Archive for January, 2012

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

FUNDRAISING

A Charity Event With Expletives Included.” By Marshall Heyman. Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2012. Last summer, the comic actor Seth Rogen (“Funny People,” “50/50″) and his then fiancee, Lauren Miller, decided they might like to try raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease (and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association) among young people, “since Alzheimer’s is considered an old person’s disease,” said Ms. Miller. Ms. Miller, an actress, has a film premiering this weekend at Sundance that she co-wrote, called “For a Good Time, Call….” Her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 55. Hollywood already has a big Alzheimer’s benefit, called “A Night at Sardi’s,” which features stars of screen, stage and the like performing Broadway show-tunes. This year’s, the 20th Anniversary, will take place on March 21. “It’s very entertaining, but we were looking for something that was the opposite of that, that could complement that,” said Ms. Miller. “What do young people want to see?” asked Mr. Rogen. “Young people are unfocused. You have to do a lot of things to keep them entertained, so we started brainstorming. There are a lot of benefits in Los Angeles. There’s no shortage of rich people looking to get tax rebates. Part of our goal was to set ourselves apart from them.” They came up with a variety show concept they titled “Hilarity for Charity.” “We must have sent three or four dozen emails over just the name of the benefit,” said Mr. Rogen. “We wondered, did it sound too Seinfeld-y? But ultimately it was the one we agreed on.” Mr. Rogen and Ms. Miller started mobilizing their friends and took on jobs of their own. “Our only mandate was we wanted to create the type of event we would want to go to,” said Ms. Miller. To promote the party, Mr. Rogen said he took to the radio (via Howard Stern) and did the “Today” show. He joined Twitter, “which I vowed not to do.” “It’s hard to say” what was most effective, Mr. Rogen added. “We just threw a lot of s— against the wall.” “But something worked because we sold out,” Ms. Miller said. “All 600 tickets.” (The evening raised more than $250,000.)

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

HEALTH CARE

Chefs, Butlers, Marble Baths: Hospitals Vie for the Affluent.” By Nina Bernstein. New York Times. January 21, 2012. Pampering and décor to rival a grand hotel, if not a Downton Abbey, have long been the hallmark of such “amenities units,” often hidden behind closed doors at New York’s premier hospitals. But the phenomenon is escalating here and around the country, health care design specialists say, part of an international competition for wealthy patients willing to pay extra, even as the federal government cuts back hospital reimbursement in pursuit of a more universal and affordable American medical system. “It’s not just competing on medical grounds and specialties, but competing for customers who can go just about anywhere,” said Helen K. Cohen, a specialist in health facilities at the international architectural firm HOK, which recently designed luxury hospital floors in Singapore and London and renovated NewYork-Presbyterian’s elite offerings in the McKeen Pavilion in Washington Heights. “These kinds of patients, they’re paying cash — they’re the best kind of patient to have,” she added. “Theoretically, it trickles down.” A waterfall, a grand piano and the image of a giant orchid grace the soaring ninth floor atrium of McKeen, leading to refurbished rooms that, like those in the hospital’s East 68th Street penthouse, cost patients $1,000 to $1,500 a day, and can be combined. That fee is on top of whatever base rate insurance pays to the hospital, or the roughly $4,500 a day that foreigners are charged, according to the hospital’s international services department. But in the age of Occupy Wall Street, catering to the rich can be trickier than ever, noted Avani Parikh, who worked for NewYork-Presbyterian as in-house project leader when the 14th floor was undertaken. She pointed to the recent ruckus at Lenox Hill Hospital, where parents with newborns in the intensive-care unit complained that security guards had restricted their movements and papered over hospital security cameras in their zeal to please Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) and Beyoncé Knowles, whose daughter was born on Jan. 7 in a new “executive suite.” The spotlight on luxury accommodations comes at an awkward time for many urban hospitals, now lobbying against cuts in Washington and highlighting their role as nonprofit teaching institutions that serve the poor. Indeed, NewYork-Presbyterian, which once opposed amenities units, would not answer questions about its shift, and declined a reporter’s request for a tour.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

