Monday, August 21, 2006

New U.S. Law Denies Tax Deductions for People Donating Items in “Bad Condition”

Charity News Online

U.S. charities welcome the new law that may deny tax deductions for those who donate goods in bad condition.

Dave Barringer, vice president of member relations at Goodwill Industries International, said the changes will reinforce a common message: "This isn't a place to dump trash." Goodwill receives more than 1 billion pounds of clothing each year, and about 5 percent must be discarded, AP reports.

The Internal Revenue Service may deny deductions for donations of clothing or household items that aren't in "good" condition.

The new rules, which became law Thursday when President Bush signed a massive pension bill, ask the Treasury Department and IRS to define the terms of “good” and “better”.

Maj. Todd Hawks, national public affairs secretary for The Salvation Army, said donors and charities would also be helped if the IRS issues a standardized evaluation guide.

Any significant item, valued at more than $500, must be appraised before the taxpayer can take a deduction.

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Watchdog Inspecting Alleged Link Between Charity and Bombing Plot

Charity News Online

The charity watchdog is checking into reports potentially linking suspects in an alleged airline bombing plot to an aid group raising money for earthquake relief in Pakistan last year.

The Charity Commission told AFP it is examining reported links between the charity and the conspiracy to blow up U.S.-bound planes but declined to say whether it had been approached by the police.

The Times newspaper said that Crescent Relief London, which mobilized for the October 8 earthquake in Pakistan, was created in 2000 by Abdul Rauf, from the central English city of Birmingham.

His 25-year-old son Rashid, alleged to have links to Al-Qaeda, was arrested as a "key" plot suspect in Pakistan shortly before his 21-year-old son Tayib was arrested in Birmingham in an August 10 dragnet in Britain when police arrested a total of 24 suspects.

However, Pakistan's foreign ministry said Tuesday that Rashid Rauf was unconnected with any charities involved with the earthquake, while denying a separate report that a Pakistani charity had diverted quake relief to the plot.

The Times said that Crescent Relief may prove links between the Rauf family and the five people arrested in High Wycombe on August 10.

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Ben Affleck, Donald Trump Help Raise $2.8 Million for Children Cancer Charity

Charity News Online

Donald Trump, Ben Affleck, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jon Cryer and other celebrities have helped raise more than $2.8 million in a radio-telethon for the Jimmy Fund, the children's cancer-fighting charity, AP reports.

The all-day fundraiser on WEEI-AM radio and New England Sports Network cable television station passed its goal of $2.6 million and continued to accept online donations through the weekend.

Trump, a telethon guest who also threw out the first pitch at the second game of a Red Sox-Yankees doubleheader, donated $60,000 that moved the total ahead of last year's $2.3 million.

Red Sox owner John Henry donated $30,000 and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner kicked in $10,000.

The Jimmy Fund, established in 1948 to support cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has been the primary charity for the Red Sox since 1953.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Health Experts Say Circumcision Could Help Fight AIDS

Charity News Online

Circumcision could be a highly effective way of braking the AIDS pandemic, experts said, cautioning though that before surgeons everywhere reached for their scalpels, major questions had to be answered. Interest in circumcision surged among AIDS researchers last year after a French-funded trial, conducted in South Africa, found that men who had had their foreskin removed were around 60 percent less likely to be infected by HIV than uncircumcised counterparts, AFP reports.

Two similar trials, one in Uganda and the other in Kenya, are currently underway, the 16th International AIDS Conference heard. The trials are due to end in June and September 2007 respectively. If their data confirm the astonishing outcome of the South African trial, the world's top agencies fighting AIDS will move to recommend male circumcision as a method to prevent HIV infection, they said. The UN's World Health Organization (WHO) is already drafting technical recommendations, which could be implemented if circumcision gets the green light.

Advocating circumcision "seems a pretty dramatic thing to suggest, or at least a few years ago it seemed so," said Kevin De Cock, director of the WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, admitting that the South African trial had had a resounding impact. But he also sounded a loud warning, pointing out that circumcision may reduce the risk but was only a partial protection. So it was essential that circumcised men do not become complacent and start to practice unsafe sex in the belief that they could not contract the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). "It is not a silver bullet," stressed Catherine Hankins, senior advisor to the specialist UN agency UNAIDS.

Hankins also said agencies, governments and doctors had to tread carefully in advising circumcision. In some cultures, circumcision was considered a rite of passage to adulthood and a symbol of manhood; in others, it was considered an emasculation. "In some cultures if you're not circumcised, you are not a man, and in other cultures if you are circumcised, you are not a man. I think it goes very to the heart of masculinity and what that means in the cultures. There are even some anti-circumcision organizations, which are lobbying fiercely against what they call "male genital mutilation," said De Cock.

