WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 27-October 3, 2010)

INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIA

Indian MBA school to open $45m city campus.” By Heath Gilmore. Sydney Morning Herald. September 28, 2010. An Indian business school will spend $45 million setting up its first Australian campus as part of a network of international study destinations for its students. The SP Jain Centre of Management will open the campus, likely to be at Sydney Olympic Park, in 2012. It will be the Mumbai company’s third foreign campus after Dubai and Singapore. The school will offer a four-year course where students will study the first two years in Singapore and the remainder in Sydney. It has promised work experience with companies based in Sydney to the students, who will pay more than $20,000 a year. The Minister for Education, Verity Firth, said the new investment demonstrated the growth in the Indian and international student market. The school specialises in master of business administration programs and set up its first campus in Mumbai in 1981, followed by Dubai in 2004 and Singapore in 2006.

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Holding Pope responsible for abuses is not too dangerous.” Sydney Morning Herald. By Rick Feneley. September 29, 2010. OUR first question in the interrogation of Geoffrey Robertson, QC: is prosecuting the Pope for the sins of child-molesting priests a dangerous idea – so dangerous that we must dismiss it as a hypothetical? The human rights lawyer clasps his hands, the courtly gesture he made famous on Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals, and replies: ”I don’t think it’s dangerous at all.” Mr Robertson is in his Sydney hotel near the Opera House where, on Saturday, he will be the headline act in the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. He will debate Alan Dershowitz, the renowned American criminal lawyer who has represented Mike Tyson and O. J. Simpson, in a session titled ”The sins of the fathers: should the Pope be held to account?” he proffers this warning to the Pope and the Vatican – that they could be legally liable for the crimes of thousands of priests, not as a dangerous idea but a ”useful” one that might spur them into action. In his latest book, The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, Mr Robertson decries as many as 100,000 cases of Catholic clerical child abuse around the world since 1981. The church, he writes, has harboured priests and covered up their crimes by refusing to hand them over to police and insisting they be tried secretly under canon law.

CHINA

Gates, Buffett talk charity in Beijing; Philanthropists try to bridge cultural gap with China’s wealthy.” No by-line. Boston Globe/Associated Press. September 30, 2010. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said a meeting about charity he attended yesterday with Microsoft Corp.’s cofounder, Bill Gates, and dozens of China’s super rich was “a tremendous success,’’ despite earlier concerns that the country’s newly minted millionaires would be pressured to give up their fortunes. “Our hopes for this meeting were to learn about giving in China, and share our own views,’’ Buffett said in a news release from him and Gates late yesterday. “We had a terrific exchange of views, and learned a great deal about the good work that is already underway.’’ Some reports had said some invitees to the dinner in Beijing were reluctant to attend because they did not want to be pressured. Because of that concern, Gates and Buffett, who have campaigned to persuade American billionaires to give most of their fortunes to charity, issued a letter earlier this month saying they would not be pushing anyone to give up their fortunes but wanted to promote philanthropy. The private dinner, in a mansion on the edge of Beijing modeled after the baroque 17th century Chateau de Maisons-Laffitte in France, drew 50 business and philanthropy leaders for a 90-minute discussion, the news release said.
Related story:
American billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are hosting a fundraising dinner for China’s richest, but RSVPs so far have been slow to come. Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz reports on why the Chinese elite are hesitant.” Marketplace/National Public Radio. September 28, 2010.
Charity banquet of China’s super-rich opens east-west dialogue.” Xinhua.net. September 29, 2010.
US billionaires host banquet for China’s wealthiest.” BBC News. September 29, 2010.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/01/world/asia/01china.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

“Gates, Buffett Say China Charity Meeting a Success.” New York Times. September 30, 2010.

JAPAN

First John Lennon museum closes after 10 years.” No by-line. USA Today. October 1, 2010. The world’s first authorized John Lennon Museum closed today in Japan after the license agreement with the Beatle’s widow, Yoko Ono, expired. The museum, in Saitama, on the outskirts of Tokyo, opened Oct. 9, 2000, which would have been his 60th birthday. Over 10 years, a total of about 610,000 visitors came to see 130 items from Lennon’s life, including his favorite guitar, a pair of his wire- rimmed glasses and hand-written lyrics. An estimated 100 fans showed up for today’s finale, RIA Novosti reports.

