WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 6-12, 2010)



Mixed Civil Society Response to New EU Aid Funds.” By Tito Drago. Interpress Service (IPS). September 10, 2010. Civil society organisations welcomed the announcement of an additional 1.27 billion dollars in development aid funding by European Commission president José Manuel Durâo Barroso, but said it was insufficient to reduce extreme poverty by 2015, as stipulated by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Eduardo Sánchez, the president of CONGDE, the national platform of Spain’s development NGOs, told IPS that Barroso’s announcement Tuesday did not make it clear whether the amount mentioned was extra funding, or a transfer of funds from one budget bracket to another, and added that “it is not enough, the contribution should be much greater.” Laura Sullivan, European Policy and Campaigns manager for ActionAid, said meeting the MDGs — a series of anti-poverty targets adopted by the international community in 2000 — requires urgent aid, which means the announcement is positive. But she warned that the additional funds must be accompanied by consistent policies in the EU member states. A “high level meeting” on Post-Crisis World: Effects on developing countries and their media impact, looked beyond the issue of the amount of public aid funds, and instead criticised their destination and uses, in countries of the industrial North as well as the developing South. The meeting, organised by the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) and international news agency Inter Press Service (IPS), was held in the context of the Foreign Ministry’s Spanish Cooperation Week taking place Sept. 6-11 in Madrid. It was attended by personalities and journalists from countries of the South, and among its goals was debating the role of development aid in overcoming the global financial crisis.

Q&A: The case against aid; The world’s humanitarian aid organizations may do more harm than good, argues Linda Polman.” By Farah Stockman. Boston Globe. September 12, 2010. In 1859, a Swiss businessman named Henry Dunant took a business trip to Italy, where he happened upon the aftermath of a particularly bloody battle in the Austro-Sardinian War. Tens of thousands of soldiers were left dead or wounded on the battlefield, with no medical attention. He was so shaken by the experience that he went on to found what is known today as the International Committee of the Red Cross. Today, in the vocabulary of war, the ICRC and other aid organization like it are known as the good guys in a world full of bad guys. They swarm into refugee camps all over the world with tents, potable water, flour, and medicine, providing relief and disregarding politics. But what if those relief efforts ultimately help fighters regain their strength and return to battle, prolonging a terrible war? What if such aid projects are hijacked by genocidal despots to swell their own coffers? What if cynical leaders have learned how to manufacture humanitarian disasters just to attract aid money? And what if the aid groups know all this, but turn a blind eye so that they can compete for a slice of a $160 billion industry? “The Crisis Caravan,” a new book by journalist Linda Polman, joins a long tradition of exposes written by aid skeptics, many of whom are insiders to the business. Polman was not privy to the inner circle of any aid group, so she often relies on anecdotes told by unnamed sources to make her case. Nevertheless, she gives some powerful examples of unconscionable assistance: How the international community fed Hutu fighters who had committed genocide in Rwanda, and who then continued their violent campaigns from the UN-funded refugee camps; how the Ethiopian government manufactured a famine, and then used aid groups to lure people away from their homes toward a life of forced labor. In Polman’s world, these are not exceptions, but the rule in a world where aid workers have become enablers of the very atrocities they seek to relieve.


Wollongong uni seeks Catholic expertise.” By Heath Gilmore. Sydney Morning Herald. September 7, 2010. The Catholic operators of St Vincent’s Hospital are negotiating to run a proposed $300 million precinct for the University of Wollongong. Don Iverson, the university’s pro-vice chancellor of health, said high-level talks had taken place with the St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney (SVMHS) group. ”Nothing is signed yet but we are working with them to manage our proposed 180-bed private hospital and hopefully the entire health and medical precinct,” Professor Iverson said. ”We also haven’t precluded them taking a financial stake in the project.” The Catholic group is best known for the political and business influence of one of its founders, the Sisters of Charity. The late Sister Bernice Elphick, who established St Vincent’s Hospital, reputedly could reduce the billionaire Kerry Packer to a quivering jelly with her fund-raising requests. The group now comprises St Vincent’s Hospital, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospice, Mater Hospital, St Joseph’s Hospital and St Joseph’s Village. Another religious order, the Sisters of Mercy, set up the Mater Hospital in North Sydney. Professor Iverson said the university would accommodate the Catholic group’s moral outlook in issues such as stem cell research and treatment by doing this work in the public sector.

