“Abbott pledges school-fee rebates; Parents will be entitled to claim generous fee subsidies for sending their children to private and independent schools as part of the Coalition’s expanded education rebate policy.”By Jacob Saulwick. Sydney Morning Herald. July 21, 2010. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he supported choice in education, and the $760 million boost to the tax rebate for school fees and other education expenses would help parents. Flanked by his education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, Mr Abbott – who was later mobbed by 100 schoolchildren in outer Brisbane – said it was important to reduce the pressures of the cost of living, including fees for schooling. “A very, very large percentage of parents at government schools these days face what are called voluntary fees,” he said. Under the Coalition’s policy, the current 50 per cent rebate would be lifted to $500 a year for each primary school student and $1000 for each high school student – and extended to private schooling.
“Tour of duty: why culture needs a nanny state to thrive.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. July 26, 2010. As the curtain goes up on Mary Poppins, director Richard Eyre tells Bryce Hallett why governments need to make sure the arts are accessible to all. The arts are a part of our life, our language, our way of seeing; they are a measure of our civilisation. The arts tell us truths about ourselves and our feelings and our society that reach parts of us that politics and journalism don’t.” The British theatre, film and opera director Richard Eyre, an advocate of public funding for the arts, expressed these sentiments more than a decade ago in a wide-ranging report about cultural ambition, arts education, programming, access and reach. ”If you give any subsidy to the arts you have to recognise that ticket prices have to be pegged or reduced, especially for those going to a play, opera or musical for the first time,” says Eyre, who directed the National Theatre between 1987 and 1997. ”A duty of arts companies is to educate the audiences of the future, initially from primary school [age], otherwise any government subsidy is not given in good faith but is appeasement.”
CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
“Pope grants broad powers to Legionaries delegate.” By Nicole Winfield. Washington Post/Associated Press. July 24, 2010. The pope has granted broad powers to the archbishop he selected to overhaul the Legionaries of Christ following revelations that the order’s founder led a double life. A decree approved by Pope Benedict XVI and published Saturday on the Legionaries’ website said Archbishop Velasio De Paolis can override the Legionaries’ own constitutions as he goes about reforming the order and purging it of its institutional abuses. The conservative order once hailed by the Vatican for its orthodoxy and ability to recruit priests fell into disarray starting last year as it admitted that its founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children. In a May 1 statement, the Vatican said Maciel had built a system of power built on obedience and deceit that allowed his criminal and immoral misdeeds to go unchecked for decades. It said the Legionaries needed to be profoundly purified to survive, with the order’s essential spirit redefined, its founding constitutions revised and the systemic abuse of authority corrected.
“Mo. Special Olympics ousts ex-priest over abuse.” By Maria Sudekum Fisher.
Washington Post/Associated Press. July 19, 2010. A former Roman Catholic priest who was part of a $5 million sex abuse settlement in Wisconsin two decades ago was suspended from a volunteer position with Special Olympics Missouri and has admitted some of the abuse. Mark Musso, president and CEO of Special Olympics Missouri, said the former priest, Tom Ericksen, 62, of Kansas City, was suspended indefinitely last week after the organization learned of the 1989 settlement with the Diocese of Superior, Wis. Ericksen admitted in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that he had fondled three boys but denied having contact with a fourth child involved in the settlement. He said the settlement totaled about $5 million. “I just fondled and stuff like that,” Ericksen said during the interview in the lobby of his Kansas City apartment building. “But I can’t say I didn’t do inappropriate things. … But I never had sex” with them, he said. Ericksen also said he has not abused any children since leaving the priesthood, including Special Olympians.
“In The Land Of Mao, A Rising Tide Of Christianity.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. July 19, 2010. We know that China has enjoyed a sustained economic boom but it’s also in the middle of a religious boom. An official survey shows that nearly one in three Chinese describe themselves as religious. Thats an astonishing figure for an officially atheist country, where religion was banned until three decades ago. Today, we begin a series about faith in China where we examine the links between wealth and religion. Beijing recognizes five official religions: Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and the first subject of our series – Protestantism.
“China’s Divided Catholics Seek Reconciliation.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. July 20, 2010.
“Female Imams Blaze Trail Amid China’s Muslims.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. July 21, 2010.
“Beijing Finds Common Cause With Chinese Buddhists.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. July 22, 2010.
“China’s Leaders Harness Folk Religion For Their Aims.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. July 23, 2010.
