CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
“Men arrested on suspicion of blackmailing Italian priests; Men in Italy suspected of demanding money from up to 100 priests in return for keeping quiet about sexual encounters.” By Tom Kington. Guardian. August 22, 2011. Up to 100 priests in Italy were blackmailed by two men who used Facebook and Messenger to snare them, according to a police investigation. The men, who were arrested on suspicion of blackmail on 26 July, demanded up to €10,000 (£8,000) from priests in return for keeping quiet about erotic webcam sessions and real sexual encounters, reported Italian weekly Panorama citing judicial sources. After seizing contact lists and records of virtual sex sessions from the house shared by the men, Diego Maria Caggiano, 35, and Giuseppe Trementino, 30, police believe the priests targeted were sharing details of potential sexual partners through a private internet forum. Trementino has told investigators that he began to have sexual relations with a priest after a chance meeting last year while he was working for a courier company in the southern region of Molise. The priest paid Trementino regular sums of money and bought him a car but eventually reported him to the police. In the meantime, Trementino said a second priest contacted him through Facebook and invited him to spend three days in a hotel in Rome with him, offering him a train fare and €300 to buy cannabis, alcohol and condoms. Trementino claims he then began to receive requests for erotic webcam sessions from “tens” of priests. He added: “I would get up to five requests a day from all over Italy, even one from France. I felt I had ended up in a net of perversion.” Police suspect Caggiano, Trementino’s housemate, of demanding up to €10,000 from the priests for their silence, with one sending €7,000. Contacted by police, the priest said he put the money together from donations from parishioners whose houses he had blessed and by cutting back on the economic assistance he provided to the local poor.
“Archdiocese Lists Priests Accused of Abuse.” By Abby Goodnough. New York Times. August 25, 2011. The Archdiocese of Boston on Thursday published a partial list of clergy members accused of sexual abuse, nearly a decade after a scandal erupted here involving widespread abuse by priests and revelations that the archdiocese had been shielding molesters for years. Victim advocacy groups have long pressed the archdiocese to publish such a list, a step that a number of other dioceses have already taken. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley first suggested in 2009 that he would publish a list; diocesan officials said this week that it had taken two years to gather the necessary feedback and weigh complicated issues like the due process rights of priests whose cases had not been fully adjudicated. In an open letter, Cardinal O’Malley said he had decided to publish a list of 132 priests and two deacons “after serious and thoughtful consideration and prayer.” They include priests whom the church or courts have found guilty of sexually abusing a child, others who left the priesthood before or after accusations of abuse and dead priests who have been publicly accused of abuse. The list, published in a searchable database on the diocese’s Web site, also includes 22 current diocesan priests who remain on administrative leave while their cases are investigated. Separately, Cardinal O’Malley has listed 25 priests who were publicly accused of molesting children but for whom the archdiocese found the accusations to be unsubstantiated. “My deepest hope and prayer is that the efforts I am announcing today will provide some additional comfort and healing for those who have suffered from sexual abuse by clergy,” Cardinal O’Malley said in the letter.
“Church names accused priests; AG, victim groups say list has gaps.” Boston Globe. August 26, 2011.
“O’Malley’s sex-abuse policy: proof is in the implementation.” Editorial. Boston Globe. August 27, 2011.
“L.A. prosecutors try to keep ex-priest locked up.” No by-line. USA Today. August 27, 2011. A notorious, child-molesting former priest, who avoided prosecution on all but two of a dozen sexual abuse allegations, could face an indefinite time in custody if prosecutors win a motion to commit him to a mental hospital. Michael Baker, whose case was at the center of a costly priest abuse scandal that rocked the Los Angeles archdiocese, was scheduled to leave prison after serving half of a 10-year sentence. But the district attorney’s office, acting under a provision known as Jessica’s Law, stepped in to block his release. In a petition filed in Superior Court, prosecutors said Baker is a sexually violent predator who would be likely to commit further crimes if released.
“Q&A: NGOs Must Play Key Role in Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). August 27, 2011. Jose Domingo Guariglia interviews Michael Renner, of Worldwatch Institute.
