WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 19-25, 2010)

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Catholic system better for schools program: manager.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. April 19, 2010. THE man charged with rebuilding NSW public schools admits the state government’s $3.4 billion share of Commonwealth funds could have been better spent had he been given greater control of the program and greater flexibility in distributing funding between public schools. Robert Leece, the infrastructure co-ordinator-general for the NSW National Building and Jobs Plan Taskforce, said the Catholic school system had been more efficient at distributing funding between schools than the more rigid government system. Mr Leece said public schools would have had better value for money under the Building the Education Revolution program if it had been administered in the way used for the Catholic schools, which had centrally pooled funds. ”The Catholic system is the ideal way of running a program like this,” Mr Leece said.

Private schools will continue to be overfunded.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. April 21, 2010. Private schools that are ”overfunded” under the government’s funding model could take up to five years to return to correct levels under expected changes to the funding system. The federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, said last week that her review of federal funding for schools would at least freeze present levels of funding for schools. She said ”no school will lose a dollar of funding in the sense that their school budget per student will not reduce in dollar terms”. Estimates show that schools such as Masada College in St Ives would receive its strict share of funding under the federal government formula by 2018 if its funding was frozen from next year. Calculations by the NSW Greens using federal government figures show that Masada will receive $925,850 next year in Commonwealth funding. However, under the funding formula that measures the socio-economic status of families based on census data, the school should receive $579,176. The Howard government made a policy decision ensuring that no private school would lose money even if their socio-economic status improved over time as measured by the private school funding formula.

Private tutors call for recognition.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. April 21, 2010. PRIVATE tutoring colleges have reported a surge in demand to help students prepare for NAPLAN tests and are calling for formal recognition as part of mainstream schooling. But principals say tutoring defeats the purpose of the National Assessment Program literacy and numeracy tests, which are designed to identify learning difficulties children need addressed. The principals say tutoring would only mask the problems of students needing extra help from teachers. Mohan Dhall, the chief executive of the Australian Tutoring Association, said NAPLAN tests had opened up a commercial opportunity, with publishers selling books with practice questions for the tests. ”There has been a huge surge in tutoring for NAPLAN in the last 12 weeks,” Mr Dhall said. ”Mainstream education should recognise private tutoring [colleges] and benchmark them. Up to 30 per cent of family income is spent on [private] tuition. Let’s come out of the shadows and be more transparent.”

