Archive for November, 2010

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 15-21, 2010)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010


Donor of the Day: Property Leaders’ Hospital Gift.” By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. November 16, 2010. Jeff Levine has found common ground with his peers in New York’s competitive real estate and construction industry: donating to charity. The real-estate developer has corralled peers to donate nearly $1 million to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside, Queens. A $25 million fundraising campaign through 2012 is intended to double the size and scope of the hospital, which provides care for children with special needs and chronic illnesses. Dubbed “Building Hope, Restoring Lives,” the campaign looks to modernize St. Mary’s existing 1950s-era building and construct a 90,000-square-foot patient pavilion. The new building will provide space for rehabilitation, patient care, education and family visitation. Currently, the hospital serves nearly 4,000 children. “Technology and medical advances are allowing more kids to survive illness and injury but are creating a larger need and obligation to take care of these kids afterward,” says Leslie Johnson, the hospital’s director of communications. “We are the next part of the story, helping them lead as fulfilling lives as possible,” she says. To that end, the organization recently broke ground on an $114 million project that will modernize the building, adding wireless technology, gasses at each bedside and rehab equipment. The new pavilion will nearly double the size of the nonprofit health facility’s current space, which Ms. Johnson says now requires the organization to cram up to five patients in one room. The project, which is set to be completed by the end of 2012, will also create an outdoor area, which includes a pool for aquatic therapy, a therapeutic fitness center and track.

Donor of the Day: Health Education Gets Shot in the Arm.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. November 17, 2010. A summer internship during college at a Planned Parenthood health center has meant a lifelong commitment to the organization for philanthropist Jennifer Allan Soros. Indeed, supporting Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates is her “highest philanthropic priority,” said Ms. Soros, who also serves on the organization’s national board. Recently, she gave $50,000 to Planned Parenthood of New York City to help the local affiliate open its first health-services clinic on Staten Island. “Staten Island is our city’s most quickly expanding borough,” said Ms. Soros. “I knew that I’d be making a very direct impact on this medically underserved population and I knew that the provider of these critical reproductive health-care services would be superlative.” The clinic will open early next year, but in the meantime a mobile medical van is parked near the Staten Island Ferry terminal. It opened in September and on Mondays provides health screenings, tests for sexually transmitted infections, abortion referrals and birth-control services. Across the five boroughs, the organization provides services to about 50,000 New Yorkers each year.

Donor of the Day: Planting Seeds In Conn.” By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. November 18, 2010. In 1883, Simsbury, Conn., native and New York City real- estate multimillionaire Amos R. Eno donated 140 acres to the Town of Simsbury to benefit the town’s poor. For years, a dairy farm operated on the land until it closed in 2008 due to a number of financial and legal mishaps. Now, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Connecticut’s largest community foundation, is giving $128,000 to the Community Farm of Simsbury, a new nonprofit that launched in place of the milk-processing plant last year. The community farm, which leased 38 acres of Eno’s original land parcel from the town for $1 a year for five years, serves two purposes: It educates students and adults on farming, food preparation, and environmental stewardship, and then donates the crops to local food banks. “When the dairy closed we wanted to rethink and revamp how we could use the land in order to maintain Amos Eno’s desire to help people in need,” says Tim Goodwin, the executive director of the farm. In 2008, Mr. Goodwin, a former teacher whose family maintained a small farm when he was growing up, took over, assembled a board of directors and began raising money. He formed partnerships with the Simsbury and Hartford school districts, Ethel Walker School, and the Capitol Region Education Council and ran pilot programs to teach children about farming, healthy eating and community service. The products of what the farm grew was then donated to local food banks such as Gifts of Love, which serves the Farmington Valley; Simsbury Social Services; Foodshare, the regional food bank; and Billings Forge Community Works in Hartford. In 2009, the farm donated more than 4,000 pounds of produce to food banks and says it wants to double that amount next year.

Donor of the Day: Group Helping Holocaust Rescuers Spurs Reunion.” By Shelly Banjo. Wall Street Journal. November 20, 2010. During the Holocaust, as a Polish teenager Wladyslaw Misiuna sheltered and saved the life of Sara Marmurek, a Jewish woman who now lives in Toronto, Canada. After 65 years apart, on Tuesday the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous in New York, an organization that supports Christian rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, will help the pair reunite at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The reunion is part of an effort that started in the late 1980s to provide monthly assistance to elderly and needy so-called Righteous Gentiles living in 24 countries. Last year, the foundation sent $3.3 million to more than 1,000 rescuers from around the world. As the number of Holocaust survivors and rescuers dwindle, the organization has been ramping up a Holocaust studies education program. “These are people who not only had the courage to care but the courage to act and we are repaying a debt of gratitude on behalf of the Jewish community and the rest of the world to say thank you,” says Stanlee Stahl, the foundation’s executive vice president.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 15-21, 2010)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010


Two Catholic Churches in Brooklyn Will Close.” By Paul Vitello. New York Times. November 15, 2010. Facing a drop in attendance and a shortage of priests, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn plans to close two churches, fold six parishes into three and impose strict budget constraints on all 198 of its parishes. The move, announced from pulpits on Sunday, was described by church officials as the first phase of a broad consolidation that will result in further closings or mergers over the next two years, eventually affecting every parish in the diocese, which serves an estimated 1.5 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens. Coming on the heels of the largest school reorganization in the history of the neighboring Archdiocese of New York, which announced provisional plans last week to close 31 parochial schools and one high school, the Brooklyn announcement underscored a sense of urgency in the church hierarchy about the financial impact of long-term population shifts, changing religious routines, aging church properties and a shrinking work force of priests. “Given the financial constraints we now face, the diocese can no longer provide any financial assistance to your parish or any other parish in the diocese,” Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio said in a letter read Sunday to parishioners at the churches that will be the first to close or merge, all of them in Brooklyn. “Further, the growing shortage of priests available for parochial service must be considered in all our strategic planning decisions.” This round of closings and mergers, to take effect on Jan. 31, follows a half-dozen other waves of parish and parochial school closings in recent years in the Brooklyn diocese. Among other cutbacks, the diocese has shuttered nearly half its elementary schools since the late 1990s.

US bishops elect NYC archbishop as leader in upset.” By Rahcel Zoll. Washington Post/Associated Press. November 16, 2010. New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was elected president Tuesday of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a surprise win that underscored the bishops’ shift toward a more aggressive defense of orthodoxy. Dolan defeated Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas, who was known for his conciliatory style and served for three years as vice president. It is the first time since the 1960s that a sitting vice president was on the ballot for conference president and lost. For the next vice president, the bishops chose the prelate who led their campaign for traditional marriage, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. “This is an indication that bishops are going to continue to be leaders in the culture wars,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of a book on the American bishops and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
Related stories:
Dolan Chosen to Lead U.S. Bishops.” Wall Street Journal. November 16, 2010.
Dolan Chosen as President of U.S. Bishops’ Group.” New York Times. November 16, 2010.

