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The latest news about celebrity good deeds and charity involvement

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    Philanthropists Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have asked 400 of the richest Americans to pledge half of their fortunes to their favorite causes either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

    Both Gates and Buffett are worth about 50 billion dollars each, and both are large contributors to charity, including Buffett’s annual contribution to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which Gates has invested over 30 billion dollars in.

    At GivingPledge.org, the two call upon other rich people to make a conscious commitment now rather than putting it off, and to go public with their pledges to motivate others to do the same.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/4745-bill-gates-and-warren-buffetts-600-billion-charity-challenge


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    Philanthropist Bill Gates posted some positive news on his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation'sblog: the world is on the path towards the eradication of polio.

    “In the past two decades, polio cases around the world have been reduced by 99 percent,” he says. “If we can get rid of the last 1 percent, polio will become the second major infectious disease, after smallpox, that has ever been completely eliminated.”

    But the battle is not a sure win yet. Lapses in vaccinations, incomplete inoculations of the four oral doses required, and a lack of funding continue to pose a threat.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/4840-bill-gates-foundation-expects-to-eradicate-polio


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    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been tracking the progress – and setbacks – of their 2008 grants, and the accomplishments laid out in the 2010 progress report has even Bill Gates surprised.

    Supporting select nonprofit agricultural development programs with $306 million in grants for sub-Saharan African and South Asian farmers, the plan was not only to help small-plot farmers feed their families, but to invest in agriculture across the board – from seeds, soil and farm management to markets and government policies – in order to improve productivity, income and, in the end, the lives of individuals.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/4951-bill-gates-sees-surprising-small-farmer-progress


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    Bill Gates and Warren Buffett made the headlines a few times last year, asking America’s wealthiest to donate the majority of their wealth to cause/s of their choice, whether during their lifetimes or laid out in their wills. To further encourage billionaires to make such a commitment, Gates and Buffett created the Giving Pledge.

    In his 2011 Annual Letter posted on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website, Gates says that 58 people have joined the Giving Pledge so far, and top business people in China and India have also shown interest in the idea and called for meetings.

    “Warren and I had the meeting in China in November,” says Gates, “and we were very happy with how many people came and how the conversation turned out.”

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/5762-bill-gates-and-warren-buffett-extend-the-giving-pledge-through-asia


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    “The amazing polio eradication campaign is very close to success – how tragic that would be if it failed because of lack of generosity,” says Bill Gates.

    Concerned that governments, looking for places to reduce spending, will target foreign aid, Gates says, “There’s a history of some aid really making a difference – the aid for vaccines, for new seeds – and that’s the kind of aid, even as deficits are so daunting, I’d like to convince governments to keep as a priority.”

    In his annual letter, Gates outlined two other benefits of widespread vaccination beyond simply saving lives. One was the reduction in sickness that contributes to disability, affects mental development, hampers human development, and exacerbates the development of economies.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/5776-bill-gates-sees-a-need-for-aid-generosity


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    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced today it has added three new speakers who will help launch a significant new initiative to combat the dropout epidemic in the United States on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 10:15 a.m. ET live on Facebook.

    The speakers – Emmy-award winning actress America Ferrera of Ugly Betty, actor from the hit drama series CSI:NY Hill Harper, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller – will discuss the role communities play in boosting graduation rates. Aimee Garcia will also take part.

    The program will build on public broadcasting’s long-standing commitment to education by convening conversations and strengthening partnerships between public radio and television stations and local schools, businesses, and community organizations – all with the goal of helping students stay on course to graduate from high school.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/6204-america-ferrera-to-speak-out-against-dropout-epidemic


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    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting enlisted the support of Emmy-award winning actress America Ferrera of Ugly Betty on Tuesday in Washington, DC to launch its brand new education initiative, American Graduate, to help improve the nation’s high school graduation rates.

    America Ferrera (L) and Aimee Garcia (R) help launch public media's new education initiative
    Credit/Copyright:

    America was joined by actress Aimee Garcia, one of Billboard’s top Latino Stars on the Rise and star of the new film GO FOR IT! Hill Harper also took part.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/6240-america-ferrera-and-aimee-garcia-support-graduation-initiative


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    At June’s twelfth annual charity auction, an anonymous winner paid over two and a half million dollars to have lunch for eight with billionaire Warren Buffett.

    The proceeds of the auction will go to Glide, a San Francisco organization that offers support and programs to the impoverished in the Bay area.

    “Accommodation of love and time and energy and resources can produce a different human being,” Buffett said after visiting Glide and seeing its programs. “What I witnessed was an institution and an individual that really gave up on nobody. They took the people that the rest of the world had forgotten, people who’d given up on themselves.”

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/6601-warren-buffetts-busy-month-for-charity


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    Three hundred leading malaria scientists, global health leaders, policymakers, government officials and advocates gathered last week at the Malaria Forum to discuss great strides in malaria control and address challenges that are impacting the long-term goal of eradication.

    “We have seen tremendous success in the control of malaria, thanks to an infusion of resources, innovation, and political will,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Worldwide, malaria deaths are down 20 percent since 2000.”

    More than one million African children have been saved from malaria since 2000. New tools such as long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets and artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACTs)—along with prevention during pregnancy and indoor residual spraying—have made this recent progress possible.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7226-bill-and-melinda-gates-attend-malaria-forum


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    Thirteen million babies are born prematurely every year, but new funding announced today will allow for pioneering research into the causes of preterm births and the development of solutions so they can be prevented.

    The Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, announced a new Grand Challenges in Global Health program that will seek to discover and develop interventions to prevent preterm birth and stillbirth by limiting infection and improving nutrition. The program, called the Preventing Preterm Birth initiative, is supported by a commitment of US$20 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization set up by Bill Gates to support health and education around the world.

    Globally, prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborns, every year taking the lives of one million babies before their first month of life. The Preventing Preterm Birth initiative will mobilize the scientific community to discover the reasons behind prematurity and support research into novel technologies and approaches that provide real-world solutions. The initiative was announced at a joint session of the Annual Grand Challenges Meeting and the Keystone Symposia Conference, in New Delhi, India.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7301-bill-and-melinda-gates-foundation-commits-20-million-to-premature-baby-research


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    March Of Dimes is joining ABC News and the United Nations Foundation in the recently launched Million Moms Challenge.

    This first-of-its kind initiative is connecting millions of Americans with millions of moms in developing countries around the world to engage on the critical issues of pregnancy, childbirth and children’s health — moms here helping moms worldwide.

    Since its launch on September 19th, 2011, the Million Moms Challenge has built a vibrant community that connects moms across the globe by using the latest social media strategies together with world-class broadcast and digital news platforms to shine a light on the extraordinary challenges faced by mothers and babies in the developing world.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7501-abc-news-supports-million-moms-challenge


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    Launched this week by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, the END7 campaign featuring Bill Nighy is dedicated to eliminating seven major neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as a public health threat to poor communities by the end of 2020.

    “I’m shocked by how much devastation these diseases cause. But what shocks me more is how simple the solution is. Pocket change to provide medicine that can help end not just one disease, but seven,” said actor and campaign sponsor Bill Nighy, who lends his voice to the campaign’s creative animated video.

    NTDs infect one in six people worldwide, including 500 million children, and carry a higher health burden than malaria and tuberculosis.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7655-bill-nighy-narrates-video-for-tropical-diseases-campaign


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    Bill Gates has released his annual letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in which he speaks candidly about his work at the foundation and outlines what needs to be done in terms of global health and education.

    “Throughout my careers in software and philanthropy—and in each of my annual letters—a recurring theme has been that innovation is the key to improving the world,” he writes. "When innovators work on urgent problems and deliver solutions to people in need, the results can be magical.

    “The G20 conference itself was a microcosm of the challenges that leaders face, with the Eurozone crisis taking a lot of their time. I was impressed that the leaders took 90 minutes to discuss my report and related issues, and I hope they will set aside time for development when they meet in Mexico for next year’s summit.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7741-bill-gates-publishes-annual-letter-covering-health-and-education


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    As the world economic crisis seeps into its fifth year, philanthropist Bill Gates is more worried about government financial support for developing country programs today than he was after the crash.

    He took those concerns to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland in January, where he asked wealthy donors and governments to at least keep up the funding on certain core efforts.

    Not expecting the same levels of aid that were made available during the “boom” years between 2002 and 2008, Gates says modest increases to sustain current programs are crucial. Those with AIDS and tuberculosis, for example, still need drugs. Vaccines and anti-malaria bed nets are still necessary.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7893-bill-gates-asks-governments-to-continue-aid-programs


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    Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has told the international agricultural community it had fallen short of delivering the help small farmers in developing countries need, when they need it.