Scientists started to take a close interest in the circumcision question in the late 1980s, when they realized that in East and West Africa, where the rate of circumcision is high, the rate of HIV infection was low -- whereas in southern Africa, HIV rates were very high but the rate of circumcision was very low: less than 20 percent of men.

The theory behind circumcision's protective effect is that the foreskin has a very thin epithelium, or lining, and easily suffers minor abrasions during intercourse. These microscopic cuts make it easier for the AIDS virus to enter into the man's bloodstream. Another mooted reason is that the foreskin is rich in so-called Langerhans cells whose surface configuration makes it easy for HIV to latch on to them. If circumcision joins condoms in the meager arsenal of weapons to prevent HIV, it could have a mighty effect, according to a study presented at the conference.

Bernar Auvert of the France's National Agency for Research on AIDS, who led the South African trial, said circumcision was a low-cost option: the operation would cost only between 50 and 60 dollars -- less than two months' of the cost of antiretroviral treatment for people who get infected with HIV. But he stressed that circumcision was also a relatively complex operation, lasting around 30 minutes, that had to be carried out under anaesthetic by a surgeon working in hygienic conditions.

A trial funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is underway in Uganda to assess whether male circumcision has any impact on the risk of HIV transmission to females.

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AIG, Manchester United Launch Goals for Kids Charity Initiative

Charity News Online

American International Group, Inc. (AIG), the principal sponsor of Manchester United Football Club, this week announced the launch of the "AIG Goals for Kids" program. For each goal that Manchester United scores during any FA Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup or Carling Cup game during the 2006-2007 season, AIG will donate 1,000 pounds to a selected children's charity in the United Kingdom or Ireland. In the future, AIG hopes to implement similar programs in other countries around the world, Business Wire reports.

"AIG is proud to support children's charities through the 'AIG Goals for Kids' program with Manchester United," said Martin J. Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIG. "This program will help underprivileged children and bring attention to worthy charities through our association with one of the world's most famous sports teams." David Gill, Chief Executive of Manchester United, added, "The combination of our 75 million fans worldwide and AIG's extensive global network means we will have no shortage of support for the children's charities benefiting from the goal-scoring efforts of the team. We commend AIG on this initiative and look forward to the goals starting to flow from our first match versus Fulham on August 20th."

American International Group, Inc. (AIG), world leaders in insurance and financial services, is the leading international insurance organization with operations in more than 130 countries.

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Puerto Rican Pop Idol Ricky Martin Honored Person of the Year for Charitable Work

Charity News Online

Ricky Martin will be honored as the Latin Recording Academy's person of the year for his accomplishments as an entertainer and humanitarian. The 34-year-old Puerto Rican pop star will receive the honor at a dinner and concert in New York City on Nov. 1. A portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit Martin's charitable efforts, The Associated Press reports.

"His musical accomplishments are matched by his endeavors as an advocate for the welfare of children around the world," Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa said in a statement Thursday. "It is a great pleasure to honor this man of limitless talent, passion and sense of caring."

Martin is best known to U.S. audiences for his dance hit "Livin' la Vida Loca," and he is considered one of the most successful Latin music crossover acts. In 2004, his foundation launched People for Children, which works toward the elimination of human trafficking, especially trafficking of children. He has also served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

Past honorees include Carlos Santana, Julio Iglesias and Emilio Estefan.

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Critics Urge Guenter Grass to Give Soaring Book Profits to Charity After SS Past Confession

Charity News Online

Critics in Germany called Thursday on Nobel Literature laureate Guenter Grass to donate royalties from his book about his Nazi past to some charity that helps victims of the Nazis. The German author has caused a storm with the disclosure in the self-loathing book that he spent six months with the Waffen SS, the Nazi party's private army. The first print run of the book, Peeling the Onion, had almost sold out Thursday in just two days on sale, the DPA news agency reports.

One of Germany's leading literary journalists, Hellmuth Karasek, and the editor of a poetry magazine that has published Grass's work, Anton Leitner, suggested the outcry might have been provoked to boost book sales. 'The simplest way for you to show that you don't seek material profit from exposing your SS membership is to donate all your income from the book to victims of the Waffen SS,' Leitner said in an open letter on his website.

