WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 25-31, 2010)

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Drive to change donations thinking.” By Gabriella Coslovich. Sydney Morning Herald. January 25, 2010. The first wave of the women’s movement gave women the right to vote. The second wave gave access to paid work, freeing them from the servitude of unpaid house work and caring duties. The latest episode in the third wave is a push to ensure philanthropic funds reach those needing them most but who are often overlooked: women and girls. Eve Mahlab, a former Australian businesswoman of the year and a co-founder of the Australian Women Donors Network, is a driving force behind a campaign to increase philanthropic funding for women and girls.

BRAZIL

WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Back Seat Driver of Social Change.” By Mario Osava. Inter Press Service (IPS). January 24. 2010. The World Social Forum (WSF) is only “a tool” and must not be confused with the global movement for another world, says Chico Whitaker, one of the founders of this meeting which is celebrating its tenth year with a seminar to assess its track record Jan. 25-29, in its southern Brazilian place of origin, Porto Alegre. It is a mechanism, “an instrument to unite people. The Forum will not change the world; it is up to society to do that, through a multifaceted global justice movement,” added Whitaker, who rejects the label “movement of movements” for the WSF because it sounds too directive, like a political party. Whitaker, an architect by training, has taken upon himself the mission of explaining the nature of the Forum and defending its Charter of Principles, written in 2002. For over five decades he has been a dedicated activist for social justice, and he represents the Catholic Church’s Justice and Peace Commission on the WSF International Council.
Related Stories:
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Talk vs Action – the Tug-of-War Continues.” Interpress Service (IPS). January 25, 2010.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Crisis Could Usher In Another World.” Interpress Service (IPS). January 27, 2010.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Another Kind of Economics Is Possible.” Interpress Service (IPS). January 28, 2010.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: “Machista” but Valued by Feminists Nonetheless.” Interpress Service (IPS). January 30, 2010.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Global South’s Growing Role in Post-Crisis World.”
Interpress Service (IPS). January 30, 2010.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: Reconciling Social and Environmental Needs.” Interpress Service (IPS). January 31, 2010.

CHINA

Charity travel project supports rural education.” No by-line. Xinhua. January 30, 2010. A non-governmental organization, ’1KG MORE’ advocates an innovative concept of travel, where every traveler may help local rural communities. It established a website as a community for assembling travelers, where travel is connected to public services. Travelers are encouraged to carry 1kg more of books or stationery to rural students, and information of rural schools or travel experience can be shared among travelers through the website, calling for more attention from the community. Travelers who upload information on a school can become the “ambassador” to that school, and will continuously help them organize activities and seek support. Since April 2004, volunteers of 1KG MORE have collected detailed data about more than 600 rural schools. According to statistics, over 10,000 participants have carried out 1KG MORE travels, at least 1 million people have felt the knock-on effect; and volunteer groups have been organized in almost all the major cities of China. China has seen a rapid development in philanthropy in the past few years. Official statistics show that donations toward charitable causes in the country reached 107 billion yuan (US$15.6 billion) in 2008, 3.5 times that of the previous year.

CZECH REPUBLIC

ECONOMY-EUROPE: Czechs Bank on Cooperatives for Revival.” By Claudia Ciobanu. Interpress Service (IPS). January 27, 2010. – The Czech Republic’s strong heritage of cooperative movements, dating from the interwar period, is serving as inspiration for new initiatives in the post-communist era and acting as “harbingers of a new global economic system”. Coop work as partnerships between local dwellers, newcomers and local councils. Individual members (either current or future householders) have one vote for each 200 pounds (322.7 US dollars) invested in the coop, while the local council has one vote for each 20 pence (32 cents) invested. The coop offers affordable housing, provides employment for locals and brings together inhabitants of the community in a common endeavour.

HAITI

Haitian Charity’s Founder Faces More Sex Abuse Charges.” Hartford Courant. January 28, 2010.

American church group held after trying to take children out of Haiti; Baptists who wanted to start orphanage in Dominican Republic believed to have lacked paperwork amid trafficking fears.” Guardian (UK)/Associated Press. January 31, 2010. A group of 10 American Baptists were being held in Port-au-Prince today after trying to take 33 children out of Haiti. The church group, most of them from Idaho, allegedly lacked the proper documents when they were arrested on Friday night in a bus along with children aged from two months to 12 years who had survived the earthquake. The group said they were setting up an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic.
Related Stories:
10 American Baptists detained trying to take 33 children from quake zone across border.Chicago Tribune/Associated Press. January 31, 2010.
U.S. group held after fleeing Haiti with children.” USA Today. January 31, 2010.
Haiti says 10 Baptists may be tried in U.S.” No byline. USA Today. January 31, 2010.

