July 2010

(Chicago Tribune)  Two Alzheimer’s charities are battling over donor funds.  The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America alleges that the Alzheimer’s Association, based in Chicago, has unfairly deposited donations.  The disagreement began in 2007, when donor Mildred Harbaugh asked her trustees to distribute 60% of her estate to four separate charities, one of which was the “Alzheimer’s Foundation.”  The problem is that Ms. Harbaugh’s trust listed the address of the Alzheimer’s Association, not the Foundation, which has headquarters in New York.  The Foundation commenced an investigation on the Association to assure that other checks meant for other organizations were not deposited.  Association representatives claim that checks are deposited by their “third-party processor” so long as “Alzheimer’s” in the subject line.

(The Wall Street Journal)  Charities at risk of losing their tax-exempt status due to the 2006 provision have until October 15 to file.  Many nonprofits that neglected to file for three years in a row faced a revoked tax-exempt status back in May, but the IRS feels a deadline extension is necessary.   IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman noted, “These groups do great work in communities across the United States and are vital to the vibrancy of our nation.  The last thing we at the IRS want to do is to have these groups lose their tax-exempt status because they haven’t filed a short, simple form.”


Nicolas Sarkozy

Photo from Guardian by Jacques Brinon/AP

(The Guardian)  Michel Germaneau, an aid worker and 78-year-old retired engineer, has been confirmed dead by president Nicolas Sarkozy.  Mr. Germaneau was held hostage by al-Quaida’s in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in April.  Mr. Germaneau was building schools in Niger to aid the  nomadic Tuareg.  President Sarkozy said of Mr. Germaneau’s death, “I condemn this barbarous act, this odious act, which has just left an innocent victim.  Far from weakening our determination, his death must reinforce it.”

(The Washington Post)  A property management firm has been chosen for an affordable housing nonprofit in Alexandria.  The nonprofit, called Robert Pierre Johnson Housing Development Corp. (RPJ Housing), has recently been under financial stress due to accusations of forgery from its executive director, Herbert J. Cooper-Levy.  RPJ Housing is using Urban Investment Partners Property Management Inc., which is associated with Urban Investment Partners, to continue working towards its mission.  Indeed, RPJ Housing has high hopes; Executive Director Eric Bonetti said, “Over the coming months, we will continue to expand and enhance the services we offer to our residents, and UIP will be an important part of this process.”

(The New York Times)  Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit devoted to exposing and preventing war crimes and government misconduct, has recently reported forced labor on farms that provide a Philip Morris International cigarette factory in Kazakhstan, Central Asia.  The farm in question has employed children, which is especially dangerous given the tobacco context.  Because nicotine is absorbed through the skin, heavily handled tobacco leaves can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and rashes; farm workers working all day in tobacco fields can take in the nicotine equivalent to 36 cigarettes in one day, simply from contact with the leaves.  As expected, children are especially of concern because they are smaller.

What is worse, farmers in the area are denied adequate hydration, so they drink water from nearby irrigation systems saturated in harmful chemicals.  Researchers from Human Rights Watch found that Kazach tobacco fields employ thousands of migrants, 72 of which have been children.

When the Philip Morris International company read the report submitted by Human Rights Watch, it declared that it was opposed to child labor and that it would re-evaluate trade with Kazakhstan.

(BBC)  Six months after the disastrous earthquake that left thousands dead and over a million homeless, Haiti is still struggling to regain stability.  Though some progress has been made–Medecins Sans Frontieres has established a hospital, and major disease outbreaks have been prevented–the fact remains that Haiti is still struggling.  The Haitian government has suffered significantly since the earthquake; 25 percent of civil servants died, and government buildings have crumbled to the ground.  Presidential advisor Jean Renald Clerisme notes that much of the money pledged has yet to be delivered.  “They say they are sending money to Haiti, but much of it goes on experts and consultants from their own countries who are paid big dollar salaries they bank at home,” Mr. Cleisme said.  “And then when it comes to buying things for aid projects the donors insist on spending the money in their own countries. The people of Haiti only see a small proportion of these billions that are promised.”

(Washington Post)  One of the Washington area’s largest housing nonprofits, Robert Pierre Johnson Housing Development Corp., formally announced that it is still working for the community despite the recent resignation of its chief executive, Mr. Herbert J. Cooper-Levy, who allegedly forged zoning documents.  RPJ Housing’s mission is helping low-income people attain affordable housing.  The open letter from RPJ Housing can be read here.