Red Cross was warned to improve relief efforts

Here are the week’s top news stories reported elsewhere:

* The American Red Cross was warned years before its uneven response to Hurricane Katrina to improve its internal management based on questions raised about its accountability, according to documents made public by the U.S. Senate, the Associated Press reported Feb. 28.

* Charities have exhausted more than $2 billion of the record $3.27 billion raised by private nonprofits to help Hurricane Katrina victims, the Washington Post reported Feb. 27. Donations primarily have been used for victims’ immediate needs, but will now serve longer-term reconstruction efforts, charities say.

* The last election cycle saw an increase in illegal political activity by charity and church organizations, the IRS reported, saying three in four of the 82 organizations it examined had engaged in questionable practices, such as endorsing a particular candidate or donating cash to political campaigns, The New York Times reported Feb. 25.

* The American Red Cross, which has seen two presidents resign in four years, will commission an external audit committee to identify concrete ways the organization can improve its performance and enhance its internal management, the Associated Press reported Feb. 23.

* The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, which is raising funds to carry out memorial plans released two years ago, is having difficulty reaching its goal of $500 million, having raised $102.3 million on its own and $200 million in federal grants, The New York Times reported Feb. 27.

* Boone Pickens became America’s top philanthropist last year with a donation of $165 million to a small charity benefiting the golf program at Oklahoma State University, money he then invested in a hedge fund he controls, The New York Times reported Feb. 24. Although Pickens has investment power over the gift, the transaction is not illegal, lawyers say.

* Larry Brilliant, the new head of Google’s philanthropic department, unveiled a plan tentatively called the International Networked System for Total Early Disease Protection, designed to detect early signs of emerging global health crises, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 27.

* Princeton University says it will use Robertson Foundation funds to create a scholarship program to support students who take on federal government internships and careers, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 27. The foundation filed a lawsuit in 2002 alleging Princeton ignored the intended purpose of foundation donations.

* Bono and the other members of the U2 rock band were named Amnesty International Ambassadors of Conscience for 2005 in Santiago, Chile, receiving praise for their efforts to bring worldwide attention to human rights abuses and promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Sunday Business Post reported Feb. 26.

— Compiled by Laura Newman

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