WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 22-28, 2010)

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Benedict’s Fragile Church.” By Peter Schneider. Op-ed. New York Times. March 23, 2010. POPE BENEDICT XVI’s strongly worded apology for the child-abuse scandal in Ireland, issued last week, left Germans like myself scratching our heads. Where is the apology for the abuses in Germany? After all, even as the number of Irish abuse cases mounts, the depth and history of abuse in Germany is just now becoming clear — more than 250 cases are known, with more appearing each day. At least 14 priests are under investigation by the authorities. Though Germany is a secular country and Catholics make up only a third of the population, the scandal has engendered a national debate — about religious education, about single-sex institutions and, above all, about the role of celibacy in the Catholic Church. And while the scandal is not unique to Germany, the current wave of abuse revelations sweeping Europe feels particularly German, because the pope is German: Benedict was once Joseph Ratzinger, the archbishop of Munich and Freising and long a leading voice of conservative German Catholics. While it’s too soon to know for sure how the scandals will affect church membership, rumor has it that the number of resignations by churchgoers in Munich, where the Catholic Church is traditionally strong, has doubled or even tripled in the last month.
Related Stories:
6 accused of abuse in German diocese.” Boston Globe. March 23, 2010.
Catholic Church says reported U.S. cases of child sex abuse lowest since 2004.” Washington Post. March 24, 2010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/24/AR2010032400249.html?hpid=moreheadlines

“Irish bishop resigns, apologizes to abuse victims.” Washington Post/ Associated Press. March 24, 2010.
Vatican Accepts Irish Bishop’s Resignation; Prelate Steps Down After Report Finds Delay in Reporting Sex-Abuse Claims.Wall Street Journal. March 25, 2010.
Pope ‘failed to act’ on US sex abuse claims.” Times of London. March 25, 2010.
Child Abuse Leaves Irish Churches Scouring for Money (Update1).” Bloomberg.com. March 25, 2010.
Vatican declined to dismiss priest who abused deaf boys; US bishops urged action by office Pope Benedict led.” New York Times. March 25, 2010.
Vatican says no cover-up in case of abused boys in Wis.” Chicago Tribune. March 25, 2010.
Vatican says it was unaware of alleged American priest abuse.” CNN.com. March 25, 2010.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/03/vatican_attacks_media_after_re.html

“Vatican Attacks Media After Report It Ignored Priest Sex Abuse.” Morning Edition. National Public Radio. March 25, 2010.
Critics riled by Pope’s silence on German abuse scandal.” USA Today. March 25, 2010.
Pope Was Told Pedophile Priest Would Get Transfer.” New York Times. March 25, 2010.
Vatican Defends Pope Over U.S. Abuse Case as Protesters Are Detained.” Wall Street Journal. March 26, 2010.
Victims accuse Pope of keeping abuser’s secret; Office headed by Benedict XVI declined to defrock priest who molested deaf children.” By Jerome Taylor. Independent (UK). March 26, 2010.
Pope Further Implicated In Mishandling Of Sex Abuse.” Huffington Post. March 26, 2010.
Vatican Failed To Punish Wisconsin Priest After Abuse.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio. March 25, 2010.
Clergy abuse threatens pope’s legacy; Key question: What did pontiff know and when did he know it?” MSNBC,com/Associated Press. March 26, 2010.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36058507/ns/world_news-europe/

“Church, deaf students square off on Italian TV.” MSNBC.com/Associated Press. March 26, 2010.
For Years, Deaf Boys Tried to Tell of Priest’s Abuse.” New York Times. March 26, 2010.
“Catholic Order Admits Its Founder Abused Boys Over Decades.” New York Times. March 26, 2010.
Pope Had ‘No Knowledge’ of Transfer, Vatican Says.” New York Times. March 26, 2010.
How Could It Happen? Tracing the Causes of Sexual Abuse by the Clergy.” Huffington Post. March 26, 2010.
“Scandal in Europe increases pressure on Vatican to ensure greater transparency.” Washington Post. March 26, 2010.
U.S. courts allow sex abuse cases against Vatican to proceed in rare legal move.” Washington Post. March 27, 2010.
Catholic Order Apologizes to Abuse Victims.” Wall Street Journal. March 27, 2010.
Rome puts pressure on Catholic leader to quit.” Times of London. March 27, 2010.
Church faces Stormont inquiry over cover-up of sex abuse scandals.Times of London. March 27, 2010.
Vatican goes into battle for Benedict as sexual abuse crisis deepens.” Independent (UK). March 27, 2010.
Christopher Hitchens: Catholic Church Wants ‘Wiggle Room’ For Rape And Torture Of Children (VIDEO).” Huffington Post. March 27, 2010.
With Scrutiny, Vatican Faces Test of ‘Moral Credibility’.” New York Times. March 27, 2010.
Pope opens solemn Holy Week amid sex abuse crisis.” USA Today. March 28, 2010.
At the Vatican, Up Against the World.” New York Times. March 28, 2010.
Sex-Abuse Victims: ‘It’s Always The Church First’.” Huffington Post. March 28, 2010.
Pope condemns critics over abuse scandal ‘gossip’.” Independent (UK). March 28, 2010.
Pope Benedict condemns ‘petty gossip’ over child sexual abuse scandal; Head of the Catholic church appears to round on critics during his Palm Sunday sermon in St Peter’s square.” Guardian (UK). March 28, 2010.

