Archive for the ‘Rescue & Relief’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (July 7-13, 2014)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

RESCUE & RELIEF

With a ‘Charitable Veneer,’ Littering the Streets With Collection Bins.” By David Gonzalez. New York Times. July 7, 2014.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 14-20, 2013)

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

RELIGION

An Alabama Synagogue, Once Struggling for Congregants, Stretches Out Its Hand.” No by-line. New York Times. October 14, 2013.

Trying to Keep Religion Out of the Charter School Classroom.” By Edgar Walters. New York Times. October 18, 2013.

First AME’s former pastor is troubled by church upheaval; The Rev. Cecil Murray built the South L.A. congregation into a community force. But in the nine years since he retired, Murray has watched his hard work crumble under the leadership of his successor.” By Angel Jennings. Los Angeles Times. October 20, 2013

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (July 15-21, 2013)

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

RESCUE & RELIEF

Red Cross Program Hit by Complaint; Charity Watchdog Raises Questions About Eligibility Rules for Sandy Help.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. July 17, 2013.

NY AG questions charities on Superstorm relief; State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on dozens of charities to be more transparent about how they’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars raised to help Superstorm Sandy victims.” No by-line. Crain’s New York Business/Associated Press. July 17, 2013.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (July 1-7, 2013)

Monday, July 8th, 2013

RESCUE & RELIEF SERVICES

Red Cross Awards Funds for Sandy.” Crain’s New York Business. July 2, 2013.
Related story:
NYC organization gets $2.9M for Sandy recovery; The New York Disaster Interfaith Services will use the cash to provide disaster recovery help in New York City.” Crain’s New York Business. July 2, 2013.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 15-21, 2010)

Friday, March 26th, 2010

RELIEF & RESCUE

DEVELOPMENT: Aid Industry is Part of the Problem.” By Ida Karlsson. IPSNews. March 18, 2010. Aid organisations perpetuate humanitarian disasters. That is one of the conclusions made by war correspondent Linda Polman in her latest book as she describes the world of humanitarian aid. When there is a major disaster, large and wealthy aid organisations come pouring into the area, according to Polman who has seen the results in a range of crisis areas. “Should international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) carry on providing relief if warring factions use aid for their own benefit, thus prolonging the war?” she asks. ‘With Friends Like These (De crisiskaravaan) – The untold story of humanitarian aid operations in war zones’ investigates the effects of emergency aid on the course of wars and on the crises themselves. She criticises the aid industry‘s multi-billion dollar operations, which she describes as a business in a market of supply and demand, dressed up as Mother Teresa. “Aid has always been a subject of abuse. Money is disappearing into the wrong pockets,’’ she says.

MAJOR STORIES (October 5-11, 2009)

Monday, October 12th, 2009

ARTS & CULTURE

Offbeat Barnes, Gardner Museums Face Decay, Change: Commentary.” By James S. Russell. Bloomberg.com. October 7, 2009. Because of their small size, limited appeal, and the peculiar legal stipulations of their founders, eccentric museums like Philadelphia’s Barnes and Boston’s Gardner are struggling to survive.

CHARITY

Advertising: Selling a Charitable Feeling, Along With Treats for the Dog.” By Stuart Elliot. New York Times. October 9, 2009. One of the most popular tactics in consumer advertising these days is what is known as cause marketing or cause-related marketing, whereby companies seek to do well by doing good. So widespread has cause marketing become that it is being expanded from products for people to products for their pets. For instance, for some time the Pedigree brand of dog food sold by Mars has been promoting its support of pet adoption. Now, Del Monte Foods is making its donations to an organization named Canine Assistants the centerpiece of a campaign for its Milk-Bone line of dog treats. Underlining that focus is the theme of the campaign: “It’s good to give.” The double meaning is meant to convey that just as Milk-Bone is good to give your dog, you can also get a warm and fuzzy feeling if you give to good causes — or support brands that do.

