Archive for the ‘International’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 24-30, 2012)

Monday, December 31st, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Media may argue against redactions in church files, judge rules; The personnel files are due to be made public as part of a historic $660-million settlement between the Los Angeles Archdiocese and alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests.” By Victoria Kim. Los Angeles Times. December 27, 2012. Media organizations will be allowed to argue against redactions in secret church files that are due to be made public as part of a historic $660-million settlement between the Los Angeles Archdiocese and alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday. Pursuant to Judge Emilie Elias’ order, The Times and the Associated Press will be allowed to intervene in the case, in which attorneys are gearing up for the release of internal church personnel documents more than five years after the July 2007 settlement. The judge’s ruling came after attorneys for the church and the plaintiffs agreed to the news organizations’ involvement in the case. The Times and the AP object to a portion of a 2011 decision by a retired judge overseeing the file-release process. Judge Dickran Tevrizian had ruled that all names of church employees, including Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and other top archdiocese officials, should be blacked out in the documents before they were made public. In a hearing, Tevrizian said he did not believe the documents should be used to “embarrass or to ridicule the church.” Attorneys for the news organizations argued in court filings that the redactions would “deny the public information that is necessary to fully understand the church’s knowledge about the serial molestation of children by priests over a period of decades.” The personnel files of priests accused of molestation, which a church attorney has said were five or six banker’s boxes of documents, could include internal memos about abuse claims, Vatican correspondence and psychiatric reports. Contending that the secrecy was motivated by “a desire to avoid further embarrassment” for the church rather than privacy concerns, the media attorneys wrote: “That kind of self-interest is not even remotely the kind of ‘overriding interest’ that is needed to overcome the public’s presumptive right of access, nor does it establish ‘good cause’ for ongoing secrecy.”

FRANCE

In Need, French Museums Turn to Masses, Chapeaux in Hand.” By Doreen Carvajal. New York Times. December 23, 2012. The crass term for it is begging, but the French prefer a loftier description: “participatory financing.” For as little as a single euro even the most ordinary art connoisseur can join the fund-raising fraternité that is working to restore the dome of the Panthéon here. Contribute a few hundred more and you get an invitation from the Center for National Monuments, the French landmarks agency, to a party there, at the emblematic temple of the republic. Maybe you’d like to help the Louvre buy a pair of 13th-century ivory statuettes, or the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon get the Ingres oil it so very much desires? Please? The austerity measures that have hurt the arts across the Continent have been particularly unsettling in France, where cultural spending is so sacrosanct that it has long been one investment on which governments both left and right could agree. But now the directors of grand cultural institutions here are resorting to public appeals just to pay for the things they want, cobbling together the money not by courting millionaires but just the average Jules. Contributors, alas, do not score the French equivalent of a PBS tote bag. But a whole range of other enticements, from free tickets to party invitations, have been trotted out. Donate to the Panthéon cause, for example, and your picture will be posted on a temporary kiosk outside. So far the appeals are working.

UK

Manchester United’s plea to free the children of war.” By Paul Vallely. Independent. December 26, 2012. Manchester United, arguably the biggest football club in the world, have thrown their weight behind The Independent’s Christmas Appeal to raise money for the rescue of child soldiers by Unicef in one of Africa’s poorest nations. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, today appeals for fans of the club – which is said to have 75 million supporters worldwide – to make donations to this newspaper’s appeal for funds to help the leading children’s charity Unicef in its work negotiating the release of children under the control of rebel militias in the Central African Republic, one of the 10 poorest countries on the continent. The Appeal centres on the rescue and rehabilitation of boys pressed into fighting and girls forced into sex slavery. Some of the club’s best known footballers are also backing the Appeal. “These kids are missing out on the love and care of parents,” It is estimated that today some 300,000 children – boys and girls from the age of seven to 17 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. One country where there is a large number of child soldiers is the Central African Republic which is home to a number of rebel army groups that use child soldiers. The most notorious is the Lord’s Resistance Army led by the sadistic warlord Joseph Kony which was founded in Uganda and southern Sudan but which now operates primarily in the Central African Republic and neighbouring Chad. Our Christmas Appeal this year is asking readers to donate to Unicef’s work in the Central African Republic where it has an extensive programme to negotiate with rebel groups to get these children freed.

The food banks keeping families from going hungry this Christmas; Three open every week and 15,000 people will turn to them over the festive period. For one family in Salisbury, the arrival of the Trussell Trust’s seasonal hamper has made all the difference.” By Kate Kellaway. The Observer/Guardian. December 22, 2012. It is 11am as we drive away from the Salisbury headquarters of the Trussell Trust, the anti-poverty charity that oversees the UK’s 292 food banks. The sun is shining and there is a Christmas hamper on the back seat of the car – one of 550 to be delivered in Salisbury this month. Gold crackers, mince pies, Fox’s favourites, cream crackers, Mr Kipling cakes, tinned ham are wrapped in snow-spotted polythene and blue ribbon. It is arguable that the volunteers doing the packing have overdone the mince pies – but the overall effect is splendid. I am with Molly Hodson, one of the trust’s impressive team, and she is filling me in on how hard Christmas is for people on the breadline. “It can be an overwhelming struggling to put food on the table.” It scarcely needs spelling out – you have only to think, for a moment, of food advertisements on television, carols demanding “bring us some figgy pudding” and the habit that Christmas has, whatever your circumstances, of magnifying any existing problems. The trust expects to hand out emergency food to 15,000 people over the Christmas fortnight (almost double the number during the same period last year). Hunger is unacceptable whatever the month, but Christmas puts it into focus. 13 million people live below the breadline in the UK. Food banks have fed more than 180,000 people since April 2012 and are multiplying at an astonishing rate: three food banks open every week in the UK, including in places where you would least expect them – Stratford-upon-Avon, the north Cotswolds, Kensington. “Hidden hunger” has become a catchphrase – “hidden” because of the stigma that still clings to it. This is something the Trussell Trust is determined to change.

Margaret Thatcher’s role in plan to dismantle welfare state revealed; Newly released Downing Street documents show Tory cabinet considered compulsory charges for schooling and end to NHS.” By Alan Travis. Guardian. December 27, 2012. Margaret Thatcher and her chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe were behind a politically toxic plan in 1982 to dismantle the welfare state, newly released Downing Street documents show. She later attempted to distance herself from the plans after what was described as a “riot” in her cabinet. The proposals considered by her cabinet included compulsory charges for schooling and a massive scaling back of other public services. “This would of course mean the end of the National Health Service,” declared a confidential cabinet memorandum by the Central Policy Review Staff in September 1982, released by the National Archives on Friday under the 30-year rule. Nigel Lawson, then the energy secretary, said the report by the official thinktank on long-term public spending options caused “the nearest thing to a cabinet riot in the history of the Thatcher administration”.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 17-23, 2012)

Monday, December 24th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Charity offerings down but people power out in force.” By Rachel Browne. Sydney Morning Herald. December 17, 2012. The groups that support needy people at Christmas are doing it tough themselves this year with charity organisations saying donations have slumped compared with last December. But as financial donations dried up, more people were giving up their time to wrap gifts, prepare hampers and feed the disadvantaged on Christmas Day. The Salvation Army’s Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal needed 330,000 gifts to be donated within the next week to reach its national target of 500,000 presents. Last year, 461,000 gifts were donated. This year, only 170,000 had been donated since the appeal started on November 14. The Salvation Army spokesman, Bruce Harmer, was hoping for a last-minute rush of goodwill this week. ”As more people finish their Christmas shopping this week, we hope they will put gifts under the trees and we will meet our target,” he said. The gifts were distributed to 300,000 individuals and families in need. The Smith Family chief executive, Lisa O’Brien, said donations were down this year but the organisation was halfway towards meeting a national $4.65 million fund-raising target by the end of December. She said many donors had tightened their own budgets due to the higher cost of living. ”We have seen significant increases in the cost of living this year – rent, electricity and other utilities. That does put extra pressure on people. Once they have paid for all those essentials, there is not much left over.”

Italian charity faces police scrutiny.” By Royce Millar and Melissa Fyfe. Sydney Morning Herald. December 20, 2012. Police are assessing a report alleging inappropriate financial conduct at a Melbourne-based charity run by some of Australia’s leading Italian community figures. The Carlton-based CO.AS.IT, funded by the Australian and Italian governments, is a welfare, education and cultural organisation for Italian migrants. A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed that police are assessing a ”report” alleging inappropriate conduct.
”As this process remains under way, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage,” the spokeswoman said. Fairfax Media is also aware that senior ranks of the Health Department have raised issues concerning CO.AS.IT’s handling of home-based support services for Italian senior citizens. The allegations to the police come after growing unease among some members of Melbourne’s Italian community about the operations of CO.AS.IT. Former Victorian MP for Brunswick Carlo Carli has recently questioned management about a previously unknown entity called the Italian Services Institute, which appears to have received millions of dollars of donations from CO.AS.IT in the past decade. Mr Carli briefly worked for CO.AS.IT managing its heritage centre, Museo Italiano, but was retrenched on the grounds of irreconcilable differences when he started asking questions about the charity’s operations. CO.AS.IT chief executive Giancarlo Martini-Piovano has been in his role since 1974. ”The only thing I can say is that CO.AS.IT has done nothing wrong, in every sense, and I have not got anything else to say,” he said. At CO.AS.IT’s general meeting in November, management refused to answer members’ questions about the charity’s finances.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Boston priest gets new role in Vatican; Canon lawyer to be chief prosecutor.” By Lisa Wangsness. Boston Globe. December 22, 2012. The Rev. Robert W. Oliver, 52, will become promoter of justice — a title akin to prosecutor in the American legal system — for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, the Vatican office charged with protecting church doctrine. It oversees all serious crimes against the church, including the sexual abuse of children by priests. Oliver is a longtime professor of theology and canon law who since 2002 has served in a variety of capacities in the church’s internal legal system, or canon law system, in Boston – as judge, promoter of justice, chief of investigations, and member of the archdiocesan review board that handles sexual abuse complaints. After the abuse scandal erupted in Boston in 2002, Oliver also helped train officials in dioceses across the nation in how to implement the major reform imposed by US bishops in 2003. He also assists the vicar general of the archdiocese, Bishop-elect Robert P. Deeley, on matters related to church,, or canon, law. David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that any Boston priest who served under Cardinal Bernard F. Law and did not overtly call for his ouster lacks credibility with abuse victims. In Oliver’s appointment, he said, the Vatican was “rubbing salt into the wounds” of victims.
Related story:
Boston Priest to Lead Oversight of Sexual Abuse Claims at Vatican.” New York Times. December 22, 2012.

UK

Scientology chapel not a place of worship, rules judge; Louisa Hodkin wished to marry fiancee Alessandro Calcioli at a Scientology chapel.” By Ruth Gledhill. Times of London. December 20, 2012. A judge has refused a member of the Church of Scientology the right to marry in a Scientology chapel because it is not a place of “religious worship” and the movement is “a philosophy concerned with man”. Louisa Hodkin, 23, had challenged a refusal by the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales to register the chapel in Queen Victoria Street, Central London, for weddings. Mr Justice Ouseley, at the High Court in London, backed the registrar’s decision and dismissed the challenge but referred the matter to the Supreme Court for a final judgment. Ms Hodkin wanted to marry a fellow Scientologist, Alessandro Calcioli, at the chapel and her lawyers argued that she was the victim of unlawful religious discrimination. Under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855, the chapel has to be certified as a meeting place for religious worship to enable legally recognised religious marriages to take place. Scientologists have previously applied unsuccessfully for marriage certification at other premises in England they say are used for religious worship.