AFRICA

West Africa volunteer drive opens.” BBC News. March 26, 2010. Some 1,000 youths from across West Africa have marched through the streets of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, to launch a new regional volunteer scheme. The scheme would see youths spend time helping out in areas such as agriculture, health or education in a different country to their own. The idea is that it would help foster a common identity across Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States). A pilot scheme will begin in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Organiser Dieudonne Nikiema told the BBC’s Network Africa programme that if the pilot in these countries succeeds, it would be extended across the region. It is modelled on the UN volunteer programme.

AUSTRALIA

Richest ride a wave of wealth; Australia’s richest execs revealed.” By Chris Zappone. Sydney Morning Herald. March 24, 2010. Update Australia’s top executives have seen their collective wealth swell by almost three-quarters – or about $15 billion – over the past year, easily outstripping gains by ordinary investors. The total wealth of Australia’s top 200 business chieftains ballooned to $35 billion in 2010, up from $20.3 billion in 2009, according to the BRW 2010 Executive Rich List. The rebound, though, left the total shy of the record $44 billion in 2007 – prior to the global financial crisis. US-based media baron Rupert Murdoch defended his top spot, with wealth almost doubling in the year to nearly $6 billion from $3.4 billion a year earlier. The combined wealth of Australian executives was 72 per cent higher than last year, more than the 52 per cent rise by the sharemarket over the same period. ”These guys have actually outperformed the market very well,” said BRW executive rich list editor John Stensholt. ”Obviously their companies have done well but a lot of executives have executed some very canny share trades in the last year.”

College collapse hits more overseas students.” By Heath Gilmore. Sydney Morning Herald. March 23, 2010. A HOSPITALITY college once ranked among Australia’s fastest-growing companies has collapsed, leaving more than 750 fee-paying students out of pocket. The Austech Institute for Further Education, based in Sydney, announced on Friday it was going into voluntary liquidation. Its closure is part of a shakeout of the sector in which several high-profile colleges have closed and international student enrolments have fallen because of the global financial crisis, a strong Australian dollar and changes to skilled migration policy. In December the college successfully appealed against a move by state education authorities to dergister it after it enrolled up to 1400 students. It had permission to educate only 124 students. ABC TV’s Four Corners last year highlighted the activities of the college in a program devoted to alleged abuses in the education export industry.

INDIA

800 varsities, 35,000 colleges needed in next 10 years: Sibal.” No by-line. Times of India. March 24, 2010. India will need at least 800 more universities and another 35,000 colleges in the next 10 years to increase the percentage of students going for higher education from the present 12.4% in the country, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said on Wednesday. “India has about 480 university and about 22,000 colleges. If we were to increase that figure of 12% to 30%, we will need another 800 to a thousand universities in the next ten years. We will need another 35,000 colleges in the next ten years…we are still below 40% which I think is critical,” he said. He said that in the 21st century, acquisition of physical or tangible assets will not be the wealth of any country but it will be the acquisition of intangible assets which are created not in the stock market but in the university system of nations.

KENYA

Fun and philanthropy in Kenya; Exotic animals and golden plains? Of course. But a mother and daughter on a trip in Kenya find the heart of a nation in its people.” By Amanda Jones. Los Angeles Times. March 21, 2010. New York-based Micato Safaris offers safaris that are part, part philanthropy. Participants spend 10 days on safari and two more visiting orphanages and a community center in Nairobi’s Mukuru slum. For the safari part of the trip, the tour company suggests activities varied enough to keep both children and adults fully engaged.

