“Mohammed Ibrahim: The Philanthropist of Honest Government; Africa’s cellphone billionaire, Mohammed Ibrahim, is offering a rich payoff for African leaders who don’t take payoffs. He says it’ll do for development what foreign aid never has.” By Anne Jolis. Wall Street Journal. September 7, 2012. Mohammed Ibrahim is a strange sort of philanthropist, in that he doesn’t do handouts. “It’s my conviction that Africa doesn’t need help, doesn’t need aid,” the 66-year-old telecom billionaire says, as the sounds of west London traffic on Portman Square drift into his office through the open doors of a third-floor balcony. “It’s a very rich continent. There is no justification for us to be poor,” says Mr. Ibrahim, who was born near Lake Nubia in northern Sudan. The mineral-packed country is one of Africa’s most chronic humanitarian catastrophes. Sudan has also been one of the largest recipients of international aid for 50 years. If charity could unlock Sudan’s potential, the United Nations, World Bank and American taxpayers would have managed it a few billion-dollar cycles ago. The problem in Sudan and the rest of Africa, Mr. Ibrahim says, isn’t lack of money. It’s “governance—the way Africans govern themselves. Without good governance, there’s no way forward.” So Mr. Ibraham has a different idea: He gives directly to individuals—specifically to political leaders—who have to earn the money. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, begun in 2006, tracks the quality of governance across Africa and awards cash prizes to leaders who leave office with relatively uncorrupt records. The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership offers a tidy $5 million over 10 years and then $200,000 annually for life. You might call it offering payoffs to leaders who don’t take payoffs. Heads of state or government are eligible for the prize if they were democratically elected, served within their constitutional term limits, demonstrated “excellence” in office and peacefully transferred power within the past three years. The prize is meant to be awarded annually but has been given only three times since its 2007 launch—to former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde.
“Asian welfare states: New cradles to graves; The welfare state is flowering in Asia. Will it free the continent from squalor? Or sink it in debt?” No by-line. The Economist. September 8, 2012. For decades Indonesia’s government has tried to improve the lot of villages through piecemeal projects. Some, like Jamkesmas, have breadth but no depth: it has an annual budget of less than $10 per person. Others, like PNPM Generasi, respond to the community’s demands not the individual’s. But Indonesia is now embarking on something more systematic: it is laying the foundations of a welfare state. Last October Indonesia’s parliament passed a law pledging to provide health insurance to all of the country’s 240m citizens from January 1st 2014. One government agency will collect premiums and foot the bills, making it the biggest single-payer system in the world, says Dr Hasbullah Thabrany of Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta. The same law also committed the government to extend pensions, death benefits and worker-accident insurance to the nation by July 2015. The government has said little about the cost or generosity of these broader benefits. If Indonesia tried to universalise the kind of package now enjoyed by civil servants and 9m salaried employees, it would have to collect over 18% of wages to fund the scheme fully, according to calculations by Mitchell Wiener of the World Bank. Passing the law is always easier than paying for it. Indonesia is not the only country in developing Asia rapidly expanding health insurance. In the Philippines, 85% of the population are now members of PhilHealth, the government-owned health insurer, compared with 62% in 2010. China’s rural health-insurance scheme, which in 2003 covered 3% of the eligible population, now covers 97.5%, according to official statistics. India has also extended (albeit modest) health insurance to roughly 110m people, more than twice the number of the uninsured Americans whose plight motivated Obamacare; this is, as America’s vice-president once said about his boss’s reforms, a “big fucking deal”. This new Asian interest in social welfare goes far beyond health. Thailand, which achieved universal health care in 2001, introduced pensions for the informal sector in May 2011. China’s National Audit Office last month declared that the country’s social-security system was “basically” in place. India expanded its job-guarantee programme to every rural district in 2008, promising 100 days of minimum-wage work a year to any rural household that asks for it.
CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
“Defying Canon and Civil Laws, Church Failed to Stop a Priest.” By Laurie Goodstein. New York Times. September 7, 2012. On the surface, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan was just the kind of dynamic new priest that any Roman Catholic bishop would have been happy to put in a parish. He rode a motorcycle, organized summer mission trips to Guatemala and joined Bishop Robert W. Finn and dozens of students on a bus trek to Washington for the “March for Life,” a big annual anti-abortion rally. But in December 2010, Bishop Finn got some disturbing news: Father Ratigan had just tried to commit suicide by running his motorcycle in a closed garage. The day before, a computer technician had discovered sexually explicit photographs of young girls on Father Ratigan’s laptop, including one of a toddler with her diaper pulled away to expose her genitals. The decisions that Bishop Finn and his second-in-command in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Msgr. Robert Murphy, made about Father Ratigan over the next five months ultimately led to the conviction of the bishop in circuit court on Thursday on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. It was the first time a Catholic bishop in the United States had been held accountable in criminal court in the nearly three decades since the priest sexual abuse scandals first came to light. Both Bishop Finn and Monsignor Murphy, as ministers, were required by law to report suspected child abuse to the civil authorities. But they were also required to report under policies that the American bishops put in place 10 years ago at the height of the scandal — policies that now hold the force of canon law. This is an account of how, as recently as 2011, in violation of both church and civil laws, a bishop and church officials failed to stop a priest from pursuing his obsession with taking pornographic photographs of young girls. Eventually it was Monsignor Murphy, not Bishop Finn, who turned in Father Ratigan.
“Justice Ventures Up the Church Hierarchy.” Editorial. New York Times. September 7, 2012.
“Priests, accusers press for resolution; 15 Boston priests facing abuse allegations have awaited a verdict for years, leaving both sides mired in a frustrating legal limbo.” By Lisa Wangsness. Boston Globe. September 9, 2012. The Archdiocese of Boston has spent more than $22.5 million since 2000 on salaries and health benefits for clergy awaiting a resolution of their sexual abuse cases from the church’s internal legal system. The majority of cases, which can determine whether a priest is restored to ministry or cast out for good, have been concluded. But some have sat unresolved for more than a decade. And the cost of supporting accused clergy continues to mount. The archdiocese attributes the delays in part to the inherently slow penal process in the church’s justice system, known as canon law, and the deluge of cases after the church’s sexual abuse coverup was exposed. But the long waits have delayed a resolution for both priests and victims, prolonging the crisis. Fifteen Boston priests who were removed from ministry in 2004 or earlier still await the conclusion of their canonical cases, in the meantime earning as much as $40,000 a year, plus health benefits. In each of those cases, an archdiocesan investigator has made an initial finding that at least one abuse allegation against the priest appears credible, and the priest has been suspended from public ministry pending the outcome of his canonical proceeding. Nicholas P. Cafardi, a prominent canon lawyer and professor at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, said that trials conducted by the Catholic Church should not take more than three or four years. “There is no reason for a canonical process, even with appeals, to take from 2004 to 2012,” he wrote in an e-mail. Boston archdiocesan officials acknowledge the delays are excessive.
“The geography of poverty; Working out how to help the world’s poorest depends on where they live.” No by-line. The Economist. September 1, 2012. Where do the world’s poor live? The obvious answer: in poor countries. But in a recent series of articles Andy Sumner of Britain’s Institute of Development Studies showed that the obvious answer is wrong*. Four-fifths of those surviving on less than $2 a day, he found, live in middle-income countries with a gross national income per head of between $1,000 and $12,500, not poor ones. His finding reflects the fact that a long but inequitable period of economic growth has lifted many developing countries into middle-income status but left a minority of their populations mired in poverty. Since the countries involved include giants like China and India, even a minority amounts to a very large number of people. That matters because middle-income countries can afford to help their own poor. If most of the poverty problem lies within their borders, then foreign aid is less relevant to poverty reduction. A better way to help would be to make middle-income countries’ domestic policies more “pro-poor”. Now Mr Sumner’s argument faces a challenge. According to Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution and Andrew Rogerson of Britain’s Overseas Development Institute, “by 2025 most absolute poverty will once again be concentrated in low-income countries.” They argue that as middle-income countries continue to make progress against poverty, its incidence there will fall. However, the number of poor people is growing in “fragile” states, which the authors define as countries which cannot meet their populations’ expectations or manage these through the political process (sounds like some European nations, too). The pattern that Mr Sumner describes, they say, is a passing phase.
