he says, he expected them to be essentially self-sufficient.

[Excerpt of article by Rachel Breitman and Del Jones, USA Today]


Clinton Global Initiative Party: Trust but Verify

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people will gather in New York at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative, a project led by former President Clinton, to tackle problems involving global health, poverty, religious strife and threats to the environment.

Setting the meeting apart from other gabfests, in part, is its steep price: An admission ticket costs $15,000. More than that, most participants -- who include government leaders, corporate executives, heads of nonprofit organizations and an array of big names like Christiane Amanpour, Shimon Peres, Katie Couric and Rupert Murdoch -- must pledge to fund and carry out an initiative to help address one of the problems. And therein lies a dilemma.

Last year, not all participants followed through on their commitments. That's a no-no.

So this year, the Clinton folks have adopted a Reaganesque principle: Trust but verify. Those who don't follow through on their pledges won't be invited back.

[Excerpt of an article by Laurie McGinley, The Wall Street Journal]


Palestinian economic collapse pending?

The United Nations' trade and development agency (UNCTAD) warned that the Palestinian economy was declining dramatically, leading to a worsening this year of already high unemployment and poverty levels in the West Bank and Gaza.

"The economy of the occupied Palestinian territory is on the verge of collapse," the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said, adding that "projections indicate economic decline to levels not seen for a generation."

"Projections point to unprecedented unemployment, poverty and social tensions," the agency said. "Added to this has been a weakening of the Palestinian government's managerial and technical capacities."

UNCTAD said the economic crisis was being compounded by decreasing levels of aid from foreign governments and institutions since the militant group Hamas swept January parliamentary elections. Western nations and Israel have been withholding hundreds of millions of dollars from the Hamas-led government.

The economy, according to one scenario outlined in the report, could be 35 percent lower by the end of 2007 compared with last year. While economic crisis has affected all Palestinians, it has hit especially hard in Gaza. The International Red Cross, in a statement Tuesday, said an estimated two-thirds of Gaza's residents were living below the poverty line of $2 (1.60 euros) a day.

[Associated Press]


No News is Slow News

When I began working as a journalist, there was something called "slow news". We would refer to "slow news days" when "nothing happened"

On 11 September 2001, while the world lamented the deaths of almost 3,000 people in the United States, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that more than 36,000 children had died from the effects of extreme poverty. The latter was very slow news.

Regular news: A spokesman for Tony Blair "revives the battle of Downing Street" and calls Gordon Brown "stupid, stupid" and a "control freak". He disapproves of the way Brown smiles. This is given saturation coverage.
Slow news: "A genocide is taking place in Gaza," warns Ilan Pappe, one of Israel's leading historians.

Regular news: Blair tells Iran to heed the UN Security Council on "not going forward with a nuclear programme".
Slow news: The Israeli attack on Lebanon was part of a sequence of carefully planned military operations, of which the next is Iran. The US and Israel contemplate the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran, even though Iran's nuclear weapons programme is non-existent.

Regular news: "We have been making real progress in areas where the insurgency has been strongest," says a US military spokesman in Iraq.
Slow news: The US military has lost all control over al-Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, including the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, which are now in the hands of the resistance. This means the US has lost control of much of Iraq.

[Excerpt of an article by John Pilger, Information Clearing House]


Every day 25,000 people worldwide die of hunger or hunger-related diseases

The UN relief agency, World Food Programme, says its humanitarian aid reached 97 million people worldwide, including 58 million children, in 82 countries last year.

But the outlook is still bleak, according to WFP deputy executive director John M. Powell. He said 812 million people in developing countries still lack enough food, and 25,000 people worldwide die of hunger or hunger-related diseases every day.

"The sad fact is that the hungry get hungrier," Powell said, in reference to a vicious cycle of hunger, poor education and poverty.



Warren Buffett's snowball effect

Warren Buffett's announcement that he would give nearly all of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seems to have had a snowball effect.

In July Indian-born mining tycoon Anil Agarwal pledged to give $1 billion to help build a world-class university for his native country, telling TIME, "India desperately needs to improve education ... [And] what is the point of money if it's not made to be given back to society?"

Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan said that he would bequeath half his wealth to help Asian youth. In May, Forbes named Chan as one of the world's most generous celebrities in a list that included Bono, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.

And Li Ka-shing, long one of Asia's biggest donors, revealed at a press conference on Aug. 24 that he plans to give one-third of his fortune, now estimated to be $18.8 billion, to his own charitable foundation, which he called "my third son" (in addition to his two children, Victor and Richard).

[Excerpt of an article by Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine]


Asia's superrich: How to give away their billions

“We want to make improvements on a level that no one else has done before." - Rohini Nilekani, social activist and philanthropist

These sentiments are increasingly heard throughout Asia, where mounting prosperity and changing attitudes toward charity are altering the ways the wealthy give back to society.

Charitable donations in the region have traditionally tended to be a private affair, with the rich quietly giving directly to needy individuals within a family, religion or village network. Now, with tens of thousands of Asians amassing fortunes so large they can no longer responsibly give away substantial sums on a personal, ad hoc basis, professionally run philanthropic foundations like those that arose in the West in the late 19th century are coming to the fore.

Helping to drive this movement are the highly publicized activities of the Gates Foundation and the staggering generosity of Warren Buffett, the U.S. investor who announced in June that he would ultimately give nearly all of his $44 billion fortune to the Gates organization.

[Excerpt of an article by Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine]


Overview of America’s aid to Israel

Financial Aid - The Israeli government is the largest recipient of US financial aid in the world, receiving one-third of total US aid to foreign countries, even though Israel’s population comprises just .001% of the world’s population and has one the world’s higher per capita incomes *. [* Per capita annual income is over $20,000 in Isreal, compared to $700 per capita in Gaza for example.]

Military Aid - The United States provides direct and indirect military aid to Israel – totaling more than it gives to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean put together, whose combined total population is well over a billion.

Charitable Aid - Private donations to American charities initially constituted one quarter of Israel’s budget. Today, it is estimated that these tax-deductible donations exceed $1.5 billion per year. The ability of Americans to make what amounts to tax deductible contributions to a foreign government [Israel] does not exist for any other country.
[Washington Report on the Middle East]


Sad State of Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas struck a deal Monday to share power with Hamas, an accord that could restore international aid and could lead to contacts with Israel. Let’s hope and pray so, for the sake of the starving Palestinian people! Following are excerpts from a journalist in Gaza, published in the British press:

Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. The deadly toll:
* The Gaza Strip's 1.3 million inhabitants, 33 per cent of whom live in refugee camps, have been under attack since June 25th.
* Israeli warplanes have launched more than 250 raids on Gaza, hitting the two power stations and the foreign and Information ministries.
* The UN has criticized Israel's bombing, which has caused an estimated $1.8bn in damage to the electricity grid and leaving more than a million people without regular access to drinking water.
* The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says 76 Palestinians, including 19 children, were killed by Israeli forces in August alone. Evidence shows at least 53 per cent were not participating in hostilities.
[Excerpt of an article by Patrick Cockburn in Gaza, The Independent]

Bleeding Palestine Financially

It is not the Israeli incursions alone that are destroying Gaza and its people. In the understated prose of a World Bank report published last month, the West Bank and Gaza face "a year of unprecedented economic recession. Real incomes may contract by at least a third in 2006 and poverty to affect close to two thirds of the population." Poverty in this case means a per capita income of under $2 a day."

It is the worst year for us since 1948 [when Palestinian refugees first poured into Gaza]," says Dr Maged Abu-Ramadan, a former ophthalmologist who is mayor of Gaza City. "Gaza is a jail. Neither people nor goods are allowed to leave it. People are already starving. They try to live on bread and falafel and a few tomatoes and cucumbers they grow themselves."

The few ways that Gazans had of making money have disappeared. Dr Abu-Ramadan says the Israelis "have destroyed 70 per cent of our orange groves in order to create security zones." Carnations and strawberries, two of Gaza's main exports, were thrown away or left to rot.

An Israeli air strike destroyed the electric power station so 55 per cent of power was lost. Electricity supply is now becoming almost as intermittent as in Baghdad.

The Israeli assault over the past two months struck a society already hit by the withdrawal of EU subsidies after the election of Hamas as the Palestinian government in March. Israel is withholding taxes owed on goods entering Gaza. Under US pressure, Arab banks abroad will not transfer funds to the government.

Two thirds of people are unemployed and the remaining third who mostly work for the state are not being paid. Gaza is now by far the poorest region on the Mediterranean. Per capita annual income is $700, compared with $20,000 in Israel.

[Excerpt of an article by Patrick Cockburn in Gaza, The Independent]


5 year results from the 'war on terror'

The "war on terror" - and by terrorists - has directly killed [somewhere between 62,006 – 180,000] people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth.

