Archive for October, 2009

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


“LAPD to cut ties with group linked to Boy Scouts.” No by-line. Los Angeles Times/ Associated Press. October 20, 2009. The Los Angeles Police Department wants to stop working with the organization that runs its Explorer program for youths because the group is linked to Boy Scouts of America, which bans gays from becoming members.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


At Perkins, high-tech is both future and now; $10m gift to help build new center.” By Katie Johnston Chase. Boston Globe. October 20, 2009. Thanks in part to school officials, who encouraged Apple Inc. to make an iPod that gives and responds to spoken commands – standard on the latest models – students at the Perkins School for the Blind can listen to music like any other 16-year-old. Such technological advances received a major boost last night with a $10 million donation from the Grousbeck Family Foundation, directed locally by Boston Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck. The gift, announced at a private dinner, will be used to build a 17,000-square foot center that will include a high-tech classroom and a lab in which companies like Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. can demonstrate the latest advances to assist blind students. The 180-year-old Watertown school says the center is at the heart of a newly launched $25 million campaign focused on incorporating more technology into the lives of blind students.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Lobbyist’s salary for nonprofit questioned; Oversight of Homes Sought Board members borrowed, are paying back loans.” By Henri E. Cauvin and Nikita Stewart. Washington Post. October 19, 2009. The D.C. government has asked a judge to put two group homes run by nonprofit Individual Development Inc. (IDI) in receivership and has halted all referrals to the nonprofit group’s 11 facilities because of “systemic” problems. Regulators and advocates have faulted the quality of care in IDI’s facilities for years, but investigations into the deaths of three residents in the past three years have brought new attention to the group and how it emerged as a crucial caretaker for some of the District’s most fragile people.IDI is headed by a well-connected D.C. lobbyist, David W. Wilmot, whose $280,000 salary is well above that of executives holding comparable positions. Wilmot has also been criticized to borrowing $300,000 from IDI.

Bankruptcy filing delays church sex abuse case.” No by-line. USA Today. October 19, 2009. A high-profile sex abuse case that was set to start Monday against Delaware’s Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and a former priest will be delayed after the church filed for federal bankruptcy protection. Attorneys representing 88 alleged victims, described the bankruptcy filing as a “desperate effort to hide the truth from the public and conceal the thousands of pages of scandalous documents” from being made public in court.
Related story:
Delaware Diocese Files for Bankruptcy in Wake of Abuse Suits.New York Times. October 20, 2009

ACORN’s Current Woes Years In The Making.” By Kevin Whitelaw. NPR. October 21, 2009. ACORN, the community organizing group, is fighting for its survival these days, but its current plight has been years in the making. Part of the story is the group’s own missteps. ACORN was founded to help low- and middle-income Americans, but its edgy tactics and a series of gaffes fed the notion that the group was unreliable.

Police: Madoff associate Jeffry Picower dies at 67.” No by-line. Los Angeles Times/Associated Press. October 25, 2009. Jeffry Picower, a Florida philanthropist alleged to have extracted billions from Bernard Madoff’s investment scheme, drowned in his pool in Palm Beach, Florida. In the initial aftermath of the Madoff scandal in December 2008, the foundation Picower and his wife started in 1989 said it would have to cease grant-making and would be forced to close. The Picower Foundation had given millions to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Human Rights First and the New York Public Library. It also funded diabetes research at Harvard Medical School. The foundation, whose assets were managed by Madoff, said in its 2007 tax return its investment portfolio was valued at nearly $1 billion.,0,6314862.story

“Ready money: A Baltimore nonprofit raises millions for the needy, while its checkbook enables city officials to spend with little oversight.”
By James Drew. Baltimore Sun. October 25, 2009. The Baltimore City Foundation is a private nonprofit formed in 1981 to raise money, primarily to benefit city programs for the underprivileged – helps pay for projects such as a summer jobs program for youths, funeral expenses for homicide victims and home smoke alarms for the needy. But city officials also have turned to it to pay for expenses such as an ice sculpture and skating rink for Mayor Sheila Dixon’s inauguration and to skirt competitive bidding for design of a visitors center at Cylburn Arboretum. A Baltimore Sun investigation, including a review of thousands of foundation documents issued since 2002, reveals the little-known organization as a source of money on demand with almost no oversight. City officials wield broad discretion over how the money is spent, and the foundation asks few questions.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


The Nuns’ Story.” Op-Ed. By Maureen Dowd. New York Times. October 25, 2009. In 2004, the cardinal who would become Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating “feminine values” like “listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.” The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


