“Lend a hand for literacy.” By Jessica Mahar. Sydney Morning Herald. November 25, 2009. ONLY one in five children in remote indigenous communities can read to the minimum standard. That is the startling message of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, which wants to make it known and to change the situation. Tomorrow, the Hands Across the Nation Indigenous Literacy Appeal – of which the Herald is a media partner – will ask people to raise their hands if they care enough to want to help the most marginalised Australians become literate and numerate.
“St Vincent’s board loses $24m on junk bonds.” By Kate Benson. Sydney Morning Herald. November 27, 2009. THE board of one of Sydney’s biggest hospitals is under fire after losing more than $24 million on the sharemarket using money taken from trust funds containing public donations and federal government research grants. Senior doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital have called for an independent inquiry after discovering about $80 million, some of which was earmarked for new equipment, research projects, education and salaries, was used to buy high-risk bonds, the same kind responsible for triggering the global financial crisis last year in the United States.
“Experts: Bishops covered up priests’ child abuse.” By Shawn Pogatchnik. USA Today/Associated Press. November 26, 2009. Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse by priests to protect the church’s reputation, an expert commission reported Thursday after a three-year investigation.
“Report accuses Catholic Church of coverup.” By Rob Gifford. National Public Radio. November 26, 2009.
“Irish church and police covered up child sex abuse, says report; Devastating report on abuse of children by clergy from 1975 to 2004 accuses church and Garda of colluding to cover up scandal.” Guardian (UK). November 26, 2009.
“The Brothers grim: Once, the Christian Brothers wielded extraordinary power – not only over the lives of the hundreds, if not thousands, of children they abused, but over Ireland itself. Today there are only 250 people left in the Irish order, with an average age of 74 – but its legacy still looms large.” Guardian (UK). November 28, 2009.
“ASIA: Civil Society Steps Up Efforts Towards Alternative Economy.” By Mutsuko Murakami. Interpress Service. Amid worsening poverty, income inequality and a host of environmental hazards that are afflicting many countries, the world needs an economic model that encourages local initiatives for social entrepreneurship, builds smaller-scale and independent economy, and expands social networks and promotes grassroots-based initiatives towards sustainable development, say advocates of this economic model, which gathered together for the second time in a span of two years in this capital. These ideas, they say, are best summed up in the concept of solidarity economy (SE). Yoko Kitazawa, an independent scholar and one of the chief organisers of a forum held early this month in the Japanese capital, said the idea places priority on the welfare of people, not on profit of corporations or organizational prosperity.
“Russian Leader Expresses Support for Nonprofits.” By Clifford J. Levy. New York Times. November 24, 2009. President Dmitri A. Medvedev called Monday for tax incentives and other measures to assist Russia’s beleaguered nonprofit groups, which have come under government pressure in recent years. Mr. Medvedev, promoting policies that he hopes will modernize the country, said in a meeting with human rights advocates that new laws would not alleviate all the problems the groups faced, but that they would certainly help. “Our main goal is the support of the authority of nonprofit groups in society, and the attraction to this sector of more talented people and philanthropic resources,” Mr. Medvedev said. “We need to stimulate philanthropy and create a stimulus or a motivation for volunteers who toil for such organizations.”
“Mixed-Sex Saudi University Hits Clerical Opposition (Update1).” By Henry Meyer and Glen Carey. Bloomberg.com. November 25, 2009. King Abdullah, seeing the need for speed in changing his country is creating secular universities, including a coeducational graduate school, and pushing for more science and technology in education. The king needs a well-trained workforce to diversify the world’s largest oil exporter from energy and create jobs for Saudi Arabia’s youth, more than 25 percent of whom are unemployed. Failing to raise the fortunes of the almost 40 percent of the population under 15 would make the Islamic state even more susceptible to extremism, said Simon Henderson, an expert on the Gulf monarchies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Stability of world oil supplies depends on Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally. But a backlash by clerics, is slowing those efforts.
“SRI LANKA: Rights Groups Blame Gov’t Apathy for Migrant Woes.” By Feizal Samath. Inter Press Service. November 25, 2009. Dozens of Sri Lankan migrant workers languishing under a flyover in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, claiming to be stranded, exemplify the crisis of migration that Sri Lankan authorities have faced over the years. According to the government, the problem only confronts less than one percent of more than 1.6 million Sri Lankan workers abroad. But according to the National Policy on Migration—an International Labour Organization-led initiative involving government agencies, associations and non-governmental organisations supporting migrant workers, and employment agents—most of the complaints are over wage issues and sexual and physical harassments.
“Missing funds: Australian faces the music.” By Paola Totoro. Sydney Morning Herald. November 25, 2009. : The Australian financial director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra has been accused of using up to £560,000 ($1 million) in public funds to pay for clothing, antiques and renovations to his family home. Cameron Poole, an expert in charity finances who graduated from Melbourne University in 1993, quit the orchestra in August and now faces a High Court action from his former employer to recover the money. The shortfall in funds was allegedly discovered when the organisation carried out an external audit for its end-of-year accounts.