The extraordinary scale of the conflict's impact, claiming lives from New York to Bali and London to Lahore, and the extent of the death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged from an Independent survey to mark the fifth anniversary of 11 September.

To gauge the full cost in blood and money of the worldwide atrocities and military conflicts that began in September 2001: As of yesterday, the numbers of lives confirmed lost are: 4,541 - 5,308 civilians and 385 military in Afghanistan; 50,100 civilians and 2,899 military in Iraq; and 4,081 in acts of terrorism in the rest of the world.

The new figure on civilian deaths from Iraq Body Count, a group of British and US academics, is especially telling. Just two and a half years ago, its estimate of the number of civilian dead in Iraq passed 10,000. Today, it says, that figure has gone beyond the 50,000 mark - a huge leap largely attributable to terrorist acts and the breakdown of civil authority.

Iraq Body Count's careful methodology - of recording a death only when it appears in two independent media reports - almost certainly produces a substantial underestimate. Even the Iraqi Health Ministry reports a slightly higher figure.

In July, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said there were 2.2 million Afghans who had fled abroad and at least 153,200 displaced internally. For Iraq, there were 888,700 external refugees, and 1.3 million people displaced inside the country. An estimated 40 per cent of the Iraqi middle class have left Iraq.

Beyond the blood price, there is a dollar cost. In July it was reported that the US Congress had approved $437bn for costs related to the "war on terror". This, a sum greater than those spent on the Korean and Vietnam wars, compares to the $375bn that Make Poverty History says is needed to clear the debts of the world's poorest nations.

[ Excerpt of an article by David Randall and Emily Gosden, The Independent]

The Global Giving Gap

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's recent pledge to give one-third of his fortune to charity highlights the global growth in philanthropy -- and a wave of tax relief and other incentives aimed at boosting charitable donations around the world.

In Asia, government gift-matching programs that Hong Kong and Singapore put in place over the past few years are helping raise money for higher education.

In Europe, governments are experimenting with new tax benefits aimed at boosting historically low rates of giving. France, for example, has enacted a new tax credit of 66% of the value of a donation to churches, schools and certain other charities, up to a maximum of 20% of a donor's taxable income, says French tax expert Stephanie H. Simonard.

Fueling the trend is a drive by governments to use philanthropy to help pay for increasingly costly social programs, especially higher education, says Ian Edwards, the former head of development at Insead, a global business school in Fontainebleau, France.

Some governments also view philanthropy as "a way of helping [promote] cohesion," says Stephen Ainger, chief executive of Britain's Charities Aid Foundation. "Just look at all the issues we have in Europe," he says, citing riots in France and post-9/11 terror plots.

[Excerpt of an article by Sally Beatty, The Wall Street Journal]


Rohini Nilekani, Indian philanthropist and social activist

For Rohini Nilekani, making the money was the easy part. The Bangalore-based wife of Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, Rohini owns 1.67% of the Indian outsourcing company, and her personal fortune soared to about $300 million along with the meteoric rise of its stock. She calls her windfall "a quite frightening amount of money." And as soon as it started rolling in, the social activist and journalist began to look for ways to give enormous sums away.

That's been the hard part. With little guidance available for the country's would-be Rockefellers, Nilekani became a self-taught philanthropist, building two foundations from the ground up. So far, she has provided a total of $37 million to Akshara Foundation, which is dedicated to education, and the Arghyam trust, which tackles water issues.

But the entrepreneurial zeal she brings to the organizations she runs is as striking as the size of the checks she's been signing. The source of her inspiration? "We're learning from the Bill Gates Foundation, and ones like it," she says, referring to the Microsoft co-founder's famously hands-on, results-driven charitable institution. "It's about accountability and sustainability now. We want to make improvements on a level that no one else has done before."

[Excerpt of an article by Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine]

[Excerpt of an article by Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine]


Mexican Tycoon to Give Away Part of Fortune

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the world's third-richest man, will give away a chunk of his fortune by matching donations to health, education and social programs in Mexico, a close aide said on Wednesday.

Slim, who owns a telecoms and retail empire and has a fortune estimated at over $30 billion, will meet all contributions dollar for dollar, said Arturo Elias Ayub, his spokesman and aide.

"We want to offer Mexican or foreign foundations that we will match any amount they invest in social work in Mexico," Elias Ayub told Reuters. It was unclear how much Slim's donations might ultimately total.