Faith, Politics And The 2010 Election.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. November 17, 2010. NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to E.J. Dionne and William Galston of the Brookings Institution about a new study on the role faith and politics played in the 2010 election. Their new study, published Wednesday, is called “The Old and New Politics of Faith: Religion and the 2010 Election.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 15-21, 2010)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010


Bankruptcy official questions Crystal Cathedral compensation; U.S. trustee, creditors object to six-figure housing allowance for megachurch’s chief financial officer and say at least three insiders were paid for what appear to be redundant duties.” By Abby Sewell and Nicole Santa Cruz. Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2010. The U.S. trustee and creditors in the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy proceedings have questioned spending at the Garden Grove-based megachurch, which has long kept its finances under wraps. In documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, the trustee and the creditors concluded that the church paid at least three insiders for what appeared to be redundant duties. They also question the six-figure housing allowance paid to Chief Financial Officer Fred Southard, which allowed him to largely avoid federal income taxes, according to tax documents filed in court. The documents objecting to compensation proposed by the church give the first look into the long-questioned financial practices at the Crystal Cathedral, which employs more than a dozen family members and in-laws of founder Robert H. Schuller. The Crystal Cathedral filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, citing the bad economy and a 24% drop in donations in 2009 for its financial problems. More than 550 creditors are owed between $50 million and $100 million, according to the initial filing.

MACSA’s latest financial fiasco: San Jose nonprofit hasn’t started preschool with $500,000 city grant.” By Tracy Seipel. San Jose Mercury News. San Jose’s beleaguered Mexican American Community Services Agency, already under criminal investigation for allegedly skimming employee pension funds, now may find itself in default of a $500,000 grant from the city’s redevelopment agency. City officials say the grant was intended for a preschool program that MACSA has never opened. The city could order the money to be refunded. The city staff will issue a memo today giving the City Council details of MACSA’s latest financial fiasco and reviewing other funding the city has provided the nonprofit.

SB boy files sex abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts.” No by-line. San Francisco Chronicle. November 17, 2010. A boy who says he was sexually abused by his troop leader in 2007 has filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America in Santa Barbara. The suit filed Wednesday by attorneys for the unnamed boy seeks unspecified damages and an injunction against the Boy Scouts for what it calls a policy of concealment of sexual abuse. The suit stems from the case of Albert Stein, who in February 2009 pleaded no contest to two counts of molestation, one of them against the plaintiff. Stein is in prison and a registered sex offender. The Boy Scouts said in a statement to KSBY-TV that in June they made youth protection training mandatory for all volunteers and that they include a sex abuse education pamphlet with every scout handbook.

Bank unit named in cemetery scheme.” No by-line. November 18, 2010. A State Street Corp. unit, International Fund Services Ireland Ltd., was sued by a Michigan cemetery operator alleging the company aided in the theft of $60 million in trust assets intended for maintaining burial sites. Midwest Memorial Group LLC, in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan Monday, claimed Clayton Smart and Mark Singer stole the money from the trusts. Smart obtained financing to buy the cemeteries from a brokerage that he and Singer allegedly gave documents backdated by the State Street unit to reflect assets he didn’t have. A State Street spokeswoman said the suit is without merit.

St. Francis Hospital Offers To Settle With Some Reardon Abuse Victims.” By Jesse Leavenworth. Hartford Courant. November 19, 2010. Some middle-aged plaintiffs who say a Hartford doctor sexually abused them when they were children are facing a choice: fight on in court or accept settlements from a pool of money offered by St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Sixty of the approximately 150 plaintiffs who say they were victimized by Dr. George Reardon are over age 48, and thus beyond the statute of limitations for filing civil actions in the state. Settlement amounts, sources said, would range from $20,000 to $100,000. “Since the tragedy regarding the late Dr. Reardon first emerged,” Varona wrote, “we have sought a prompt and fair resolution that would treat any alleged victims with compassion, support and dignity.” Reardon, who died in 1998, worked at the hospital for 30 years and is believed to have sexually abused as many as 500 children. About 150 of his alleged victims have sued the hospital, claiming Reardon molested them and forced them to pose naked for photographs in his hospital office. The plaintiffs accuse the hospital of negligence in failing to stop Reardon or adequately supervise him.

When Donations Go Astray.” By Nicholas D. Kristof. New York Times. November 20, 2010. This holiday season, Americans will dig into their pockets for good causes. But these gifts will sometimes benefit charlatans or extremists, or simply be wasted. Partly that’s because religious giving — and a good deal of casual secular giving — isn’t vetted as carefully as it should be. Researchers find that religious people on average donate more of their incomes than the nonreligious, and Christians, Jews and Muslims alike write checks to charities that they assume share their values. Dangerous assumption. Some well-meaning Christians will support Feed the Children, a major Oklahoma-based Christian charity that describes its mission as providing food and medicine to needy children at home and abroad. By some accounts it is the seventh-largest charity in America. But the American Institute of Philanthropy, a watchdog group that also runs, lists Feed the Children as “the most outrageous charity in America.” The institute says that Feed the Children spends just 21 percent of its cash budget on programs for the needy — but spends about $55 to raise each $100 in cash contributions. Feed the Children also has been the subject of troubling litigation and investigations. The Oklahoman newspaper says that in 2007 the charity spent $1.2 million on a house used by the founder’s daughter, a charity executive until she was fired this year. It also said that Feed the Children once lent $950,000 to a framing business headed by the founder’s son, and that the charity has sued the son for allegedly helping strip a warehouse of $5 million in materials. The son has denied the allegations in the suit. In addition, the institute says that Feed the Children inflates the value of food and medicine to make it seem as if it does far more than it actually does. Tony Sellars, a spokesman for Feed the Children, shrugged off the accusations as a disagreement about methodology and said that the lawsuits were being resolved. “We’ve helped 200,000 families in America this year alone,” he said. “The opinions we value are those of the people we’re helping.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 15-21, 2010)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010


Microfinance: Leave well alone; Capping microfinance interest rates will hurt the poor. There are better ways to regulate the industry.” The Economist. November 18, 2010. Microfinance is an example of something that is sadly all too rare: an anti-poverty tool that usually at least breaks even. If you make small, uncollateralised business loans to groups of poor women, they almost always repay them on time. It has grown rapidly in many countries, not least Bangladesh and India. With nearly 30m clients each, these are now the world’s biggest markets for microfinance. Yet the industry has come under attack for being too commercial. . . .

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 8-14, 2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010


ACORN’s Fall; Community organizing survives, but it is a balkanized, weakened field.” By Harold Meyerson. American Prospect. November 8, 2010. Review of Seeds of Change: The Story of Acorn, America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, By John Atlas (Vanderbilt University Press) and Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America, By Jeffrey Stout (Princeton University Press).

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 8-14, 2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010


Among Benefits For Walmart Workers: A Degree.” By Claudio Sanchez. Weekend Edition Sunday/National Public Radio. November 7, 2010. The world’s largest retailer is now offering its 1.4 million employees a college education. Through a partnership with American Public University, employees can take online courses toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree. And Walmart will cover up to 15 percent of tuition. When Walmart surveyed 32,000 workers — from store managers to cashiers — 70 percent liked the idea of taking college courses online, especially if it led to a four-year degree. The feedback supported an idea that she and other top executives at Walmart had been pushing: the need to partner with an accredited, affordable online university that offered working adults a chance to further their education. After looking at 81 schools, Walmart picked American Public University, a for-profit school based in Charles Town, W.Va., best known for its work with the U.S. military.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 8-14, 2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010



Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company.” By Tamar Lewin. New York Times. November 9, 2010. Stanley H. Kaplan started his tutoring business in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home in 1938. As standardized tests became a bigger fixture of American education, his company became a national operation, preparing millions of students for the SAT, LSAT, MCATs and other tests. Kaplan was still a test-prep company when the Washington Post Company bought it in 1984, after Richard D. Simmons, the president, convinced Katharine Graham of its potential for expansion and profits. Over the last decade, Kaplan has moved aggressively into for-profit higher education, acquiring 75 small colleges and starting the huge online Kaplan University. Now, Kaplan higher education revenues eclipse not only the test-prep operations, but all the rest of the Washington Post Company’s operations. And Kaplan’s revenue grew 9 percent during the last quarter to $743.3 million — with higher education revenues more than four times greater than those from test-prep — helping its parent company more than triple its profits. But over the last few months, Kaplan and other for-profit education companies have come under intense scrutiny from Congress, amid growing concerns that the industry leaves too many students mired in debt, and with credentials that provide little help in finding jobs.

