Generation Y is involved

Alex Wells switched shampoos over animal testing. She won't buy clothes produced by child labor. She yells at those who don't recycle.

She spent a month in India this summer teaching English to preschoolers. Last year in high school, she helped organize a protest over genocide in the Sudan that raised $13,000 for Darfur relief.

Wells, 18, of Los Gatos, Calif., may be pretty typical of her generation. A growing body of academic and market research suggests millennials - who are in their mid-20s and younger - are civic-minded and socially conscious as individuals, consumers and employees. This generation, also known as Generation Y and Echo Boomers, has been pressed for its vote, sought for its purchasing power and watched closely by sociologists and historians for insight into the way its members will shape the future.

They may be less radical than baby boom activists in the 1960s and 1970s, whose demonstrations for civil rights, women's equality and protecting the environment and protests against the Vietnam War became flashpoints for their times. But thanks in large part to the Internet, this generation is much more aware of the world. And because national tragedies such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina have scarred their youth and adolescence, experts see signs these young people are creating their own brand of social consciousness.

[Excerpt of an article by Sharon Jayson, USA Today]


International giving higher in Europe than U.S.

Europe's largest corporate foundations give more than their counterparts in the U.S. and have a more focused approach to international charity, a new study says.

Philanthropy in Europe magazine ranked the 25 largest corporate funders in Europe and compared them to the top 25 in the U.S. and found the European firms outgave the American group by $680 million.

Europe's largest funders are also more willing to fund beyond their borders, the study says, with six in 10 of the top 25 making international grants, compared to fewer than half of U.S. corporate foundations.

Corporate foundations in Europe also tend to have more structured international grants programs, the study says, while American funders tend to give in response to disasters in the foreign communities in which they operate.

[Philanthropy Journal]


Governments say they follow U.S. on jail treatment

Some countries try to refute criticism over their treatment of prisoners by saying they are only following the U.S. example on handling terror suspects, a U.N. human rights expert said.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. investigator on torture, told a news conference that "all too frequently" governments respond to criticism about their jails by saying they handled detainees the same way the United States did.

"The United States has been the pioneer of human rights and is a country that has a high reputation in the world," Nowak said. "Today, other governments are kind of saying, 'But why are you criticizing us, we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing.'"

Nowak, along with other U.N. human rights officials, has criticized U.S. policies against terror suspects, including secret jails, harsh treatment and the lack of due process. He turned down a visit to Guantanamo Bay because he could not interview detainees and prison officials in private.

Nowak, an Austrian law professor, said the new U.S. law adopted earlier this month, which outlaws rape and most forms of torture, still allows harsh interrogation methods rights advocates say border on torture.

[Excerpt of an article by Evelyn Leopold, Reuters]

On the subject of Jails and Torture

[It is estimated] that the United States is holding some fourteen thousand persons in prisons around the world.

[We do not] yet have the full story of Abu Ghraib since some of the photos—which the Republicans showed only to their own members in a closed door Congressional session from which Democrats were barred—are photos of rapes and murders. These more damning pictures have yet to be released--despite a court order issued more than a year ago(!)--because the government alleges that their release “could damage the U.S. image [and] make matters worse.”

So what do we make of an America where Truth is the new enemy and none of the real architects of the torture policy are held accountable? Only Janis Karpinski, the female National Guard general who had been head of Abu Ghraib was called on the carpet and demoted to colonel. None of the career generals in command in Iraq nor Vice-President Cheney, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, nor Attorney General Alberto Gonzales whose staff formulated the pseudo-legal justification for ignoring the Human Rights provisions of the Geneva Convention were chastised in any way.

Indeed, three weeks after the Senate, in early October of 2005, voted 90-to-9 to “ban the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of any detainee held by the government”, Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss met with Senator John McCain to press him to exempt the CIA from the torture ban.

[Excerpt of article by Bill Strickland, Black Commentator]


Gates Pledges $23 Million to Fight AIDS in India

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged $23 million to help fight HIV/AIDS in India, which has the world's highest number of people living with the disease, India's health ministry said.

The funds, to be disbursed over the next three years, will enhance the capacity of the government's HIV prevention response and will target high-risk groups such as homosexuals, prostitutes and drug users, a statement said.

The money is part of an additional $58 million committed to the Foundation's "Avahan" project -- a $258 million five-year prevention program launched in 2003.



Millions in prize money to promote good governance in Africa

A Sudanese billionaire is putting up millions in prize money to promote good governance in Africa and to encourage leaders on the world's poorest continent to step down once their democratic mandates have expired.

Judges of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will rate 53 African countries each year on progress in economy, health, education and security.