"The idea is social programs focused on real needs: education, health, nutrition, research," he said.

Slim is No. 3 on the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people, behind Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett, who made his billions with insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc.



Comparisons on International Aid to Middle East

The impressive numbers for U.S. aid to Israel become even more so when they, and the attached conditions, are compared with other nearby countries.

$3,300,000,000 .. in annual aid to Israel compares with:

$100,000,000 ..... for the Palestinian Authority (PA)

$35,000,000 ....... for Lebanon (annual aid).

Aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is strictly controlled …for specific projects, mostly civil infrastructure projects such as water and sewers.

On the other hand, the U.S. gives Israel all of its economic aid directly in cash, with no accounting of how the funds are used. The military aid from the DOD budget is mostly for specific projects. Significantly however, considering current events, one of those projects was the development of the Merkava tank, which has been encircling and firing on Palestinian towns in the West Bank and Gaza.

Special mention should also be made of the details of the Wye agreement. All of the $400 million going to the PA under the agreement is economic aid, whereas all of the $1.2 billion for Israel is for military projects and programs. These include $40 million for armored personnel carriers and $360 million for Apache helicopters, again significant considering current events.

[Congress Watch]


Europeans View US as Threat to Global Stability

According to a poll by Harris Interactive published in the Financial Times, 30 per cent of European respondents believe the U.S. is the greatest threat to global stability.

[Iran is second on the list with 23 per cent, followed by China with 15 per cent, Iraq with 14 per cent, North Korea with eight per cent, and Russia with two per cent.]

44 per cent of respondents in Spain place the U.S. as the main perceived threat.
36 per cent of respondents in Britain feel the same way, as do
28 per cent of respondents in France.
24 per cent in Germany place the U.S. and Iran as tied as far as being the greatest threat to global stability.



Perpetual or Spend Down?

When is it wise to "spend down" a foundation, or use all of its assets by a certain time?

Only about 10% of private foundations are set up with the intention they will spend their money within a set period, says Daniel M. Schley, chief executive of Foundation Source, a company that provides support services for private foundations. Investor Warren Buffett's recent decision to donate over time the bulk of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- and to require that at least one of the Gateses remain actively involved in the foundation for his donations to continue -- spurred further talk about whether wealthy people should form their own foundations and how long they should last, Mr. Schley says.

Among the reasons for establishing a perpetual foundation: Some social problems, such as poverty and education, aren't going to go away anytime soon; a small amount of money given consistently over years can produce continuous change; it can be difficult to wisely spend a great deal of money in a short time; and a family may want to preserve its legacy through a foundation.

The rationale for a short-term foundation is that some donors have a specific mission they want addressed over a few years, and a large infusion of money may be more effective.

Some donors worry that long-term foundations can create bureaucracies and that future generations may have different values. "I have strong feelings [against] having foundations last in perpetuity -- that's when all the hanky-panky starts," says 87-year-old philanthropist Lewis Cullman, whose own foundation will close soon after he dies.

[Excerpt of an article by Robert J. Hughes, The Wall Street Journal]


Chinese Billionaire and Asian Charity

Li Ka-shing, the 78- year-old billionaire owner of Hutchison Whampoa, said Thursday that he had no plans to retire and eventually would give at least a third of his wealth to his charitable foundation.

The Li Ka-shing Foundation has disbursed or committed almost 8 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $1 billion, mostly in Hong Kong and China.

"This may spur more philanthropy in Asia," said Michael Troth, Asia Pacific and Middle East head of global wealth structuring at Citigroup's private bank. "An increasing number of our clients are interested in making a positive difference with their wealth and a lot of people look at what Li does when planning their affairs," he said.

Li, who Fortune magazine says is worth $18.8 billion, joins fellow billionaires, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, in pledging to give away a substantial portion of their wealth.

[Excerpt of an article by Joshua Fellman, The International Herald Tribune]


Donors Pledge $500M for Palestinians

World donors pledged $500 million in aid for Palestinians, including $55 million for a U.N. emergency appeal for humanitarian help, organizers said.

A total of $114 million of the money pledged will go toward humanitarian aid, with the rest going to rebuilding infrastructure and other projects, said Carin Jamtin, Sweden's aid minister and host of the donors' conference held in the Swedish capital.

''The needs have never been greater in the Palestinian territories than today,'' U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said at a news conference. ''The Palestinians do not want to live on charity; (they) want to have an economy.''