For-Profit College Recruiters Caught Giving False Advice (WATCH).” Huffington Post/ABC News. November 12, 2010. ABC has once again caught for-profit colleges engaging in bad behaviors. This time, the offenses involve bad advice and hyperbolizations. After a Remington College professor was surprised to find two convicted felons on his class roster, ABC sent an undercover producer posing as a convicted felon to meet with a Remington recruiter. When the producer told the recruiter of his felony conviction, the recruiter assured him they would work with him and that he could find work in law enforcement or corrections. But according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, those convicted of felonies are barred from working in those areas. In another instance, a DeVry University recruiter grossly exaggerated the percentage of graduates who obtained jobs upon graduation. Though their policies are under fire, for-profit college leaders aren’t hurting for cash. Bloomberg reported this week that for-profit college executives earned $2 billion running the schools. Strayer Education Inc. CEO Robert Silberman earned $41.9 million last year — 26 times more than the highest-paid non-profit university president. Seventy-five percent of Strayer’s revenue comes from taxpayers. Read ABC’s full report here.


Among Benefits For Walmart Workers: A Degree.” Weekend Edition Sunday/National Public Radio. November 7, 2010. [See Corporate Philanthropy & Social Responsibility category].

Endowment returns trail national average.” By Alison Griswold. Yale Daily News. November 8, 2010. Yale’s endowment returned less than the national average for higher education endowment returns in the fiscal year ending June 30, according to a preliminary study released Nov. 3. The study, released by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and the Commonfund Institute, a nonprofit consulting firm, found that endowments at 80 U.S. colleges and universities returned an average of 12.6 percent in the 2010 fiscal year. Yale’s endowment returned only 8.9 percent that year, but Commonfund Managing Director William Jarvis ’77 said it is still too soon to judge how the University is doing relative to its peers because it is better to look at endowment performance across a few market cycles instead of in a single year. “You have to look at where endowments have come from and where they’re going,” Jarvis said. “I think the jury will be out for a while on Yale’s announced returns.”

Pennsylvania college gets $30m gift.” No by-line. Boston Globe/Associated Press. November 8, 2010. — In the high-pressure world of educational fund-raising, tiny Delaware Valley College has seemingly hit the lottery: A local philanthropic group is giving the school an estimated $30 million in property and cash. The generous gift from the Warwick Foundation of Bucks County is large by nearly any standard. But it’s considered transformational for the suburban Philadelphia college, which was founded more than a century ago as a farm school for immigrant youths and is now on track to become a full-fledged university. The donation announced in September includes a 400-acre farm worth about $15 million, a $10 million endowment to care for the land, and $5 million to support the college’s long-term academic vision. The donation essentially doubles the institution’s $16 million endowment and its land holdings.

Remembrance of Things Past: At Harvard, deciding which war veterans to memorialize is anything but clear cut.” By James K. McAuley. Harvard Crimson. November 11, 2010. Perhaps it was Henry James who best captured the confusions of Harvard’s particular approach to commemorating its fallen graduates. In James’s novel “The Bostonians,” when Basil Ransom—Harvard alum, Civil War veteran, and classic Southern gentleman—strolls the grounds of his old alma mater with the alluring Verena Tarrant, they happen upon Memorial Hall. Opened for use in June 1874 as an architectural elegy to the recent Union victory, it makes sense—logically, at least—that Basil wouldn’t be able to find anywhere in the massive Gothic structure the names of the 71 fellow Harvard Confederates who died in Civil War combat. Verena, a young feminist from Boston, patronizingly reassures him that although his home state of Mississippi has effectively been erased from the institution’s memory, the structure nevertheless contains “great praise of our young men in the war.” But Verena’s reliance on the idea of “our men” is more than playful indignance—essentially, it poses a question about the primary purpose of a war memorial at a place like Harvard. Indeed, should such a memorial commemorate a cause, and with it, a specific group of “our men” devoted to that cause? Or can a war memorial be about something larger than a particular ideology and commemorate the individuals who sacrificed their lives for any cause, regardless of what it might be? At the moment, Harvard has yet to take a stand one way or the other.

University Bond Sale Raises Less Than Expected.” By Zoe A. Y. Weinberg. Harvard Crimson. November 12, 2010. Harvard’s $601 million bond sale on Tuesday raised 20 percent less than had been planned earlier, as rising interest rates led to a decision to shrink the size of the deal. The bonds were priced at a premium, with 10-year bonds yielding 2.54 percent—20 basis points lower than the benchmark for AAA-rated institutions on municipal debt due in 10 years, according to Bloomberg. While overall interest rates remain low, rates on longer-dated tax-exempt municipal bonds such as those issued by Harvard rose about 10 to 13 basis points on Tuesday, due to inflationary concerns spurred by the Federal Reserve’s announcement to buy back $600 billion in Treasury bonds. The movement in rates increases the cost of borrowing for the University. University spokesman John D. Longbrake said that Harvard viewed the bond offering as a success. The bonds—which were issued through the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency—will refinance long-term debt and pay construction costs for the renovation of the Fogg Museum. Last week, Harvard sold $300 million of taxable 30-year bonds. In all, the recent bond issuances will bring Harvard’s total outstanding debt to $6.6 billion, more than double the amount on the University’s books in 2006.


32 New York Catholic Schools to Close.” By Paul Vitello. New York Times. November 9, 2010. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on Tuesday proposed closing 31 elementary schools and a high school next year in what church officials said was the largest school system reorganization in its history. The schools proposed for shuttering — described by the Archdiocese as “at risk,” pending last-minute appeals to school officials and outside donors — stretch from New York City to several counties to the north. All have struggled for years with declining enrollment and increasing dependence on the Archdiocese for financial support, said the archdiocesan schools superintendent, Timothy J. McNiff. “We need to allocate our resources where they can do the most good, and support schools that can sustain themselves over time,” Dr. McNiff added. For years, archdiocesan officials dealt with falling student rolls and population shifts in piecemeal fashion, before unveiling a plan last month called “Pathways to Excellence,” which will eventually spread the burden of financially supporting parochial schools to the Archdiocese at large. The plan represents a major reordering of a centuries-old tradition in which the schools have been largely paid for by members of the parish in which they are located, with subsidies from the Archdiocese.
Related storiy:
Parish Schools Pessimistic After Warning of Closings.” New York Times. November 11, 2010.


