Blair hails easing of Gaza blockade

JERUSALEM: Israel is expected to significantly ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip, officials said, in an attempt to blunt the widespread international criticism.Cabinet ministers were meeting yesterday to limit restrictions to a short list of goods, such as cement and steel, which Israel says militants could use against it. Even those goods would be allowed in to an undetermined extent in co-ordination with the United Nations, the officials said.Israel, with Egypt’s co-operation, has blockaded the Palestinian territory by land and sea since Hamas militants seized control of Gaza three years ago. For the most part, only a limited amount of humanitarian goods have been allowed in.The blockade was designed to keep out weapons, turn Gazans against their militant Hamas rulers and pressure Hamas to free a captive Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.It did not achieve those aims, however, and weapons and goods continued to flow into the territory through a large network of smuggling tunnels built under the Gaza-Egypt border.But although the blockade deepened the poverty in Gaza and confined 1.5 million people to a tiny patch of land, it did not provoke an international outcry until Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists two weeks ago during a raid on a Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla.The newspaper Haaretz yesterday quoted the international envoy Tony Blair as hailing the expected vote by the Israeli ministers. ”It will allow us to keep weapons and weapon materials out of Gaza, but on the other hand to help the Palestinian population there,” the former British prime minister was quoted as saying. ”The policy in Gaza should be to isolate the extremists, but to help the people.”The Israeli government has also been accused of failing 9000 settlers it forcibly evacuated from Gaza almost five years ago, making them ”refugees in the homeland”.A state commission of inquiry, which delivered its 488-page report on the fate of the settlers to the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was damning of the bureaucracy and delays surrounding the rehabilitation of those evicted in Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005.”A very grim picture emerges on the ground,” the report said. ”Most of the evacuees still reside in temporary trailer parks – the unemployment rate among the evacuees is double that of the general public; some of the evacuees’ financial state is dire.”Associated Press, Guardian News & Media
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‘None of your business’ – Tiger says it’s about the Open, not his life

PEBBLE BEACH: Tiger Woods returns to the scene of perhaps his greatest triumph this week with his focus firmly on his hunt for more major success.He wants everyone else’s focus there, too.Two days before the start of the US Open championship, Woods slammed the door on questions about his private life.”That’s none of your business,” Woods brusquely told one reporter who had the temerity to ask about the state of his marriage, moving on to discuss the state of his health and his game with some optimism.Woods said the sore neck that forced him to pull out of the fourth round of The Players Championship had improved.”The neck is better – it’s not where I want it, but it is better, no doubt,” Woods said, adding that a key for him was that, even though it still got sore, he could recover to play or practise the next day.”I haven’t had any days where I couldn’t go the next day. That’s a big step in the right direction.”Woods said his game was moving in the right direction as well, after struggles since his return in April from a five-month absence to deal with the fallout from his marital infidelities.”The more I play, the more I get my feel back … Where I was in the beginning of June is where a lot of the guys are in January and February, the amount of rounds they played in,” he said.”So I’m just starting to get my feel back. And I know I have to be patient with it.”The 14-time major champion will play the first two rounds at Pebble Beach with England’s Lee Westwood and South African Ernie Els.Els had a ringside seat in 2000 when Woods blazed to a 15-stroke victory in the US Open here that still stands as a record winning margin for a major championship.The South African, who went into the record books as the distant runner-up, said that wire-to-wire win helped change the face of golf.”That was really a wake-up call for a lot of guys,” Els said. ”A lot of guys started changing their game a lot. And a lot of guys took their physical fitness to another level.”And 10 years later here we are, and we’ve got a lot of strong, physical, athletic guys out here on tour. I think it’s really brought the game a long way from that tournament.”Woods’s personal woes since December have gone some way towards dimming the aura that the 2000 US Open triumph – which was followed by victories in the British Open, PGA Championship and 2001 Masters for the ”Tiger Slam” – helped to create.Now Woods’s chances of breaking Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships seem less assured.Nicklaus has said he thinks 2010 could be a turning point in that chase, with the US Open here and the British Open to follow at St Andrews next month.Woods indicated he was not in a now-or-never frame of mind.”I think every year’s a big year, any time you have a chance to win four major championships,” the 34-year-old said. ”Certainly the venues do set up well and some years they don’t. But it doesn’t mean you can’t win on them.”AFP
