WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 6-13, 2010)

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Anglicans take ethics course battle to P&Cs.” By Jacqueline Maley. Sydney Mrning Herald. June 9, 2010. THE Anglican Church is encouraging Christians to join school P&C committees in order to ”branch stack” them with people who will speak up for religious education over the secular ethics classes being trialled in NSW primary schools. The Anglican website created to argue the case for scripture classes includes a page entitled ”Whose P&C is it again?”. It states P&Cs may be ”co-opted for the cause of removing scripture from schools”. ”If Christians are not there in numbers to be the gospel voice of reason and honesty, our schools will be the poorer for it,” the website, sreontrial.com.au, says. The Anglican Church has led the charge against the secular ethics classes, which are being trialled in 10 schools.

Elite school harboured sex abuser.” By Bellinda Kontominas and Kim Arlington Courts. Sydney Morning Herald. June 12, 2010. A TEACHER who sexually abused students at the prestigious Knox Grammar School in Sydney continued teaching there for more than 20 years after school authorities discovered he had shown boys pornographic videos, a court has been told. At a sentencing hearing for Craig Treloar, a former Knox teacher and housemaster, it was alleged that at least three members of the school community, including the then headmaster, Ian Paterson, knew of the pornography. Treloar, 50, told the District Court he was called to Dr Paterson’s office in late 1987 after pornography was seized from his room by the general duties master, Stuart Pearson. ”Dr Paterson asked me if I had shown pornographic material to students and I admitted my guilt, of having done that,” Treloar said yesterday. ”The headmaster said he had spoken to a member of the school council as to what the punishment should be and it was decided that I should not teach for six months.” Treloar had expected to be sacked. Instead he was stood down as a housemaster and taught for another six months before taking enforced leave.

Gamblers’ help fund fears deck is stacked.” By Sean Nicholls. Sydney Morning Herald. June 12, 2010. THE operation of the fund that uses revenue from Star City Casino to pay for services for problem gamblers is under review, prompting fears for its future and concerns it is losing its independence. The Responsible Gambling Fund, run by a board of independent and government-appointed trustees chaired by a Uniting Church minister, Harry Herbert, was created as part of legislation to establish the state’s first and only casino, Star City, in 1995. It receives 2 per cent of the casino’s gambling revenue, or about $12 million a year, which funds face-to-face counselling services, research into problem gambling and public awareness campaigns. However, the director-general of Communities NSW, Carol Mills, has ordered an external review of the administrative and strategic support provided to the fund, with a final report due this month. ‘The review will ensure the Responsible Gambling Fund trustees have appropriate levels of support to continue to carry out their important work in reducing gambling harm,” a spokesman said. He insisted the fund itself, which is enshrined in legislation, is not under review. However, among the terms of reference are whether to introduce ”additional governance structures to ensure the administration of the trust is meeting its legislative objectives and adhering to the principles of good governance”.

Unis and TAFE get boost from education fund.” By Dan Harrison. Sydney Morning Herald. June 12, 2010. THREE NSW universities and a TAFE college have received more than $130 million in funding from the federal Education Investment Fund. The Education Minister, Julia Gillard, said the University of Technology Sydney will receive $50 million towards a new 14-storey building which will provide learning facilities for 8150 students, including 600 PhD students. The project, which will cost almost $230 million in total, will allow the university to increase its student load by 20 per cent. The University of Sydney will receive $40 million to establish the Australian Institute for Nanoscience, which will develop devices for fields including photonics and medicine. The University of Wollongong has won $25 million for a new facility to research ways to make existing buildings more energy efficient. The Sydney Institute of TAFE will get almost $17 million to transform its 1950s workshop facilities to enable it to offer 80 new courses. The government has enlarged the allocation for the current round of the fund by $200 million.

