Archive for August, 2012

ABOUT NONPROFIT NEWS & COMMENT The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The nonprofit sector — the universe of associations, civil society, philanthropy, and voluntary action — is the most rapidly growing and changing organizational domain in the world.

Once considered an adjunct of government, over the past half century nonprofits have taken on many of the tasks of government and play key roles in the process of public governance, not only as sources of policy and vehicles for advocacy and political mobilization, but also as providers of a wide range of public services.

Because nonprofits operate in virtually every industry and in many jurisdictions — global, national, state, and local –, it is extraordinarily difficult to track significant the emerging issues and trends that affect them. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that press coverage of nonprofits is fragmentary and often shallow and because scholarship is highly specialized and balkanized.

Through weekly global surveys of major newspapers, periodicals, broadcast media, and on-line news sources from thro, this blog brings to readers’ attention important stories and will, through commentaries, link those news accounts to pertinent scholarship in order to offer in-depth understanding of important emerging issues and trends. The blog will also take note of scholarly books and articles of potential significance to practitioners, policy makers, and other thoughtful readers.

Through the Hauser Center website’s news feed, Nonprofit News & Comment also offers a “Story of the Day” feature based on its daily survey of world media.

Using Nonprofit News & Comment

Blog entries appear as “Weekly News Summaries” — compilations of precises of news items. Each item includes a link to the original source and the full text of the story. Because of the on-going monetization of on-line newspapers and other media, full texts may not be available for all stories.

Stories relating to the United States are organized topically by type of organization or activity. International stories are organized by country and, in certain instances, by topic (such as “Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal” and “Sustainable Development”). All stories are archived by topic and date.

Contact Us

Comments or questions about Nonprofit News & Comment should be directed to Peter Dobkin Hall, Senior Research Felllow, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

ADVOCACY & POLITICS

The Romney Package.” By Bill Keller. New York Times. August 12, 2012.Brace yourself for weeks of chatter about Mitt Romney’s running mate. Vice presidents matter, as we have been spookily reminded by the recent re-emergence of Dick Cheney on our TV screens. And Paul Ryan matters more than most. But these days you don’t just elect a ticket of two; you elect a whole package. Presidents come with a cast of advisers, think tanks, lobbyists, legislators, donors and watchdogs. Some in the entourage end up in key jobs; others operate as a kind of shadow cabinet, vetting choices and enforcing doctrine. This is especially true of Republicans, who have spent decades building a disciplined conservative infrastructure that recruits talent, culls dissenters and lays down the law. Compared with Democrats, who are scattered left and center, a Republican administration is more than ever a conservative turnkey project. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney gathered a team of technocrats, centrist Republicans, even some Democrats. “He sought competence, experience and creativity and gave less weight to politics or ideology,” recalled Scott Helman, a veteran Romney-watcher for The Boston Globe. “But that was then,” he added. Yes, that was a different time, a different place, a different Romney. It’s possible President Romney would prefer to convene an administration of deal-cutters and problem-solvers. The trusted aides expected to help him organize the West Wing — former Senator Jim Talent of Missouri; Mike Leavitt, former governor of Utah; former Bain Capital partner Bob White; and Beth Myers, who was Romney’s chief of staff in Massachusetts — are more managers than firebrands. What follows is a sampler of what you get with a President Romney, some of them his choices, some thrust upon him. The primary campaign pulled Romney sharply to the right. Here are some of the forces that are likely to keep him there.

Conservative Elite in Capital Pay Heed to Ryan as Thinker.” By Anne Lowey. New York Times. August 17, 2012. With the debate over the federal deficit roiling last year, David Smick, a financial market consultant, held a dinner for a bipartisan group of connected budget thinkers at his expansive home here. At the table were members of the city’s conservative policy elite, including Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, and William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard. But that evening, none drew more attention than a relatively new member of that best-of class: Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and now Mitt Romney’s running mate, who spoke passionately about the threat posed by the national debt and the radical actions needed to rein it in. Much has been written about Mr. Ryan’s intellectual influences: canonical conservative thinkers like Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian economist, and Ayn Rand, the novelist and philosopher. Mr. Ryan’s enthusiasm for them dates at least to his days as a precocious undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. But since first coming to Washington in the early 1990s, Mr. Ryan has been closely tied to an intellectual world more concerned with the political agenda of low taxes, light regulations and small government than philosophical ruminations on work and freedom. And since his emergence as the key Congressional Republican on the budget issue, Mr. Ryan has become a particular favorite of — and powerful influence on — the intellectuals, economists, writers and policy makers who are at the heart of Washington’s conservative establishment. Mr. Ryan “is the good think-tanker-as-politician,” said Stuart Butler, the director of the Center for Policy Innovation at the Heritage Foundation, a right-of-center research institution. “When I’m having a discussion with Ryan, I’m talking to someone who knows the material as well as, if not better than, I do.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