“Getting Into the Business of Environment.” By Amantha Perera. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). September 8, 2012. Regulations that stand in the way of conservation programmes lower their likely success, experts warned at the World Conservation Congress of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Jeju, South Korea. They say there is mounting evidence to show that with participation of communities, businesses and other groups, conservation efforts have shown better results. “Generally we find that protection efforts are more effective if they involve participation by different stakeholders,” Bastian Bertzky, senior programme officer at the UN Environment Programme and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) told IPS. Bertzky was part of the UNEP-WCMC team that complied the Protected Planet Report 2012 that looks at the state of the world’s protected areas like parks and nature reserves. The report found that protected areas are growing in number and extent. Around 12.7 percent of the earth’s terrain and inland water areas and around 1.6 percent of the global marine areas are now listed as protected areas, the report revealed. The report shows that since 1990, protected areas worldwide grew 58 percent in number and 48 percent in extent by 2012. The report however noted that despite the success, the areas covered fell below the targets agreed by countries party to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010. The targets known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets aimed to have at least 17 percent of the terrain and inland water areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas to be demarcated as protected areas. “Half of the most important sites are unprotected,” Bertzky said.
“Home ministry refuses nod for foreign funding to NGO.” No by-line. Times of India. September 5, 2012. The home ministry has refused to give approval to Institute for Policy Research Studies (IPRS), an NGO, to receive funds from US-based Ford Foundation under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. However, the government claimed the decision was taken not because there was any adverse input on the NGO by agencies but to ensure that MPs were not influenced by foreign institutions. The contribution was meant for a project to provide research assistance to MPs. Replying to a question on the IPRS issue in Lok Sabha, minister of state for home Mullappally Ramachandran said, “There is no specific adverse input against IPRS. However, the government is of the opinion that making Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly direct recip ients of foreign contribution would result in making Indian parliamentary institutions vulnerable to foreign agencies, which has the potential to compromise the integrity of Parliament and legislative institutions, thereby providing prejudicial to public interest and national security.” Besides this, the government has frozen accounts of 32 NGOs and banned 72 other voluntary organizations from receiving foreign contributions for alleged irregularities. The Centre has also cancelled registration of 4,349 NGOs for suspect funding. Around Rs 10,352.07 crore was received by various NGOs as foreign contribution during 2009-10.
“Nearer the Church, Farther From MDGs.” By Marwaan Macan-Markar. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). September 5, 2012. When Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivered his annual state of the union address in July, he appealed to the country’s lawmakers to break a deadlock on progressive birth control laws in this predominantly Catholic nation. An estimated 15 Filipina women currently die from pregnancy-related complications every day – up from a daily average of 11 a decade ago – and many of these are teenagers from among the urban and rural poor, according to a government survey. In the decade after the law was originally proposed, unintended pregnancies have risen by 54 percent, according to the government’s ‘Family Health Survey-2011.’ The bill seeks to addresses this situation by offering contraceptive options, reproductive health care and sex education in schools. According to the survey, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) reached 221 deaths for every 10,000 live births during the 2006 – 2010 period, marking a 36 percent increase from the 162 deaths during the 2000 – 2005 period. In early August, the President’s allies in the House of Representatives had occasion to cheer as lawmakers in the Congress voted to end the fractious debate that had trapped ‘The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development Act’ in a Lower House parliamentary committee. But, as the reproductive health (RH) bill makes its way through the Senate and the House for amendments, its sponsors face filibustering by a vocal minority trying to delay passage of the bill before Oct. 15 when the term of the current Congress expires. “The anti-RH forces know that at the moment the pro-RH forces are likely to have the majority, so their strategy is to prolong the parliamentary process,” Congressman Walden Bello of the Citizens Action Party told IPS in an interview. “Once we get to mid-October, it will be very difficult to muster quorums to take up legislation since most members of the House will be busy campaigning for reelection (for next May’s election),” Bello said. According to Bello, the strategy of the vocal minority – about 120 members in the 285-strong Lower House – is to leverage the political influence that the Catholic Church wields in this archipelago of 96.5 million people.