In the guilt-ridden book, Grass, 78, dissects his odious teenage self, or 'this youth with the same name as me,' beginning with his indifference as an 11-year-old when the Nazis executed his uncle for taking part in a heroic Polish defence of Gdansk in 1939. Grass was called up and began training to be a gunner in a panzer division of the Waffen SS in November 1944, but insists he never fired a shot as his squadron beat a disorderly retreat from the Red Army through eastern Germany in 1945.

Grass said he believed today's generation should read the book to understand what had happened to put their German grandparents' generation into a state of denial about their Nazi past, 'keeping it to themselves and only talking about it now.'

The publisher, Steidl Verlag, said 130,000 of the 150,000 first copies of Peeling the Onion had been shipped to booksellers and a second impression had been ordered from the printers. The book officially went on sale Wednesday, two weeks before the date originally planned. Booksellers around Germany said it was selling much more briskly than previous Grass books.

A public opinion survey in Germany showed 68 per cent of Germans did not believe the writer's credibility had been damaged. The Forsa poll of 1,001 persons for N-TV television found 51 per cent believed Grass should have admitted his Waffen SS service sooner while 29 per cent said he had chosen the right time and 8 per cent said he should have kept it permanently secret.

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U.S. President Bush Signs Charity Provisions Into Law

Charity News Online

President Bush on Thursday signed into law a bill that contains a series of provisions designed to stimulate charitable giving and cut down on abuses of charity tax laws by donors and nonprofit organizations, The Chronicle of Philanthropy of reports. The law's chief incentive for charitable gifts allows donors aged 70 ½ and older to withdraw up to $100,000 each year from their individual retirement accounts tax-free if they give the money directly to a charity. Over all, said Brian A. Gallagher, president of United Way of America, "these reforms and new tax incentives will strengthen the nation's charities."

The charity provisions — parts of which have drawn mixed reactions from charity leaders — are part of a broader law, the Pension Protection Act of 2006, a package of tightened rules for the country's private pension system that was recently approved by Congress. The law has seven major provisions intended to encourage charitable giving, or in other ways assist charities, and 17 key provisions that were written to crack down on abuses by charities or donors, or make other changes, according to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

"It reforms key laws governing nonprofit organizations to make sure that money that's deducted for charitable purpose goes to charitable purpose and isn't used as a gimmick to avoid the payment of taxes," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and who was a major proponent of the legislation.

"Americans are very generous with their donations. They deserve to know that their money helps the needy, not the greedy." Congress did not include a provision, which it has considered for years, that could spur charitable giving by allowing people who do not itemize deductions on their returns to write off a portion of their charitable donations.

But nonprofit officials were pleased that Congress included the provision to promote charitable giving through individual retirement accounts — which will be in effect for two years (through 2007) — because they say that making it easier for people to donate their retirement funds to organizations will cause a significant amount of money to flow to charity. At the same time, some charity leaders were not happy that the retirement-account provision has a $100,000 annual cap and does not apply to younger donors or to planned gifts, such as charitable remainder trusts.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ex-German Chancellor Schroeder, Wife Adopt Russian Boy

Charity News Online

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his wife Doris have adopted yet another Russian kid, a popular German daily reported Thursday. Two years after the Schroeders adopted a little girl, Viktoria, then 3, from a Russian orphanage, they decided she needed a little brother and brought another little Russian into their family, BILD reports.

Born like Viktoria in St. Petersburg, the baby has not even turned 12 months yet. Doris and Gerhard Schroeder already have a daughter, Klara, who is 15. Viktoria, lovingly called Dascha in the family, is already 5 years of age. The Schroeders keep a cat called Schnurri and a dog named Holly.

Doris Schroeder-Koepf takes keen interest in the fate of poor children. Since September 2003 she’s been a supporter of the joint German-Russian children’s charity group, operating in St. Petersburg. She also assists a children’s hospital in Tirana, Albania.

Some 870,000 Russian children live in orphanages. Most of them are so-called “social orphans” whose parents have been stripped of parental rights, either over ill treatment of their children or alcoholism. Many of those children spend their entire childhood in orphanages and take to drinking and drugs themselves or become criminals.

Football Legend Roy Keane Donates Boots to Online Fundraising Auction in Memory of Jason Kaminsky

Charity News Online

The Irish football legend Roy Keane who retired at the end of last season, has given a pair of his boots for the auction in aid of the British Liver Trust. The auction is being organized in memory of Jason Kaminsky, a Nottingham Forest player, who died last year from liver failure, aged just 31 years old, Irish Examiner reports.

