"I am not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth, particularly when the alternative is 6 billion people having much poorer hands in life than we have."Gates said he plans in July 2008 to step down from his day-to-day Microsoft role to focus on his foundation, one of the goals of which is to improve access to technology in U.S. public libraries. Buffett pledged 10 million Berkshire Class B shares to the Gates Foundation. He also pledged 2.05 million Class B shares to foundations in the name of his late wife, Susan, who died in 2004, and for his three children, Susie, Howard and Peter. The total donations of about $37.1 billion amount to roughly 85% of Buffett's net worth, and constitute the largest single act of U.S. charitable giving ever. Buffett made the donations fewer than four months after he said Berkshire's board had identified a successor for him. Gifts to the Gates Foundation will be made in stages, and are conditioned on money being distributed the year it is donated. The foundation gave away $1.36 billion in 2005, so Buffett's first gift of $1.5 billion, in July, may double its spending.
"This is his life's work. Now that the money is going to be as much Warren's as the money my job helped generate, it's almost scary."Time magazine last year named the Gateses and Irish singer Bono of the band U2 its "Persons of the Year" for 2005, citing their charitable and philanthropic pursuits.
"I've watched Bill and Melinda Gates for a number of years. It was clear that an outstanding mind with the right goals was focusing intensely with passion and heart on improving the lot of mankind."Both Buffett and Gates emphasized the importance of keeping philanthropy separate from Berkshire's operations. Buffett's donations of Berkshire shares means the ultimate value of his gifts will be tied to the company's share price.
"I would be surprised, disappointed, if we can't manage Berkshire well enough so the increase on value, on average, (isn't) more than 5% a year."Berkshire owns large stakes in such blue-chip companies as American Express and Coca-Cola and owns some 50 businesses, including Dairy Queen ice cream, Fruit of the Loom underwear and Geico auto insurance. Berkshire shares have lagged the Standard & Poor 500 index over the last two years, but have far outgained the benchmark since Buffett took over Berkshire, then a struggling textile maker, in 1965. - Warren Buffett's Unprecedented Generosity - Buffett accelerates philanthropy with Gates gift - Washington Post - Forbes - Financial Times - MSNBC
The Da Vinci Code is a mystery and detective novel by the American author Dan Brown and published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction. It became a worldwide bestseller with more than 60.5 million copies in print as of May 2006 and has been translated into 44 languages. It might be the sixth biggest selling book of all time. Combining the detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction genres, the book is part two of a trilogy that started with Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons, which introduced the character Robert Langdon. In November 2004, Random House published a "Special Illustrated Edition", with 160 illustrations interspersed with the text.In a recent statement, according to India News, any viewing of The Da Vinci Code or distribution of the film will be met with stern action:
"In a statement issued by the country’s Central Board of Film Censors, the government warned of strict action against screening of the movie and those involved in its sale and purchase."Although The Da Vinci Code continues to be a financial windfall for Sony Pictures, having grossed $475 million worldwide to date, Fox News elaborates on the reasons for the action taken by the government of Pakistan and the film being banned,
"Although the film has not been screened in any theater in mostly-Muslim Pakistan, authorities decided to ban it out of respect for the feelings of the country's minority Christians."Christians in Pakistan staged two protests earlier in the week, calling for a worldwide ban of The Da Vinci Code, which came amid other protests against the film in India. The the screening of the film in Pakistan, or possession of it on video cassettes or discs, was prohibited and unlawful, said Jalil AbbasThe Hindu News
"... the Film and Television Producers Guild of India has asked the Governments there to reconsider their decision. The Guild has written to the Governments of all the states, specifying how the film was cleared by the censor board and asking that they help to clear its release..."In addition to the uproar in Pakistan and India, and the film being banned, The Da Vinci Code appears to be making waves in Egypt as well, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports,
"Police seized 2,000 pirated DVDs of 'The Da Vinci Code' on Saturday, and the Egyptian Coptic Christian church demanded the film be banned in Egypt."To date, no decision has been made by the Egyptian government on whether to ban the film in that region. Since its publishing began in 2003, The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, netting author Dan Brown $442 million. The Da Vinci Code has been released in paperback in the United States and has sold 500,000 copies. The Da Vinci Code movie stars Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Audrey Tautou and Jean Reno. The movie is directed by Ron Howard .'The Da Vinci Code' heresy - India extends Da Vinci Code ban - Times of India - People's Daily Online - The Conservative Voice