Premier hands MPs $35m for local projects.” By Heath Aston. Sydney Morning Herald. June 13, 2010. NSW MPs have been given the green light by Kristina Keneally to shower $35 million on community groups before next year’s election. The Premier has written to all 93 members of the Legislative Assembly to advise them they have $300,000 at their disposal to distribute in their electorates. Electorates with “higher unemployment” can spend $400,000. The Community Building Partnership program is presented as a way to boost community infrastructure but some MPs believe it is little more than a vote grab designed to give Labor members the best chance of holding on to their seats. The program, established last year, has made 1180 grants. The Premier told MPs funds were to be spent promoting visits to parks, cultural activities, participation for those with disabilities and volunteering, particularly by people from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Funds allocated by the government must be matched by councils.

Funding model based on postcode questioned.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. June 13, 2010. St Stephen’s Preschool in Normanhurst is a community-based preschool for children aged three to five years. It keeps shorter hours than a long-daycare centre and is closed during school holidays. Director Ariane Simon welcomed the government funding which has allowed the centre to keep its $41.50 daily fee stable. However, she said the money was unevenly distributed among centres, allowing some to reduce fees while others are forced to charge more. ”It’s complex because the funding is skewed by a number of things, such as how many enrolments you have, whether you have the capacity to increase enrolments and which area the centre is in,” she said. ”A preschool in the Hornsby local government area is regarded as being in an affluent area. But a similar preschool across the road in the Parramatta area is regarded as being less affluent and therefore receives more funding.”

Comedy king joins Gatto for charity bash.” By Matthew Benns. Sydney Morning Herald. June 13, 2010. Hollywood comedian Jerry Lewis jets into Australia this week to set up a huge television fund-raiser for muscular dystrophy. And the person who will be helping him is colourful Melbourne businessman and underworld identity Mick Gatto, who has organised a sell-out $1000-a-seat dinner. Speaking from his home in Las Vegas last week, Lewis said Gatto was a good friend who has a colourful past. He said another friend, the US president John F. Kennedy, also had a colourful background. ”Mick Gatto has all of the stuff that I saw in John F. Kennedy, he is a very caring man and that’s all I need to know,” Lewis, 84, said. He flies into Melbourne and will then come to Sydney for meetings with TV chiefs and to attend fund-raisers for the telethon that he hopes to have set up by July 2011. ”We are going to do the biggest fund-raising telethon Australia has ever known.” Lewis, who said he has raised $US2.45 billion in the US, said there are 27,000 Australians with the neuro-muscular disease, 7000 of them children.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

The Mission of Father Maciel.” By Alma Guillermoprieto. New York Review of Books. June 24, 2010.

La Iglesia del silencio
by Fernando M. González
Mexico City: Tusquets, 356 pp., 299 pesos

Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner
Free Press, 368 pp., $16.00 (paper)

Money Paved the Way for Maciel’s Influence
by Jason Berry
National Catholic Reporter, April 6, 2010

Maciel despojó a 900 mujeres
by Eugenia Jiménez
Milenio, May 3, 2010

Of all the terrible sexual scandals the hierarchs in the Vatican find themselves tangled in, none is likely to do more institutional damage than the astounding and still unfolding story of the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel. The crimes committed against children by other priests and bishops may provoke rage, but they also make one want to look away. With Father Maciel, on the other hand, one can hardly tear oneself from the ghastly drama as it unfolds, page by page, revelation by revelation, in the Mexican press. A great achiever and close associate of Pope John Paul II, Maciel was also a bigamist, pederast, dope fiend, and plagiarist. He came from the fervently religious state of Michoacán in the southwest of Mexico and grew up during the years of the Cristero War (1926–1929), a savage conflict that pitched traditional Catholics (Cristeros) in provincial Mexico against the anticlerical government in the capital. One of his uncles was the commanding general of the Cristeros. Another four uncles were bishops. One of them, Rafael Guízar Valencia, brought him into a clandestine seminary in Mexico City. As a twenty-year-old who had not even taken his vows, Maciel created a new religious order with the help of another uncle. The new order was intended to be both cosmopolitan and strict, but given its founder’s young age and general lack of education, it is not surprising that the Legion of Christ’s aims were poorly defined (although in a fascinating study of Maciel by the historian and psychoanalyst Fernando M. González we learn that one of the order’s statutes specified that priests should be decenti sint conspectu, attractione corripiant, or graceful and attractive). At the age of twenty-seven the young Father Maciel had an audience with Pope Pius XII, who, according to the Legionaries’ official history, urged him to use the order “to form and to win for Christ the leaders of Latin America and the world.” This has been the order’s unwavering mission for six decades, and with remarkable speed it emerged as a conservative force to rival even Opus Dei.
Related Stories:
Letter From Priests’ Lovers Reignites Celibacy Debate.” By Sylvia Poggioli. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. June 8, 2010.
After sex abuse protests, Vatican No. 2 calls for renewal.” USA Today. June 10, 2010.
Pope begs forgiveness, promises action on abuse.” Washington Post/Associated Press. June 11, 2010.
Pope defends celibacy for priests at Vatican rally.” Washington Post/Associated Press. June 11, 2010.
Will Pope Benedict’s apologies for abuse crisis ever be enough?USA Today. June 11, 2010.
Pope Pleads for Forgiveness Over Abuse.” New York Times. June 11, 2010.
Pope Begs Forgiveness Over Abuse Scandal.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. June 11, 2010.
Pope Asks Pardon for Scandal.” Wall Street Journal. June 12, 2010.
“‘Holy Father, what shall we do?‘” BBC News. June 12, 2010.