Leicester-born Kaminsky, who played for Nottingham Forest in the early 1990s under managerial legend Brian Clough, lost a battle with alcohol addiction which affected him after being released from the club. He left behind an 11-year-old daughter. The online auction will launch on e-Bay on August 21.

Celtic and Manchester United legend, Roy Keane, who also played for Nottingham Forest during the Clough era, is one of a number of stars who have donated items. Keane’s former teammate Dion Dublin has donated his Celtic shirt. Bids can also be placed on Nigel Clough’s signed number 8 England shirt, worn at many international matches. Nottingham Forest supporters are also expected to snap up a shirt signed by members of the 2005/06 first team, including John Thompson and Wes Morgan.

Other items include Newcastle striker Michael Owen’s signed England shirt, a signed photograph of former Nottingham Forest defender and Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce. Brian Laws, manager of Scunthorpe United and a former Nottingham Forest player, has also donated a signed caricature of himself for auction. The organizers believe the online auction could raise several thousand pounds for the British Liver Trust, the only UK liver disease charity for adults.

Earlier this year, Leicester City stars took part in a charity celebrity match in memory of Jason which raised £1,500 (€2.220) for the trust. The game saw Leicester Markets, the team Jason played for after leaving Nottingham Forest, take on a squad of Leicester City legends which included former Liverpool midfielder Kevin McDonald and a member of the Northern Ireland 1986 World Cup squad, Paul Ramsey. The auction will end August 31 at 5pm.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Threats, Violence Force Aid Agencies out of Iraq – Report

Charity News Online

Faced with growing threats and violence, dozens of aid agencies in Iraq are hampered in their efforts to help the sick, the hungry, and the displaced, IRIN reports.

“Unfortunately, the sectarian violence in Iraq today does not exclude aid volunteers, and in fact has worsened our work,” said Fatah Ahmed, spokesman for Iraq Aid Association (IAA). “Some volunteers have even received threats for helping families of other religious beliefs.”

The work of IAA and other local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) helps many thousands of Iraqis, including hungry children, bedridden patients, widows, and the unemployed. But recent escalations of sectarian violence have limited their reach as volunteers quit and deliveries are delayed.

Sectarian violence took a dramatic upturn after 22 February, when a revered Shiite shrine was bombed in Samarra, north of the capital. Since then, tit for tat attacks by various sectarian militia groups throughout the country are responsible for numerous deaths, 1,800 Iraqis in July alone.

Some international aid organizations have withdrawn from Iraq because of the dangers, making Iraqis even more dependent on local NGOs. The government has registered about 100 local groups that administer direct aid in Iraq.

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Charity That Delivers Drugs to Africa Ordered to Stop Work

Charity News Online

A British charity that sends unwanted drugs to Africa has been ordered to stop its work - or face fines and prison terms for its directors, Sky News reports.

The Intercare charity collects medicines from GPs and pharmacists that have been returned by patients unused. It then sorts them and sends them on to millions of patients in developing countries who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

However, the Environment Agency has said the work breaks strict rules on the disposal of ununsed drugs and has written to the charity ordering it to stop its work.

Intercare has been told it faces a large fine - and its directors have been threatened with 12-month jail terms.

The medicines will now be dumped in landfill at a cost of £200 per bag.

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Michael Bloomberg Donates $125 Million to Fight Smoking

Charity News Online

NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire and former smoker, has announced he will pour $125 million of his own money into a worldwide campaign against smoking.

"Unless we take urgent action, this century a billion people will die from smoking," Bloomberg was quoted by AP as saying. "It is one of the world's biggest killers, and it has sadly been overlooked by the philanthropic community."

Bloomberg, who quit smoking about 30 years ago, said the funds will help jump-start an international no-smoking drive over two years. The groups that will receive the funds have not been selected.

His effort will include cash for programs that help smokers quit and educate children to prevent them from starting; funds to push for smoking bans and higher tobacco taxes in other cities, states and countries; and money for a system to track global tobacco use and the effectiveness of anti-smoking efforts.

The campaign mirrors what the Republican mayor already started in New York, where he banned smoking in bars and restaurants and has the health department running an aggressive program focused on helping smokers quit. Nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers smoke, and health officials have given out thousands of free nicotine patches.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Steven Spielberg Foundation Pledges $1M to Israel

Charity News Online

A foundation created by filmmaker Steven Spielberg will donate $1 million to relief efforts in Israel in the wake of the recent fighting against Hezbollah.

The Righteous Persons Foundation will make an initial contribution of $250,000 to the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles Israel Crisis Fund. The foundation, spokesman Marvin Levy said, will then follow up with gifts to the New Israel Fund and other organizations that are providing relief to those evacuated from northern Israel, The Associated Press reports.

The Jewish Foundation will use its donation to support emergency efforts for evacuated children, install shatterproof glass in Haifa's three hospitals and provide emergency assistance at the Naharia hospital, he said.

The New Israel Fund will use its donation to set up crisis hot lines and provide food and other emergency supplies to families in northern Israel, Levy said.

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Charity Chief’s Arrest Unrelated to UK Aircraft Bombing Plot – Pakistan

Charity News Online

The decision to put the chief of an Islamic charity, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, under house arrest last week had nothing to do with an investigation into a conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners in mid-air, Pakistan said Tuesday. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, was placed under house arrest at his home in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday night, Reuters reports.

Just hours later news broke that British police had arrested 24 British Muslims involved in the conspiracy to blow up planes over U.S. cities, and Pakistan had arrested at least seven suspected conspirators. "Hafiz Saeed's arrest has absolutely nothing to do with this case," Tasnim Aslam, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told a regular weekly news conference.

Saeed, the founder and former head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the most-feared jihadi groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, has been placed under house arrest for just a month, according to an aide in Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The United States put Jamaat-ud-Dawa on its list of terrorist organizations earlier this year. Security analysts say it is little more than a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba. Though it banned Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002, Pakistan has taken no action against the charity, despite pressure from both the United States and India.

"We don't have any evidence of Jamaat-ud-Dawa involvement in terrorist activities, nor has the United States shared any evidence with us," Aslam said.

The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Saeed was put under house arrest because of some statements he had made. "Hafiz Saeed has not been connected to any terrorist plot or terrorist incident," she added.

Following the July 11 bomb attacks on Mumbai's rail system that killed over 180 people, Indian officials accused Lashkar-e-Taiba of being involved, though a spokesman for the militant group issued a denial. Speculation that Jamaat-ud-Dawa could be linked to the airline bomb plot in Britain surfaced after western media reports that investigators were tracking funds transferred to Islamic relief organisations.

There are a number of such charities in Pakistan. Several of them, like Jamaat-ud-Dawa, are linked to militant groups, some of which have links to al Qaeda.

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Sweden to Host International Donors' Conference For Lebanon

Charity News Online

Sweden Monday invited 60 countries and aid agencies to a donors' conference aimed at helping Lebanon rebuild homes, roads and lives shattered by weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerillas. Big donor nations such as the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany, Norway and Japan as well as the Gulf States were among those invited to the Aug. 31 conference in Stockholm, Swedish aid minister Carin Jamtin said.

She said Israel wasn't on the guest list for the meeting, which Sweden would host with help from the UN and the Lebanese government. "The countries invited are those who are traditional donors at this type of conference," Jamtin told The Associated Press. "This will not be a political meeting, it's about urgent reconstruction." Jamtin said that included rebuilding ports, bridges and roads wrecked by Israeli bombs to help thousands of people who fled the month-long fighting return to their homes.

"Security is a condition for people to move back. But there must also be bridges to cross and there must be homes with roofs over their heads," Jamtin said. She declined to name a figure on how much aid was needed, saying that was up to Lebanon to determine.

Israel halted its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas Monday as a UN-imposed ceasefire went into effect after a month of warfare that killed more than 900 people, devastated much of south Lebanon and forced hundreds of thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Saudi Arabia to Crack Down on Charity Funds that Sponsor Terrorists

Charity News Online

Saudi Arabia has vowed to crack down on groups posing as charitable organizations in the Philippines but acting as fund-raisers to bankroll terror attacks.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said Saudi authorities have also promised to cooperate closely in the efforts to identify similar groups posing as charitable organizations based in Jeddah.

"What they’re (Saudi authorities) saying is that we should not be stopping (Saudi-based) charitable foundations from operating in the country and undertaking socio-economic projects in Mindanao but they said they will definitely act on those which are fronts and funders of terrorist groups in the country," he said.

The oil-rich kingdom made the commitment after the U.S Treasury Department tagged the Philippine and Indonesian branches of International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) as fund-raiser for the al-Qaeda terror network to finance terror attacks of the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.

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Charity Giants Bill, Melinda Gates Beg for Faster AIDS Solution

Charity News Online

Bill and Melinda Gates, the two people who control the world's biggest charity, opened the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto with a call for science and industry to redouble efforts to develop microbicides or pills that prevent sexual transmission of the HIV.

