Friday, August 28, 2009

Children of Immigrants in the US

By Karina Fortuny

The Urban Institute just released a new data tool with information on the 16 million children in the United States that have foreign-born parents (that’s one in five kids!).

This tool makes it possible to build charts and tables about children including their citizenship, race and ethnicity, the education of their parents, and family income. You can also look at children across immigrant origin -- from South America to Africa to the West Indies -- or see how they fare relative to children with U.S.-born parents.

Did you know, for example, that 18% of children with immigrant parents live with a single parent versus 30% of children with U.S.-born parents? Or that in Maryland while only 7% of children of immigrants are poor that share jumps up to 34% in Texas?

To find out more information, check out The Urban Institute's complementary report, “Children of Immigrants: National and State Characteristics” that highlights national data on these children and variations across states.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Surfing the Net of Global Giving

By Guy Ragosta, President of Surfing Medicine International 501(c)(3)

Thanks to the internet, programs like have allowed charities the opportunity to put all their eggs in one basket. Through such websites, magazines, TV shows, and newspapers are able to direct their subscribers to a variety of international 501(c)(3) organizations. These prospective donors can surf, select, and donate to organizations that best fit their giving priorities.

For thousands of start-up charities like Surfing Medicine International, websites like can help raise dollars without restrictions that TV advertisers, with a cookie- cutter marketing culture restricted to wealthy companies, often demand.

At Surfing Medicine International, we bring together the science of bioremediation with the knowledge of traditional healers and the power of original music from guitar legends like John Butler and creators of Rocksteady music like The Soul Vendors.

Click the widget below to see how is helping our charity promote projects that help people with cancer and HIV/AIDS in Hawaii, Jamaica, and Ghana.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Serving Peace Corps from the Other Side

By Pilar Oberwetter

Yesterday, Aaron Williams was sworn in as the Director of the United States Peace Corps, making it official that a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) is holding the reigns over one of this government's most visible development programs. Interesting to note that although he is the agency's 18th director, he is only the fourth to claim RPCV status-- having served in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1970. As one of the thousands of RPCVs watching this selection process, I welcome both Mr. Williams and his Peace Corps experiences to this leadership position.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Billion Dollar Club

Apparently 14 people alive today have each donated more than $1 billion to charity. Can you guess who's on the list?

The most obvious person has donated $28 billion.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Guns, Hate, and Rallies

I was away for the last week and while trying to catch up on news, I was flabbergasted that a few stories in the news cycle were about people carrying guns to President Obama's town hall events.

I consider myself a tacit supporter of the second amendment. A good case can be made for the right to bear arms and I think liberals are often overzealous in our desire to ban guns from every corner of the country. That said, I cannot fathom how it makes sense for anyone to bring a gun within even an earshot of the President of the United States (POTUS).

I understand that the area immediately occupied by POTUS is considered a federal site and as a result guns are not allowed. Nonetheless, the thought of someone mulling around in the vicinity with an assualt rifle scares me.

As I think back to the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, I cannot remember a pattern of carrying guns to any of their events. I couple that with the hate that has emanated from attendees of Obama's recent town halls, and I can't help but wonder if part of this is a reaction to having our first Black head of state.

I applaud the Obama administration speaking up for the right to bear arms. I applaud the Secret Services' statements that they can do their job even when guns are brought around presidential events. However, when I read signage at these events such as: "Death To Obama, Death To Michelle And Her Two Stupid Kids," I can't help but be scared for this nation; and scared for our president.

Picture from:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Watching the Watchdog

By Jessica Brown
in Geneva

During a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Committee on NGOs* in May 2009, four NGOs were controversially denied consultative status to ECOSOC, including the Arab Commission for Human Rights, the Democracy Coalition Project, the Dynamic Christian World Mission Foundation and ABGLT, a Brazilian organization working for lesbian/ gay/ bi-sexual and trans-gender rights.