Each leader awarded the prize will receive $5 million spread over 10 years after leaving office. If still alive when the initial prize is exhausted, prize-winners will receive another $200,000 annually until they die.

In an opinion piece published in The Guardian newspaper on Thursday, Ibrahim said he was trying in part to address reluctance to relinquish power on a continent where military dictators and presidents for life have long held sway.

"A situation in which leaders face three choices -- relative poverty, term extension or corruption -- is not conducive to good governance," Ibrahim wrote in The Guardian. "And the continent's problems will not be solved unless governance improves radically."

The prize -- the largest of its kind, surpassing the $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize -- will be awarded based on criteria developed by Robert Rotberg, a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government Policy.



American Residents Shut Out of West Bank

Abdelhakeem Itayem, a Palestinian with American citizenship, was counting on a simple overnight stay when he traveled from the West Bank to Jordan on a business trip. Six months later, he is still there, trapped in bureaucratic limbo.

Israeli officials, who control the border between Jordan and the West Bank, refused to let him return when he presented his U.S. passport at the crossing from Jordan. "I came to Amman for one day. I had one suit and a change of clothes for one day. And now I can't go back," Itayem said by telephone from the Jordanian capital, where he has rented an apartment while awaiting an answer.

The long delay has kept him from his wife, Lisa, and their seven children, who remain in the family's home near Ramallah, said Itayem, 41. It also has cost him his job as a manager for a Palestinian distributor of foreign consumer goods.

His plight is not unique. Activists say scores of Palestinians who carry foreign passports, mostly American, have been denied entry this year since Israel moved to close a loophole that once allowed residents to enter repeatedly on renewable Israeli tourist visas.

The policy has created a quandary for the Palestinian Americans who remain: If they leave to get a new three-month stamp, they may not be allowed back. If they stay, their current Israeli visas will expire. Many say their previous applications for formal residency in the Palestinian territories were rejected by Israel or never acted upon.

"The Israelis are turning their back to any logic," said Adel Samara, whose wife, Enayeh, was refused entry in May after she crossed to Jordan to get her American passport stamped with a fresh Israeli tourist visa.

Samara, a Palestinian economist and writer, said his wife, 56, is staying with a sister in Chicago after living in the West Bank for 31 years on a succession of short-term Israeli visas. Making matters worse, he said, Israel won't let him leave because of his past involvement in nationalist Palestinian groups. "I can't go outside, and she can't come inside," Samara, 62, said in Ramallah. "It is like a form of divorce."

The new restrictions have created uncertainty and anger among Palestinian Americans, especially in the West Bank, where they number at least 30,000 and are leading players in business and academic life.

[Excerpt of an article by Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times]


Living Large, but Doing Good

Madonna Louise Ciccone, a k a Madonna, pop icon and global philanthropist, sailed into Malawi this month and showered money on that ill-starred nation in the name of helping impoverished children.

It was all part of Madonna's "big, big project" to lift one of the world's poorest nations; the project is open to everyone willing to log into her personal charity Web site, www.raisingmalawi.com, and click "Donate."

But, you might ask, should you? Just what does a singer and author of a soft-core coffee-table book know about helping Africa's orphans that Unicef doesn't?

The answer is not as obvious as it seems. Africans are the cause célèbre of celebrities these days, and the spectacle they create, comically riveted by their own righteousness, can seem almost a caricature of Hollywood shallowness. Philanthropists, in fact, have never had to be like Mother Teresa, eschewing vanity or conscience-salving. Andrew Carnegie was a robber-baron steelmaker, not a Thoreau. But look at what he did for American literacy.

Says Trent Stamp, the executive director of the watchdog group Charity Navigator, "I suspect a lot of Americans hadn't ever heard of Malawi until this week."

[Excerpt of an article by Michael Wines, The New York Times]


Small Loans, Good Intentions

Can you have a big impact with a small amount of money?

Just over a week ago, Grameen Bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work making small loans to poor people with big dreams. Mr. Yunus helped popularize the term "microfinance," and many organizations now use it describe wide-ranging attempts to use tiny sums of money to effect social good. [Some Grameen Bank loans being as small as $12.]

Several Web sites have sprung up in the last few years in this vein. They let individuals give or lend small amounts to others, who post their funding needs. The investment group of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has funded many of the services, and it borrows liberally from the auction site's open-marketplace model.

There are three ways to get in on this: You can give money away, lend it out and charge no interest or make loans and hope to profit. But all of the options have this in common: You usually get to decide which person or group gets your money. It's not up to a nonprofit staffer somewhere.