On road to modernization, Church of England finds crisis.” By Anthony Faiola. Washington Post. December 19, 2012. The surprising defeat last month of a measure allowing the ordination of female bishops has plunged the Church of England into a crisis with one issue at its core: Should religion adapt to fit an increasingly secular society, or should it be the enforcer of tradition in fast-changing times? Debate over that question is upending Britain’s official church, the symbolic heart of a global Anglican Communion that includes the Episcopal Church in the United States. The narrow loss of the measure has so infuriated liberal church leaders that many insist that the only way forward is to simply show conservatives the door. The result is what both sides are calling a tug of war for the Church of England’s soul, offering a snapshot of one of the last frontiers of the Western world’s culture wars: the push to bring modern norms inside faith-based institutions. The move to open the way to women was approved by bishops and clergy at a General Synod last month, but the measure failed to win a two-thirds majority among representatives of the laity. The minority that blocked the proposal portray themselves as strict interpreters of the Bible and guardians of tradition, and they warn of wider divisions if church leaders proceed with efforts to revive the plan. At a time when casual churchgoers are abandoning pews, these conservatives argue that the Church of England cannot afford to alienate some of its most active members: Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals whose numbers are swelling even as they organize into what some here are calling a British version of the American religious right.

No 10 charity partner pledges to educate ministers on childhood hunger; Magic Breakfast founder Carmel McConnell says hunger among children not limited to feckless or workshy families.” No by-line. Guardian. December 21, 2012. The founder of a school breakfasts charity chosen as one of Downing Street’s two official causes for 2013 has promised to use the position to educate ministers about the true scale of childhood hunger in the UK. Carmel McConnell, chief executive of Magic Breakfast, which provides free, healthy breakfasts to pupils in 200 primary schools but has a waiting list of 140 more, said she planned to request one-on-one chats with Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, and Michael Gove, the education secretary, to impress on them that hunger among children was not restricted to feckless or workshy families. The charity was named along with Friends of the Elderly as Downing Street’s official charity partners for next year, a selection made by No 10 staff. McConnell – who stressed her comments were not party political and complained that Labour largely ignored the issue while in office – said: “The feckless parent argument is noise. I don’t see the data behind it at all. I’ve asked as part of this partnership to have a one-to-one with Iain Duncan Smith and a one-to-one with Michael Gove to say: ‘can we make the case for children being fed at breakfast time?’ I think Number 10 have taken a bit of a chance on us, to be honest. We are genuinely challenging.” Demand for the charity’s services had “gone through the roof”, McConnell said. “It’s getting much worse and that’s directly related to the shakedown of jobs that’s come out of the recession. We make the point everywhere that the majority of parents we’re helping are new poor.

Julian Assange promises over a million WikiLeaks releases in 2013 – video.” No by-line. Guardian. December 21, 2012. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a balcony appearance on Thursday at the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he is holed up to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged sexual offences. Assange promises to release over a million more documents in the coming year that will affect ‘every country in the world’.”
Related story:
Julian Assange: WikiLeaks to release 1 million new documents.” CNN. December 21, 2012.

Charity’s insolvency leaves homeless people without support; Demise of People Can over pensions liabilities leads to fears of domino effect among charities.” By Patrick Butler. Guardian. December 21, 2012. Maff Potts, the former chief executive of People Can, who said he was shocked that some councils had not replaced services. Hundreds of homeless people with mental illness, addiction and debt problems are being left to cope without vital support services after a leading charity was forced into insolvency by its pensions liabilities. The winding up of People Can, which provided homelessness support services on behalf of several English local authorities, has shocked the voluntary sector. Pensions experts say its demise could trigger a domino effect, potentially driving hundreds of other charities providing public services into liquidation. Experts said charities at high risk of going bust included those dependent on public funding, or which have inherited expensive pensions liabilities after taking over the running of public sector services, including social care, leisure centre facilities, housing and academy schools. They say the pensions crisis will undermine the government’s attempts to outsource a bigger share of the public services provider market to smaller voluntary sector groups, leading to fears that only national charities, large housing associations and private companies will be able to run outsourced services in future. People Can employed almost 300 people and ran a range of services, including homeless hostels, housing support, domestic abuse projects, work with ex-offenders and schemes to help teenagers stay out of gangs.

Live debate: impact of the Social Value Act, 11 January 2013, 12-1.30pm.” Guardian. Join our experts on Friday 11 January to discuss what the social value act means and how social enterprises can win public sector contracts.” In January the Public Services (Social Value) Act will take affect. Chris White MP, who sponsored the act, has described it as ‘the biggest opportunity in decades for social enterprise’ and as a chance to change public services for the better. Social Enterprise UK chief executive Peter Holbrook has called for it to go further, while the Transitiion Institute’s Allison Ogden-Newton believes smaller, local social enterprises could be squeezed out at the expense of larger service deliverers. Join us on Friday 11 January to discuss: • the opportunities that the social value act presents for social enterprises; • what social enterprises must do to win public sector contracts;• why the act may not be social enterprise’s holy grail. Do get in touch if you’d like to be a panellist – email Joe Jervis for more details.

More Than Courage; The Cruse Bereavement Centre helps children cope with loss and needs your help.” No by-line. Times of London. December 22, 2012. There are not many tasks more harrowing than explaining the death of a family member to a child. That is the profoundly troubling task undertaken by the Cruse Bereavement Centre, which is one of the charities that The Times is supporting at Christmas. When one child in every classroom, on average, has lost a parent or a sibling, it is also vital work. The urge to protect children from their grief at bereavement is a natural one but for most children it is a prolongation of the agony. All the usual euphemisms for death only postpone the obvious question. As Philip Larkin wrote in his great contemplation of death, Aubade, “courage is no good:/ It means not scaring others. Being brave/ Lets no one off the grave./ Death is no different whined at than withstood.” But for all that courage is no good, the children helped by the Cruse Bereavement Centre show it in great measure. For some of them the death of a beloved grandmother, parent or sibling, almost always their first experience of the pain and finality of death, sends them into their shell. That is why good counselling can help.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 10-16, 2012)

Monday, December 17th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

L.A. Times asks judge to stop redaction of priest abuse records.” No by-line. Los Angeles Times. December 10, 2012. A Los Angeles County judge is set to meet today with lawyers for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and victims of clergy sex abuse. The hearing before Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias comes three days after the L.A. Times filed a motion opposing the redaction of the names of high-ranking church officials in confidential church files set to be made public in coming weeks. The records, all pertaining to priests accused of sexual abuse, are being released as part of a 2007 settlement with more than 500 alleged victims. “The public is entitled to know which members of the hierarchy had information about the widespread molestation of children and what they did about it,” lawyers for the newspaper wrote. “Without this information, the public will not be able to assess the extent of institutional or individual knowledge of the abuse.”

L.A. Archdiocese personnel files could be released next month; A Superior Court judge has set a hearing for Jan. 7 to hear objections on releasing L.A.; Archdiocese files on its handling of child molestation allegations.” By Victoria Kim, Harriet Ryan and Ashley Powers. Los Angeles Times. December 10, 2012. After five years of legal wrangling, confidential personnel files of at least 69 priests accused of sexually abusing children in the Los Angeles Archdiocese could be ordered released as early as January, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge said Monday. Judge Emilie H. Elias set a hearing for Jan. 7 to hear objections to the release of what a church attorney said were five or six banker’s boxes of files relating to the archdiocese’s handling of child molestation claims, which could include internal memos, Vatican correspondence and psychiatric reports. The public release of the files was agreed to as part of a record $660-million settlement reached in 2007 between the archdiocese and 562 people who alleged that they were molested as children by clergy members. The process, overseen by a retired judge, was beset by delays and faced objections from an attorney representing at least 30 of the priests, who contends that his clients’ constitutional rights to privacy are at stake. The retired judge, Dickran Tevrizian, also ordered that all names of church leaders, including Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who retired as archbishop last year, be blacked out in the files, saying the information should not be used to embarrass the archdiocese. Attorneys for The Times on Friday filed a motion opposing the redaction of church officials’ names, contending that the public has a right to know who in the hierarchy knew of molestation allegations and what they did about it. “Without this information,” lawyers for the newspaper wrote, ” the public will not be able to assess the extent of institutional or individual knowledge of the abuse.”

Catholic commission to advise on child sex abuse.” By Barney Zwartz. Sydney Morning Herald. December 12, 2012. The Catholic Church has set up a new Truth, Justice and Healing Commission to advise its bishops and run its dealings with the forthcoming royal commission on child sex abuse. It will be headed by two laymen, a retired Supreme Court judge as chairman and a prominent layman as chief executive, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Chairman Denis Hart said today. Saying the church recognised it needed a sophisticated and coordinated response, Archbishop Hart has promised a new era of co-operation, transparency and honesty. So did both new appointments – Barry O’Keefe, QC, as chairman and Francis Sullivan as chief executive – whose first job will be to lift the commission’s membership to 10.

Praise for church cover-up admission.” By Barney Zwartz. Sydney Morning Herald. December 15, 2012. For the first time, a Catholic spokesman has acknowledged that the church in Australia covered up sex abuse, according to a reform group of Catholics. The group praised Francis Sullivan, CEO of the yet-to-be-formed Catholic Truth, Justice and Healing Commission, for admitting to the media this week that he was personally scandalised and disillusioned by the church’s history of cover-ups. Peter Johnstone, chairman of Catholics for Renewal, said on Friday the church had previously acknowledged that it had mishandled abuse cases, but not cover-ups. He welcomed this week’s announcement of the lay-led Catholic council to advise the bishops about sex abuse and co-ordinate the church’s response to the forthcoming royal commission. Mr Sullivan, who called himself a committed Catholic, said on Friday he shared the perception cover-ups were widespread in the church. Mr Johnstone, a former director-general of Community Services for Victoria, also described his group as committed Catholics, who wanted reform at the top. In October 2011 it sponsored an open letter to the Pope, signed by more than 8000 Australian Catholics, about the ”manifestly inadequate” church response to clergy sexual abuse. ”The church’s decision-making is too remote from the people. The church is very centralised on matters of importance, and the record shows that local bishops were acting under clear instructions in only reporting such matters to Rome and hiding them from civil authorities.”

Sifting through the burden of misguided intentions.” By Eamonn Duff. Sydney Morning Herald. December 16, 2012. For 35 years, Noi Kameraniya has sifted through the goods that everyday folk push into charity bins. It has always been messy, mundane work but in recent times, it has become worse. In the past hour alone, she’s fished out soiled underwear, a stained pillow and a bag of fusty socks with more holes than your average tea bag. Welcome to Anglicare’s central sorting depot, where a dedicated team of employees and volunteers sifts through the contents of 220 charity bins dotted across Sydney. The bins exist to raise vital funds for community projects but, nowadays, a growing number of people treat them as dumping grounds. Charities such as Anglicare help tens of thousands of people across the country, whether it be through home visits, migrant and refugee support, hospital and health services, prison support, aged-care services, or employment assistance for people with intellectual disabilities. Clothing donations also help finance education for disadvantaged children, hostels for the homeless, suicide prevention counselling and overseas relief. Charities such as Anglicare help tens of thousands of people across the country, whether it be through home visits, migrant and refugee support, hospital and health services, prison support, aged-care services, or employment assistance for people with intellectual disabilities. Clothing donations also help finance education for disadvantaged children, hostels for the homeless, suicide prevention counselling and overseas relief.