HOUSING

Buildings Once Institutional, Now Exclusive.” By Fred A. Bernstein. New York Times. January 19, 2012. There have been times in New York’s history, in response to economic downturns, when large apartments have been split up into smaller units. This is not one of those times. At 607 Hudson Street in the West Village, a red brick building that was once the Village Nursing Home is being converted to condominiums by Flank, a design and development company in Chelsea. Not long ago, 607 Hudson housed some 200 residents, but soon it will be just 10 apartments, each with 3,200 to 9,600 square feet. And at 18 Gramercy Park South, where for more than 40 years the Parkside Evangeline Residence provided affordable housing for women, what had been a 300-bedroom building is being converted into 17 condos, each of 4,500 square feet or more. The creation of a small number of luxury units from buildings that once housed multitudes may seem incongruous, but developers say the decision to build large apartments is driven by the market. Indeed, there are many indications that the demand for super-high-end apartments is strong. In Manhattan below 34th Street, 27 condos of $5 million to $10 million sold in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 50 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Sofia Song, the vice president for research at Streeteasy.com. Mick Walsdorf, a partner at Flank, said that the dimensions of the former nursing home, with three street frontages and four exposures, were conducive to sprawling units, as was the location, in one of the most picturesque parts of the West Village. The conversion of public or institutional buildings into upper-class housing has a long history in New York. The former police headquarters at 240 Centre Street is a condo building, as are the former Y.M.C.A. on West 23rd Street and several former school buildings around the city. The onetime New York Lying-In Hospital, at 305 Second Avenue, is the Rutherford Place condos. To housing advocates, those conversions represent a victory for the wealthy. Jerilyn Perine, the executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, an advocacy group, said it was important that the city adopt regulations “so that denser housing, particularly for singles, has a fighting chance in the market.” She added, “It’s great to have people with a lot of money living here — we need their taxes and spending power — but the loss of density is tragic, especially where mass transit access is so great.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

HUMAN SERVICES

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0119-downtown-20120119,0,1785443.story

“Nonprofit gets $200,000 for job retraining; Chrysalis will use the funds, donated by a group of firms, to enhance computer and job-training programs for the unemployed and homeless in the downtown L.A. core.” By Stephen Ceasar. Los Angeles Times. January 19, 2012. As usual on Wednesday, dozens of people who are homeless or living in poverty crammed into the lobby at the offices of Chrysalis, a downtown Los Angeles nonprofit organization. Some hoped to land a spot in hours-long computer and job training courses. Others awaited a course on job-searching for convicted felons. Meanwhile, down the hallway, a coalition of major L.A. firms announced that they had agreed to put up $200,000 over the next two years to enhance the nonprofit’s programs. The funds will go toward expanding basic one-day courses into more intensive classes that span several days, in hopes of reducing rampant homelessness and unemployment in the downtown core. “The downtown area has always been the nexus for the disadvantaged and homeless in L.A.,” said Mark Loranger, president of Chrysalis. “As you look at what is going on in this community, any hope for them to get out has to be focused on jobs. This allows us to do a deeper dive and provide services to those in need.” The Central City Assn. of Los Angeles, a downtown-based business advocacy group, and the coalition of donating businesses will create a nonprofit called Downtown Works, which will be operated by Chrysalis. Chrysalis predicted that of the 450 clients expected to go through the program over the next two years, at least 60% will find employment within six months. The group of businesses include Anschutz Entertainment Group, Bank of America, Downtown L.A. Motors, Grand Central Square, IDS Real Estate Group, JPMorgan Chase, King’s Seafood Company, Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, Universal Protection Service, U.S. Bank, Wal-Mart and property management firm Xyvest Holdings.

Jane Addams Hull House to close.” By Kate Thayer. Chicago Tribune. January 19, 2012. The need for its services is as strong as ever, but after years of rising costs and dwindling income from fundraising the Jane Addams Hull House Association will close and file for bankruptcy, the agency said today. “For the last several years the agency has had trouble in the fundraising side of things,” said Stephen Saunders, chair of the association’s board of trustees. “After many years of struggling, we have to close our doors. It was a very difficult decision.” The 123-year-old agency, headquartered at 1030 W. Van Buren St., provides foster care, domestic violence counseling and prevention services, child development programs, and job training to about 60,000 children, families and community groups each year. Despite an effort over the past two years to reduce operating costs, an increase in demand for services and a drop in donations led to the financial trouble, he said. Hull House is working on shifting the services offered by its more than 50 programs to agencies including the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Chicago Housing Authority, Saunders said. Hull House oversees 206 foster children and another 32 adolescents in either transitional or independent living programs, said DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe. The department is working to find other Chicago agencies to take on those cases — an exercise that has become more common as social service agencies across the state close, he said. “All that needs to change in a transition like this is the agency supervising the case,” he said. “In the vast majority of cases we are able to maintain the child in their current foster home, and quite often with their current caseworker.” Jane Addams was an Illinois-born social worker who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on South Halsted Street is a separate entity not affected by the impending bankruptcy.