ARTS & CULTURE

Museum Defends Antiquities Collecting.” By Randy Kennedy. New York Times. August 12, 2012. Over the last five years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been at work on one of the largest building programs of any art institution in the country, a $350 million project that has been unveiled in sleek new stages and will be completed by 2013, adding 35,000 more square feet of gallery space. But the museum has also been building in less visible ways and is set to announce on Monday the acquisition of two high-profile ancient artifacts that seem certain to draw attention not only to the institution’s expansion but also to the complicated long-running debate about antiquities collecting by museums. The world of antiquities collecting has been reshaped fundamentally over the last several years, after battles between American museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and countries like Italy that have demanded the return of pieces they say were illegally taken from their soil. In 2008, the Association of Art Museum Directors adopted standards that led most of its member museums to stop collecting artifacts that were not demonstrably in legitimate public or private collections before 1970, an internationally recognized cutoff date. Objects that surfaced later are more likely to have been stolen from archaeological sites or illegally exported. But those guidelines allow for discretion. “Recognizing that a complete recent ownership history may not be obtainable for all archaeological material and every work of ancient art,” the museum directors’ group says, its members “should have the right to exercise their institutional responsibility to make informed and defensible judgments about the appropriateness of acquiring such an object.” It adds: “The museum must carefully balance the possible financial and reputational harm of taking such a step against the benefit of collecting, presenting and preserving the work in trust for the educational benefit of present and future generations.” While the collecting guidelines are a worthy way to try to discourage looting and black-market trade, Mr. Franklin said, museums also need to consider carefully the long-term effect on their curatorial strengths. “What drives most curators is the desire to purchase and to build a collection,” he said, “and if all they’re going to do is provenance research day after day, it’s necessary but it’s certainly not inspiring, especially for young curators.” Such a view of acquisitions alarms those who feel that museum collecting continues to be a catalyst for the black market.

Stars Shine Brighter When They’re on the Board.” Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2012. [For story, go to Governance].

Museum Tries to Shine.” By Jim Callaghan. Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2012. A fully operational National Lighthouse Museum near the St. George ferry terminal on Staten Island remains a glimmer in the eyes of lighthouse lovers, but they hope there is light on the horizon. Backers are trying to win approval to begin museum operations on renovated city property formerly used as a Coast Guard depot near the ferry landing. The group, which says it needs $600,000 for the “pilot” museum facility and another $400,000 for first-year operations, has raised $180,000 so far. Lighthouse enthusiasts want to open the National Lighthouse Museum at the former Coast Guard depot near St. George in Staten Island in the building at center above. They hope to expand to the building at right later. A decision by city’s Economic Development Corp. to use one building at the former depot could come in September. If approved, the group could seek grants from organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The group is aiming for a May 2013 opening. Eventually, backers hope to take over an adjacent, far-larger building on the 10-acre city site. The larger facility would require a major renovation and an investment of some $15 million. Creating a museum on Staten Island has long been a dream of lighthouse advocates. Previous museum efforts have foundered over a lack of funding, leading to a new board taking over leadership of the local group in 2010.

Nonprofit proclaims: The fat lady sings here; Opera America, a nonprofit, is opening the National Opera Center next month to provide subsidized rehearsal and performance space.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York Business. August 15, 2012. Opera America, a nonprofit service organization, is opening the National Opera Center on Sept. 4. The center, encompassing 25,000 square feet on two floors of a former fur factory on Seventh Avenue and West 29th Street, will provide the opera industry with subsidized rental space for rehearsals, auditions and even performances. It is similar to the recently opened DiMenna Center for Classical Music, which offers orchestras a state-of-the-art home for rehearsals, auditions and recordings. The opening of the Center marks the realization of Opera America’s multi-year plan, which began when the organization relocated to New York City from Washington in 2005. The organization raised $14 million for the project, with $6 million for construction, $6 million for an operating endowment and $2 million to cover its relocation costs. The Center will have an audition hall, which can be used for readings of new works and press conferences; a rehearsal hall that can also accommodate master classes; 10 vocal studios with new pianos; a recording studio and media center; and recording and research libraries; among other amenities. Opera America will also provide its own programming at the center. In the first three months after the center’s opening, it will present its Salon Series, performances of selections from new North American operas, which can be seen by producers and artists; and Making Connections, a number of professional development and networking events for emerging artists in the field. Executives at Opera America said this is the first facility of its kind for opera.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

