Facebook’s Zuckerberg Among Latest Billionaires Pledging to Donate Half Their Wealth

Seventeen more of the wealthiest families and individuals in the United States have joined Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett in a pledge to give at least half their wealth to charities over their lifetime and beyond.

About four months after launching a plan to convince the wealthiest Americans to donate large portions of their accumulated wealth, The Giving Pledge has logged 57 signatories. Gates and Buffett estimated in August their efforts could generate $600 billion dollars in charitable giving. “We’re off to a terrific start,” Buffett said.

Among those making up the latest round of pledges is Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?” said Zuckerberg. “With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts,” Zuckerberg continued.

Other well known names that have signed on to the pledge include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, movie producer George Lucas, media magnate Ted Turner, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Texas oilman-turned-wind-energy-advocate T. Boone Pickens. Much like the structure of the Clinton Global Initiative, those who take the pledge will come together at an annual event to share ideas, learn from (and keep tabs) on each other.

Source: www. earthandindustry.com


Charity Operation Gratitude Receives Generous Donation for Troops

Before Operation Gratitude members could seal the 600,000 packages and send them to U.S. troops around the world for the holidays — a few Lake Havasu City residents had to lend a helping hand.

Community members, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute and the Lake Havasu Hospitality Association presented the group with a check for $35,000 and personal items for holiday packages. Operation Gratitude is a program that sends care packages to American troops deployed overseas. More than 2,000 volunteers gathered in Van Nuys, CA, to celebrate the wrapping of the 600,000th package.

Carolyn Blashek, who started Operation Gratitude in 2003, thanked Victory Motorcycles, a division of Polaris Industries, for their generous donation of a motorcycle, according to a press release. Keys for the motorcycle were placed in the 600,000th package.

“Operation Gratitude Care Packages are an expression of enormous respect and appreciation for those who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom,” Blashek said in the release.  “This exciting 600,000th package event represents a celebration of all the brave Americans who wear the uniform of our great nation.  We are honored to send this package to a young service member currently deployed in harm’s way, who represents all our courageous heroes – past, present and future – from all branches of the military.”

Source: http://www.havasunews.com

Dogs Rescue Students from Finals Stress

Dog lover Lauren Sarazen, a Chapman University freshman, gets several wet kisses from Libby, a 5-year-old chocolate Lab. The school hosts Furry Friends for Finals for the second year. The therapy dogs help reduce stress during finals week. CINDY YAMANAKA, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Chapman University students got a chance for a quick stress relief from studying for finals – by petting and hugging dogs.  Nearly 300 students showed up for the two-hour Furry Friends for Finals, hosted for the second year by the campus club Active Minds, which promotes mental-health awareness. The dogs were brought in by a volunteer program in Long Beach, Beach Animals Reading with Kids. It encourages children to increase their reading skills and self-confidence by reading aloud to therapy dogs.

Students signed waivers and stood in line for a chance to spend several minutes with their choice of eight different dogs, including a Labrador, a French bulldog and a Shetland sheepdog. “Animals help relieve anxiety,” said Megan Kauffman, a therapist with the university’s Student Psychological Counseling Services. “It’s really therapeutic to pet a dog and relax, especially during finals.” Freshman Eddie Lopez said the sight of a dog was welcome. “Since we can’t have dogs in the dorms, it’s been forever since I’ve seen a dog,” Lopez said. “It’s fun to be able to pet one.”

Source: http://www.ocregister.com

Mountain Gorilla Numbers Soar

The number of mountain gorillas living in the Virunga Massif in central Africa has soared by 26.3% since 2003, according to a new census. The increase in numbers from 380 to 480 individuals is thanks to “immense” efforts to reduce poaching and disease, scientists.

The 450-square-kilometre Virunga Massif is composed of three national parks: the Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, the Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Parc National des Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The mountain gorillas of the Virunga Massif are making a comeback for a variety of reasons. One key driver is the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, which started to engage local communities in projects that would help them to develop economically in 2003.  Many of these communities now keep bees to make honey or make handicrafts for tourists. They don’t need to poach.

A mountain gorilla in Parc Nacional des Volcans, Rwanda. Photograph: Andy Rouse/Corbis


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk