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Should foundation check investments?

January 10, 2007

Re "Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation," Jan. 7

I was in wholehearted support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation until reading this article. I admired the fact that one of the most powerful people in the world chose to wield his extraordinary influence in a way that would create positive social change in an effective, impressive way. However, it is not at all admirable to claim to be working toward humanitarian goals while at the same time investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the world's most environmentally negligent, polluting companies.

The foundation will produce absolutely no good in the world if it continues to invest in the exploitation of the very people it claims to help. The Gates Foundation should create strict social and environmental standards for its investments. Each face of this organization needs to align with its overarching goal of global humanitarian aid.

JENNIFER MUHLETHALER

Santa Barbara

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I am horrified to read that the Gates Foundation is investing at least $8.7 billion in companies that counter the work of the foundation. To have that much money and to not care enough to track how it is invested, when the stated goal of the foundation is to help humanity, is beyond irresponsible. For example, the Gates Foundation subsidizes the Italian petroleum giant Eni, which spews fumes causing respiratory disease in the very children the Gates Foundation is immunizing against polio and measles. How many people are dying and being made ill by the foundation's investments?

I would like to know the steps the foundation intends to take to repair the harm it has caused. How does the foundation intend to help heal those who it made so sick? I would appreciate a follow-up by The Times regarding the foundation's intentions to heal the people harmed by its investments. I would also appreciate further investigations by these writers into the harm other large foundations are inflicting by irresponsible investments. Thanks for such great, socially responsible reporting.

NANCY KROP

Redwood City, Calif.

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Re "Money clashes with mission," Jan. 8

I am truly disturbed that The Times would attack the Gates Foundation for its philanthropic activities. Here is a foundation giving vast amounts of money to help people, schools and other groups. Yet that is somehow not good enough for The Times.

The foundation and the investment arm are two distinct entities that have different missions. If we questioned every investment made by every corporation and foundation, there would be no returns and, therefor, no more foundations such as Gates.

DANIEL THURBER

Buena Park

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How very proud The Times must be to have found some mud to sling at one of the most generous philanthropic foundations of our time. And what a disincentive it serves to others who may be considering similar donations.

PATRICIA ULLOA

Covina

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