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Haussler brought down to earth and may miss Tour

THE speedsters of the pack aren’t holding anything back as they sharpen their edge for next month’s Tour de France.That was clear in stage four of the Tour of Switzerland to Wettingen on Tuesday. It ended with a high-speed crash that resulted in NSW-born German sprinter Heinrich Haussler being taken to hospital.For sprinters such as Haussler (Cervelo), finding peak form for the Tour is different than for the overall contenders, who test themselves sparingly to save energy and avoid the risk of crashing. Sprinters revel in bunch sprints that usually highlight the first week of the Tour and where the pack races elbow to elbow at speeds of up to 75km/h.And the best way to find that form is to tap into it in lead-up races such as the nine-day Swiss tour.Stage four showed that there is no shortage of sprinters willing to subscribe to the theory – and the price that can be paid for it.Haussler, who won a stage in last year’s Tour de France, faces the prospect of missing the Tour.He was the principal victim of the spill with 50 metres to go. It was caused by Briton’s Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), who veered into his line. He was taken to hospital with a deep cut to his right elbow that needed stitching and severe grazing to his right hip, backside and back. ”I didn’t see Cavendish coming,” Haussler said. ”He drove into my wheel and before I knew it, I went down and was lying on the ground. I could have won the stage.”The crash also took down Gerald Ciolek (Milram) and Tom Boonen (QuickStep), who were also vying for the win, and involved up to 15 others as they sped blindly into the mayhem.The stage was won by Italian Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), who had given himself little chance. ”I was far behind, and I didn’t have any chance to win otherwise,” he said.Cavendish, meanwhile, was slapped with a 25-point deduction in the sprinters’ competition that Haussler leads and 30 seconds on general classification. He was also fined 200 Swiss francs ($204.70).In a bitter twist for Haussler, the uncertainty he faces about his start in the Tour is not new. He had only just recovered from a knee injury that cruelled his Spring classics campaign to return at the Swiss tour and was in need of a strong ride to secure his berth for a Tour start.Haussler produced it with a stage win with which he also took the points competition lead. But as he begins his recovery, the question is whether he has done enough.The crash also left many overall Tour contenders in the race grateful they are of a different mix. The Swiss tour leader, Germany’s Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia), said: ”I could tell it was going to be a nervous sprint, caused partly by the wind and a narrow path between the barriers.”Martin’s teammate and leader for the Tour de France, Australian Michael Rogers, was happy for having already left the race to resume high-altitude training. Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) posted on Twitter: ”What a day. Nasty crash in the sprint that involved many. Damn, this game is dangerous. Hope all the guys are OK.”
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We might have guessed: Dear Leader powered a gallant loss

BEIJING: Tears streaming and biting his lip to stop himself from bawling, the striker Jung Tae-se was unable to sing as his teammates belted out, ”Let’s devote our body and heart for this glorious Korea.”And devote their bodies and hearts they did. Malnourished North Korea – ranked 105th in the world of soccer – held the world’s best and most flamboyant team, Brazil, to no score at half time before gallantly going down 2-1. They gave the world a glimpse of grit and patriotism inside the world’s most secretive, oppressive and perhaps miserable nation.”I saw the North Korean national flag rising and, finally, I had made the World Cup,” said Jung, explaining yesterday why he had cried as he lined up to sing the anthem before North Korea’s first World Cup match in 44 years.In Beijing, opposite the east gate of North Korea’s vast embassy in Beijing, a grocery store owner shook his head with awe at the performance he had stayed up all night to watch. ”They were so strong-willed, hard-playing … what a comparison with the Chinese national team,” he said. ”The [North Korean players] came to my shop after … a training camp at Xiang He [a Chinese national team facility], before heading to South Africa, and they told me: ‘How terrific your facilities are, how can you not play well?”’The way the North Korean team’s leaders tell it, the secrets behind their football revival are not limited to steely determination and methodical preparation. Kim Jung-su, the secretary of the North Korean Soccer Association, has previously credited the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, for ”profound” tactical advice such as ”consider each player’s physical characteristics”. North Korea’s most deadly football weapons, however, were made in Japan.Jung Tae-se – the striker who cried before the match and set up the country’s goal – and two other teammates were raised in the 600,000-strong ethnic Korean ”Zainichi” community in Japan. Their ancestors came (or were taken from) Korea during Japan’s 35-year-occupation in the first half of last century.The crowd at the match was a sea of yellow and green, punctuated by two small clusters of red-uniformed Koreans who looked as if they had been drafted straight from the Pyongyang bureaucracy. North Korea reportedly sold most of its modest allocation of tickets to tour agencies in China.