EDUCATION

CHARTER SCHOOLS

For popular Khan Academy, a critical voice amid the adulation.” By Sharon Noguchi. San Jose Mercury-News. August 13, 2012. In the past year, education-reform icon Sal Khan has been lauded by Bill Gates as the “teacher to the world” and has been listed among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. His Silicon Valley-based Khan Academy posts free videos — most of which star Khan himself — and offers accompanying questions on everything from addition to calculus to art history. As of this month, Khan Academy had tallied more than 177.2 million views of its lesson pages and is being used by traditional and charter schools, as well as individuals worldwide. Amid the adulation, some teachers now have piped up with criticism of his teaching methods. A holder of three bachelor’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard University, Khan has personally recorded 3,000 of the nearly 3,300 videos on the Khan Academy site. “The real draw for me was always to be able to explore the world and understand it and distill it down, so that it’s truly conceptually intuitive,” he said. He has attracted millions in funding from Google, Gates and other foundations. Word of Khan Academy spread virally, then among math teachers and other educators, and more recently through major media.

Charter school group’s chief blamed for 2010 cheating scandal; Educators say John Allen asked Crescendo principals to show teachers the state standardized test. L.A. Unified was going to suspend him, but the board voted to fire him and close the campuses.” By Howard Blume. Los Angeles Times. August 17, 2012. The meeting at Crescendo Preparatory South was progressing as usual when the acting principal dropped a bombshell: She had been given copies of the upcoming standardized tests. The teachers were to study them, take notes — and make sure the kids got it. Some of the eight instructors were troubled by what seemed to be an order to cheat. One burst into tears. So began one of the most brazen cheating scandals in the nation. Ultimately, all of Crescendo’s schools in South Los Angeles, Gardena and Hawthorne were shut down, its teachers let go and 1,400 students forced to find new schools. Only the rough outlines of the 2010 scandal were made public, but dozens of interviews with former Crescendo employees and officials — as well as a review of previously unreleased documents — portray an environment so poisoned by demands to excel on state proficiency tests that many submitted to a plan to boost the scores of schools that were already doing well.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

EVALUATION

Nonprofits working to quantify the good they do.” By Katie Johnston. Boston Globe. August 15, 2012. Three years ago, Janet Iraola was a single mother struggling to pay her bills. Today, Iraola, 36, has paid off her car loan and a few credit cards, earned a bachelor’s degree in human services, opened college savings accounts for her four children, and started putting away money for a house. Iraola was able to achieve these goals through Crittenton Women’s Union , a Boston nonprofit that helps low-income women gain financial independence, partly by collecting reams of data about their debt, credit scores, savings accounts, salaries, and grade-point averages. The women’s progress is compiled into aggregate reports, which case workers analyze to find patterns of success and failure. The results are shared with them as a group. Crittenton is part of a wave of nonprofits that are using methods favored by for-profits, such as keeping detailed databases and measuring outcomes. The business-like approach has been in use at some nonprofits for some time, but it became more important during the recession, when donations dropped and assets eroded. Since then, more charitable foundations and government agencies have been demanding hard evidence that the programs they support better people’s lives. Social service organizations that previously relied on instinct are gathering more information about participants, seeking outside analysis, and tracking their effectiveness to improve their performance — and prove their worth. When Crittenton Women’s Union was formed in 2006 by a merger between two 19th-century social service agencies, records were kept on paper. At the time, newly appointed president Elisabeth Babcock could not even tell how many clients her organization was serving. Then Crittenton started diving into data. In addition to tripling the number of students graduating from its GED program and attracting new donors with its results — even as it lost government funding — the Boston nonprofit is now training other local agencies in data management. It also leads a working group of 34 local nonprofits interested in comparing their measurement methods.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

GOVERNANCE

The U-Va. board to meet for first time since crisis.” By Donna St. George. Washington Post. August 12, 2012. As the governing board at University of Virginia meets this week for the first time since the campus was plunged into crisis, some faculty and alumni are calling for a thorough examination of the events that led to the failed ouster of President Teresa Sullivan. Others want to just move on. The U-Va. drama is the story of a power play gone awry, with missteps and miscalculations on all sides. The divide has become a backdrop to an annual retreat of the U-Va. Board of Visitors, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at a Richmond hotel. It will be led by Rector Helen E. Dragas, with the help of an outside facilitator. Sullivan also is slated to speak. The event will bring together officials who last met June 26 in the Rotunda of Virginia’s historic flagship university for an epic end to 18 days of turmoil and protest over secretive efforts by board leaders to remove Sullivan from office. At that meeting — live-streamed and followed nationally by U-Va. supporters — the board took the highly unusual step of rehiring the president who its leaders, including Dragas, had forced out. Seven weeks later, the board is making its first public effort to recover. Four new members will be at the table. Dragas wants to forge ahead. Sullivan has spoken of reconciliation, and some of her allies expect her to take a larger role with the 17-member board in the future. But it is also clear that the June crisis has not been put to rest.