State investigates use of Pa. shelter workers; Hired for project at Copley Marriott.” By Casey Ross. Boston Globe. January 20, 2012. Contractors using laborers from a Philadelphia church shelter to renovate Boston’s Copley Marriott Hotel are under investigation by Attorney General Martha Coakley for potential violations of wage laws and other worker protections, according to sources briefed on the matter. Coakley is investigating whether workers from Victory Outreach Church, which helps rehabilitate people with drug and alcohol problems, were brought into the state to be used as cheap labor for the renovation project. A Victory Outreach pastor, Joseph Bishop, said the church’s laborers were interviewed by investigators on Wednesday about the conditions of their employment at the Marriott, which is among the largest luxury hotels in Boston.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Survivor faces abuse to reclaim his life.” By Kevin Cullen. Boston Globe. January 17, 2012. It’s been 10 years since the story of the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests exploded in Boston. For most, it’s just that: a story. But for Joe Crowley, a survivor, it’s his story.

Talks over clerical abuse break down; Bishop Crispian Hollis has publicly criticised the High Court ruling.” By Sean O’Neill. Times of London. January 21 2012. Talks between the Catholic Church and groups representing victims of clerical abuse have collapsed after a bishop appealed against a High Court ruling that he was liable for the actions of an alleged paedophile priest. Charities that had been in discussion with church officials for two years about improving understanding of victims’ suffering said that they could no longer see the point in continuing the dialogue. The discussions foundered after the Diocese of Portsmouth said it would appeal against a ruling that it could be held liable for the actions of Fr Wilfred Baldwin who is alleged to have sexually assaulted a child at a children’s home in the 1970s. Fr Baldwin died in 2006 while police were investigating the allegations against him but his alleged victim, now aged in her 40s, is suing the Bishop of Portsmouth for damages. Bishop Crispian Hollis has publicly criticised the High Court ruling and questioned why the abuse victim was entitled to anonymity while the priest had been named. The bishop said: “The claimant has the benefit of a court order whereby she cannot be identified; unfortunately, the same consideration has not been extended to Fr Baldwin, who was a priest of unblemished character until these allegations were made shortly before his death and who had no opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him.” His statement angered representatives of victims, but it was the bishop’s decision to go to the Appeal Court that forced the end of the talks. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood and the Survivors’ Trust said they would also be ending training programmes for church safeguarding staff.

CHINA

China’s Rich Consider Leaving Growing Nation.” By Frank Langfitt. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. January 17, 2012. Last fall, wealthy Chinese gathered at a Beijing hotel to hear a pitch by Patrick Quinn, the governor of Illinois. He wanted them to invest in a convention center project at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. You can’t have capitalism without capital,” Quinn said to the group of potential investors. “So we really are interested in encouraging people from everywhere, particularly here in China … to consider the state of Illinois as a place to make investments.” In exchange, Chinese investors could get a green card or permanent U.S. residency in less than three years. The program, run by the U.S. government, is called “investor immigration.” Oliver Hua, who does market research for Western companies in China, attended an O’Hare investor event this month in Shanghai. Hua said rich Chinese want green cards so they can protect their wealth as China’s economy inevitably slows. Many wealthy Chinese are anxious because, despite China’s tremendous progress, the country still faces a lot of challenges. Income inequality is staggering, corruption systemic and public protests a daily occurrence. Last fiscal year, nearly 3,000 well-to-do Chinese applied for investor green cards in the U.S. That’s up from just 270 four years ago.