[Excerpt from an article by Ron Lieber, The Wall Street Journal]


Russia Halts Activities of Many Groups From Abroad

Russia suspended the activities of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Republican Institute and more than 90 other foreign nongovernmental organizations, saying they failed to meet the registration requirements of a controversial new law designed to bring activists here under much closer government scrutiny.

Across the country, foreign grass-roots organizations that investigate human rights abuses, promote democracy and work with refugees folded their tents until further notice, informing staff that all operations must cease immediately. The only work officially authorized was the paying of staff and bills.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin at the start of the year, drew broad criticism as part of a general rollback of democratic freedoms in Russia. Activists said it was intended to rein in one of the last areas of independent civic life here; Putin called it necessary to prevent foreigners from interfering in the country's political process.

[Excerpt of an article by Peter Finn, The Washington Post]


Another Buffet Charitable Spend-Down

Howard Buffett, Warren Buffett's son and recipient of $1.1 billion of the elder Buffett's disbursed fortune, plans to operate his Howard G. Buffett Foundation until a date in the distant future, at which point he will give away his remaining assets and shut down.

The foundation, whose assets will soon increase to $2.2 billion from $130 million, supports efforts to increase food production and clean water in Africa.


Charities Tackle Accountability

Despite headlines over Warren Buffett's $31 billion pledge to the foundation of his good friend Bill Gates in June, much of the growth in the nonprofit sector in recent years has come from much smaller charities.

Today there are at least one million U.S. charities and foundations, excluding religious groups, up nearly 60% in the past decade. A key issue [for charities and foundations] is accountability -- and whether the $3.37 trillion nonprofit sector is capable of policing itself.

Two years ago, the Senate Finance Committee told nonprofit leaders it was considering "comprehensive reforms to protect charities from bad actors and strengthen their accountability to donors." The warning followed public outrage over disclosures about costly perks being reaped by private foundations, and questions about governance practices at the Nature Conservancy, the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations.

In response, Independent Sector, a leading umbrella organization representing charities and foundations, organized a blue-ribbon panel to discuss overhauls and make recommendations, including a redesign of the tax form charities file to the Internal Revenue Service.

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


Large Donations Help Bring Attention to Philanthropy

In recent months, philanthropy has had much to celebrate. The unprecedented lifetime giving by Warren Buffett to the Gates Foundation and family-led foundations has been heralded as the largest commitment in philanthropic history.

Gifts such as Buffett's capture the headlines and our imaginations on the role that private giving and philanthropy can play in fostering innovation, initiating positive change, and building solutions for the welfare and good of citizens globally and locally.

From its position of leadership, the Gates Foundation invites and challenges us to get involved as volunteers in issues that we care about and to shape our own life's work around nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

[Excerpt of a commentary by Darcy Oman, The Richmond Times-Dispatch]


Nonprofits Question Terror Guidelines

Nonprofit groups say revised government guidelines intended to prevent donor dollars from ending up with terrorists still are too onerous and vague.

In response to complaints from nonprofits, the Treasury Department has twice revised the November 2002 guidelines, first in December 2005 and again two weeks ago. In the first revision, the Treasury dropped certain mandates, such as requiring charities to investigate banking relationships of their aid recipients to ensure they aren't laundering money.

In the latest revision, the Treasury moved or modified certain language, such as clarifying that charities aren't agents of U.S. law enforcement. But it has otherwise largely retained the thrust of the guidelines, according to OMB Watch, a government watchdog group. These include requiring charities to investigate aid recipients by searching "public information" for any terror links; to get recipients to certify that they don't fund groups that "support" terrorism; and to compile contact information for aid recipients' subcontractors.

"Even if it were possible for charitable organizations to collect the suggested information, the costs involved in doing so would likely be prohibitive," the Council on Foundations wrote in February to the Treasurey.

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


In Brazil, Field Trials To Treat World's Poor

Adriana Pereira da Silva's family and friends are a weary lot who spend their days coaxing whatever crops they can from the red dirt that surrounds their thatch-roofed shacks. It's a tough life, which Pereira da Silva assumed was why so many people seemed perpetually worn out.

But another explanation hides in the dirt itself: Up to 80 percent of the people in her village are infected with hookworm, a vitality-sapping parasite that crawls up from the ground, penetrates the skin and settles in the intestines.

"People seem tired all the time, and they never eat," said Pereira da Silva, a nurse who lives in Americanias, a small village here in Minas Gerais state, in eastern Brazil. "They don't know what's wrong with them."

The global health community has known for a long time about the wide-ranging complications that hookworm causes, but pharmaceutical companies have had little incentive to develop a vaccine: Most of those infected are too poor ever to pay for medicine, so recovering expensive development costs would be a long shot.