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Whincup to take new set of wheels for a spin as he tries to regain top ranking

REIGNING V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup will drive a new Holden race car in Darwin this weekend as he strives to leapfrog Ford driver James Courtney at the top of the rankings.Whincup won the opening race in Darwin last year driving a Ford and switched manufacturers at the end of the season after winning his second consecutive drivers’ championship.The TeamVodafone driver said his new Triple Eight Commodore could prove decisive in ”clawing back the momentum” snatched by Courtney and his Jim Beam Racing team during rounds in New Zealand and at Queensland Raceway.On softer compound sprint tyres Courtney made it a clean sweep in Hamilton and Queensland and heading into this weekend at Hidden Valley leads the championship by 114 points.”Everyone thinks we’re in a bit of a slump, but we’re second in the championship and we’re going well, we’ve had a good start to the year,” Whincup said.”I’m really pleased there’s this massive expectation on us and [the belief] when we don’t win a race there must be something wrong – that’s a good thing and I want to be in that position.”After a winning start to this year in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, Whincup said there had been ”a few little challenges with moving manufacturers”, such as a black flag and zero points at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide and an engine failure in Queensland.”We’re not leading the championship, but we’ve had a very fast, competitive car and won 50 per cent of the races,” he said.”There’s 29 cars out there and one car has won 50 per cent of them, so we’ve had a fantastic start to the year and want to continue that here in Darwin.”Toll HRT drivers Garth Tander (fifth in the series) and Will Davison (15th) will also debut new cars in Darwin.Whincup’s TeamVodafone partner, Craig Lowndes, a former winner of the round, sits third in the championship. Lowndes is expected to unveil his new Commodore at Phillip Island in September.Qualifying for this weekend’s two races begins tomorrow. All teams will have one set of sprint tyres, which can be used only in Sunday’s 200km race.Round seven of the championship in Darwin will also be the first time all the V8 Supercars teams run the control camshaft, which has been designed to decrease costs and increase engine life.
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Paratroopers may be charged over massacre

LONDON: Northern Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions has confirmed he will examine whether the British paratroopers involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre can be prosecuted for murder, perjury or even perverting the course of justice.As the families of the victims joined civil rights campaigners in wild celebrations in Londonderry, Britain has split over whether the soldiers – many of them now septuagenarians – should face the courts 38 years after the deaths.The Saville report, running to 5000 pages and more than 30 million words of evidence, has been widely praised for its forensic, meticulous sifting of the mountains of evidence from thousands of marchers and witnesses present in Bogside on January 30, 1972.While the more than £190 million cost and the 12 years taken to compile the report has attracted criticism in the past, there is widespread relief both in Northern Ireland and Westminster that its rigorous approach may draw a line under the event, widely accepted to have dramatically escalated the violence that tore Northern Ireland apart in the 20 years that followed.Sir Alasdair Fraser, QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, is now expected to carefully assess whether there is sufficient evidence for a ”reasonable prospect” of conviction for those paratroopers identified to have participated in the killings.Lord Gifford QC, who represented the family of one civil rights marcher, Jim Wray, who perished in a hail of gunfire, said that several charges could arise from the report which he described as ”thorough and even-handed”: ”Murder is, of course, the obvious one. But the report also found that soldiers deliberately attempted to mislead the inquiry.”The Prime Minister, David Cameron, who apologised for the massacre in the House of Commons when he unveiled the report, was careful to couch his criticism of the military in unequivocal language, paving the way for a DPP-led decision.”I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who I believe to be the finest in the world,” Mr Cameron said.”But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt, there is nothing equivocal, there are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.”While the report has exonerated the army’s then commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, General Robert Ford, of blame, despite his decision to deploy the Parachute Regiment into the city against the advice of a senior police officer in Londonderry, it contained strong criticism of Lieutenant-Colonel Derek Wilford, the officer directly in charge of the paratroopers.The report found that General Ford ”neither knew nor had reason to know at any stage that his decision would or was likely to result in soldiers firing unjustifiably on that day” but Colonel Wilford had ignored orders that he should not order troops beyond a barrier deeper into the Bogside.What followed was ”not a justifiable response to a lethal attack by republican paramilitaries but instead soldiers opening fire unjustifiably”, the report concluded.Calls for the military to be prosecuted are already building from nationalists – but equally, these are starting to be echoed with demands for quid pro quo legal action against suspected IRA killers.For Mr Cameron and his new government, the conundrum may lie in finding an even-handed way to ensure that justice is not only done but seen to be done.The verdict The report concluded: The order to go into the Bogside should never have been given;None of the victims had a firearm;No warnings were given by the paratroopers – in breach of the soldiers’ terms of engagement;None of the shots was fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks;Some of those killed and injured were fleeing or going to assistance of the dying.
