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Will money make it to Tsunami victims?


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Do you or do you not think the aid will make it over to the destroyed countries?http://featurepage.creators.com/montgomery...r.html?name=bor

Bill O' Reilly doesn't think it will all get to the places it needs to go.


George Clooney is writing me letters again, and that can only mean trouble. You may remember the actor and I went at it over whether celebrities had a responsibility to make sure donated 9/11 telethon money was efficiently dispensed by the charities that received it.

I opined that if you ask somebody for a charitable contribution, you have an obligation to do everything you can to see that it gets to the right place. Clooney disagreed, and he even insisted I fabricated the chaos that initially engulfed the United Way, Red Cross and other charities involved with helping the 9/11 families.

Now it is deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might put it. Clooney is again involved in a charity telethon -- this time for tsunami victims. And I am watching what happens with the money.

The truth is that it is enormously difficult to help people in need, especially overseas. In 1999, Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America. Countries and individuals around the world pledged $9 billion to help those affected. But according to the Center on International Cooperation, most of the money never materialized, and most of the hurricane victims had to fend for themselves.

In 2003, an earthquake flattened the city of Bam in Iran. One billion dollars was pledged to help the people there. The Iranian government says only $17 million arrived.

When money is involved, there are usually problems. Hostile governments like the one in Iran and chaotic situations like Sri Lanka make it almost impossible for aid to get to those who need it unless Western organizations are on the ground actually handing it to the folks. For years, corrupt leaders have been stealing foreign donations. How did Yassir Arafat become a multi-millionaire? Did he win the lottery?

Even in the USA, where the government is supposed to oversee the charity business, problems abound. The United Way recently had a huge scandal in Washington D.C. And, according to its own chapter in Bergen County, N.J., the United Way screwed up big time in the first few months after 9/11, even if George Clooney won't admit it.

So now, Mr. Clooney and other stars are asking for money again. In a great public relations stroke, he even asked me to be a part of the tsunami telethon. His invitation stated: "Mr. O'Reilly, either you ante up and help out and be that watchdog that you feel we clearly need, or you stand on the sidelines and cast stones."

My reply: "woof."

Because the telethon donations are all going to the American Red Cross, I have agreed to help the cause. The ARC is now transparent and accountable, and I respect the changes its leadership has put in place since 9/11.

Whether all the money the telethon raised will really help the tsunami victims, I can't say. But generosity is its own reward, and if we can help, we should. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but Americans have always helped the downtrodden, and continuing the tradition is worthy.

Besides, maybe now George Clooney will be my pal. You think?

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Who's Looking Out For You?" To find out more about Bill O'Reilly, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. This column originates on the Web site www.billoreilly.com.

COPYRIGHT 2005 BillOReilly.com.

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Like all programs there will be a great deal of graft. In this effort, when there is not graft going on, there will be outright stealing. I also think it is a good bet that graft and theft is one of the main reasons for Indonesia wanting foreign troops out.

Hellsbells, as good of a job that the UN did in the Oil for Food program in Iraq, why would anyone think there would be theft and graft at this time is this disaster area? :(

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