"We want to call on everyone here and around the world to help speed up what we hope will be the next big breakthrough in the fight against AIDS," Bill Gates was quoted by Washington Post as saying. "This could mark a turning point in the epidemic, and we have to make it an urgent priority."

The foundation Gates and his wife run has invested $110 million in recent years in research on vaginal microbicides that would prevent HIV infection during intercourse. At a news conference they said they would increase their investment in that field, and in the use of antiretroviral drugs as before-sex pills, but they did not give details.

Clinical experiments of microbicides are underway in several African countries and India. Studies of two AIDS drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, for "pre-exposure prophylaxis" are now being done in Thailand, Botswana and Peru.

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Shakira Proud of her Charity Foundation

Charity News Online

Colombian pop princess Shakira's proudest boast is the foundation she set up 11 years ago to help her country's poorest kids.

The pop superstar's Pies Descalzos charity - named after her first album - has raised $4 million since it started in 1995, and that money has been used to build schools and feed and educate almost 4,000 Colombian kids, WENN reports.

She says, "When I see healthy kids instead of hungry faces and empty tummies, I realize I've made a difference and that I have to keep doing more every day."

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Gwyneth Paltrow Backs Charity Fighting AIDS in Africa

Charity News Online

Hollywood beauty Gwyneth Paltrow is the latest celebrity to back a charity dedicated to helping Africa's poor.

The actress is appearing in a print advert for the charity. In the close-up photograph of her face, Paltrow has two blue stripes painted on her left cheekbone, WENN reports.

She is urging people to donate money so as to 'pay for lifesaving AIDS drugs that can keep a child, a mother, a father, a family alive'.

Other celebrities supporting the cause include Alicia Keys and Sir Paul McCArtney.

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Nelly Furtado Campaigns to Raise Money for Environmental Charity

Charity News Online

Canadian singer Nelly Furtado is begging eco-friendly fans to help stitch her up for charity.

The singer is desperate to raise funds for environmental group the Land Conservancy by auctioning a handmade patchwork quilt.

While Furtado will take care of the centre square, she's asking fans to volunteer their own creations for the rest of the project, MTV reports.

As a reward for the crafty efforts participants whose panels make the cut will earn an autographed photo of the singer.

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Pakistani Charity Suspected of Funding Massive Airplane Bombing Plot

Charity News Online

British and Pakistani investigators are checking whether the group of Britons suspected of plotting to blow up as many as 10 commercial airliners may have received money raised for earthquake relief by a Pakistani charity that is a front for an Islamic militant group.

The charity, Jamaat ud Dawa, which is active in the mosques of Britain’s largest cities, played a significant role in carrying out relief efforts after last October’s earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, which killed some 73,000 people, the New York Times reports.

Key members of the terror gang traveled to Pakistan’s lawless border region with Afghanistan as well to learn bomb-making techniques, the report said, adding that security services and Pakistani intelligence were trying to piece together exact movements.

Officials believe the trips, which the men claimed were to carry out charity work with refugees from the Afghan war and victims of the South Asian earthquake last October, allowed them to meet terror leaders. It was during these trips that the airline plot was conceived and fleshed out.

The authorities said the suspects intended to smuggle liquid-based explosives onto 9 or 10 commercial airliners headed for the United States and detonate them as they approached. The plot, had it been successful, could have killed thousands.

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Holocaust Survivors Donate $25,000 to Help Israeli Soldiers

Charity News Online

A Holocaust survivors group, the Independent Lodzer Young Men's and Women's Society, decided to give $25,000 to Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a New York-based group that has raised about $3.5 million to send care packages and Shabbat kits to Israeli troops near the Lebanese border.

The $25,000 is about 70 percent of the group's budget, the society's president, Irwin Nijaki, said.

The group typically donates about $1,000 a year to charity.

"We think we may not survive too long," said Nijaki, 80, "so we want to do something with the money."

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces is the U.S. counterpart to an Israeli charity called Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers. The Friends group sends underclothes, personal grooming products, games and other items to Israeli troops and runs social programs and summer camps for families of the soldiers.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Hezbollah Wins Support Through Charitable Work

Charity News Online

In bombed-out southern villages and refugee-filled schools across the country, Hezbollah supporters go door to door, checking if people have enough food and medicine. That is the second prong of the militant Shiite group's strength in Lebanon, where it is putting up stiff resistance to thousands of Israeli troops in the south and has fired, according to Israel, more than 3,500 rockets into the north of the country since the war began a month ago, The Associated Press reports.