Can walking help find a cure for breast cancer?” By Christie Garton. USA Today. October 9, 2009. As part of the Susan G Komen for the Cure®, this Breast Cancer 3-Day walk has brought together women and men of all ages from different parts of the country. Many are walking to show their support for loved-ones that are either fighting or fought the disease. Many are survivors. Together, they are walking to raise money and awareness for breast cancer and patient support programs.

S.F.’s parking meters for homeless at the ready.” By Heather Knight. San Francisco Chronicle. October 11, 2009. In May 2008, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed installing 10 “homeless meters” along Market Street and Van Ness Avenue in order to discourage people from giving to panhandlers by offering a way to donate spare change to organizations that help the homeless. Although condemned by many advocates for the homeless, the plans are still afoot.

EDUCATION

Teachers union’s objection bolstered; State panel finds contract disparity.” By James Vaznis. Boston Globe. October 5, 2009. The Boston Teachers Union’s objection to the Teach for America program has sparked an investigation by the state Division of Labor Relations, which has determined that a strong likelihood exists that the Boston School Committee violated the union contract when signing an agreement with the highly regarded national program. Some of the possible violations center around differences between the union contract and the Teach for America agreement, which essentially appears to give the 19 Teach for America recruits greater rights in retaining their positions in the event of any layoffs. That prospect is significant because the Boston Teachers Union has questioned the wisdom of bringing in the national program at a time when budget cuts have forced the city to lay off roughly three dozen teachers in the last school year. City finances are also expected to remain tight for the foreseeable future.

Foundation gives $10 million toward early education center in Chicago Heights.Chicago Tribune. October 9, 2009. Chicago’s Griffin Foundation is donating $10 million to fund an educational initiative in south suburban Chicago Heights. The Griffin Early Education Center, expected to open in September, will provide daylong instruction for up to 250 students selected by lottery.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Lawsuit spurs charter school support in Gwinnett.” By D. Aileen Dodd. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. October 8, 2009. Last month, the Gwinnett schools sued Ivy Prep, the state Department of Education, Superintendent Kathy Cox and several others, launching a battle over the local control of public education and the dollars allocated for students. Gwinnett’s lawsuit alleges that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, which approved Ivy Preparatory Academy of Norcross to operate in Gwinnett, is illegally funding and authorizing new schools outside the mandates of the state constitution. It also scolds the state for giving Ivy Prep money meant for Gwinnett public school students after the Gwinnett school board rejected the charter school’s application.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Fine Could Hamper Southeastern U. Merger; 2008 U.S. Review Says School Improperly Disbursed Federal Aid to Students.” By Daniel de Vise. Washington Post. October 7, 2009. A potential fine for an alleged violation of federal education regulations could imperil the prospective merger between ailing Southeastern University and neighboring GS Graduate School, according to a school official. The U.S. Department of Education found in a 2008 review that Southeastern had improperly disbursed federal aid to students in an unaccredited online education program, according to an Aug. 21, 2008, investigative report.
Southeastern lost its accreditation entirely at the end of August. School officials say the institution will shut down barring a merger with GS. No classes are being offered this fall. Founded by the YMCA, Southeastern has operated since 1879 in southwest Washington, serving lower-income and international students. Its accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education lapsed over concerns of diminished rigor and dwindling enrollment and faculty.

Harvard Losing Money Externally Helps Mendillo Return to Roots.” By Gillian Wee. Bloomberg.com. October 8, 2009. Losing money with 86 percent of its fund managers last year is giving Jane Mendillo, chief executive officer of Harvard Management Co., a big excuse to return to the university’s investing roots by making more of its own decisions on what to buy and sell. The credit unit of buyout firm Bain Capital LLC and TPG- Axon Capital Management LP were among the 54 funds that lost money for Harvard University’s endowment while just nine posted gains, according to internal data obtained by Bloomberg News. About 60 percent of the funds fell short of targets used by the endowment, second in assets only to the $30 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among U.S. nonprofit institutions. Mendillo, who joined Harvard in July 2008 from Wellesley College, is reducing the influence of independent firms that oversee two-thirds of the $26 billion endowment after last month reporting a record $10 billion loss for the year ended June 30.