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Pocock says wake-up call arrived in good time

AS EXPECTED, the ever-combative, ever-direct Wallabies openside breakaway David Pocock has taken some positives out of being part of a scrummaging decimation against England at Subiaco last weekend.While some Australian forwards were slinking around after conceding two penalty tries, Pocock believed it was the ”wake-up call” they needed, after several seasons in which they had gradually started to believe they were a formidable pack.Admittedly the front-row stocks are well down at the moment, with Ben Alexander, Benn Robinson and Stephen Moore all sidelined, but Pocock yesterday argued this was still the time for everyone – young and old – to step up.”Without a good scrum you’re going to struggle to win the tight games,” Pocock said yesterday. ”We can’t rely on other aspects of the game to prop up one area which is lagging. It’s maybe not a bad thing that we got this wake-up call early, as we can now put a lot of work into that area.”Pocock can also comprehend why everyone was again focusing on the Australian scrum and its frailties.”After the weekend we realised how short we came. It is obviously an area where we have to improve a lot to be competitive,” Pocock said.”We know it is an area that could really hurt us and it did on the weekend. For the team and for the backs, we have to really get it right. We’ve spent a lot of time analysing it, talking about it, and then the training session yesterday was important.”It is always hard to tell when you’re up against the scrum machine [in training] because it doesn’t give you much back. But I know the guys will step up this weekend because we know that’s where they will come at us.”And he realises there will be no forgiveness from a ”hurting” England on Saturday night.”They will be a lot smarter. They will probably play to their strengths more and play the typical English game of field position, and using their big forwards to get the roll-on,” he said. ”If you give their backs a bit of space they are pretty dangerous. So as a forward pack we are expecting another big battle and we are under no illusions at scrum-time and lineouts where they are going to come at us.”He also expects England to be more expansive this time and not adopt the ”rope-a-dope” tactics they used in Perth. They bashed away to the extent that the rest of their game fell away dramatically.”It is very different to how it is played in the Super 14 to the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup. It is a different brand of rugby and I guess mostly due to the conditions,” he said. ”It is that clash of the different styles of play, but I’m sure England will adapt to the better conditions and use the ball a lot more.”