“New Haven keeps ‘Promise’: Yale, Community Foundation to pay for college for city students (video).” By Abbe Smith. New Haven Register. November 9, 2010. — A promise is a promise, and so the city is making good on a bold pledge to provide college tuition to students who live in the city and graduate from New Haven public schools. State and local dignitaries lined up on stage at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School downtown and delivered a message to the more than 200 freshmen gathered from every high school in the city: If you work hard at school, we will get you through college. Today is the launch of the much-anticipated New Haven Promise, a non-need-based program that if successful will reshape the futures of city students for years to come. The big announcement of the day is the two major funding sponsors that until now have been clouded in secrecy: Yale University and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven. While the Promise program is not need-based, there are eligibility requirements that must be met, including a 3.0 grade point average in high school, 90 percent attendance rate, a record of good behavior and completion of 40 hours of community service. Students who are eligible must be residents of the city and must graduate from a New Haven public or charter school. For those who qualify, the city is going to provide full tuition for up to four years at a Connecticut public university or community college. For students who enroll in nonprofit private universities in the state, including Yale, the city will contribute up to $2,500 per year toward the cost of education.
Related stories:
Yale to fund scholarships for New Haven students.” Yale Daily News. November 10, 2010.
New Haven, Seeking to Get More Students Into College, Will Pay Tuition.New York Times. November 9, 2010.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 8-14, 2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010


Running for her – and for thousands; A mother with cancer, a daughter with an idea: The result is powerful and lifesaving.” By Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times. November 14, 2010. Since the first Run for Her five years ago, 13,000 participants have raised $3 million. Sunday, , 5,000 runners and walkers are expected to gather at Pan Pacific Park in L.A.’s Fairfax district for the sixth running of the annual event. It all begins at 9, with a festival to follow until noon, with food, music and information booths (for more information or sponsorship details go to “Never in a million years would I ever have imagined this,” said Kelli Sargent, who has since gone to work in community relations at Cedars-Sinai, which sponsors the event. The Run for Her has spread to several other U.S. cities and five other countries, and Sargent’s goal this year was to register runners, walkers or donors in all 50 states. Research is aimed at finding better ways to screen for ovarian cancer, as well as to study genetic and environmental factors and to develop more effective treatment.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 8-14, 2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010


‘Institutes Feel OK on Selling Homes.” By Josh Barbanel. Wall Street Journal. November 12, 2010. There was a time when most major institutes for psychotherapy in the city made homes for themselves in hoary townhouses, evoking perhaps the ambiance of Freud’s famous Victorian study. But as endowments and investments shrunk in the wake of the recent economic downturn, many therapeutic institutes have seen declines in their fortunes. Two long-established institutes now have their long-held Upper East Side townhouses on the market. Both the Albert Ellis Foundation on East 65th Street and the Ackerman Institute for the Family on East 78th Street reported a decline in assets in their most recent public Internal Revenue Service filings. The decline in assets reported by the Ackerman Institute was worsened by a $3.3 million loss, disclosed in its filing, with Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The Albert Ellis Foundation is seeking $29 million for its townhouse and the Ackerman Institute, $16.9 million, brokers said. Both properties are unusually wide, creating purchase opportunities for wealthy families in search of a mansion, or embassies or private foundations looking for a classy address, brokers says. “The purpose of the sale is to allow us to carry out the mission Albert Ellis started—forever, not just for a few more years,” says Kristene Doyle, the director of clinical services and associate director at the institute. Gregory T. Rogers, the Ackerman Institute’s chairman, says that its planned sale was an “opportunistic move more than anything else.” He declined to discuss the institute’s financial filings but pointed out: “We had a successful 50th anniversary gala and we are thriving.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (November 8-14, 2010)

Monday, November 15th, 2010



Greens angered over C4 claims they ’caused starvation’; A C4 film says with GM foods Africa might not now be starving.” By Daniel Howden. Independent (UK). November 6, 2010. A Channel 4 documentary accusing the green movement of causing mass starvation in Africa by getting it wrong on genetically-modified food has been attacked as “malicious” and “ridiculous” by farm groups on the continent. “What the Green Movement Got Wrong”, broadcast this week, by the same channel that aired the hugely controversial “Great Climate Change Swindle” suggests that the Western green consensus against GM foods had impoverished the southern hemisphere. “The programme suggests that were it not for the external pressure of northern environmental organisations, Africans would be happily eating genetically modified foods by now, and hunger would be a distant memory,” said a statement from the African Biodiversity Network. “We oppose these ridiculous and malicious claims.” Several groups including Greenpeace, which called the documentary “comically misleading” and one of the programmes contributors, Adam Werbach, have suggested they may complain to British regulator Ofcom. A storm of similar complaints followed the screening of the “Great Climate Change Swindle” when Ofcom ruled in 2008 that the channel had breached section seven of its code by failing to inform participants the programme was polemic.


A donation to promote literacy that’s definitely a hit.” By Andrew Stevenson. Sydney Morning Herald. November 11, 2010. Faustina Agolley has laid down a significant challenge to corporate Australia: don’t do what I say, do what I did. The 26-year-old presenter of Channel Ten’s Video Hits has made a $10,000 donation to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and hopes corporations can match hers, better it or just stump up something to support indigenous literacy programs. ”There are many, many worthy causes in this country, but this is something that is really important and I’d like to make a contribution,” she said. The target is to raise $150,000 to support a one-year community program as part of the foundation’s campaign to reverse the situation where four out of five children in remote Aboriginal communities are unable to read. The fund-raising effort is supported by a television advertisement featuring the former prime minister Bob Hawke and spoken in Warumungu, an Aboriginal language of the Northern Territory. Donations can be made at The Herald is a media partner of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation.

A donation to promote literacy that’s definitely a hit.” By Andrew Stevenson. Sydney Morning Herald. November 11, 2010. Faustina Agolley has laid down a significant challenge to corporate Australia: don’t do what I say, do what I did. The 26-year-old presenter of Channel Ten’s Video Hits has made a $10,000 donation to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and hopes corporations can match hers, better it or just stump up something to support indigenous literacy programs. ”There are many, many worthy causes in this country, but this is something that is really important and I’d like to make a contribution,” she said. The target is to raise $150,000 to support a one-year community program as part of the foundation’s campaign to reverse the situation where four out of five children in remote Aboriginal communities are unable to read. The fund-raising effort is supported by a television advertisement featuring the former prime minister Bob Hawke and spoken in Warumungu, an Aboriginal language of the Northern Territory. Donations can be made at The Herald is a media partner of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation.

Get Up! funded anti-Abbott ad with union’s $1m gift.” By Ben Schneiders. Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2010. THE advocacy group GetUp! accepted a record $1.12 million donation from a large union just before the federal election, at the same time supporting a ban on political donations from unions and business. The donation from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union funded a prominent TV advertisement that attacked the Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s ”archaic” views on women and social issues in the days before the election in August. It went to air as a GetUp! advertisement with no reference to being largely funded by a big Labor-affiliated union. The high-profile group, which says it has more than 300,000 members, pursues issues such as climate change and refugees. Its successful High Court challenge before the election enabled tens of thousands of young people to vote. But its willingness to take such a large donation, of the type it wants banned, has led to claims it has been hypocritical.