Leaner Times at Harvard: No Cookies.” By Abby Goodnough. New York Times. October 9, 2009. Gone are the hot breakfasts in most dorms and the pastries at Widener Library. Varsity athletes are no longer guaranteed free sweat suits, and just this week came the jarring news that professors will go without cookies at faculty meetings. By Harvard standards, these are hard times. Not Dickensian hard times, but with the value of its endowment down by almost 30 percent, the world’s richest university is learning to live with less. Harvard is not the only elite university where student life is more austere this fall: Princeton has closed some computer labs, and one of its dining halls on Saturdays. At Stanford, the annual Mausoleum Party, a Halloween gathering at the Stanford family burial site, lost $14,000 in financing and might be canceled.

In Brief: Endowment Drops 23% at Dartmouth.” No by-line. Wall Street Journal. October 10, 2009. The value of Dartmouth College’s endowment dropped 23% to $2.8 billion in the last fiscal year.The endowment’s long-term performance was an 8% annual return over the past decade. The school spent $227 million from its endowment in the last fiscal year, but contributions to the budget from the endowment will be flat or reduced over the next several years.

Stanford Said to Offer Sequoia, Kleiner Funds as Prices Recover.” By Gillian Wee. Bloomberg.com. October 10, 2009. Stanford University is seeking to sell $1 billion in private investments, including stakes in two venture capital as prices rise in the secondary market. The university’s endowment is taking bids on portions of $6 billion in holdings of venture capital, buyout, real estate and energy funds.. Those interests also carry $5 billion in future commitments to the fund managers. Stanford, with an endowment of $12.6 billion, fourth among U.S. schools, is gauging investor interest after its investments lost 26 percent in the year ended June 30.

HUMAN SERVICES

Cancer patients get free housecleaning through foundation; Treatment can sap energy for housework.” By Ruth Fuller. Chicago Tribune. October 7, 2009. Chicago’s McMaid is one of almost 500 maid service partners in all 50 states and in two Canadian provinces to partner with the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation, which offers free professional housecleaning to women undergoing treatment for cancer. Supported through donations of its cleaning service partners, corporations, grants and individual donations, the foundation has served more than 2,000 women since its founding in 2006.

For Families of Mentally Ill, Mixed Feelings Over Push Away From Adult Homes.” By Anemona Hartocollis. New York Times. October 9, 2009. New York State is being pushed to disgorge thousands of mentally ill residents from institutional homes to less restrictive settings under a court decision last month. This has been a long-term goal of their advocates, who say that mentally ill New Yorkers have been warehoused in adult homes that provide minimal care while segregating them from society and stripping them of their dignity and initiative. But the decision has roused mixed feelings among those closest to the residents — their own families. In interviews, relatives said they were happy that the residents might soon be able to live on their own. But they also expressed fear, well founded or not, that life on the outside might prove difficult or even dangerous.

Salvation Army struggles to help the needy.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York. October 9, 2009. The Salvation Army Greater New York Division is laying off 120 employees in the social services organization’s second round of staff cuts in less than six months. The layoffs will come from the agency’s foster boarding home and preventive care program, which is closing locations in December because the program’s city funding was discontinued. In June, the organization announced it was closing down its adolescent housing program and laying off 98 full- and part-time staffers. The Salvation Army, which had an operating budget of $142.6 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, is grappling with how to pay for the skyrocketing needs for its services due to the recession.