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Inglis, Folau have last laugh as Blues battered in five-star belting

BRILLIANT and brutal. And by the time a football match finally broke out of the boxing contest, Queensland had won a fifth consecutive series. Even Blues supporters could not argue that this wasn’t Origin at its best – even if NSW were close to their worst.——————————————–MATCH STATS: NSW v QUEENSLAND——————————————–There will no doubt be predictable scorn from some about the madness among the Queensland magic, and while politically incorrect thoughts dominated the lead-up to the encounter, this was exactly why rugby league can overcome the many and varied off-field issues.What happened on this rectangular field of grass is as good as it gets.You could say parts of last night’s victory by Queensland were predictable, but you could also argue no one expected anything like this. Greg Inglis and Israel Folau, such unfortunate parts of the incendiary build-up, scored the first tries of the contest and the latter finished with two. It would have been easy to predict the violence that dominated the first half, but not its bloodied intensity. It was 1980s violence and 2010 skills.And hopefully the size of the Maroons’ effort will not be forgotten when the blood has dried and the dust has settled from the racism scandal that had shadowed the contest.It was clear that the debate that had raged in the days before this game, claiming a number of victims – not least Timana Tahu and Andrew Johns – had also claimed NSW. While many wondered whether it would galvanise the Blues, it brought Queensland closer together. Add that to one of the best teams this code has produced and there would only be tears to match the Suncorp jeers.There will no doubt be further fallout. Coach Craig Bellamy will more than likely move on and several Blues players will surely be shelved in favour of youngsters to help build a team, rather than reconstruct one.It was an embarrassment in parts – the ultimate being that the Mexican wave began with 12 minutes remaining, when the match had been won and the Blues’ hopes had been sent not to the canvas but out of the ring.The Blues’ best chances of victory came in the many fights that broke out. The game’s officials had been slightly blessed last year that the fireworks that occurred did so towards the end of the contest. But the anger had been building from early on last night and by the 26th minute, when Luke O’Donnell upended Darius Boyd, all hell broke loose. O’Donnell ended the skirmish with his jersey ripped and he had clearly attempted a headbutt on Queensland forward David Taylor.The first scuffle came after just two minutes when the first penalty was awarded. Beau Scott and Inglis clashed repeatedly in the first 20 minutes; Michael Ennis hammered Darren Lockyer twice early.It was Paul Gallen, who doesn’t need an invitation to any on-field niggle, who hit Nate Myles high and then proceeded to tell the ref, ”I told you I was going to get him back”, pointing to the strapping around his forehead. Really, it has been brewing all week.The early efforts of Inglis and Folau had a ring of fate to them, too. Both had been the targets of racist comments by Johns. Inglis found himself over the try line after just three minutes, sent on his way by Johnathan Thurston.Then after just 12 minutes, Folau – the winger who may have played his final Origin – scored in the opposite corner. A remarkable opening for two of the key players.Until Brett White scored a late try, NSW had only come close when Cameron Smith kicked out on the full in consecutive sets. The margin should have been a record blow-out, but Lockyer’s inside pass to Billy Slater in the first half was wrongly ruled forward.QUEENSLAND 34 (I Folau 2 D Boyd C Cronk G Inglis W Tonga tries J Thurston 5 goals) bt NEW SOUTH WALES 6 (B White try M Ennis goal) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Tony Archer, Shayne Hayne. Crowd: 52,452.Game 1: QLD 28 bt NSW 24Game 2: QLD 34 bt NSW 6Series: QLD lead NSW 2-0
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Britain faces facts over Bloody Sunday

HOW do you measure the impact of words that were 38 years in coming? Some have tried to weigh them, noting that Lord Saville’s report on Bloody Sunday is a full 20 kilograms on the scales. Or that it contains 5000 pages in 10 volumes, the fruit of 30 million words of evidence.Others have tried to measure them in time, pointing out that it took 12 years for the law lord to reach his conclusions. Inevitably, others reach for a financial scale, gulping at the more than £190 million ($326 million) price tag.But a better measure might be the human one, starting with the cost not of the inquiry but of the episode itself. The cold facts of January 30, 1972, are so well known that for a while they lost their power to shock. Thirteen civil rights marchers were shot dead on the streets of Londonderry by the British Army; another died later of his injuries.But when you hear again the lasting, human legacy of those facts, the numbness fades. Not the larger consequences – including the view, expressed to me by a veteran republican, that Bloody Sunday all but created the Provisional IRA, as well as fixing Northern Ireland on a path to mayhem and violence that would endure for decades – but the more intimate impact.The death of 17-year-old Michael Kelly, a trainee sewing machine mechanic, becomes more real when you read that his mother was so broken that her family feared letting her out of the house. One day they found her heading up towards the cemetery, clutching a blanket. “I’m going to place it over Michael’s grave to keep him warm,” she said.For the Kelly family, and all those like them, every penny spent by Saville has been worth it. You could see that, written on their faces as they gathered in the sunshine of the Guildhall Square in Derry on Tuesday, fresh from getting their first glimpse of the Saville report, fist-pumping the air and declaring, one after another, in a desperately moving ceremony, that those they had loved and lost had been found innocent.Inevitably, there are complaints that, since 3700 people lost their lives in Northern Ireland’s Troubles, it is unjust that 14 victims