But now the medical ghetto of neglected diseases -- the field concerned with ailments affecting the 2.7 billion people who live on less than $2 a day -- is undergoing a transformation, thanks to an influx of cash from wealthy philanthropists and an emerging development model that promotes public-private partnerships.

The project has been made possible with grants totaling more than $53 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which, along with other donors such as the Rockefeller Foundation and Doctors Without Borders, has in recent years provided the financial incentive to get several such ventures off the ground.

[Excerpt of article by Monte Reel, The Washington Post]


A $3 life-saving straw

A Danish company has come up with a clever invention it hopes will slash the death toll from water-borne diseases which claim some 6,000 lives a day in developing nations.

The Lifestraw is designed to make dangerous water drinkable. The plastic tube has seven filters which remove at least 99.99 percent of many parasites and bacteria from water, according to a report in the New York Times.

Vestergaard Frandsen, the textile company behind the invention, is already developing a toddler version of the tube which will be squeezable.

The Lifestraw can be worn on the neck, lasts a year and costs as little as $3 to manufacture. Some 70,000 have already been handed out to survivors of last year's earthquake in Kashmir.

It is less effective against viruses, and it doesn't filter out metals like arsenic. But in villages where the only water source is a filthy pond it could prove a lifesaver.


Madonna child leaves Malawi

A small private jet carrying the one-year-old Malawian boy pop star Madonna hopes to adopt took off from the southern African country on Monday, a Reuters witness said. The child, David Banda, was accompanied by one of Madonna's bodyguards on his flight out of his native Malawi and is believed to be en route to Johannesburg.

Eye of the Child, the leading child advocacy group in Malawi, said on Saturday the request for an injunction would be filed in a magistrate's court in the capital Lilongwe on behalf of about five dozen non-governmental organizations. Malawian law prohibits adoptions by non-residents, but officials are granting an exemption or waiver to Madonna, who has confirmed her intention to adopt the child who lives in a dilapidated orphanage near the Zambian border.

Madonna spent most of her time in Malawi visiting orphanages and meeting charity workers as part of a campaign to publicise the plight of some 900,000 orphans in this nation of 13 million people, where AIDS has destroyed many families.

She has pledged to donate about $3 million to the campaign to help these children, many of whom are infected with HIV. The effort is being spearheaded by her Raising Malawi charity.


Developing China's nonprofit sector

As Chinese nonprofits grow and diversify, they are finding themselves stretched by the rising demand for their services.

A recent McKinsey study found that gaps in management skills and program expertise, as well as an underdeveloped domestic funding base, have hindered the nonprofits' ability to respond.

Corporations can help fill these gaps by offering more flexible financial support, along with hands-on efforts to teach nonprofits skills critical to running effective organizations.

In addition to increased corporate involvement, a combination of government policies and nonprofit initiatives will be necessary to develop the sector and ensure that nonprofits get the resources they need.

[McKinsey Quarterly]


International nonprofits struggling

U.S.-based international nonprofits, a small but significant division of the American charitable sector, are operating on slim cash margins and four in ten ran deficits in 2003, a new report says.

Combined revenues for the group in 2003 were $17.7 billion and expenses were $17.2 billion, says the Urban Institute report, which analyzes data from fiscal years 2001-03 from about 2,600 nonprofits.

The report, "The International Charitable Nonprofit Subsector: Scope, Size, and Revenue," divides U.S.-based international nonprofits into three main categories. And of the three-fourths involved in international development and relief assistance, almost four in 10 had negative operating margins in 2003.

More than two-thirds of the organizations' revenue comes from private contributions while 20 percent is covered by government grants, the report says, with groups with the largest budgets receiving the most government funding.

Organizations report that about 90 percent of their funds go to programs and services, with 7 percent going to administrative costs and 4 percent to fundraising.

Overall, international nonprofits make up only 2 percent of U.S. nonprofits and 2 percent of the revenue of the nonprofit sector, the report says.

[Philanthropy Journal]


U.N. refugee agency: Iraqi Exodus

Up to 1.6 million Iraqis have left their homes for other countries in "a steady, silent exodus" as a result of the war and sectarian violence, forcing the U.N. refugee agency to announce a shift in priorities.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it plans to focus on the deteriorating humanitarian situation facing people who are fleeing, as opposed to those returning home. At least 40,000 Iraqis a month were arriving in Syria, according to U.N. staffers monitoring the border. Refugees have also fled to Iran, and "tens of thousands" are headed to Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf States and Europe," the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

The agency estimated there are half a million Iraqis already in Jordan and 450,000 in Syria, adding that while some have been outside Iraq for a decade or more, arrivals have steadily risen since the war began in 2003.