HAITI RELIEF

Hope For Haiti’ Brings In $57 Million.” No by-line. Huffington Post. January 25, 2010. Friday’s ‘Hope For Haiti’ telethon, organized by George Clooney and broadcast across nearly every major network, raised over $57 million in phone, online and text donations, in the 24 hours following the event. The telethon will continue to spur donations through the sale of the night’s musical performances on iTunes. The recorded album was #1 in 18 countries over the weekend. The money raised will be split equally among seven relief organizations: Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, the United Nations World Food Programme, and Wyclef Jean’s Yéle Haiti.
Related Stories:
Quake Spurs Campus Collaboration.” By Xi Yu. Harvard Crimson. January 25, 2010.
Schoolboy Charlie Simpson raises £100,000 for Haiti; Seven-year-old’s plan to raise £500 on sponsored bike ride snowballs on back of worldwide media coverage.” By James Meikle and agencies. Guardian (UK). January 25, 2010.
City healthcare workers make $1M Haiti donation.” Crain’s New York. January 25, 2010.
Haiti Donations Slowing Down: Can We Keep It Going?” Huffington Post. January 26, 2010.
Scientology plants its flag in Haiti. Independent (UK). January 27, 2010.
Haiti Aid Efforts Go Awry In the ‘Convoy to Nowhere’.” Wall Street Journal. January 29, 2010.
Transaction Fee On Haiti Donation Leads College Student To Create Anti-Wachovia Facebook Page.” Huffington Post. January 29, 2010.
City homeless donate $14.64 for quake victims; Relief workers moved by sacrifice at downtown shelter.Baltimore Sun. January 30, 2010.
Amid Spotty Aid, Groups Try Hiring Haitians For Cash.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio. January 31, 2010.

INDIA

Don’t scrap 44 deemed univs for now, SC tells govt.” By Dhananjay Mahapatra. Times of India. January 25, 2010. In a major relief to 44 deemed universities facing derecognition in the light of HRD ministry’s Tandon committee report, Supreme Court on Monday ordered that no immediate step be taken by the Centre to scrap the blacklisted varsities. This order is expected to calm the anxieties of thousands of students studying in these deemed universities, many of whom had embarked on a violent agitation after being unsure of their future. “Maintain status quo in the matter,” the SC said on Monday.
Related Story:
Doomed varsities got high grades from ‘generous’ NAAC.” Times of India. January 27, 2010.

UK

Equality bill: churches and campaigners demand clarity on religion’s exemption; European commission puts pressure on ministers to toughen law on discrimination by churches.” By Afua Hirsch. Guardian (UK). January 25 2010. The government is facing allegations of duplicity over changes to the equality bill after a leaked document showed conflicting statements about the position of churches and other religious organisations. Churches say the government has assured them the equality bill will preserve their “special status”, which allows them to turn down candidates for jobs as ministers or priests if they are actively homosexual, transsexual or, in the Catholic church, if they are women. Statements in parliament have also presented the government’s position as preserving the existing law for religious organisations. “[The equality bill] will not change the existing legal position regarding churches and employment,” the leader of the House of Lords, Lady Royall, told peers recently. But the Guardian has learned the government told the European commission it would toughen the law on religious organisations, making it harder for them to avoid equal treatment laws. A “reasoned opinion”, kept secret by the government, threatened the UK with legal action unless the grounds on which religious groups could discriminate were narrowed.

Schoolboy Charlie Simpson raises £100,000 for Haiti; Seven-year-old’s plan to raise £500 on sponsored bike ride snowballs on back of worldwide media coverage.” By James Meikle and agencies. Guardian (UK). January 25, 2010. A seven-year-old boy who hoped to raise £500 for Haiti earthquake relief by cycling five miles around a local park has raised £100,000 in donations and gift aid, with the total still rising. Charlie Simpson’s efforts have touched the hearts of people around the world with visitors to his JustGiving website page piling on the pounds following his sponsored ride for the charity Unicef in Fulham, south London, yesterday. Charlie launched his efforts with a simple message: “My name is Charlie Simpson, I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives. I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti.” Media coverage of Charlie’s plan helped ensure donations flooded in.

Don’t blame us, says student Islamic society.” No by-line. Independent (UK). January 25, 2010. The ground floor of the Bloomsbury Theatre, home to University College London (UCL) students’ union, is filling up with crowds of students, patiently waiting their turn to enter the small metal lifts that will take them up to Friday prayers. It’s the first Friday back at the university since news broke over the Christmas holidays that a former UCL student and worshipper here, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day. Qasim Rafiq, a former UCL Isoc president who was a close friend of Abdulmutallab, is now a spokesman for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies. Rafiq says it is wrong to question UCL Isoc’s activities because of the Abdulmutallab case. “For me, it begs the question: what happened [after his time at UCL]? People look at Umar and say ‘He was the president of the Islamic society, therefore the UCL Islamic society is promoting hatred and is a breeding ground for extremism’, but I can say categorically – as many others can – that it wasn’t his time at UCL [that caused him to become radicalised]. “Islamic societies are part of the solution, they are not the problem, and by focusing on them and pressuring them and victimising them, you’re taking away the very tool that we can use to combat this evil,” says Rafiq. While media speculation may continue to tarnish Islamic Societies throughout Britain, UCL’s Isoc members gain strength from one another, through prayers, football – and non-alcoholic happy hours.

