Bill Gates Sr.

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Is Bill Gates getting lovable? | 

This picture from July 1959 shows Mary (Maxwell) Gates and her 3 1/2-year-old son, Bill, in a picture that first appeared on the pages of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
This picture from July 1959 shows Mary (Maxwell) Gates and her 3 1/2-year-old son, Bill, in a picture that first appeared on the pages of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
MOHAI, Seattle PI

I had to laugh when Jake Ellison, a friend and colleague who (again) works for SeattlePI.com, called to ask me that question.

“Would you say Bill Gates is getting more lovable?” Jake asked, saying he intended to quote me. I assumed he was going to edit out the profanity and also that I would be one of many. Little did I know my answers would become the backbone of his story.

Fair enough. I believe in the new media approach of transparency, and the obligation journalists have to stop hiding behind the pretense of objectivity. Spoiler alert: I do think Trey’s public image is getting to be somewhat lovable. But I’m not sure he’ll like hearing that…. Continue reading

This high-powered, low-profile Seattle gang fighting global poverty means business | 

I’m not easily surprised, but I have to admit to being surprised at how few folks in Seattle appear know about the Initiative for Global Development.

You’d think an anti-poverty organization started by leading Seattle philanthropist Bill Clapp, founding EPA head Bill Ruckelshaus, Bill Gates Sr. (yes there are lots of jokes about the predominance of Bills), former US Senator Dan Evans and late former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili would get a lot of public attention. Nope.

“We’re more well known in Washington, D.C., than we are in Seattle,” chuckled Jennifer Potter, who is stepping down as president and CEO of this powerful but locally off-the-radar organization launched here in 2003. Former Wisconsin Congressman Mark Green, who just started this week, is taking the helm.

Jennifer Potter and Bill Clapp celebrate a decade of the Initiative for Global Development, a uniquely Northwest contributor to the fight against global poverty
Jennifer Potter and Bill Clapp celebrate a decade of the Initiative for Global Development, a uniquely Northwest contributor to the fight against global poverty

The project, IGD, was first conceived by Potter and Clapp largely in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001. Continue reading

How Jimmy Carter became a serpent slayer and global health pioneer | 

Tom Paulson

President Jimmy Carter speaks at World Affairs Council 60th Anniversary event

Former President Jimmy Carter is in Seattle, having spoken last night at the World Affairs Council’s 60th anniversary celebration and speaking today at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about Guinea worm.

Mike Urban, mikeurbanart.com

A Nigerian woman with Guinea Worm

Guinea worm is a human parasite that eats its way through the human body and emerges a year later, incapacitating people with the pain of completing its life cycle. It’s horrible.

I’ve seen people with Guinea worm in Africa. Over the years, I’ve also seen what Jimmy Carter and his team at the Carter Center have done to come close now to completely ridding the world of this horrific disease.

It’s a great story, and perhaps of much broader significance to global health than many might realize.

Earlier this week, the Gates Foundation, major pharmaceutical companies and others announced a major $$785 million push against “neglected tropical diseases.” This was celebrated by Bill Gates, World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan and others as a critical turning point in global health. The Carter Center got some of the loot, $40 million of it, to finish off Guinea worm.

But in one sense, this push against neglected diseases got a good first shove nearly 30 years ago by Jimmy Carter. One look at the Carter Center’s website shows they got to this point, of recognizing the need to fight neglected diseases, decades ago.

Diseases like river blindness, Guinea worm, parasitic (lymphatic) elephantiasis and schistosomiasis have been in Carter’s cross hairs since the mid-1980s. Continue reading

The wisdom of educating Rwandan women | 

I’ve written a lot on Humanosphere about how young people, aka the Millennials, are especially interested these days in trying to make the world a better place. It is definitely a phenomenon.

Last night, at a small gathering in a Queen Anne home, I met some young women from Rwanda who are among those trying to make Rwanda a better place — helped by another young Millennial, American Elizabeth Dearborn Davis, who moved to the central-east African nation to start a girls school.

It’s called “Akilah” – Swahili for wisdom.

Tom Paulson

Rwandan student Allen Kazarwa talks with Sharon Woolf at Seattle fund-raiser for Akilah

“When you tell people you are from Rwanda many just think of the genocide,” said Allen Kazarwa, a 20-year-old student at the Akilah Institute for Women (yes, it’s spelled Allen, not Ellen). Continue reading

Gates Foundation’s new digs soon to officially open | 

The Seattle Times, and reporter Kristi Heim, on Sunday published a big spread on the new headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set to officially open in early June.

As is often the case in restaurants, where the appetizers are better than the main entrees, I think the most interesting story in this package is the sidebar with the terribly dull headline Bill and Melinda Gates: Adjoining offices, contrasting styles.

“We’re constantly in learning mode, but learning from different directions and nudging each other,” Melinda Gates said. She explained that she works from observing what people need and then goes to the statistics while her husband prefers to start with statistics and then move to examining the human factors.

I got a sneak peak at this spectacular campus in April when I attended an event at which Bill and Melinda Gates honored two other Bills — Bill Foege and Bill Gates Sr – for their guidance in making the philanthropy what it is today. Here’s a photo of Bill Gates and Foege in the main commons room:

Tom Paulson

Bill Gates and Bill Foege, at new campus

Continue reading

Admitting Failure, excellent idea | 

Flickr, Alex E. Proimos

One of the hardest things for any organization working in development — or, well, anyone doing anything — is to readily acknowledge failure.

So some Canadian engineers want to make it easier.

For example, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, got media attention Monday for sort of acknowledging failure. Chan admitted the WHO is not performing well, but said this is because it is over-extended — “asked to do more and more” — and inadequately funded.

I’m not sure that’s so much an admission of failure as it is also a little bit of finger-pointing (since WHO depends upon donor funding to do its job). Continue reading

How did you celebrate UN Day? | 

No, not the un-day. That would be called night. I’m talking about United Nations Day.

Tom Paulson

Gates Sr. and a fan, Mehrit Teshome

The UN turned 65 yesterday and if you’d have been paying attention you could have had dinner with Bill Gates Sr., travel writer Rick Steves, Kay Bullitt and a roomful of other leading members of our community who gathered at St. Marks Cathedral Sunday evening to mark the creation of the UN.

Despite the explosion of interest locally in international affairs, the long-standing United Nations Association of Greater Seattle is not a well-known group. Gates Sr. was honored with the organization’s Humanitarian award. Steves served as moderator and the UW’s Steve Gloyd talked about problems with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

The main impression I came away with from last night’s celebration is that the average age of this group’s membership seems to be perhaps only a few years younger than the UN itself.

So, come on all you young people who say you want to make the world a better place. Join up! Fly the blue flag.

The Seattle group was created in the 1950s to show local support for the only organization that I can think of that actually represents all of humanity. Here’s a video featuring George Clooney (whom it never hurts to mention) singing the praises of the UN:

Frank Jones, president of the Seattle UN Association, said it is crucial that young people recognize and support the United Nations and its many programs aimed at fighting poverty and disease, responding to disasters and reducing conflict around the world.

“There’s really no other organization that can do what it does,” said Jones.

Here’s an article by UNA board member Collin Tong, published in the SeattlePostGlobe, that gives a good overview.