Australia tops list of charitable countries.” By Nicky Phillips. Sydney Morning Herald. September 10, 2010. AUSTRALIA is a nation of givers, tying equal first with New Zealand as the countries whose citizens are most willing to donate their time and money to charity. A report by the British-based Charities Aid Foundation found 70 per cent of Australians had given money to a charity, and 38 per cent had donated their time, in the month before they were surveyed. Almost two-thirds had given assistance to a stranger. Australians were particularly generous during times of need, such as the Victorian bushfires last year and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, he said. ”[more than] $380 million was donated by the Australian community via the Red Cross to support the recovery process from the Victorian bushfires,” Mr Kaplan said. The report, which in most countries was compiled by a combination of telephone and face-to-face interviews, showed striking variations in charitable behaviour around the world. The report ranked 153 countries accounting for 95 per cent of the world’s population, China was listed close to the bottom, barely higher than last-placed Madagascar. The overall rankings were a composite of three categories – the percentage of people who donated money, donated time and helped a stranger in the month before being surveyed.


Pope Will Meet Abuse Victims in U.K.” By Cassel Bryan-Low and Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. September 8, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI plans to meet with victims of clerical abuse during his visit to the U.K., according to a church group helping to arrange the session, but the Vatican faces criticism from victims’ supporters about the secrecy surrounding such gatherings. The first papal visit to the U.K. since 1982 comes amid a wave of sex-abuse allegations against the Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe. The matter has shed a spotlight on how the pope, in an earlier post in his native Germany, handled the case of a priest who was a sexual offender. During his U.K. trip next week, Pope Benedict is expected to talk with as many as 10 individuals in a private meeting, said Bill Kilgallon, chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, which sets standards for preventing abuse and dealing with abuse allegations in the Catholic Church of England and Wales. Mr. Kilgallon, who is helping arrange the meeting, declined to name the participants or give a location for the gathering. “For the individuals it’s a private matter,” he said, adding that an intimate setting allows both the victims and the pope to be candid. Representatives of the Catholic Church in England and at the Vatican wouldn’t confirm a meeting, but said that any that does take place would be conducted in private to protect the victims.
Related stories:
Belgian report: Church abuse led to at least 13 suicides.” USA Today. September 10 2010.
Pervasive Abuse Found in Belgian Church.” New York Times. September 10, 2010.
Belgium church abuse detailed by Adriaenssens report.” BBC News. September 10, 2010.
Catholic clergy abused children in every corner of Belgium, report says Roger Vangheluwe, right, in 1985 with Pope John Paul ll. The disgraced former Bishop of Bruges is now in a monastery.” Times of London. September 11 2010.
Report Airs Abuse in Belgian Church.” Wall Street Journal. September 11, 2010.
Hundreds claim abuse by priests.” Independent (UK). September 11, 2010.
Belgian child abuse report exposes Catholic clergy; Paedophilia expert unveils harrowing testimony and documents cases in almost every diocese.” Guardian (UK). September 10, 2010.


China short on charity as Bill Gates arrives.” By Jane Macartney Beijing. Times of London. September 6, 2010. One of China’s top philanthropists will give away his entire fortune on his death, an announcement he issued to coincide with a charity event to be hosted in Beijing by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Chinese media have carried reports that China’s new generation of tycoons have turned down invitations from the two American billionaires to attend a charity dinner later this month for fear that they would be asked to dig deep into their pockets. Ray Yip, the Beijing representative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told one Chinese newspaper that: “A small number of people declined the invitation to attend, while many of the invitees called to ask whether they would be required to make a donation at the dinner.” A Beijing spokeswoman for the foundation said the reason some of the 50 invitees might not be able to attend was due to conflicting schedules and fear of having to donate to the Giving Pledge campaign launched by Mr Gates and Mr Buffett in June. One of China’s most high-profile philanthropists, the founder of a hugely successful private enterprise that recycles building materials in southeastern China, demonstrated he was unafraid of a request for funds. Chen Guangbiao issued a public letter pledging his support for such donations, saying he would give his entire fortune to charity on his death. In a letter on his website, the 42-year-old billionaire published a photo with Bill Gates and wrote: “I think wealth is like water. If you have a cup of water then one person can drink it, if you have a bucket the family can drink it but if you have a river then everyone should enjoy it.”
Related story:
Gates, Buffett To Sell Giving To China’s Richest.” Morning Edition/National Public Radio. September 8, 2010.