“Yao Ming to lead charity game in Beijing.” Xinhuanet.com. July 23, 2010. Chinese basketball star Yao Ming will lead a charity exhibition game here on Saturday to raise funds for the Project Hope in China. The exhibition game, to be held in the National Indoor Stadium, will feature a host of NBA big names, including All-Star guard Steve Nash from the Suns, the promising star Brandon Jennings from the Bucks, Clippers’talisman Baron Davis, as well as Yao’s Rockets teammate Chase Budinger. The Chinese national basketball team are to take on the NBA-star team. “When I was in Houston I took part in some charity activities with the team, which really impressed me a lot. Charity activities gave me a sense of satisfaction and success,” said Yao in a pre-game press conference on Thursday. “So I also want to do something for my country, for children in Chinese rural areas who really need help.” In order to fulfill his desire to help Chinese children in need, the Houston Rocket center launched the Yao Foundation in 2008 and helped to build six Project Hope elementary schools in the past two years. Saturday’s game is a part of the Yao Foundation Charity Tour. The tour will also include a charity banquet on Friday night and another exhibition game in the city of Taipei next Wednesday.
“SC allows Centre to take over Bhopal Trust hospital.” By Dhananjay Mahapatra. Times of India. July 19, 2010. The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Centre to take over the management of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust running super-speciality treatment centres for the 1984 gas victims. The apex court also accepted the resignation of former Chief Justice A M Ahmadi as the chairman of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust. BMHT has an interesting history. Pursuant to the SC orders, Union Carbide had set up a charitable trust in London on March 20, 1992 called ‘Bhopal Hospital Trust’ with Sir Ian Percival as its sole trustee. The MP government had granted, free of cost, approximately 80 acres of land for the construction of the hospital. UCC extended limited financial support by sale of its shares and the Centre augmented it by waiving capital gains tax thereon. Following the death of Percival, the “Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust” was established in accordance with the apex court’s orders in 1998 with ex-CJI Ahmadi as its chairman. The Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) became functional in July 2000. It has eight mini-centres. There are six hospitals, nine day-care centres, three Unani, three Homeopathic and three Ayurveda dispensaries run by BMHRC.
“MEA wants IRS officers to monitor aid projects abroad.” No by-line. Times of India. July 21, 2010. The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has requested the finance ministry to depute a contingent of meritorious revenue service officials to monitor India’s aid projects to various countries worth thousands of crores of rupees. Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao has written a letter to revenue secretary Sunil Mitra in this regard seeking deputation of officers of income tax and customs for the purpose. Official sources said a panel of almost a dozen bright officials from both the income tax and customs department will be dispatched soon to the MEA which has taken the step keeping in mind “the increasing importance of economic diplomacy” in India’s foreign policy. Rao, in her letter written last month, has said with the fresh induction of such revenue officials, her ministry would have a “greater degree of economic and financial expertise at the policy-making level within MEA”. “With the increasing importance of economic diplomacy in the overall foreign policy framework of India, there is a requirement to instill a greater degree of economic and financial expertise at the policy-making level within MEA. This requirement is felt particularly in the two specialised economic divisions of the ministry…. investment and technology promotion division and the multi-lateral economic relations division,” she said in her letter.
“Slow take-up for academies despite push by Gove.” By Greg Hurst. Times of London. July 19, 2010. About 50 state schools are on track to become academies in September, far fewer than initially envisaged. A government adviser told The Times that 50 schools were sufficiently advanced in their applications to be approved for the start of the academic year. These were a mixture of secondary and some primary schools, the adviser said. Another batch may convert to academy status in October, with further groups being approved at intervals. The adviser said that the complexity of completing formal approval and funding agreements for new academies meant that only those whose preparations were most advanced would be ready by September. These figures will be a blow for Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who is rushing through legislation to enable schools to become academies as rapidly as possible, provoking furious protests from Labour. The Academies Bill, which removes the power of local authorities to veto academies, was the first of the coalition’s programme. It has already cleared the Lords and will be pushed through the Commons in eight days. Special arrangements have been made to allow MPs to table amendments before its second reading today and its committee stage will be taken on the floor of the Commons, so that it can be law before September.
“Michael Gove defends academies push; Education secretary says scheme for schools to opt out of local authority control was debated during election campaign.” Guardian (UK). July 19, 2010.
“Gove seeks to ram academies bill through parliament; Protests erupt that government is whisking through law to benefit well-off schools while those struggling face building cuts.” Guardian (UK). July 19, 2010.
“Gove’s bill spells segregation and tax-funded madrasas; The academies bill is casual law-making by arbitrary diktat that will fail the poorest and fuel the rise of faith schools.” Guardian (UK). July 20, 2010.
“Michael Gove’s schools could improve education for all children; Free schools could provide a link between school and family, giving disadvantaged children a greater chance of success.” Guardian (UK). July 21, 2010.