Stars Shine Brighter When They’re on the Board.” By Pia Catton. Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2012. When the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles saw four members of its board resign in July, the news was especially damaging: These weren’t standard board members—they were artists, too. In New York, many of the boards at the city’s major performing-arts institutions—particularly in classical music and theater—include artists. Museums, however, rarely invite artists to join their boards because the artists could benefit unfairly from the inclusion of their work in a collection—or the exclusion of others. (MoCA was an unusual case: Artists were integrated into the board from its founding days.) In some ways, artists provide what their highly connected, high-net-worth colleagues cannot: artistic credibility and, sometimes, bankable star power. But to avoid “artist differences,” they must also be simpatico with the organization’s mission, its current leadership and the roles they’re asked to play.

U-Va. board to meet for first time since crisis.” By Donna St. George. Washington Post. August 12, 2012. As the governing board at University of Virginia meets this week for the first time since the campus was plunged into crisis, some faculty and alumni are calling for a thorough examination of the events that led to the failed ouster of President Teresa Sullivan. Others want to just move on. The U-Va. drama is the story of a power play gone awry, with missteps and miscalculations on all sides. The divide has become a backdrop to an annual retreat of the U-Va. Board of Visitors, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at a Richmond hotel. It will be led by Rector Helen E. Dragas, with the help of an outside facilitator. Sullivan also is slated to speak. The event will bring together officials who last met June 26 in the Rotunda of Virginia’s historic flagship university for an epic end to 18 days of turmoil and protest over secretive efforts by board leaders to remove Sullivan from office. At that meeting — live-streamed and followed nationally by U-Va. supporters — the board took the highly unusual step of rehiring the president who its leaders, including Dragas, had forced out. Seven weeks later, the board is making its first public effort to recover. Four new members will be at the table. Dragas wants to forge ahead. Sullivan has spoken of reconciliation, and some of her allies expect her to take a larger role with the 17-member board in the future. But it is also clear that the June crisis has not been put to rest.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

HEALTH CARE

A Giant Hospital Chain Is Blazing a Profit Trail.” By Julie Creswell and Reed Abelson. New York Times. August 14, 2012. During the Great Recession, when many hospitals across the country were nearly brought to their knees by growing numbers of uninsured patients, one hospital system not only survived — it thrived. In fact, profits at the health care industry giant HCA, which controls 163 hospitals from New Hampshire to California, have soared, far outpacing those of most of its competitors. The big winners have been three private equity firms — including Bain Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate — that bought HCA in late 2006. HCA’s robust profit growth has raised the value of the firms’ holdings to nearly three and a half times their initial investment in the $33 billion deal. The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall. HCA’s emergence as a powerful leader in the hospital industry is all the more remarkable because only a decade ago the company was badly shaken by a wide-ranging Medicare fraud investigation that it eventually settled for more than $1.7 billion. Among the secrets to HCA’s success: It figured out how to get more revenue from private insurance companies, patients and Medicare by billing much more aggressively for its services than ever before; it found ways to reduce emergency room overcrowding and expenses; and it experimented with new ways to reduce the cost of its medical staff, a move that sometimes led to conflicts with doctors and nurses over concerns about patient care. In late 2008, for instance, HCA changed the billing codes it assigned to sick and injured patients who came into the emergency rooms. Almost overnight, the numbers of patients who HCA said needed more care, which would be paid for at significantly higher levels by Medicare, surged. HCA, which had lagged the industry for those high-paying categories, jumped ahead of its competitors and was reimbursed accordingly. The change, which HCA’s executives said better reflected the service being provided, increased operating earnings by nearly $100 million in the first quarter of 2009. Many doctors interviewed at various HCA facilities said they had felt increased pressure to focus on profits under the private equity ownership. HCA says that more than 80 percent of its hospitals ranked among the top 10 percent in the country for federal quality measures, compared with 13 percent in 2006 when it went private. Last year, the company provided a $2.68 billion provision for charity care. And under the control of its private equity owners, HCA has invested around $8 billion in its hospitals in the last five years, according to Securities and Exchange Commission findings. Profit-making systems like HCA are often in a better position to invest in improving their hospitals and taking advantage of the latest in new technology. Their sheer size often allows them to negotiate lower prices for everything from X-ray machines to pharmaceuticals, which can, in theory at least, be passed onto consumers. But some of HCA’s tactics are now under scrutiny by the Justice Department. The story of HCA’s growth offers a window on the changing world of health care. Small and nonprofit hospitals are closing or being gobbled up by medical conglomerates, many of which operate for a profit and therefore try to increase revenue and reduce costs even as they improve patient care. The trend toward consolidation is likely to accelerate under the Obama administration’s health care law as hospitals grapple with what are expected to be lower reimbursements from the federal and state governments and private insurers.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