CATHOLIC ABUSE SCANDAL

In Malta, Pope Benedict meets with 8 who were sexually abused by priests.”
By Philip Pullella. Washington Post. April 19, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI prayed and cried with eight victims of sexual abuse by priests on Sunday and promised that the church is doing “all in its power” to bring the guilty to justice and protect the young. The meeting, announced only after it had finished, was Benedict’s first such gesture since a new wave of sexual abuse scandals swept over Roman Catholicism in recent months. He had previously met victims in the United States and Australia. “He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future,” a Vatican statement on the meeting said. It was one of the clearest statements yet from the Vatican that it wants local bishops to cooperate with civil authorities in prosecuting priests who abused children.
Related Stories:
Jeffrey Lena: California lawyer is voice of Vatican, Pope Benedict in U.S. court.Washington Post. April 19, 2010.
Pope Vows to Bring Abusive Priests to Justice; Benedict says the church will pursue justice for abusive priests.” Wall Street Journal. April 19, 2010.
Children fathered by Fathers to sue Church.” Times of London. April 19, 2010.
Pope Meets Victims Abused by Priests in Malta.” New York Times. April 19, 2010.
5 Years Into Papacy, Legacy At Stake For Benedict.” Morning Edition/National Public Radio. April 19, 2010.
Victim advocacy group protests controversial cardinal’s upcoming visit.” Washington Post. April 20, 2010.
Church Scandal Hurts Pope’s Europe Mission.Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2010.
Pope Says He Faces Crisis With Cardinals’ Support.New York Times. April 19, 2010.
Brazil: Priest Detained After Abuse Accusations.” New York Times. April 19, 2010.
Clergy abuse scandal engulfs plans for Latin Mass at D.C. Basilica.” Washington Post., April 21, 2010.
New bishop once blamed devil for abuse lawsuits.” Washington Post/Associated Press. April 20, 2010.
California: 2 Archdioceses Sued.” New York Times. April 20, 2010.
Role of Pope’s Ex-Deputy In Priest Case Questioned.” Wall Street Journal. April 21, 2010.
Pope Promises ‘Church Action’ Over Sex Abuse Scandal.” Huffington Post/Associated Press. April 21, 2010.
Church warned, but no action; Now in Mexico, suspected abuser remains a priest.Boston Globe. April 21, 2010.
Pope accepts resignation of third Irish bishop.” Washington Post/Reuters. April 22, 2010.
D.C. parish grapples with sex-abuse charges against priest back in Germany.” No by-line. Washington Post. April 22, 2010.
Pope Reaffirms Vow to Fight Abuse; Benedict vows to fight sex abuse, as Irish bishop nears departure.” Wall Street Journal. April 22, 2010.
Illinois man sues pope, Vatican over sex abuse case.” USA Today. April 22, 2010.
Child abuse: statement by Catholic Bishops of England and Wales Home staff.Times of London. April 22, 2010.
Please forgive us: Catholic bishops’ deep sorrow for decades of child sex abuse.Times of London. April 22, 2010.
Archbishop issuing statement on child safeguards.Independent (UK). April 22, 2010.
Bishops: Abuse scandals bring ‘deep shame’ to church.” Independent (UK). April 22, 2010.
Catholic Church faces more resignations, suits; Furore over hierarchy’s handling of child abuse was not going away.” MSNBC. April 22, 2010.
Catholic church says sorry over child sex abuse scandals; Archbishop of Westminster’s statement on behalf of Catholic church in England and Wales follows pope’s call for change.” Guardian (UK). April 22, 2010.
U.S. man’s lawsuit against pope must show Vatican as business.” No by-line. USA Today. April 22, 2010.
German Bishop Offers To Resign.” By Vanessa Fuhrmans. Wall Street Journal. April 23, 2010.
Belgian bishop resigns, apologizes for sexual abuse.” No by-line. USA Today. April 23, 2010.
Belgian bishop resigns after admitting child sex abuse.” Times of India. April 23, 2010.
Chilean Abuse Case Tests Loyalty of a Parish.” New York Times. April 23, 2010.
German Bishop Resigns in Latest Blow to Church.” New York Times. April 23, 2010.
New Lawsuit Shows Letters to Vatican on Sexual Abuse Earlier Than Previously Thought.New York Times. April 23, 2010.
Vatican says sex abuse suit lacks merit.” CNN. April 23, 2010.
Third Bishop Resigns Over Abuse; Vatican Acts Quickly Amid Church Scandals, Accepting Tender From Belgian Who Admits to Sexual Abuse of a Child.” Wall Street Journal. April 24, 2010.
How L.A. Archdiocese Mishandled A Pedophile Priest.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. April 23, 2010.
Belgian Catholic bishop admits molesting boy; Roger Vanheluwe, the bishop of Bruges, says he begged for victim’s forgiveness as Vatican confirms his resignation.Guardian (UK). April 23, 2010.
Ex-priest says he reported Belgian bishop abuse.” No by-line. Washington Post/Associated Press. April 24, 2010.
The Public Editor: Questioning the Pope.” New York Times. April 25, 2010.
Rik Deville, Retired Priest: I Told Church About Pedophile Bishop More Than 15 Years Ago.” Huffington Post. April 25, 2010.
In US, an unlikely guy acts as pope’s legal voice; Calif. lawyer shares few details about landing job.” No by-line. Washington Post. April 25, 2010.
GLOBE EDITORIAL: Rather than resign, Benedict should devote papacy to healing.” Boston Globe. April 25, 2010.