“David Cameron breaks bank to fund Big Society idea.” By Roland Watson. Times of London. July 19, 2010. Hundreds of millions of pounds lying dormant in unused bank accounts will be used by the Government to bring David Cameron’s “Big Society” to life. The cash will be diverted to social action groups and charities, via a Big Society Bank, to deliver services where local people feel they have been failed by the State or local economy. It would allow communities to develop a local transport network, for instance, or take over the running of their local pub. Mr Cameron will name four areas today as the “great training grounds” to test how people can take more control over their lives. Liverpool, Windsor and Maidenhead, Sutton and Cheam and Eden Valley in Cumbria have all asked to test some of the ideas for “ultra local power” that Mr Cameron wants to be a hallmark of his Government. Civil servants will be told to help them to cut through Whitehall bureaucracy or show them where to turn to in the voluntary sector. The Prime Minister will travel to Liverpool to speak about his passion for fostering a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy and social action.
“Cameron says ‘Big Society’ is not about saving money.” By Joe Churcher and Matt Williams. Independent (UK). July 19, 2010.
“David Cameron begins big sell of ‘Big Society’; Four authorities, all volunteers, have been chosen to run services they think they can administer better than Whitehall.” Guardian (UK). July 19, 2010.
“Cameron promises power for the ‘man and woman on the street’; PM says ‘big society’ plans will create communities with ‘oomph’ and denies programme is a mask for public sector cuts.” Guardian. July 19, 2010.
“Is the street party the way to create a ‘big society’? As David Cameron’s project gathers pace, Rob Hastings reports from the cake-stall.” Independent (UK). July 19, 2010.
“David Cameron’s ‘big society’: Partners in the vanguard – of confusion; Local partners in PM’s ‘vanguard communities’ say they have been given little or no information on what role will involve.” Guardian (UK). July 19, 2010.
“David Cameron reveals ‘big society’ vision – and denies it is just cost cutting; PM: central control led to a ‘passive, soulless’ Britain; Labour warns of return to Victorian philanthropy.” Guardian (UK). July 19, 2010.
“‘Big society’ is a departure for Tories; For all the precursors it is possible to dig up in the domestic tradition, the ‘big society’ is really an American import.” Guardian (UK). July 19, 2010.
“Cameron’s Big Society attacked as ‘a cover for spending cuts’.” Independent (UK). July 20, 2010.
“But what if the Big Society doesn’t work? While the over-riding motive is not directly connected to our economic situation, lack of resources is why the vision is so limited.” Independent (UK). July 20, 2010.
“The Big Society: a genuine vision for Britain’s future – or just empty rhetoric? Yesterday David Cameron laid out his flagship policy.” Independent (UK). July 20, 2010.
“Reality of the Big Society dawns on Liverpool; Jonathan Brown visits one of the pilot areas for Cameron’s flagship idea – and is met by bemusement and trepidation.” Independent (UK). July 21, 2010.
“Christina Patterson: Is there room for art in the Big Society?
There isn’t much philanthropy in Britain. Where it does exist in relation to the arts, it’s largely about influence and image – in other words, the glamorous and hip.” Independent (UK). July 21, 2010.
“Matthew Norman: Quit the carping and give volunteering a go
Get Pickles cleaning bins, Fox delivering babies, May counselling prostitutes, and Osborne wallpapering care homes in Tatton. We know they’re busy. That’s the point.” Independent (UK). July 21, 2010.
“The ‘big society’ needs religion; The ‘big society’ will not work unless it is informed by religious ideas of free and reciprocal giving.” Guardian (UK). July 21, 2010.
“Letters: Big issues for Cameron’s big society.” Guardian (UK). July 21, 2010.
“Good Citizens: The Government has an ambitious plan for non-military national service. The test will be to see who signs up.” Times of London. July 22 2010.
“Local charity cuts jeopardise David Cameron’s ‘big society’; Prime minister’s flagship idea at risk as reduced funding for community-based activity threatens to undermine local power.” Guardian (UK). July 23, 2010.
“Power to the people in David Cameron’s ‘big society’, or a Robin Hood fantasy? Lukewarm reception for Tory leader’s vision of active communities.” Guardian/Observer (UK). July 25, 2010.
“Ministers turn their attention to cutting old and superfluous quangos.” By Richard Ford. Times of London. July 19 2010. Ministers are being urged to axe redundant quangos as part of the Government’s multimillion-pound drive to cut Whitehall costs. It is believed that some organisations set up in the 1970s and 1980s have become superfluous after the many changes in the work of Whitehall departments. The move follows the announcement by Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, that some bodies linked to her department would be cut as part of the drive to find 25 per cent savings. The money saved would be used for key services protecting the public from emergencies such as flooding, chemical spills or outbreaks of animal disease.
“£8.6 million business quangos to be axed.” Independent (UK). July 19, 2010.