    In a speech delivered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gates asked the UN bodies responsible for fighting hunger and poverty to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts.

    “If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” said Gates. “Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated, and focused to help poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering and build self-sufficiency.”

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/7912-bill-gates-investments-in-agriculture-are-best-weapons-against-hunger


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    A host of celebrity challengers who accomplished extraordinary feats of physical endurance for Sport Relief 2012 were welcomed at No. 10 Downing Street recently by Prime Minister David Cameron.

    David Walliams, Helen Skelton, John Bishop and Josh Lewsey had the honor of meeting the Prime Minister, who paid tribute to their heroic efforts and extraordinary fundraising. He also acknowledged the incredible generosity and commitment of the British Public in raising a record breaking total of £52,070,587 so far.

    David Walliams swam 140 miles up the length of the Thames– seven times the English Channel – in the BT Sport Relief Challenge: Walliams vs The Thames. Helen Skelton completed a gruelling 500 mile expedition across Antarctica in her Polar Challenge for Sport Relief. John Bishop ran, cycled and rowed 295 miles from Paris to London in five days in the BT Sport Relief Challenge: Bishop’s Week of Hell. Josh Lewsey captained the England team to victory in the First Nation Home 1,000 mile race around the UK.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/8174-celebrity-sport-relief-challengers-meet-british-prime-minister


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    President Barack Obama has named thirteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including Bob Dylan and astronaut John Glenn.

    The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House in late spring.

    President Obama said, “These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation. They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place. I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/8281-bob-dylan-to-be-awarded-presidential-medal-of-freedom


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    In a trip to India at the end of May this year, philanthropist Bill Gates visited Ujariaon in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Ujariaon is but one of hundreds of slums in India where the deprivation is staggering. About 2,000 people live in this one square kilometer and are sustained through garbage picking. The visit left a lasting impression on Gates.

    “It’s a challenge to reconcile the extremes,” said Gates on his blog. “On the one hand, there are a lot of talented people and some amazing things going on [in India]. But there’s also a huge amount of abject poverty.”

    India may be progressing economically, but not all Indians are benefitting. Perceiving better opportunities in the cities, many who flock there end up in wretched conditions. Nevertheless, like anyone, Ujariaons want their children to be educated and believe that things will improve.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/8590-bill-gates-touched-by-recent-trip-to-india


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    Last week, Annie and Tali Lennox attended the opening of The London Summit on Family Planning.

    Melinda French Gates, co-chair and trustee of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The London Summit on Family Planning
    Melinda French Gates, co-chair and trustee of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The London Summit on Family Planning

    The London Summit on Family Planning, co-hosted by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was an unprecedented effort that showcased innovative partnerships and leadership at the country level, empowering women to reach their full potential. The Summit underscored the importance of access to contraceptives as both a right and a transformational health and development priority.

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/8663-annie-and-tali-lennox-attend-family-planning-summit


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    amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and GBCHealth honored Bill Gates at a benefit event in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the 19th International AIDS Conference, paying tribute to the spirit of global collaboration that has underpinned the world’s progress in the fight against AIDS.

    The event, titled “Together to End AIDS,” was held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and was attended by Sharon Stone, Anderson Cooper, Jessye Norman, John Corbett, Tyson Beckford, Eve, M·A·C AIDS Fund Chairman John Demsey, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, The Honorable Barbara Lee, The Honorable Ed Markey, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole, amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost, and GBCHealth CEO John Tedstrom, among many others.

    Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, received amfAR’s Award of Courage for his visionary leadership on global health and HIV/AIDS. Previous recipients of the award include President Bill Clinton, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, and Sir Elton John. Sharon Stone, amfAR’s Global Fundraising Chairman, presented Mr. Gates with his award. Ms. Stone gave a heartfelt and emotional tribute to Mr. Gates, remarking on the tremendous courage he has shown in taking on such daunting public health crises. Upon receiving his award, Mr. Gates thanked all the scientists, health workers, and people living with AIDS who have fought so hard to bring an end to the epidemic. Mr. Gates spoke with much hope about the potential to discover a cure and a vaccine, stating “Again and again, innovation has solved problems that people thought were unsolvable.”

    More: http://www.looktothestars.org/news/8682-bill-gates-honored-by-amfar-for-aids-leadership


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