“Gove ‘has wasted millions on free school pet projects’.” By Richard Garner. Independent. September 3, 2012. The Government is to more than treble its free school programme this month, with 55 new schools opening their doors for the new term. The number, though, is down on Education Secretary Michael Gove’s original plans to give the all clear to 79 – fuelling claims from Labour that he is wasting money on “pet projects”. The 24 missing schools have either failed to attract enough pupils, had their funding withdrawn by the Department for Education or failed to find premises. At a conference for free schools at the weekend, Toby Young, founder of West London Free School, the first to open, warned potential pioneers: “You really can’t be complacent. There are quite a few reasons which could prevent you from opening.” Key among them are failing to attract enough pupils, as happened in the case of the One In A Million free school in Bradford and Newham Free School in east London (which attracted only three applications from parents). Both had their funding withdrawn by ministers. The Government comes under fire from Labour today when the party’s education spokesman, Stephen Twigg, accuses Mr Gove of wasting £2.3m on “pet projects”. Labour is releasing figures which show that an estimated 3,260 more pupils have missed out on getting into any of their parents’ preferred options for primary schools as a bulge in the birth rate leads to a demand for more places to be provided. Mr Twigg said: “The Government is making this crisis worse by wasting millions of pounds on pet project schools that either don’t open or don’t have support from the local community and parents.”
“Christians take cross row to human rights court.” By Frances Gibb. Times of London. September 3, 2012. Four Christians are heading to Europe to challenge the UK over the right to act in accordance with their religious beliefs and consciences. The four will bring a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, claiming that the UK laws have prevented them from exercising their beliefs — either because they were banned from wearing crosses or through their work duties. They argue that rulings by the courts and laws introduced by the former Labour Government breach their human rights. The four are Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee and Shirley Chaplin, who were barred from wearing crosses under their employers’ work uniform policies; and Lilian Ladele, a civil registrar, and Gary McFarlane, who say that their work duties conflict with their fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Two of the cases — that of the nurse, Ms Chaplin and Mr McFarlane, a Relate counsellor — are supported by the Christian Legal Centre. The Government is opposing their challenge. Paul Diamond, counsel to the centre, will argue that the Government’s stance is “confused and irrational” when it comes to dealing with religious freedoms. He will tell the human rights judges that despite the Government’s stance, the Prime Minister has expressed support or wearing a cross as a manifestation of faith at work. The Government and the courts have also failed to balance the rights of those who hold historic Christian beliefs on marriage and the family and “gay rights”, he will say.
“Christians take ‘beliefs’ fight to European Court of Human Rights; Nadia Eweida BA worker Nadia Eweida was sent home after refusing to remove a necklace with a cross.” BBC News. September 4, 2012.
“Private schools open doors to poorer pupils – if state helps with fees; Independent schools say they will admit non-privileged students under Open Access scheme if state pays part of their fees.” No by-line. Guardian. September 5, 2012. A large number of independent schools have pledged to open their doors to talented pupils from non-privileged backgrounds if the government agrees to pay part of their fees. The high-performing institutions said they wanted to admit bright children regardless of family income, arguing the move would be the “single biggest policy step” towards boosting social mobility. A total of 80 independent day schools are in support of a state-funded Open Access scheme in which they would match fee subsidies from the government with money from their own bursary funds. The programme, in which parents pay a sliding scale of fees according to their means, has been piloted at the Belvedere School in Liverpool over a seven-year period. Headmasters from 44 independent schools on Wednesday threw their weight behind the scheme in a letter to the Times. The signatories said: “As heads of some of the most successful independent day schools in the country, we would like to admit pupils on merit alone, irrespective of whether their families can afford fees. “We have a proud history of educating a wide social-mix and we are determined to extend that opportunity. “Supporting Open Access is the single biggest policy step the government could take to boost social mobility at the top of society and bridge the divide between the state and independent sectors.” The heads, including those of City of London School, Dulwich College and the Grammar School at Leeds, said the pilot showed that entry on merit to independent day schools cost less than a state school place. Sir Peter Lampl, the chairman of the Sutton Trust, which has championed the ischeme, claims that more than 30,000 children who cannot afford to go to independent schools would be able to if Open Access was introduced.