BSY doles out public funds to temples outside K’taka.” By Anil Kumar. Times of India. September 12, 2010. Whatever else he is known for or not, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will be famous for generously donating money to temples outside Karnataka. Yeddyurappa, during his visit to a temple in Karaikal near Puducherry last week, announced he would donate Rs 40 lakh. The Karnataka CM has already donated to the tune of more than Rs 15 crore to cash-rich temples in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. There’s only one hitch: these donations are made from public money. Documents accessed by TOI from the Muzrai (religious endowment) department reveal that Rs 10 crore has been given from the state exchequer to Sri Raghavendra Mutt in Mantralaya in Andhra Pradesh, and Rs 2 crore has been donated to Sri Jagadguru Panditharadya Seva Samiti in Kurnool district in the same state. Other temples to benefit from Yeddyurappa’s largesse are Aralmigu Sri Devanathaswamy Lakshmihayagriva temple in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu (Rs 1 crore) and Sri Kalikamba temple in Kerala, which received Rs 2.70 lakh. The ruling BJP government’s penchant for religious institutions is so deep that the CM handed over a government-run temple in Gokarna to the Ramachandrapur Mutt. Financial assistance to cash-rich religious organizations find prominent mention in the budgets Yeddyurappa has presented so far.


Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent.” By Clifford J. Levy. New York Times. September 11, 2010. Across Russia, the security services have carried out dozens of raids against outspoken advocacy groups or opposition newspapers in recent years. Security officials say the inquiries reflect their concern about software piracy, which is rampant in Russia. Yet they rarely if ever carry out raids against advocacy groups or news organizations that back the government. As the ploy grows common, the authorities are receiving key assistance from an unexpected partner: Microsoft itself. In politically tinged inquiries across Russia, lawyers retained by Microsoft have staunchly backed the police. Interviews and a review of law enforcement documents show that in recent cases, Microsoft lawyers made statements describing the company as a victim and arguing that criminal charges should be pursued. The lawyers rebuffed pleas by accused journalists and advocacy groups, including Baikal Wave, to refrain from working with the authorities. Baikal Wave, in fact, said it had purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them. The group later asked Microsoft for help in fending off the police. “Microsoft did not want to help us, which would have been the right thing to do,” said Marina Rikhvanova, a Baikal Environmental Wave co-chairwoman and one of Russia’s best-known environmentalists. “They said these issues had to be handled by the security services.” Microsoft executives in Moscow and at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., asserted that they did not initiate the inquiries and that they took part in them only because they were required to do so under Russian law. After The New York Times presented its reporting to senior Microsoft officials, the company responded that it planned to tighten its oversight of its legal affairs in Russia. Human rights organizations in Russia have been pressing Microsoft to do so for months. The Moscow Helsinki Group sent a letter to Microsoft this year saying that the company was complicit in “the persecution of civil society activists.”


New Schools in South Africa Serve the Underserved.” By Celia W. Dugger. New York Times. September 8, 2010. Gcobani Mndini, a shy, lanky 17-year-old, said he was already a gangster by the time he started ninth grade. His small gang, which called itself the Tomatoes, was robbing people, fighting over girls and getting high on Jack Daniel’s and marijuana. He has since found that he fits in the last place he might have expected — at a private high school that is reinventing education for teenagers from South Africa’s black townships. Gcobani quit gang life and has emerged as a talented science student seeking admission to the country’s finest universities. A teacher recently looked in on a class of students studying late on a weeknight and asked, “Everything good?” Gcobani gave a thumbs up. As many of South Africa’s public schools have failed a post-apartheid generation of children from poor townships and rural areas, a budding movement of educators, philanthropists and desperate parents is increasingly searching for alternatives. For a decade, banks and foundations here have sponsored promising township students to attend elite, mostly white schools. But now new private schools are springing up to serve poor and working-class black children, giving the still dominant public system some newfound competition and perhaps even devising models that will end up influencing it.


David Cameron’s Big Society has made little impact, says think-tank; David Cameron has set much store in his Big Society project.” By Rosemary Bennett. Times of London. September 6 2010. David Cameron’s commitment to renew civic life and create a Big Society is called into question today by the think-tank and charity most closely associated with the project. The Young Foundation says that the Big Society is in danger of being reduced to a slogan with ministers failing to establish what the programme will entail, what the budget will be and how they plan to measure success. It says that the public has been left baffled by the little it has seen so far, such as Big Society Day when Mr Cameron show-cased four grassroots projects from around the country and said that he would like to see more of them. In sharp contrast, departments such as Education have already laid out a detailed policy programme and had an entire new Bill passed into law. Meanwhile, the Big Society has had no Green or White Paper published, nor is there any sign of any legislation being prepared, the report says.