HAITI

The Challenge Of Measuring Relief Aid To Haiti.” By Marisa Peñaloza and Carrie Kahn. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. January 17, 2012. Last year, the Annex de Martissant area of Port-au-Prince was a camp for displaced people. The area was filled with tents. Today, locals are building sturdier shelters with funding from the American Red Cross. After Haiti’s devastating earthquake two years ago, Americans donated large sums of money. This helped charities and aid groups save live immediately after the disaster. But it’s been much harder for them to help Haitians rebuild their devastated country. In the second of two stories, NPR’s Carrie Kahn and Marisa Penaloza report that its difficult to get detailed information about how organizations spend their money. NPR surveyed 12 of the largest and best known U.S. charities about their work in Haiti. The groups say they raised nearly $1.8 billion and have spent more than two-thirds of that. But how is the money being spent and what kind of impact is it having?

MAURITIUS

The Decline of Consumer Cooperatives.” By Nasseem Ackbarally. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). January 21, 2012. Amateurism, high prices, mismanagement, and a limited product range have discouraged Inderjeet Rajcoomarsingh, the former chairman of the Mauritius Agricultural Cooperative Federation, from shopping at cooperative stores. Instead you can find Rajcoomarsingh, who was a cooperative member for 34 years, pushing a trolley full of goods at The Bagatelle, a new shopping mall that is presently the craze in Mauritius. Many Mauritians, mostly the youth here, say they have never heard of cooperative stores or the principles of consumer cooperatives. In theory consumers’ cooperative are meant to provide quality goods and services at the lowest price. But in practice, their goods and services are priced at market rates or higher. “Today, a cooperative is just a name. There is no value and no principle. I don’t see that people’s lifestyles have improved so much in Mauritius by shopping at cooperative stores,” Rajcoomarsingh told IPS. Cooperative stores did well here until the 1990s when the robust economic development of the island paved the way for supermarkets and, later, hypermarkets. Now, shopping malls have sprung up all over the island like mushrooms after the rains.

TURKEY

Filtering Out Internet Freedom.” By Jacques N. Couvas. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). January 19, 2012. Fifteen respected academics from different Turkish universities signed a declaration in Ankara last week protesting recent state regulations restricting access to a variety of websites on ‘moral’ and ‘national integrity’ grounds. Simultaneously, thousands of angry netizens held street demonstrations in several major cities, brandishing banners proclaiming, “Hands off my Internet”. The regulation, introduced last spring by the Information and Communications Technology Authority (BTK), was due to be implemented in August 2011 but its enactment was postponed until the end of last November following public opposition and pressure by local and international NGOs. According to the directive, Internet service providers (ISPs) are compelled to offer users two options for filtering their web searches – “children” and “family” – in order to protect them from “objectionable content”. Such content seems to include “separatist propaganda”, such as communications that appear friendly or sympathetic to the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and other rebel movements. At present, 138 search terms are deemed harmful to users. These include English words like “sex”, “animal”, “mature”, or “gay”, the German word “verbot”, which means ban, and the Turkish words for “hot”, “mother-in-law”, “sister-in-law”, and “incest”. Even the Arabic-origin first name Haydar (lion), which means penis in Turkish slang, is banned. Access to sites about Darwin and evolution of the species has also been curbed. The objectivity of BTK has been heavily criticised by human rights activists because it is comprised of representatives of the family and information ministries, which initiated the filtering project, and includes no independent specialists.

UK

Party leaders back charity legacies; Cameron, Clegg and Miliband back Legacy10 campaign to encourage people to leave tenth of their estates to charity.” By Sam Jones. Guardian. January 15, 2012. The leaders of the three main political parties have given their backing to a campaign that aims to encourage people to leave at least 10% of their estate to charity when they die. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have joined Sir Richard Branson, Lord Jacob Rothschild and Baron Davies of Abersoch in signing up to the Legacy10 effort and agreeing to ensure some of the money they leave behind goes to charitable or cultural causes. Legacy10, founded last year by Roland Rudd, the chairman of the PR firm RLM Finsbury, asks individuals across the UK to pledge 10% of their estate to charity. From April, those who do so will benefit from a change in inheritance tax law, which means that any estate that leaves at least 10% to a charity will be entitled to an inheritance tax cut from 40% to 36%. Other supporters include from the world of business , Barbara Thomas Judge, Sir Victor Blank, Sir John Ritblat and Lord Sharman, while signatories from the arts and charities include Charles Saumarez Smith, Alan Davey, Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Dr Michael Dixon and Peter Stewart. Rudd thanked party leaders for embracing the campaign. “We are asking people to make a contribution to their favourite cultural or charitable cause in their will. The benefit to that cause will be four times bigger than the small loss to the donor,” he said.