MEXICO

LATIN AMERICA: IDB Agrees to Reforms, But NGOs Will Keep Up Pressure.” By Emilio Godoy. IPS News. March 23, 2010. Although social organisations in the region got the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to agree to a process of internal reforms, there are still doubts about how the changes will be reflected in the multilateral lender’s new strategy. At the end of the IDB’s annual meeting Tuesday in the southeast Mexican resort of Cancún, delegates from the institution’s 48 member countries agreed to a general capital increase of 70 billion dollars, greater transparency in the allocation of funds, and a stronger focus on climate change. “The capital increase shows that donors do not have the confidence to commit more to the bank, and that they aren’t satisfied with the levels of efficiency or the process of allocating resources,” Paulina Garzón, policy director for the San Francisco-based Amazon Watch, told IPS. The IDB had been seeking a 180 billion dollar increase in capital, as the governors of the Bank – usually finance ministers or central bank directors from the member countries – had agreed at the last annual session in Medellín, Colombia in March 2009. But 110 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 22 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean objected to that sum, arguing that the IDB had not justified that amount, had refused to share a draft of its replenishment proposal, and had failed to provide responses to recommendations for reforms. The civil society spokespeople who were in Cancún this week for the IDB assembly demanded more transparency in the Bank’s operations, improved accountability and greater attention to issues like climate change.

MIDDLE EAST

Middle East: SPEAKING FREELY: How inclusion cools Islamist hotheads.” By Saif Shahin. Asia Times. March 26, 2010. The contrasting fortunes of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movements once again illustrate how inclusion in mainstream democratic politics can soften the most hardline Islamist stances – and how repression can ensure the opposite.

UK

Sport Relief weekend raises £31m for charities.” By Katie Hodge. Independent (UK). March 22, 2010. More than 165,000 people – some on space hoppers and pogo sticks and others on hands and knees – completed the Sport Relief Mile run yesterday. Olympic athletes Christine Ohuruogu and Colin Jackson were among the first to cross the finish line in London while elsewhere in the country, celebrities including the singer Beverley Knight and the DJ Norman Cook turned out to support the charity event. Organisers said last night the Sport Relief weekend had so far raised £31,633,091.

Oxford University admitted fewer state school pupils in 2009; Proportion sank below 54% despite government drive to get wider mix of students into elite institutions.” By Jessica Shepherd. Guardian (UK). March 22, 2010. The proportion of state school pupils at Oxford University fell last year, despite ministers spending hundreds of millions of pounds to boost the educational diversity of pupils in elite institutions. Some 53.9% of UK undergraduates who started at Oxford last autumn were from state schools and colleges, 1.5 percentage points fewer than the previous year. This means the proportion of privately educated students rose from 44.6% in 2008 to 46.1% last year. It comes after a government drive to encourage Oxford, Cambridge and other leading universities to take students from a wider mix of backgrounds.

The London Philharmonic, its manager and the lost £2.3million; The chief executive, Tim Walker, reveals his shock when he discovered that the orchestra had been defrauded.” By Richard Morrison. Times of London. March 23, 2010.

Budget 2010: Charities fear axe will fall; Charities are worried that they will lose out in the budget.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian (UK). March 23, 2010. Charities warn that Alistair Darling’s budget could herald a perfect storm of falling donations, Treasury cuts and increased demand for services as the impact of the downturn reverberates throughout Britain. The voluntary sector now depends on government funding for more than a third of its income and charities fear that the chancellor will prune back spending when many public service “delivery contracts” between charities and government end next March. The Charity Commission’s latest economic survey, the largest representative survey on the effect of the downturn on charities, shows almost a quarter with an income of £100,000 or more consider public sector funding to be their most important source of income. More than 35% of charities have experienced a drop of income because of the downturn.

What will happen to arts funding after the general election?Guardian (UK). March 24, 2010. Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster talk to Charlotte Higgins about what their parties have planned for the arts. [VIDEO]

Social justice films get into the fast lane; New distribution channel, backed by Age of Stupid director Franny Armstrong, will use screenings to raise awareness and funds.” By Alison Benjamin. Guardian (UK). March 24, 2010. Bideford Sustainability Group in Devon was formed last week following a screening at the local Baptist church of the climate change film, The Age of Stupid. The organisers of Good Screenings, a new distribution channel for social action films, launched today, hope it will lead to more public screenings of low-budget social justice films and a growth of campaigning groups on the back of the issues raised. “Schools, churches, voluntary groups and associations will all be able to use the screenings as a vehicle to raise both awareness and funds,” says Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Stupid and the driving force behind Good Screenings. Good Screenings – a partnership between Armstrong and the Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation, which helps to fund and distribute documentary films – builds on software Armstrong developed eight months ago that has allowed anyone in the world to buy online a licence to screen her films. As a result, there have been 1,300 community screenings of The Age of Stupid, which have raised more than £113,000 for the film-maker.

Trusting in youth can help improve how the charity sector is run; Most charitable trustees and non-executive board members are over 45, but young people are being attracted into governance.” By Debbie Andalo. Guardian (UK). March 24, 2010.

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