On Monday July 27th during ECOSOC’s Substantive Session at the UN in Geneva, ECOSOC members voted to uphold or deny the draft decisions made by the Committee on NGOs.

There were various allegations as to why these four NGOs were denied UN consultative status. Pulling from statements made by various delegations in the opening of the segment, the Arab Commission for Human Rights was allegedly denied admission because of supposed connections to terrorism. Both the Democracy Coalition Project and the Dynamic Christian World Mission Foundation are US-based non-profit organizations with operations in China. Due to failure to concede to requests by the Chinese governments to provide lists of names and addresses of Chinese citizens working for these organizations in China, these two organizations have been denied consultative status. Finally, the Brazillian NGO, Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros or AGBLT, was denied consultative status due to their focus on homo-sexual rights which is deemed irrelevant by some delegations.

The implications of this battle are a cause for major concern. The role of Non Governmental Organizations in ECOSOC and beyond is to serve as a watchdog—an independent, outspoken accountability mechanism to ensure that country delegations are conducting their work ethically, effectively, and in accordance with international law. When this role is challenged, when these voices are silenced for political reasons, for differences in ideology or in response to criticism through overt or subversive mechanisms, it seriously impedes the functioning of ECOSOC as a whole. As the delegate from Chile eloquently said: “in order to benefit from the contributions and experience offered by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), their independence and their constructive criticism must be respected.”

Those country delegations who favored the decision of the NGO Committee, cited a desire to not undermine the role of the Committee and of ECOSOC as a whole. In the end, both the Democracy Coalition Project and AGBLT were granted special consultative status at ECOSOC, which limits their ability to set forth agenda items for consideration during ECOSOC’s sessions. The Arab Commission for Human Rights was denied its consultative status for a year, and the application of the Dynamic Christian World Mission Foundation was closed. But the implications surrounding this debate, and the politicization of the granting of consultative status within ECOSOC and the UN, is ominous for the role of NGOs in the future.

* Angola, Burundi, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Sudan, Turkey, U.K. and USA are members of the Committee of NGOs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Goodwill Isn't Enough

A journalist explores the complex perils of charity in a war-torn nation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Putting a fresh coat of paint on an old topic:

Check it out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unrestricted Soros

George Soros makes a $35 million gift through the Soros' Foundation to Promote Open Society to the state of New York to provide 850,000 low-income families with $200 of unrestricted cash.

The gift will leverage stimulus funds and amount to a startling $170 million.

The funds are designed to be spent back-to-school supplies and clothing but Soros says the money is no-strings-attached.

His inspiration?

Years before Soros began masterminding his philanthropic operation, he received a 40 pound check from a Quaker organization while he was a struggling student at the London School of Economics.

Listen to Soros tell his tale and - perhaps even more interesting - discuss his interpretation of the ever-elusive term "leverage" with NPR.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nice Work, Bubs!

President Clinton successfully negotiates the release of journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. It appears, not surprisingly, that Mrs. Clinton played a key role in setting up her husband for this slam dunk.

(Photo copyright: sskennell)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grinning Bill on Mission Abroad

By Pilar Oberwetter

So former President Clinton has officially arrived in North Korea to appeal for the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. If successful, this is a win-win for all-- the US (and the Obama administration) get to save face in the area of foreign diplomacy and Bill gets to relive his glory days, even if just for the moment.

Stuck in a Clunk

By Pilar Oberwetter

I like it when a government social spending program is so wildly popular that it exhausts its budget and needs a new infusion of cash. It shows that analysts were correct to identify the clear need and the federal government was right to implement it.

I do not like it so much when a spending program, specifically Cash for Clunkers, supports the purchase of a car.

Other than very short-termed outcomes that accompany the improved gas efficiency of the new vehicle, including slightly fewer levels of greenhouse gases and slightly more dollars in the pocket of the owner, I am not sure what other accomplishments this program can claim at the end of the day. It certainly does nothing to encourage my fellow Americans to figure out alternative methods of getting around, which is really the only permanent solution.