CUBA

Variety of Viewpoints Expected at Church Conference.” By Patricia Grogg. Interpress Service (IPS). June 11, 2010. Cuban intellectuals, religious and non-religious, including three who live and teach in the United States, will take part in a four-day conference organised by the Catholic Church next week in the midst of a relaxed climate of dialogue between the Church leadership and the government of Raúl Castro. “This conference is taking place against a favourable backdrop marked by progress in Church-State relations,” sociologist Aurelio Alonso, who will take part in the “dialogue among Cubans” panel, told IPS. Alonso said the conference would not be an “apologia”, would likely take on a critical tone at times, and would highlight unfulfilled hopes and expectations. “But that will be beneficial to the country, which has to evolve towards a greater openness,” he said. The Jun. 16-19 event in Havana will be the 10th edition of these conferences that are organised regularly by the Catholic Church. The current agenda includes issues that go beyond Church questions, such as the economy, migration and the relations between Cubans at home and abroad.

INDIA

NGOs want PM to toe Obama line to make Dow cough up.” By Suchandana Gupta. Times of India. June 9, 2010. NGOs working for the survivors of the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed more than 15,000 people and left 5.74 lakh maimed on Tuesday quoted US president Barack Obama to exhort Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speak the same language. Holding British Petroleum responsible for the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama had on Saturday said, ”We will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf Coast.” In Bhopal, NGOs are quoting Obama to ask why the country that wants British Petroleum to pay for damages in the Gulf of Mexico, doesn’t want Dow Chemicals and Union Carbide to pay for the world’s worst industrial catastrophe. They are also asking why the prime minister cannot protest like Obama for the innocent victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. ”Why isn’t our PM standing-up to say that an American company cannot get away with murder and maiming a city?” asked Bhopal Group for Information and Action, an NGO, convener Satinath Sarangi.

Traditional Indian piety makes way for pop culture images of Hindu gods.” By Emily Wax. Washington Post. June 13, 2010. Nestled between the wedding sari boutiques and hipster jean shops, there’s a store in the city’s most popular shopping mall that’s playing with the gods. The fashion, art and design store has funky throw pillows depicting a psychedelic-looking Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music and the creative arts. She’s lounging on her pink lotus while swans float nearby and smaller versions of her likeness play the flute, drums and sitar. There are retro journals, too, each featuring a particular god or goddess and a cheeky back story about the deity’s personality and dramas. “Ganesha is a foodie, and is crazy about ladoos [Indian sweets],” one says of the elephant-headed Hindu god. Not all that long ago, that kind of cheeky irreverence about Hinduism’s most-sacred deities might have caused riots in the streets. Krishna on a mouse pad? Monkey-headed Hanuman on a drink coaster? Unimaginable a few years back. But today they are just a (mostly) accepted sign of how young, urban Indians are changing the way they view themselves and their society. Market experts say it’s also a sign of how India, an increasingly affluent and globalized society, is able to see itself through the eyes of the rest of the world.