City’s Chief Planner Donates Prize Money.” By Robin Pogrebin. New York Times. October 20, 2009. Amanda Burden, New York City’s planning commissioner, who recently was named the 2009 laureate of the Urban Land Institute’s J. C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development, will donate the $100,000 prize to create an award that honors public open spaces. The money will be returned to the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization, to create the Global Award for Public Open Space

Children’s hospital to get big grant.” By Victoria Colliver. San Francisco Chronicle. October 23, 2009. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation said Thursday it plans to give as much as $100 million to help pay for the planned expansion of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. The donation is the lead grant in the 312-bed pediatric hospital’s campaign to add 104 new beds to its Palo Alto campus. The expansion is part of a larger project that also includes building a new adult hospital and replacing outdated laboratory facilities in the Stanford School of Medicine.

Billionaire Aids Charity That Aided Him.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. October 25, 2009. Were it not for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, there might be no Google. Thirty years ago today, Sergey Brin, a 6-year-old Soviet boy facing an uncertain future, arrived in the United States with the help of the society. Now Mr. Brin, the billionaire co-founder of Google, is giving $1 million to the society, widely known as HIAS, which helped his family escape anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and establish itself here.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Flunking Out at the Food Co-op.” By Alana Joblin Ain. New York Times. October 25, 2009. Established in 1973, the Park Slope Food Coop, with about 15,000 members who enjoy savings of up to 40 percent on environmentally friendly groceries, is one of the oldest, largest and most successful institutions of its kind in the country. Unlike many co-ops — including the Flatbush Food Coop in Brooklyn, where guests are allowed to shop without joining and members who don’t want to serve work hours can pay a slight markup for items — Park Slope has one of the stiffest work requirements: 2.75 hours every four weeks for each adult member of a household. Like any place that wears its ideals on its sleeve, the co-op evokes rage, adoration and all the emotions in between. In 2006, the food Web site published “Won’t Work for Food,” an essay by a onetime co-op member who described the place as “something between an earthy-crunchy health food haven and a Soviet-style re-education camp.” Three years later, passionate comments about the piece are still being posted.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Cemeteries feel recession’s chill.” By Alan Gomez. USA Today. October 18, 2009. Cemeteries are having trouble expanding because of the high cost of real estate and a drop in revenues as strapped families increasingly turn to cheaper cremations. With their investments clobbered by the recession, cemeteries have been forced to cut back on maintenance and lay off workers.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


Catholic Diocese of Wilmington files bankruptcy.” By Brian Witte. Washington Post/ Associated Press. October 18, 2009. Delaware’s Catholic Diocese of Wilmington filed for federal bankruptcy protection on Sunday night, on the eve of a civil trial in a high-profile sex abuse case against the diocese and a former priest.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009



A Variety of Sources Feed Into Taliban’s War Chest.” By Eric Schmitt. New York Times. October 19, 2009. The Taliban in Afghanistan are running a sophisticated financial network to pay for their insurgent operations, raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the illicit drug trade, kidnappings, extortion and foreign donations that American officials say they are struggling to cut off. The C.I.A. recently estimated in a classified report that Taliban leaders and their associates had received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan. Private citizens from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and some Persian Gulf nations are the largest individual contributors, an American counterterrorism official said.

DEVELOPMENT: Anti-Poverty Fight Needs More Than Money.” By Suzanne Hoeksema. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 19, 2009. Over the weekend of Oct. 16 to 18, millions of people around the globe used the occasions of World Food Day and World Anti-Poverty Day to push their leaders harder to meet longstanding pledges for every human being to have the essentials of a decent life, such as housing and clean drinking water. Last year, more than 116 million people participated in the Stand Up action, breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest mobilisation of human beings in recorded history. Facilitated by Skype and Ustream to connect global citizens in the campaign, this year organisers aimed to exceed that number. So far, faith-based organisations and student groups in the U.S. have been among the most active in the Stand Up Campaign.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Grassroots Campaign Calls for Bold Steps.” By Marcela Valente. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 24, 2009. Through nearly 5,000 different actions planned in 170 countries for Saturday, climate change activists will try to raise public awareness on the need for a new global climate treaty which would set an upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide that would effectively prevent environmental catastrophes.
Related story:
Global demonstrations to push for reduced carbon levels; U.S. officials, experts lowering expectations before December talks.Washington Post. October 24, 2009.


