Saturday, January 06, 2007

LA Times gets the goods on Gates

David Seaton's News Links
If you have spent the last ten years or more of your precious life struggling with Microsoft products, trying to earn your living despite their glitches, "blue screens of death" and their huge security holes. If you have been angered by the way you were manipulated and "driven" from version to version; upgrade to upgrade and pray for the day when Google and Linux finally free you from this monster, nothing in the LA Times' exposé of the Gates Foundation will surprise you all that very much. If however, you worship the wealthy on general principle as so many Americans are prone to do, you may be shocked and disappointed by what you find. Relax, nothing is more fun than the unmasking of a pharisee: enjoy. DS
Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation - Los Angeles Times
Abstract: An ink spot certified that he had been immunized against polio and measles, thanks to a vaccination drive supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But polio is not the only threat Justice faces. Almost since birth, he has had respiratory trouble. His neighbors call it "the cough." People blame fumes and soot spewing from flames that tower 300 feet into the air over a nearby oil plant. It is owned by the Italian petroleum giant Eni, whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.(...) In Ebocha, where Justice lives, Dr. Elekwachi Okey, a local physician, says hundreds of flares at oil plants in the Niger Delta have caused an epidemic of bronchitis in adults, and asthma and blurred vision in children. (...) "We're all smokers here," Okey said, "but not with cigarettes."(...) The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe. (...) At the end of 2005, the Gates Foundation endowment stood at $35 billion, making it the largest in the world. (...) Warren E. Buffett, the world's second-richest man after Bill Gates, pledged to add about $31 billion in installments from his personal fortune. (...) the total is higher than the gross domestic products of 70% of the world's nations. Like most philanthropies, the Gates Foundation gives away at least 5% of its worth every year, to avoid paying most taxes. In 2005, it granted nearly $1.4 billion. It awards grants mainly in support of global health initiatives(...) It invests the other 95% of its worth. This endowment is managed by Bill Gates Investments, which handles Gates' personal fortune.(...) By comparing these investments with information from for-profit services that analyze corporate behavior for mutual funds, pension managers, government agencies and other foundations, The Times found that the Gates Foundation has holdings in many companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker rights, or unethical practices.(...) Some critics say the foundation's failure to use its own investments "to promote ... public benefit in developing countries at reasonable cost" might trace back to the source of most of its money — Microsoft — which Bill Gates serves as chairman. Microsoft monopolies in computer operating systems and business software depend upon the same intellectual-property and trade-law approaches favored by drug companies. READ IT ALL

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