Archive for the ‘International’ Category

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.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 27-September 2, 2012)

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

INDIA

Karnataka Cooperative Milk-Producers’ Federation’s cattle feed deal reeks of scam.” By Anil Kumar M. Times of India. August 27, 2012. The Karnataka Cooperative Milk-Producers ‘ Federation (KMF) recently approved a deal for the purchase of an unprecedented quantity of cottonseed cake at inflated prices, indicating a possible multi-crore scam and a Rs 10-crore kickback. Cottonseed cake is used in the manufacture of cattle feed. It is estimated that the KMF requires 3,500 metric tonne (MT) of cottonseed cake every month. But documents with The Times of Indiashow that KMF procured eight times more — about 28,000 MT of cottonseed cake — from AP-based suppliers by paying Rs 30 crore in July alone. Cottonseed cake procurement of an unprecedented quantity and at high prices has led to intense speculation that the Karnataka Cooperative Milk-P roducers ‘ Federation (KMF) could be seeing its first big scam KMF is headed by Bellary strongman G Somashekara Reddy , who is currently jailed in cash-for-bail scam. Its directors P Nagaraju , G P Revanna Siddappa , S C Ashok and Ashwathnarayan told TOI: “The average price of cottonseed cake ranges from Rs 11,000 to 14,000 per MT. But 14,600 MT of cottonseed cake was purchased at a price of Rs 27,100 per MT on July 27. Another 14,100 MT was procured on July 12 at a price of Rs 20,650 per MT.” “In contrast to July purchases , those made during the first four months of this year were normal and in accordance with rules . But the huge July procurement was made at high prices . An estimated kickback up to Rs 10 crore has been received by the beneficiaries ,” they alleged. According to sources , Somashekara allegedly cleared the file to procure cottonseed cake a few days before his arrest . Somashekara , brother of jailed mining baron and former minister G Janardhana Reddy , was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Andhra Pradesh on August 6 in the cash-for-bail scam . He was charged with bribing a judge to secure bail to his brother.

UK

Private school fees ‘rise 68% in decade’; Harrow and several other leading boarding schools charge more than £30,000 a year.” Times of London. August 27, 2012. The cost of sending a child to independent school has risen nearly twice as fast as inflation in the past decade, figures show. Private school fees have increased by an average of 68 per cent, from £6,820 a year in 2002 to £11,457 this year. This rate of growth is more than 1.8 times faster than the increase in the retail price index (RPI) over the same period, which was 37 per cent. Many fee-charging schools have built theatres, swimming pools and high-tech sports pitches in what some critics have described it as an arms race between leading schools to secure the best facilities to impress parents. This could be one of the reasons for the growth in fees, as schools try to recoup their outlay at a time when the pupil population has declined. Independent schools offer smaller class sizes, which account for a major part of their expense. This focus on teaching meant that some prestigious independent schools achieved outstanding GCSE results last week, and secured the top places in league tables. However, not all were immune from the stricter marking of English GCSE, in which thousands of pupils achieved lower grades than predicted. Ofqual, the exams regulator, is to investigate GCSE gradings after admitting that there were “questions about how grade boundaries were set in a very small number of units across the year”. Fee rises have slowed over the past five years, possibly because schools are conscious of the impact of the economic downturn on the ability of parents to pay. Since 2007, the average annual private school fee has grown by 19 per cent, while the RPI rose by 18 per cent during the same period. Suren Thiru, economist at Lloyds TSB Private Banking, said: “Private school fees have increase by significantly more than inflation over the past ten years, making it increasingly difficult for the average worker in many occupations to afford a private school education for their offspring.”

VATICAN

In final interview, liberal Cardinal says Church ’200 years out of date’
‘The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change,” said Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini two weeks before his death.
‘” MSNBC/Reuters. September 2, 2012. The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the Catholic Church as “200 years out of date” in his final interview before his death, published on Saturday. Martini, once favored by Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II and a prominent voice in the church until his death at the age of 85 on Friday, gave a scathing portrayal of a pompous and bureaucratic church failing to move with the times. “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” Martini said in the interview published in Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation,” he said in the interview. Martini’s final message to Pope Benedict was to begin a shake up of the Catholic church without delay. “The church is 200 years out of date. Why don’t we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Victims Group Forced to Open Files.” By Ben Kesling and Mark Peters. Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2012. Missouri’s Supreme Court let stand a lower-court ruling that a support group for alleged victims of the Roman Catholic Church sexual-abuse scandal must open its records in a case raising questions about the privacy rights of crime victims. The high court on Tuesday denied a petition filed by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, forcing the group to comply with a subpoena to turn over more than two decades of records sought by lawyers for the Rev. Michael Tierney. The Kansas City-area priest has been accused in civil court of sexually abusing a minor in the early 1970s. He denies the accusations. The group, known as SNAP, has been fighting the subpoena since last year, saying it is an invasion of the privacy of victims and jeopardizes the group’s work. “We’ll continue to do everything possible to protect the privacy and safety of victims,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “We’re in uncharted waters for us, and we’re taking it a step at a time,” she said. Nearly two dozen groups, including the National Organization for Women Foundation and National Center for Victims of Crime, jointly said in an amicus brief that the subpoena “has the capacity to set the survivor community back a minimum of 10, if not 20, years.” This lawsuit and other cases pending against Father Tierney hinge upon the alleged victims claiming to recall repressed memories, which could lead to an extension of the statute of limitations. Lawyers for Father Tierney, who isn’t actively serving in the church, argue that SNAP’s records might prove that the statute of limitations has expired and the cases should be dismissed. The lawsuits filed against Father Tierney are part of the larger sexual-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church that has unfolded in Kansas City and other cities across the U.S., after first being widely exposed in Boston a decade ago.

Secret tapes reveal church reluctance to report abuser.” By Rory Callinan and Richard Baker. Sydney Morning Herald. August 18, 2012. A secret police bugging operation caught a senior Catholic figure on tape saying it was not up to him to report a paedophile priest and encouraging a victim not to go to the authorities for fear of bad publicity. Abuse victim Peter Murphy has told the Herald that police wired him up to record a meeting between the church leader and victims as part of a 1994 investigation into the paedophile priest Father Peter Chalk in Melbourne. Murphy, who was abused by Chalk, said he met the head of Chalk’s order, Father Brian Gallagher, and the victims to discuss what the church was doing about the allegations. The existence of the tapes, which have remained a secret since the 1990s, comes as the Church faces allegations in NSW and Victoria of failing to assist in bringing paedophile priests to justice and as a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into abuse of children by religious orders and other organisations gets under way. Chalk was accused of abuse while working as a priest in Melbourne for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an international Catholic order that operates schools and parishes in Australia. Mr Murphy said during the meeting the missionaries’ then head, Father Gallagher, told victims that Chalk had admitted to abusing up to eight Victorian children during the 1970s and early 1980s in the outer-east Melbourne suburb of Park Orchards. Despite Chalk’s admissions – which Mr Murphy reported to senior leaders in 1987 – neither Father Gallagher nor anyone else reported the priest to police. Police did not pursue Chalk, who moved to Japan in 1981. However, his details were given to Australian immigration officers so he could be detained if he returned to Australia. He left the order in 1995, changed his name and became a teacher. He died in 2010 after being confronted by media about the allegations.

Woodburn priest’s arrest focuses attention on Mount Angel Abbey.” By Nancy Haught. Oregonian. August 18, 2012. Angel Seminary was quiet Friday morning, awaiting the return of students this weekend. The sound of men chanting early Friday morning drifted across the grounds of Mount Angel Abbey, where monks gathered for morning Mass as they have on this hilltop near Silverton for 130 years. Mount Angel Seminary, housed in a half-dozen buildings clustered around the abbey, was waiting. On Aug. 19, new students will arrive as Oregon’s only Catholic seminary grapples with a dark accusation about a prominent alumnus: the Rev. Angel Armando Perez, the pastor at St. Luke Parish in Woodburn, who now faces a charge of sex abuse involving a child. The seminary, which has trained 80 percent of the 150 current and retired parish priests in western Oregon, has drastically altered the way it accepts and trains candidates for the priesthood since Perez was ordained near the height of the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal a decade ago. People at Mount Angel, which enrolls about 200 students annually, say they have wracked their brains in the past week over whether they did all they could when preparing Perez for the priesthood. But they also say that they have gone to great lengths to ensure new priests emerging from the seminary are on solid ground, both spiritually and psychologically. “Child abuse is horrific,” says the Rev. Joseph V. Betschart, the current president rector of Mount Angel Seminary. “Our policies, procedures and training do everything that we can to prevent it from happening. When it does, it’s tragic and unacceptable. We need to keep redoubling our efforts. And we will.”

CIVIL SOCIETY

Civil Society Squeezed on All Sides.” By Carey L. Biron. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). A year and a half after the international wake-up call of the Arab Spring uprisings, the room for civil society organisations is being increasingly constricted across the globe, experts in Washington warned on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the trends have been against democracy, against expansion of that space of civil society,” Maina Kiai, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of assembly, told a panel discussion here. “With more and more restrictions coming up to take away these rights, we are at a point where we have begun the fight again. This time it’s much more subtle, much more ‘rule by law’ than ‘rule of law’, and it’s very scary.” Kiai highlighted anti-NGO legislation currently pending or recently passed in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Russia and elsewhere. In May, Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog, highlighted four countries as being at particular risk for democratic “backsliding”, Hungary, South Africa, Turkey and Ukraine. It also called on international actors to step up a range of efforts to ensure that several other countries – including Bahrain, Cambodia, Egypt, Myanmar and South Sudan – are able to consolidate democratic gains. Freedom House put particular emphasis on the United States, stating that the country “should be stepping up its support for democracy promotion now, rather than cede the initiative to authoritarian rulers … (President Barack Obama’s) request for democracy and human rights activities for FY 2013 is $2.8 billion, a 9% increase over FY 2012 levels. Yet, funding for these initiatives continues to be the smallest amount when compared to other priorities in the budget.” Another report from this year, “The State of Civil Society 2011”, an inaugural work released in April by CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance based in South Africa, suggested that “2011 marked a critical juncture for civil society”, in part for the fallout from the Arab Spring, a learning experience on both public protest and the resulting international response.

INDIA

Yoga Guru Detained at Anti-Graft March.” By Krishna Pokharel. Times of India. August 13, 2012. Indian police detained but later released yoga guru and antigraft campaigner Baba Ramdev as he led thousands of supporters toward the nation’s Parliament in an attempt to shine a spotlight on the country’s corruption problems. Mr. Ramdev, who first came to prominence through his yoga classes, has become a thorn in the Congress party-led government’s side through his regular protests against graft. Corruption has become a hot-button issue in India, one that has hurt the government’s popularity as it tries to deal with mounting economic problems.

Corrupt politicians control country’s destiny: Team Anna.” No by-line. Times of India. August 15, 2012. Erstwhile Team Anna on Wednesday alleged that the country’s destiny was controlled by a few “corrupt” politicians and corporates and it requires right leadership to take on the challenges posed by them. Activists Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi took to micro-blogging site twitter to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the nation on the occasion of Independence Day. “Today our destinies are controlled by few corrupt politicians, officials and corporates…Hope some day we would have true democracy,” Kejriwal said. He hoped that there would be much more in laws for those who have much less in life and people would directly make laws rather than just elect some people once in five years. “Hope some day, we would get true independence when people would control their own destiny, when politics would be a means to serve rather than make money,” he said. Commenting on Singh’s speech, Bedi said, “The Prime Minister says we have passed Lokpal Bill etc. Does not say what kind of bill? One which weakens CBI further! Banks on people’s legal illiteracy.” She said what people need is a “measurement tool” of performance of the government from their Prime Minister in which a commoner becomes a stakeholder. “PM’s speech indicates what may be done. Problem is in the how, the who and even the when (with eye on votes)? Huge Trust deficit!” she said. None of programmes and assurances are possible without integrity and administrative willingness. How does that happen is the key challenge, she said, adding country has two key challenges before it. “Political corruption and bureaucratic insensitivity. Both require right leadership for change,” she added.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Best bits: Social enterprise goes international; All you need to know about social enterprise around the world from the expert panel on our recent live Q&A.” Guardian. August 17, 2012.