Iraqis ranked first among some 40 nationalities seeking asylum in Europe in the first half of this year, the agency said. Iraqi asylum claims went up 50 percent during the first of this year from the same period a year ago, according to statistics received from 36 industrialized countries.

Within Iraq itself, the Iraqi government and UNHCR estimate "more than 1.5 million people displaced ... including more than 365,000 newly displaced who have fled their homes and communities" since February.

Some of Iraq's 18 provinces have seen a tenfold increase in the number of internally displaced people since the beginning of the year, UNHCR said.



Philanthropy From the Heart of America

In San Francisco, a retired money manager named Claude Rosenberg has founded a small organization called New Tithing Group. It tries to persuade Americans to base their charitable giving on their assets as well as their income, given how many now have substantial assets.

And using tax returns, NewTithing has put together a devilish ranking of the 50 states.

It began by estimating the liquid assets of households with more than $200,000 in annual income, counting cash, stocks, bonds and the like, but not houses or retirement accounts. Then, with the same federal tax data, it calculated what percentage of those assets the households have given to charity, on average, in recent years.

Nebraska ranked third, with its affluent residents giving away just over 1 percent of their assets each year. That does not include the state's most famous donation, Warren E. Buffett's huge gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this year, which came too late to be counted in the ranking.

The only States ahead of Nebraska were Utah (where the Mormon Church asks members to donate 10 percent of their incomes) and Oklahoma, while Minnesota and Georgia came next.

[Excerpt of an article by David Leonhardt, The New York Times]


How to best help AIDS orphans?

News reports about U.S. pop star Madonna adopting a Malawian child have focused attention on foreign adoptions -- and raised questions about whether it's in an African child's best interest to be spirited away to the wealthy West.

The adoption of children from poorer nations -- Cambodia, Ethiopia, Romania -- by rich foreigners has been happening for decades. Angelina Jolie first adopted Maddox from Cambodia, and then Zahara from Ethiopia.

Mia Farrow, now the mother of 14, began adopting children from poor countries in 1973, an orphan from the Vietnam War.

At the heart of the matter is the motivation of people wanting to adopt orphans from troubled countries, especially HIV-positive children.

In Africa, orphans usually are absorbed into extended families, but AIDS has affected many of the people who might have traditionally provided support. The answer is supporting the community.

Which is what Eye of the Child, a child rights group in Malawi, has called on Madonna to do. In an open letter the organization urges her to help fund existing programs in Malawi to help vulnerable children. The group also applauded efforts by her charity Raising Malawi, which aims to set up an orphan care center.

It proposed a fund that would "support extended family systems, offer education and financial support for secondary school going orphans, improve community participation and other community-based approaches to care for orphans. We believe that this type of efforts do not create and develop a dependency syndrome."


Note: Currently, though 99% of the work to counter the spread of HIV is being done at the grassroots level in many African countries, little funding is going to these community-based organizations. So consider a good community-based organization actually caring for orphans and support them. For more details.

Turner foundation delivers $1 billion to UN

The United Nations Foundation, created by media mogul Ted Turner, has donated $1 billion to U.N. projects over the past nine years, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

Turner, the founder of the CNN television network, himself donated $1 billion and his foundation raised millions from other corporations, governments and charities.

Some $600 million of Turner's original $1 billion has been spent, and the remaining $400 million would be used to leverage another $1 billion in support of the United Nations in the coming years, the foundation said.

Projects have focused on the environment, women, children, health, peace, human rights and promoting the United Nations in the United States.



Four aid workers attacked, beaten in Darfur

This news carried by Reuters underlines the occupational hazards of delivering humanitarian aid internationally:

Four aid workers were attacked in Sudan's Darfur region, beaten and given death threats, an official from the Medecins Sans Frontieres medical organization said on Tuesday.The MSF France team was attacked by around a dozen masked, armed men.

Three Sudanese staff were beaten and one international female staff was sexually harassed, MSF deputy head of mission Marc Galinier said. "They [the attackers] said we don't want any foreigners here," Galinier told Reuters.

"These attacks have become more and more frequent in recent months and have the effect of limiting humanitarian access," he said. "The humanitarian community take enormous risks."

Tens of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million forced to flee their homes during 3-1/2 years of fighting in Darfur. Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of neglect. Ensuing rape, pillage and murder created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises and the world's largest aid operation involving some 14,000 aid workers.

MSF, a medical emergency agency, work in some of the most hostile conflict areas of the world. In Darfur their various branches give vital medical treatment to hundreds of thousands of war victims. "We just want to care for the people ... and we ask that all the belligerents understand that we need to access the people and we are neutral," he added.