HUMAN SERVICES

Amid Budget Squeeze N.Y. Sells Nursing Homes.” By Brian Mann. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. August 16, 2012. The national recession may be over, but local governments around the country are still hurting. Core services and programs are being scaled back, cut or privatized. In Upstate New York, county officials are scrambling to sell off nursing homes that have been taxpayer-funded for generations. At Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown, N.Y., a modest brick building that sits a stone’s throw from the village square, has 100 beds, and so that’s how many elderly people live here. There’s always a waiting list. The home was established by Essex County in 1832, when this village in the Adirondack Mountains was a frontier mining and logging town. It was a place of last resort for people too old, too infirm and too poor to care for themselves. But earlier this summer, county supervisors — including Sue Montgomery Corey — voted to sell the home to a private company based in the Bronx. This kind of debate is happening all over the U.S. It’s not always nursing homes. Nationwide, governments run only about 7 percent of senior homes, so in some places it’s cuts to police department or nutrition programs or public transportation. Local officials are asking big questions about what their core mission should be and how they should pay for it in the post-recession world. In New York, that squeeze got worse last year when the state passed a new cap on local property taxes. Some local governments here are on the brink of insolvency. At least 10 county-run nursing homes have already been sold and county officials say they expect another dozen to be privatized in New York in the next couple of years. But critics say it’s unclear what will happen if some these private companies go out of business, or stop taking residents who rely on Medicaid.

Abortion Cases Against Clinic in Kansas Are Dropped by Prosecutors.” By John Eligon. New York Times. August 17, 2012. The first criminal prosecution of Planned Parenthood came to an abrupt end Friday when Kansas prosecutors dropped all charges against a local affiliate accused of failing to determine the viability of fetuses before abortions were performed. Many of the 107 charges, some of them felonies, initially filed against the affiliate, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, had already been dismissed since they were filed in 2007. The dismissal of the remaining charges, all misdemeanors, was announced Friday in a news release by Steve Howe, the district attorney for Johnson County, and Derek Schmidt, the state attorney general. They said that state law did not prohibit Planned Parenthood from using the gestational age of fetuses to determine whether they were viable or could survive outside of the womb. Planned Parenthood had contended that fetuses from 22 weeks to 24 weeks old are not viable, and given the mortality rates of premature babies, prosecutors said they could not adequately dispute that finding. In 2007, Mr. Kline filed charges against Planned Parenthood accusing it of failing to maintain copies of abortion paperwork and then, fearing detection, of completing it after an investigation had begun. But many of those charges were dropped because, prosecutors said, records had been destroyed and some of the allegations fell outside of the statute of limitations. Planned Parenthood celebrated its legal victory with a strongly worded statement that blasted Mr. Kline and Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican and an abortion opponent, for what they called a political prosecution that intruded on the privacy of women’s medical decisions.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Victims Group Forced to Open Files.” By Ben Kesling and Mark Peters. Wall Street Journal. August 14, 2012. Missouri’s Supreme Court let stand a lower-court ruling that a support group for alleged victims of the Roman Catholic Church sexual-abuse scandal must open its records in a case raising questions about the privacy rights of crime victims. The high court on Tuesday denied a petition filed by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, forcing the group to comply with a subpoena to turn over more than two decades of records sought by lawyers for the Rev. Michael Tierney. The Kansas City-area priest has been accused in civil court of sexually abusing a minor in the early 1970s. He denies the accusations. The group, known as SNAP, has been fighting the subpoena since last year, saying it is an invasion of the privacy of victims and jeopardizes the group’s work. “We’ll continue to do everything possible to protect the privacy and safety of victims,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “We’re in uncharted waters for us, and we’re taking it a step at a time,” she said. Nearly two dozen groups, including the National Organization for Women Foundation and National Center for Victims of Crime, jointly said in an amicus brief that the subpoena “has the capacity to set the survivor community back a minimum of 10, if not 20, years.” This lawsuit and other cases pending against Father Tierney hinge upon the alleged victims claiming to recall repressed memories, which could lead to an extension of the statute of limitations. Lawyers for Father Tierney, who isn’t actively serving in the church, argue that SNAP’s records might prove that the statute of limitations has expired and the cases should be dismissed. The lawsuits filed against Father Tierney are part of the larger sexual-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church that has unfolded in Kansas City and other cities across the U.S., after first being widely exposed in Boston a decade ago.