CIVIL SOCIETY

“Encyclopedia of World Problems Has a Big One of Its Own; Chronicle of Woes From Alien Abductions to Dandruff Finds Itself Short on Funds.” By Daniel Michaels. Wall Street Journal. December 11, 2012. Anthony Judge’s career has been peppered with problems, from Aarskog Syndrome to Zoonotic bacterial diseases. In between, he tackled dandruff, ignorance, kidney disorders and sabotage. It later spawned an encyclopedia focused on world woes. Mr. Judge, now semiretired, spent more than two decades editing the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, a 3,000-page tome with almost 20,000 entries. The compendium of quandaries doesn’t just list problems, it also faces one: money troubles. Its last print edition ran in 1995 and an online version is rarely updated. Yet its producers see potential to resurrect it. The encyclopedia was Mr. Judge’s brainchild when he helped run the Union of International Associations, a century-old grouping of groups that began in an effort to categorize all human knowledge. The Union, which is less a union than a research institute, tracks more than 65,000 transnational groups including United Nations, the United Elvis Presley Society and the Hell’s Angels. Its yearbook of them, first printed in 1910, now tops 6,000 pages of dense print in six hardcover volumes, for $3,080. The UIA also organizes conferences to help organizations such as the European Coil Coating Association and the International Congress on Ultrasonics promote themselves in the cutthroat businesses of organizing conferences and managing associations. It was the UIA’s knowledge of organizations that in 1972 spawned the encyclopedia, after Mr. Judge and a friend got infuriated by a think-tank report that reduced the world’s problems to just six issues. Mr. Judge believed his association of associations could better tackle the problem of problems because many groups exist to resolve concerns in areas such as health, human rights and development.

CUBA

Co-op Laws in Cuba Are Seen as Progress.” By Daien Cave. New York Times. December 11, 2012. The Cuban government authorized a wide range of co-ops on Tuesday, allowing workers to collectively open new businesses or take over existing state-run businesses in construction, transportation and other industries. The new laws published Tuesday are the latest step in a slow, fitful process of opening Cuba’s economy to free-market ideas. The latest announcement calls for the creation of more than 200 co-ops as part of a pilot program. If it grows, analysts said, the experiment could do more for economic growth and productivity than earlier efforts to allow for self-employment, or to reform agriculture. Co-ops that are run independent from the government could shift a large portion of the island’s economy to free-market competition from government-managed socialism, analysts contend, a change from earlier co-op efforts within state-run agriculture. “The potential is large,” said Richard E. Feinberg, a professor of international political economy at the University of California, San Diego. “The Cubans are looking for something in between the old state-owned enterprise and a pure free market. Cooperatives are an answer, so looking forward, they could play a significant role.” For some Cubans, the new laws will just legalize what is already going on in the black market. But the government also seemed interested in encouraging consolidation among small entrepreneurs. The new laws call for lower tax rates for co-ops than for self-employed workers. That means barbers or fishermen or carpenters who now work as individuals will have an incentive to join co-ops, companies in which each worker has a vote. The new laws also say that co-ops can be formed with as few as three people, and that in addition to converting state businesses into co-ops — with first preference given to workers already there — co-ops will be able to bid for leases of idle government properties.

MEXICO

“Nonprofit helps artisans in Mexico get the lead out.” By Bella English. Boston Globe. December 11, 2012. Neil Leifer left his Boston law firm two years ago after spending 20 years litigating cases involving children’s lead poisoning. He sued lead and lead paint companies and property owners and managers on behalf of children with lead poisoning. In 2008, Leifer cofounded a nonprofit that helps ceramic artisans from rural Mexico convert from lead-based to lead-free glazes. The Globe spoke with him in advance of the Dec. 15 pottery sale to be held at Thayer Academy in Braintree.

SPAIN

Spain’s Crisis Leads To Rise Of Grass-Roots Groups.” By Sylvia Poggioli. All Things Considered/National Public Radio. December 10, 2012. A year and a half ago, recession-ravaged Spanish society reacted to the economic crisis with the “Indignados,” a mass protest that inspired the worldwide “Occupy” movement. The “angry ones” are long gone from Spanish streets, but they’ve evolved into many grass-roots associations now filling the gaps left by the eroding welfare state, spawning a new form of anti-austerity resistance that embraces all branches of society, from those who have lost homes to foreclosures, to the entire judiciary. Hardly a day passes in Spain without a noisy demonstration by one sector of society or another. One day, it’s doctors. With drums beating, thousands of white-clad health workers protest government plans to overhaul the country’s highly respected public health system. “What they want to do is privatize the hospital, and we are here to just say we don’t want that to happen. We want that to stop because we think it has to be universal; everybody has to be able to go to hospital,” says Olwen Leaman, a young oncologist at Madrid’s Princesa hospital. Last week in Madrid’s Puerta Del Sol square, a professor teaches a lesson outdoors while students take notes, all as a means of protesting education cuts. “The Indignados gave birth to a myriad number of citizens’ groups that are channeling much of the protest and people’s sense of desperation,” says Assiego. “Without these groups, there would have been a social explosion.” In an unprecedented action, we’ve all joined together — judges, prosecutors, lawyers and clerks, from left to right. We feel this incompetent political establishment is trying to dismantle the basic pillars of Spanish society — health, education and justice.

UK

Church squares up for a fight over gay marriage.” By Ruth Gledhill and Laura Pitel. Times of London. December 11, 2012. The new Archbishop of Canterbury is on a collision course with the Government today as the Church of England and Roman Catholics dig in their heels over gay marriage. One of the worst crises between the Church and the State in decades is threatened as ministers publish their response to a public consultation on same-sex marriage. Bishop Justin Welby, who succeeds Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop in the spring, takes the official Church line on the issue — that a redefinition of marriage will dilute its importance and integrity. His position is an added headache for David Cameron, who is already facing fierce opposition from within the Conservative Party. The Prime Minister called yesterday for a “reasonable debate” about the proposed legislation — as a Tory MP appeared to draw a parallel between gay marriage and the practice of taking multiple wives. Matthew Offord, MP for Hendon, asked the Commons: “Has the Government considered introducing other forms of marriage such as polygamy and if not, when can minorities who believe in such a practice expect their own consultation?” Mr Cameron urged all sides to temper their language, but heated exchanges in Westminster set the stage for continued confrontation.
Related stories:
“British Plan for Gay Marriage Would Exclude Anglican Church.” New York Times. December 12, 2012.
Church of England banned from offering same-sex marriages but all other religious organisations can ‘opt in’ for gay ceremonies; Gay marriage will be illegal in the Church of England and Church in Wales.” Independent. December 12, 2012.
“Church of England and Church in Wales protest at gay marriage ban; Archbishop of Wales says church was not consulted over ‘quadruple lock’, saying it had left the church ‘shocked’.” Guardian. December 13, 2012.

Don’t give the homeless money, call this hotline, says minister at charity launch.” By Charlie Cooper. Independent. December 11, 2012. Giving money or food to a homeless person won’t do them any good, the housing minister has said, as welfare charities launch a “homelessness hotline” billed by the Government as an alternative to hand-outs. StreetLink is a new national helpline for members of the public concerned about a rough sleeper in their area. Backed by 500 homelessness charities, operators will pass on information about a homeless person’s location and circumstances to support services in their area, which will then offer them targeted help. The scheme, which has been trialled successfully in London, Liverpool and Manchester since last year, is backed by the Housing Minister Mark Prisk who urged people to offer “a hand-up, rather than a handout”. “Most people know that giving money or food won’t help a rough sleeper find a home, get the healthcare they need, or simply put them in touch with the support available to make sure they don’t become entrenched in the lifestyle or living on the streets,” Mr Prisk said. The Government is providing £250,000 funding for the helpline. The number of people living on the streets has soared since the recession. According to the most recent official figures, nearly 2,200 people were sleeping rough on any one night in Autumn 2011 – up by a fifth in one year. The next set of annual figures, compiled by the Department of Communities and Local Government, will be released in February and some charities fear another sharp increase.

Change, Not Decay; The decline in Christian affiliation is a challenge to the Church. It should respond by embracing modernity.” No by-line. Times of London. December 12, 2012. Change, as Disraeli said, is constant. The decline in Christian observance in British society over the past century is a peculiarly striking instance of it. The 2011 Census suggests that this trend has lately accelerated. The number of Christians living in England and Wales has declined by four million in the past decade. The proportion of people describing themselves as having no religion has risen 10 percentage points to 25 per cent of the population. There are different ways that the Church, especially the established Church, might respond. One is to assert that the truths of Scripture and tradition are unaffected by shifting mores and patterns of religious affilation, and to proclaim them. The alternative is to accommodate itself to modern sensibilities. Either might be a plausible strategy but they are exclusive. And it is in the long-term interests of Christianity, and of British society, that the Church adopt the second course. The Church of England, in particular, should be truly a national institution and not a sect. A century ago, the connection between Church and society was strong. For most, affiliation was with the Church of England; for significant minorities, it was with the Free Churches or Roman Catholicism. The bond was not merely one of belief and worship, but also of schooling, recreation and voting behaviour. To be formally non-religious was a defiantly unconventional choice. That world has dissipated. Religious affiliation is now more diverse as well as less formally Christian. Whereas the number of identifying Christians in England and Wales declined from 37 million to 33 million in the past decade, the number of Muslims rose sharply, to 2.7 million.
This is the environment in which Bishop Justin Welby, Rowan Williams’s successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, needs to lead the established Church.

Less religious and more ethnically diverse: Census reveals a picture of Britain today; From the number of people going to church, to the number of children in the average household, a lot has changed in Britain since 2001. Charlotte Philby gets behind the numbers of the latest survey.” By Charlotte Philby. Independent. December 12, 2012 . Religion: Number of Christians down 12% in a decade. The number of people calling themselves Christian in the UK fell dramatically between 2001 and 2011. Christianity was the only religion to see a drop-off in membership, with a 12% decrease during those 10 years. The Methodist church described the results as “challenging but not discouraging” while the pioneering Christian group Fresh Expressions said “The church in England and Wales needs to find new ways of engaging those who no longer have, or never had any interest.” The British Humanist Association spoke of a “significant cultural shift” in a society where “[r]eligious practice, identity, belonging and belief are all in decline… and non-religious identities are on the rise”. The number of people with no religion at all in the UK has doubled since 2001. Islam showed the biggest growth in the country with 1.2 million – 5% of the population – calling themselves Muslims in 2011. That is up 1.8% in the past decade. Critics suggest this figure could be misleading, and in fact be a matter of more Muslims filling in the form properly. Birth rates among the Islamic community are not out of proportion with the rate of population increase.

Why civil servants make good charity trustees; When civil servants volunteer as charity trustees it is enriching for both the public and charitable sectors.” By Mark Gibson. Guardian. December 12, 2012. I’ve always been passionate about learning, which is why I was attracted to the Whitehall and Industry Group, the independent charity established to enable learning, promote understanding and share best practice between the public, private and voluntary sectors and where I have been chief executive for four years. Before this I was senior civil servant in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for 30 years. I’ve also been fascinated to see what works best in terms of achieving learning between the sectors. Something that stands out for me is the value that can be achieved when civil servants volunteer as trustees of charities. There should be a lot more of this volunteering; the value to both sides is huge and the only cost is the time involved. There are some excellent examples, such as Matthew Hilton, a director in the Business Innovation and Skills, who is chair of the National Deaf Children’s Society. As a charity, we understand the need to find high-calibre trustees who add value and can shape a charity’s strategic direction and have helped a number of charities to recruit civil servants to their boards. A civil servant may not immediately sit at the top of a charity’s trustee wish-list; a big hitter from business with lots of commercial contacts might often be considered more desirable. However, civil servants can add just as much to charity boards. Most charities are involved in issues of public policy and civil servants understand this. Good governance is also very important to charities and civil servants understand this too. Civil servants may bring particular skills as lawyers or HR specialists but all will also be very bright, excellent at analysing issues and enthusiastic for the public good – which charities do so much to create. Most civil servants do want to make a difference, however hackneyed the phrase, and of course charities are established to do just this.