Social housing firm Connaught ‘close to collapse‘.” No by-line. Independent (UK). September 7, 2010. Devon-based social housing giant Connaught is on the brink of collapse, it was reported. The property services group has £220 million of debt and will be put into administration by its bank creditors under UK insolvency procedures, according to the BBC. The group, which employs 10,000 people, is expected make an announcement later. Shares in the company have lost about 90% of their value since June when it emerged its contracts would be hit by public sector spending cuts. Royal Bank of Scotland recently provided £15m to help keep the business going. But its creditors are thought to have rejected a rescue plan and decided instead to put the group into administration. The Devon-based company, which was founded in 1982 as a concrete repair specialist, describes itself on its website as a leading integrated services group for the environmental, social housing, public sector and compliance markets. Sir Roy Gardner, who recently became chairman of the company, has attempted to put together a rescue plan with the help of several new directors. But the BBC said bank creditors have decided instead to put the business in administration, under UK insolvency procedures.

Our specialist writers examine the impact of budget constraints on the different sectors.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian (UK). September 8, 2010. The health secretary has wasted no time in reshaping parts of the health service. To save money, he has indicated that the popular NHS Direct service will be replaced with a cheaper alternative – although there are concerns over the lack of qualified staff to run it. Andrew Lansley, who has a reputation for being pragmatic rather than ideological, also announced sell-off plans for the state-owned NHS Professionals, a jobs agency that has 50,000 workers on its books and places staff for 2m shifts a year at 77 health trusts. But the biggest cull, so far, has been that of red tape. Regulators have been scrapped to save £180m in the health sector – consigning the agency that handles public health emergencies to oblivion and splitting up the fertility watchdog. Lansley also carved up the Foods Standards Agency, which had fought and lost a lobbying battle with the food industry over public health. The real changes will come in the next two years. Under the government’s plans, all 10 strategic health authorities and 152 primary care trusts are to be abolished, affecting more than 60,000 managers. It will be an expensive shakeup with costs of the changes pencilled in at £1.7bn. GPs will be handed responsibility for much of the £105bn health budget, removing the need for a layer of bureaucracy. There is more cutting to be done. Before the election none of the parties disagreed with the head of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, who asked the health service for £20bn of savings by 2014. On taking office, Lansley warned that this “implied something like 3%-3.5%, probably about 3%, efficiency savings each year in the NHS”. But he added: “We may need to do more, because we have increases in demand.”

The Prince, his charities and the £20m land deal; One of the Prince’s aides acknowledged the deal had “partially gone wrong.” By Tom Baldwin and Dominic Kennedy. Times of London. September 9, 2010. The Prince of Wales gambled the future of his charitable foundation on a speculative property deal that is now draining funds away from other good causes. A senior aide admitted yesterday that the deal had “partially gone wrong”. A £20 million loan taken out in 2007 to help to save Dumfries House in Ayrshire for the nation has left the Prince’s Charities Foundation in the position of a homeowner with negative equity — and the heir to the throne as a victim of the crash in development land prices. The disclosure casts light on the Prince’s role as Britain’s leading “charitable entrepreneur”, in which he has tried to support a vast philanthropic network through a series of often loss-making businesses. Although there is no question about the personal integrity of the Prince or his advisers, an investigation into the £43 million purchase of Dumfries House by The Times shows that it has saddled the foundation, which is supposed to channel money into his charities, with a multimillion-pound debt. The security for the loan was supposed to be land on which the Prince wants to build a model community, but the value of this greenfield site has since collapsed to less than £9 million. It is now clear that some of the Prince’s advisers privately recognise that the deal could be regarded as “rash”. The Prince bought Dumfries House before he saw it. At Clarence House there is a degree of gallows humour: “Never buy a £43 million house without looking at it first.”
Related stories:
Second Estate; The Prince of Wales has combined charity with business for social good. In Dumfries House the model’s flaws are exposed.” Times of London. September 8, 2010.
How Prince Charles risked £20m of charity cash to save stately home; Dumfries House, the 18th-century Palladian mansion saved by Prince Charles for the nation.” Times of London. September 9, 2010.
Charles and Dumfries House: the paper trail; At the end of the 2007 financial year, the Prince’s Charities Foundation had a surplus of £487,896.” No by-line. Times of London. September 9, 2010.
Prince Charles loan ‘left charity foundation with debt’.Independent (UK)/ Press Association. September 9, 2010.
Prince’s charity empire faces financial turmoil; Many of the Prince’s charities have become heavily dependent on state subsidies.” Times of London. September 10, 2010.