Down but not out: Catholic orders shrink by half but energy unchanged.” By Jacqueline Maley. Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2010. The ranks of Australia’s Catholic orders have shrunk by more than half since 1976, according to a census of nuns, brothers and clerical priests which shows the tradition of entering holy orders, such as the Jesuits or Mary MacKillop’s Josephites, has almost entirely died out in Australia. The survey was carried out in 2009 but will be launched publicly on Monday. It found there were 8422 religious personnel in Australia compared with 17,029 at the last census in 1976. These numbers include retired ”religious”, as nuns, brothers and priests attached to an order are known. The median age is 73, and only 8.2 per cent are aged under 50, whereas 26.6 per cent are aged 80 or more. ”The age profiles of the religious … indicate that numbers will continue to decline steadily for the foreseeable future,” the report says. Three-quarters of all religious came from Australia and the rest came from 75 different nations, with Ireland, New Zealand and Vietnam the greatest source countries. The work done by nuns, brothers and clerical priests has also changed. The figures show the tradition of being taught by a nun or a brother in a Catholic school belongs mostly to previous generations. While 48 per cent of the religious worked in education in 1976, that cohort has shrunk to 12 per cent, as lay-people have taken over Catholic education.

Clubs escape political donation ban despite gaming, alcohol links.” By Sean Nicholls. Sydney Morning Herald. November 13, 2010. REGISTERED clubs will still be able to donate to political parties in NSW despite a ban on donations from organisations with gambling and liquor interests. The ban, which passed State Parliament this week as an amendment to the government’s election funding bill, with support from the Greens, prohibits for the first time political donations from hotels and their umbrella organisation, the Australian Hotels Association. The legislation also bans donations from the supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths because of their ownership of liquor retailers. Star City casino and its owner, Tabcorp, are also prohibited from making political donations, while a ban on donations from tobacco companies has also been implemented. However, under an agreement between Labor and the Greens, clubs are exempt from the ban. Clubs NSW has been a significant donor to both sides of politics. One of Labor’s largest donors is the Randwick Labor Club. Clubs own a large proportion of the state’s poker machines, but are exempt because the legislation specifies that it applies to corporations whose business is ”mainly concerned” with liquor or gaming ”but only if it is for the ultimate purpose of making a profit”. Clubs and Clubs NSW are non-profit organisations. The legislation It imposes wide-ranging changes to the rules governing donations and election spending, including a new cap on donations from individuals and organisations to political parties of $5000 each a financial year and $2000 to candidates or elected members. Clubs remain subject to the caps despite their exemption from the donation ban.


Sreepur Christmas cards give maximum returns; The Sreepur village charity in Bangladesh, which helps destitute mothers and children, funds itself in part from the sale of its Christmas cards in the UK.” By Miles Brignall. Guardian (UK). November 13, 2010. For several years Guardian Money has highlighted how little of the purchase price of Christmas cards goes to the charity concerned, but two years ago we found what we thought might be the best Christmas card ever – one in which the charity received 100% of the purchase price. The Sreepur Village charity, two hours north of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, cares for nearly 100 destitute mothers and 500 abandoned children. Started 25 years ago by former British Airways flight attendant Pat Kerr, it now helps fund itself from the sale of Christmas cards created by the women in and around the village. At the heart of the project is the paper-making facility. The community’s mothers have been trained to produce it from locally grown jute. The high-quality paper, which is all handmade and has fair-trade status, is then dyed in vibrant colours. Once dried in the sun, the cards are finished by women from the local community who are employed to decorate them in return for a living wage – money that makes a huge difference to their lives. British Airways, a long-term corporate supporter, ships the cards to the UK and volunteers then collect and distribute them from the airport. “British Airways, which has very close ties with the charity, generously brings them over the UK for us at no cost, as its donation,” he says. “I’ve got a network of airline volunteers that drive them from Stansted to our stores, the people running the distribution are all volunteers. “It all means that 100% of the card’s purchase price goes back to Bangladesh. There aren’t many charities that can claim that.”


China AIDS group announces closure after tax authority pressure; Beijing Loving Source, founded by jailed activist Hu Jia, appears to be the latest casualty of official suspicion and harassment.” No by-line. Guardian/Associated Press. November 11, 2010. A group founded by imprisoned Chinese activist Hu Jia to work with AIDS patients and orphans said today it was closing down after increasing pressure from tax authorities. Beijing Loving Source appears to be the latest casualty of official suspicion and harassment of activists and groups that take on sensitive subjects, even though the government recognises AIDS as a legitimate concern. Earlier this year, the founder of another prominent AIDS advocacy group, Wan Yanhai, fled to the United States after receiving dozens of intimidating phone calls from police. And the government startled most privately run aid groups in March by deciding to regulate overseas donations that many say keep them alive. China’s leaders are realising that outside help is needed for the country’s deep social welfare problems, but worry the work of independent activist groups could turn political.
Related story:
China AIDS group says it was forced to close.” Boston Globe/ Associated Press. November 12, 2010.


Pope to Discuss Sex Abuse at Meeting With Cardinals.” By Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. November 9, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI called a world-wide meeting of cardinals to discuss the Vatican’s response to sexually abusive priests, underscoring how the crisis is likely to loom large in the election of the next pope. Pope Benedict will convene the meeting of “prayer and reflection” for the cardinals on Nov. 19, one day before he elevates 24 new cardinals in a Vatican ceremony known as a consistory, the Vatican said Monday. The meeting is a chance for the pontiff to call greater attention to the sexual-abuse crisis among cardinals, who vote in papal elections known as conclaves. Cardinals rarely meet in Rome en masse because many of them oversee local churches around the globe. Over the years, Pope Benedict has used consistories to confront cardinals with what he considers the biggest challenges facing the church, such as efforts to bring splinter Catholic groups back into the Catholic fold. “This is where all the most important, most relevant issues are discussed,” said Gianni Cardinale, a longtime Vatican watcher who writes for Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference. It is unclear how many of the 120 cardinals who would be eligible to vote in the next conclave consider the crisis a top priority. The spread of hundreds of sex-abuse allegations across Europe, including the pope’s homeland of Germany, has cut into the church’s credibility in former Catholic strongholds like Ireland. Cardinals voting in the next conclave will face a multitude of challenges, however, ranging from priest shortages in the Americas and Europe to the fall in church attendance in Europe.
Related stories:
Ireland watchdog calls for abuse investigation; Cites prison-style Catholic laundries in rights report; Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he has asked his attorney general and other legal officials to read the panel’s report. Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he has asked his attorney general and other legal officials to read the panel’s report.Boston Globe/Associated Press. November 10, 2010.
Conservative Belgian archbishop in eye of storm.” Washington Post/Associated Press. November 10, 2010.
Spanish priest arrested over ’21,000 child porn images’.” BBC News. November 12, 2010.
Catholic Church struggles to deal with disciplined clerics; Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said he has met with disciplined priests and listened to their stories. He said the men are not ostracized, but “they did a really awful thing, and part of it is, they bear the consequences of their behavior.” Washington Post/Detroit Free Press. November 14, 2010.