Jamtin said donations not given to the emergency appeal would go to the Red Cross and other aid organizations.

[The New York Times]


How profitable is the War on Terror?

Enjoying massive salary increase, the country's top 34 corporate CEOs combined have earned almost $1 billion since the September 11 attacks.

This would have been enough money to employ and support more than 1 million Iraqis for a year to rebuild their country.

The average compensation for defense executives doubled from US$3.6 million to $7.2 million.

In 2005 alone, defense industry CEOs garnered 44 times more pay than military generals with 20 years experience, and 308 times more than army privates, the brave folsk on the front lines.

An average construction worker would have to work 4,279 years to equal what the highest paid CEO collected last year.

Full article

Oh did we mention that Halliburton alone posted an increase of 379% since Bush-Cheny took office in 2000?

And did you know that Hallibuton has gotten more than $15 Billion in contracts since 2001? --How much is $15 Billion? Someone attempting to spend $15 Billion would need to spend 1 million dollars every day for 40 years, and would still have 400 million in pocket change left over!


Critics decry 'destroy and lend' Lebanon policy

A conference held on Thursday in Stockholm for donors raised more than US$940 million in pledges of new money to reconstruct Lebanon after 33 days of Israeli bombing of the country's bridges, roads, factories and other infrastructure.

Initial official figures estimate the first phase of reconstruction at $2.5 billion. Damage includes some 150 bridges and a 15,000-tonne oil spill that polluted 140 kilometers of coastline.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the damages could reach $3.5 billion or more for infrastructure alone.

At this rate, Beirut will most certainly continue to turn to international lenders and donors for help with reconstruction for a long time. And this, debt watchers say, will in turn plunge the country into greater debt.

World Bank figures show that Lebanon was already up to its neck in debt - some $22.2 billion - even before the war. For a country of only 3.5 million people, the smallest Arab nation, it is a colossal burden.

The IMF itself acknowledges that without highly concessional new financing for Lebanon, there is a real risk of the total collapse of the Lebanese economy. The institution did not mention grants or debt cancellation.

[Excerpt of an article by Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service]


"Save the Children" speaks out on Gaza suffering

Sue Smith, Regional Director of Save the Children UK, said, "Gaza needs more financial support, but donor governments and Israel must first and immediately loosen the stranglehold they have on funds that already exist.

"Because of the freeze on aid and tax revenues, and the detention of [Palestinian Authority] ministers, basic health and sanitation services are collapsing, threatening a public health disaster, and the education system is in chaos from top to bottom.

"The [Palestinian] Minister of Education is being indefinitely detained, teachers are striking because they haven't been paid for months, and some schools are still being used as camps for displaced people.

"It is an outrage that the major donors have allowed children to suffer like this for months on end."


Gaza children suffer as rich world meets to discuss aid

As donor governments gather in Sweden to talk about what further humanitarian assistance is needed for Gaza, children in this densely populated area face another day of extreme hardship and suffering, due to a combination of Israeli restrictions and the ongoing freeze on funding imposed by the very governments who are meeting to talk about finding more.

Since 28th June, 44 children have been killed, electricity and water infrastructure has been destroyed and humanitarian assistance has been routinely blocked from getting to those people who need it.

Since 15th August, for example, no humanitarian aid at all has been allowed through some gates and even humanitarian workers have had their movements heavily restricted.


Challenge of running a Muslim charity in the U.S.

Anwar Khan is short on details but strong in his belief that the aid his worldwide Muslim charity has donated to help rebuild Lebanon will not end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

The money--$2 million collected nationwide since the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict began, including about $200,000 from Chicago-area Muslims--is funneled through legitimate organizations, he said, including the Lebanese Red Cross.

In some cases, a representative of Khan's Islamic Relief, based in Buena Park, Calif., is on location. "That's our job, to monitor that," Khan said at a recent fundraiser. "We have to make sure relief supplies aren't given to any political organization."

But while Khan's intent appears sincere--and Islamic Relief has never run into problems with U.S. authorities, according to a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department--making sure donations don't come into contact with Hezbollah volunteers may be harder in practice, aid workers said.

The Shiite organization has ministers in government, members of parliament, mayors in small towns and a network of thousands of volunteers who have been ferrying aid supplies to devastated areas since a cease-fire took effect earlier this month. Yet contact with Hezbollah, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization, could put a charity at risk of being shut down.

[Excerpt of an article by Deborah Horan, The Chicago Tribune]