have been elevated to a higher rung in the hierarchy of suffering, their murders scrutinised by a full legal inquiry denied to the others. The only answer to that lies in the nature of the killers. For those pulling the trigger were British soldiers acting in the name of the British state, mowing down their fellow citizens. This is what gives Bloody Sunday its singular quality: it represents the biggest single massacre by the British military on British territory since Peterloo in 1819.If the event itself was one of historic proportions, so is the report. It represents a rare admission by the state that it committed a grave wrong. By conceding that the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”, and adding that he was “deeply sorry” for them, David Cameron has told the world that Britain killed innocents and, through the whitewash of the 1972 Widgery report, covered up that truth. The Saville findings and Cameron’s statement will take their place alongside Tony Blair’s apology for British culpability in the Irish potato famine of the 19th century: mocked by some, but a step towards a true reckoning with its imperial past.Will it be enough?In one immediate way, it will. What always united the Bloody Sunday families was the urge to see the names of their loved ones cleared. The accusation in the immediate aftermath of the massacre that those killed had been armed terrorists represented a kind of double death. Not only had these men, half of them teenagers, been gunned down, they had also had their reputations destroyed. Saville’s declaration that none of them posed any kind of threat delivered the exoneration that these families craved. For most it came too late: all but one of the parents whose sons were killed that day are now themselves dead.Where the families divide is on the question of what should happen next: should the paratroopers held by Saville to have been out of control, and to have lied about their actions afterwards, be prosecuted, either in a criminal case or a private, civil action? Some say they won’t rest until they see the killers in the dock; others believe they have now had their judgment day, thanks to Lord Saville.The arguments for prosecution are powerful. Murder is murder, no matter who commits the crime. No one is above the law. And, it should be stressed, Saville gave no blanket promise of immunity to the soldiers who came before him.Guardian News & Media
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Give away riches urges Buffett

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett are launching a campaign to get other American billionaires to give at least half their wealth to charity.Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said in a letter introducing the concept that he couldn’t be happier with his decision in 2006 to give 99 per cent of his roughly $US46 billion ($A53.3 billion) fortune to charity.Patty Stonesifer, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said on Wednesday that Gates and Buffett have been campaigning for the past year to get others to donate the bulk of their wealth.The friends and philanthropic colleagues are asking people to pledge to donate either during their lifetime or at the time of their death. They estimate their efforts could generate $US600 billion ($A695.17 billion) dollars in charitable giving.In 2009, American philanthropies received a total of about $US300 billion ($A347.58 billion) in donations, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.The handful of billionaires approached so far have embraced the campaign, said Stonesifer, a close friend of Gates who offered to speak about the effort.Four wealthy couples have already announced their pledges, including Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest of Philadelphia, John and Ann Doerr of Menlo Park, California, and John and Tasha Mortgridge of San Jose, California.In addition to making a donation commitment, Gates and Buffett are asking billionaires to pledge to give wisely and learn from their peers.They said they were inspired by the philanthropic efforts of not just other billionaires but of the people of all financial means and backgrounds who have given generously to make the world a better place.Their philosophical forebears are the Carnegie and Rockefeller families, who donated most of their wealth back to improve society and were the grandparents of modern philanthropy, said Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.Ted Turner’s announcement 13 years ago of a $US1 billion ($A1.16 billion) gift to United Nations programs also was done in part to inspire other big givers, but did not have a noticeable result, Palmer said.”It’s a stretch to see how they’re going to get to the $US600 billion ($A695.17 billion) figure,” she said, noting that only 17 people on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest people in America are also on the Chronicle’s list of the most generous American donors.Many of these people may be giving anonymously or plan to donate when they die, but the bulk of money raised by charities today comes from non-billionaires giving $US5, $US10 or $US50 at a time, Palmer said.Buffett’s plan will eventually split most of his shares of his Omaha, Nebraska, company between five charitable foundations, with the largest chunk going to the Gates Foundation.He also plans to give Class B Berkshire shares to the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which he and his late first wife started, and to the three foundations run by his three children.Buffett said in 2006 that his other 73,332 Class A shares of Berkshire stock, worth about $US8 billion ($A9.27 billion), would also go to philanthropy, but he didn’t specify how those shares would be distributed.Bill and Melinda Gates have made a similar pledge through the establishment of their Seattle-based foundation.Gates and Buffett are asking each individual or couple who make a pledge to do so publicly, with a letter explaining their decision.”The pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. It does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes or organisations,” they explain in a written statement about the project.AP
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