Duke of Cambridge joins prisoners’ charity.” By Valentine Low. Times of London. January 18, 2012. The Duke of Cambridge has become the patron of a charity that helps former offenders. The Duke will be the figurehead for the St Giles Trust this year during its 50th anniversary. The Duke’s new patronage comes a few weeks after the Duchess announced that she had become patron of four organisations and a volunteer with the Scout Association. Prince William is patron or president of more than 20 charities and bodies, including Centrepoint and SkillForce. The Queen Mother opened the original St Giles Trust day centre in 1963 and the Prince of Wales opened the charity’s premises in Camberwell in 1995. The trust began in 1962 as the Camberwell Samaritans under the auspices of Father John Nicholls, who had become appalled by the number of attempted suicide patients being admitted to the now closed St Giles Hospital, Camberwell, where he was chaplain. By the next year, money had been raised to fund a full-time psychiatric social worker and to train 16 part-time volunteers and over the coming decades the trust tackled the issues surrounding homelessness. Soon after 2000 it shifted its efforts to focus on helping offenders to resettle and change their lives, and now works in prisons across London and southern England.

Barking’s Broadway theatre left reeling as council withdraws £331,000 subsidy; Negative reviews for decision by London borough of Barking and Dagenham to stop funding well-regarded arts venue.” By Mark Brown. Guardian. January 18, 2012. It is the quietest week of the year at the Broadway theatre in Barking, Essex. The Christmas tree has being taken down and the auditorium is being cleared up after the organised mayhem of the panto. It had been a good year: about 250 professional shows, audiences up by a quarter from the year before and even a financial surplus. A few weeks ago the venue was preparing to enter the new year with vigour, buoyed by a declaration of faith from Arts Council England, which awarded it a 53% funding increase last March. Now something like despair is in the air. Before Christmas, the cash-strapped Labour Barking and Dagenham council dropped a bombshell – it plans to end the theatre’s £331,000 subsidy from April. “It was a complete shock, we were not expecting it all,” said Karena Johnson, Broadway’s chief executive and artistic director. “It is an incredibly shortsighted decision and in the long term will cost the council more.” The news has caused considerable consternation locally and in the arts community. The theatre is the only professional arts venue in a deprived London borough which has more than its fair share of problems,

Can refugee charities ride out the cuts storm? Organisations supporting people fleeing conflict or persecution have been hit hard as government and grant funding dries up.” By Liza Ramrayka. Guardian. January 17, 2012. Ayan Hassan can’t stop smiling. The Somali-born mother of three is talking about appearing in a short film to promote the London catering co-operative she helped to set up a year ago. Hassan, 30, is proud of her achievements since arriving alone in the UK as a refugee 11 years ago. Having left her mother and siblings in Kenya after the family fled civil war in Somalia, she is now an active member of her north-west London community. The catering project – Spice Caravan – has grown from a group of six refugee mums cooking at school events, to a business with a £30,000 annual turnover, supplying festivals, private parties and the local farmers’ market. None of this would have been possible, says Hassan, without the support of Salusbury World, a small charity based at her children’s school, Salusbury primary, in Brent. The country’s only refugee centre within a school, the charity helps children and families adjust to school and community life in the UK. As well as providing start-up funding of £500 and kitchen space, Salusbury World helped Spice Caravan to access external training in skills such as business planning, finance and food hygiene. Salusbury World was set up in 1999 in response to the high numbers of newly-arrived families from Kosovo and Albania who were being housed and schooled in Brent. Funded by a lottery grant, the aim was to provide vital extra support for these families, many of whom had experienced trauma, long journeys to the UK, and were living in temporary accommodation. Today, most of Salusbury World’s clients come from Afghanistan and Somalia and are much less itinerant. The charity supports more than 100 children from 70 families – some 15% of the total school roll. A part-time project worker provides similar support to secondary school age pupils at the nearby Capital City academy. Activities for pupils include after-school homework clubs and subsidised summer holiday activities. English classes, benefits and careers advice, and cycle training are among the support on offer for parents. But, despite recognition from the Refugee Council and Save the Children, financial woes could now force Salusbury World to axe services, starting with employment advice and advocacy for parents.