UK

Best bits: The Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector; Our latest online debate discussed how to maintain an Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector. Here are our expert panelists’ views.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. August 7, 2012. The Olympics will inspire a new generation of volunteers: They will also engage local communities outside of London. It is important that we encourage this sense of community and inspire young people to continue volunteering. I know many first time volunteers involved in the Olympics and we need to capitalise on their enthusiasm and experience. We need to create and develop opportunities that are not just sporting related: We must develop cultural and community-based opportunities. I believe that as a sector we have to get organised, as well as reach out and develop ways that people can get involved using all the tools at our disposal. We must be creative, positive and enthusiastic about using the Olympics as a way of increasing volunteering like never before. The Olympic volunteering programme has taught us the importance of brand: I am increasingly interested in the idea of “brand” when it comes to volunteers. The sense of pride and engagement people feel when they are part of a movement is a great concept that we should think about when designing roles and developing programmes.

We volunteered for the Games, but not for the Big Society; Volunteering at the London Olympics was a glorious one-off, but a one-off nonetheless.” By Mary Dejevsky. Independent. August 16, 2012. When Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe closed the London Olympics, the loudest cheer was reserved not for the athletes – though the roar was deafening – nor for the organisers, who received an almost equally generous hand, but for the volunteers – all 70,000 of them. Or should I say, immodestly, us? The warm public embrace in which we volunteers have luxuriated – and which will surely last through the Paralympics – became a phenomenon of the Games. And the big question now – as big as David Cameron’s Big Society – is whether the volunteering, like the sport, can “inspire a generation”. Why was there so much public enthusiasm? Pleasant surprise might be one explanation. For the Olympics, you have to have athletes, you have to have venues, and you have to have organisers. But the volunteers seemed to appear out of nowhere as a sort of bonus. The capital was suddenly speckled with clusters of pink- and-purple people, who were welcoming and polite – and the delight was mutual. London was transformed from an impersonal and at times threatening mega-city into somewhere more manageable and humane. You can say what you like about our uniforms, but you can’t say you could not see us, and our kit conferred a certain sense of responsibility. Volunteers came from all ages and backgrounds. There might never have been such a cross-section of people cooperating since National Service was abolished. We really were a mirror of Britain. Some of my favourites were the mostly young people staffing the pedestrian crossings, trying to dissuade the huge crowds from trying to compete with a London bus. With their loud-hailers, cries of “Lad-eez and Gentlemen, careful now”, “Wait for the green man”, they were a splendid advert for young Britain, proof that courtesy, wit and a sense of responsibility has been hidden somewhere beyond the rioters and the Neets. They perfectly illustrated the notion that if you make people feel useful, they will rise to the occasion. But will that spirit last? Will the volunteer army of the Olympics stick around to help build Mr Cameron’s Big Society, and even if its foot soldiers don’t, might they not have set an example that others will follow? And here, I regret to say – despite the reported surge in people volunteering to help with sports clubs in the immediate wake of the Olympics or offering a “Jubilee hour” of their time – I am less optimistic.

Working Models: The Prince’s Trust deserves praise for helping young people to help themselves.” No by-line. Times of London. August 18, 2012. A recession can be blind and pitiless in picking its victims. Many casualties have done little more to merit the misery of joblessness than to be born in the wrong place, or to work in an industry stranded by the shifting tide of technology or tastes. And nowhere is the sting of unemployment more brutishly felt in Britain today than among its young. Already more than a million of them are out of work. Not all the teenagers who have just completed their schooling will join the jobless. But the fact that a fifth of young people told a survey conducted for the Prince’s Trust that they do not look forward to their future — and that one in five currently without work regards landing a job in the next year as “unachievable” — is not just a measure of the depth of the curse of youth unemployment. It is a measure, too, of the despair corroding the hopes, ambitions and happiness of a generation on whose shoulders Britain’s future prosperity rests. The Prince of Wales has marshalled the resources of the Prince’s Trust to rebuild those hopes, to nurture potential and to help ten of thousands of young people to set up their own businesses. In doing so, young men and women have found not just a purpose, but a work ethic and the strength to transform their lives by their own wits. They, in turn, offer others inspiration and an example. Most potently, they learn the habit of work. The danger of a long recession is that, when the jobs return, many young people have no experience of the rhythm and language of the workplace. By offering young people avenues for employment, while also challenging businesses to offer others work experience, training or mentoring support, the Prince’s Trust is making an invaluable contribution in keeping the language of work alive.

Best bits: Forming a charity consortium; Our latest online debate discussed building a voluntary sector consortium. Here are our expert panellists’ views.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. August 16, 2012. Many consortia are finding it hard to access investment without the relationships in place with commissioners: And commissioners won’t commission to consortia that don’t have the capacity. There is a significant amount of interest from local authorities in supporting consortia: We’ve developed a project that starts with commissioners and seeks to support them to reach out to the sector and possibly support development of a consortium in a service area matching their interest.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 6-12, 2012)

Monday, August 13th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Pennsylvania: Monsignor Is Refused Bail.” No by-line. New York Times/Associated Press. August 6, 2012. A Roman Catholic Church official will remain in prison while he fights his conviction for failing to protect a boy from a predatory priest. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of Common Pleas Court on Monday deemed Monsignor William J. Lynn’s conduct too serious to warrant bail, despite defense arguments that the conviction may well be overturned because Monsignor Lynn was not the immediate supervisor of any priests accused of sexual abuse. Monsignor Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is serving a three- to six-year prison term. His legal team is shrinking as the archdiocese limits its financial budget for his appeal. Jeff Lindy is stepping down from the team after eight years, and two of the four lawyers who defended Monsignor Lynn at trial will continue “largely on a pro bono basis,” the archdiocese said.

CHINA

China’s Catholics Go to Camp; Pastors and priests across the country report an increased interest in faith among the young.” By Jill Kay Melchior. Wall Street Journal. August 9, 2012. While thousands of American teenagers have spent their summers at expensive camps that allow them to have fun outdoors, students in Rui’an city in China’s eastern Zhejiang province did something simple and soulful this summer: They attended a Catholic summer course. While the demand is there to sustain the program, the parents don’t know if the camp will be open next year. The government has long limited religious training for children, which makes the program’s continuation precarious. Like two-thirds of the 120,000 Catholics in the Wenzhou diocese, An Yang Parish is a part of an “underground church” that operates outside of the government’s mandated religious bureaucracy. Beijing gets especially skittish about large-scale underground activities, which is why eight years ago Wenzhou officials forbade both open and underground Catholics from offering summertime religious education to anyone under 18. That year, the diocese had planned to teach around 1,600 children. Local officials seem to have softened a bit in the intervening years, so while they questioned An Yang leadership about last year’s summer youth program, they didn’t cancel classes. Nevertheless, the program wasn’t without consequence: The head of the An Yang parish council said he’s periodically been under government surveillance for his religious activities. The issue of religious liberties for minors is deliberately treated ambiguously in Chinese law. The latest regulations, in place since 2005, do not explicitly guarantee religious freedom for minors, nor do they codify the rights of parents to offer religious instruction to their children. But they do forbid organizations or individuals from using religion “to obstruct the state education system,” which is often interpreted as a ban on religious private schools and religious instruction in public classrooms. Beijing is always uneasy about religion, and the vague legality allows it to regulate religious education on a whim, all the while telling the international community that parents are free to raise their children in their faith.

DEVELOPMENT

Q&A: Microcredit Bank ‘Incorporates Women in the Benefits of Development’.”By Estrella Gutiérrez. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). August 9, 2012. “Our raison d’etre is incorporating women in development, and especially in the benefits of development,” says Nora Castañeda, an economist who has headed the Banmujer bank in Venezuela since it was founded in 2001. Castañeda, who describes herself as a socialist and feminist, has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights. And she continues to fight for that cause in the Banco de Desarrollo de la Mujer (Women’s Development Bank – Banmujer), which she defines as “a different kind of bank,” in the broader context of the world’s microcredit institutions. Her lengthy career includes founding the Women’s Studies Centre at the Central University of Venezuela and coordinating the participation of the local NGOs in the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995. Banmujer, the only public bank of its kind in the world – which targets women, offering them services completely free of charge – has granted 150,000 small loans for a total of 10.7 million dollars.

INDIA

Hazare disbands Team Anna, says no talks with govt on Lokpal.” No by-line. Times of India. August 6, 2012. Apparently paving the way for the formation of a political party, Team Anna on Monday disbanded itself and decided not to have any more talks with the government on Lokpal issue. The dissolution of Anna Hazare’s team came three days after it ended its indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar here with plans for formation of a political alternative to fight the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The announcement was made by Hazare in his blog but he did not clearly specify whether they were going to immediately announce formation of a party though he has talked about the procedures for setting up the political alternative. “The government is not ready to enact Jan Lokpal Bill. How long and how many times we will go on fast? Now people have asked us to leave fast and give an alternative. I also thought that the government is not going to curb corruption… “We are now stopping the activities of Team Anna today. Team Anna was formed to fight for Jan Lokpal. We have also decided not to have any more talks with the government. From today, there will be no Team Anna or Team Anna Core Committee,” Hazare said. Since April last year, Team Anna has been on streets with Hazare going on indefinite fast four times and one-day fasts also four times besides being part of a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill. Team Anna’s decision to enter electoral politics had earlier met with opposition from several of core committee members like Justice Santosh Hegde, Medha Patkar, Chandramohan and Akhil Gogoi. “I have given an alternative of sending good people to Parliament. But I am not going to be part of any party nor I will contest elections. After getting Jan Lokpal, I will go back to Maharashtra and indulge in my activities. “I have told this to those who are for forming a party. Even after forming the party, this movement should go on. In the movement, we had earlier demanded for Jan Lokpal Bill and now keeping this movement alive, send good people to Parliament with the help of people and ensure that the law is enacted,” he said.

Anna Hazare clearly directed us to start forming political party, Arvind Kejriwal tweets.” Times of India. August 12, 2012. Erstwhile Team Anna on Sunday claimed that the decision to turn the anti-corruption movement political was Anna Hazare’s and a “malicious” campaign has been working overtime to drive a wedge between them and the 74-year-old social activist. Breaking his silence over claims by a section of Team Anna members that Hazare was against forming a political party, activist Arvind Kejriwal alleged a “propaganda machinery” was working overtime to “drive wedge” between Hazare and other activists. His remarks came a day after reports quoting Team Anna members mentioned that Hazare was against the formation of a party saying they were not prepared to take a plunge in politics. On August 3, while calling off his fast, Hazare had announced the formation of a political alternative though he had said he would not be a member of the party. “Anna clearly directed us to start forming political party. If he says even once that he doesn’t want us to do that, we will immediately withdraw. Let Anna say once that he is against pol(itical) party formation, we will immediately withdraw,” Kejriwal wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter. He claimed that Hazare heeded to public demand and is convinced that there was no road left other than providing political alternative. “Anna has been fighting corrupt for last 30 years. He is extremely sharp politically n (sic) fiercely independent. Those projecting Anna as a gullible man may try getting Anna to say a single line against his wishes.

RELIGION

Religiosity Plummets In Ireland And Declines Worldwide; Atheism On The Rise.” By Dominique Mosbergen. Huffington Post. August 8, 2012. Rocked in recent years by sex-abuse scandals and crises in leadership, the Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland has been struggling to keep its members close. But this week, a new global survey on faith and atheism has revealed that the crisis of faith in Ireland may be much worse than previously thought. According to the poll released by WIN-Gallup International, the traditionally Catholic country has seen one of the steepest drops worldwide in religiosity. The poll — which was based on interviews with more than 50,000 people selected from 57 countries — asked participants, “irrespective of whether they attended a place of worship, if they considered themselves to be religious, not religious, or an atheist.” In Ireland, only 47 percent of those polled said they considered themselves religious — a 22-point drop from the 69 percent recorded in a similar poll conducted in 2005. In addition, 10 percent self-identified as atheist. The only country that registered a steeper decline in religiosity was Vietnam, which saw a 23-point drop from 53 percent to 30 percent. However, Ireland and Vietnam were not unique in this dip in faith, Reuters notes. According to the global index, there has been a notable decline in religiosity worldwide. Across the globe, religiosity fell by 9 points. The number of people worldwide who call themselves religious is now 59 percent, while those who identify as atheist rose from 4 percent in 2005 to 7 percent.

UK

Church of England sells £1.9m News Corp shares.” By Ruth Gledhill and Ben Webster. Times of London. August 7 2012. The Church of England has sold its shares worth £1.9 million in News Corporation, parent company of The Times, in response to the phone hacking scandal. The shares were held by the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board, two of the Church’s three investing bodies, which have total assets worth £8 billion. They represented 0.005 per cent of News Corporation’s publicly traded stock. In a statement, the Church said it had first raised concerns with the board of News Corporation, which owns The Times, in the aftermath of “phone hacking allegations that surfaced in July 2011”. It said the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) had engaged in “a year of dialogue” with the company. Andrew Brown, secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “Last year’s phone hacking allegations raised some serious concerns among the Church’s investing bodies about our holding in News Corporation. Our decision to disinvest was not one taken lightly and follows a year of continuous dialogue with the company, during which the EIAG put forward a number of recommendations around how corporate governance structures at News Corporation could be improved. However the EIAG does not feel that the company has brought about sufficient change and we have accepted its advice to disinvest.” The Church Commissioners called last October for the voting rights of the Murdoch family to be “more proportionate to their economic interest in the company”. They also called for “more genuinely independent voices on the board” and for the separation of the roles of chairman and chief executive. Rupert Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp. The UK Corporate Governance Code states that the roles should be held by different people. However, it is common for US companies, such as News Corp, to combine the roles.

Christians, Muslims and even a ‘vegan turkey’ seek converts at London 2012; Followers of various religions, philosophies and causes jostle to spread the word near Olympic Park.” NBC News. August 6, 2012. As hundreds of Olympics fans milled around them, an Italian dressed in a turkey costume stood debating the rights and wrongs of eating meat with a man wearing a sports-themed T-shirt proclaiming he was a member of “Team Islam.” With tens of thousands of people entering the Olympic Park every day, it was perhaps only natural that various religions, philosophies and causes would jump at the chance to win some of them over. And so just outside Stratford Bus Station — which many sports fans must walk past on their way to the park — there was a collection of Christians, Muslims, vegans and others eager to spread the word.

University fee rise: 15,000 fewer applicants is ‘storm warning’, says chair of Fees Commission.” Video. Guardian. August 9, 2012. Chair of the Independent Commission on Fees, Will Hutton, responds to the drop in the number of English students applying for university places after tuition fees were increased to a maximum of £9,000 a year. Hutton said it was ‘very early days’ and the 15,000 students who didn’t apply for places this autumn may come back next year.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (July 2-8, 2012)

Monday, July 9th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Founder’s $40m tax bill will not force MONA to close.” By Adam Fulton. Sydney Morning Herald. July 7, 2012. The millionaire gambler and arts patron behind the $180 million Museum of Old and New Art, David Walsh, is determined to keep it running and says it is unlikely to close to the public. ”There is some risk but I would rate it as small,” Mr Walsh said, of suggestions the Tasmanian museum could close as a result of his retrospective tax bill, put at about $40 million. It is my intention to support MONA ongoing – that has been the work of my life,” he told the Herald yesterday. The museum has ”significant possibilities”. In saying that, the retrospective tax bill is not something that I can service. It is, in fact, more than 100 per cent of the money I’ve made. But I expect a negotiated settlement. I’m not just saying that – I fully expect to get an outcome.” The comments from Mr Walsh, a professional gambler and art collector who founded and owns the museum, come after the Australian Taxation Office gave him a bill for the 2004 to 2006 financial years of nearly $38 million plus interest. He is appealing against the bill and the Tax Office’s ruling, and the case is set to go before the Federal Court next month. The Tax Office alleged that an international gambling syndicate, including Mr Walsh, operated a billion-dollar business and tried to hide details of its operations. Mr Walsh said the tax bill meant he had put on hold expansion plans for the museum. But of it continuing to stay open,

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Church shuttered inquiry into abuse.” By Linton Besser and Joanne Mccarthy. Sydney Morning Herald. July 6, 2012. eE church prematurely terminated an investigation last year into the alleged failure of a top Catholic education official to take action over the sexual assault of an 11-year-old boy in the 1970s by a lay teacher. A former principal of St Patrick’s at Sutherland, Brother Anthony Peter Whelan, had been accused by Robert Lipari of failing to take action against a science teacher, Thomas Keady, after he reported being molested by the man at a caravan park. Shortly before being employed at the school, Keady had completed a three-year jail term in Victoria for child sex offences. The church commissioned an investigation by the former NSW Police assistant commissioner, Norm Maroney, who substantiated the 1976 assault, and the fact it was reported it to another senior teacher at the school, Brother John Vincent Roberts. But Mr Maroney was told to stop his inquiries while he was still trying to substantiate the boy’s claims that he had personally reported the assault to Brother Whelan. The spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Andrew Morrison, SC, said that in his view it appeared ”the investigation was ended prematurely in order to protect Brother Whelan”. ”It is very disturbing in circumstances where the investigation was almost completed and the overwhelming inference was that an adverse finding was highly likely against Brother Whelan … there were other potential witnesses, but he was not permitted to speak to them.” He said the inquiry should be reopened and he called for the police to investigate.
Related storiy:
Pennsylvania: Archdiocese Bars Two More Priests From Ministry.” New York Times. July 6, 2012.

HAITI

Earthquake Relief Where Haiti Wasn’t Broken.” By Deborah Sontag. New York Times. July 5, 2012. On the first anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, in a sleepy corner of northeast Haiti far from the disaster zone, the Haitian government began the process of evicting 366 farmers from a large, fertile tract of land to clear the way for a new industrial park. The farmers did not understand why the authorities wanted to replace productive agricultural land with factories in a rural country that had trouble feeding itself. But, promised compensation, they did not protest a strange twist of fate that left them displaced by an earthquake that had not affected them. Two and a half years after the earthquake, Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian crisis, with 390,000 people languishing in tents. Yet the showcase project of the reconstruction effort is this: an industrial park that will create jobs and housing in an area undamaged by the temblor and in a venture that risks benefiting foreign companies more than Haiti itself. Financed by $224 million in subsidies flowing to Haiti as a result of the earthquake, the Caracol Industrial Park is hardly reconstruction in the strictest sense. Its developers, though, take the more expansive view that, in a desperately poor country where traditional foreign aid has chronically failed, fostering economic development is as important as replacing what fell down. Caracol, the promotional materials say, will help make Haiti globally competitive “without compromising on labor and environmental standards.”

INDIA

Ashok Chavan charged in Adarsh housing scam.” No by-line. Times of India. July 4, 2012. Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was among 13 people charged by CBI today in the multi-crore Adarsh Housing scam. The 10,000-page CBI chargesheet was filed before the registrar of a sessions court, nearly 18 months after the agency registered a case. The Adarsh scam had fuelled a political storm in Maharashtra leading to the resignation of Chavan as the chief minister. Earlier in the day, the CBI informed the Bombay high court, hearing a batch of public interest litigations seeking the court’s supervision of the probe, that it would be filing a chargesheet later in the day. The CBI has registered a case on January 29 last year against Chavan and others which included bureaucrats and retired army personnel. The agency had in March arrested nine out of the 14 accused after receiving a rap on its knuckles from the high court for not initiating action against the accused persons. The nine arrested accused are – R C Thakur, secretary of Adarsh, retired brigadier M M Wanchoo, former Congress MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, both promoters of the society, former deputy secretary of urban development department P V Deshmukh, IAS officers Ramanand Tiwari and Jairaj Phatak, retired major generals A R Kumar and T K Kaul and former city collector Pradeep Vyas. They were released on bail by a special CBI court after CBI failed to file charge sheet within the stipulated 60-day period after arrest. They have been charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

RUSSIA

Foreign-Funded Nonprofits in Russia Face New Hurdle.” By Ellen Barry. New York Times. July 2, 2012. In the latest move to rein in dissent, Russian authorities have introduced a draft law that would require nonprofit organizations that receive financing from outside Russia to publicly declare themselves “foreign agents” — a term that, to Russians, evokes cold war-era espionage and is likely to discredit the organizations’ work in the eyes of the public. Lawmakers from United Russia, the governing party, have accelerated work on the bill and are scheduling the first of three readings on Friday. If passed, the bill would complement a new law penalizing Russians for taking part in unauthorized protests, which was rushed through Parliament at a similar pace last month. The bill would also put new burdens on nonprofit groups with foreign financing that are judged to be involved in politics, including annual audits and unannounced checks for the use of “extremist speech” in published materials. Organizations could face fines of as much as 1 million rubles, or $30,000, for violations. Rights activists have excoriated the proposal as an attempt to discredit their work, arguing that Russian donors are afraid to support organizations that criticize the government, which then leaves them dependent on foreign sources for money. The bill’s sponsors say the law is no more restrictive than the Foreign Agents Registration Act, an American law requiring organizations to disclose foreign support. That law, however, applies only to entities that represent governments; the Russian proposal includes individual and private financial support as well.
Related story:
Russia plans to register ‘foreign agent’ NGOs; Critics say bill targeting foreign-funded NGOs involved in political activities is part of a crackdown on independent activists.” Guardian. July 2, 2012.

SOCIAL ENTERPRIESE & ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Live Q&A: International social enterprise: To mark the launch of our new international hub, join us on 6 July to discuss the role of social enterprise in your corner of the globe.” Guardian. July 6, 2012.

Live Q&A: International social enterprise.” Friday 6 July, 10am – 12 midday BST.” To mark the launch of our new international hub, join us on 6 July to discuss the role of social enterprise in your corner of the globe. We recently launched our new hub for international social enterprise and, to celebrate, we’re inviting you – wherever you are – to join us for a live Q&A on social enterprise around the globe. We’ll be asking:• How social enterprise is supported around the globe; • How social enterprise is defined and perceived in different countries; • What’s the main driver behind social enterprise? Perhaps it’s to create jobs for young people, an off-shoot from the charity sector, or a desire to ‘socialise business’? Log in and let us know what you think about the the progress of social enterprise in your country.

UK

Care home children sent north to save cash.” By Andrew Norfolk. Times of London. July 2, 2012. Hundreds of troubled children are being moved many miles from family and friends — in breach of official guidelines — to private care homes bought cheaply in northern England, The Times reveals today. The south-to-north exodus, which comes to light as the Government prepares to open an urgent inquiry into residential childcare, is seen most starkly in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. The town, with 205,000 residents, has 47 children’s homes, four more than the 14 inner London boroughs combined, where the population is 3.1 million. Girls placed far from home are known to be particularly vulnerable to men who pursue young teenagers in care for sexual grooming. Over the past five years, there have been 631 reported cases of children’s home residents in England being sold for sex. Looked-after children should be placed more than 20 miles from home only in exceptional circumstances, the guidelines state, yet 23,000 young people, more than a third of all children in care, are living outside their home local authority. Most are in foster care, but those with the greatest needs are often sent to children’s homes run by private operators, which have built a portfolio of premises in areas of the country where property prices are low. Such companies, some owned by global investment funds, charge fees averaging £200,000 a year per child. Annual fees at one home were as high as £378,000. A government source described child sexual exploitation yesterday as “an abhorrent crime” and acknowledged that “for years we — police, social services, schools, agencies and governments — have collectively failed to tackle the problem”. An MPs’ report last month into children missing from care said that a belief that it was acceptable for adults to have sex with children who “consent” to their abuse was ingrained within the child protection system. The Government will announce tomorrow a review into “all aspects of the quality of provision in children’s homes”, including local authority commissioning practices and “the location and ownership of homes.”

Charities with a conscience are in a funding fix; Organisations may be sighing with relief at the government’s U-turn on charitable tax reliefs, but traditional sources of funds are drying up.” By David Brindle. Guardian. July 3, 2012. There will be sore heads tomorrow at the Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention, following tonight’s convention party. There always are: fundraisers know how to put on a good bash and the event is justly renowned. But many at this year’s party will have special reason to celebrate. For the government’s headlong retreat on its budget plan to cap charitable tax reliefs has lifted a dark cloud that for 10 weeks hung over the heads of big-gift fundraisers as their wealthy clientele pondered whether to put away their cheque books. Voluntary sector leaders can still scarcely believe their luck. Although the sector put up a solid public front in arguing for the plan to be dropped, as it ultimately was amid a flurry of budget U-turns, the picture behind the scenes was less united. The institute itself offered a compromise that would have exempted donors from the proposed cap only if they passed up their own tax reclaim to the charity receiving the tax-deductible gift. As Karl Wilding, head of policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has now acknowledged, the sector was scratching round for evidence to justify continuation of uncapped reliefs. And “an awful lot” of charities thought it wrong to campaign to keep them, he told a conference last week. Some member organisations even told the NCVO to desist. The truth is that there is considerable discomfort in the sector at the exposure of a system by which rich people appear able to dictate how their contributions to the common good are spent – getting out of paying taxes for (state) schools and hospitals by electing to donate to projects of their choice, which very often will be in the arts or higher education rather than in general social welfare.

Non-hierarchical structures: could it work for you? Breaking down the usual power structures and responsibilities can help charities improve and achieve better results.” By Liz McDowell. Guardian. July 2, 2012. If I say ‘collective decision-making’ you might picture activists outside St Paul’s taking turns to speak. And no wonder – collaborative, non-hierarchical ways of organising have recently been catapulted into the public eye through the Occupy movement. It’s unsurprising that those trying to bring about a radically better world would want to break down structures of power and privilege through different ways of working. But these egalitarian approaches are spreading further than you might imagine – beyond protest groups to charities and even private sector organisations. The new generation of entrepreneurs is less comfortable with hierarchy and more ready to embrace the creative chaos of collective working. The Otesha Project UK has spent six months transitioning to a non-hierarchical structure. From having one executive director, we’ve shifted into a team of five co-directors, alongside decently paid interns who have an equal say but don’t take on any managerial or administrative responsibility. So why choose this potentially risky course? We wanted to show that we value eveyone’s skills equally in our decision-making, governance and salary structures. Meanwhile, long hours and feeling single-handedly responsible for the organisation’s success or failure was difficult for me as the founder. Since going public with our new structure, other charities and social enterprises have been clamouring to know how it works.

Notable & Quotable: Joel Mokyr on the private provision of public goods in “The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850” (2009). Wall Street Journal. July 4, 2012. The argument that economic development in Britain in the age of the Industrial Revolution was the result of “the rule of law,” that is, well-defined and enforced property rights through third party (i.e. the state) enforcement, is a gross oversimplification. . . . Private law enforcement remained of substantial importance until well into the nineteenth century . . . The enforcement of property rights through private-order institutions reflects something deep and supremely important about British institutions in the eighteenth century. The culture of respectability and gentility helped solve the standard collective action problems that bedevil the production of public goods. The emergence of a plethora of networks, clubs, friendly societies, academies, and associations created a civil society, in which the private provision of public goods became a reality and created what might be called a civil economy. What was true for property right enforcement was true for other projects, for which elsewhere in Europe the state had to play a major role. Roads, harbors, bridges, lighthouses, river navigation improvements, drainage works, and canals were initiated through private subscriptions. In some cases, of course, there was the hope of making a profit, but commonly the entrepreneurs were motivated by a desire to improve local trade and employment.

Charities protest at delay in decision on care for elderly; Crucial decision on how to fund reform to be postponed until next year’s spending review.” By Daniel Boffey. Guardian/The Observer. July 7, 2012. Charities and health organisations reacted with fury to the breakdown of cross-party talks on the future of social care for the elderly as ministers said key decisions on how to fund reform would be postponed until next year’s spending review. A long-delayed white paper on the future of social care will be published on Wednesday along with a draft social care bill. But most attention will focus on a separate progress report – not endorsed by the Labour party – that will make clear that funding for the changes has yet to be agreed. The Treasury denied claims, circulating within the coalition, that chancellor George Osborne had blocked changes that would cost at least £1.7bn a year. In 2011 a review chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot recommended a number of changes to adult social care funding in England. These included placing a cap of £35,000 on what people should pay towards home visits or care home costs before they get help from the state. In England, council-funded home help and care home places for the elderly and adults with disabilities are currently offered only to those with assets of less than £23,250. The Dilnot report said the threshold for assets should rise to £100,000 and a £35,000 cap would be fair. It is estimated that the reforms would cost an additional £1.7bn a year, rising to £3bn as numbers of elderly grow. Currently £14bn a year is spent by councils on social care. Health secretary Andrew Lansley and the Liberal Democrats are understood to have been keen to agree the Dilnot plans, but had to accept that the Treasury’s hands would not be tied ahead of the 2013 spending review. A Treasury spokesman said: “It is completely untrue that we have blocked anything. We have not even been in the talks.”

VATICAN

German Bishop to Head Vatican Orthodoxy Office.” By Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. July 2, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI tapped German bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller to head the Vatican’s office in charge of doctrinal affairs, placing a respected theologian at the helm of one of Roman Catholicism’s most powerful posts. Monday’s appointment comes at a delicate time for the Vatican. Bishop Mueller, 64, succeeds retiring U.S. Cardinal William Joseph Levada as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the formal name of the Holy See’s doctrinal office. Cardinal Levada, 76, presided over a turbulent period in church history as the Vatican struggled to overcome controversies ranging from tensions with dissident movements to the long-running child-abuse scandal. Bishop Mueller cut his teeth in the world of academia, following a path very similar to the pope. He is the bishop of Regensburg, Germany, the same city where Pope Benedict taught theology in the 1960s as the then-Rev. Joseph Ratzinger. Like the pope, Bishop Mueller has distinguished himself in theological circles. A prolific writer, Bishop Mueller has published a wide array of works, and he is the editor of Opera Omnia, a collection of the pope’s theological writings. , The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is spearheading the Vatican’s response to some of the most sensitive issues facing the Catholic Church. In Europe, the office in involved in efforts to bring the breakaway traditionalist group Society of St. Pius X back into the Catholic fold. Bishop Mueller will also oversee the Vatican’s controversial effort to overhaul an umbrella group of nuns in the U.S. He will also continue to lead the Catholic Church’s world-wide efforts to crack down on sexual abuse. Due to the importance of his new post, the prelate is likely to be named a cardinal in the future. In a statement announcing the appointment, the Vatican said Pope Benedict was elevating the prelate to be an archbishop.
Related story:
Pope Names German Bishop as Leader of Doctrinal Office.” New York Times. July 2, 2012.

Pope Defends His Top Aide Amid Vatican Infighting.” By Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. July 4, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI defended his closest aide against a tide of “unjust criticism” in an unusual open letter that underscored the pontiff’s struggle to quell months of infighting within the Vatican’s corridors. The pope’s July 2 letter to his top lieutenant Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone marked a rare acknowledgment of the cardinal’s controversial standing among Roman Catholic officials. As the Holy See’s secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone acts as the papacy’s prime minister, running day-to-day operations of the Vatican’s government, the Roman Curia, and keeping church officials united behind the pope’s ministry. Publication of the letter, which praised the cardinal’s “enlightened counsel,” aims to put an end to weeks of reports in Italian newspapers that Cardinal Bertone’s ouster was imminent. In the hushed world of Vatican politics, however, the standing of a secretary of state is rarely questioned in the first place. The fact that the pontiff, on the eve of his summer holiday, publicly defended Cardinal Bertone is a clear sign that the cardinal is under siege, according to Vatican analysts. Some Catholic officials are unhappy with Cardinal Bertone’s handling of myriad crises facing the papacy, ranging from his response to the long-running sexual-abuse scandal to his struggle to referee turf battles over Vatican finances. The battle has been laid bare by a hemorrhage of internal documents that have recently been leaked to the Italian media.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 25-July 1, 2012)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Church and School Cuts Anger Catholics in Philadelphia.” By Erik Eckholm. New York Times. June 24, 2012. For the unsettled Roman Catholics in this 1.5 million-member archdiocese, the closing is one more blow in sweeping and bitterly contested cutbacks. Across the city, thousands are already incensed because church leaders have closed 27 cherished schools. Even as it struggles with the revelations of sexual abuse and the failure of top officials to act, the Philadelphia Archdiocese, long considered an eminent stronghold of Catholic power and tradition, is being battered from several sides. Faced with an unheard-of $17 million deficit this year — worsened by millions of dollars in legal fees — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who arrived in September, announced last week that he was closing the youth office, shutting down the nationally known monthly newspaper and laying off 45 archdiocese employees. He has put the archbishop’s 13,000-square-foot mansion up for sale. It was the threat of school closings, not the evidence that church officials failed to protect children, that brought hundreds of livid parents into the streets this year. Philadelphia’s elaborate network of parishes and parochial schools was developed more than a century ago, after the settlement of European ethnic groups that have long since dispersed. For too long, officials here avoided making unpopular decisions, said Rocco Palmo, an expert on the Catholic Church and writer of the blog Whispers in the Loggia. Parishioners were never told that the church was sinking in the red, Mr. Palmo added, and this year’s announced cuts, which will be far from the last, took many by surprise.
Related stories:
Arlington lawsuit says priest sexually assaulted woman during ‘exorcisms’.” Washington Post. June 27, 2012.
Priest assault trial resumes with abuse allegation.” Washington Post/Associated Press. June 28, 2012.

DEVELOPMENT

Rio+20: Transforming Political Platitudes into Economic Realities.” By Thalif Deen Republish. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). June 12, 2012. When world leaders endorse the final plan of action, titled “The Future We Want, at the Rio+20 summit in Brazil next week, a lingering question may remain unanswered: how best can the United Nations transform political platitudes into economic realities? As the 193-member Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) continues its final round of negotiations through Friday in Rio de Janeiro this week – and perhaps beyond, if the current deadlock continues – there are several proposals already on the table for institutional reform or the creation of new bodies. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has called for a show of “political courage” to seize the “once-in-a-generation” opportunity presented by Rio+20. Credit: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine These proposals include strengthening of the existing U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) by upgrading it to a full-fledged U.N. agency; establishing a Global Economic Coordination Council; creating a Global Sustainable Development Council and the granddaddy of all, the establishment of a mega World Environment Organisation (WEO).
Related story:
How Would You Measure Success at the Rio Summit?” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). June 27, 2012.

INDIA

Yale University offers programme for India’s Parliamentarians.” By Yogita Rao. Times of India. June 30, 2012. The fragile global economy, the evolving political and economic crises in the Middle East and Europe, and the 2012 US presidential elections, along with the challenges of leadership, were discussed in the Sixth India – Yale Parliamentary Leadership Program that began on June 20 and will conclude on June 30. The programme was launched in 2007 in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the India -US Forum of Parliamentarians. Till now, more than seventy members of India’s parliament have participated in the programme. The 2012 cohort of 11 members of India’s parliament came to the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut on June 20 to complete a six-day leadership program with Yale faculty that is now being be complemented by a four-day program of meetings, discussions, and interactions in Washington, DC with senior officials of the US government. The 2012 participants are drawn from seven different national and regional political parties in India. In the academic program, the delegation participated in discussions with Yale faculty on global economic governance, the US economy, corruption in government, counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan, political developments in the Arab world, the US Presidential elections, the economic and political crises in the Eurozone, Iran’s nuclear program, political and economic developments in China, and higher education in India, along with sessions on leadership, strategy, negotiation, and applied game theory.

MEDIA

IPS Announces WebTV.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). June 26th, 2012. After nearly 50 years as an international wire service, the Rome-based Inter Press Service (IPS) is branching out into WebTV, keeping pace with the latest advances in digital technology. Leveraging its current resources, the new WebTV will draw on more than 400 journalists in 140 countries, many of them with substantial expertise already in the visual media, according to IPS Director-General Mario Lubetkin. The IPS network of journalists, mostly from or based in the global South, will bring a new visual dimension to reporting on issues relating primarily to development, rights, energy, food, civil society, gender empowerment, the environment – and the growing emergence of the South on the multicultural world stage. The formal announcement, presided over by the President of the U.N. General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, took place on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit of world leaders in Rio de Janeiro. The formal announcement, presided over by the President of the U.N. General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, took place on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit of world leaders in Rio de Janeiro. “I am confident that the IPS WebTV that we are launching today would contribute in a meaningful way towards advancing our continuing efforts for global solidarity and cooperation to a higher and more mutually beneficial level,” Al-Nasser said. “As a media institution primarily focusing on development issues and providing a perspective of the South, (IPS) is making a major contribution towards presenting a balanced view with diversity of perspectives and highlighting the needs of the most vulnerable in the global agenda.”