Popular Knowledge Can Transform People’s Worlds.” By Dalia Acosta. Interpress Service ( November 14, 2010. Valuing and sharing common people’s knowledge and experience, awakening critical consciousness and finding paths for effective social participation are the processes used by more than 1,000 people in Cuba working in Popular Education, a liberating approach to education developed by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire in the 1960s. “The deepest form of participation is when people come together, sharing their own thoughts and feelings, with a strong sense of commitment and full awareness of what they are doing,” José Ramón Vidal, head of the Popular Communication Programme at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Centre (CMMLK), told IPS. Combining true dedication and horizontal ways of organising to ensure everyone’s opinion was included, the Fourth National Popular Education Encounter was held Nov. 9-12 in the Cuban capital. Cuba has appropriated this educational approach since 1995, when the first workshop was organised. This philosophy of critical awareness began to find followers in Cuba during the severe economic crisis suffered by the Cuban population in the 1990s. “The hardship we have endured for so many years creates despair and disillusion,” said Vidal, a psychologist. In Vidal’s view, people who train in the methodology of popular education experience “re-enchantment” with values and emotions that are denied by the competitive and individualistic culture of free market societies. “They fall in love again with a social project, with what they do, with service, solidarity and sharing,” he said. In the 15 years since the movement arrived in Cuba and the birth of the National Network of Popular Educators, which has about 1,500 members, Freire’s precepts have reached community groups and institutions around the country.


Aid Spawns Backlash in Haiti.” By José De Córdoba. Wall Street Journal. November 13, 2010. The Hopital de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti, the country’s largest public hospital, is so chronically underfunded and decrepit that it has the reputation as a place where people come to die, not get better. After January’s devastating earthquake, there was hope the hospital could turn things around. Scores of foreign doctors from international medical charities flew in to treat the injured. Charities donated new equipment, and the hospital set up its first intensive care unit. There was talk of ongoing cooperation with foreign medical schools. Ten months later, the foreign doctors and charities are gone. The intensive care unit is closed. An unused defibrillator and a cardiac monitor lie askew atop a cart. Nobody at the hospital is trained on how to use either piece of equipment. “Now the hospital is the way it was before the earthquake,” says Alix Lassegue, the facility’s director. The tale of the general hospital casts a stark light on why Haiti has struggled to capitalize on the kindness of strangers. Donor countries like the U.S. have pledged nearly $10 billion to rebuild. Because donors have long been concerned about corruption in Haiti’s government, an estimated 70% of this year’s money will be channeled through charities, otherwise known as nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs. But as the past few months have made clear, there is little coordination among the NGOs or between the NGOs and Haitian officials. Some NGO plans don’t fit or clash outright with the plans of the government. Some are geared toward short-term relief—a classic case of giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish. There is now a growing debate over the role of NGOs in Haiti. Defenders of NGOs say there is no choice but to work through charities given the inefficiency and alleged corruption of Haiti’s government. Transparency International ranks Haiti 146 out of 178 countries in its Corruption Perception Index. Critics say the NGOs have put Haiti in a Catch-22: By building a parallel state that is more powerful than Haiti’s own government, aid groups are ensuring Haiti never develops and remains dependent on charities. “The system as it is guarantees its failure,” says Laura Zenotti, a political scientist at Virginia Tech University who has studied NGOs in Haiti.


Environment ministry issues showcause notice to Adarsh society.” No by-line. Times of India. November 12, 2010. The environment ministry on Friday issued a showcause notice to Mumbai’s scam-tainted Adarsh housing society for removing the unauthorised structure for violating environmental laws. In the notice, the ministry asked the society to showcause why the 31-floor structure should not be removed forthwith under section five of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986. The society has been given two weeks time to reply to the notice. The scam relates to the controversial residential block being built in Mumbai’s upscale Colaba and in the neighbourhood of naval establishments. It was originally meant to be a six-storeyed apartment block for housing Kargil war heroes and widows. However, it was surreptitiously converted into a plush 31-storeyed building. The society has over 100 members, including former service chiefs, senior serving army officials, bureaucrats, politicians and their kin.
Related story:
Environment ministry issues showcause notice to Adarsh society.” Times of India. November 12, 2010.


Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Welfare Kings; There is no precedent in Jewish history for a whole community devoting itself to Torah scholarship.” By Evan R. Goldstein. Wall Street Journal. November 12, 2010. In Israel, where modernity coexists uneasily with tradition, hand-wringing about the country’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority is a national pastime. Cloistered in poor towns and neighborhoods, exempted from conscription into the military and surviving largely off government handouts, the black-hatted ultra-Orthodox, known as Haredim, have long vexed more secular Israelis. Now, in the wake of an Israeli Supreme Court decision, this perennial tension has escalated to new heights. The immediate issue is a decades-old state policy of providing stipends to students who attend religious schools, called yeshivas. In June, the court declared those stipends illegal, citing discrimination against secular university students who don’t qualify for such assistance. Last month, however, ultra-Orthodox lawmakers introduced a bill to reinstate the stipend. “The state sees a great importance in encouraging Torah study,” says their proposal.Opposition to the bill is fierce, as many Israelis believe that decades of welfare and draft exemptions have created a cycle of poverty and dependence among Haredim. “If they want to live in a ghetto, fine, but why should the state pay for it?” Yossi Sarid, a former education minister, told the Associated Press. The controversy has triggered street protests across Israel, and threatens to topple the coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While explaining the data recently, Dan Ben-David of the Taub Center asked, “When did Judaism become about not working?” The answer is a case study in unintended consequences.


Community Radio Stations – Lifeline in Disasters.” By Marcela Valente. Interpress Service ( November 11, 2010. Community radio stations in Haiti play an indispensable role during catastrophes, and so do women, who can identify the most urgent needs of families during the reconstruction of the country,” said a representative of one of these stations in the Caribbean island nation. Marie Justine Gurlein of Radio Refraka of Haiti was discussing her experiences at a round table that brought together women radio reporters working in situations of conflict and emergency, during the Nov. 8-13 Tenth World Assembly of Community Radio Broadcasters in the Argentine city of La Plata, 56 km southeast of Buenos Aires. This is the first time the assembly of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) is being held in South America. AMARC has more than 4,000 member stations and is represented on every continent. Some 400 community broadcasters from 110 countries are participating in this week’s gathering, whose theme is bolstering the effectiveness of community radio stations to help achieve greater social justice. In workshops, seminars, round tables, teleconferences, videos and assemblies, the participants are discussing how to contribute to reducing inequality, fighting climate change, and strengthening disaster prevention and preparedness.


Nepal charity work hid predator’s sex abuse of children.” By Kim Arlington. Sydney Morning Herald. November 15, 2010. He helped set up an orphanage in Nepal and was known as a ”man of charity”. But there was a darker side to Geoffrey John Prigge’s interest in children, said the judge who jailed him for molesting teenage boys. Prigge, 55, of Mosman, was the first Australian convicted of child sex-tourism offences committed while in Nepal. He was charged under legislation allowing Australians who offend overseas to be investigated by the Australian Federal Police and prosecuted at home. At his trial in the District Court in Sydney, a jury found him guilty of five charges related to indecent touching and attempted acts of indecency involving three Nepalese boys aged 13 and 14. He also pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography at his home in Mosman. The offences were part of a ”careful grooming process” that began on an earlier visit to Nepal when Prigge, a photographer and charity worker, took indecent photographs of boys, the judge said. Returning in 2007, he committed the offences as he showed the victims indecent pictures and a pornographic film in his hotel room. The court was told the Nepalese appreciate the value of tourism. Judge Nicholson said the boys, who came to Sydney to give evidence, sought to welcome Prigge and downplay his sexual interest in them to accommodate a foreign visitor. The difference in the financial status of tourists from a First-World country and the local population helped create a ”tidal wave of power abuse”, the judge said, adding that Prigge’s crimes were ”a serious abuse of power”.