Do starving Africans a favour. Don’t feed them; There is famine in Kenya and Ethiopia again. Sending food and emergency relief will make things worse in the long term.” By Sam Kiley. Times of London. October 23, 2009. The Horn of Africa is in the grip of the worst drought for 47 years! Some 23 million people are threatened with starvation! When you see children on TV with distended bellies keening over their dying parents, it would be inhuman not to be moved to tears. But do them a favour. Sit on your hands.


“Jesus saves, but shattered Anglicans regret not having that luxury.” By Cathy Wilcox. Sydney Morning Herald. October 20, 2009. The shaken Anglican Archbishop of Sydney admits he has wondered whether God had decided to punish his diocese. The global crisis has slashed the value of the diocese’s assets and forced a restructure of its regional organisations in a year it is undertaking a million-dollar mass evangelisation campaign.

Uni dream fades for strapped students.” By Heath Gilmore. Sydney Morning Herald. October 23, 2009. POOR students and those from regional and remote areas are finding the dream of going to university more elusive than ever and entry to elite Sydney institutions virtually impossible. The number of first year students from low socio-economic areas flatlined in the eight years to last year.
At the same time, enrolments from regional areas fell by more than 6 per cent and from remote areas by 23 per cent in a sign that tougher economic times and the drought are curtailing the educational dreams of young Australians. Institutions such as the University of Sydney, the University of NSW, Macquarie University and the University of Technology, Sydney, remained largely out of reach, with less than 9 per cent of their domestic enrolments being disadvantaged students.

Elite schools splash out on property deals.” By Josephine Tovey and Jonathan Chanceller. Sydney Morning Herald. October 24, 2009. WHILE squirrelling away funds for years to make its successful $35.2 million bid for the historic Graythwaite estate this week, one of Sydney’s wealthiest private schools also managed to expand its portfolio to 86 properties. Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), which receives annual funding from state and federal governments of more than $4 million, has in the past decade bought 12 properties around its 5.65-hectare campus near North Sydney’s business district and nine hectares of playing fields in Northbridge. Other well-heeled private schools are spending up on property. The Mayor of North Sydney, Genia McCaffery, said the expansion of schools in here area, such as Shore – which had the highest concentration of schools in the country – was a problem because schools did not pay rates on properties they owned. ”It has a significant impact on our rates base,” she said. These purchases have reignited the debate about federal funding of independent schools.

Small axe fells big timber.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. October 24, 2009. Grassroots environmental activists have forced the government to admit that it had unlawfully approved major developments. Monday’s admission that the Government had acted unlawfully in approving Huntlee brought a fresh round of criticism of the state’s beleaguered planning system. Conservationists and planners said it was the inevitable result of the Government doing private deals with developer mates, while developers complained there was little point striking agreements with the Government when they were based on such flimsy advice.


U.S. Aid Must Leverage Reforms, Rights Groups Urge.” By Matthew Berger. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 22, 2009. In congressional testimony, NGO leaders and Colombian human rights defenders noted “a surge in threats against defenders and their family members, as well as a number of physical attacks and assassinations, and unexplained break-ins of defenders’ offices”, said Kelly Nichols, executive director of the U.S. Office on Colombia, an NGO that has helped organise a campaign to promote recommendations for how to protect Colombian human rights defenders. “Colombian activists are subject to the full gamut of human rights violations,” said Andrew Hudson of Human Rights First, “including torture, threats, misuse of state intelligence, systematic stigmatisation, unfounded criminal proceedings and impunity for violations of defenders.”


Indian Firms Shift Focus to the Poor.” By Eric Bellman. Wall Street Journal. October 20, 2009. Indian companies, long dependent on hand-me-down technology from developed nations, are becoming cutting-edge innovators as they target one of the world’s last untapped markets: the poor. India’s many engineers, whose best-known role is to help Western companies expand or cut costs, are now turning their attention to the purchasing potential of the nation’s own 1.1-billion population. Inventions such as cheap and efficient stoves and refrigerators represent a fundamental shift in the global order of innovation. Until recently, the West served rich consumers and then let its products and technology filter down to poorer countries. Now, with the developed world mired in a slump and the developing world still growing quickly, companies are focusing on how to innovate, and profit, by going straight to the bottom rung of the economic ladder. They are taking advantage of cheap research and development and low-cost manufacturing to innovate for a market that’s grown large enough and sophisticated enough to make it worthwhile.


