September 7th, 2010
09:48 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

George Soros

The philanthropist and financier announced a $100 million grant to Human Rights Watch, the largest grant he has made to a nongovernmental organization.  According to a statement released this morning, the grant will be used to further the organization’s goals and outreach around the world.

“Human Rights Watch must be present in capitals around the globe, addressing local issues, allied with local rights groups and engaging with local government officials,” Soros said in the statement.

In an interview with the New York Times, Soros, 80, said age was a factor in his decision to grant such a large sum of money.  “Originally I wanted to distribute all of the money during my lifetime, but I have abandoned that plan. My foundation should continue, but I still would like to do a lot of giving during my lifetime, and doing it this way, with such size, is a step in that direction,” he said.

Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary, and survived the Nazi occupation. He fled Hungary for England, eventually settling the United States where he built a large fortune through his investment advisory fund. Known as the “man who broke the Bank of England,” Soros reportedly made $1 billion when the bank withdrew currency from the European exchange rate mechanism, thereby devaluing the British pound.

Forbes placed Soros No. 35 on its World’s Billionaires list this year and estimates his net worth to be about $14 billion. In January, he gave $4 million to Haiti, and the Human Rights Watch grant brings Soros’ total contributions this year to about $700 million.

New York Times: Soros to donate $100 million to rights group

Forbes magazine: George Soros

Walter Willett

In a study released yesterday, the chair of the nutrition department at Harvard University and other experts assert that the Atkins diet leads to an increased risk of death.

Research conducted on 130,000 men and women who were followed for 20-26 years found that mortality rate was increased in those eating an Atkins diet based on animal protein. Diets that include “mostly vegetable sources of protein and fat are preferable to a diet with mostly animal sources of protein and fat,” the study says.

Willett has stated in the past that the USDA food pyramid is wrong and several years ago introduced a new type of food pyramid which puts exercise and weight control at the foundation.  Willett and his team believe that these two elements greatly influence a person’s chance of staying healthy.

Animal-based protein diets increase mortality rate

Annals of Internal Medicine: Two studies

Bishop Mark Sisk

The Episcopal Church's bishop of New York is one of the expected attendees at an “emergency interfaith meeting” to address the growing tide of fear and intolerance many feel has emerged in the debate over the Park 51 Islamic center project in New York. At 1 p.m. Tuesday Sisk and others will issue a joint declaration which underscores the responsibility of U.S. clergy to communicate solidarity and compassion during this time of heightened tension.

They also will lay out a plan of action for future interfaith collaboration. Late last month, Sisk wrote a letter to the people of his diocese. In it, he said, “The plan to build this center is, without doubt, an emotionally highly-charged issue. But as a nation with tolerance and religious freedom at its very foundation, we must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents.”

Interfaith leaders: Fear, intolerance emerge over Islamic center

Stephen Hawking

In his latest book, released Tuesday in the United States, the well-known theoretical physicist argues that God is “not necessary” when describing the creation of the universe.

Hawking, a best-selling author and professor, concludes in “The Grand Design,” that the Big Bang was the result of the inevitable laws of physics. He says in the book that “spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”  He also writes, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”

Hawking will be a special guest on CNN's Larry King Live on Friday.

Stephen Hawking: God didn't create universe

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. CNNisdumb

    Capitols... not capitals...

    September 7, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • NotReally

      I suppose in this case, either spelling could be correct depending on what Soros intended to say. If Soros means that the organization needs a presence in the actual buildings where legislation is passed, then capitols would be the correct spelling. If he is saying the organization needs to have a solid base in the cities where the gov't power is centered, then capitals would be the correct spelling.

      September 7, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. Andrew Page

    Money should never just be 'given away'. There has to be accountability. Should I ever end up in a position be giving 9-10 figure sums to charity, the first 6 figures are going to go for a 'to the bone' audit and the funds will be in a trust and dispersed only upon reaching agreed upon benchmarks.

    September 7, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. Peter

    How nice it is to read good news! Just a few million dollars from people with several billions really does go a long way!

    September 7, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. gossowmom

    it would be great to have that kind of money and to be able to make a difference in many lives.

    September 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mary Danforth

    He could give some of his money to save the wildlife and wild places from going extinct. There is such a need for someone to fight for them. I hate the tought that our next generation won't know what a real tiger looks like, or a gorilla, or a wolf, because they are going to be gone forever in a few years. They are trying to put oil wells in the grand canyon for instance. Perhaps Mr Soros would help. I tried to do it but I have run out of money.

    September 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |