Shared from the 6/19/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition


Donations down most in 10 years

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

A report released Tuesday said individual giving by Americans fell 1.1 percent, from $295 billion in 2017 to $292 billion last year.

Charitable giving by individual Americans in 2018 suffered its biggest drop since the Great Recession of 2008-09, in part because of Republican-backed changes in tax policy. That’s according to Giving USA, the most comprehensive report on Americans’ giving patterns.

The new report, released Tuesday, said individual giving fell by 1.1 percent, from $295 billion in 2017 to $292 billion last year. It ended a four-year streak of increases, and was the largest decline since a 6.1 percent drop in 2009.

Experts involved with the report said 2018 was a complex year for charitable giving, with a relatively strong economy overall and a volatile stock market. Giving by corporations and foundations increased, so that total giving — including donations from individuals — edged up by 0.7 percent to $427.7 billion.


$1 billion pledged for housing market

Google pledged $1 billion over the next 10 years to try and bring down sky-high housing prices in California’s Bay Area.

The tech giant will re-purpose $750 million of its own land for residential use, allowing the development of at least 15,000 new homes, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in a blog post. Another $250 million will go to incentives for developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units.

The success of Google and other Silicon Valley technology companies has contributed to massive housing cost increases in the San Francisco Bay Area. The firms employ tens of thousands of high-earners who have bought or rented homes, leaving fewer options for less-wealthy residents. Meanwhile, the supply of new houses and apartments has not kept up with demand.

The Silicon Valley area is the most expensive housing market in the country.


Frozen raspberries may be contaminated

Frozen red raspberries from a Washington state farm are being recalled across the western U.S.

WinCo Foods says it sold frozen red raspberries manufactured by Rader Farms of Belling-ham, Washington, that may be contaminated with norovirus. The 12-ounce packages with a “Best By” date of February 13, 2021, were sold in stores in Texas, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

No one has reported getting sick but the Boise, Idaho-based company is urging people to throw away or return the products back to the store for a full refund.


MoneyGram shares spike after agreement

MoneyGram’s shares more than doubled Tuesday after the money transfer company announced a partnership with the cryptocurrency company Ripple.

The companies said late Monday that the two-year deal will allow MoneyGram to use Ripple’s blockchain service for cheaper cross-border payments. Ripple, based in San Francisco, invested $30 million in MoneyGram as part of the deal, with an option to purchase up to an additional $20 million in shares at $4.10 each.

Shares in Dallas-based MoneyGram had their largest one-day percentage gain ever Tuesday, though the value of the company’s stock has never recovered from the global economic crisis 10 years ago. The company lost about $1.5 billion investing in mortgage-backed securities.

MoneyGram’s stock surged $2.43, or 167.6 percent, to close Tuesday at $3.88.

The company’s entry into the cryptocurrency field offset some of the damage of Facebook’s announcement Tuesday that it’s creating its own digital currency called Libra. That could threaten companies that charge fees to send money internationally.


Thousands impacted by calendar outage

Google Calendar is back online after service was disrupted for several hours.

Users worldwide reported finding an error message when they tried to access the app Tuesday morning, and some turned to social media to share their dismay and overwhelming feeling that maybe they should go home for the day.

“The problem with Google Calendar and Hangouts Meet should be resolved,” Google said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Please rest assured that system reliability is atop priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”

Google’s outage, which disrupted people’s ability to review appointments and set meetings, generated thousands of complaints. The reports were concentrated in key markets for Google, including the United States and Western Europe, according to the website Down-detector, which tracks service outages.

From wire reports

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