At Reunion for the New York Foundling, a Kinship of a Shared Past.” By C.J. Hughes. New York Times. October 10, 2009. 600 people convened in New York to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the establishment of New York Foundling, a Catholic charity which serves the needs of neglected and abandoned children. At the turn of the last century, New York Foundling sponsored trains which shuttled tens of thousands of orphaned or abandoned children from New York to families in the Midwest. Today, most babies come in against their mothers’ wills, removed from troubled homes by social workers. They children typically wind up in short-term foster care, and they ultimately return to their biological families.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

POLITICS: NGOs Hold Arms Exporters to Account for Abuses.” By Suzanne Hoeksema. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 11, 2009. With 2,000 people dying daily in armed violence fuelled by irresponsible arms transfers, talks to create an international treaty regulating these weapons can no longer be delayed, says a coalition of NGOs in a new report “Dying for Action.” While nuclear disarmament is high on the U.N. agenda these days, 90 percent of casualties in conflict areas are caused by small arms such as submachine guns, mortars and hand grenades, according to the Red Cross. The main contributors to the report, Amnesty International and Oxfam argue that governments should be prevented from exporting arms to countries where there is a substantial risk that those arms will be used for serious human rights violations.

AFRICA

Trade: NGOs Welcome EU’s Vow Not to Push Africa into EPAs.” BY Isolda Agazzi. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 09, 2009. Non-governmental organisations have expressed their satisfaction at the European Commission’s declaration that it would not put “undue pressure” on African and other countries to conclude the controversial trade deals called economic partnership agreements (EPAs). This statement by the European Commission (EC), released on Oct 1, sounds like a victory for the Stop EPA Campaign which has been running for years now.

CHINA

Confucianism a vital string in China’s bow.” By Jian Junbo. Asia Times Online. October 9, 2009. The more China’s economic and military muscles expand, the more talk there is of “the rise of China”. Economic and military muscle, though, fall under the so-called “hard power” heading. Comparatively, China’s “soft power”, which it needs to become a real world-class power, is lagging. All the same, some scholars in China argue that Beijing’s soft power is rising, pointing to a revival in Confucianism. The thought of Confucius, the Chinese thinker and educator who lived about 2,500 years ago, is becoming increasingly popular in China. The government is also using Confucius to spread Chinese culture worldwide to increase the influence of China’s soft power. For example, since 2004, when the first Chinese Confucius Institute was set up in Seoul in South Korea, more than 250 Confucius Institutes have been set up across the world.

INDIA

Business with Balaji: Rs 50,000 crore is a lot of money, even for a deity. But many say this is just a rough estimate of the offerings devotees have bestowed at Lord Balaji.” No by-line. Times of India. October 10, 2009. Balaji, Lord of Seven Hills, is reportedly one of the richest deities in the world. 20 lakh pilgrims visit the temple each year, adding Rs 300 crore in offerings, most of it in hard cash, to its kitty. Then there are donations that come in the form of gold, 350 kg, and silver, 500 kg, annually. The total annual income of the temple trust is Rs 600 crore and the budget outlay for the year 2008-09 was Rs 1,925 crore. TTD has more than Rs 1,000 crore in fixed deposits in various banks. [A "crore" is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to ten million; a "lakh" is a unit equal to one hundred thousand].

Ford Foundation fellowships to end in 2010.” No by-line. Times of India. October 2009. The International Fellowships Programme (IFP) run by the US-based Ford Foundation will end in 2010. Launched in 2001 to broaden access to higher education and help build a new generation of leaders hailing from various groups and communities that lack access to quality in high education, the foundation committed $355 million to the project over a 10 year period to underwrite fellowships in 22 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

JAPAN

Group got tax forms for ‘dead’ donors.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbun. October 7, 2009. Prosecutors are looking into tax deduction forms issued for 75 people who “donated” money to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, even though many were dead or did not make donations, sources said. The forms were requested by Hatoyama’s political fund management group, Yuai Seikei Konwa-kai (fraternity association of politics and economics). The group, currently under investigation over suspected falsifications in its political fund reports, received the forms from the internal affairs ministry for 160 donors from 2004 to 2007, including the 75 “contributors” from 2005 to 2007 who were dead or said they did not make donations. Hatoyama acknowledged at a news conference in June that 192 fake entries were made between 2005 and 2008 for donations worth 21.778 million yen.