2010 Commitment To Development Index.” By Curtis M. Wong. Huffington Post. November 10, 2010. to a new report. Prepared by the Center For Global Development, the 2010 Commitment to Development Index examined how 22 “rich country” governments are contributing to poorer countries. Each year, researchers examine what they call seven “key linkages” the benefactor has with less-developed nations: aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology. The scores are then adjusted accordingly in relation to a nation’s size, with a score of 5.0 considered average. With a score of 7.0, Sweden easily topped the 22-nation chart over runners-up Denmark (6.8) and the Netherlands (6.7). The U.S. fared just above average, with a score of 5.4, while Japan (3.3) and South Korea (3.1) were deemed to have the most room for improvement.
See the full report here.
See photos, along with the rating for each of the 22 nations, here.


Wanted: bankers willing to give up Mammon for God; Swiss order of Catholic monks advertises for recruits in magazine for financial alpha males.” By Tony Paterson. Independent (UK). November 10, 2010. The sober-looking advert fills a quarter of a page in Switzerland’s premier “executive search” magazine, but the kind of vacancy it is trying to fill is no ordinary one. Along with no pay, “freedom from the common couple relationship” is cited as an upside of a profession for which new members are desperately sought. The recruitment drive has been launched by Switzerland’s normally reclusive Roman Catholic Capuchin monks. The religious order is in such perilous decline that it has been obliged to take the unprecedented step of advertising for fresh blood in the country’s main job-vacancy magazine, Alpha, which has a circulation of more than one million. “We are chronically over-aged,” Willi Anderau, the spokesman for the Swiss Capuchins, said. “There are hardly any people joining the order these days, we are suffering from what might be described as a personnel shortage – so a job-vacancy advert is quite logical.” The advertisement appeared in the “banking and insurance” section of Saturday’s edition of Alpha. It calls on young Catholic “bankers, journalists, teachers, theologians, tradesmen, lawyers and communication experts aged between 22 and 35″ to consider joining the order.


Five Anglican bishops defect to Catholic Church.” By Ruth Gledhill. Times of London. November 8 2010. Five Anglican bishops today described their “dismay” and “distress” with the direction the Church of England is taking as they announced that they are to join the Roman Catholic Church under a Vatican scheme for disaffected Anglicans. They said they had come to understand that the only way to achieve the Church unity spoken of by Christ himself was with the successor of St Peter, or the Pope. And they said they believed that modern developments, which would include women bishops, were “incompatible” with historic Anglicanism. Three serving bishops and two retired bishops have decided to enter into “full communion” with the Catholic Church through the new Anglican Ordinariate, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales said in an official announcement this morning. The three bishops still in active ministry in the Church of England will stop work immediately and their resignations will take effect at the end of December. The scheme, announced last year by the Vatican, allows Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their patrimony and ecclesiastical heritage. Precise details of the scheme in England are to be discussed by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales at their meeting next week.
Related story:
Archbishop of Canterbury accepts resignation of Anglican bishops; Rowan Williams expresses regret as five against ordination of women bishops leave church for Vatican-sponsored network.” Guardian (UK). November 8, 2010.
‘”‘Thousands will follow bishops to Catholic Church’.” Times of London. November 9 2010.

Sales soar as talking books mark 75 years; What began as a public service for blinded First World War veterans is now a major publishing success story.” By Emily Dugan. Independent (UK). November 7, 2010. They started as an aid for battle casualties and elderly people with failing eyesight. Now talking books are a publishing sensation, enjoyed by millions as an alternative to the printed word. According to the most recent sales figures from the Publishers Association, downloads of audio books grew by 72 per cent between 2008 and 2009. Sales of talking books on CD, cassette and DVD also grew to an annual £22.4m, according to the sales monitoring company Nielsen BookScan. It all began very differently. Exactly 75 years ago today, audio books were first produced as a public service for soldiers blinded in the First World War. The Talking Books Service, an audio library run by the Royal National Institute of Blind People, was launched in 1935, when Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was recorded on to LPs and distributed to users, along with a large record player. Modern technology – particularly MP3 players – and a growing roster of high-profile narrators, have given the format a dramatic boost. AudioGO, which took over BBC Audiobooks last year, is one of the UK’s largest producers of recorded books, and passed a landmark millionth download last year. Its publishing director Jan Paterson said: “The market is growing all the time. The portability of MP3 players has made more people interested in listening to books. The perception of the audio book as something for older people has changed because people listen to them while doing other things.” The RNIB has been a major beneficiary, with the five audio books it offered in 1935 growing to more than 18,000 titles, which are distributed to 1.76 million Britons.

The BBC’s apology to the Band Aid Trust was far from adequate; Listeners were misled that 95% of famine relief aid for Ethiopia was diverted to the military.” By Brian Barder. Guardian (UK). November 9, 2010. Your report of the BBC’s apology to Bob Geldof’s Band Aid for the misleading impression given by a World Service programme alleging wholesale diversion of famine relief aid to Ethiopia, said: “Sir Brian Barder, the British ambassador to Ethiopia between 1982 and 1986, was positive about the BBC’s response.” The second part of my comment, unaccountably omitted from your report, was far from positive: “I am sorry that the BBC has not taken the opportunity to put it beyond doubt that contrary to the false impression gained by thousands of people hearing the programme or reporting it elsewhere in the media, the allegations of diversion reported in the programme applied only to a small amount of aid given to a limited area of Tigray then under rebel control, not to the international relief effort in the whole of the rest of Ethiopia. Although it was not the main question in the Band Aid complaint, this would have been a welcome opportunity for the BBC to put the record straight on that important issue too.”

Universities lead the way to the ‘big society’; Students are already living the ‘big society’ ideal, doing free work for charities – and gaining valuable experience in return.” By Lucy Tobin. Guardian (UK). November 9, 2010. When David Cameron first launched his idea of the “big society”, which would see citizens work together to run libraries, post offices, transport and more, the biggest criticisms were practical ones. Would people really give their time for free? And would volunteers have anything close to the necessary skills required to run local services? Three months on, the big society is still in gestation phase. But if the prime minister needs inspiration, he might like to check out Britain’s universities, where the pro bono philosophy (literally “in the public good”; in practice it means free) is thriving. Take the University of the West of England, where 200 law students and academics run a legal clinic with the Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau and practising barristers. The undergraduates interview and advise local clients supervised by a dozen academics and, when required, practising lawyers. But the work isn’t limited to law faculties, or even just to students. Across the UK, engineering, PR and business academics are all donating their time to supervise their undergraduate “advisers”, and undertake their own pro bono work. At Queen Mary, University of London, Professor Stefano Harney and five of his business school colleagues have launched a free consultancy service to help non-governmental organisations (NGOs) become more business-savvy. The inspiration, he says, stemmed from “business schools in the UK rightly being blamed for turning a blind eye to the culture of greed and exploitation that led to the recent financial crisis”.