Secret tapes reveal church reluctance to report abuser.” By Rory Callinan and Richard Baker. Sydney Morning Herald. August 18, 2012. A secret police bugging operation caught a senior Catholic figure on tape saying it was not up to him to report a paedophile priest and encouraging a victim not to go to the authorities for fear of bad publicity. Abuse victim Peter Murphy has told the Herald that police wired him up to record a meeting between the church leader and victims as part of a 1994 investigation into the paedophile priest Father Peter Chalk in Melbourne. Murphy, who was abused by Chalk, said he met the head of Chalk’s order, Father Brian Gallagher, and the victims to discuss what the church was doing about the allegations. The existence of the tapes, which have remained a secret since the 1990s, comes as the Church faces allegations in NSW and Victoria of failing to assist in bringing paedophile priests to justice and as a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into abuse of children by religious orders and other organisations gets under way. Chalk was accused of abuse while working as a priest in Melbourne for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an international Catholic order that operates schools and parishes in Australia. Mr Murphy said during the meeting the missionaries’ then head, Father Gallagher, told victims that Chalk had admitted to abusing up to eight Victorian children during the 1970s and early 1980s in the outer-east Melbourne suburb of Park Orchards. Despite Chalk’s admissions – which Mr Murphy reported to senior leaders in 1987 – neither Father Gallagher nor anyone else reported the priest to police. Police did not pursue Chalk, who moved to Japan in 1981. However, his details were given to Australian immigration officers so he could be detained if he returned to Australia. He left the order in 1995, changed his name and became a teacher. He died in 2010 after being confronted by media about the allegations.

Woodburn priest’s arrest focuses attention on Mount Angel Abbey.” By Nancy Haught. Oregonian. August 18, 2012. Angel Seminary was quiet Friday morning, awaiting the return of students this weekend. The sound of men chanting early Friday morning drifted across the grounds of Mount Angel Abbey, where monks gathered for morning Mass as they have on this hilltop near Silverton for 130 years. Mount Angel Seminary, housed in a half-dozen buildings clustered around the abbey, was waiting. On Aug. 19, new students will arrive as Oregon’s only Catholic seminary grapples with a dark accusation about a prominent alumnus: the Rev. Angel Armando Perez, the pastor at St. Luke Parish in Woodburn, who now faces a charge of sex abuse involving a child. The seminary, which has trained 80 percent of the 150 current and retired parish priests in western Oregon, has drastically altered the way it accepts and trains candidates for the priesthood since Perez was ordained near the height of the Catholic Church priest abuse scandal a decade ago. People at Mount Angel, which enrolls about 200 students annually, say they have wracked their brains in the past week over whether they did all they could when preparing Perez for the priesthood. But they also say that they have gone to great lengths to ensure new priests emerging from the seminary are on solid ground, both spiritually and psychologically. “Child abuse is horrific,” says the Rev. Joseph V. Betschart, the current president rector of Mount Angel Seminary. “Our policies, procedures and training do everything that we can to prevent it from happening. When it does, it’s tragic and unacceptable. We need to keep redoubling our efforts. And we will.”

CIVIL SOCIETY

Civil Society Squeezed on All Sides.” By Carey L. Biron. Interpress Service (ipsnews.net). A year and a half after the international wake-up call of the Arab Spring uprisings, the room for civil society organisations is being increasingly constricted across the globe, experts in Washington warned on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the trends have been against democracy, against expansion of that space of civil society,” Maina Kiai, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of assembly, told a panel discussion here. “With more and more restrictions coming up to take away these rights, we are at a point where we have begun the fight again. This time it’s much more subtle, much more ‘rule by law’ than ‘rule of law’, and it’s very scary.” Kiai highlighted anti-NGO legislation currently pending or recently passed in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Russia and elsewhere. In May, Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog, highlighted four countries as being at particular risk for democratic “backsliding”, Hungary, South Africa, Turkey and Ukraine. It also called on international actors to step up a range of efforts to ensure that several other countries – including Bahrain, Cambodia, Egypt, Myanmar and South Sudan – are able to consolidate democratic gains. Freedom House put particular emphasis on the United States, stating that the country “should be stepping up its support for democracy promotion now, rather than cede the initiative to authoritarian rulers … (President Barack Obama’s) request for democracy and human rights activities for FY 2013 is $2.8 billion, a 9% increase over FY 2012 levels. Yet, funding for these initiatives continues to be the smallest amount when compared to other priorities in the budget.” Another report from this year, “The State of Civil Society 2011”, an inaugural work released in April by CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, an international alliance based in South Africa, suggested that “2011 marked a critical juncture for civil society”, in part for the fallout from the Arab Spring, a learning experience on both public protest and the resulting international response.