In the heat of the battle, Hezbollah's deep political and social roots in Lebanon are overshadowed by its military power, manifested in cadres of guerrilla fighters, their rockets, anti-tank missiles and Kalashnikov rifles. Away from the war front, Hezbollah runs a sophisticated network of schools, clinics and social services in the Shiite Muslim community. It has 14 members in the 128-member Parliament, two Cabinet ministers, a magazine, and a radio and TV station.

"Hezbollah is a grass-roots movement," says Amal Saad Ghorayeb, a political science professor at the Lebanese American University and expert in Hezbollah affairs. "They provide cradle to grave benefits, they take care of all your social, medical and welfare needs. It is precisely those social services that embed the Hezbollah movement in the (Shiite) community," she said.

While Hezbollah's popularity among Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites stems mainly from its struggle against Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon, the group also cultivated much respect for its efficient network of services in the south, the eastern Bekaa Valley and Dahiyah - Hezbollah's stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs. Even now, despite crippling Israeli airstrikes that have destroyed most of Hezbollah offices across the country, the guerrilla group is assisting in relief efforts.

Hezbollah's network of social charity organizations include "Imdad," Arabic for supply, which provides educational and medical services for the poor and physically disabled. "Mu'asasat al-Shahid," or Institution of the Martyr, takes care of the welfare of the families of Hezbollah guerrillas who are killed in the battle against Israel. Another organization, Jihad al-Bina, a name best translated as "construction for the sake of the holy struggle," rebuilds homes damaged in Israeli attacks and provides water and garbage collecting services to residents of southern and eastern Lebanon. The group also has five hospitals, 14 clinics and 12 schools across the country, a Hezbollah official said. He said some of those organizations, such as al-Shahid institution, have headquarters in Iran, which provides backing, weapons and funds to Hezbollah. Others rely on donations and alms from supporters.

Israeli air strikes have destroyed Hezbollah charity offices and schools in the market town of Nabatiyeh, the southern port city of Tyre and Dahiyah. Israeli commandos targeted the Iranian-funded, Hezbollah-run Dar al-Hikma Hospital in eastern Lebanon's town of Baalbek on Aug. 2. A Hezbollah-affiliated charity in the town has also been destroyed.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem, Israeli Army spokesman Capt. Jacob Dallal said Hezbollah institutions, not just military infrastructure, should be crippled. "In the war on terror in general, it's not just about hitting an army base, which they don't have, or a bunker. It is also about undermining their ability to operate ... . That ranges from incitement on television and radio, financial institutions and, of course, other grass-roots institutions that breed more followers, more terrorists, training bases, obviously, schools," he said.

Hezbollah supporters say their loyalty to the party is unflinching. "Hezbollah is the people and the people are Hezbollah," said Hussein Ayoub, a 56-year-old ex-fighter who said the group paid for his children's tuition and a heart surgery he had several years ago. "I am ready to sacrifice with my life for the party," said Ayoub who has been living in a Beirut school with his family since Israeli air strikes destroyed his house in Dahiyah.

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French Charity Claims Victory as Paris Pledges to Tackle Homeless Crisis

Charity News Online

A charity that has forced authorities in Paris to take notice of its homeless people claimed victory this week after the French government moved to resolve the crisis by pledging €7m ($9m) to fund more flexible accommodation for 1,100 people without shelter in the capital. The government's move was prompted after tents given to homeless people by a medical charity began springing up around the city, The Financial Times wrote.

Medecins du Monde's "tent city" campaign - in which 300 homeless people were given tents to sleep in on the streets of Paris - prompted such outrage and sympathy that government officials were forced to act, The Independent reported Friday. In a rare move for the political summer off-season the junior minister for employment and social cohesion, Catherine Vaudrin, announced a package for Greater Paris worth EUR7m aimed at producing 1,270 hostel beds.

Much of the accommodation, she said, would be bedsits where homeless people could settle and not have to move out every morning. Between 2,000 and 5,000 people are estimated to sleep rough on the streets of Paris every night.

Medecins du Monde and other campaigners for poor people welcomed the move but said more efforts would be needed as winter approached. "It's a first step in the right direction," said Graciela Robert of Medecins du Monde.

The charity's campaign began last winter when it gave away 300 "two-second tents" - which unfurl rapidly and do not require poles or pins - to people who had been sleeping rough.

Small communities of eight to 10 tents, emblazoned with the Medecins du Monde logo, sprang up along the Quai d'Austerlitz and the Canal Saint-Martin. Some Parisians complained but many others sympathized with the homeless in their neighborhoods and bought them the tents, which retail for only about 40 euros. As a result, Medecins du Monde estimates there are about 500 tents on the streets of Paris.