SAUDI ARABIA

In Saudi Arabia, a Campus Built as a ‘Beacon of Tolerance’; High-Tech University Draws the Ire of Hard-Line Clerics for Freedoms It Provides to Women.” By Sudarsan Raghavan. Washington Post. October 9, 2009. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which opened last month on this sprawling site 50 miles north of Jiddah, is is the latest, and so far most significant, endeavor by a Persian Gulf nation to diversify its economy and help wean the region from its dependence on oil wealth. Saudi officials describe the multibillion-dollar postgraduate institution as the spear in the kingdom’s efforts to transform itself into a global scientific center rivaling those in the United States, Europe and Asia. The kingdom’s powerful religious establishment is increasingly critical of the university, blasting the school’s coeducational policy as a violation of sharia, or Islamic law.

UK

Major fundraising appeal launched for south-east Asia disaster victims; 609 people confirmed dead in Indonesia alone.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 6, 2009. A coalition of charities is today launching a major fundraising appeal to help those left destitute by the devastating earthquakes and typhoons in south-east Asia. The appeal is being set up to help those affected by Typhoon Ketsana, which hit the Philippines and parts of Vietnam, and those left coping in the wake of huge earthquakes which struck western Sumatra in Indonesia.

Q&A: Social enterprises and the law.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 6, 2009. An attorney answers questions about legal, tax, and regulatory issues relating to social enterprises in the UK.

Stop treating us like traitors, pleads private schools chief.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 6, 2009. Parents who send their children to private school have been so stigmatised that they have been made to feel their decision is “tantamount to treason”according to Andrew Grant, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.According to Green, politicians and other critics of the fee-paying system should be grateful for the money parents are saving for the state sector.
Related story:
Charity Commission too generous to private schools, say campaigners; Private schools now have up to five years to meet requirements of public benefit test.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 7, 2009.

Church of England’s new mission: to save hedge funds; Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that financiers had failed to repent for the excesses that led to the global recession.” By Ruth Gledhill. Times of London. October 7, 2009. Two weeks after the Archbishop of Canterbury attacked the “unreal” financial culture and lack of repentance in the City of London, the Church of England has launched a robust defence of hedge funds. The Church Commissioners, who manage the £4.4 billion assets — down from £5.7 billion in 2007 — of the established Church, have criticised European proposals to regulate hedge funds. A new European Union directive designed to limit the way hedge funds are managed restricts the Church’s ability to make money, the Church’s investment managers warn.

Private schools ‘tighten grip on top universities’.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. October 7, 2009. Private schools have increased their stranglehold on top university places in the past decade despite government efforts to open up higher education to students from working-class and state school backgrounds. The figures from a study into entrance to universities commissioned by a coalition of independents suggest that pupils whose parents have paid for their schooling are four times as likely as their state school peers to get a place at one of the top ten universities. Only 7 per cent of the school-age population is educated privately.
Related story:
Inequality is the source of our schools gap.” Editorial. Guardian (UK). October 11, 2009.

Oxford slips in international university ranking as Asian rivals ‘snap at heels’; UK retains four out of top 10 places in league table; More Asian institutions placed among first 100.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). October 8, 2009. Oxford University has slipped down an international league table of the world’s top universities which also reveals the advance of academia in Asia that will soon pose a challenge to the Ivy League and Oxbridge. Oxford fell from fourth to joint fifth place with Imperial College London in the QS/Times Higher Education rankings, published today, widening the gap with Cambridge which was rated second in the world. University College London (UCL) leapfrogged Oxford coming fourth after Yale, Cambridge and Harvard. Overall the UK still punches above its weight, second only to the US. It has four out of the top 10 slots and 18 in the top 100. But there has been a significant fall in the number of North American universities in the top 100, from 42 in 2008 to 36 in 2009. The number of Asian universities in the top 100 increased from 14 to 16. The University of Tokyo, at 22, is the highest ranked Asian university, ahead of the University of Hong Kong at 24.Leading UK universities said institutions in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were “snapping at the heels” of western institutions arguing they needed more funding to compete on the global stage.