University doors may open wider for ABB students; The cap on students could be eased to let more attend their first-choice university.” By Greg Hurst. Times of London. January 19, 2012. Limits on the number of students that universities can recruit are to be lifted again next year. Ministers are proposing to let universities offer places to as many students as they choose in the autumn of 2013 provided that they achieve A-level grades of ABB or above. About 85,000 candidates with such grades apply for places each year. The new rules are intended to allow more high-achieving candidates to gain a place at their first-choice university. But the decision risks making it even harder for less prestigious universities to recruit students, coming only a year after the introduction of higher tuition fees. Ministers had wanted to confirm the move today but delayed it after asking for more research into its impact by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). A government source said: “Our view is that we would like to move to ABB.” Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ group, has lobbied hard for no change in student number controls next year, arguing that it should await firm evidence on the effect of higher fees. However, smaller research universities have urged ministers to let them recruit more bright students. This year the Government will use its grant letter to HEFCE to confirm the allocation for 2012-13 of much smaller teaching grants, which have been cut after tuition fees were allowed to treble to a maximum of £9,000 a year. Some institutions will also be fined for exceeding student number caps. One university leader said: “There is so much change and uncertainty already facing the system that we want stability next year. The fear is that the Government wants to get the changes introduced now in order to achieve stability in 2014-15, the year of the general election.”

Trade unions and charities could be forced to sign lobbyist register; Government proposals criticised for not forcing ministers to declare meetings with friends who happen to be lobbyists.” By Rajeev Syal and James Ball. Guardian. January 20, 2012. Trade unions, charities and thinktanks could be forced to sign up to a new statutory register of parliamentary lobbyists aimed at cleaning up politics, the government has announced. Those who deliberately fail to comply with any subsequent anti-sleaze rules may face up to two years in prison under the proposals published by the Cabinet Office on Friday. The plans, published in a consultation document, follow a series of scandals relating to outside influence on government. They do not make a case for a statutory code of conduct, as previously called for by Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, and ministers may not be forced to declare meetings with friends who happen to be lobbyists. The proposals do, however, allow discussion over the definition of a lobbyist. Unions, charities, pressure groups and thinktanks could be compelled to declare sources of funding. Lobbying organisations could be asked to declare their clients. Critics immediately criticised the plans as weak and ineffectual. Tamasin Cave, a spokesperson for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, said: “These proposals have lobbyists’ fingerprints all over them. They only cover a tiny fraction of the influence industry and would reveal very little about their activities.

Oxfam bucks the trend with increased Christmas sales; Charity’s high street chain benefits from national belt-tightening with reports of an increase of 11% in like-for-like sales.” By Richard Wachman. Guardian. January 18, 2012. In this new era of austerity, Britons are finding new ways to save money, with growing numbers buying goods and clothes at charity shops where there are bargains galore. The new vogue in retailing helped Oxfam’s high street chain to report one of their best-ever financial results for the Christmas period. While the likes of Argos, Halfords and Mothercare felt the chill winds of the consumer slowdown during the holidays, the tills were ringing merrily at Oxfam shops from Cornwall to Edinburgh. Second-hand kitchenware, bedroom furniture, clothes and household goods of every description, attracted consumers in their droves, according to Oxfam’s trading director, Andrew Horton. Christmas sales of donated books, music and homewares such as lamps or curtains had their strongest week for the last five years in the seven days before Christmas. Oxfam, the international charity that last year was closely involved with relief efforts following drought in the Horn of Africa and the tsunami in Japan, (Thurs) announced bumper figures on Thursday. Oxfam’s increased sales came as the stores made more of an effort to get into the festive spirit, with chocolate coins for the Christmas tree and used decorations on sale next to their the usual second-hand fare. Busy trading in the five weeks up to New Year’s Eve pushed like-for-like sales up by 11%, the charity, which did not declare revenue figures, said