“Culture department braces itself for redundancies of up to 50%; Jeremy Hunt has submitted plans to Treasury proposing deep cuts in staff and a move to smaller government building.” By Patrick Wintour and Mark Brown. Guardian (UK). July 20, 2010. Up to one in two of the staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are to be made redundant as part of the cuts programme submitted to the Treasury by the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Hunt has also proposed moving out of the well-appointed departmental headquarters in Cockspur Street, just off Trafalgar Square, with the remaining staff finding room in a different, existing departmental building. In a move which will send a chill through the arts world, Hunt, who has proposed cuts of between 35% and 50% of all staff, believes he will not be able to win support for the coming deep cuts in arts and media budgets unless he leads by example. All government departments have been told by the Treasury to offer cuts of between 25% and 40% of total budgets. Some departments have failed to meet the Treasury deadline or are refusing to produce 40% cuts, saying it is not realistic to do so, and therefore a waste of time.
“Let’s cut the arts budget; The knife should slice through marketing and development but leave the artists untouched.” By Mark Ravenhill. Guardian (UK). July 25, 2010.
“Warburg Institute, Saved From Nazis, Faces Bureaucratic Threat.” by Martin Gayford. Bloomberg.com. July 21, 2010. A great cultural foundation that was saved from the Nazis is now under threat from a different, more insidious menace: the bureaucratic policies of modern British higher education. The Warburg Institute at London University is renowned throughout the scholarly world for its remarkable library, founded over a century ago. Yet today its existence as an independent entity is in doubt, and may be decided in court.
The story is a long and sad one. “Everybody has a feeling of disbelief that we have got to this point,” the director of the Warburg, Charles Hope, said in an interview. “The university has said that it wishes to change the Trust Deed, according to which the Warburg was originally handed over to the University of London in 1944, and is talking to its lawyers — and we are talking to our lawyers.” The founder of the institute was Aby Warburg (1866-1929), the descendant of a Hamburg banking family and an intellectual with a brilliance that led him to be compared to Sigmund Freud by art historian Ernst Gombrich. Warburg’s originality lay in seeing that art had to be understood in the context of the whole society from which it came. To this end he formed a library devoted to “the study of the science of culture,” especially the ways in which the heritage of classical Greece, Rome and other early civilizations had metamorphosed in the centuries that followed. Rare volumes on magic, the discoveries of Galileo, Arabic treatises on algebra, astrology and the lives of saints all found room on his shelves.
“Methodist leader predicts ‘overthrow’ of Church structures; The Pope may be interested by the Rev Trevor Hoggard’s comments in Rome.” By Ruth Gledhill. Times of London. July 22, 2010. The minister who represents the interests of the world’s 70 million Methodists to the Vatican has predicted the “overthrow” and “collapse” of Church structures — both Anglican and Catholic. The disintegration will be followed by “turmoil, disintegration and panic,” the Rev Trevor Hoggard warned. Dr Hoggard, minister at Ponte Sant’Angelo Methodist Church in Rome, was preaching at the Anglican Centre in Rome at the invitation of the Very Rev David Richardson, its director. He also said there was no realistic hope, ever, of Christian unity. Canon Richardson, an Anglo-Catholic priest known for his studied diplomacy, had not expected such an apocalyptic message in the six minute sermon before a small congregation of mild-mannered Anglicans.
“Trafigura founder Graham Sharp’s £3m gift to Oxford university causes anger; Donation linked to scandal-hit oil trading company should be rejected, say Oxford students and teaching staff.” By Jamie Doward and Tom Rowley. The Observer/Guardian. July 25, 2010. Students and academics at Oxford are angry that their university has accepted more than £3m from a foundation established by a founder of the controversial oil trading company Trafigura. Graham Sharp was one of the three co-founders of the company, which on Friday was fined £840,000 by a court in the Netherlands for illegally exporting tonnes of toxic waste to west Africa. Sharp, who graduated from St John’s College, Oxford, in 1983, with a first-class honours degree in engineering, economics and management, retired from Trafigura’s operational business in 2007. He went on to found the Helsington Foundation, a Liechtenstein-based trust that has given £3.25m to fund a new summer school at the University of Oxford that will aim to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. On Friday, Trafigura was convicted of criminal charges over a 2006 environmental scandal, in which 30,000 people were made ill when the Probo Koala, a ship leased by Trafigura, dumped waste in Ivory Coast. Yesterday, students and staff at Oxford urged the university to reconsider accepting the donation. Peter Oppenheimer, emeritus professor of economics at Christ Church, said the university had a history of being “naive” when it came to accepting donations. “Oxford’s central fundraising effort has long been an undirected mess – they will happily take money from anywhere,” he said.