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This article investigates the concept of car donation programs and discovers that these programs benefit everyone but the charities they are intended to help. The foremost beneficiary is the car donor who can get a tax deduction of about $1200 for a car that's hardly worth $200. The second beneficiaries are the fundraisers who victimize these charities, the story says. Also, the report points out that of the $37 million raised by commercial fundraisers in 1991 through the sale of donated vehicles, only $11.5 million reached charities.
The Industry Standard reports that the demand for an ore called columbite-tantalite -- or coltan -- is helping to fuel the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When refined, coltan becomes tantalum, a highly heat-resistant metal powder that is a key component in everything from mobile phones to computer chips and VCR's. As the demand for these products has increased, "a new, more sinister market began flourishing in the ...Congo. There, warring groups - many funded and supplied by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda - are exploiting coltan mining to help finance a bloody civil war now in its third year." Although selling coltan is not illegal, a United Nations report in April suggested that thousands of tons of coltan had been smuggled from the Congo into Rwanda and Uganda, and may have eventually made it to the U.S. companies that use the material. For their part, these companies have no way of knowing whether the tantalum they use is helping to finance the civil war. Another side effect of the coltan trade: mining activity is especially big in the mountainous northeastern region of the Congo, where endangered gorillas live.
A LNG plant in Trinidad supplies 40 percent of U.S. imported natural gas, but establishing the plant facility on the small island nation was difficult. BP Amoco and British Gas, the largest producers in Trinidad, were reluctant to back the project proposed by the smaller Boston-based Cabot Corp. Eventually, they did and the $1 billion facility is a huge success thanks to the energy crisis and relatively cheap costs of transportation to New England. Trinidad's overall economy is up 7 percent. Plans are underway to triple the plant's capacity by 2002.
The WCAX-TV investigation examines why the plan to build a long-term landfill in the state's most populous county failed and who is paying the price. WCAX-TV uncovered a story of town politics and a plan to target a piece of property that was very valuable to an operating business. (Oct. 2, 3 & 4, 1995)