MBA graduates in demand from charities and NGOs; Graduates are highly sought-after as marketers, economists and planners in one, says Stephen Hoare.” By Stephen Hoare. Guardian. January 20, 2012. Last September the charity Touraid brought 20 disadvantaged pupils from Filadelfia New Life School in Kenya to the UK for a nine-day rugby tour hosted by the Beacon School in Chesham. The trip, sponsored by PwC, included a visit to the musical The Lion King in London, where pupils were invited backstage to meet the cast. The idea of former PE teacher Andy Berry, Touraid was conceived and launched after he completed a Surrey Business School MBA five years ago. “This is about people pooling their resources and bringing children together under one banner. Pupils from the UK and developing countries meet to learn about each others’ culture and celebrate their skills,” Berry says. Each year Touraid raises the money to run nine or 10 sports tours with airline tickets, passports and visas gifted by corporate sponsors including Allianz, Schoders, Clifford Chance and Currencies Direct. Berry, 43, who initially used his contacts in the City to raise sponsorship, says: “The MBA has helped in so many ways, from corporate finance and governance issues to research methods, marketing and strategy.” He runs his charity on a shoestring and employs three full-time staff but many more volunteers. Senior executives working for charities can earn upwards of £70,000 a year. While not comparable to salaries paid by business, this is sufficient to compensate people who want to make a difference. Recent MBA career changers include Jan Tomlinson, who joined the south London ex-offender enterprise charity Tomorrow’s People as enterprise director in 2005 straight from Cass Business School, City University, London. “With charities paid by results, a successful social enterprise needs to be professionally run,” he says.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

LABOR RELATIONS

City Opera Strikes Deal With Unions.” By Jennifer Maloney. Wall Street Journal. January 19, 2012. New York City Opera has reached a tentative deal with its two unions, ending a lockout that began on Jan. 9 and opening the door to a final resolution for a labor dispute that had threatened the future of the company. The agreements on two proposed three-year contracts—which still must be approved by opera’s board and ratified by members of the chorus and orchestra unions—cleared the way for rehearsals to begin Wednesday for “La Traviata,” the opera said. Performances of that production are scheduled to begin Feb. 12 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera, which was seeking to eliminate the musicians’ five months of guaranteed work and instead pay them by the hour, had sought help from a federal mediator. Those talks broke down on Jan. 7, prompting a lockout starting on what would have been the first day of rehearsals for the spring season. Facing persistent deficits and a shrinking endowment, the company last year left its longtime home at Lincoln Center—which it said it could no longer afford—and slashed its budget to $13 million from $31 million. The orchestra’s ratification vote is scheduled to close Thursday at 4 p.m. Members of the American Guild of Musical Artists, representing choristers, principal singers, stage managers and assistant directors, will cast ballots by mail and email over the next few weeks, said Alan Gordon, the union’s national executive director. Officials revealed few details of the proposed contracts, which City Opera general manager George Steel said put the company on track to balance its budget this year for the first time in a decade. “The good news is now we are solvent,” he said.
Related stories:
New York City Opera Announces Deal With Unions.” New York Times. January 18, 2012.
Opera Union Agrees to Cut in Annual Pay.” Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2012.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

LABOR UNIONS

What ‘Right to Work’ Means for Indiana’s Workers: A Pay Cut.” By Gordon Lafer. The Nation. January 11, 2012. For the past year, public employees around the country have been under attack. With collective bargaining cast as a fiscal issue, private sector workers are encouraged to vent their economic frustrations at lazy government clerks living high on the hog off others’ hard-earned tax dollars. “We can no longer live in a society,” Scott Walker, then governor-elect of Wisconsin, argued, “where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots.” But it turns out that the same forces that bankrolled the attack on public employees have also been advancing an agenda to eliminate unions for private sector workers. Twenty-two states, predominantly in the old Confederacy, already have “right to work” laws—mostly dating from the McCarthy era. “Right to work” (RTW) does not guarantee anyone a job. Rather, it makes it illegal for unions to require that each employee who benefits from the terms of a contract pay his or her share of the costs of administering it. By making it harder for workers’ organizations to sustain themselves financially, RTW aims to undermine unions’ bargaining strength and eventually render them extinct. With the Republican sweep of state legislatures in 2010, a coalition of corporate lobbies, right-wing ideologues and Republican operatives seized the moment to reach their long-sought goal of extending RTW into traditionally union-friendly parts of the country.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