Pakistan One Year After the Earthquake

Samina can still bring herself to smile, but she cannot hide the pain that is still there one year after the earthquake that ripped through Pakistan's remote North West Frontier Province and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Absent-mindedly tracing the pattern of dark henna on her hand, this twenty-something young widow's thoughts are far away.

After re-marrying just a few weeks ago, Samina and her one-year-old daughter are still adjusting to their new family and surroundings."

October 8 changed my life so completely, I am still struggling with it," Samina said. "How can I forget my husband, whom I loved so much, and a year-and-a-half daughter, who were buried alive in the earthquake?"

"The jolt was so sudden, we didn't get time to say or do anything," said Samina's mother, Sakina Begum.

She now makes money to scrape by working as domestic help in the temporary camp where she lives in Muzaffarabad, the provincial capital. Meanwhile, the compensation of US$ 1,666 given to all widows was divided equally between Samina and her mother-in-law, and the initial US$ 416 given as immediate relief was also given to her mother-in-law.

Women typically make up 75% of the people living in camps for those displaced by disasters or conflict. Women usually take on caring for orphans, the elderly and the disabled, in addition to caring for the survivors in their own families, and thus cannot generate any of their own income.

Many of the people living in temporary camps have one very urgent need: new tents. Though some long-term shelters have been rebuilt, one of the most urgent needs now is new tents to replace the old, as what is expected to be a much harsher winter than the last approaches.

[Excerpt of an article by Zofeen T. Ebrahim, Caritas International]

Ex-Citi Chairman Turns to Philanthropy

After spending his career acquiring one company after another to build the biggest bank in America, Sanford "Sandy" Weill has no intention of taking it easy in retirement.

Next up will be expanding on charitable work that already has him chairing the boards of three major nonprofits.

Weill's plans include a number of philanthropy projects abroad. One of the many photos in his office is of Weill receiving a medal from Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for helping to raise more than $116 million to help Pakistani victims of a massive 2005 earthquake.

He's also working on creation of a medical center in Tanzania and soon will travel to Doha, Qatar, to see the new Weill Cornell Medical College being built there.

[Excerpt of an article by Eileen Alt Powell, The Washington Post]


$20 Million for an Iraq 'success party'?

What celebration they have in mind is unclear. When the celebration will take place is also uncertain.

But Washington Republicans are so certain of the US making progress in Iraq and Afghanistan that they have set aside $20 million for a "commemoration of success".

The funding was tucked away in the small print attached to a congressional military spending bill for the past year.

Also inserted was a provision for the money to roll over into 2007 if it was not used in the current period.

Asia culture of charity

America has Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to champion giving — and Asia has Mr Li Ka-shing. The Hongkong tycoon, Asia's richest man, made his call to Asians to adopt a culture of philanthropy, saying charity is a way of investing for the future.

Speaking after receiving a lifetime award in recognition of his entrepreneurial achievements at the 6th Forbes Global CEO Conference at Shangri-La Hotel last month, Mr Li said: "In Asia, our traditional values encourage and even demand that wealth and means pass through lineage as an imperative duty. I urge and hope to persuade you, especially all of us in Asia, that if we are in a position to do so, that we transcend this traditional belief."

Even if our government structure is not yet geared towards supporting a culture of giving, we must in our hearts see building society as a duty in line with supporting our children."

Mr Li's company announced that he had given personal holdings in a healthcare company worth more than US$300 million ($470 million) to his charitable organisation — the Li Ka-shing Foundation. He had also said previously that he intended to give away a third of his estimated US$12.4 billion fortune to charity.

Chairman of Hong Kong's Hang Lung Properties Ronnie Chan said that Asia needs more role models like Mr Li to spur philanthropic giving. Mr Chan was one of four prominent philanthropists speaking at the Give As Good As You Get: Asian Philanthropy session.

The other three were Mr Sukanto Tanoto, Indonesia's richest man and, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of RGM International; Mr Douglas Hsu, chairman and CEO of Far Eastern Group in Taiwan and Ms Yang Lan, chairperson of China's Sun Culture Foundation.

[Excerpt of an article by Jasmine Yin, MediaCorp Press]


The Carter Center eradicating diseases

The Carter Center, founded by former President Jimmy Carter, works to build hope in some of the world's most impoverished and forgotten communities. Their health programs prevent the suffering of millions of people around the world from diseases often ignored by others.

People living in developing nations die or are disabled because they do not have access to the services they need to treat their illness or avoid infection entirely.

The Center is the base for the International Task Force for Disease Eradication, which has reviewed more than 100 infectious diseases and identified six as potentially eradicable.