“How to maintain high standards as your organisation grows; It is important to keep volunteers and service users at the heart of what you do, says Keith Arscott
.” By Keith Arscott. Guardian. December 10, 2012. As the head of a charity which is expanding every day, both in terms of volunteer numbers and beneficiaries, I know how important it is to ensure that the same care and attention is put into looking after your stakeholders after you have grown, as it was when you were first starting out. Limited budget, lack of time, and too few staff can make this challenging for smaller organisations. But it’s still possible to maintain high standards. Many organisations are in danger of losing their personal touch when their operations expand. An organisation might be growing, but it is important that volunteers and service users know they are all still valued as individuals. When I first arrived at Contact the Elderly four years ago, I was instantly struck by how welcoming and passionate staff members were when dealing with volunteers and the older people – so much so, the term ‘older guest’ was coined as a more friendly way of referring to our beneficiaries. It’s a simple thing, but we know the older people appreciate it and it makes them feel as if they belong to their local groups. Since then, the number of beneficaries has increased to almost 4,000, and yet each of them is still a personal ‘guest’ of a group. We’re all really busy, it’s the nature of today’s world, so how many of us stop to pause for breath and give people a little quality time? When you receive calls from potential volunteers or beneficiaries and it looks they like they might not be eligible for your service or they’re looking for a different type of volunteering opportunity, why not spend a few minutes chatting, and equally important – listening to them – and signposting them to other organisations that may be able to help. On many an occasion such considerations will bring unexpected rewards and connections.

Charity crisis: slump in value of £1m-plus donations; Total value of charitable donations worth £1m or more has plunged to lowest level since 2007, says Coutts.” No by-line. Guardian. December 9, 2012. The total value of charitable donations worth at least £1m has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, according to a leading wealth-management company. More than £1.2bn was raised through UK charitable donations of £1m or more in 2010/11, according to Coutts. That figure was down significantly from the pre-financial crash total of more than £1.6bn in 2006-7. The number of £1m-plus donations has increased from 193 to 232 over the same period, suggesting donations are getting smaller. A higher proportion of philanthropists (60%) were giving money to charities rather than charitable trusts, the report, produced in association with the University of Kent, shows. There has also been a surge in the number of £1m donors, with 130 identified, up from 73 donors the previous year. This figure includes individuals, charitable trusts, foundations and corporations, some of which made more than one donation worth at least £1m. Higher education, arts and culture and international development remain the most popular destinations for the largest gifts among donors. But support for environmental causes increased in 2010-11, and all types of charities attract some support from £1m donors, according to the report. There was a wider spread as 191 organisations received £1m donations, compared with 154 in the previous year. Organisations that received multimillion-pound donations tended to be the oldest universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, or national arts and cultural institutions.

One out of six charities say they may have to close in 2013; Charities fall foul of public spending cutbacks and falling donations.” By Jamie Doward. The Observer. December 8, 2012. The UK’s flatlining economy is having a devastating effect on charities, according to research that suggests that two out of five face closure, with many set to disappear as early as next year unless things improve. A poll commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation confirms that public spending cutbacks and falling donations are conspiring to devastating effect. The foundation warns that as many as one in six charities believe they may close in the coming year, while nearly half say they are being forced to dip into reserves. One in three say they fear being forced to cut services. The figures will make gloomy reading in Downing Street, which believes the third sector has a vital role to play in delivering the prime minister’s vision for his “big society”. The funding crisis comes as charities report that there is more demand for their services. “Times are tough and people have less money to donate to charities,” said John Low, Caf’s chief executive. “This, combined with significant public spending cuts and increased demand for charity services, is having a shocking effect on many charities, calling into question their very viability. Many organisations are having to dip into their reserves, cut vital frontline services and some are even concerned about whether they can survive in these toughest of times.” Charitable donations in the UK dropped by a fifth last year, according to an earlier survey by Caf and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, from £11bn to £9.3bn during 2011-12. As a result, more than eight out of 10 charities believe their sector is facing a crisis, with two in five (40%) fearing they face closure if the economic situation does not improve. Nearly three-quarters (73%) believe that they are unable to fulfil their goals, while one in four have axed staff. Smaller organisations are acutely feeling the effects of the prolonged recession, according to the poll. Research by Caf reveals that small- and medium-sized charities are facing spiralling losses. They reported deficits of more than £300m in 2011, compared with a surplus of £325m in 2007.

Riding High; Riders for Health is a charity saving lives through the art of motorcycle maintenance.” No by-line. Times of London. December 15, 2012. It is when things are bad that it is hardest to think about those for whom things are worse. When the winds of recession leave many in Britain feeling raw, it can be difficult to focus on the arithmetic of life and death in those corners of the world where life amounts to mostly different grades of rawness. It is in such places that even modest sums transform lives. In a Micawberish equation, Riders for Health, one of the charities supported by The Times in this year’s Christmas charity appeal, calculated that in sub-Saharan Africa disease plus transport to medical facilities resulted in saved lives: disease minus transport facilities resulted in death. The solution it minted could not be simpler, or its impact more dramatic: it provided vehicles — mostly motorbikes — to health workers. One of the countries in which Riders for Health operates is Zambia, where life expectancy is 43 years. When 17 per cent of the population is HIV positive, and when TB is the primary killer of those who are HIV positive, the speed at which sufferers are identified by rural clinics becomes, very literally, a matter of life and death. By using his Yamaha motorcycle to ferry blood and other samples from outlying clinics to the district laboratory in Chadiza for analysis — and then ferrying back the results — Piero Sakala, Riders For Health’s chief courier in eastern Zambia, can measure the results of his work in lives saved. The swift testing of sputum samples for TB, and the swift return of the results, can make the difference between one person requiring treatment and an entire village becoming infected. Over the past three years Sakala has collected more than 100 samples each month. On his motorbike. Your generosity can change lives for the better. Please give.

Tate director says not including arts in EBacc is a fatal mistake.” No by-line. Times of London. December 15, 2012. Nick Serota is the fairy godfather of modern art. He may not look like it with his austere posture, rimless glasses, tie and suit, but since he became director of the run-down Tate Gallery nearly 25 years ago, he has transformed British attitudes to art. Even he seems slightly amazed by his astonishing longevity. “Bankers, politicians, journalists all seem to move or be removed with frightening speed now,” he says. “One day they are distinguished, the next extinguished. But I think institutions can really benefit from having continuity. In art we tend to value the old as much as the new.” ir Nick is convinced that creativity is the only way Britain can survive now. “We are only going to compete worldwide if we continue to be so creative. It is the way in which we register ourselves. We are no longer important manufacturers of cars, the City is teetering but we haven’t given up the arts and we mustn’t.” After 25 years as the grand master of Modern Art, why does he think Britain is so creative? “Art is often made at a crossroads. It’s when ideas come together, cross continents and are traded that great art is produced. But Sir Nick is convinced that the Government is now making a fatal mistake with its proposed EBaccs, which exclude art and music. “As soon as you don’t include the arts in major qualifications that set you up for life, you are saying they aren’t important. Young people don’t recognise this separation between so-called academic and non-academic qualifications. They know they need both for jobs.” He can’t understand why Michael Gove hasn’t included the arts in the new qualification. “I am determined to change this. The whole arts world is horrified. “We are effectively going to give up art at 14, that’s terrible. The number of teachers will drop dramatically and schools will think of art in a secondary way. We will lose a generation of talent, in design, art, fashion, film, the theatre, music.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (December 3-9, 2012)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

“‘An enormous relief’: accused paedophile faces court.” By Joanne McCarthy. Sydney Morning Herald. December 3, 2012. The former Catholic brother Bernard Kevin McGrath has returned to New Zealand from Sri Lanka a week early to face an extradition hearing to Australia on child sex charges. McGrath, 65, was granted bail in a Christchurch court on Monday morning while he considers his next move in relation to 252 child sex charges in Australia. News of his return to New Zealand was greeted with relief by the family of an alleged victim who had feared McGrath would not return from a Sri Lankan holiday where he was staying at a tea plantation. “It’s excellent news. This really is very good news and an enormous relief after all this time,” said the Central Coast father of an alleged victim who reported sexual abuse allegations to police two years ago.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Mother of News Corp. Chief, Dies at 103.” By Rachel Pannett. Wall Street Journal. December 5, 2012. Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, mother of News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch and one of Australia’s most generous philanthropists, died Wednesday at age 103. Following her husband’s death in 1952, which gave the young Mr. Murdoch his start toward building the global media empire he presides over today, Mrs. Murdoch devoted herself to good works. She supported more than 100 charities, with particular interests in the arts and in children’s health, and was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, one of Britain’s highest civilian honors, in 1963 for her services to social welfare. In 1989, Australia awarded her a similar honor, Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the community.
Related stories:
Elisabeth Murdoch, 103, Matriarch of a Journalism Family.” New York Times. December 5, 2012.
A legacy of absolute goodness: Dame Elisabeth mourned.” Sydney Morning Herald. December 6, 2012.
My time must be running out, but I’m not going to waste a minute of it’.” Sydney Morning Herald. December 6, 2012.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Priest abuse files may be released without church officials’ names; At a judge’s direction, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles redacted the identities of members of the church hierarchy. But another judge has the final say.” By Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim. Los Angeles Times. December 7, 2012, In its landmark $660-million settlement with victims of sexual abuse five years ago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to make public the confidential personnel records of all priests accused of molesting children. Victims said the release of the files would provide accountability for church leaders who let pedophiles remain in ministry, and law enforcement officials suggested that the documents could lead to criminal cases against those in charge. After years of delays and legal wrangling, the files are set to become public in coming weeks.

UK

Standards fall as care operators get ‘too big to fail’.” By Charlotte Philby. Independent. December 3, 2012. Standards in social care are being undermined because the handful of private companies which dominate public sector contracts are now “too big to fail”, a new report warns. Outsourcing was supposed to drive up standards and cut costs, but the dominance of multinationals such as Serco and G4S risks harming vulnerable people, it claims. Britain faces “another banking crisis” in the care sector unless charities and social enterprises are given a greater slice of the market, according to the report’s authors. Peter Holbrook, the chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, who commissioned the investigation, told The Independent: “Britain’s most vulnerable people are suffering as competition and the delivery of efficient care is replaced by short-sighted bidding wars and low-quality service.” The outsourced market for public services has an annual turnover of £82bn, which is predicted to rise to £140bn by 2014. The report identifies the emergence of a “shadow state”, with a small number of companies taking “large and complex stakes in public service markets, and a great deal of control over how they work”. G4S, which made headlines this summer for failing to provide sufficient security at the Olympics, has contracts with 10 government departments and agencies and 14 police forces. Serco has dozens of private contracts, running everything from prisons to hospital facilities to council waste collection. “Its failure would cause extreme turbulence in public services. No business should be too big to be allowed to fail,” the report warns.

Scouts ready to broaden their church and admit atheists.” By Katie Hodge. Independent. December 4, 2012. Atheists could be welcomed into the Scout movement for the first time in 105 years, the association has said. The movement, led by TV adventurer Bear Grylls, is launching a consultation to see if members would support an alternative Scout Promise for those who feel unable to pledge a “duty to God”. For more than 40 years, versions of the oath have existed for faith groups including Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, but this is the first time Scouts have considered an adaptation for atheists. The proposed changes are designed to increase diversity in the movement and enable more young people and adults to join. Leaders insist the existing Scout Promise – which also contains a vow of allegiance to the Queen – would continue to be used alongside alternative versions. Wayne Bulpitt, the association’s chief commissioner in the UK, said: “We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting programme. That will not change. “However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK. “We do that by regularly seeking the views of our members and we will use the information gathered by the consultation to help shape the future of scouting for the coming years.” Membership of the Scouts has risen during the past seven years from 444,936 in 2005 to 525,364 this year, figures released by the association show.
Related story:
Boy Scouts Atheist Oath Proposal Sparks Controversy In UK (VIDEO).” Huffington Post. December 8, 2012.