Young volunteers try out model for the national citizen service; The government hopes to unlock young people’s ‘tragic waste of potential’ through its national citizen service. Rachel Williams takes a look at the scheme it’s modeled on.” By Rachel Williams. Guardian. November 10, 2010. The government is preparing to announce the pilots for David Cameron’s planned national citizen service (NCS). The Challenge, which Lord (Nat) Wei, government adviser on the “big society” was instrumental in setting up, follows a three-week programme similar to the first stage of the NCS planned by the government and offers participants activities such as volunteering with older people, helping at after-school clubs and spending time with people with HIV/Aids. It is expected to receive a chunk of the NCS funding. Launched in April with the help of actor Michael Caine, this “kind of non-military national service”, as Cameron describes the NCS, will give 16-year-olds the chance to volunteer for community work in the summer after their GCSEs. Some 10,000 young people are expected to be offered the opportunity next year, rising to 30,000 the year after and with further expansion planned – though Cameron was apparently persuaded by youth groups that making it compulsory would be a mistake. The seven- or eight-week pilots are supposed to be a “gateway to the big society” and introduce young people to the concept of civic responsibility. They will address what Cameron says is a “tragic waste of potential” among the country’s youth while getting youngsters from different backgrounds to mix.

London Tuition Hike Protests Turn Violent.” By Sarah Lyall. New York Times. November 10, 2010. A demonstration against government proposals to cut education spending and steeply increase tuition for university students turned violent on Wednesday as protesters attempted to storm the building that houses the Conservative Party. The protesters scuffled with police officers, set off flares, burned placards, threw eggs, bottles and other projectiles and shattered windows at the building, 30 Millbank, in Westminster. A small group of demonstrators, some of whose faces were obscured by ski masks, climbed to the roof of a nearby building, waving anarchist flags and chanting “Tory scum.” The protest was dispersed about 10 p.m. Fourteen people, including seven police officers, were injured, none of them seriously, the authorities said. Thirty-five people were arrested. An estimated 52,000 people from across the country also massed near Parliament on Wednesday to condemn the government’s education proposals, which would allow universities to charge £6,000, or $9,600, to £9,000, or $14,400, in tuition a year, up from a cap of £3,290, or $5,264. The protest was the largest street demonstration against the government’s plans, which were announced last month, to cut public spending by $130 billion by 2015. Unions and public employees have promised more demonstrations and strikes, particularly as details of the cuts become clear. Tuition is a politically sensitive subject in Britain, where universities are heavily subsidized by the government. Until the late 1990s, when the Labour government introduced tuition, students paid nothing to attend college. The current government, a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats that has ushered in an age of budget austerity, has announced plans to cut teaching grants to universities and said it had no choice but to raise tuition.
Related stories:
Rioting fees protesters invade Tory HQ.” Times of London. November 10, 2010.
Demo 2010 student protests – live coverage.” No by-line. Guarcian (UK). November 11, 2010.

“Student protest: Leading article: Fury about more than tuition fees.” Independent (UK). November 11, 2010.
Fees protest thugs must be punished, says Cameron.Independent (UK). November 11, 2010
The new politics: Student riot marks end of Coalition’s era of consensus; Tory HQ wrecked in worst street violence since 1990 poll tax riots.” Independent (UK). November 11, 2010.
Clegg: I should not have made tuition fees pledge.” Independent (UK). November 11, 2010.
Zoe Pilger: Radicalism is in the air and the rage is palpable.” Independent (UK). November 11, 2010.
The Sketch: No more lies, they shouted – and that was inside the Commons.” Independent (UK) . November 11, 2010.
Student arrested as more days of national protests are planned.” Independent (UK). November 13, 2010.
University challenge – the new reality; What do you need to know about the fee rises and cuts to higher education funding, and what do they mean for tomorrow’s students?Independent (UK). November14, 2010.
Student protests set stage for winter wave of unrest; Millbank occupation caught police badly prepared, and fuelled belief on Labour’s left and among unions that direct action will bring results.” The Observer/Guardian (UK). November 14, 2010.

A graduate trainee’s verdict on the National skills academy for social care; A new trainee scheme is helping graduates gain the skills needed to build their careers in the independent social-care sector.” By Louise Hunt. Guardian (UK). November 11, 2010. Six weeks into her placement on a graduate management trainee scheme for social care, Anna Goodman is already getting stuck into projects that – it is hoped – will help her employer better face the challenges ahead in the tough independent-sector care market. Goodman is one of 27 trainees on the National Skills Academy for Social Care’s scheme, which launched a year ago to give talented graduates with no experience of social care a leg-up in their careers and to nurture management talent in the sector. At her placement with the English Community Care Association (Ecca), which represents independent care providers, she is shadowing the director of policy and quickly learning about policy developments that affect social care. Goodman has been given the title of policy officer, which she says provides her with “a definite role” within Ecca, and is a career avenue she is considering. Describing one of her projects, she says: “I am looking at how we can support our members [predominantly residential care providers] to diversify into also providing home-care support. Before the scheme, they didn’t have a member of staff with the time to do this research, so I hope to contribute directly to Ecca’s work.” The projects are also giving Goodman an insight into the issues facing private-sector care providers. One piece of research, for example, is looking at instances where members have to meet duplicated standards that can, says Goodman, mean “unnecessary inspections that take work away from the frontline”. She adds: “I do think this placement is giving me an understanding of the private sector and what it is up against, which will be helpful if I go into the public sector later.” The nature of the placement does not limit the individual to one particular role, Goodman stresses. Graduates on the scheme, who are paid £18,000, are encouraged to share their experiences at joint training days. “We are learning how the public and private sectors can work together,” she says.

Take That take on British Legion charity record for No 1 slot.” By Deborah Haynes. Times of London. November 11, 2010. Take That look set to shatter the dreams of a Poppy Appeal No 1 this Sunday after the band moved forward the release date for their first single with Robbie Williams in 15 years. A spokesman for the group said the decision to launch The Flood at the start of this week rather than on November 14 as planned was because of massive demand from fans. He said that althought it was unfortunate to be going up against 2 Minute Silence — the charity single by the Royal British Legion — Take That would have been competing with a track by Children in Need if they had stuck to the initial release date. “We’re caught between two charities,” he said. A source close to the director of the Poppy single, however, said he thought Take That’s manouevring was motivated more by a desire to avoid going head-to-head with the latest offering by rival band JLS, which is also due out this Sunday. He added that Take That had been approached to take part in the video that accompanies the Poppy single, but they declined. “Celebrities were falling over themselves to be involved. We did approach Take That but their management turned the offer down,” the source said.

City’s highest earner gives millions to record-breaking Nobel lab; Hedge fund manager who earned more than £54m last year will give £20m to Cavendish Laboratory, the Cambridge University’s Nobel prize factory.” By Richard Brooks. Times of London. November 14, 2010. David Harding, who earned more than £54m last year, is to give £20m to the Cavendish Laboratory, the physics research centre at Cambridge University, which has had a record 29 Nobel prize winners. Harding, 49, a hedge fund manager, has decided to donate the money to his old university to back research into sustainability, including new energy-saving materials and energy storage. The Cavendish’s Nobel prizewinners include Ernest Rutherford (radioactivity), James Chadwick (neutrons), Francis Crick (DNA), James Watson (DNA) and Dorothy Hodgkin (structure of Vitamin B12 ). Like many British scientific establishments, though, it is poorly funded, at least in comparison with laboratories in the US and even in some other European countries. Harding’s gift, to be announced this week, follows his setting up of the Winton professorship of the public understanding of risk. It is named after his Winton Capital Management, the third largest hedge fund in Europe. It has helped make him at least £430m, putting him at number 158 on the Sunday Times Rich List.