RUSSIA

Russians Join Israel to Start Jewish Prize of $1 Million.” By David M. Herszenhorn. New York Times. June 26, 2012. A charity founded by Russian Jewish billionaires is establishing a $1 million annual award for excellence in virtually any field, to honor those people who attribute their success to Jewish values. The prize will be administered in partnership with the Israeli government, highlighting the strong ties between Israel and Russia. The award, called the Genesis Prize, will be financed by an endowment of about $50 million set up by three of Russia’s so-called oligarchs: Mikhail M. Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan, among others. Its creation was announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, where President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was wrapping up a 24-hour visit, though Mr. Putin did not attend the announcement event. The award is among a widening number of accolades that come with a seven-figure purse, including the Nobel Prizes; the Templeton Prize, for contributions to religion and spiritual life; and the Shaw Prizes, for astronomy, medicine and mathematics. But the new prize also sends an inevitable political message, which its originators say is unintended. Emphasizing Russia’s good rapport with Israel and Cyprus, which also has a large Russian-speaking diaspora, has become increasingly important to the Kremlin, given its eroding influence elsewhere in the Middle East. That sway is likely to diminish even further should the government of President Bashar al-Assad fall in Syria.

SPAIN

Spanish culture industry becomes bank collapse casualty; Arts badly hit by demise of traditional savings banks which have been the main sponsors of culture in Spain.” By Stephen Burgen. Guardian. June 29, 2012. Amid all the talk of bailouts and sovereign debt, less attention has been paid to another victim of the financial crisis – the arts. The Spanish culture industry has been hit by a double whammy: the public spending cuts that began in 2010 and the collapse of the savings banks that have been a main source of funding. These banks, known as cajas, grew out of montes de piedad – which were basically pawn shops – in the 19th century as an encouragement to the poor to save. They became something akin to friendly societies and were technically not for profit, and so had no shareholders. As they grew, they channelled their surplus into foundations that spent it on la obra social – anything from old people’s homes and drug rehabilitation centres to opera houses and art galleries. To put this in perspective, the obra social budget of the Catalan Fundacío la Caixa for the current year is €500m (£403m). “The savings banks have been the main sponsors of culture, even more than government,” says David Camps, head of communications at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, who also co-founded the Spanish fundraising association. Spain has many layers of national, regional and city government, each of which until recently had a generous budget for cultural activities. On top of that, virtually every cultural event – from exhibitions to rock festivals to village fiestas – would carry the logo of the local caja that was sponsoring it. Nearly all the cajas have succumbed to debt or corruption claims and, furthermore, have become banks. “Now that they have changed from being savings banks to banks all this funding is going to disappear,” says Camps. “Now they are not mutual societies and they have no obligation to fund the obra social.” Ironically, the funding shortfall comes at a time when there are more and more Spaniards who are unemployed and have more free time for venues such as galleries and concerts. Large cultural institutions will have to rely more on sponsorship, while smaller ones will have to develop new ideas such as crowdsourcing. Camps is involved in a campaign to persuade the government to improve tax incentives for corporate cultural sponsors, which at present can only write off 35% against donations. “We don’t have the culture of philanthropy that you have in the UK and the US,” he says. “We did up until early into the 20th century but not now. The upper class here hang on to their money, they don’t donate to social projects or the arts.”

UK

How can charities measure changing attitudes? Organisations aiming to change attitudes need some way of gathering evidence of what they are achieving.” By Loic Menzies. Guardian. June 22, 2012. Measuring social impact is one of the top priorities for third sector organisations and a tough funding environment is pushing them to ever greater lengths to gather data. Some organisations, however, want to achieve social change by altering people’s attitudes. How can these organisations measure such nebulous outcomes and link them to activities as intangible as going for coffee with key stakeholders? One response is to study changes in attitudes across society as a whole. Since that is where impact should make itself felt, there is a lot to be said for such an approach. As Adam Nichols points out however, such substantial social research can have prohibitive costs for small organisations and few can expect to have a substantial or broad enough impact to show up in large social studies. Small organisations’ roles are more likely to involve contributing to a debate and incrementally building momentum for change. Moreover, as with all impact measurement, changes in attitude need to be attributable to the organisations’ intervention. In social accounting this is called “accounting for dead-weight loss” (what would have happened anyway). Given that assessing impact involves so many difficulties it is not surprising many organisations feel unable to rise to the challenge. Yet without undertaking impact assessment, organisations aiming to change attitudes may not have any evidence that they are achieving anything. Key steps in measuring attitudinal change: • Specifically define the elements of the attitude you are seeking to foster; • Decide how to identify change (longitudinal studies, existing large-scale social studies or identification by stakeholders themselves); • Decide how to provide for attribution (primary or secondary research that tracks attitudes in society as a whole, information about other providers’ work, attribution by stakeholders themselves); • Gather information about both outputs and outcomes and link them.

Your charity online: what do your supporters want? Unleash your charity’s digital potential by looking beyond the website to your users’ needs.” By Katie Smith. Guardian. June 27, 2012. Online giving accounts for just 3.7% of charity donations, according to the 2011 nfpSynergy report Passion, Persistence and Partnership. So it’s not surprising that the blogosphere is awash with opinion and advice on what charities should be doing to transform online fundraising. Everything from better use of mobile and social media, to a call to make online giving more fun, there is no end of helpful diagnoses on the whys and wherefores.

Charities are providing drugs and alcohol services in place of the NHS; Experts accuse the coalition of putting ‘vital’ NHS programmes at risk by transferring drugs provision to charities.” By Mary O’Hara. Guardian. June 26, 2012. Just two months after the coalition’s drugs policies came under fire from campaigners who accused the government of putting lives at risk by promoting total abstinence to deal with addiction, a fresh row has erupted over the transfer of longstanding drugs and alcohol services from the NHS to the voluntary sector. Substance misuse experts and trade unions are accusing the government of failing to stem a “rapid” and damaging loss of established NHS treatment programmes as charities increasingly win contracts for services put out to tender by local authorities. The problem is so serious, according to Clare Gerada, head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, that “vital” NHS provision could be “extinct” within a few years. “I think we are taking services backward,” Gerada says. “It’s a full-on uni-directional shift from the NHS to the voluntary sector, and the pace is accelerating.” The furore around which organisations are best placed to provide addiction treatment and recovery services was thrust into the spotlight earlier this month following protests from unions when two NHS drugs services in the north of England lost out to charities in a recent tendering process. Public services union Unison and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) criticised the decisions to withdraw contracts from existing treatment programmes, claiming the contracts were awarded to charities to cut costs, and arguing that local NHS staff and service users would be adversely affected by the disruption. A total of six centres across Manchester, including a needle exchange that has been treating users for decades on the largest housing estate in England, are being closed as part of the overhaul.

What next, George? Charities understand that giving is a social phenomenon, but public policy needs to reflect this further.” By Kimberley Scharf. Guardian. June 26, 2012. All of the brouhaha about the proposed cap on tax relief for charitable contributions is over, government’s hands are washed of the proposal and they would like us to forget they ever mentioned it. But what now? The sector and government are rumbling about reforming current tax reliefs offered to charity. But is that really all there is to it? Is there something else that we should discuss with respect to charities and public policies? Maybe we should think in new directions to keep up with the fast changes that we see in the way information flows in a world that is more connected than ever?

Live Q&A: Encourging charitable giving, Wednesday 11 July.” By David Mills. Guardian. June 29, 2012. Join our expert panel to discuss how to encourage charitable giving. Photograph: Alamy Britain is a generous nation, giving more than £11 billion a year to charity. But in recent years, charitable giving has flatlined; a recent survey found that more than a third of people in the UK are giving less to charity than they did before the recession. Encouraging more charitable giving is a key aim of government, charities and those who provide and manage opportunities to donate. In this live Q&A, sponsored by JustTextGiving by Vodafone in association with the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network, we’ll discuss how we can work together to increase giving. Drawing on the experience and knowledge of our expert panel, we’ll discuss: • How charities can use new technology to encourage donations; • How fundraising tools should evolve to make giving easier and more compelling; • How charities can help bridge the gap between what audiences expect from them and the services they deliver; • What can charities learn from one another and how they can share best practice. You can leave your views and questions in the comments section below, or come back to join the discussion live from 12pm to 2pm on Wednesday 11 July.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 18-24, 2012)

Monday, June 25th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

“Nursing home funding to be slashed.” By Mark Metherell. Sydney Morning Herald. June 22, 2012. The federal government will slash the growth in funding of nursing home care in a bid to stabilise surging costs that have flowed from the rising numbers of frail residents. The Ageing Minister, Mark Butler, said he proposes to limit increases in subsidies to rises of 2.7 per cent a year in real terms. This is a drastic cut from the 6 per cent growth rates that have been financed by the government over the past four years. His announcement follows widespread unease among nursing home providers about the impact of the recent reforms for aged care financing announced in the budget. One industry estimate was that the government would cut another $500 million out of aged care spending.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Pa. monsignor becomes 1st US Catholic official convicted for covering up abuse complaints.” No by-line. Washington Post. June 22, 2012. A Roman Catholic church official was convicted of child endangerment but acquitted of conspiracy Friday in a landmark clergy-abuse trial, making him the first U.S. church official branded a felon for covering up abuse claims. Monsignor William Lynn helped the archdiocese keep predators in ministry, and the public in the dark, by telling parishes their priests were being removed for health reasons and then sending the men to unsuspecting churches, prosecutors said. Lynn, 61, served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, mostly under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. “Many in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia hierarchy had dirty hands,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. “They failed to realize that the church is its people.” Williams said he did not have sufficient evidence last year to charge other officials, including Bevilacqua, who died in January at age 88. Lynn had faced about 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three counts he faced — conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment. He was convicted of only a single endangerment count, which carries a possible 3 1/2- to seven-year prison term. The jury could not reach a verdict for Lynn’s co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1999. Despite Lynn’s acquittal on the conspiracy charge, the trial exposed how deeply involved the late cardinal was in dealing with accused priests.
Related stories:
High-Level Catholic Priest Is Convicted.” Wall Street Journal. June 22, 2012.
Philly Monsignor Guilty Of Child Endangerment.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. June 22, 2012.
Jury Is Deadlocked in Monsignor’s Trial.” Wall Street Journal. June 20, 2012.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/us/monsignor-lynn-jury-says-it-is-deadlocked.html?ref=todayspaper

“Jurors Report Split Over Church Abuse Charges.” New York Times. June 20, 2012.

DEVELOPMENT

Progress on the Sidelines as Rio Conference Ends.” By Simon Romero and John M. Broder. New York Times. June 23, 2012. Burdened by low expectations, snarled by endless traffic congestion and shunned by President Obama, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ended here as it began, under a shroud of withering criticism. The antipoverty organization CARE called the meeting “nothing more than a political charade,” and Greenpeace said the gathering was “a failure of epic proportions.” The Pew Environment Group was slightly more charitable. “It would be a mistake to call Rio a failure,” the group said, “but for a once-in-a-decade meeting with so much at stake, it was a far cry from a success.” But while the summit meeting’s 283-paragraph agreement, called “The Future We Want,” lacks enforceable commitments on climate change and other global challenges, the outcome reflects big power shifts around the world. These include a new assertiveness by developing nations in international forums and the growing capacity of grass-roots organizations and corporations to mold effective environmental action without the blessing of governments. The sheer size of the gathering — nearly 50,000 participants including more than 100 heads of state or government — may have raised expectations, in spite of the mixed record of previous such gatherings. The first Rio summit meeting produced two landmark treaties, on climate change and biodiversity, that have so far failed to live up to their promises.

