Charity @ the speed of thought

Taking stock of Bill Gates' kindness; Running a-fowl with Fabio; Farrakhan death watch called off.

Published April 5, 1999 9:15PM (EDT)

Kosovo refugees can't say Bill Gates never did anything for them. The richer-than-God Microsoft chairman and his lovely wife, Melinda, have pledged $1.5 million to three charities working to help refugees from the war-torn province. The American Red Cross International Response Fund, CARE and the International Rescue Committee will each get a whopping $500,000 to provide food, water, blankets, medicine, temporary shelter and other aid to refugees arriving in Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Of course, a quick visit to the deliciously detailed Bill Gates Net Worth Web site puts the admittedly generous donation in perspective. According to this site's calculations, Gates' current net worth (based on the current value of his Microsoft stock) is $85.42 billion, which means that the $1.5 million donation is about .001756 percent of his total stash. That's like someone who's worth $100,000 contributing about $1.76. In fact, if the obscenely wealthy cyber-kingpin wanted to, he could give $284,733 to each of the approximately 300,000 people who've been forced to flee Kosovo -- and still afford a venti cappuccino at his friendly neighborhood Starbucks. Now, where do you want to go today?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Fabio's flying foe

Animal-rights activists, take note. Less than a week after he smacked a poor unsuspecting goose with his famous face during a promotional ride on a new roller coaster, Fabio is adding insult to avian injury.

Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter's column appears daily on the People site, Monday through Friday.

+ Biography

Got a hot tip? Tell Amy!

Recovering at home from the blow to the bridge of his chiseled nose, the beefy, blond supermodel expressed his gratitude for the "cards and well wishes" from concerned fans. But he offered nary a word of concern for the fowl he ran afoul of last Tuesday on an early drop on the Apollo's Chariot coaster. Instead, he puffed out his fine Fabio feathers and honked noisily about his nasal goose bump.

"Building a roller coaster on a lake inhabited by geese could cause more serious accidents or possibly a child's death," intoned Fabio, adding that the Williamsburg, Va., Busch Gardens theme park (whose goose really should be cooked for promoting Fabio's ride as "Modern-Day 'Adonis' vs. Ancient-Day 'Sun God'") should "install safety measures to make sure this will not happen again."

What prophylactic measures might the fabulous Fabio have in mind: a gosling no-fly zone?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Farrakhan marches on

Now, now -- don't get all worked up. Reports that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's health is in dire straits appear to have been greatly exaggerated. According to his family and friends, the controversial community and religious leader -- who has publicly condemned Jews, called the pope an "Antichrist" and described Adolph Hitler as a "wickedly great" man -- is making a speedy recovery from the emergency prostate surgery he underwent last week at Washington's Howard University Hospital. According to the Washington Post, he may leave the hospital this week.

Leading a prayer vigil on Saturday, Rev. Jesse Jackson called news reports speculating that Farrakhan might soon be departing for that big Million Man March in the sky the work of "ghoul squads." Nation of Islam leaders say Farrakhan is up and chatting with his family. No word yet on which religious group he's blaming for his illness.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Shirley Jones' hometown blues

Where's Reuben Kinkaid to set things right when you need him?

Trouble with a capital T (that rhymes with P and that stands for park) has broken out in Shirley Jones' hometown. The ex-film star and Partridge family matriarch is at the center of a controversy raging in sleepy Smithton, Pa., a town of 400 located about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Jones' hubby, Marty Ingels, wanted to give her a special something for her birthday -- a statue and a park in the town she calls home -- but Smithton officials refuse to c'mon-get-happy about being saddled with the cost of maintaining the gift. "Our entire city budget is $35,000. I know the car Marty drives is worth more than that," City Council President Fred Foster told the Associated Press.

Ingels may have to admit defeat and find another way to say, "I Think I Love You" to Keith Partridge's mom. "What started out to be a lovely, joyous thing has become Vietnam, Hiroshima -- a nightmare for me," Ingels told the press. Call it the Shirley Jonestown Massacre ...

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Monica's mad money

A new General Accounting Office report has found that Kenneth Starr blew through $6.2 million in six months last year investigating President Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.

We wondered what stalwart shopper Monica herself could have bought with the money. Here are a few things we came up with:

  • 476,923 tubes of her trademark Club Monico "buff" lipstick (Price: $13)
  • 623,115 black berets (Price: $9.95 on eBay, the online auction site. Monica's trademark black was part of Donna Karan's 1992 collection and is no longer available.)
  • 1.24 million pairs of Victoria's Secret thong underwear (Price: 5 pairs for $25 on sale!)
  • 3,115,577 cans of Alberto VO5 hair spray (Price: $1.99)
  • 704,545 copies of Nicholson Baker's "Vox" (Price: $8.80)
  • 364,705 short-sleeved souvenir T-shirts from the Black Dog Tavern on Martha's Vineyard (Price: $17)
  • 106,896 blue dresses from the Gap's current collection (Price: $58)
  • 775,000 rounds of dry cleaning for above dress (Price: $8)

    Or just think of all the nifty surveillance equipment Linda Tripp could have bought.

  • By Amy Reiter

    MORE FROM Amy Reiter

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------