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Israel Rejects Russia’s Call for Humanitarian Truce

Charity News Online

Israel’s representative to the United Nations Dan Gillerman has rejected Russia’s proposal at the Security Council demanding a 72-hour humanitarian truce in Lebanon, AFX reports. Earlier on Thursday, Russia circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Lebanon, saying the crisis was reaching “catastrophic” proportions and was too urgent to wait for passage of a separate U.S.-French measure, The Associated Press reported.

“It would be a very bad solution” to the crisis, because “it would allow Hezbollah to regroup,” Gillerman told Israeli public radio.

Russia’s move came as the United States and France appeared close to breaking a deadlock on their long-awaited resolution and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said there could be a vote on their proposal on Friday. Responding to the Russian draft, Bolton said he did not think it was helpful to distract attention from negotiations over the U.S.-French draft. “We’re not playing games here,” he said. “This is very serious.”

More than 800 people have been killed in the month-long conflict which has devastated Lebanon.

“War is raging in Lebanon and the humanitarian situation is getting catastrophic,” Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. He said that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan supported the Russian proposal for a 72-hour cease-fire.

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McConaughey's 1971 Sports Car Nets $61,000 for Oprah’s Hurricane Charity

Charity News Online

The winning bid for Matthew McConaughey’s 1971 Corvette Stingray convertible, auctioned for hurricane relief, was $61,600, according to the eBay Web site. The name of the winning bidder wasn’t immediately released. The Web site indicated that 72 bids were received.

McConaughey, a native of Texas, said he’s donating all proceeds from last month’s sale to Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network for Katrina and Rita recovery efforts, The Associated Press reported.

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29 last year. Rita made landfall in southeast Texas on Sept. 24.

Film credits for the 36-year-old actor include “Failure to Launch” and “The Wedding Planner.” In 2005, he was named the “sexiest man alive” by People magazine.

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Seattle Gunman Wants to Plead Guilty in Jewish Charity Shooting

Charity News Online

The man accused of shooting six people at the Jewish Federation offices in Seattle surprised many, his own attorney included, by trying to plead guilty Thursday to the crimes, Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. After a deputy prosecutor read all nine criminal charges to Naveed Haq, the man briefly conferred with his attorney, C. Wesley Richards, who told the judge that Haq wanted to enter guilty pleas.

Richards urged the judge not to accept the pleas until he had more time to go over the evidence and the consequences of a guilty plea with his client. He said he also had some concerns about whether Haq was mentally competent to make such a decision. King County Superior Court Judge Michael Trickey said that while defendants are allowed to plead guilty at their arraignment, though an unusual move, he was worried about the charge of aggravated murder that Haq faces.

That charge carries the possibility of the death penalty, and King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng has not yet decided whether he will seek a death sentence. It's unclear what would happen if Haq pleaded guilty before that decision is made. Trickey delayed Haq's arraignment until next Tuesday.

Haq, 30, is a college graduate raised in the Tri-Cities. Thirteen days ago, he is accused of forcing his way into the Federation offices in downtown Seattle. After declaring himself a Muslim opposed to the Bush administration's support of Israel he opened fire, killing one woman and wounding five others.

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Bayern Munich, German Charity Suspend Sri Lanka Project Amid Security Concerns

Charity News Online

The ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka has forced the German champions Bayern Munich and a German charity to postpone a social responsibility project they were initiating in Sri Lanka. To coincide with the start of the Bundesliga Bayern Munich and Malteser International were going to start a 'Football Reconciliation Program', under which young footballers were going to be sponsored in the Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka.

"Based on the security situation in the country we have decided that we will only start the project at a later date," Juergen Clemens who heads the Sri Lanka desk for Malteser International said in a statement, cited by the news agency DPA. Tamil rebels said Thursday that government forces had again carried out land and airborne attacks in the east of the country with several casualties. Tamilnet, which is close to the rebels, reported that at least 45 civilians had been killed.

Malteser International has been operating in all areas affected by the Tsunami in December 2004. They have more than 15 projects which are contributing to the reconstruction of the country in those areas. Since mid-April Bayern's social responsibility programs are being coordinated under the banner of FC Bayern Hilfe e.V. This was formed to help people who need assistance without having themselves caused this situation. They are particularly involved in working with victims of floods in Sri Lanka. There they are trying to help orphans and people who are experiencing financial problems as a result of the floods.

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