INDIA

Hydel projects are closed at the instigation of US: NGO.” No by-line. Times of India. June 18, 2012. A Dehra Dun-based NGO spearheading a campaign for building hydel projects on the river Ganga in Uttarakhand, today alleged the projects are being shut down in India at the “instigation” of the US. “It is at the US instigation that hydel power projects are facing closure so that India buys uranium on their terms”. “Today, people in the state are facing severe shortage of power for which the state government, the Centre, saints and some foreign-funded agencies are responsible who are, in the name of Nadi Bachao (save river) campaign are hell-bent upon closure of these hydel power projects,” RLEK chief Avdhash Kaushal charged in a statement amid a protest meeting by Shankracharya Swami Swaroopanand in New Delhi today. “It is a well known fact that electricity and water are interrelated. This is not only a problem of Uttarakhand but a problem of entire North India of which Delhi too is a part. The acute water and power shortage being faced by the region is due to pressure created by the sadhus for stalling these hydel power projects by the agencies that are funded by the US and the UK”, Kaushal said. Stating that due to unscientific facts and superstitious beliefs given by a few people the work on Pala Maneri (480 MW). Bhaironghait (381 Mw) and Lohari Nagpala (600MW) projects were scrapped and the same people are trying to put roadblocks in the completion of 420 Mw Lakhwar-Vyasi project. He also claimed work on Alaknanda project (330MW) is also being hampered. “All these projects would have produced a total of 2441 MW of power which would have given tremendous relief to people of Uttarakhand as well as Delhi, Kaushal claimed.

UK

Care system sanctions child sex with adults, report finds; Teenagers in care who were used for sex by men were viewed as making a ‘lifestyle’.” By Andrew Norfolk. Times of London. June 18 2012. A belief that it is acceptable for adults to have sex with children who “consent” to their abuse is ingrained in the child protection system, a damning report into children’s homes claims today. Vulnerable children are being failed by the professionals charged with protecting them, MPs from across the political spectrum will say. They are demanding an urgent independent investigation into a care system that is “not fit for purpose”. The Times understands that an official review into children’s homes is likely to be announced by the Government in the near future. The report, from a joint parliamentary inquiry into children who go missing from care, identifies flaws in the way that agencies record, share and respond to information about those at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation. Multiple failings exposed in Greater Manchester last month when nine members of a sex-grooming network were jailed for sex offences against teenage girls are found to be “happening all over the country”. Today’s report, by two all-party parliamentary groups, says that “a scandal involving children going missing from care” went “pretty much unnoticed until the recent cases of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and other places”. It notes that although £1 billion is spent each year to care for the 5,000 residents of children’s homes in England — an average of £200,000 per child — it has become “easy for predators to sexually exploit them”.

Live Q&A: How does your charity use social media?” By Kate Hodge. Guardian. June 21, 2012. Join our experts from 1pm to 3pm on June 26 to discuss how your charity uses social media and how this could be improved. New research suggests that social media is becoming an integral part of people’s daily lives and charities should be making more use of this. The voluntary sector has often been considered a great proponent of social media. From the nfptweetup to global tweet chats, charities are constantly challenging the boundaries of social networks. But are they doing enough? New research suggests that charities should be expanding their use of social media, away from just fundraising and communications to service delivery. The survey, conducted by the social enterprise Connect Assist, found that social media is an essential source of support and information for people – particularly younger generations. The sector is, however, “worryingly behind the curve” when it comes to using this potential. With this in mind, our next live Q&A will consider: • Examples of innovative uses of social media; • How to expand your charity’s social media function; • The common pitfalls to avoid; • What help and support is available.

Why charities should create bespoke volunteering opportunities; Creating tailor-made volunteering opportunities allows charities to be driven by volunteers’ passion not just propped up by it.” By Sally Higham. Guardian. June 21, 2012. Volunteers are no longer ‘one size fits all’, older and available for years on end – they are now often young, seeking work experience, studying and job-hunting, and therefore increasingly transient. Organisations need to address this and consider moving away from traditional job placements. Instead they should seek volunteers with the appropriate range of skills who fit into the charity ethos and develop their own roles – with help of course. Not all volunteers want to be perceived as high value to an organisation, nor want the responsibility of a role specially shaped for them. But there are many more out there who would thrive on that. After all, our spare time is so precious, perhaps organisations should be thinking more creatively about volunteers than some of them are doing. Most of us wouldn’t work our regular jobs unpaid, which really says something about the passion of volunteers. Shouldn’t we encourage and reward that passion for everyone’s benefit and create organisations that are driven by volunteers rather than propped up by them?

Gangs steal millions from charities.” By Mazher Mahmood. Times of London. June 24, 2012. Gangs are making tens of millions of pounds from selling second-hand clothes donated by the public in the belief that they are helping good causes, an investigation has found. The gangs exploit lax rules that allow them to collect clothes from doorsteps by linking up with a charity. The system is subject to widespread abuse. The Sunday Times has uncovered evidence of gangs misleading charities about the amount of clothes they collect and creating complex networks of companies to evade payments. The gangs then make millions by shipping the clothes abroad to be sold. During a secretly filmed meeting, one boss said: “If you promise them [the charity] a million [pounds] a year, you might have to give £10,000 maybe . . . There were 100 tons and you write that there were 10 tons. You know, there are three zeros and you have taken two away [sic].” He offered to sell 4 tons of clothing to the reporter without telling the Tree of Hope children’s charity in East Sussex, which should have received the cash. Police estimate that the scam is worth more than £50m a year. Clothes Aid, which collects clothing for some of Britain’s biggest charities, is so concerned by the fraud that it has identified 150 collection firms it suspects of acting improperly. Michael Lomotey, business manager for Clothes Aid, said: “It is a highly organised racket. People deliver leaflets and bags that are designed to make people believe that they are donating to charity when none of the money goes to charity.”

Return of the nasty party.” No By-line. Independent. June 24, 2012. David Cameron will signal today the end of “compassionate Conservatism” with plans for a crackdown on welfare spending for the young, the jobless and those with large families.In a speech which will appeal to the Tory right, Mr Cameron will demand an end to what he calls Britain’s “culture of entitlement”. He will propose:
* Removing or restricting some benefits from out-of-work families with large numbers of children. This could include cuts to child benefit; * Scrapping housing-benefit payments to 380,000 under-25s, worth an average of £90 a week, forcing them to support themselves or live with their parents and saving the Government £2 bn a year; * Making the long-term unemployed carry out full-time community work or lose all their benefits. Conservative sources suggested that some of the benefit changes could be brought in ahead of the next election. However, this was disputed by the Liberal Democrats, who said that they would not allow measures penalising the vulnerable to pass during the lifetime of this Coalition Government. The proposals have also been attacked by charities, which have warned they could lead to a significant rise in homelessness amongst the young.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 11-17, 2012)

Monday, June 18th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

AFRICA

GOs step up appeals for Sahel aid as west Africa food crisis worsens; Aid agencies face funding shortfall to tackle hunger as drought in Sahel and political uncertainty worsen crisis for millions.” By Mark Tran. Guardian. June 12, 2012. Relief groups are stepping up their appeals for aid to tackle the worsening food crisis in west Africa, where more than 18 million people face hunger. Save the Children, which has increased its emergency operations in the Sahel, on Tuesday said it faces a funding shortfall of almost £26m. The charity hopes to close the funding gap and raise extra money to help the 1.5 million people – including almost a million children – most urgently in need. Relief agencies have been sounding the alarm for months about the effects of drought on the Sahel – a region stretching from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. The situation has been made worse by the knock-on effect of the Libyan uprising that has destabilised Mali. With the onset of the “lean season” – the next three months will be the driest and harshest period of the year – aid groups warn that the worst is yet to come. The UN says about 18 million people are affected by a drought and food crises in nine countries. Unicef warned in December last year that more than 1 million children would need life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition and appealed for $119.5m. The figure has since gone up, as conflict in Mali has forced 170,000 people from their homes, with some seeking refuge in neighbouring Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.

AUSTRALIA

Festivals pioneer shows how.” By Robin Usher. Sydney Morning Herald. June 11, 2012. Cultural life would be much poorer without the pioneering role played by arts festivals, according to Australia’s most experienced festival director, Brett Sheehy. ”The role of a festival is to bring in shows that nobody else will touch because they are not tried and true,” he said. ”Then arts centres might follow by putting them on the program and perhaps even commercial presenters will organise tours.” Sheehy, who is directing his fourth and final Melbourne Festival in October, was first appointed director of the Sydney Festival in 2001 after having been Sydney’s deputy director for five years. He moved to Adelaide in 2005 and twice directed the Adelaide Festival. He is already programming next year’s season at the Melbourne Theatre Company where he has been appointed artistic director. But festivals also played a crucial role in developing new shows. ”Dozens of new Australian works came to life with the support of festivals. They just would not have existed without that help,” he said. Once created, the new shows had ”an astronomically better chance” of touring internationally. ”I think it is because festivals have the vision to know what will appeal to the international stage,” he said. The Melbourne Festival has grown under his leadership and he is confident it can continue to connect with different sorts of audiences across the city. Sheehy is a strong supporter of mentoring younger artists, which he has done at the Melbourne Festival with the financial support of the Harold Mitchell Foundation.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits.” By Laurie Goodstein and Erik Eckholm. New York Times. June 14, 2012. While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country. The fights concern proposals to loosen statutes of limitations, which impose deadlines on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges. These time limits, set state by state, have held down the number of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits against all kinds of people accused of child abuse — not just clergy members, but also teachers, youth counselors and family members accused of incest. Victims and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing legislators to lengthen the limits or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary “windows” during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred. The Catholic Church has successfully beaten back such proposals in many states, arguing that it is difficult to get reliable evidence when decades have passed and that the changes seem more aimed at bankrupting the church than easing the pain of victims. Already reeling from about $2.5 billion spent on legal fees, settlements and prevention programs relating to child sexual abuse, the church has fought especially hard against the window laws, which it sees as an open-ended and unfair exposure for accusations from the distant past. In at least two states, Colorado and New York, the church even hired high-priced lobbying and public relations firms to supplement its own efforts. Colorado parishes handed out postcards for churchgoers to send to their representatives, while in Ohio, bishops themselves pressed legislators to water down a bill. The outcome of these legislative battles could have far greater consequences for the prosecution of child molesters, compensation of victims and financial health of some Catholic dioceses, legal experts say, than the trial of a church official in Philadelphia, where the jury is currently deliberating.

EGYPT

Groups and U.N. Agencies Urge Israel to Lift Gaza Blockade.” New York Times/Associated Press. June 14, 2012. Fifty international aid groups and United Nations agencies urged Israel on Thursday to open Gaza’s borders, saying its border blockade violates international law and indiscriminately harms Gaza’s 1.6 million people. The appeal was issued on the fifth anniversary of the imposition of the blockade, a response to the takeover of Gaza by the Islamic militant group Hamas in 2007. Two years ago, Israel started allowing imports of most consumer goods, but it continues to ban virtually all Gaza exports and travel through Israeli crossings. Israel has said the blockade is meant to prevent Hamas from building up its military arsenal and Gaza militants from attacking Israel. International aid agencies say the blockade mainly punishes Gazan residents by crippling the territory’s economy. The appeal was signed by 43 aid groups and seven United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization.

NORWAY

For Nobel Winners, a Smaller Cash Prize.” By Catherine Rampell. New York Times. June 13, 2012. Even those charged with identifying the world’s greatest geniuses sometimes make bad investment decisions. On Monday the Nobel Foundation, which bestows the world’s most prestigious academic, literary and humanitarian prizes, said it was reducing the cash awarded with Nobel Prizes by about 20 percent. Each prize, awarded in Swedish kronor, will now be worth about $1.1 million, down from $1.4 million. The reduction was the result of ugly returns on its invested capital, which was valued at $419 million as of Dec. 31, down 8 percent from the previous year. In the last decade, the costs of the prizes and related operating expenses have exceeded the endowment’s average annual return. “The Nobel Foundation is responsible for ensuring that the prize sum can be maintained at a high level in the long term,” Lars Heikensten, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. “We have made the assessment that it is important to implement necessary measures in good time.” The endowment is currently invested in about 50 percent equities, 20 percent fixed-income investments and 30 percent alternative assets, a spokeswoman said. A committee was recently established to help determine how to reallocate the portfolio, and administrative costs are also being cut. Monday’s announcement introduced the first reduction in the face value of the prize since 1949. (In inflation-adjusted terms, though, the prize has fluctuated greatly over the years.)