Church of England counts cost of New York property deal.” By Alexandra Frean. Times of London. January 26, 2010. The Church of England has suffered a £40 million loss on a disastrous investment in a New York apartment complex that was acquired by a consortium in 2006 for $5.4 billion — the biggest single residential property deal in the United States. A spokesman for the Church Commissioners said that it had written off the entire value of its investment and added that the commissioners were “looking carefully” at the lessons to be learnt. “The investment was made in June 2007, which, with hindsight, was at the top of the property market and immediately before the credit crunch,” the spokesman said. He added that the Church had undertaken detailed due diligence in conjunction with external professional advisers. The loss amounts to nearly 1 per cent of the total £4.4 billion assets held by the Church Commissioners to sustain the nationwide ministry of the Church. It follows a 19.6 per cent fall in the value of the commissioners’ investments in 2008 and comes as the Church faces criticism for allowing the build up of a £352 million shortfall in its pension fund, which is invested entirely in equities.

Unequal Britain: richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest.” By Amelia Gentleman and Hélène Mulholland. Guardian (UK). January 27, 2010. A detailed and startling analysis of how unequal Britain has become offers a snapshot of an increasingly divided nation where the richest 10% of the population are more than 100 times as wealthy as the poorest 10% of society. The report, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK, scrutinises the degree to which the country has become more unequal over the past 30 years. Much of it will make uncomfortable reading for the Labour government, although the paper indicates that considerable responsibility lies with the Tories, who presided over the dramatic divisions of the 1980s and early 1990s. Researchers analyse inequality according to a number of measures; one indicates that by 2007-8 Britain had reached the highest level of income inequality since soon after the second world war.
Related Story:
Rich-poor gap ‘wider than 1970s’.” BBC News. January 27, 2010.

Third sector governance in the spotlight; Leadership is paramount as economic woes push board members and trustees to take on increasing responsibility for the future stability of charitable organisations.” By Saba Salman. Guardian (UK). January 27, 2010. Almost 1 million trustees steer a combined income of £36bn from around 190,000 organisations in England and Wales, but the public remains largely unaware of their work. The low profile held by the trustees and board members of the not-for-profit sector belies their enormous responsibility, as figures from independent regulator the Charity Commission show. A trustee is a member of the trust or board which takes ultimate legal responsibility for a charity’s work, ensuring it is run in line with the aims of the organisation. Generally unpaid, the role involves attending several meetings a year, acting in the best interests of the charity, while day-to-day tasks are covered by staff and volunteers. However, the banking crisis and recession has drawn attention to failures in the governance of financial institutions and led other sectors, including the charity sector, to focus on its own management issues. This, in addition to competition for contracts to deliver public services, demands much more dynamic leadership from trustees.

Carly Whyborn, chief executive, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust: ‘PAs are under­estimated. They are the people who know what’s ­going on.’” By Jane Dudman. Guardian (UK). January 27, 2010. Chief executive of Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust interviewed about her work and the activities of the organization.

Young face of trusteeship: At 20, the current ambassador for the Diana Award charity, Ben Bilverstone, is a veteran trustee with clout, vision and unstoppable commitment to public service.” By Chloe Stothart. Guardian (UK). January 27, 2010. Profile of twenty year-old Ben Bilverstone, who sits on 10 community related boards.

Series: Charities and the law: Charities Q&A: procurement, contracts and grants.” By Julian Blake and Philippa Hart. Guardian (UK). January 27, 2010. In the latest in a series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Julian Blake, a partner, and Philippa Hart, a solicitor at Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, answer questions on procurement, contracts and grants.

Poorer students closing the gap in admissions.” By Richard Garner. Independent (UK). January 28, 2010. One in five teenagers from underprivileged backgrounds now going to university. The gap between the numbers of poor and rich teenagers going to university has narrowed significantly for the first time, according to research that will be published today. The study, from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, shows the proportion of people from disadvantaged areas going to university has risen by 27 per cent since 2005 compared with just 4 per cent among the best-off young people. Nearly one in five young people (19 per cent) from the poorest homes now go to university – compared with just 15 per cent five years ago. However, a comparison with 15 years ago – when efforts to widen participation were in their infancy – reveals the overall gap has widened by one percentage point to 38 per cent.

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