David Cameron backs gay marriage in places of worship as it is announced same-sex religious ceremonies WILL go ahead; Prime Minister insists religious groups would not be forced to conduct ceremonies but added he didn’t want gay people ‘excluded’ from marrying in places of worship.” By Nigel Morris. Independent. December 7, 2012. Plans for gay couples to be allowed to marry in churches or other religious buildings, as well as secular settings, are to be set out next week by the Coalition Government. David Cameron’s move delighted campaigners for marriage equality, but it will put him on a collision course with church leaders and many Conservative MPs who insist weddings can only take place between a man and a woman. Tonight the Prime Minister was warned he would split his party by trying to force through the move, which is backed by the overwhelming majority of Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs. The Government initially intended to legislate for same-sex marriage in approved premises such as register offices and hotels, but has now significantly widened its proposals. Under the revised plans, religious institutions would also have the right to marry gay couples, although Whitehall sources stressed that the planned legislation would make explicit that churches would not be forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies against their will. It is understood the change followed advice by Government lawyers that a blanket ban on religious weddings could be challenged in court, while a system allowing churches or other groups to “opt in” to conduct ceremonies would be legally watertight. Mr Cameron had told colleagues he wants to press ahead with legislation quickly, arguing the step is a simple matter of equality and fairness. It is expected it will be published by March with a view to becoming law towards the end of 2013. The Prime Minister said: “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 26-December 2, 2012)

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Scrap time limits on child sex abuse cases, urges head of bishops.” By Peter Munro. Sydney Morning Herald. November 27, 2012. The head of Australia’s Catholic bishops says alleged child sexual abuse offenders, including members of the clergy, should be barred from using statutory limitation restrictions to escape justice for their victims. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, who is president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which is meeting in Sydney on Tuesday, said all states and territories should abolish time limits on victims seeking compensation in civil proceedings. ”There shouldn’t be any artificial restriction on our society’s ability to redress such matters,” he said. ”The evil of sexual abuse is so serious and so awful that the only way in which the victims will come to any sense of peace is if their matter can be dealt with by the offender being brought to justice.” Archbishop Hart also called for mandatory reporting by priests of suspected cases of child abuse, in line with legal obligations on childcare workers, teachers and doctors. The issue will be debated at this week’s meeting of Catholic bishops, which will focus on the church’s response to the forthcoming royal commission into child sexual abuse. Priests should be required to report suspected cases of abuse even when the victim does not want to go to police, Archbishop Hart said. ”The bishops will be discussing how we, as a church, can move together and act truthfully and responsibly to aid the work of the royal commission,” he said. ”It’s a moment of truth.”

INDIA

Records back ‘foreign hand’ behind Tamil Nadu NGOs.” By Deeptiman Tiwary. Times of India. November 28, 2012. After asserting that anti-Kudankulam nuclear protests were being fuelled by the ‘foreign hand’ and putting several NGOs under scanner, the government released a data in Parliament that shows Tamil Nadu NGOs have received the maximum number of foreign contributions in the past three years. One TN NGO, that lent its support to the protests, is also facing a CBI enquiry for contributions received by it, says the government. The data shows TN received 10,119 contributions from across the world with total donations adding up to over Rs 4,800 crore between 2008 and 2011. Over 30,000 contributions were received by all across the country during this period with TN cornering more than 30% of contributions in numbers. In volume, however, it is Delhi-based NGOs that have received maximum contribution with TN holding the second position. Delhi NGOs received 4,297 contributions with total donations adding up to over Rs 5,800 crore. The data that was released in reply to a question over foreign contributions received by NGOs in the Lok Sabha also said that cases against 24 NGOs had been referred to the CBI while 10 NGOs were being investigated by state police. The government reply also said, “There were reports that certain NGOs were engaged in anti-national and political activities.”

KENYA

Kenyan NGO Pioneers HIV and Aids Phone Counseling.” By Isaiah Esipisu. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). November 27, 2012. Young people find discussing HIV and Aids and sexuality difficult.In Kenya, a non-governmental organization has made it easier for them by establishing a free tele-counseling service.

UK

Top tips: Attracting the best talent to your social enterprise; A round up of expert advice from our recent live Q&A on attracting the best staff to your social enterprise.” Guardian. November 27, 2012. Recently we ran a live Q&A to discuss how you can attract the best talent to your social enterprise. Hiring and retaining quality staff isn’t easy – especially given the need to find people with the passion and ambition to match your social enterprise as well as strong business acumen. So we’ve rounded up some of the best advice from our expert panel to help you with your recruitment. This summary coincides with the launch of Audience Match – a new technology-enabled service from Guardian Jobs which offers recruiters precise candidate targeting to ensure they have the greatest chance of hiring the best talent.

University applications slump for second year after fees hike; Ucas: its latest figures suggest higher tuition fees are deterring some applicants.” By Greg Hurst. Times of London. November 28, 2012. Fears mounted that higher tuition fees have deterred young people from going to university after figures showed a slump in applications for the second consecutive year. Latest figures showed that 145,009 people applied for a British university course starting next autumn, down 8.4 per cent on last year. Applications last year were down by almost 13 per cent. The fall from British applicants was even greater as demand from overseas candidates, both from within and beyond the European Union, dropped by less than 1 per cent. Applications from candidates living in England dropped by 9.9 per cent, to 107,687 and there were big falls, too, from people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales seeking university places. Although the deadline for submissions does not end until mid-January, the figures heightened concern that last year’s trebling of tuition fees may have a lasting impact on demand for university places.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 19-25, 2012)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Few know of religious exemption.” BY Markus Mannheim. Sydney Morning Herald. November 19, 2012. who have children outside of marriage, a survey says. The study also found an overwhelming majority – 89 per cent – back laws that would force such schools to publish their employment policies online and alert parents to them. Canberra-based think tank the Australia Institute polled more than 1400 people nationwide about their views on education. Overall, parents nominated location as the main factor in deciding on which school to enrol their child, though values and academic performance were most important to those who opted for private schools. Cost was the decisive factor for only 9 per cent of parents. The institute also said 78 per cent of Australians were unaware religious schools were able to discriminate on the grounds of marital status or sexuality. The exemptions, in federal and state legislation, allow religious organisations to sack employees, or reject potential recruits, if they do not conform with their beliefs.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Victims to be able to sue church.” By Phillip Coorey and Jacqueline Ma. Sydney Morning Herald. November 20, 2012. Victims of sexual abuse would be able to sue the Catholic Church for compensation as a result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse, legal experts say. And any victim of sexual abuse would be able to give evidence, if they wished. A discussion paper released late on Monday by the commission secretariat says the commission’s findings ”may extend to ensuring that there are no obstacles to the making of claims and that there is sufficient support for victims of abuse in pursuing those claims”. “The NSW government is keen to co-operate with the federal government on its royal commission and will consider the consultation paper. Presently, the church is classified as an non-legal entity for the purpose of compensation claims, which means victims cannot sue.

Cabrini Mass for personal apology.” By Julia Prodis Sulek and Mark Gomez. San Jose Mercury-News. November 20, 2012. failure at the diocese level” that gave permission to a convicted child molester to volunteer at the Saint Frances Cabrini parish festival last month. “I take full responsibility,” McGrath told the congregation from the podium moments before the service began at Cabrini, located on Camden Avenue in San Jose. “I pledge to you I will do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Although the bishop said he hoped his remarks and a letter he included in the parish bulletin would “answer some of your questions,” neither explained how or why a letter was written and signed by someone at the diocese vouching for pedophile Mark Gurries. The 51-year-old engineer, married to a former teacher at Saint Frances Cabrini, was convicted just two years ago of “lewd and lascivious conduct” on a minor under 14 years old. He served nearly a year in county jail and remains on probation. The victim was a relative. “As a matter of record, it was a mistake that allowed Mr. Gurries to be a parish volunteer and to be present at the festival,” the bishop wrote in the letter included in the bulletin. “Our policy is clear: No one who has been found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult can be hired or allowed to be a volunteer that involves children, young people or vulnerable adults.” McGrath, 67, the bishop of the San Jose Diocese since 1998, said he was “deeply troubled, and I apologize to you that this policy was not followed.”

RUSSIA

As ‘Foreign Agent’ Law Takes Effect in Russia, Human Rights Groups Vow to Defy It.” By Ellen Barry. New York Times. November 21, 2012. Workers at the human rights organization Memorial arrived at work on Wednesday morning to see a phrase spray-painted across their office building: “FOREIGN AGENT.” Vandals scrawled the same words in giant, sloppy white letters across the door of For Human Rights, which represents citizens in disputes with the Russian police or prosecutors. The phrase, which to Russians evokes treachery and cold war espionage, was repeated many times on Wednesday, when a new law came into force requiring nonprofit groups that receive financing from outside Russia to identify themselves as “foreign agents.” The law was hurriedly passed two months after the inauguration of President Vladimir V. Putin, who has accused foreign governments of provoking the large anti-Kremlin demonstrations that began here last winter. The law has been accompanied by other measures discouraging interaction with foreigners, like expanding the legal definition of treason to include “providing financial, technical, advisory or other assistance to a foreign state or international organization.” Many groups like Memorial and For Human Rights have decided to defy the new law, despite the threat of fines, a forced shutdown or, if prosecutors choose to pursue a criminal charge, a prison sentence of up to two years. Oleg P. Orlov, Memorial’s chairman, said that accepting the “foreign agent” label would so undermine public trust that rights advocates would no longer be able to carry out work like monitoring prison conditions or researching disappearances in the restive North Caucasus. It is unclear how the Russian authorities will enforce the vaguely worded law, which will be overseen by the Justice Ministry. The requirement applies only to organizations engaged in “political activities,” like trying to influence public opinion or advocating to change policy. Various groups say they are poised to contest any penalties through the court system, in part to test the constitutionality of the new law.

TAJIKISTAN

Tajik NGOs Feeling Heat in Winter.” No by-line. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). November 21, 2012. As the leader of a civil rights-related non-governmental organisation, Dilrabo Samadova said she was used to getting hassled by authorities about her group’s activities. But recent government actions to put the clamps on civil society groups like hers in Tajikistan took her by surprise. Despite the fact that Tajikistan is one of Central Asia’s poorest countries, Tajiks used to consider themselves as better off than their neighbours because they had comparatively more room to operate and pursue their ambitions, Samadova explained. A few weeks before Amparo’s closure, instructions were sent to university heads by the Education Ministry, informing them that “conducting any kind of conferences, seminars, other gatherings, or meetings with students through international organisations is against the law.” In short, students can no longer participate in events sponsored by international NGOs, according to a copy of the order obtained by EurasiaNet.org. It is unclear what law the directive is in accordance with. The Education Ministry directive already has had a significant ripple-effect. Since the announcement, some NGOs, including London-based International Alert, have been pressured to cancel youth camps, while the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) saw upcoming language testing for international student exchanges nixed.

UK

How so many of Britain’s elite class all sat in the same elite classrooms?” By Greg Hurst. Times of London. November 20 2012. A few private schools educated one in eight of the most prominent people in Britain, according to research that will fuel debate on social inequality. Only ten schools produced 12 per cent of the country’s most senior businessmen, politicians, diplomats and leaders of the professions. Eton College accounted for 4 per cent of them, including David Cameron and Justin Welby, the next Archbishop of Canterbury. The figures were compiled by the Sutton Trust, an education charity, to mark its 15th anniversary. It analysed the school backgrounds of 7,637 people whose birthdays were listed last year in the Register pages of The Times and other newspapers. Nearly 80 per cent of the people who effectively run Britain attended fee-charging or selective schools: 44 per cent were educated at private schools, 8 per cent went to former direct-grant schools — fee-paying establishments with places funded by the state — and 27 per cent attended grammar schools. On average only 7 per cent of children are educated at private schools, which drops to 6.5 per cent if overseas pupils boarding in Britain are omitted. In ten professions or careers more than half of the most prominent figures were privately educated. They include national or local government (68 per cent), law (63 per cent), senior armed forces (60 per cent) and business (59 per cent). The field with the fewest privately educated leaders was the police, with only 13 per cent of chief constables and other senior officers. Fifty seven per cent of top police officers attended grammar schools. The study also looked at higher education. Of 8,112 people in Britain’s elite for whom details were found, almost a third (31 per cent) attended Oxford or Cambridge. A further 20 per cent were graduates of the next 30 most selective British universities. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, told a conference in May hosted by Brighton College that the disproportionate success of people who were privately educated was “morally indefensible”.