“Wealthy French Push for Extra Tax on Rich; As Sarkozy Seeks to Plug Holes in Budget, Heirs and CEOs Say in Open Letter That ‘We Feel We Must Contribute’.” By David Gauthier-Villars. Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2011. France’s richest woman, who recently ran into trouble for allegedly evading taxes, said Tuesday she wished to stand by her country as it is going through hardships, urging the government to create a one-time levy on the nation’s most well-off taxpayers. In a call that echoes a recent message to fellow billionaires issued by U.S. tycoon Warren Buffett, Liliane Bettencourt, along with 15 other wealthy individuals, made the unusual plea for a special though “reasonable” tax. The message from the heiress to the L’Oréal SA cosmetics empire and other prominent members of les riches, the wealthy, comes as France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking ways to reduce gaping holes in the country’s budget without reneging on his electoral pledge not to raise taxes.
“France’s richest say: Tax us more.” BBC News. August 24, 2011.
“Civil Society Shows Its Muscle.” By Sujoy Dhar. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). August 22, 2011. In his Independence Day address to the nation on Aug. 15 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed to fight corruption, but nationwide agitations since then demanding an effective ombudsman to check graft showed an unconvinced public. Singh’s government appeared to have underestimated the public mood by arresting, the next day, Anna Hazare, 74, the face of a growing anti-graft movement focused currently on getting a strong Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill passed through Parliament. By the evening of Aug. 16, with crowds swelling around Tihar jail, the capital’s main prison, the government was compelled to release Hazare and concede to his demand to be allowed to sit on a fast at a public venue. It was after a first round of fasting by Hazare in April that the government set up a joint law drafting panel consisting of ministers and civil society members. However, when the government was seen to be pushing its own watered-down version of the draft, quickly dubbed the ‘Jokepal Bill’ by Hazare and his supporters, that a fresh and even more vigorous season of protest began. Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill (People’s Lokpal Bill) would bring even the powerful prime minister’s office and the judiciary under the purview of the proposed ombudsman law. On Sunday, an estimated 100,000 people gathered in the capital’s Ramlila Grounds, where Hazare is sitting on his fast, in a show of solidarity that reminded many of the days of India’s independence movement which peacefully ended the British colonial rule in 1947.
“Indian protests; The fast and the curious.” The Economist. August 22, 2011
“A Gandhi Model Galvanizes India; Fasting, White-Clothed Hazare Was Tapped by Anticorruption Activists Looking for an Icon to Put Spirit Back in Fight.” Wall Street Journal. August 23, 2011.
“Anna Hazare sticks to August 30 deadline for passage of Lokpal Bill.” Times of India. August 23, 2011.
“Deoband distances itself from Anna Hazare’s movement.” Times of India. Aug 23, 2011.
“India Leaders Extend Olive Branch to Activist; Government Invites Aides of Fasting Activist, Calls All-Party Meeting to Seek Consensus on Anticorruption Steps.” Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2011.
“Team Anna holds talks with government, presents fresh draft.” Times of India. August 24, 2011.
“All-party meet on Lokpal Bill issue on, Pranab Mukherjee to represent Cong Agencies.” Times of India. Auust 24, 2011.
“Many in India See Danger in Hunger Striker’s Anticorruption Plan.” New York Times. August 23, 2011.
“Hunger Shows its Power.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). August 25, 2011.
“Team Anna mulls PM’s offer, conveys response to Deshmukh.” Times of India. August 25, 2011.
“Make Lokpal a constitutional body: Rahul Gandhi.” Times of India. August 26, 2011.
“Impasse Lingers Between Indian Hunger Striker and Government.” New York Times. August 26, 2011.
“Govt draft agrees to all 3 of Anna’s conditions.” Times of India. August 27, 2011.
“India, Activist Stumble in Bid to End Fast.” Wall Street Journal. August 27, 2011.
“Anna Hazare breaks fast after 288 hours, nation relieved.” Times of India. August 28, 2011.
“Graft gives Brand India a hard time.” Times of India. August 28, 2011.
“Anna Hazare Ends Hunger Strike as Indian Parliament Agrees to His Demands.” Times of India. August 27, 2011.
“Royal charities lobbied ministers and officials, papers reveal; A number of charities set up by Prince Charles have called on the government to change policies on politically sensitive topics.” By Robert Booth. Guardian. August 21, 2011. Prince Charles’s charities have lobbied government ministers and senior officials to change policies on politically sensitive topics including VAT rates and regional development spending, according to letters and emails obtained by the Guardian. In a series of interventions that will re-ignite debate about the Prince of Wales’s alleged “meddling” in politics, charities set up by the prince in line with his social and environmental goals have called on the government to change policies. Business in the Community, a charity of which Charles has been president for 25 years, urged the business secretary, Vince Cable, to rethink a decision to scrap the Northwest Regional Development Agency, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. In another case, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment urged the local government minister, Grant Shapps, to incorporate greater community engagement in planning and promoted its own planning work around the country as something for him to consider in the national planning policy framework. Three months later the Department for Communities and Local Government awarded a £800,000 grant to the foundation to advise local groups on new developments. The communities department denied there was any connection between the lobbying and the grant to the Prince’s Foundation. The correspondence released by the government to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act comprises 17 emails and letters between five of the prince’s charities and ministers and officials in four government departments. It has prompted fresh concern that the initiatives could be used as a way of extending the prince’s political influence in a way that could cause constitutional problems.