“Save the Children launches campaign to help UK families in poverty; Save the Children is seeking to raise £500,000 to help children from low-paid working families, who it says are going without hot meals and winter clothes.” By Patrick Butler. Guardian. September 5, 2012. The international aid charity Save the Children – best known for its work with starving youngsters in Africa – has launched its first domestic fundraising appeal, asking the public to dip into their pockets to help UK families plunged into poverty by cuts and the recession. The charity is seeking to raise £500,000 to help children across the UK, many from low-paid working families, who it says are going without hot meals, new shoes and winter clothes, and missing out on school trips, toys and treats because their parents cannot afford the rising cost of living. While the appeal target is modest compared to Save the Children’s international humanitarian appeals, the campaign will be seen as a symbolically significant attack on what the charity says is the coalition’s failure to tackle mounting poverty, hardship and inequality in the UK. Launching its appeal, which bears the slogan It Shouldn’t Happen Here, the charity said: “It is shocking to think that in the UK in 2012, families are being forced to miss out on essentials like food or take on crippling debts just to meet everyday living costs.” Asked whether an anti-poverty fundraising appeal was necessary in the sixth richest country in the world, Chris Wellings, Save the Children’s UK head of policy, said: “Poverty in the UK is different to some of the poorer countries in the world. It is more nuanced and poses different problems. But it does not mean that we cannot stand up for children’s rights in the UK.” Save the Children plans to spend money raised on its Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play programme, which gives cookers, beds and other essential household items to families living in poverty, and its Fast scheme, which helps low-income parents to provide provide at-home educational support to their children. Research published by the charity on Wednesday reveals significant numbers of parents in households with income of up to £30,000 a year are willing to skip meals, go into debt, avoid paying bills, and put off replacing worn-out clothing to ensure their children get enough food to eat. Although families below the poverty line (£17,000 a year household income) are worst hit, working families on “modest” household incomes are increasingly struggling to make ends meet as they attempt to cope with shrinking incomes, soaring food and energy costs, and cuts to welfare benefits and public services, says the report.
“Live Q&A: Co-operative schools.” Guardian. September, 25, 2012. Join our panel on Tuesday 25 September to discuss opportunities for co-operatives in the education sector. Co-operative schools are growing in popularity. A recent report on the co-op economy showed that the co-operative economy grew at a rate of 8.9% in 2011, with education proving to be the fastest growing sector. In July, Simon Birch wrote a piece commenting on how the numbers of co-op schools have been increasing since the implementation of the 2006 Education and Inspections Act. He highlighted a recent Ofsted inspection which identified one co-op school as “an exceptionally calm, safe and co-operative environment for learning”, which it said provided outstanding “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development”. With this in mind, we’ll be running a live Q&A to discuss: • Are co-operative schools a viable alternative to the traditional choice of state versus private or public? • How can co-operatives challenge these established market players? • What extra value can co-op schools offer parents? • What are the main challenges for co-ops in the childcare market? • What help and support is available for co-opeartive schools? Do get in touch if you’d like to be a panelist – email Joe Jervis for more details. Also, if you’d like to leave a question, please do so in the comments section below, or come back to ask it live – and follow the debate – on Tuesday 25 September, 16.30 – 18.30 BST. Remember, to be on the panel and participate you need to register as a member of the Guardian social enterprise network, and log in.
