August 26, 2014 in Nation/World

Bill, Melinda Gates back gun initiative

 

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, have donated $1 million to a Washington state campaign seeking to expand background checks on gun sales, bringing the total amount the campaign has brought in up to nearly $6 million.

The donation to the Initiative 594 campaign was given Friday, but it was not made public until Monday, when it was posted on the state’s Public Disclosure Commission website.

I-594 would require background checks for all gun sales and transfers in Washington state, including at gun shows and for private sales. Under the measure, exemptions would exist, including gifts within a family and antiques.

In a joint written statement issued Monday, the couple said they believe I-594 “will be an effective and balanced approach to improving gun safety in our state by closing existing loopholes for background checks.”

The large donation comes on the heels of fellow Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s $500,000 donation earlier this month. Also last week, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer donated an additional $1 million, bring his total donation to the campaign to nearly $1.4 million.

A rival campaign, Initiative 591, would prevent the state from adopting background-check laws that go beyond the national standard, which requires the checks for sales by licensed dealers but not for purchases from private sellers. That campaign has raised just over $1 million so far.

Cyrus wants to use powers for good

Miley Cyrus said when she stole the night at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, she didn’t realize her impact and influence. Now, the singer says she wants to use her powers for good.

The 21-year-old is assisting the Hollywood homeless center My Friend’s Place by launching a Prizeo campaign, urging her feverish fans to donate to the cause assisting homeless youth. Cyrus brought a member of the center as her date to Sunday’s VMAs at The Forum in Inglewood, California, letting him accept her award for video of the year.

“I think what I realized after my last performance at the VMAs, I didn’t realize my platform, I didn’t realize my power and I didn’t realize my voice and how loud it is,” Cyrus said in an interview Monday. “And I thought, you know, rather than sit here and talk about, ‘Oh, on every news cover, every time you go to AOL or wherever you go everybody’s sitting there talking about me,’ instead of using it as a negative, how can I use it as a positive? If I’m going to be speaking this loud, what am I trying to scream at the world? And this is it. It’s kind of a wake-up (call), which is what I had to do.”

Cyrus said the high of winning awards and memorable performances doesn’t last long, unlike her charity work.

For the campaign, Cyrus is asking fans to donate $5 through Sept. 21, which will enter them in a raffle. Winners will meet Cyrus at her Sept. 28 concert in Rio de Janeiro.

The birthday bunch

Rhythm-and-blues singer Valerie Simpson is 68. Jazz musician Branford Marsalis is 54. Actress-singer Shirley Manson (Garbage) is 48. Actress Melissa McCarthy is 44. Actor Macaulay Culkin is 34.

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