As Guinea worm is poised to become the next disease after smallpox to be wiped off the face of the Earth, eradication efforts are rejuvenating communities throughout Africa. The Center spearheads the international campaign, which has reduced cases by more than 99.5 percent since 1986.

Improved sanitation and hygiene are critical to public health and overall development. As part of the Center's trachoma control efforts, more than 200,000 latrines were built in Ethiopia since 2004, transforming life in those communities.

They have assisted in the delivery of more than 75 million treatments in 11 river blindness-endemic countries in Latin America and Africa since 1996.

In some countries, the biggest factor to poor health is lack of access to trained health personnel. By strengthening the training of Ethiopia public health staff, 90 percent of the people in this large African country, who live in less developed rural areas, have greater access to basic disease prevention and health care services.

More than 4 million small-scale farmers in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries have learned improved agricultural techniques to double or triple grain production, growing more food for their families and boosting local economies.

[Source: Cartercenter.org]


Gates Targets Three Diseases Plaguing the Developing World

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded $68.2 million in grants to develop cures for three deadly but neglected parasitic diseases, scourges that kill or disable millions each year in the developing world.

The grants include a $32 million infusion to the Infectious Disease Research Institute of Seattle to fund trials of a therapeutic vaccine to treat leishmaniasis, a parasite transmitted by sand flies.

A grant of $21.3 million will go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is heading a consortium to develop better, cheaper drugs to treat late stages of both leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis. Also known as sleeping sickness, trypanosomiasis is transmitted by the tsetse fly, killing some 300,000 people a year and rendering vast regions of Africa uninhabitable to people and cattle.

And $13.8 million to the Sabin Vaccine Institute of Washington, D.C., for its continuing work to develop a vaccine to prevent hookworm, a soil-dwelling worm that invades the skin or digestive tract of an estimated 600 million people in the developing world, causing chronic malnutrition and anemia.

[Excerpt of an article by Marilyn Chase, The Wall Street Journal]


Helping the World's Poor Register Land

Establishing land rights for the poor in developing nations turned into the sleeper issue at the recent second annual Clinton Global Initiative in Manhattan, where celebrities, heads of state and the super-rich gathered to raise funds to help solve the world's problems.

Former President Bill Clinton secured commitments totaling $7.3 billion at this year's conference, up from $2.5 billion last year.

But the buzz in the hallways centered on a topic that until recently most philanthropists all but ignored: registering poor people's property so they could borrow against it to build businesses, pay taxes or for other purposes. Many citizens of developing countries don't formally have title to their land, and many economists -- including Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, another conference attendee -- see this as a key source of urban poverty.

According to Mr. de Soto's research, the value of unregistered land in developing countries totals over $9 trillion. Mr. Clinton told the audience that these assets "cannot be converted into collateral for loans -- wealth locked-up and locked-down -- keeping people in grinding poverty instead of being an asset that can lift them up." Up to 85% of urban land parcels in the developing world are unregistered, Mr. Clinton said, citing Mr. de Soto's research.

But standing in the way of widespread land-ownership records are insufficient legal frameworks, confusing procedures and corrupt property registries. And establishing land ownership is all but impossible in communist and socialist countries, where property usually is owned by the state.

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


Asian wealth to impact Africa

China and India's growing trade and investment in Africa holds great potential for African economic growth, a World Bank report has said.

The study found that, led by China and India, Asia now gets 27% of Africa's exports, triple the amount in 1990. At the same time, Asian exports to Africa are now growing 18% per year, faster than any other global region.

Entitled Africa's Silk Road: China and India's New Economic Front, the report recommends the elimination of China's and India's tariffs on African exports.

Written by World Bank Africa Region Economic Advisor Harry Broadman, the study further calls for Africa to reform its economies to better "unleash competitive market forces, strengthen its basic market institutions, and improve governance". It also wants to see African countries improve their infrastructure and customs arrangements.

Taken together it said such changes were "not only in the best interests of Africa's economic development, but in China's and India's own economic fortunes".



Gates Foundation takes focused approach to giving in Africa

Despite its unprecedented resources, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation tends to avoid the broad-based approach of traditional aid programs, putting relatively little money into such popular and immediate causes as job training, road building, schooling African children, easing famines or -- aside from rare cases such as the Thingathingas -- improving housing.

Even in the sphere of global public health, the foundation's top focus, there are many things it avoids in favor of the development of potentially powerful new vaccines and drugs targeting the leading maladies in the poorest parts of the world.

Some of these are well-known -- AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis. Some are obscure -- Guinea worm, trypanosomiasis and cysticercosis, all parasitic diseases. But the more than $5 billion in grants devoted to global health so far reveal a striking faith in the transformative power of new technologies -- a fact perhaps not surprising for a foundation created by Bill Gates, who revolutionized the computing world with a company started in a dorm room.

In explaining why the foundation has not invested heavily in delivering lifesaving antiretroviral drugs for AIDS, for example, Melinda Gates said that only governments have enough money to provide such costly treatments. An exception is Botswana, a sparsely populated country where the Gates Foundation has helped pay for some such drugs.

"Our role has to be a catalyst to get government funding into programs," she said recently during a stop in the tiny southern African country of Lesotho. "We don't begin to have enough money to [buy] antiretrovirals for every person who needs them today in Africa."

[Excerpt of an article by Craig Timberg The Washington Post]


Africans starve because billions in aid arrives too late

Millions of Africans face food shortages that could lead to starvation because much of the $5.6 billion in international aid spent each year to help them arrives too late, is targeted at the wrong things and is usually only a short-term measure that doesn't tackle the root cause of hunger, CARE International UK said in a new report.

"It is a disgrace that money is still given too late and for such short periods, then spent on the wrong things to truly fight emergencies," said Geoffrey Dennis, the organization's chief executive. "There is no excuse, when by spending money more intelligently, we can bring an end to all but the most unpredictable food crises."

As a result, crises are growing in frequency, the charity said in its report, "Living on the Edge of Emergency -- An Agenda for Change."

Emergency aid to help Africa has increased from $936 million in 1997 to $5.6 billion last year. But unless foreign donors change the way aid is spent, Africa will face mounting hunger and starvation, deepening poverty and conflict on a continent already reeling from wars, the report said.

In the last year alone, 35 million people in southern and western Africa and the Horn of Africa region faced starvation -- equivalent to more than half the population of Britain.

CARE said that aid should be more regular and predictable, targeted at recovery and prevention programs such as seed distribution and improved veterinary services, and should provide training.

Ethiopia has suffered food crises almost every year since 1986, yet the United States' spending on long-term development to withstand shortages is less than 1 percent of its emergency aid, which for the U.S. can top $500 million a year, the report said.

In a 2005 hunger emergency in the West African nation of Niger, $1 a day spent early would have prevented malnutrition among children, the report said. Late aid meant it cost $80 to save a malnourished child's life, it said.



Clinton Foundation taking on poverty, AIDS and climate change

When the black SUV crested the hill and stopped near a cluster of low buildings in the desolate Rwandan village of Rwinkwavu, a crowd of people cheered and the cameras started to roll. Showtime. Paul Kagame, the tall, cave-chested President of Rwanda, alighted from the driver's seat, and Bill Clinton, thinner than he used to be and ruddy in a brightly checked shirt, emerged from the passenger's side.

They were there to visit a hospital that treats people with HIV/AIDS, and Clinton was ... still Clinton. The former President was midway through a nine-day, seven-country African sprint meant to showcase the work of his William J. Clinton Foundation.

"We have a culture of getting s**t done. It is very empowering and very unforgiving," says Anil Soni, a former McKinsey consultant who is now COO of Clinton's HIV/AIDS initiative. "Clinton will say, 'People are going to die tomorrow if we don't do this.' And it's true."

The foundation doesn't have a clearly defined hierarchy or a detailed business plan. Its tentacles sprout from need, opportunity, and passion rather than design. "We don't have committees, we don't have processes," says foundation CEO Bruce Lindsey, who has been with Clinton since Arkansas. "If a decision needs to be made, we make it. If we can help, we help now, not tomorrow."

[Excerpt of an article by Bethany McLean, Fortune]


The War is a Black-hole Bankrupting the Nation

It was another bad week in Iraq. While bodies were piling up in the Baghdad morgue and the militia fighting steadily intensified, the Bush administration was hit with a rash of PR scandals that are bound to further erode public support for the war.

The worst of these is the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which was leaked to the New York Times and which stated that “the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the 9-11 attacks.” The NIE carries great weight because it represents the unanimous judgment of all 16 of the American intelligence agencies.

Iraq has become a black-hole swallowing up boatloads of cash that otherwise would have been earmarked for education, health care, infrastructure and security.

Iraq is devouring resources at an unprecedented pace and producing nothing in return. There’s no more “happy talk” from officials in the Bush administration about how “Iraq will pay for itself” through oil revenues as Paul Wolfowitz foolishly stated prior to the invasion.

The war is bankrupting the nation while grooming the next generation’s terrorists. This is the very definition of failure.

[Excerpt of article by Mike Whitney, Information Clearing House]