Monday, July 20, 2009

Arts Endowments Suffered from Risky Investments

Endowment losses exceeding 30% over the past year have brought into question the investment goals of nonprofit foundations supporting the arts.  In the past few decades, endowments have moved from low risk bonds to a variety of more volatile stocks, distressed debts, and venture capital equity in an effort to increase returns on the investments.  While successful in the past, this approach has destroyed millions of dollars worth of endowment in the current recession, resulting in hiring freezes and layoffs at museums.

Somali Gunmen Capture 3 Aid Workers

Three foreign aid workers were kidnapped in the border town of Mandera, Kenya on Saturday by Somali gunmen.  Al-Shabab, an Islamic group controlling areas of Somalia, has vowed to chase after the kidnappers, who are believed to have returned to Somalia.  Al-Shabab took possession of two French hostages last week and vowed to put them on trial under Sharia Law.

Appeals Court Reverses Decision Barring Muslim Scholar

On Friday, a federal appeals court reversed a decision barring Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim scholar, from entering the US because of donations to a charity later deemed by OFAC to have supported Hamas.  Mr. Ramadan gave $1,300 to a Swiss charity between 1998 and 2002 and had his Visa revoked in 2004 with no reason given.  The court ruled that the government must “confront Ramadan with the allegation against him and afford him the subsequent opportunity to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization.”