SPAIN

Man Traverses Spain For Charity.” Morning Edition/National Public Radio. June 11, 2012. Oscar Rando of Spain is losing weight by walking and running the full length of Spain — almost 2,000 miles. Sponsors are donating about $3 to charity for every gram of fat he loses. For some perspective, there are 454 grams in a pound. The charity he chose — Gats — helps disadvantaged local people find jobs, something much needed in Spain, where the unemployment rate is 25 percent. Rando has lost more than 50 pounds.

UK

Opening up the voluntary sector: using data to drive innovation; The voluntary sector should use open data to be true innovators and improve service delivery, fundraising and campaigning.” By Charlotte Beckett. Guardian. June 11, 2012. There’s a lot of debate in the sector about open data. How do we share, what do we share, should we share. Having worked in the public sector (who are required by law to be open with data and often embrace the principle), this last sentiment in particular surprises me. Ed Anderton of Nominent Trust argued that sharing data will improve service delivery and help solve broader issues. I absolutely concur, but we can take it further. Technical change means we can access more data and do more interesting things with it. But societal change is just as important. We crave transparency. We don’t believe organisations have a monopoly on authority or of a particular point of view, rather we expect to see things for ourselves before making a decision. This natural instinct is nothing new, but technology makes its easier. Being open is ethically good. It encourages collaboration and trust – just as important for fundraising and campaigning as for service delivery. The more trust we engender, the more likely our supporters will volunteer information about themselves, and the better our datasets. While this de-personalised data is not a truly rounded picture of an individual, it does provide patterns of behaviour. The better we understand behaviours, both in our supporters and the broader population, the better we can engage, motivate and inspire. But what impact will the legislation changes in data collection via cookies, and increasing concerns around privacy have? Journalist and academic Doc Searls claims in his recent book, The Intention Economy, that we’re entering a new phase where consumers will: control the flow and use of personal data, build their own loyalty programmes, dictate their own terms of service, tell whole markets what they want, how they want it, where and when they should be able to get it, and how much it should cost. Searls describes an economy driven by consumer intent, where we must respond to the intention of an individual instead of vying for the attention of the many. As consumers become more independent and powerful, are we looking at our data the wrong way? Shouldn’t we be giving our supporters the opportunity to manage their relationship with us, rather than the other way round?

Gay marriage controversy: Gay marriage is one of worst threats in 500 years, says Church of England.” By Jerome Taylor. Independent. June 12, 2012. The Government’s plan to introduce same-sex marriage is one of the most serious threats to the Church of England in its 500-year history, senior clergy claim. The Church today outlines its opposition to the Government’s proposals in scathing terms. Anxiety among Church leaders is so acute that they raise the spectre of disestablishment, warning that any attempt to alter the definition of marriage could fatally undermine the Church’s privileged position. Ever since the reign of Henry VIII the Church of England has been the country’s official religion, facing down threats to its establishment as severe and varied as the Spanish Armada and the English Civil War. That senior clergy have raised concerns about same-sex marriage in a similar context indicates how seriously they view the Government’s attempt to redefine marriage – as a potential attack on the role of the Church itself. Critics have dismissed the Church’s stance as overly dramatic and called on bishops to follow the lead of established religious bodies in Iceland, Sweden and Denmark who largely embraced gay marriage. The Church’s position, which was drawn up by senior bishops and lawyers, is confirmation that despite supporting civil partnerships eight years ago, the Church believes extending marriage rights to same sex couples is simply a step too far. The clerics say that the plans for same-sex marriage “have not been thought-through properly and are not legally sound”. Downing Street has insisted that its plans to bring in equal marriage laws will go ahead. In March the Government launched a three-month consultation process calling on supporters and opponents to put forward their views with the deadline for submissions closing later this week.

Charitable incorporated organisations: for better or for worse? Of all the measures in the 2011 Charities Act introducing CIOs was the most daring, but there are downsides.” By Alison Maclennan. Guardian. June 12, 2012. Of the reforms brought in by the Charities Act 2006 (now absorbed into the Charities Act 2011) the introduction of a new legal form, the charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), is one of the most daring. The concept is simple, at present charities can operate in a number of different forms including as trusts, companies both limited by guarantee and more rarely limited by shares, or even as simple unincorporated associations. In addition to these forms there are corporate bodies such as industrial and provident societies. The basic idea of introducing the CIO as a bespoke corporate form designed for charities is sound. But it is very difficult to design something new without reference to all that has gone before. The desire to introduce a new form originated from the perception that charities often had to accept a dual regulatory burden if they wanted to have a corporate personality. Compliance with charity law and companies legislation amounted to an undesirable administrative burden. The basic idea of the CIO is now at least six years old and there are some commentators who suggest that the opportunity for this initiative has passed.

Small charities suffer financial insecurity because of cuts, survey shows; Small charities say they have experienced financial difficulties since May 2010.” No by-line. Guardian. June 13, 2012. Small charities feel financially insecure since the coalition government was formed in May 2010 and embarked on a programme of public sector cuts, a new survey reveals. More than half of the charities who took part reported that they were feeling the pinch. In the survey – carried out for The Foundation for Social Improvement to coincide with Small Charities Week – 215 respondents said that their organisations were less secure since May 2010, compared to just 77 who said the opposite. An overwhelming majority of respondents – 381 out of 412 – said that fundraising had got harder. The survey also revealed differing perceptions of how easy it is to recruit paid staff and volunteers in today’s financial climate: 96 respondents said that it had got easier, compared with 60 who said it had got more difficult. The situation was reversed for volunteer recruitment with 135 respondents saying that it had got harder to recruit unpaid staff, compared to 91 who said it had got easier. The survey found that almost all organisations would look to recruit more staff members if they had the funding to do so. The report also noted that limited funding meant that many charities’ human resources are persistently stretched, coping with an increased demand for their services. The survey also discovered concerns that the restructuring of responsibilities and departments within local authorities – a consequence of the budget cuts – has adversely affected local charities. According to the report, restructuring and redundancies mean charities have to renegotiate their relationships with local authorities.

Is it time for your charity to conduct a strategic review? Setting up a strategic review can help charities access new funding and develop their key objectives.” By Rosie Niven. Guardian. June 13, 2012. The Charity Finance Group’s (CFG) latest report in its Managing in a Downturn survey series, has revealed that a significant majority of charities (80%) report they have carried out a strategic review in the past 12 months. CFG’s head of policy and public affairs, Jane Tully says this indicates most charities are actively considering their position in the sector and the need to respond strategically to challenges such as funding constraints. Eleanor Dandy, a services manager at Acevo, says she has noticed more people approaching Acevo for support after carrying out strategic reviews. While she agrees funding is a factor in the increase, she also suggests it could be a result of more grants and funds being available for specific strategic purposes. Dandy says some organisations have always carried out strategic reviews, particularly larger organisations with the required resources. For her, the difference now is that smaller organisations are getting involved. This is something that consultant Benjamin Janes has also noticed. Janes, of the Trust Partnership, says the crisis in charity funding is a driver but there is also more to it. “Small to medium charities are very unstrategic in their activities,” he notes. “They are created as a reaction to a problem and they can get along fine as long as they can raise the money to do their job. When something looks likely to change – the trustees suddenly change, the funding is cut or they find the staff are wrong for the job – it provides the key drivers for a strategic review.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 4-10, 2012)

Monday, June 11th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

U.S. Bishops Still Stonewall on Sex Abuse; Ten years after the ‘Dallas charter,’ church leaders keep dodging accountability.” By David Gibson. Wall Street Journal. June 7, 2012. Who will guard the guardians? Ten years after the Catholic hierarchy of the United States gathered in Dallas and adopted unprecedented policies to address the scourge of child sexual abuse by clergy, the question of accountability at the top remains unanswered. To be sure, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People—the Dallas charter, for short—took some critical steps. In June 2002, the bishops passed a “one-strike” policy for abusers and began pushing the Vatican to streamline the processes that would allow them to more easily defrock molesters. The bishops also vowed to report allegations to the civil authorities instead of keeping them in-house, to more rigorously screen not only seminarians but all church workers and volunteers, and to teach children in Catholic facilities to avoid potential abusers. In addition, they set up an office of child protection to audit each diocese’s compliance with the charter, and they established the National Review Board, composed of lay Catholics, to make sure they were doing what they promised. But throughout it all, the bishops exempted themselves from accountability—even though records showed that feckless inaction by many bishops, or even deliberate malfeasance by some, had allowed abusers to claim so many victims. The best answer the bishops had to this in Dallas was a behind-the-scenes “fraternal correction” policy, by which a bishop would quietly pass along any concerns about another bishop to that bishop. Church tradition was invoked to preclude any external oversight by laypeople or other prelates. As always, each bishop would answer only to the pope, who alone had the authority to remove the head of a diocese. Now, as the bishops gather next week in Atlanta for their annual spring meeting, they will hear an update on the Dallas charter but are unlikely to address this enormous loophole—despite events that make it all the more urgent.

DEVELOPMENT

RIO+20: Earth Summit Negotiated the Size of the Zero.” By Thalif Deen. Interpress Service( (ipsnews.net). June 7, 2012. Amidst much political fanfare, the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro concluded with the adoption of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the landmark Agenda 21 blueprint for a sustainable future in the 21st century. Still, there was widespread disappointment over the final outcome of that conference – primarily because there were no firm funding commitments by the world’s rich nations. Asked about the frustrations on financing, a former secretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Dr. Gamani Corea made perhaps the most realistic assessment at that time when he famously declared: “We negotiated the size of the zero.” But will history repeat itself? The funding demands at the Earth Summit were expected to be met primarily in three ways: by creating the Global Environmental Facility (GEF); increased official development assistance (ODA), specifically earmarked for sustainable development; and commitments by the various international financial and development institutions. But over the last 20 years, there remained that yawning gap between promises and performances and between pledges and deliveries.
Although next week’s U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio+20, is by no means a pledging conference, there are lingering fears that all the best laid plans may fall apart if there is no financing to implement them. The summit meeting of world leaders will take place Jun. 20-22 against the backdrop of a spreading global economic and credit crisis in Europe, with far reaching consequences in the United States and newly emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil. “The Future We Want”, to be adopted by world leaders next week, may well be a plan in desperate search of funding.
Related story:
Rio+20 Earth summit: leaked draft reveals conflict among countries; UN’s vision for one deal to save the Earth is in peril as countries bicker over phrasing of clauses and key terms in the draft text.” Guardian. June 8, 2012

EGYPT

Americans Appear At NGO Trial In Egypt.” By Michele Kelemen. All Things Considered/National Public Radio. June 5, 2012. Egyptian-American Dawat Soulam wanted to be a part her country’s revolution and got a job training political parties with the democracy promotion group, the International Republican Institute. Soulam quit soon after, complaining that the U.S.-funded group refused to work with Islamist parties. She raised concerns with Egyptian authorities about that and questioned IRI’s other activities. Months later, the IRI and other U.S. and Egyptian NGO’s had their offices raided and shut. These revelations come at a complicated time as U.S. and Egyptian NGO’s are back in court in Cairo.

INDIA

After income tax, service tax department slaps Rs 4.94 crore notice on Ramdev’s trust.” No by-line. Times of India. June 4, 2012. After income tax, it’s now the turn of the service tax department to issue a notice of Rs 4.94 crore dues to Yoga guru Ramdev’s trust for alleged duty evasion on its income raised through country-wide ‘yog shivirs’ (camps). The department’s snoop and investigation wing, directorate general of central excise intelligence (DGCEI), has also launched a scrutiny of accounts of various activities conducted by the trusts run by Ramdev across the country post-2006. The latest tax notice, after the income tax department had slapped a notice of Rs 58 crore against Ramdev’s trusts, has been issued against the Haridwar-based Patanjali Yog Peeth for “sale of coupons” of different denominations for organising ‘yog shivirs’, both residential and non-residential. Thousands of people have participated in these camps conducted across the country in the last five years. In his reaction, Ramdev’s spokesperson S K Tijarawala said they will counter the service tax department’s action. “We are replying to the notice. Yog shivirs are classified under the category of providing medical relief which cannot be termed as earning commercial profit,” he said. Sources said income generated from Ramdev’s yoga camps, in which people participate after buying coupons, is liable to be brought under the service tax domain. Under service tax provisions, Yoga is in the taxable list of health and fitness services.