“Prince of Wales’s dreams crumble as charities go into the red.” Times of London. September 10, 2010.
Princely Sums: Prince Charles must accept the greater scrutiny that comes with a more public role.” No by-line. Times of London. September 11, 2010.
I’m happy to take any risks to support my charities, Prince Charles says; The Prince of Wales weeps with laughter at a comedy performance during a garden party which was held at Clarence House in London yesterday to promote his sustainable living initiative.” Times of London. September 11, 2010.
Prince Charles’s property portfolio: five homes in town and country; The Prince’s fifth home is a farmhouse in Wales.” Times of London. September 11, 2010.

Cambridge University takes top spot from Harvard in international rankings; Worth a punt: Cambridge is the world’s best university.” By Nicola Woolcock. Times of London. September 8, 2010. The University of Cambridge is named as the world’s best for the first time in international rankings today, knocking Harvard off the top spot. Harvard loses its pole position in the QS World University Rankings for the first time since the tables began in 2004, shifting into second place. Yale, its main Ivy League rival, is third. The United Kingdom has the same number of universities in the top ten as last year. Oxford slips from joint fifth place to sixth, and Imperial College London from joint fifth to seventh. University College London stays in fourth place. All the other top ten institutions are in the US, which is the only country to have more universities than the UK in the top 50, 100 or 200.

Rich to invest in scheme to cut prisoner reoffending rates; Private investors who contribute Social Impact Bonds to fund courses at Peterborough prison could profit by up to £3m.” By Owen Bowcott. Guardian (UK). September 10, 2010. A pioneering scheme to cut reoffending rates among prisoners through private investment bonds is to be launched today by the Ministry of Justice. The project, based at Peterborough prison, is believed to be the first in the world using outside investors to fund courses that help offenders escape from the “revolving door of crime and prison”. If successful, those who have contributed £5m in Social Impact Bonds (SIB) to pay for the activities will make a profit of up to £3m. If reoffending rates do not fall significantly, the ethical financiers will lose their cash. On a visit to the prison this week, the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said reoffending was the “weakest bit of the criminal justice system” and the scheme would help tackle the problem without using taxpayers’ money. “It pays by results,” he said. “We’re going to pay what works and what works should therefore grow and what doesn’t work will vanish. “I like the innovative funding, the payment by results, the collaborative groups, and if it succeeds it will grow and if it doesn’t, by that time we will be trying something else. “But sooner or later, something has got to be done about reoffending. It’s absurd that 60% of prisoners are reoffending within a year of leaving prison.” Clarke described the scheme as an extension of ethical investment. “There are people prepared to put money into things they see as providing a return to them and providing a worthwhile help.” The scheme, run by the social investment bank Social Finance, will give 3,000 short-term prisoners intensive help throughout their sentence and when they leave prison.

For the first time in decades, the number of church-goers is on the rise.” By Ruth Gledhill. Times of London. September 10, 2010. New findings contradict previous reports that indicated that church attendance was declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation. Decades of Church decline is showing signs of coming to an end, with attendance by young people in some denominations even starting to rise, according to figures published yesterday on the eve of the visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.
Christian Research, which reports churchgoing in Britain in its annual Religious Trends, has previously said that churchgoing is in serious and seemingly inexorable decline. Previous reports have indicated that church attendance was declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation, leaving many Christian denominations facing extinction. A central part of the Pope’s message to civil society when he speaks at Westminster Hall next week is expected to be the need to rediscover and sustain faith in the face of advancing secularisation. A forecast two years ago to 2050 showed churchgoing in Britain declining to 899,000 while the active Hindu population doubled t to 855,000 with with 2,660,000 active Muslims in Britain. But instead, latest figures show that Catholic church attendance has been steady for five years, Church of England attendance steady for almost a decade and the Baptist Union is actually growing.