“Letter on planning from Prince Charles’s office being kept secret; Admission the GLA is withholding correspondence comes after it emerged several of his charities had been lobbying ministers.” Guardian. August 22, 2011.
“Day of reckoning as weaker schools face their GCSE test; Pupils at Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate, which replaced a failing school in 2005.” By Greg Hurst. Times of London. August 25, 2011. Hundreds of schools face being forced to turn into academies or enact sweeping changes to raise standards unless they achieve dramatic improvements in today’s GCSE results. Head teachers or governing bodies could be replaced and new academy sponsors imposed in schools where less than 35 per cent of pupils achieve at least a C grade in five GCSEs, including English and maths, or other qualifications. The threat raises the stakes for weaker secondary schools as GCSE results are published. They will be spared only if they can show strong progress by children with low prior attainment. Critics said that the target, raised by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, from a 30 per cent threshold introduced by Labour, would encourage struggling schools to neglect brighter pupils and focus on “cramming” those on the C/D borderline. Schools whose results are just above the target will not escape as Mr Gove intends to raise the threshold again next year to 40 per cent and by 2015 to 50 per cent, although he has described the latter figure as an aspiration. Some academy groups that have taken over failing urban schools have signalled that they expect strong improvements in their pupils’ GCSE results, which would boost the Education’s Secretary’s justification for his uncompromising stance. But there is scepticism in some quarters about whether there are enough academy sponsors ready to take on the number of underperforming schools.
“RNLI – Part of the big society for nearly 200 years; The RNLI is remarkable both for its volunteers and for the success of its fund-raising. Alice-Azania Jarvis reports.” No by-line. Independent. August 26, 2011. In the summer months, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution conducts somewhere between 30 and 40 rescues a day. This year they will save some 400 lives, launching 28-29 thousand rescues from the 235 RNLI stations across Britain and Ireland. Around the coast, there are 165 RNLI life guarded beaches. Indeed since their inception in 1824, when Sir William Hillary established the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, the RNLI has prevented in the region of 140,000 deaths. All this, famously, occurs without government funding. Tax breaks aside, the RNLI receives not a drop from the public purse. The overwhelming majority of RNLI boat crew – some 97% of their 5000-strong force – are volunteers. The remaining 1% is made up of mechanics and engineers. At a time when the charity sector is being cast out in the cold by government cuts, the RNLI is already there, leading the way by doing what they’ve always done, for almost 200 years. “Irrespective of the noise the politicians make about it, a lot of us have been doing it for a long time,” reflects Boissier. “The Big Society is here.”
“Private investors could profit from projects aiding troubled families; Investors who put cash into ‘social impact bond’ will be paid dividends on successful projects, minister announces.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian. August 26, 2011. Private investors will be encouraged to fund intensive help programmes for troubled families under a trial launched by the government on Friday. Ministers want philanthropists, charities and other organisations to plough cash into projects for 120,000 families to reduce the number of days their children spend in care, lower the rate of teen pregnancy and cut the number of visits to hospital accident and emergency wards. Investors who put cash into a “social impact bond” will be paid a dividend for any successful project. Nick Hurd, the minister for the big society, says £40m could be raised by four bonds to be launched in pilot schemes in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster and in Birmingham and Leicestershire. These areas contain more than 6,000 “troubled families”, leading such chaotic lives that taxpayers fork out more than £100,000 a year per family. But this cost can be shrunk by a dedicated team working intensively with the families to keep children in school, end domestic violence, force adults to kick drugs and drink and deal with mental health issues. Last week, in a response to the riots, David Cameron said all such troubled families would be helped within four years. Although such “family intervention projects” were introduced by Labour more than five years ago in the four boroughs now targeted by the government, ministers said fewer than 150 families had been aided. The first of the new schemes will be running by April 2012. Investors will take a share of savings made by the government in a four-year period. These profits could be substantial, with a pilot scheme in Westminster showing that £20,000 “invested” in a problem family could save £40,000 that would have been spent deploying social workers, police and child protection staff.
