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October 17, 2016

Daily News Roundup: Doctors Without Borders Rejects Vaccines From Drug Giant

Doctors Without Borders Rebuffs Pfizer on Free Vaccines: The global aid organization turned down the pharmaceutical company's offer of 1 million doses of pneumonia vaccine in what The Atlantic magazine characterized as a principled stand to spotlight the need for greater competition among drug makers to bring down prices. In an essay posted on Medium, Jason Cone, U.S. executive director of Doctors Without Borders, said poor countries need sustainable access to lower-cost drugs more than they need sporadic donations. GlaxoSmithKline, the other maker of the pneumonia vaccine, recently agreed to cut prices but Pfizer has refused, Mr. Cone wrote. A Pfizer spokeswoman criticized the charity's decision, telling The Atlantic that “to suggest that donations are not valuable defies logic."

Leaked Emails Highlight Qatari Gift to Clinton Foundation: Representatives from the Middle Eastern nation said they hoped to get “five minutes” with former President Bill Clinton while they were in New York in 2012 by presenting him with a $1 million check for the Clinton Foundation as a birthday gift, The New York Times reports, citing emails hacked from a top Hillary Clinton campaign official and released by WikiLeaks. While it is not clear whether the meeting took place, the emails raise questions about whether the foundation followed rules on disclosing gifts from foreign sources during Ms. Clinton's tenure as secretary of state and highlight how difficult it has been for the Clintons to maintain ethical boundaries while their charity sought donations from abroad, the Times writes.

In other Clinton Foundation coverage, news website Fusion scrutinizes claims of the charity's on-the-ground success in Colombia. Some labor leaders and activists in the South American nation said the foundation’s work in the country has contributed to environmental damage, displaced indigenous people, and financially benefited Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining and energy magnate who serves on the Clinton charity's board.

Opinion: Constant International Aid Has Debilitated Haiti: A tide of foreign aid in recent decades has put the Caribbean nation in a state of “permanent charity, which undermines local markets and spawns dependency,” writes Mary Anastasia O'Grady, a Wall Street Journal editor. Billions of dollars in international assistance has created “harmful distortions” in the Haitian economy because goods and services that could have been sold by entrepreneurs in the country have been given away for free, she writes, dating the problem to the early 1980s when the United States began flooding markets with rice in an effort to end hunger, leaving Haitian farmers unable to compete. Gifts of bottled water, clothes, and solar panels hurt the local economy in the same way, she argues.

Opinion: Tech Philanthropists' Giving May Benefit Businesses: Unlike wealthy patrons in the past, today’s mega-donors may profit — even if indirectly — from their charitable endeavors, writes Evgeny Morozov in The Guardian. He analyzes spending by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic vehicle set up by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, noting that it has invested heavily in education groups that track personalized data from users. “Such learning is, of course, well suited to the needs of consulting firms and technology giants,” Mr. Morozov writes. He contends the public should be wary of billionaire philanthropists who push private technology and competitive charter schools as a means to fix education over “quaint, but public, political” solutions.