“‘Apna Ghar’ woman found begging.” By Bhaskar Mukherjee. Times of India. June 4, 2012. On a day the Rohtak police got an advertisement released of 29 missing inmates of the now disgraced Apna Ghar, a home for the destitute run by Jaswanti Devi, a 40-year-old woman was found begging outside the bus stand here. She was identified by the commuters, who informed the local police, who further tipped off their peers in Rohtak. A police party, lead by the case supervising officer DSP Tula Ram took the woman back to Rohtak for further investigations. The woman has been identified as Guddi, who was admitted to Apna Ghar 12-years ago after her husband allegedly abandoned her, he said. Guddi had apparently gone missing before National Council for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) conducted the raids on the shelter home last month. “Guddi is not in that state of mind to reveal as to how she came here.,” the officer said on Saturday evening.

VATICAN

As Vatican Manages Crisis, Book Details Infighting.” BY Rachel Donadio. New York Times. June 3, 2012. In an undisclosed location here, the Vatican authorities are busy questioning Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, and others in a widening leaks scandal that has made the seat of the Roman Catholic Church appear to be a hornet’s nest of back-stabbing and gossip. Across town, in the lobby of a fancy hotel on the Via Veneto, Gianluigi Nuzzi, the investigative reporter whose new book based on some of the leaks has sent the Vatican into a tailspin, was holding court and looking rather pleased. “I’m serene, I’m tranquil, convinced that I did my work in a correct way, without raising questions about the Holy Father,” Mr. Nuzzi said in an interview last week, during which he was twice interrupted by fans asking him to sign copies of his book, “Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI.” With its glimpses of behind-the-scenes spats in the Apostolic Palace, where the pope lives, and high-stakes power struggles over the secretive — and lucrative — Vatican bank, the book has set Italy abuzz even during a week dominated by a deadly earthquake, dismal economic forecasts and a soccer match-fixing investigation that has shaken Italians’ faith in an institution almost as beloved as the papacy. The product of multiple, interlocking controversies, “VatiLeaks” looks poised to become one of the most destructive, if one of the most hermetic, crises of Benedict’s troubled papacy.

UK

Guardian charity awards 2012: shining a light on small pioneers.” By Alison Benjamin. Guardian. June 5, 2012. The Guardian charity awards, now in their 20th year, have supported a huge range of charities. Asylum seekers, disabled people, and emotionally disturbed children are just some of the client groups that have benefited from the recognition, credibility and support the awards have brought to small, winning charities. There are countless examples of winners being able to use their raised profile, and the coaching they get as part of the prize, to secure more funding and contracts.

Charities need to do more to develop female leaders; Despite the fact the voluntary sector is well ahead of the private sector, women are still under-represented at senior levels.” By Ian Joseph. Guardian. June 6, 2012. When it comes to women holding senior leadership and board positions, the charity sector is ahead of the private sector. However, according to a recent report Women Count: Charity Leaders 2012, charities still need to work harder to improve gender diversity at board level. Women Count found that only 25% of the top 100 charities by income have female chief executives and only 17% of the top 100 charities by assets have female chief executives. This lack of gender diversity also applies to the trustees – four charities out of the top 100 by income have no female trustees and just 17% of chairs are women. Among the top 100 charities by assets, 12 have no female trustees and another 12 have only one female trustee. Compare this to FTSE 250 companies, where only 2.4% of chairs, 9.4% of board members and 4% of chief executives are women, and charities seem to be leading the way in gender diversity. However, when you consider that 68% of workers in the charity sector are women, the figures are disappointing. The sector has many boards that are stale, pale and male. We all know that diverse boards make better decisions and high-performing boards tend to have trustees with a range of skills and experience, who can improve governance and enhance decision-making. The business case is quite clear. Achieving a more balanced board is even more important in today’s economic climate as funders and commissioners are increasingly examining boards as part of their due diligence and those that are not diverse will suffer where it hurts most – in their pockets. Charities need to do more to progress female talent and equip them for the board by providing leadership training, mentoring and coaching, and creating talent pipelines to progress women with leadership potential from more junior roles. They also need to audit their boardroom skills and look at ways they could improve and review their recruitment processes for employees and trustees to widen the gene pool

Tory donor’s fury over hospital VAT bill; Jimmy Thomas gave £2.3 million for a hospital ward.” By Michael Savage. Times of London. June 8 2012. A major Conservative Party donor who gave more than £2 million to refurbish a hospital has vented his anger at David Cameron after being handed a £460,000 VAT bill. Jimmy Thomas, a multimillionaire casino owner, said that he had been “appalled” to learn about the tax he owed after his decision to fund a refurbishment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Mr Thomas, 78, who has donated £120,000 to the Conservatives since 2008, said that he had lobbied the Prime Minister at a private event to make such donations tax-free. He was angry to be writing a cheque that would not benefit the hospital. “If it had been for the cost of the ward, fine,” he said. “But when I know that money isn’t going to the sick and vulnerable that the ward was built for, it upsets me tremendously.” Mr Thomas, who co-founded the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, London, gave £2.3 million to refurbish the hospital’s Ellis Ward. His late wife Alma had been treated there before her death in 2008. VAT at 20 per cent was then applied to the building work. George Osborne has already reversed a decision to apply VAT to church repairs. Anger from Conservative donors also contributed to his having to ditch a plan to curb tax breaks for major philanthropists.

Charities and the rise of the impact thought police; Ideas orthodoxy about impact is suffocating its development and putting small charities in particular at a disadvantage.” By Joe Saxton. Guardian. June 8, 2012. We should let charities develop their own ways of measuring impact rather than being prohibitively prescriptive. Charities have a new big brother. A new set of what is right and what is wrong about how they should think and behave. A new set of permitted words and phrases that are allowed and those that aren’t. A new set of jargon and acronyms that serve only to confuse and emasculate. The source of all this new oppression? Its the attempt to make charities to measure and communicate their impact. Don’t get me wrong – charities should absolutely be able to measure their impact – its one of the most important challenges they face. I have even described the non-profit organisations that can successfully measure and communicate their impact as being like our sector’s equivalent to Google or Amazon: they will change the way the sector works. But the way to do this is to let organisations try their own ideas. Let the free market of ideas and approaches blossom. This will let the best ideas flourish and the poor ones wither. Unfortunately some people just can’t let charities do this. For example, try measuring your impact in outputs and the thought police will be on you: “That’s just measuring bums on seats, not impact”. That’s because the impact-thought-police want you to measure outcomes – the difference that a charity has made. The problem is that outputs are easy to measure whereas outcomes are hellishly difficult.

How unemployment and the recession is affecting volunteering; There are plenty of potential volunteers out there but charities must do more to attract the best candidates.” By Sam Bacon. Guardian. June 7, 2012. Despite the continuing recession, in recent weeks unemployment figures have thankfully started to recover. However, there are still more unemployed young people than since records began in 1992. For a sector that relies on volunteers, there is a temptation to imagine that this increase in supply makes it a buyers market. Surely, with more people looking for jobs and volunteer opportunities the more selective charities can be, and the less attractive they need to make themselves? The reality is much more complex, and if charities are serious about getting the best volunteers and employees, high youth unemployment should present a major challenge to recruitment and retention policies. A large number of young people want a career in which they can make a difference and look to charities for that fulfillment. Given the importance of getting that first big break, this has considerably increased the pool of people interested in volunteering. But simply having a large pool of potential applicants isn’t enough to ensure those people become volunteers and organisations get the best applicants. If there was ever a moment when charities could succeed on the basis of an engaging vision and mission statement, that time has truly passed. The marketplace has become exceptionally crowded, with more charities offering opportunities to become engaged on previously inaccessible niche issues. There are also clear shifts in how people, especially young people, relate to issues and organisations; they are much more likely to care about a broad range of causes rather than one or two policy areas. These two factors create a worrying challenge for most organisations – more competitors and less ability to expect brand and value loyalty from supporters. In this context, record numbers of youth unemployment looks less like a large pool of applicants simply waiting to be chosen by charities. We see a complex and nuanced group in need of specific and well-developed recruitment strategies if the best volunteers are to be brought on board. To really understand what those strategies might be though, we need to consider the difficulties and pressure that high unemployment figures present to those looking for work.

Can’t find work? Volunteer and you could get some unexpected bonuses; No housing costs, no utility bills, free training … volunteering can offer an attractive alternative route into the jobs market.” By Joanne O’Connell. The Observer. June 9, 2012. More and more people are applying for all-expenses paid full-time voluntary work as a way to gain experience in a notoriously competitive jobs market, according to charities. Rising unemployment, coupled with the increased cost of living, makes such placements, which often come with free board and lodgings, more appealing than ever. Long-term voluntary placements mean giving up a salary and, in many cases, long hours with no guarantee of paid employment at the end, but charities say this is not putting people off. “Working as a full-time volunteer should not mean you’re out of pocket,” says Is Szoneberg, head of volunteering at Community Service Volunteers. “There are positions which offer board and living expenses paid. In times of economic uncertainty, it can work well for people to no longer have to pay their housing costs and utility bills.” For those who have been made redundant and may otherwise have to claim benefits, full-time voluntary positions can even mean they will be better off, says Szoneberg. In some cases, volunteers can live for free in anywhere from historical buildings on remote Scottish islands to picturesque properties in rural England. Some charities also have opportunities for families to live for free, while parents volunteer in the UK or overseas. In many cases, redundancy or a period of unemployment gives people the spur to try a voluntary job. Major charities, such as the RSPCA report a surge in people who have been made redundant applying for volunteer posts. Almost half of volunteering inquiries are now from people who are unemployed, according to Volunteering England.

We’re all poorer when we seek Kim Kardashian’s take on poverty; Charities may be waking up to the fact that, far from aiding their causes, celebrity advocacy is actually damaging them.” By Marina Hyde. Guardian. June 8, 2012. A new, large-scale survey carried out by the UK Public Opinion Monitor, an initiative of the Institute of Development Studies, which in this case examined public responses to celebrity advocacy. The survey’s designers stress the data is still being analysed, but one interesting finding has emerged with some clarity: most people claim not to be swayed by celebrity-fronted campaigns, but they do think that other people are swayed by them. Which suggests that celebrity campaigns are popularly believed to be popular – but falsely so. If this is true, it would require such a rethink of the way causes advance themselves that all sorts of heads might explode. The UN has a whole celebrity outreach department, while the celebrity liaison officers of UK charities are so legion they hold regular forums. Celebrity advocacy has even developed its own awards industry, hosting glitzy galas where showbiz humanitarians are given gongs. Angelina Jolie has won at least five, most of which were confected for her, and even Paris Hilton has a couple. (Those who devote 365 days of the year to working tirelessly and anonymously on these causes don’t seem to be eligible.) Shamefully, of course, the reason charities feel they have to deploy entertainers in this way is because the media – across the board, though to varying degrees – have become progressively less willing to highlight an issue, or capable of it, without a celebrity’s involvement. It’s a vicious cycle, rarely broken by anything that might be considered “actual research”, which makes the IDS’s survey such an interesting nugget. It certainly seems superior to recent research in which some US undergraduates were presented with a selection of celebrities and social causes, as a detailed questionnaire sought to determine which star would be the most effective advocate for a cause, in terms of their fit with the mission and their ability to make people part with money. The results indicated that the best celebrity to “help a child in extreme poverty” was Kim Kardashian. Can Kim Kardashian really change the world? You know, for the better? Or does giving American college students course credits for participating in studies like these (as happened in this case) go on to skew all kinds of debates more important than “do you reckon Kim’s 72-day marriage was a stunt?”. Alas, the idea that celebrity advocacy may not be the answer to some of the world’s most intractable problems appears yet to have taken meaningful hold of the charitable imagination. But there are a few more questioning voices.