LAW & PUBLIC POLICY

Administration Stands Firm On Birth Control Coverage.” By Julie Rovner. All Things Considered/ National Public Radio. January 20, 2012. Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of New York, president of the United States Conference ofCatholic, called the contraceptive rule “unconscionable.” Despite a furious lobbying effort by the Catholic Church, the Obama administration today said it won’t weaken new rules that will require most health insurance plans to offer women prescription contraceptives at no additional out-of-pocket cost. The final version of the rules will give religious-based hospitals, universities, charities, and other organizations whose primary purpose is not religious, an additional year to come into compliance with the contraceptive requirement. Churches are exempt. But even a face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office last November between President Obama and the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops failed to change the administration’s position to allow a broader exemption. “This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.” That is not, however, how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sees it. “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable,” said the group’s president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, in a statement. “It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom.”
Related story:
Religious institutions’ health plans must offer birth control;The Obama administration’s decision angers religious leaders who fought the rule, but organizations such as Catholic hospitals will get an extra year to comply.” By Laurie McGinley. Los Angeles Times. January 20, 2012.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

MEDIA

Wikipedia to Go Dark on Wednesday to Protest Bills on Web Piracy.” By Jenna Wortham. New York Times. January 16, 2012. The wave of online protests against two Congressional bills that aim to curtail copyright violations on the Internet is gathering momentum. Wikipedia is the latest Web site to decide to shut on Wednesday in protest against the two Congressional bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act, often called SOPA, and the Protect IP Act, which is often called PIPA. The bills have attracted fierce opposition from many corners of the technology industry. Opponents say several of the provisions in the legislation, including those that may force search engines and Internet service providers to block access to Web sites that offer or link to copyrighted material, would stifle innovation, enable censorship and tamper with the livelihood of businesses on the Internet. Nearly 800 members of Wikipedia have been debating and voting whether the site should participate in a blackout since December. Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, confirmed the site’s decision on Monday on Twitter, writing: “Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!” In a phone interview late Monday, Mr. Wales said that the Wikipedia community hoped to send a clear message to lawmakers and regulators in Washington that people who worked on the Internet and used it daily were not happy about the potential effects of the bills.
Related stories:
Wikipedia, Google Go Black to Protest SOPA.” Wall Street Journal. January 18, 2012.
Why I want to bring down the internet – for a day; Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder, hopes sites from Google to Twitter will join his protest against a legal crackdown.” Independent (UK). January 17, 2012.
Wikipedia and other websites shut down to protest online piracy bill.San Jose Mercury-News. January 17, 2012.
Wikipedia Blackout: Jimmy Wales Announces Protest Of SOPA, PIPA On.” Huffington Post. January 18, 2012.
“‘SOPA Blackout’ is Web’s political coming of age.” San Francisco Chronicle. January 19, 2012.
Websites Black Out over “SOPA Censorship’.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). January 19, 2012.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (JANUARY 16-22, 2011)

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

PHILANTHROPY

Donor of the Day: Promoting Art and Israel.” By Melanie Grayce West. Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2012. Givi Topchishvili feels that it is time to combine philanthropy, contemporary art and the glitzy art fair scene. Mr. Topchishvili, 49 years old, is president and chief executive of New York-based marketing firm, Global Advertising Strategies. On Friday at Art Palm Beach, his Global Arts Group initiative—a new philanthropic project which represents artists through his company—will release a new work by artist David Datuna. The piece, entitled “Israel Beyond a Dream,” is intended to reflect Israel’s past, present and future and features depictions of the Israeli flag. Global Arts Group will donate 25%, the representation fee, of the sale of this work to the Jewish Agency for Israel, an 83-year-old organization that fosters a link between Jewish people around the world and Israel, and to the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County. Art inspires Mr. Topchishvili and he is a collector of contemporary paintings, primarily European and Russian artists. He says that he wanted to create a charitable event around art that utilizes some of the same brand-development efforts—social media, targeting specific niche markets, for example—that he employs in his day to day business creating campaigns for global companies. The Jewish Agency for Israel is known for its work to facilitate the assisted relocation of millions of Jews to Israel. At its 22 absorption campuses, 16 of which cater to immigrants from Ethiopia, the organization provides temporary housing, Jewish education and Hebrew language immersion, among other programs. The decision to direct the gift to the Jewish Agency for Israel, his first to the organization, was also simple. “You really want to help,” he says. “To support an organization that was fundamental to the creation of the state of Israel and played a critical role in the last 60 years. It’s a commitment that I completely respect.”