“Community volunteers help village’s older people stay independent; Rotherfield St Martin, a grassroots charity in East Sussex, is showing how volunteers can help older people live at home.” By Olga Craig. Guardian. September 4, 2012. One woman was so determined to do something about the paucity of community care for older people in the East Sussex village of Rotherfield that she founded a charity, Rotherfield St Martin (RSM), dedicated to providing support and services for senior citizens. It is a sort of “retirement village”, in which older residents receive the help and care they need to remain in their own homes, and maintain their cherished independence for as long as possible. What’s more, it is all based on the tradition of self-help. Jo Evans, a local teacher, had witnessed an elderly couple suffering the anguish of being separated when one was no longer able to care for the other after an illness. She became passionate about ensuring it wouldn’t happen again. Evans, 62, whose bird-like frame belies a robust “can-do” personality (her nickname is Dynamo Jo), gave up her job to devote herself to RSM and, from small beginnings seven years ago, it has become a vibrant club with more than 300 members and 140 volunteers. RSM, set up under the auspices of the local council, provides its members with drivers and handymen, and classes in arts and crafts, yoga, exercise, bridge and computing. It also delivers bereavement counselling and helps with form-filling (many of the elderly residents were not receiving benefits to which they were entitled). In a report in June, the British Red Cross (BRC) showed how older people are suffering as a result of financial cuts to home-based care. In a survey of 400 GPs, 90% cited cases of pensioners who had been put at risk because of the lack of social-care support. Sir Nick Young, BRC’s chief executive, believes a “dramatic” rethink is vital to ensure people can be kept healthy and independent for as long as possible. “We all know budgets are tight,” Young says, “but cuts and under-investment in lower-level home-based care that jeopardise patients’ wellbeing and dignity must be challenged.” He points out that care cutbacks could cost the country billions because of the increased burden on health services. Home-based support could save the NHS up to £10,000 a patient, he reckons. Evans that hopes Rotherfield’s community-care charity will inspire other areas to follow suit, and already the nearby village of Frant is setting up a group.
“Church plans role for global Anglican ‘president’.” By David Wilcock. Independent. September 8, 2012. The Anglican Church is planning to hand over some of the global duties of the Archbishop of Canterbury to a “presidential” figure. Dr Rowan Williams, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, said plans are being drawn up for a role to oversee the day-to-day running of the Anglican Communion and its 77 million members, leaving the Archbishop free to concentrate on leading the Church of England. The tenure of the Welsh-born Archbishop, who steps down after 10 years in December, has been marked by a bruising war between liberals and traditionalists in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality, including the ordination of gay bishops. There has also been a divisive row over female clergy.
Admitting he may not have got it right he told the paper the top job might better be done by two people. Talking about the new role, he said: “It would be a very different communion, because the history is just bound up with that place, that office (Archbishop). He told the paper the role would be for a “presidential figure who can travel more readily”.
“A dying cardinal, his final interview, and a damning critique that has rocked the Catholic Church.” By Michael Day. Independent. September 3, 2012. One of Italy’s most revered cardinals has stunned the Catholic Church by issuing a damning indictment of the institution from the grave, calling for its “transformation”. Hours after Milan’s former Archbishop, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, died on Friday at the age of 85, the leading daily paper Corriere della Sera printed his final interview, in which he attacks the Church – and by implication its current leadership – for being “200 years out of date”. “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” the Cardinal said. “The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the Pope and the bishops. The paedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation.” Church insiders believe he wished for the interview to be published following his death. Cardinal Martini, who was on the liberal wing of the church hierarchy, was once tipped to succeed John Paul II as Pope. His chances of being elected fell away when he revealed he was suffering from a rare form of Parkinson’s disease and he retired as Archbishop in 2002. Instead, the ultra-conservative German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. The body of Cardinal Martini has been laid out in Milan cathedral since noon on Saturday, with thousands of people coming to pay their last respects. His funeral will take place there this afternoon.