“Judge overturns couple’s £2.3m will and awards farm to daughter; Court accepts that husband bullied wife into signing will giving RSPCA their estate.” By Helen Carter. Guardian (UK). October 9, 2009. A woman who contested her parents’ will after they left their £2.3m estate in North Yorkshire to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals today won her legal battle to inherit their farm. The RSPCA said it would appeal against the decision. Christine Gill started legal action in July to challenge the will, which she claimed her father had forced her mother into making. The RSPCA said it was “concerned at any implications this could have for charities and other groups”.

From verse to chorus: Trinity College buys the O2 Arena.” By Adam Sherwin. Times of London. October 9, 2009. The wealthiest of Cambridge University’s colleges has bought the lease to the O2 Arena in London in a £24 million deal. It concluded a deal to buy Meridian Delta Dome, the holding company of the 999-year lease for the entertainment venue on the Greenwich peninsula in London, at a price around £4 million higher than expected. One of Britain’s biggest landowners, with an endowment fund estimated at £650 million, Trinity will take a cut from future box office revenues at the former Millennium Dome under a rental arrangement with Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will continue to operate the venue. Last year, the O2 generated £1 million in rental income and the figure is set to rise in 2009, despite the cancellation of Michael Jackson’s 50-night residency.

Anglicans, in row, may cut women bishops’ powers.” By Peter Griffiths. Washington Post/Reuters. October 9, 2009. The Church of England could restrict the powers of some women bishops under a plan designed to end a rift between traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy, and liberals demanding equality. The proposal has reignited the long-running debate over a supposed ecclesiastical “stained-glass ceiling” that stops women from attaining the most senior roles in the church. Along with homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages, the ordination of women is among the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.

Old-fashioned universities are letting students down, says David Willetts; Conservative education spokesman says quality must improve to justify rise in fees.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). October 9, 2009. Universities are badly failing students with unfit teaching and old-fashioned methods and will have to radically modernise lectures and facilities if they want to raise fees, according to the Conservatives’ spokesman on higher education. David Willetts told the Guardian that vice-chancellors are not prepared for the pressure their students will put them under if fees go up and that many have failed to prove students are getting value for money. Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently pay up to £3,225 a year in tuition fees but many universities want a rise in the cap or even its removal. Willetts signalled the Tories were prepared to look at increasing fees, but with strings attached.

MPs call for urgent inquiry as thousands of students still await loans.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. October 10, 2009. The full extent of delays to student loans and grants emerged yesterday as Parliament called for an urgent inquiry into the crisis. Delays to money from the Student Loans Company (SLC) have left up to 175,000 students without financial assistance. Many have had to pay for their first weeks of term with credit cards, borrowing from parents and income from temporary jobs.The loans company has failed to cope with the 8 per cent rise in applications since last year. It is also struggling to cope in its first year administering maintenance grants, which it took over from local authorities. In a statement the company said that 87,346 more students had applied for finance this year. The company, a quango that is overseen by Student Finance England, blamed technical problems and late applications but had given assurances that students who applied on time this year would get their money for the start of term.

Charity shops hit by soaring thefts; Volunteer staff and poor security exploited by crooks to loot tens of thousands of pounds-worth of goods a week.” By Simon Lennon. Guardian (UK). October 11, 2009. Shoplifters are stealing tens of thousands of pounds worth of goods from charity shops every day, taking advantage of the increase in trade due to the credit crunch to steal clothes, DVDs and books. The Association of Charity Shops, which speaks for 270 charities including Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research, said that charity shops were now seen as an easy target.

Millions will starve as rich nations cut food aid funding, warns UN; Aid agencies fear global disaster as support for World Food Programme hits 20-year low.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). October 11, 2009. Tens of millions of the world’s poor will have their food rations cut or cancelled in the next few weeks because rich countries have slashed aid funding. The result, says the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), could be the “loss of a generation” of children to malnutrition, food riots and political destabilisation. “We are facing a silent tsunami.”

