Bill Gates and his dark cloud

The LA Times published a story today about the contradiction between the philanthropic aims of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the foundation’s investments in companies whose practices run counter to those aims. It looks like the Times is, once again, being a bit too provocative in an attention grab, but, well, that’s what they do best in Los Angeles.

The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.

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At the Gates Foundation, blind-eye investing has been enforced by a firewall it has erected between its grant-making side and its investing side. The goals of the former are not allowed to interfere with the investments of the latter.

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