CHINA

Special Report: Qinghai Earthquake: China receives almost 4 mln dollars quake aid donations.” Xinhuanet.com. April 21, 2010. China has received nearly 4 million U.S. dollars in quake aid and donations and condolences from almost 200 countries, and international and regional organizations, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu Wednesday. The Chinese government was going all out in rescue and relief work, and she believed the people of the quake area would get over the disaster and difficulties and rebuild their homes with the efforts of compatriots and support from the international community

INDIA

A Tax Inquiry Jolts the World of Indian Cricket.” By Vikas Bajaj. New York Times. April 23, 2010. In the last few years, the I.P.L. has transformed cricket in India from a gentlemanly sport of tea breaks and daylong matches into a fast-paced, $4 billion-a-year industry hailed as a fitting symbol of India’s rise as an economic power. The league’s financial and media success was mostly attributed to Mr. Modi. But a raging scandal, which has exposed a web entangling sports, politics and business in this country, threatens to end Mr. Modi’s winning streak. It might also dash his aspirations for building the I.P.L. into what he recently called the “single largest league of the world.” What started as a public spat between Mr. Modi and a senior lawmaker has quickly evolved into an investigation by India’s tax authorities into the league’s financial affairs. The revelations so far suggest that cricket has succumbed to the same kinds of cronyism and corruption that affect many other parts of Indian economics and politics.
Related Story:
AC Muthiah drags BCCI to SC over IPL franchise norms.” Times of India. April 23, 2010.

Jaipur NGO holds limb fitment camp in Iraq.” No by-line. Times of India. April 25, 2010. A 22-member team of a Jaipur-based NGO that provides artificial limbs to the disabled has returned from Baghdad after holding a month-long artificial limb fitment camp there. The Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS) provided 882 Iraqis artificial limbs during the camp while 75 people were given crutches free of cost. The camp was organised in association with a charitable body of Baghdad’s Abdul Hadi Chalabi Foundation. In all, 882 persons were equipped with artificial limbs of whom 42 were provided artificial limbs on both their legs,” Mehta said.

INDONESIA

Debate on Internet’s Limits Grows in Indonesia.” By Norimitsu Onishi. New York Times. April 19, 2010. Displeased that a statue of a 10-year-old Barack Obama was installed in a park here, Indonesians took their protest not to this capital’s most famous traffic circle but to Facebook. More than 56,000 online protesters later, city officials gave in to arguments that the park should be reserved to honor an Indonesian. This example of high-tech grass-roots organizing was the direct result of the explosion of social networking in Indonesia. But the boom is prompting a fierce debate over the limits of free expression in a newly democratic Indonesia, with the government trying to regulate content on the Internet and a recently emboldened news media pushing back. Proponents of greater freedom view social networking as a vital tool to further democratize this country’s often corrupt political system. Skeptics, especially among politicians and religious leaders, worry about mob rule and the loss of traditional values. In its latest move, the government recently proposed a bill that would require Internet service providers to filter online content but was forced to shelve it after vociferous protest online and in the mainstream media. Thanks to relatively cheap cellphones that offer Internet access, Facebook, Twitter and local social networking media have rapidly spread from cities to villages throughout Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia and the Philippines. In a little over a year, the number of Indonesian Facebook users has skyrocketed to more than 21 million from fewer than a million — the world’s third largest number of Facebook users. With tens of millions of people now instantly connected, social networking has quickly become a potent, though sometimes unpredictable, political force.

UK

Scouts membership grows to 500,000 — more quickly than for a generation.” Times of London. April 19, 2010.” Lord Baden-Powell might not recognise some of the activities these days, and it is a conscientious Boy Scout who goes round helping old ladies across the road, but the Scouting movement is now growing more quickly than for generations. Total membership in Britain rose by 16,500 last year to nearly 500,000, the fifth consecutive yearly rise and the biggest growth in 38 years. The increase is the result of a strategic decision to take a movement associated with woggles, uniforms and campfire singalongs and make it more appealing to modern young people.
Related Stories:
Young flock to join Scouts for adventure; Numbers soar close to 500,000 as schools turn away from outdoor pursuits.” Independent (UK). April 19, 2010.
Biggest scout rise ‘in 38 years.” BBC News. April 19, 2010.