SOUTH AFRICA

Youth League Fights AIDS With Soccer.” By Jere Longman. New York Times. June 9, 2010. — Far from the World Cup, in this poor, rural village where there are no paved roads, no nets on the goals and no shoes for many of the players, Clement Nkala, 17, sat in a chair in his soccer uniform and held out his finger to be pricked for an H.I.V. test. In a country where 5.7 million people are infected with the virus that causes AIDS — the most in the world — the problem is particularly acute here in the Nkomazi district of Mpumalanga Province, near South Africa’s eastern border with Swaziland and Mozambique. Medical workers estimate that 65 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 in this area, slightly smaller in size than Rhode Island, carry H.I.V. and that 5,000 to 8,000 children under the age of 5 have been orphaned. Sarah Kate Noftsinger seemed pleased and startled. A player volunteering to be tested in the open, with his friends playing nearby, would not have happened in this remote district 15 months ago, when she started a youth soccer league that has expanded to five villages and 2,500 boys on 160 teams in under-14 and under-17 divisions. Subduing H.I.V. in this region of 500,000 people will not happen soon, it is universally agreed. But this is another fledgling attempt, by creating a sports league and educating players, to show that H.I.V. is preventable, that medicine is available for those who are infected and that there can be a big difference between living with H.I.V. and dying from AIDS.

TURKEY

Islamic charity at center of flotilla clash known for relief work and confrontation.” By Mary Beth Sheridan. Washington Post. June 10, 2010. Across from a car-repair shop in this working-class city sits the home of IHH, an Islamic charity. One side of the building is painted with wistful-looking orphans; the other is surrounded by banners celebrating the group’s recent effort to challenge the blockade of Gaza. One reads: “Israel, murderers, hands off our boats!” The dual message of aid and confrontation defines the charity, which has grown in nearly two decades from a handful of Muslim students to a multimillion-dollar operation.
The group is under unprecedented scrutiny after a bloody clash May 31 involving Israeli soldiers trying to stop an IHH-led aid flotilla. Israel accused one of the charity’s leaders this week of being connected to al-Qaeda, a charge the group denies. Analysts in Turkey said it is unlikely that authorities would permit an organization linked to al-Qaeda to operate in Istanbul. IHH reflects something else, they said: the rise of a powerful religious middle class in a country where secularism was once strictly enforced. IHH, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, was formed during the war in Bosnia, when Turks were horrified by televised images of massacred Muslims. For years, the Istanbul-based charity has battled allegations of extremist ties.

UK

David Willetts hints that university students will face higher fees; Students should consider university fees ‘more as an obligation to pay higher income tax’ than a debt.” By Jessica Shepherd. Guardian (UK). June 9, 2010. The universities minister has given his clearest indication yet that students could soon be forced to pay higher tuition fees. In an interview with the Guardian, David Willetts warned that the cost of hundreds of thousands of students’ degree courses was a “burden on the taxpayer that had to be tackled”. Willetts said he did not want to pre-empt the recommendations of Lord Browne’s independent review into whether fees should rise from £3,225 a year. But he added that students should consider university fees “more as an obligation to pay higher income tax” than a debt. His words angered the National Union of Students (NUS), whose president-elect, Aaron Porter, said Willetts had failed to understand that graduates were leaving with debts of £22,000 on average and that this felt “very much like debt to them”. A debate over fees will cause huge divisions in the coalition government. While Willetts has strongly suggested they might rise, the Liberal Democrats have promised to scrap “unfair” tuition fees. Willetts said the system – whereby universities charge fees, the Student Loans Company pays them and students repay only when they have graduated and earn over £15,000 a year – was “unsustainable” and in need of “radical change”.

Hospitals make £1.8m each in parking fees.” By Jane Kirby. Independent (UK). June 9, 2010. NHS hospitals are making up to £1.85m a year each in profit from charging patients and their families to use their car parks, and from clamping and issuing fines, a report has found. In England, each hospital decides how much it wants to charge for parking, and the total raised is more than £100m a year. A study of 126 NHS trusts and hospitals in England found Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust in Surrey made the most money from its car park, making £1.85m in 2008-09 and clamping 1,671 vehicles.