“Independent schools make the grade again.” By Richard Garner. Independent. August 27, 2011. Britain’s top Independent Schools have extended their lead over state counterparts in terms of grade performance, claim figures out today. They show a 0.9 percentage point rise in the number of pupils gaining A* grades – to 19.1 per cent – compared with a national figure of 8.2 per cent. The data was supplied by the Independent Schools Council, which represents hundreds of schools at the top end of the market – such as Eton, Winchester, Westminster and Roedean. Their performance led to a call from headmistress Cynthia Hall, of table-topping Wycombe Abbey Girls’ School, for all leading universities to come clean and recognise the A* grade in their admissions process. She said: “It makes the system more understandable to students and fairer.”
“Charity website investigated over loan to its founder.” By David Brown and Ruby Edwards. Times of London. August 27, 2011. A website that collects donations on behalf of thousands of good causes is under investigation by the charities’ regulator amid concerns about its financial management. The Dove Trust, which runs charitygiving.co.uk, has failed to file accounts covering the past four years after its auditors raised concerns about a loan made to its founder. The trust helps small and medium-sized charities to collect donations and reclaim Gift Aid from the taxman. It claims to have collected more than £3 million in donations last year and reclaimed hundreds of thousands of pounds of Gift Aid on behalf of 4,000 charities and individuals. The Charity Commission has opened a “regulatory compliance” investigation after its auditors warned in its most recently filed accounts that there was “significant doubt” about its ability to survive and highlighted debts owed by a company controlled by Keith Colman, the trust’s founder, who is also a trustee. Baker Tilly, the trust’s auditor, revealed in 2009 that the trust had lent Mr Colman’s company, ABC Financial Advice Centre, almost £200,000. It said that repayment was due within 12 months, but that depended on the company selling a property. Mr Colman confirmed this week that the property had been sold only last month but had produced a profit of only £40,000.
“First group of 24 ‘free’ schools to open next month; Faith schools and advocates of Latin and yoga are among those chosen to receive state funding.” By Richard Garner. Independent. August 28, 2011. One school stresses the importance of yoga, a second insists its pupils learn Latin, and five different faith groups will get the chance to run their own state-financed schools, the Government has decided. Welcome to the brave new world of Secretary of State of Education Michael Gove’s flagship “free” schools – 24 of which will be opening their doors for the first time at the start of the new term next month. The successful candidates have been selected from 323 that applied to the Government for funding. They include a couple of existing schools which have converted to “free” status: the Maharishi School in Lancashire, which follows the beliefs of the former Beatles’ guru and introduces its pupils to yoga, and a long-established independent school, Batley Grammar, which has forsaken selection so that it can receive state funding. The religious groups include the first state-financed Sikh school, the Nishkam School in Birmingham; two Jewish primary schools in Haringey and Mill Hill, north London; a Hindu school, the Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Leicester; and a Church of England school, St Luke’s in Camden, north London, an area where there is a shortage of school places. The “free” school scheme has been fiercely opposed by Labour and teachers’ leaders. They argue that it could destabilise existing schools and make them unviable by taking away pupils in areas where there is no shortage of places. Andy Burnham, Labour’s Education spokesman, has, however, said he would be prepared to allow them to continue to operate if they have proved successful. The decision by the Government to turn down the bulk of the applications has soothed fears that ill-thought-out proposals could get the go-ahead in an attempt to maximise the impact of the scheme. The schools will be given the freedom to set their own curriculum and employ unqualified staff as teachers if they wish.
“Q&A: ‘Cooperatives Aren’t Charity’Kanya D’Almeida interviews BRIAN VAN SLYKE, founder of a worker-owned cooperative.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). August 26, 2011. As industrial production penetrates all corners of the planet and transnational capital gains have unfettered access to virtually every country and community, the United Nations has declared 2012 to be the ‘International Year of Cooperatives (IYC)’. Slated to be launched on Oct. 31 at U.N. headquarters in New York, the IYC should be a “reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. While the high-level meeting will no doubt generate enormous awareness on the necessity of sustainable and alternative economies like cooperatives, many individuals and organisations have been working quietly for years to bring worker-owned enterprises to fruition. IPS Washington correspondent Kanya D’Almeida spoke with Brian Van Slyke, founder of the Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA), a worker-owned cooperative created to democratise education and the economy, while furthering the cooperative movement.