Facebook offers charities free ads in child safety row.Times of London. April 19, 2010. Facebook is offering millions of pounds of free advertising to children’s charities as part of a charm offensive following a row with police over the installation of an online safety button. Charities will meet this week to decide whether to accept the offer from the social networking site. However, the NSPCC told The Times that it would reject the advertising were it to be an alternative to installing the safety button pioneered by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. Facebook has been in a dispute with the police agency over the website’s refusal to carry the button — which would give users one-click access to police or other agencies to report concerns about online offending or cyber-bullying.

Cameron, beware. Cake baking and sports clubs can’t fix inequality; An east London estate offers a potent picture of the Big Society. But there is a big gap in Cameron’s big idea.” By Madeleine Bunting. Guardian (UK). April 19, 2010. Rokeby community centre, in one of east London’s most deprived boroughs, Newham is a picture-perfect illustration of Cameron’s big idea, the Big Society. Since the centre opened, crime on the estate has halved; what was once a bleak square for burnt out cars and gangs of kids is now a hub for the community with sports clubs for teenagers, a children’s playground and a garden. It has drawn in volunteers from neighbouring streets who now help run the centre, devise its programme of activities and keep the place open 12 hours a day, six days a week, for activities such as keep fit, playgroups and cooking classes. But the organisation behind Rokeby, Community Links, is watching closely – and nervously – as to where David Cameron is going to take his big idea. With 300 staff and 1,000 volunteers, it has 32 years’ experience of trying to make the Big Society work. The delight that community engagement has finally reached the centre of an election campaign – it’s been a long time in coming – is balanced by a wariness that it is being dangerously oversold.

Cost cuts mean RSPCA shelters will turn away stray or unwanted pets.” By Rosemary Bennett. Times of London. April 20, 2010. The RSPCA will turn away stray or unwanted pets from animal shelters from next month to cut costs and focus on policing animal cruelty, according to a memo obtained by Channel 4 News. The decision could affect as many as 75,000 unwanted animals a year which are currently taken to RSPCA centres across England and Wales. It comes after the RSPCA admitted that the number of abandoned pets is soaring. The documents show that from May 4, 17 RSPCA animal centres will only take in animals which are “RSPCA generated”, which means seized by inspectors in cruelty cases or those which are at immediate risk or cruelty. Pets belonging to people who are taken into hospital, evicted from their homes or are simply unwanted or found as strays will from that date normally be turned away. Unfortunate visitors holding the animal will be told to contact the police, the local council, or a vet.

Charities in a state of anxiety over funding; For the first time in history, the sector is almost certainly now receiving more cash from the state than from you and me.” By David Brindle. Guardian (UK). April 21, 2010. Most people think that charities get their money from private donations – and in the great majority of cases, for the bulk of their income, this is right. But the picture for the voluntary sector as a whole is very different: for the first time in history, the sector is almost certainly now receiving more cash from the state than from you and me. Almost four in five voluntary organisations receive not a penny from the state. But 38,000 do. It’s a hugely symbolic change, and one with which many people in the sector, and beyond, will be uncomfortable. But will it last? With the spending axe being sharpened, the £12.8bn a year that voluntary organisations bank from statutory sources is looking highly vulnerable. Evidence of the crossing of the watershed in voluntary sector funding emerges today in the UK Civil Society Almanac 2010, produced by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). In 2003-04, the almanac shows, the sector received £9.6bn from the state and £11.5bn from individuals. By 2007-08, the latest year for which figures are given, the gap had all-but closed, with the state contributing just £300m less than the £13.1bn from individuals. We can make a reasonable assumption that the two trends will have crossed since 2007-08.

