Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will Executive Pay Limits Hurt Charitable Donations?

Today's Wall Street Journal contains a hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing article asking the question whether executive pay limitations in the Obama stimulus plan will hurt charitable donations: 

Americans gave more than $300 billion to charity in 2007, according to the most recent figures. Some of the largest gifts from that pot have come from wealthy Wall Street bosses.  Now nonprofit leaders, especially in and around New York's financial hub, are worried these big donors could feel squeezed further amid government edicts to limit pay packages.  The economic stimulus package President Barack Obama is expected to sign Tuesday includes a measure barring any firms that have received federal bailout money from paying top earners bonuses exceeding more than one-third of their total yearly compensation. The measure also empowers the Treasury Secretary to "claw back" previous bonuses in certain instances if they're deemed excessive. It remains unclear exactly how the rules will be implemented, raising questions about corporate America's future compensation practices.  "As long as there is uncertainty about what's going to happen with executive compensation, that could really hold a lot of people back from giving, and not just on Wall Street," says Melissa Berman, president and chief executive of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

BALDERDASH!  Ok, look.  I know that journalist adhere to a well defined set of ethics just as we lawyers and accountants do.  But I gotta say, this story strikes me as one of those "media plants" about which some editor might shoulda required the writer to do a litlte more homework on.  Let me see if I got this right.  If we don't let wealthy and apparently damned incompetent CEO's (you can't even get tenure with the record some of these guys have running their companies into the ground, and tenure is virtually pro forma these days!) make more that $500,000 per year (that is one half of one million dollars per twelve months, mind you), then maybe they won't drop a dime or two in the salvation army bucket next Christmas?  Give me a break!  If we didn't waste so much money on their gold plated bidets, maybe there would not be so many nonprofit organizations trying to fill so many basic human needs. 


February 17, 2009 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Council on Foundation Anti-Terrorism Compliance Materials

The Council on Foundation's United State International Grantmaking Project has posted a number of anti-terrorism compliance materials on its website, including the Treasury's Department's Anti-Terrorism Financing Guidelines Voluntary Best Practices for U.S. Based Charities, at http://www.usig.org/legal/anti-terrorism.asp 

(HAT TIP: Ellen Aprill, Loyola LA)


February 16, 2009 in Federal – Executive, International, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Human Rights Activist Dies in Buffalo Plane Crash

As we continue to find out more about those who perished when Continental Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo, New York, on Thursday night, yesterday's New York Times reported that Dr. Alison Des Forges, a human rights activist and historian who in 1994 tried to call the world's attention to the looming genocide in Rwanda and who later wrote what many consider the definitive account of the eventual slaughter of 500,000 Rwandans, was among the passengers on that plane.  Dr. Des Forges was 66.   

According to the Times report, her death was confirmed by Human Rights Watch, the New York-based advocacy group; Dr. Des Forges was senior adviser for the group's Africa division for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Des Forges (pronounced deh-FORZH) spent much of her adult life in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region of Africa. She was among a group of activists who investigated killings, kidnappings and other rights abuses of civilians in Rwanda from 1990 to 1993.

The Times story continues:

In May 1994, several weeks into the mass killing of Rwanda’s Tutsi minority, Dr. Des Forges called for the killings to be officially declared a genocide. By then about 200,000 people had been killed.

“Governments hesitate to call the horror by its name,” Dr. Des Forges wrote in The New York Times, “for to do so would oblige them to act: signatories to the Convention for the Prevention of Genocide, including the United States, are legally bound to ‘prevent and punish’ it.”

Peacekeepers should be sent into the country and economic sanctions imposed, Dr. Des Forges said, concluding, “Can we do anything less in the face of genocide, no matter what name we give it?”

After a Tutsi-led rebel group took power after ending the killings, Dr. Des Forges spent four years interviewing organizers and victims of the genocide. She testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania, and at trials in Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada. She also appeared on expert panels convened by the United Nations and what is now the African Union, as well as the French and Belgian legislatures and the United States Congress.

According to the Times, Dr. Des Forges was also an authority on human rights violations in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire.

Dr. Des Forges is survived by her husband, Roger; one daughter, Jessie; a son, Alexander; a brother, Douglas Small Liebhafsky; and three grandchildren.  They -- and the rest of the world -- have lost someone special.


February 15, 2009 in In the News, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)