Which Way for Hamas?” By Nicolas Pelham and Max Rodenbeck. New York Review of Books. November 5, 2009. Review-Essay of Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement by Zaki Chehab, Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence by Jeroen Gunning, and Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas. Addresses the question of whether Hamas is a terrorist group or “an enlilghtened, moderate Islamic movement.”


Building Solidarity Through Blood Donations.” By José Adán Silva. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 19, 2009. The Nicaraguan Red Cross is conducting an awareness-raising campaign to increase voluntary blood donations and meet hospital demand, in order to compensate for changes in blood collection practices and address a severe health crisis caused by outbreaks of dengue fever, pneumonia and H1N1 influenza. Under the old system, patients undergoing surgery or in need of transfusions were required to have relatives donate a certain amount of blood. But the new arrangement between the Red Cross and the health ministry ended this practice, because it was found to promote blood trafficking, as poor people would offer themselves as “donors” to wealthier families in exchange for money. With the new policy that calls for voluntary donors we’re not only eliminating the voucher system, so that anyone can have free access to the blood transfusions they need, but we are also fostering social solidarity by encouraging people to donate.


The number of sex offenders working as charity trustees trebles.” By Adam Sherwin. Times of London. October 20, 2009. Growing numbers of convicted sex offenders are being appointed as charity trustees, bringing them into contact with vulnerable people, the Charity Commission has found. The watchdog removed or suspended 30 such trustees last year, three times as many as the year before. The people involved included rapists and paedophiles, the commission says in a report out today. It urged charities to refer potential trustees to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for vetting before making any appointments where children might be put at risk.

Series: Charities and the law: Q&A: Charities and disputes.” By Robert Oakley. Guardian (UK). October 20, 2009. In the fifth of a series of pieces giving legal advice to the charity and social enterprise sector, Robert Oakley, a partner at Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, answers questions on charities and disputes.

400,000 former Anglicans4 worldwide seek immediate unity with Rome.” No by-line. Times of London. October 22, 2009. Leaders of more than 400,000 Anglicans who quit over women priests are to seek immediate unity with Rome under the apostolic constitution announced by Pope Benedict XVI. They will be among the first to take up an option allowing Anglicans to join an “ordinariate” that brings them into full communion with Roman Catholics while retaining elements of their Anglican identity. The Pope’s move is regarded by some Anglicans as one of the most dramatic developments in Protestant christendom since the Reformation gave birth to the Church of England 400 years ago.
Related stories:
Vatican makes Anglicans an offer: Come back to the church.USA Today. October 20, 2009.
Offer Raises Idea of Marriage for Catholic Priests.” New York Times. October 22, 2009.

“Anglicans told to gather up wares on road to Rome; Defectors on collision course over property.” Guardian (UK). October 23, 2009.
Church politics: A way out for the archbishop.” Guardian (UK). October 23, 2009.
Backwards in faith: Disgruntled members of the Church of England should remember that the road to Rome is rocky.Guardian (UK). October 24, 2009.
Vatican’s lack of warning on Anglican priests ‘inexcusable’ say Carey.” By Laura May. Independent (UK). October 24, 2009.

Series: Charities and the law: Q&A: Setting up a charity.” By Emma Tarran. Guardian (UK). October 22, 2009. As part of our series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Emma Tarran of Trowers & Hamlins, explains what you need to know when setting up a charity

Dog-lovers desert RSPCA over ‘inhumane’ killings.” By Simon de Bruxelles. Times of London. October 24, 2009. Dozens of animal lovers have cancelled their regular donations to the RSPCA as part of a campaign against the use of an “inhumane” device used to put down unwanted dogs. The backlash began after the society, which relies on millions of pounds of public-donated money each year, ordered the destruction of ten German shepherd dogs whose owner had recently died.The dogs, which had been kept indoors for several weeks and were said to be aggressive and in poor condition, were killed with a captive bolt gun of the kind used in abattoirs to stun livestock before slaughter. The use of captive bolt guns is deemed “inhumane” and “unacceptable” for the destruction of dogs by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)

Monday, October 26th, 2009


California restores funding for domestic violence shelters.” By Denis C. Theriault. San Jose Mercury-News. October 21, 2009. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an emergency bill that restores more than $16 million for domestic violence programs in California — reversing one of his most controversial line-item budget cuts this summer. The money will allow 94 shelters for women and their children to remain open through June. Since late July, when the governor slashed nearly $500 million from social service programs, six shelters have closed, and several others have cut back on staffing and counseling services. The money will allow the closed shelters to reopen.