London’s richest people worth 273 times more than the poorest; Academic argues in new book that society has the widest divide since the days of slavery.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian (UK). April 21, 2010. London is most unequal city in the developed world, with the richest tenth of the population amassing 273 times the wealth owned by the bottom tenth – which creates a “means chasm” not seen since the days of a “slave owning society”, according to a new book. In Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists published by Policy Press, Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at Sheffield University and an expert on social disparity, paints a bleak picture of an extremely unjust Britain where differences in wealth have led to a profoundly divided society. Dorling said Labour had managed to stop the gap in incomes from getting bigger, but this had not stopped the rich getting richer. The wealthiest had amassed assets such as second homes and expansive stock portfolios. He says the government’s latest figures show that in the capital the top 10% of society had on average a wealth of £933,563 compared to the meagre £3,420 of the poorest 10% – a wealth multiple of 273. “Other comparable cities like New York, Stockholm, Sydney … have wealthy people, but not as many wealthy people as London,” said Dorling. “There is an inbuilt bias towards inequality in UK society today.
Related Stories:
Why Britain’s battle to bring down social inequality has failed; Danny Dorling’s new book exposes the unprecedented rises in inequality that put us on a par with Victorian society – and explains why they endure.” Guardian (UK). April 21, 2010.
Why inequality persists: get the full data; A new report examines inequality in forensic detail. Author Danny Dorling introduces the key datasets – and a new set of postcode-level UK poverty indicators.” Guardian (UK). April 21, 2010.

Leading questions: Kate Lee, British Red Cross; The outgoing director of strategy and evaluation on why she opted for a place on the Clore Social Leadership Programme.” By Jane Dudman. Guardian (UK). April 21, 2010.

Charity effectiveness.” Podcast. Guardian (UK). April 22, 2010. Over the next few months Society Guardian will be looking into the issues facing the charity and voluntary sectors as we tackle challenging times economically, as well as facing uncertain times politically. We’ll be hearing from leading figures in the not-for-profit sector as well as some lesser known organisations with stories to tell. For our first podcast we brought together a respected panel to discuss issues around the identity of the not-for-profit world, and the challenges ahead. We also look at the key challenges of funding, capacity – skills and leadership; contract culture; and image and public perception.

“Sir Paul Nurse to head Royal Society.” By Hannah Devlin. Times of London. April 23, 2010. Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel laureate and geneticist, has been nominated to be the next president of the Royal Society. The council of the prestigious scientific body has announced Sir Paul as its preferred candidate to succeed Martin Rees, who completes his five-year term in November. The Royal Society has had 59 presidents since it was founded in 1660. They Sir Christopher Wren, Samuel Pepys, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Humphry Davy, and Ernest Rutherford. This year is the 350th anniversary of the founding of the society.

Designer store? No, it’s a charity shop.” By Martin Hickman. Independent (UK). April 24, 2010. Forget rummage boxes and sticky carpets – Britain’s charity shops are being given a design makeover to “contemporise” them for modern shoppers who no longer like picking over old shoes, bric-a-brac and incomplete jigsaws in fusty surroundings. One of the country’s biggest charities, Age UK, is turning all its 500 shops into bright outlets with white walls, smooth lines, wooden flooring and trendy furniture. Shoppers will be able to receive information on the charity’s work and advice from a series of “interactive touch-screen kiosks”. Age UK, formed from the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged, opened its first version of the “innovative new concept” in Ashstead, Surrey, this week and will convert shops in Colne, Chesterfield, and Kentish Town, north London, by June. Over the next four years it will refit all its 500 outlets – almost as common a sight on the high street as W H Smith. The overtly-styled shops are part of the modernisation of the country’s 8,000 charity stores, which sell donations of clothes, furniture, books, crockery and other miscellaneous gifts. Nationally, the fundraising shops make £120m a year from a turnover of £600m.

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