Monday, October 26, 2009

Google Billionaire Gives to Hebrew Immigration Society

In honor of the 30th anniversary of his immigration to the US, Google cofounder Sergey Brin has donated $1 million to the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS).  At age 6, the society helped his family and him move from the anti-Semitic USSR to America.  While the donation is small in proportion to his $16 billion personal wealth, Mr. Brin indicated that he may follow the path of Bill Gates, growing his foundation over time until he “got serious about philanthropy.”

Cash Given to Secure the Release of Kidnapped GOAL Workers

After initial reports that no ransom was paid for the release of two women working for GOAL in Darfur, the Sudanese Minister says that the Sudanese government paid over $70,000 in cash to locals during negotiations.  According to Abdul Bagi al-Jailani, who oversaw the negotiations, the “money was given for facilitation to chiefs and stakeholders in the area.”  He said that the Irish and Sudanese ambassadors both knew about the payments, which were not described as bribes, but rather payments for rental cars, gasoline, and other items to facilitate the negotiations.

Gates Foundation Sways Government Dollars

The Gates Foundation has been a key player in school reform, spending over $200 million annually, and is now seeking to influence how the $5 billion in available federal grants will be spend.  While the federal grants can be huge, the application comes with 44 pages of rules, a huge legal and administrative burden for cash strapped states that are laying off teachers.  The Gates Foundation is making it easier for these states to apply by offering $250,000 grants to ease the burden of the federal grant application process, but there is a catch.  In order for a state to receive money from the Foundation, they must demonstrate their commitment to a series of controversial principles often opposed by teachers unions.  The states must show a commitments toward a national testing standard, charter schools, and the ability to link student data to teachers.