INDIA

Yoga Guru Detained at Anti-Graft March.” By Krishna Pokharel. Times of India. August 13, 2012. Indian police detained but later released yoga guru and antigraft campaigner Baba Ramdev as he led thousands of supporters toward the nation’s Parliament in an attempt to shine a spotlight on the country’s corruption problems. Mr. Ramdev, who first came to prominence through his yoga classes, has become a thorn in the Congress party-led government’s side through his regular protests against graft. Corruption has become a hot-button issue in India, one that has hurt the government’s popularity as it tries to deal with mounting economic problems.

Corrupt politicians control country’s destiny: Team Anna.” No by-line. Times of India. August 15, 2012. Erstwhile Team Anna on Wednesday alleged that the country’s destiny was controlled by a few “corrupt” politicians and corporates and it requires right leadership to take on the challenges posed by them. Activists Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi took to micro-blogging site twitter to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the nation on the occasion of Independence Day. “Today our destinies are controlled by few corrupt politicians, officials and corporates…Hope some day we would have true democracy,” Kejriwal said. He hoped that there would be much more in laws for those who have much less in life and people would directly make laws rather than just elect some people once in five years. “Hope some day, we would get true independence when people would control their own destiny, when politics would be a means to serve rather than make money,” he said. Commenting on Singh’s speech, Bedi said, “The Prime Minister says we have passed Lokpal Bill etc. Does not say what kind of bill? One which weakens CBI further! Banks on people’s legal illiteracy.” She said what people need is a “measurement tool” of performance of the government from their Prime Minister in which a commoner becomes a stakeholder. “PM’s speech indicates what may be done. Problem is in the how, the who and even the when (with eye on votes)? Huge Trust deficit!” she said. None of programmes and assurances are possible without integrity and administrative willingness. How does that happen is the key challenge, she said, adding country has two key challenges before it. “Political corruption and bureaucratic insensitivity. Both require right leadership for change,” she added.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Best bits: Social enterprise goes international; All you need to know about social enterprise around the world from the expert panel on our recent live Q&A.” Guardian. August 17, 2012.

UK

Best bits: The Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector; Our latest online debate discussed how to maintain an Olympic legacy for the voluntary sector. Here are our expert panelists’ views.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. August 7, 2012. The Olympics will inspire a new generation of volunteers: They will also engage local communities outside of London. It is important that we encourage this sense of community and inspire young people to continue volunteering. I know many first time volunteers involved in the Olympics and we need to capitalise on their enthusiasm and experience. We need to create and develop opportunities that are not just sporting related: We must develop cultural and community-based opportunities. I believe that as a sector we have to get organised, as well as reach out and develop ways that people can get involved using all the tools at our disposal. We must be creative, positive and enthusiastic about using the Olympics as a way of increasing volunteering like never before. The Olympic volunteering programme has taught us the importance of brand: I am increasingly interested in the idea of “brand” when it comes to volunteers. The sense of pride and engagement people feel when they are part of a movement is a great concept that we should think about when designing roles and developing programmes.

We volunteered for the Games, but not for the Big Society; Volunteering at the London Olympics was a glorious one-off, but a one-off nonetheless.” By Mary Dejevsky. Independent. August 16, 2012. When Jacques Rogge and Lord Coe closed the London Olympics, the loudest cheer was reserved not for the athletes – though the roar was deafening – nor for the organisers, who received an almost equally generous hand, but for the volunteers – all 70,000 of them. Or should I say, immodestly, us? The warm public embrace in which we volunteers have luxuriated – and which will surely last through the Paralympics – became a phenomenon of the Games. And the big question now – as big as David Cameron’s Big Society – is whether the volunteering, like the sport, can “inspire a generation”. Why was there so much public enthusiasm? Pleasant surprise might be one explanation. For the Olympics, you have to have athletes, you have to have venues, and you have to have organisers. But the volunteers seemed to appear out of nowhere as a sort of bonus. The capital was suddenly speckled with clusters of pink- and-purple people, who were welcoming and polite – and the delight was mutual. London was transformed from an impersonal and at times threatening mega-city into somewhere more manageable and humane. You can say what you like about our uniforms, but you can’t say you could not see us, and our kit conferred a certain sense of responsibility. Volunteers came from all ages and backgrounds. There might never have been such a cross-section of people cooperating since National Service was abolished. We really were a mirror of Britain. Some of my favourites were the mostly young people staffing the pedestrian crossings, trying to dissuade the huge crowds from trying to compete with a London bus. With their loud-hailers, cries of “Lad-eez and Gentlemen, careful now”, “Wait for the green man”, they were a splendid advert for young Britain, proof that courtesy, wit and a sense of responsibility has been hidden somewhere beyond the rioters and the Neets. They perfectly illustrated the notion that if you make people feel useful, they will rise to the occasion. But will that spirit last? Will the volunteer army of the Olympics stick around to help build Mr Cameron’s Big Society, and even if its foot soldiers don’t, might they not have set an example that others will follow? And here, I regret to say – despite the reported surge in people volunteering to help with sports clubs in the immediate wake of the Olympics or offering a “Jubilee hour” of their time – I am less optimistic.