Schools face cuts to pay for £1bn academies overspend; Funds for struggling schools slashed, report reveals.” By Richard Garner. Independent. November 22, 2012. Funding for struggling schools has been slashed to cover a £1bn overspend in the academies programme, a report reveals today. Spending on a range of education programmes – including improving under-performing schools – has been cut to provide unplanned extra funding for academies, according to the National Audit Office, a public spending watchdog. Leaders of the teaching unions reacted with anger last night, describing the overspending as “appalling” at a time when non-academy schools were having to tighten their belts. “There appears to be no limit to the amount of money this Government is prepared to pour into creating academies,” said Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. “When money in the UK is so tight, this unscheduled spending of taxpayers’ money is appalling.” Academy schools, which are funded directly from Whitehall and are independent of local authority control, were introduced under Labour but have been heavily pushed by Michael Gove. The Education Secretary has said he anticipates most schools becoming academies, although critics claim they are insufficiently accountable and hand too much power to school sponsors.

Pension commitments force charity People Can into administration; The charity, which helps victims of domestic abuse, ex-offenders and the homeless.” Guardian. November 20, 2012. A charity that helps victims of domestic abuse, ex-offenders and the homeless has gone bust after being overwhelmed by its pension liabilities, prompting a warning that the “tough environment” will see more charities go to the wall. People Can employs almost 300 people and runs programmes across the UK ranging from hostels for the homeless to schemes to help teenagers stay out of gangs. It used to be known as the Novas Scarman Group and was formed from the merger of several organisations including the Scarman Trust and PATH (Positive Action Training Highway). News of the charity’s problems comes days after a study showed charitable donations in the UK dropped by a fifth in 2011. PricewaterhouseCoopers, appointed administrators of the charity, said 17 employees in Somerset have so far been made redundant, and that “the charity’s pension obligations were the primary reason for administration.” Ian Oakley-Smith, the joint administrator, added: “Charities are currently facing a tough environment in which to secure funding for their services. These pressures are exacerbated for those with defined benefit pension schemes, which require further funding.” A combination of poor investment returns and people living longer mean many charities are struggling to cope with their rising pension obligations, and unless the economic environment changes to make these more manageable “we could expect further insolvencies in the charities space,” PwC said.

Anglicans told to seek help from mediators.” By Ruth Gledhill and Roland Watson. Times of London. November 21, 2012. Justin Welby, the next Archbishop of Canterbury, is under pressure to hire professional mediators to help to bridge the schism in the Church of England. Bishop Welby, who had a career in business before being ordained, is likely to seek outside help amid warnings that the Church’s refusal to accept women bishops could trigger an exodus from the pews and anger from society at large. He also faces calls from senior bishops to resolve the issue as soon as possible rather than wait, as opponents of reform want, until 2015 before it can be reconsidered by the General Synod, the Church’s parliament. The Church’s decision to block women bishops, by a wafer-thin majority of six votes on Tuesday, sparked anger and incredulity yesterday. Cameron told MPs: “I’m very sad about the way the vote went. I’m very clear the time is right for women bishops; it was right many years ago. They need to get on with it, as it were, and get with the programme.” The Prime Minister added that the Church needed “a sharp prod”. Rowan Williams, who steps down as Archbishop of Canterbury next month, said that the Church would lose credibility every day the issue was unresolved.
Related stories:
Mere Christianity: The Church of England has perpetrated a disservice to the nation and other faiths. It should reopen the issue of women bishops.” Times of London. November 22, 2012.
“‘Get with the programme’: David Cameron condemns Church of England decision to block women bishops; In a rare intervention into religious matters, the PM said he was ‘very sad’ about the outcome.Independent. November 21, 2012.
Cameron warns priests of turbulence after church votes no to female bishops; Backed by politicians of all stripes, prime minister urges Church of England to ‘get with the programme’ and reconsider decision.” Guardian. November 21, 2012.
Church of England Rejects Appointing Female Bishops.” New York Times. November 20, 2012.
Anglicans Vote Not To Permit Female Bishops.” Wall Street Journal. November 21, 2012.
Rip up rules to let women be bishops, says Carey; Lord Carey called on the Church of England to rip up the rule book.” Times of London. November 24, 2012.
Pressure piles on church to vote again on female bishops; Equalities minister Maria Miller says CofE must reform and ‘act quickly’ to reflect majority; Interview: ‘I hope the church has heard the strength of feeling’.” Guardian. November 23, 2012.

Movember: from idea in the pub to £184m charity fundraiser; Simple idea to get men to grow moustaches to raise funds for prostate cancer has grown beyond wildest dreams of originators.” By Sam Jones. Guardian. November 23, 2012. Very seldom does an idea seeded around a pub table prove to be clever, practical or long-lived; most start to wither around last orders and have all but died by the time the hangovers descend. Rarest of all is the bar-born vision that endures to save lives, raise millions for research and get men all over the world sprouting moustaches and openly discussing the threats to their testicles and prostate glands. But the Movember phenomenon has done precisely that in the nine years since a pair of Australian friends sat in a Melbourne pub and mulled the rehabilitation of the moustache. The idea was simplicity itself: grow some lip hair over the course of November to raise some money for men’s health charities. While the original 30 moustache-brothers – or Mo Bros – raised just A$300, they did manage to set the rules for the challenge and come up with a name for the enterprise through the ingenious shunting of the words moustache and November. The second Movember stunned all those involved by raising the equivalent of £21,600. It also revealed the extent of the shortfall in male cancer funding. “When we went and approached Prostate Cancer Australia with it, it was the single largest cheque they’d ever received,” says Justin Coghlan, one of the original 30 Mo Bros. “From that point forward, we were all blown away. I would have thought they had a lot more money than that. We assumed it would just be up there with the breast cancer [charities] of the world we’d been involved with through the women in our lives, that it would have equal standing. But it just didn’t.” Movember 2005 hit £507,000. The next year, it raised £3.7m, spread internationally and acquired its own slogan: “Changing the face of men’s health.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 11-18, 2012)

Monday, November 19th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Care at Lulworth House was secondary, claims nurse.” By Rachel Browne. Sydney Morning Herald. November 12, 2012. A nursing assistant who worked at the exclusive Lulworth House aged care home has expressed her concern for the welfare of its residents, following allegations of three serious cases of neglect. The woman, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a nursing assistant, said she quit her job as a result of what she saw while employed there. The Department of Health and Ageing is investigating complaints that relate to three elderly residents who died between June and August. Their families claim they did not receive adequate care while in the Elizabeth Bay home, which is also home to Gough Whitlam, Neville Wran and Dame Leonie Kramer. ”I don’t rate Lulworth House very highly despite the prestige it tries to project to the public,” the former nursing assistant wrote in an email. “In my opinion St Lukes management was concerned more about money, and care was secondary. Despite the high fees charged, there was cost cutting for resident management. The place had a very high turnover of nursing assistant staff – the reason is the amount of workload when so few nursing assistants were employed on the floor.”

Islamic council linked to cash shift.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. November 16, 2012. “The shifting of money makes it harder to determine whether these schools are being operated for profit or not” … John Kaye. Private schools receiving up to $15 million in government funding each year have transferred large sums to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, which operates six schools around the country and is the country’s peak Muslim body.
The chairman of the Islamic College of Brisbane, Mohammed Yusuf, said in an email obtained by Fairfax Media the ”AFIC arbitrarily withdrew $288,000 from Islamic College of Brisbane’s account without our approval”. In the email to fellow board members he also said: ”I think that all the council chairmen should ask for accountability and greater transparency before it is too late.”The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils accountant, Agim Garama, is the business manager for Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney, Australia’s largest Muslim school. The NSW government has demanded Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney repay $9 million in state funding on the basis that it did not receive services for money it gave to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. The former state Labor government amended the Education Act in NSW to prevent private schools from passing surpluses to their owners.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Church’s secret compensation deals.” By Jane Lee. Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2012. The Catholic Church has settled thousands of claims of child abuse outside of its internal complaints’ system, Melbourne Response, in an attempt to silence them, a victims’ group says. The Melbourne Response, and its national equivalent, Towards Healing, were launched by the church in 1996 to handle abuse complaints and give pastoral care to victims. The church has traditionally referred to both processes to argue that its approach to abuse has improved over time. In Good Faith & Associates’ director Helen Last told a state inquiry into child abuse on Monday that about 2000 victims had been through alternative ”portals” facilitated by the Catholic Church, which offered them larger amounts of compensation than they would otherwise have been entitled to. Victims of clergy abuse often struggle to make successful compensation claims in court because it is often many years before they report childhood abuse. The Catholic Church is also an entity that is immune from civil lawsuits.
Related story:
Church funding paedophiles’ legal defence.Sydney Morning Herald. November 16, 2012.
Australian Prime Minister Orders Sexual Abuse Investigation.” New York Times/AssociatedPress. November 12, 2012.
Child sex abuse far from confined to history, says psychologist.” Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2012.
Pell calls for facts not fiction on abuse.” Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2012.
Catholic brother, teacher on child sex charges.” Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2012.
Australia’s Catholic church welcomes child abuse inquiry; Archbishop of Sydney says church will co-operate fully with inquiry but claims extent of problem has been exaggerated.” Guardian. November 13, 2012.
Catholic Church’s secret sex files.” Sydney Morning Herald. November 17, 2012.

INDIA

Pass Lokpal bill or face another rally at Ramlila Maidan, Hazare warns govt.” Times of India. November 11, 2012. Social activist Anna Hazare has accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of “betrayal” on the Jan Lokpal bill and warned on Sunday of another protest if it was not passed before the 2014 general election. Addressing supporters after inaugurating his new office here, Hazare said: “If Jan Lokpal bill is not passed before the 2014 elections, we will hold another rally at Ramlila Maidan.” The septuagenarian said Manmohan Singh had betrayed him by not fulfilling his pledge to pass the anti-corruption bill in Parliament. “Our fight for Jan Lokpal bill will continue till it is passed by the government. I will campaign throughout the country and try to raise the conscience of the people. I will try to bring in a change,” he said. Taking a dig at politicians, Hazare said: “The country lacks leadership.” “The time has come to reach out to every house in the country and spread the message of anti-corruption. We have to work for a corruption-free India.” Hazare had on Saturday announced a new 15-member team and vowed to start a nation-wide campaign against corruption from Jan 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

UK

David Cameron’s big society idea failed. Our alternative is already working; Your Square Mile, set up by a former CEO of the Big Society Network, aims to improve on David Cameron’s flagship idea.” By Paul Twivy. Guardian. November 13, 2012. In January 2010 I was approached by the then shadow cabinet – David Cameron, Francis Maude, Oliver Letwin and Nick Hurd – to get involved in “big society”. Steve Hilton, one of the prime architects of the idea, told me that the name and style of this movement had been partly inspired by the Big Lunch, the street party movement I had co-founded to bring neighbours together. They wanted to use my experience in helping to turn ideas into practical, on-the-ground realities. The decision as to whether to get involved or not was one of the most difficult of my professional life. My political experience and sympathies lay elsewhere. Yet I felt, as I still do, that David Cameron was, and is, sincere in his commitment to social good. The big society is also in many ways just a new rendering of ideas put forward by both Tony Blair (Giving Age) and Gordon Brown (the Council for Social Action). So, I agreed to be the CEO of the Big Society Network, which we launched three months later. I did so on the basis that the network would be an independent, challenging partner to government and that it would focus on helping citizens take practical action. The first aspect of this – the independence – turned out to be horribly naive, which I always half knew or feared would be the case. I realised very early on, from my hundreds of meetings with charities, community groups, councillors and the public, that to succeed, the big society needed to be very practical, very simple and backed by tangible investment and action. It became rapidly very clear to me that big society suffered from a number of intractable problems. It was seen as a figleaf for the shrinking state and spending cuts. Or as a cynical repackaging of the civic activity that has quietly kept British society intact for hundreds of years. It was party-political, ergo tribal and divisive. The farther away from London and the south-east one went, the more toxic it became.

Donations to charity fall 20% in a year, study finds; Charities ‘deeply worried’ by drop in giving after survey shows UK donations tumbled from £11bn to £9.3bn in 2011.” By Patrick Butler. Guardian. November 12, 2012. Charitable donations in the UK dropped by a fifth last year, as the tough financial climate took its toll on donors’ giving power, a study has found. Fewer people gave to charity, while the amounts they donated shrank, according to a survey by the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. The total sum given to UK charities fell by 20% in real terms, from £11bn to £9.3bn during 2011-12 – a cash fall of £1.7bn, and the largest in the survey’s eight-year history.
John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “The drop in giving shown by our survey is deeply worrying for those charities which rely on donations to provide vital frontline services. Combined with public spending cuts this represents a potentially severe blow for many charities. Although more than half of UK adults gave to charity, the proportion of people donating to charitable causes in a typical month decreased from 58% to 55%. The median amount donated was £10 in 2011-12, down from £11 the previous year and £12 in 2009-10.

Public Companies; Bishop Welby is right to ask businesses to think hard about their purpose.” Times of London. November 15, 2012. The connection between religion and capitalism has a long pedigree. In famous books on the link between the two, Max Weber and R. H. Tawney both noted that the virtues of the Protestant religion were hospitable to the rise of the new form of economic production. Some of the best businesses of 19th-century Britain were built by Quakers. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury designate, looks as if he is set to follow in this honourable tradition. As a member of the Banking Commission, Bishop Welby was highly critical of Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, for the latter’s failure to understand, or at least to be able to articulate clearly, the wider obligations of his company beyond the simple one of a fiduciary duty to his shareholders. As 83 per cent of RBS shares are owned by the British taxpayer, the public interest is especially evident. But every company that enjoys a licence to operate in Britain has a set of public obligations too. Mr Hester was not denying this and it is a mark of how this argument has changed that few senior businessmen would dissent from the view that a company’s obligations are not fulfilled simply by obedience to the law. Before the banking crash, a narrow conception that the company was, before anything else, a vehicle for the pursuit of shareholder value, had become dominant. The idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) enjoyed a brief fashion — there was even a Minister for CSR for a while — but was never more than bolted-on philanthropy.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 1-7, 2012)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

Less Than Half of International Foreign Aid Is Transparent.” By Carey L. Biron. Interpress Sdervice (ipsnews.net). October 2, 2012. As a major international deadline on foreign assistance transparency draws closer, a new index shows that while donors are becoming more open with their data, still less than half of foreign aid information is openly available. “Progress is being met, things are getting better, but that progress is modest,” David Hall-Matthews, the managing director of Publish What You Fund, a global initiative advocating for aid transparency, said in unveiling the organisation’s Aid Transparency Index 2012 here in Washington on Monday. Nearly two-thirds of the organisations that Publish What You Fund surveyed both last year and this year showed improvement, with the average score across all donors going up from 34 percent to 41 percent transparency. “Although progress is being made, 41 percent is a long way short of good practice – it’s not quite a pass mark, and most aid information is still not public and not being published in compatible format,” Hall-Matthews warned. “The number of organisations that fall into the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ category is smaller than last year, but those still contain nearly half of all organisations that we sampled, including some of the world’s largest donors.” The index, which tracks 43 transparency metrics, is still a new initiative, having begun only last year, in collaboration with the One Campaign, an anti-poverty advocacy group. This year’s undertaking was expanded to 72 donors, including six separate agencies within the U.S. government as well as the first-time publication of an aid transparency report card devoted specifically to the U.S. government, the world’s largest donor.

DEVELOPMENT

Self-Financing that Works for the Poor.” By Estrella Gutiérrez. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). October 2, 2012. “We were used to losing, so a group of us said to ourselves: let’s lose something here,” said Carmen Caravallo, describing the start of a “bankomunal”, a self-managed microfinance fund based on investment, in her rural community in eastern Venezuela. Ten years later, Caravallo and the other members of the bankomunal in Llanada de Puerto Santo, in the state of Sucre, “are getting used to winning,” she told IPS. “Now we are a family, and we have learned to be responsible; we have improved our lives with money that belongs to us, and strange as it may seem, we feel we are very much in charge,” she added. Bankomunales, present in 14 countries on four continents, are the brainchild of Venezuelan social entrepreneur Salomón Raydán, who demonstrated that the poor can be self-financed, after Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, the father of microcredit, had shown that they could be financed. Similar experiences have been repeated in 180 bankomunales throughout Venezuela, which have a combined total of 25,465 members who contributed a minimum of 2.30 dollars to become both investors and clients.

Cooperatives Champion Balance Between People and Profit.” By Beatrice Paez. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). October 5, 2012. The banner year for the global cooperative movement is winding down into its last months, but its leaders have echoed a resounding message: cooperatives, a values-based business model, can usher a transition to a more socially responsible economy. This message will be at core of the International Summit of Cooperatives, a gathering of more than 2,000 participants active in the cooperative movement, to take place in Québec City from Oct. 8 to 12. With 2012 designated by the U.N. as the International Year of Cooperatives, Monique Leroux, the CEO of Desjardins, the largest cooperative financial group in Canada, thought it was time to bring her dream of launching a summit into action. “We want to use the summit as an opportunity to make sure the world in general, and governments have a better understanding of the cooperative movement,” said Leroux. “We need to do a better job in promoting who we are.” Desjardins partnered with the International Alliance of Cooperatives, a non-governmental organisation that advocates on behalf cooperatives, to create a venue where new networks and solutions to propel the movement forward can be forged.

GERMANY

German Catholic Church Links Tax to the Sacraments.” By Melissa Eddy. New York Times. October 5, 2012. It is a paradox of modern Germany that church and state remain so intimately tied. That bond persists more and more awkwardly, it seems, as the church’s relationship with followers continues to fray amid growing secularization. Last week one of Germany’s highest courts rankled Catholic bishops by ruling that the state recognized the right of Catholics to leave the church — and therefore avoid paying a tax that is used to support religious institutions. The court ruled it was a matter of religious freedom, while religious leaders saw the decision as yet another threat to their influence on modern German society. With its ruling the court also dodged the thorny issue of what happens when a parishioner formally quits the church, stops paying taxes, but then wants to attend services anyway. The court said that, too, was a matter of religious freedom, a decision that so rankled religious leaders fearful of losing a lucrative revenue stream that they made clear, right away, that taxes are the price for participation in the church’s most sacred rituals: no payments, no sacraments. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Germany issued a crystal clear, uncompromising edict, endorsed by the Vatican. It detailed that a member who refuses to pay taxes will no longer be allowed to receive communion or make confession, to serve as godparents or to hold any office in the church. Those who leave can also be refused a Christian burial, unless they “give some sign of repentance,” it read. The tussle highlighted the long-established but increasingly troubled symbiosis between church and state in Europe that, repeated polls have shown, grows more secular-minded as each generation moves further away from the church. Like many European countries, Germany’s churches are independent but function in partnership with the state, which collects taxes from members of established religions and then funnels the revenues back to the religious institutions, for a fee, in keeping with a 19th-century agreement following abolishment of an official state church.

HAITI

In Haiti, Aid Groups Squabble Over Rival Peanut Butter Factories.” By Dan Charles. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. October 5, 2012. Meds and Food for Kids buys peanuts from Haitian farmers, offering employment opportunities and saving lives. But there’s competition from another humanitarian group, Partners in Health. Can there be too much life-saving peanut butter? In Haiti, two different humanitarian groups have built new factories to make this product, which is used to treat severe malnutrition and maybe someday prevent it. The problem is, Haiti doesn’t appear to need two of them. Each factory, all by itself, could satisfy Haiti’s current demand. This tale of two factories is also the story of two organizations with the same mission. It’s also about the strange economy of philanthropy, with its mixture of altruism and self-promotion.

INDIA

Private hospitals will have to display treatment costs; Experts cite studies showing rampant use of unnecessary procedures in India.” BY Durgesh Nandan Jha, Times of India. October 8, 2012. In a major move aimed at checking unnecessary medical tests and procedures, the health ministry on Sunday said it was working on a plan to make it mandatory for all private hospitals to declare and display the treatment costs of different diseases. Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS), told TOI that the ministry’s plan would check overbilling and bring in transparency in the healthcare sector. “Our aim is to notify standard costs for various medical procedures such as angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery etc. We also plan to categorize hospitals based on quality of services offered and develop standard treatment costs for each category,” DGHS Prasad said. He said suggestions are being sought from all stakeholders, including the corporate-run hospitals, on how the new system can be rolled out.

LDS General Conference Includes Major Announcements On Mormon Missionaries And New Temples.” Huffington Post. October 7, 2012. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church leaders announced on Sunday that the church is rapidly increasing the number of missionaries it sends throughout the world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will rapidly increase the number of missionaries it sends throughout the world, church leaders have announced. Speaking Saturday at the church’s semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City, President Thomas Monson, the church’s top leader, said the church is lowering its age requirements for both male and female missionaries. Men will now be able to embark on missions one year earlier at age 18, while women can now go on missions two years earlier at age 19. According to a statement on the church’s website, the new rules “will significantly increase the number of missionaries” for the church, which has 14.4 million global members and places an emphasis on encouraging its members to do missions, a majority of which are focused on proselytizing. The move indicates the church is investing more in growing its membership while also aiming to get its younger members — many of whom drift away from the faith in college — deeply involved in promoting the faith right after they graduate from high school.

RUSSIA

Rights Group Says Its Researcher in Moscow Is Threatened.” By Andrew E. Kramer. New York Times. October 4, 2012. A researcher in Human Rights Watch’s office in Moscow received repeated threats this week of an attack focused on her pregnancy, the rights group said, calling it the latest example of escalating pressure against rights and civic groups in Russia. The anonymous threats were sent to the cellphone of the researcher, Tanya Lokshina, who is also the deputy director of the Moscow bureau. The group said they included details that could have been obtained only by eavesdropping on her telephone conversations. Mr. Roth condemned the threats as a bid to force the group to leave Russia. He spoke from New York in a videotaped statement played at a Moscow news conference, noting that Russia’s complex visa rules prevented him from flying in. He linked the threats against Ms. Lokshina to the wider government crackdown on foreign-sponsored organizations in the wake of street protests last year that he said was creating an atmosphere of intimidation for those threatened and of impunity for aggressors.

UK

Private schools ‘handicapped by university targets’; Chris Ray, high master of Manchester Grammar School, said private schools were criticised for being too successful.” By Greg Hurst. Times of London. October 3, 2012. Independent school pupils are being handicapped when applying to university because of targets to ensure that more state school pupils get in, according to the head of a leading public school. Chris Ray, high master at the feepaying Manchester Grammar School, yesterday accused the higher education access regulator of seeking to ensure that wealthier applicants were put at a disadvantage. In his speech he attacked Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access, which monitors access to universities, and Alan Milburn, the coalition’s independent reviewer of progress on social mobility, who is preparing a report on university admissions. Quoting from Isaiah Berlin on the threat to liberty from political manipulation, he said that both men were intent on forcing universities to change admissions policies to benefit poor applicants.

Hundreds of contracts signed in ‘biggest ever act of NHS privatisation’; Labour says private contracts worth a quarter of a billion pounds have been signed this week.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian. October 3, 2012. Contracts for almost 400 NHS services, worth a quarter of billion pounds, were signed this week resulting in the “biggest act of privatisation ever seen in the NHS”, Labour’s health spokesman Andy Burnham has said. In a briefing before his speech to the Labour party conference, Burnham said he had “evidence of accelerating privatisation” – citing a rash of examples across England which he said showed the government was committed to a “market in healthcare”. Burnham pointed out that non-emergency ambulance services in the north-west would soon be run by the bus group Arriva and that Lancashire county council had awarded the contract to run patient advocacy groups to a private firm, Parkwood Healthcare. However the “biggest privatisation” so far was in community services – those areas of healthcare offered outside of hospitals. Labour used freedom of information requests to survey England’s NHS primary care trusts on the range and value of community services being offered to the private and voluntary sector under the government’s “any qualified provider” policy.
Related story:
Where do NHS reforms leave charities? Voluntary organisations need to understand their role in the new health landscape.” Guardian. October 4, 2012.

Charities face financial problems over government’s back-to-work scheme; Almost half of charities in Work Programme say contracts are at risk of failure, with some warning they may go bust as a result.” By Patrick Butler. Guardian. October 4, 2012. Seven out of 10 charities hired to help long-term unemployed people into jobs under the government’s “big society” Work Programme have warned they may have to pull out of the scheme because it is not financially viable. Almost half of the charities said their contracts were “at risk of failure” in the next six months, with some warning they may go bust as a result. Nearly 50% of the charities surveyed said they had dipped into their financial reserves to subsidise delivery of the scheme. The findings of the survey, carried out by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), is the latest in a series of blows for the Work Programme, which was designed by the coalition to help get people who have been workless for long periods off benefits and into work. Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: “The sustainability of these contracts is a major cause for concern. This programme is clearly not working for many charities involved in its delivery. More worryingly, this will have a damaging knock-on effect to the many jobseekers who desperately need the specialist support that charities can deliver. Ministers awarded huge Work Programme contracts last year to big private companies such as Ingeus Deloitte and A4E. These prime contractors in turn promised to refer clients to specialist charity subcontractors who would help prepare so-called “hard to reach” clients for the job market, such as disabled people, ex-prisoners, and homeless people. The former employment minister Chris Grayling launched the Work Programme in April 2011 as a “massive boost for the big society”, because of the key role the scheme supposedly envisaged for small, community-based employment charities and social enterprises.

Live Q&A: Forming partnerships with charities, 12 October, 12.00 – 2.00pm BST; Join us on Friday 12 October to discuss with our expert panel how social enterprises can benefit from teaming up with charities.” By Rooney Van Persie. Guardian. October 5, 2012. We all know social enterprises exist to do social good. But running a business isn’t easy, and ensuring that profits are distributed to maximise social value is sometimes even harder. When a social enterprise exists to invest profits externally – rather than to solely invest back into the expansion of the business – partnering with a charity can be an appealing option. This is because the partnerships remove the complications of founding and runnning the project yourself – instead the charity can channel your cash, using its experience to maximise social benefit.With this in mind, in our live Q&A we’ll be asking: • What are the main benefits of forming a partnership with a charity? • When is the right time to form a partnership? • When is forming a partnership not such a good idea? Do get in touch if you’d like to be a panelist – email Joe Jervis for more details. Also, you can leave a question in the comments section below, or come back to ask it live – and follow the debate – on Friday 12 October, 12 – 2pm.

Charities renounce Savile.” By Nicholas Hellen and Miles Goslett. Sunday Times. October 7, 2012. CHARITIES set up by Sir Jimmy Savile are to drop his name and give money to victims of sexual abuse to “atone” for his alleged crimes against schoolgirls. A trustee of the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust, which has funds of £3.7m, said it intended to “support charities that work with survivors of sexual abuse”. However, it is barred under Charity Commission rules from giving direct compensation to those he molested or raped. The decision to dig into the reserves to help victims of abuse is highly symbolic. According to the DJ Paul Gambaccini, Savile hid his sordid behaviour from the public by warning newspapers that the biggest losers from an exposé would be those relying on his charity fundraising. Roger Bodley, a trustee of the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and Jimmy Savile Stoke Mandeville Hospital Charitable Trust, which has reserves of £1.7m, said this weekend: “We will be meeting soon to discuss how to best use the funds that remain at our disposal. We are actively looking at supporting, amongst others, charities that work with survivors of sexual abuse.”
Trustees will consider dropping Savile’s name from both charities at a meeting this month. Bodley said: “The whole thing is totally on the name and if the name is completely disgraced then that stuff [donations] will stop. I don’t see how things can go ahead with that name.” Speaking from Tasmania, Bodley added: “If there were transgressions . . . then we have to make amends and atone for it.” He admitted there was a risk that charities for sexual abuse victims would not wish to accept the money, believing it to be tainted.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 10-16, 2012)

Monday, September 17th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Coalition takes aim at charities regulator.” By Dan Harrison. Sydney Morning Herald. September 13, 2012. The Coalition will oppose the Gillard government’s proposed charities regulator and dismantle it if elected. Labor says its proposed Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission will reduce the administrative burden on the not-for-profit sector by harmonising and centralising regulation. Legislation to establish the commission is before Parliament and the regulator is due to begin operating next month. But the opposition’s spokesman for families, housing and human services, Kevin Andrews, said yesterday the Coalition would vote against the bill. ”We just think it’s unnecessary,” Mr Andrews said. ”The states have not signed up to it. Other Commonwealth departments haven’t signed up to it. So instead of removing regulation, it’s actually going to add another layer of regulation and red tape. ”Wherever I’ve gone around Australia in the last few months, I’ve increasingly been told by not-for-profits and charities that this is an unnecessary burden, that they don’t want it, that there’s been nothing made out as to why this should be being imposed.” The proposed commission will register organisations as charities, maintain a public register to allow anyone to look up information about registered charities and help charities understand and meet reporting and regulatory obligations. Labor remains hopeful of passing the legislation with the support of Greens and independents. Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said the Coalition wanted to stand in the way of a reform that had broad support across the sector. The Australian Council of Social Service, Smith Family and RSPCA are among those that have expressed support.

EUROPE

Financially troubled parts of Europe consider taxing church properties.” By Ariana Eunjung Cha. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). September 13, 2012. Cash-strapped officials in Europe are looking for a way to ease their financial burden by upending centuries of tradition and seeking to tap one of the last untouched sources of wealth: the Catholic Church.Thousands of public officials who have seen the financial crisis hit their budgets are chipping away at the various tax breaks and privileges the church has enjoyed for centuries. But the church is facing its own money troubles. Offerings from parishioners have nosedived, and it has been accused of using shady bank accounts and hiding suspect transactions. Now, along come officials like Ricardo Rubio. Rubio, a city council member in Alcala, is leading an effort to impose a tax on all church property used for non-religious purposes. The financial impact on the Catholic Church could be devastating. As one of the largest landowners in Spain — with holdings that include schools, homes, parks, sports fields and restaurants — the church could owe up to 3 billion euros in taxes each year. “We want to make a statement that the costs of the crisis should be borne equally by every person and institution,” said Rubio, a 36-year-old former accountant in his first term in office. Similar efforts that target church coffers or powers are underway in neighboring countries. In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti has called for a tax on church properties or on those portions of properties that have a commercial purpose. In Ireland, the minister of education is fighting to end church control of many of the country’s primary schools, and the government has slashed in half the grants it gives poor families for first Communions. More than half the city councils in Britain have eliminated state subsidies for transportation to faith-based schools, leading to a precipitous drop in enrollment. Once an untouchable institution in some parts of Europe, the Catholic Church has come under fire for its government subsidies at a time when the continent’s economies are faltering and the population is subject to painful cuts in jobs, benefits and pensions.

INDIA

For India’s Children, Philanthropy Isn’t Enough.” By Sonia Faleiro. New York Times. September 15, 2012. Meena Devi is only 10 years old, but she’s the head of her household. She cooks, cleans and takes care of her 11-year-old brother, Sunil, while a 14-year-old brother, Anil, works at a faraway brick kiln in a neighboring state. The three have been orphans since their mother died of starvation three years ago. They have an aunt in their village, but the most she’s ever done is send over food to their mud hut. In June, I wrote an article that appeared in The International Herald Tribune, documenting this family’s daily life in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar. E-mails started to pour in the next morning. I’d been introduced to Meena by Mokhtarul Haque, an activist with India’s Save the Childhood Movement, known by its Hindi abbreviation B.B.A. The B.B.A. has rescued and rehabilitated trafficked children for over 25 years. Mr. Haque had met with Meena’s only surviving relative, her aunt Savitri Devi Manjhi, soon after Meena’s mother died in 2009, and Mrs. Manjhi had then urged Mr. Haque to place the children in a government foster home. In June, following the record producer’s proposal, Mr. Haque offered the children spots in a B.B.A. school. The B.B.A., like other nonprofit groups, built its own schools partly in response to the sorry state of government foster homes, where corporal punishment is routine and abuse is common. I’ve met many children who attempted to run away, preferring to take their chances on the street. The Manjhis are the product of intergenerational poverty and caste-based marginalization. Like their parents, they’re poor, illiterate and seasonally employed. They don’t think beyond their daily survival. They’re also aware that no matter how bad life gets for them, public assistance is unlikely, and change is an impossible dream. They know they have no one to depend on but themselves and their younger kin. They may have empathy for their niece and nephews, but they can’t afford to act on it. In a society with few effective regulatory institutions, there’s neither an incentive to take responsibility nor repercussions for not doing so. People don’t do the right thing because it’s easy not to, and there’s no reward for doing it. Villagers are preoccupied with their own daily survival. And it’s easier for bureaucrats to do nothing.

UK

Round up: what does the Social Value Act mean for councils?” Series: Live Q&A. Kate McCann. Guardian. September 15, 2012. Find out what our panel thought about the Social Value Act and how it will affect communities and councils across the country. Elected members are vital. And they are been pushing for social value (though they might not have called it that). They have been ready to take from large contractors and the voluntary sector, promises of community value – seeing them a free gifts which a contractor will offer to smooth the deal. Everything costs something. So a more strategic and proactive approach is required. Commissioners need to know what constitutes a good investment. This means building up knowledge about what may or may not be achievable, be informed by expert evidence and at the same time be mindful that social considerations can sometimes involve increased burdens which smaller suppliers might find difficult to bear. It doesn’t represent best value to seek social value in every contract opportunity. Social value isn’t a free gift – even from community organisations. But if you act strategically and corporately you can maximise value with less upfront cost than you think, and gain over the medium and longer term. Commissioning by council departments will squeeze out these opportunities.

London 2012: army of volunteer Olympic Games Makers stands down; Tens of thousands of volunteers wear their distinctive purple outfits for the last time at parade.” By Esther Addley. Guardian. September 10, 2012. The uniforms were soon to be packed away along with accreditation lanyards, pin badge collections and enough memories to last a lifetime. But, for one final time on Monday, tens of thousands of Olympic volunteers donned their distinctive sportswear, smart but sensible trainers and rainproof jackets to witness the London 2012 victory parade through central London that had been billed in part as a thank you for their efforts during six glorious Olympic and Paralympic weeks. Now no longer easily identifiable, they and the rest of London’s 70,000-strong volunteer army will vanish back into their other lives.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 3-9, 2012)

Monday, September 10th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AFRICA

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.

ASIA

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.
Related story:
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.

DEVELOPMENT

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.

ENVIRONMENT

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.

INDIA

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.

PHILLIPINES

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.

UK

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.
Related story:
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”.

VATICAN

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.