Hirst, Quinn Aid $1.26 Million Charity Auction by Jeweler Graff.” By Scott Reyburn. Bloomberg.com. October 11, 2009. Artists including Damien Hirst, Raqib Shaw and Marc Quinn have donated paintings for an auction by London jeweler Laurence Graff that seeks to raise 800,000 pounds ($1.26 million) for Africa. The 26-lot sale is one of Christie’s International’s“Frieze Week” events in London. It will benefit FACET (For Africa’s Children Every Time). The charity was set up last year by Graff to raise money for the education, health and wellbeing of children in Africa, where Graff Diamonds, of which he is chairman, sources many of its stones.

LAW & POLICY

Bridgeport Diocese Loses Bid to Keep Sex-Abuse Records Sealed.” By Paul Vitello. New York Times. October 6, 2009. The United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to delay the court-ordered release of thousands of legal documents from lawsuits filed against priests accused of sexually abusing children. The decision, stemming from a suit brought by The New York Times and three other newspapers in 2002, does not mean the documents can be immediately released. But it leaves the diocese with few options in its seven-year fight to keep from public view 12,000 pages of records and depositions.The papers detail decisions the diocese made in assigning priests who had molested children in the past to positions where they abused children again. “The right of the church to determine the suitability of its own ministers has been compromised by this decision,” the current Bridgeport bishop, William E. Lori, said on Monday after the stay was denied.

LEADERSHIP

Five Leaders Honored for Perseverance in Downturn.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. The DC-based Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation honored five exceptional local nonprofit leaders with a two-year $100,000 leadership development grants. The awards are meant to encourage leaders to remain in demanding jobs that pay little. Winners included executives of Martha’s Table, which provides meals, clothing and a variety of support services to low-income families in Washington, Community of Hope, which provides housing, medical care and other services, the Young Playwrights’ Theater, which teaches low-income youths to write and produce plays, Community Bridges, which works with girls from immigrant families through partnerships with local schools and nonprofits, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

MUTUAL BENEFIT ORGANIZATIONS

L.A. THEN AND NOW: Masonic Hall’s history is quieter than the fraternity’s folklore; The 151-year-old building south of Olvera Street doesn’t live up to the hype of the Masons. The casket-maker may be as suspicious as it gets.” By Steve Harvey. Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2009.

RELIGION

New data on the second-biggest faith: A shifting locus.” No by-line. Economist. October 8, 2009. A new survey of the world’s Muslim population, by the Pew Research Center based in Washington, DC, will help those who are keen to break that link. It estimates the total number of Muslims in the world at 1.57 billion, or about 23% of a global population of 6.8 billion. Almost two-thirds of Muslims live in Asia, with Indonesia providing the biggest contingent (203m), followed by Pakistan (174m) and India (160m). Perhaps more surprising will be the finding that the European country with the highest Muslim population is not France or Germany, but Russia, where 16.5m adherents of Islam make up nearly 12% of the total national population.

Conservative Episcopalians prepare for their exodus; Worshipers who split from the national church prepare to turn over the keys to the diocese after losing a property battle.” By Duke Helfand. Los Angeles Times. October 10, 2009. When the congregation of LA-area St. Luke’s Anglican Church in 2006 broke with the national denomination of issues of gender and sexual preference, the diocese sued to retain St. Luke’s property. After rounds of costly litigation, the courts ruled in the diocese’s favor, concluding that St. Luke’s property was held in trust for the diocese and the national church. Last week, a judge ordered St. Luke’s congregation to leave.

California Christians worship in a big way; The state has more megachurches than anywhere else in the country, with the majority in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego. Their upbeat approach is luring thousands each weekend.” By Duke Helfand. Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2009. Thanks to good weather, sprawling suburbs and a number of charismatic pastors, the Golden State has more of these megachurches — defined as those with at least 2,000 congregants — than any other state. California is home to 193, slightly more than Texas with 191, according to the most recent survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. The majority of these congregations are in the suburbs between Los Angeles and San Diego, an area that some who study the phenomenon call the Southern California Bible Belt.