Working Models: The Prince’s Trust deserves praise for helping young people to help themselves.” No by-line. Times of London. August 18, 2012. A recession can be blind and pitiless in picking its victims. Many casualties have done little more to merit the misery of joblessness than to be born in the wrong place, or to work in an industry stranded by the shifting tide of technology or tastes. And nowhere is the sting of unemployment more brutishly felt in Britain today than among its young. Already more than a million of them are out of work. Not all the teenagers who have just completed their schooling will join the jobless. But the fact that a fifth of young people told a survey conducted for the Prince’s Trust that they do not look forward to their future — and that one in five currently without work regards landing a job in the next year as “unachievable” — is not just a measure of the depth of the curse of youth unemployment. It is a measure, too, of the despair corroding the hopes, ambitions and happiness of a generation on whose shoulders Britain’s future prosperity rests. The Prince of Wales has marshalled the resources of the Prince’s Trust to rebuild those hopes, to nurture potential and to help ten of thousands of young people to set up their own businesses. In doing so, young men and women have found not just a purpose, but a work ethic and the strength to transform their lives by their own wits. They, in turn, offer others inspiration and an example. Most potently, they learn the habit of work. The danger of a long recession is that, when the jobs return, many young people have no experience of the rhythm and language of the workplace. By offering young people avenues for employment, while also challenging businesses to offer others work experience, training or mentoring support, the Prince’s Trust is making an invaluable contribution in keeping the language of work alive.

Best bits: Forming a charity consortium; Our latest online debate discussed building a voluntary sector consortium. Here are our expert panellists’ views.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. August 16, 2012. Many consortia are finding it hard to access investment without the relationships in place with commissioners: And commissioners won’t commission to consortia that don’t have the capacity. There is a significant amount of interest from local authorities in supporting consortia: We’ve developed a project that starts with commissioners and seeks to support them to reach out to the sector and possibly support development of a consortium in a service area matching their interest.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 13-19, 2012)

Monday, August 20th, 2012

LAW & PUBLIC POLICY

Are taxes and charity equitable?” By Rosalind S. Helderman. Washington Post. August 18, 2012. Are taxes a form of charitable donation? Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney seemed to suggest that he might think so last week, when he responded to questions about how much he pays in taxes by suggesting that people should take into account his total contributions to the government and charities. The comment was a quick one — a by-golly insistence that despite paying a relatively low tax rate on his vast income, the millions he has given to charity show that he’s not a greedy guy. But experts who research public attitudes on philanthropy on both sides of the political spectrum said it was an inadvertently revealing moment, a brief window into the deep philosophical differences between how liberals and conservatives view government and society. “Taxes are a form a of charity,” said Michael Tanner, a scholar at the Cato Institute who has studied philanthropy, explaining the conservative viewpoint. “If we think of the point of taxes, it’s not to be punitive. We tax people because there’s some use, some public good, for which they’re needed.” He added that one reason a conservative such as Romney aims to push tax rates down is a fundamental belief that individuals make better choices about what society needs than government does: “A conservative might say, ‘I know of something in my local community where my dollars might serve a better purpose.’?” The flip side of the argument, the liberal side, is that the point of government is to provide a way for citizens to decide together what society needs and to get those things done. “This is really the fundamental disagreement,” said Garrett Gruener, the founder of Ask.com, who advocates higher taxes for himself and other ultra-wealthy individuals as part of the group Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. “Democracy is not a charity. It’s an enterprise of all Americans to accomplish things that we democratically decide are important,” he said. “Charity is something I do on my own, and I don’t expect others to have the same priorities I do.”