“The professionals: The time of the interim has arrived. In periods of cost-cutting, freelance managers offer diverse skills and deliver efficiency. That’s why the public and voluntary sectors are turning to them for support. Debbie Andalo reports.” By Debbie Andalo. Guardian (UK). November 25, 2009. For the first time the demand for freelance senior experienced executives to work in the public sector is higher than the private sector. And all the indications are that the trend is likely to continue – despite the squeeze on public spending and the possibility of a change of government next year. But while there may be more assignments on offer for these interim managers in public services, competition for contracts is greater. Interims who have traditionally worked in the private sector but have seen their freelance opportunities disappear because of the recession, are now turning to the public and voluntary sectors instead.
“Burnham is right to confirm the NHS as key healthcare provider.” By Rachael Maskell and Karen Reay. Letters. Guardian (UK). November 25, 2009. Andy Burnham should be congratulated for his decision to ensure that the NHS is given “preferred provider” status (Andy Burnham told charities at risk in policy shift, 23 November). It shows he has listened to the professionals that the NHS, not the private or not-for-profit sector, is best placed to provide health services and he is aware of the dangers of a fragmented healthcare system, with a myriad of organisations competing for contracts, rather than co-operating to provide the best care for patients.
“David Cameron accused of ‘divisive smears’ over Islamic schools claim.” No by-line. Times of London. November 26, 2009. Tory leader David Cameron was accused of using “divisive smears” by the Schools Secretary after alleging that a radical Muslim group had set up two schools with the help of public cash meant to tackle extremism. Cameron claimed that the Government had been warned that the independent schools in London were being run by a “front organisation for Hizb ut Tahrir”. Demanding an investigation from Gordon Brown, Mr Cameron said schools run by the ISF (Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation) in Slough and Haringey, London, had received £113,000 of Government money, some of which was from the Pathfinder scheme, the objective of which is meant to be preventing violent extremism. But within hours of Mr Brown promising an investigation, Ed Balls, the Secretary of State, said that the money going to the schools in Slough and the north London borough of Haringey was in fact intended to fund free nursery places for three and four year olds.
“Tesco policy on plastic is fantastic, says university (after bagging £25 million).” By Ben Webster. Times of London. November 27, 2009. A university that accepted £25 million from Tesco has published a report with misleading figures to endorse the supermarket’s policy of giving away billions of single-use carrier bags.
“Aristocrat blew £1.6m of family’s charity on living the high life.” By Terri Judd. Independent (UK). November 27, 2009. A wealthy aristocrat, who used a family charity as his personal piggy bank, frittering away £1.6m, was given a two-year suspended sentence yesterday. The Hon Jonathan Davies, 65, blew money intended for Bosnian orphans on fine wines, golf club memberships and a friend’s spark-plug invention.
“Hygiene inquiry into deaths at Essex NHS trust; Blood-stained floors, out-of-date equipment and apparent mould in machines found at Basildon and Thurrock hospitals trust.” By Owen Bowcott. Guardian (UK). November 27, 2009. An Essex NHS hospital trust found to have blood-splattered equipment and an unusually high death rate among patients is being investigated by health inspectors. Action is being taken against Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS foundation trust after an inspection last month revealed hygiene failures and raised concerns about excessive death rates. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Monitor, the body charged with regulating semi-autonomous NHS foundation trusts, have demanded changes in practices that breached patient protection standards.
“Twelve hospital trusts exposed for failing patients.” Times of London. November 29, 2009.
“Deadly hospital gave itself top marks; Self-assessment procedure allowed foundation trust to award itself high marks despite high death toll and filthy conditions.” Guardian (UK). November 27, 2009.
“Church of England set to lose a tenth of its clergy in five years.” By Ruth Gledhill and Tim Glanfield. Times of London. November 28, 2009. The Church of England is facing the loss of as many as one in ten paid clergy in the next five years and internal documents seen by The Times admit that the traditional model of a vicar in every parish is over. The credit crunch and a pension funding crisis have left dioceses facing massive restructuring programmes. Church statistics show that between 2000 and 2013 stipendiary or paid clergy numbers will have fallen by nearly a quarter. According to figures on the Church of England website, there will be an 8.3 per cent decrease in paid clergy in the next four years, from 8,400 this year to 7,700 in to 2013. This represents a 22.5 per cent decrease since 2000. If this trend continues in just over 50 years there will be no full-time paid clergy left in Britain’s 13,000 parishes serving 16,000 churches. Jobs will instead be filled by unpaid part-timers, giving rise to fears about the quality of parish ministry. Combined with a big reduction in churchgoing, the figures will add weight to the campaign for disestablishment.