Coalition cuts will hit poor 10 times harder than rich, says TUC; Pensioners and single parents take brunt of government ‘betrayal’ of election promise of fair budget cutbacks.” By Polly Curtis and Patrick Wintour. Guardian (UK). September 10, 2010. The coalition’s spending cuts will hit the poorest in society 10 times harder than the richest as the health, social and education services they rely on are slashed, an extensive new study for the Trades Union Congress has found. The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, says the research proves that the Conservatives are breaching their election promise to introduce cuts fairly. Lone parents and pensioners will suffer the most from the public spending cuts, the study finds, with everyone but the top 10% of earners losing more from cuts than from tax and benefit changes. Barber told the Guardian that the study, which will be unveiled on Monday as the TUC meets for its annual conference in Manchester, proved that the Conservatives had betrayed their election promises to protect frontline services and ensure any cuts are fair. “It’s a real threat to social cohesion,” Barber said. “Public services are a part of the glue that holds society together. This mantra that the Tories followed, ‘we’re all in this together’ – public services are a part of being a shared community. When you start weakening the seams you threaten the fabric of society.”

David Cameron: This is a government that will give power back to the people; The prime minister says that the coalition is determined to break the grip of Whitehall centralism.” By David Cameron. Guardian (UK). September 11, 2010. A few conclusions can be drawn from Tony Blair’s book. One: politicians should keep quiet about their animal instincts. Two: factionalism is fatal. Three: little is ever achieved unless government has a clear purpose and sticks to it. New Labour did not have that purpose. And I am determined this coalition government does not make the same mistakes. That’s why we’ve been setting out the clear purpose that, come what may, will keep this coalition on the right track. As the deputy prime minister said on Thursday, part of that purpose is a horizon shift – moving away from short-term calculation to taking the long-term decisions that will ensure Britain’s success. Here, I want to set out the other major change we plan: a radical redistribution of power away from central government and to people. I predict your eyes rolling. Successive prime ministers have promised to give power away, but Britain has become one of the most centralised countries in the developed world. We are going to turn the tide. We will be the first government in a generation to leave office with much less power in Whitehall than we started with. Why? Because we feel the importance of this in our heads as well as our hearts. There’s the efficiency argument – that in huge hierarchies, money gets spent on bureaucracy instead of the frontline. There is the fairness argument – that centralised national blueprints don’t allow for local solutions to major social problems. And there is the political argument – that centralisation creates a great distance in our democracy between the government and the governed. But we feel it in our hearts, too. We are optimists. We believe that when people are given the freedom to take responsibility, they start achieving things on their own and they’re possessed with new dynamism. Multiply this transformation by millions of people and you’ll get an idea of why we are so passionate about this power shift.

Record £25m gift for British Museum; Lord Sainsbury’s gift will contribute to conservation work and a new extension for the museum’s blockbuster exhibitions.” By Richard Brooks. Times of London. September 12, 2010. objects John Sainsbury’s donation comes at a critical time for the arts sector, which faces a squeeze. A Conservative peer has given £25m to the British Museum, the largest cash donation to the arts in 25 years. The gift from Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover will help to fund a new extension for the museum’s blockbuster exhibitions and for delicate conservation work on artefacts. It is the most generous gift to the arts in Britain since John Paul Getty, the billionaire philanthropist, pledged £50m to the National Gallery and a further £40m to the British Film Institute in 1985. Those donations would be worth a combined £210m today. John Sainsbury, the former chairman and chief executive of the supermarket chain, is part of a new wave of donors who are propping up cultural organisations at a time when the arts sector faces a massive squeeze. Museums and galleries fear their government funding will be cut by at least 25% in the Treasury’s spending review next month.

News International plan to sponsor academy school causes concern; Critics of Rupert Murdoch alarmed by ambitions to enter Britain’s education sector.” By Jamie Doward, Toby Helm and Rajdeep Sandhu. Guardian/Observer (UK). September 12, 2010. Rupert Murdoch’s News International (NI) is drawing up plans to sponsor an academy school in a move that is likely to trigger anxiety about the media mogul’s influence. The Observer understands that executives at NI, which owns the Times, the Sun, the Sunday Times and the News of the World (NoW), are actively discussing sponsoring a school in east London, close to the company’s headquarters in Wapping. The idea, which is being spearheaded by Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Sun, who is now chief executive of NI, has been under discussion for several months but is still at an early stage, according to sources. The plan will alarm Murdoch’s critics who claim the tycoon’s media empire, which spans broadcasting, publishing and internet interests around the world, already wields formidable influence over the UK’s political system and society.

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