SCANDAL

Some Criticize SEIU for Its ACORN Connections.” By Carol D. Leonnig. Washington Post. October 6, 2009. A rapidly growing union that represents nurses, janitors and other low-wage workers is coming under fire from conservatives because of its long-standing financial and leadership ties to ACORN, a liberal organizing group recently embarrassed by videos filmed covertly. Some Republicans say federal agencies that recently cut ties with ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — should also consider severing their relationship with the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU and ACORN have long worked closely together, with the union paying the association more than $3.6 million in the past three years and sharing some office locations and leaders with the group.
Related Stories:
An ACORN Amendment for Pfizer.” By Jeremy Scahill. The Nation. October 5, 2009.
Amount Embezzled From Acorn Is Disputed.” New York Times. October 6, 2009
FEMA: ACORN story ‘inaccurate’.” October 7, 2009 03:14 PM EST
Acorn Woes Hit Union, Democrats.” Wall Street Journal. October 6, 2009.
ACORN: Congress can’t hurt us.” By Michael Falcone. Politico.com. October 6, 2009
WashTimes: Lewis called ACORN foes ‘racist’.” Politico.com. October 7, 2009.

D.C. Officials File for Takeover of Two Homes for Mentally Disabled.” By Henri E. Cauvin and Nikita Stewart. Washington Post. October 6, 2009. The District filed court papers Monday seeking a takeover of two group homes, saying the operators of the privately run facilities are endangering the health and safety of the mentally disabled residents. The homes are two of 11 facilities operated by Individual Development, a nonprofit group whose board includes three politically connected lawyers, David W. Wilmot, Frederick D. Cooke Jr. and A. Scott Bolden. A federal court monitor and legal advocates for the mentally disabled have been raising concerns for years about the quality of care at IDI’s homes. “This court action,” D.C.’s Attorney-General, “sends a clear signal to providers that the District will not tolerate recurrent deficient practices that put our most vulnerable citizens at substantial risk to their health, safety and welfare.”

Brooke Astor’s Son Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Her.” By John Eligon. New York Times. October 9, 2009. The son of Brooke Astor, the philanthropist and long-reigning matriarch of New York society, was convicted in Manhattan on Thursday on charges that he defrauded his mother and stole tens of millions of dollars from her as she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in the twilight of her life.
Related stories:
Looking Beyond the Glamour, Astor Jury Found a Moral Flaw.” New York Times. October 9, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s Son Is Guilty of Fraud.” Wall Street Journal. October 9, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s son, lawyer guilty of bilking estate.” CNN.com. October 8, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s son found guilty.” No by-line. Crain’s New York. October 8, 2009.
Marshall Led Astray by Co-Defendant, Key Juror Says.” Bloomberg.com. October 9, 2009.

North Dakota Scandal Raises Concerns About Health Co-op Route.” By Karl Vick. Washington Post. October 10, 2009. North Dakotans are in an uproar over the reports of a $238,000 Caribbean retreat for executives of the state’s nonprofit Blue Cross-Blue Shield. This compounded by news of other perks, including $15 million in executive bonuses over five years, $400,000 for charter flights and $35,000 for a vice president’s retirement party. A cooperative, owned by its policyholders, it is an arrangement resembling the model promoted by some in Congress as an alternative to the “public option” that would put the federal government in the insurance business. A liberal group in North Dakota argues that the North Dakota scandal illustrates the danger of assuming that the cooperative model would assure virtuous behavior, especially in an industry awash in money.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 28-October 4, 2009)

Monday, October 5th, 2009

RELIEF & RESCUE

Red Cross to Auction Off Little Pieces of Its History.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. October 3, 2009. Starting next month, the American Red Cross will auction off items squirreled away over many years in a warehouse in Lorton, Va., outside Washington. The auction is part of the organization’s effort to eliminate the deficit that remained after it pared its staff and took other cost-cutting measures in its last fiscal year, which ended June 30. By closing the warehouse and outsourcing storage and archival operations, the Red Cross will save $3 million annually. In addition, the organization hopes to raise about $200,000 through the auction itself.