Osborne’s Bombshell: Chancellor declares war on middle-class welfare.” By Andrew Grice. Independent (UK). June 9, 2010. Big cuts in the £170bn-a-year social security budget will be sought by the Government as it launches a fundamental review of all public spending to reduce Britain’s £156bn deficit. Universal handouts such as child benefit could be means-tested for the first time and halted for the middle classes and the rich. The review is expected to consider the level and scope of benefits for the jobless, sick and disabled – including the option of freezing them temporarily. Such moves would be highly controversial and would call into question the Liberal-Conservative coalition’s promises to protect the poor and most vulnerable in society, and could anger many people who voted Liberal Democrat in last month’s election.

“‘Charities will bear brunt of cuts in public sector,’ says Dame Suzi.” By Sarah Cassidy. Independent (UK). June 10, 2010. Charities will struggle to fill the gaps left by public service cuts, Dame Suzi Leather, the chair of the Charity Commission warned yesterday, suggesting that vulnerable groups could see vital facilities axed. Dame Suzi warned that although “in political terms, this sector has arrived” with the coalition Government’s “big society” pledge, many charities faced an uncertain future as they struggled to survive “the economic ice-age”. She told a charities conference in central London: “So we have a government that says it’s committed to developing the sector… That’s on the one hand. On the other hand we have the cuts. The cuts are going to come quick and they are going to go deep. The Prime Minister himself confirmed this week that the spending reductions we face will ‘affect our whole way of life’. The way of life for charities will have to change along with everyone else’s.” Charities have reported growing concern about the continuing economic downturn. A survey conducted by the commission in September 2008 found that just under 40 per cent of charities had been negatively affected. But by March this year nearly 60 per cent of charities reported being affected. “Given these figures, it’s questionable whether the voluntary and charity sector will be able to fill all the gaps left by cuts to public services,” Dame Suzi said. “In many cases, they have already been that public service.”

New school academies will have less money in the pot than they thought.” By Greg Hurst and Joanna Sugden. Times of London. June 12, 2010. Hundreds of schools that convert to academies could receive much less money than the Government claims, an investigation by The Times has found. Of 26 local authorities approached by The Times, most disputed the figures cited by the Department for Education on the proportion of budgets they will have available for the new academies. Several councils said that academies in their areas would get an additional 3 or 4 per cent. These are much lower than figures for each authority used by the Government, which has said that the average is 11 per cent. For a secondary school with a budget of £5 million, this would amount to a shortfall of £350,000 or £400,000. Academies form a potential fault line in the Government, with some Liberal Democrats on the left of the party unhappy about the expansion plan. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem Education Minister, are to meet Lib Dem MPs next week to discuss their concerns.

Freedom the key reason for schools changing status.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. June 12, 2010. The promise of a cash injection and complete autonomy over budgets has persuaded more than 1,000 schools to apply for academy status since the Government announced it wanted more of them to be free from town hall control. But the academies may get less money than expected.

Malaria charities use World Cup to highlight disease.” By Andrew Warshaw. Independent (UK). June 13, 2010. Malaria charities are targeting the World Cup as a means of highlighting a disease that still claims a child’s life every 30 seconds on the African continent. When England took on the United States on the second day of the tournament last night, the United Against Malaria project kick-started its own campaign to raise awareness in the hope of providing 150 million more mosquito nets by the end of the year. A raft of top-class international footballers, including Kolo Toure of the Ivory Coast, have suffered from malaria and campaigners are using the month-long jamboree to focus attention on the impact of an illness that still has devastating consequences among Third World populations. United against Malaria, an umbrella organization of partnerships seeking an end to malaria deaths, is now active in 11 endemic African countries where 91 percent of fatalities occur. Yet even in places where nets are easily accessible, usage can be as low as 50 cent due to lack of education. Campaigners hope that will change after the World Cup, with football providing an unparalled platform for awareness, especially in remote villages in some of the poorest African countries.

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