UK

Rolls rise at private schools.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. September 27 2010. The number of pupils enrolling at leading independent schools has risen by 0.5 per cent, a survey by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference shows. However, 0.6 per cent of pupils (1,140) were withdrawn last year because their parents could no longer afford the fees, of up to £30,000 a year. The number of sixth formers increased by 6.3 per cent. The greatest increase was in sixth-formers, with an increase of 6.3 per cent on the previous year compared with 2 per cent at age 11. David Levin, chairman of the conference and headmaster of the City of London School, said: “In spite of the uncertain economic climate, parents are prepared to commit themselves, often at great personal financial sacrifice, to high quality education in the independent sector.” Private schools withstood the effects of the recession in the 1990s for two years before rolls began to fall significantly.

Top independent schools move into the slums of developing world.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. September 27 2010. Elite British schools are setting up in slums in the developing world to spread the “gospel” of independent education to the poor. The practice should be a blueprint for all private schools, according to David Levin, chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) whose 250 members include Eton and Harrow. “A number of HMC schools already have their own outpost schools in other countries but this is not just about the privileged elites of those States,” he told heads at their annual conference in London yesterday. “Even the poorest citizens in many countries are prepared to pay fees to have their children educated. For modest sums, we in HMC could make a huge difference to those schools and could bring credibility to this growing movement.” Harrow, Dulwich and Oxford High have created sister schools overseas to make money by attracting rich parents to a British-style private education. Wellington College has plans to do the same in Malaysia, Barhain, India and Beijing. But some have opened their doors abroad for free to the poorest children in urban cities in India and in countries in Africa.

Labour can’t afford not to engage with faith; We need to work with religious groups because they are a source of values and our natural allies in the fight for justice.” By Stephen Timms Guardian (UK). September 28, 2010. For those who have for years dismissed faith as of the past, the pope’s successful visit to Britain – drawing large, enthusiastic, multiracial crowds – poses awkward questions. As an editorial in the Guardian pointed out, “the pope can pull in crowds that exceed those that any politician or virtually any celebrity could ever hope to attract”. In fact, far from being on its way out, faith is taking on an important new role in communities. The Labour party cannot afford not to engage with religious faith. Under our new leadership, we will continue to listen to and learn from faith groups. Labour’s last three leaders – unlike their predecessors – have all been people who have come at politics from a faith perspective. Ed Miliband is not. But one of his first acts as leader was to address a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Christian Socialist Movement. He recognises, just as his predecessors did, the importance of working with faith groups. The number of people in Britain who identify with religious faith – who see faith as the starting point for thinking about the world and their judgments about right and wrong, indeed as the key to their whole identity – remains very large. In London, in areas like the one I represent in East Ham, the number seems to me to be rising not falling. In the country as a whole, the most recent data indicates that the decades-long decline in church attendance has halted. Sunday attendance in the Church of England alone is several times larger than the membership of any political party. In the 2001 census, over three quarters of respondents identified with Christianity or another major faith. Religion is not irrelevant in modern Britain.

Charity should begin with worthiness league table, says philanthropy adviser; Controversy sown in third sector by Martin Brookes, who advises City’s wealthiest donors.” By Robert Booth Guardian (UK). September 29, 2010. Charities should be ranked according to their benefit to society to discourage self- interested and ill-informed giving, a leading adviser to some of Britain’s biggest philanthropists will say today. Would-be donors should have access to a “taxonomy” of charities which classifies the most and least worthwhile causes, Martin Brookes, chief executive of New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), will say in a lecture in London on the “morality of charity”. The proposal, from the head of an organisation that advises some of the City’s wealthiest donors, has already proved controversial among charity bosses, many of whom rely on donors who feel they are “repaying” a benefit they have directly had from the charity or who have personal ties to a cause, according to Brookes. The concept was last night branded dangerous by Stephen Bubb, the leader of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, while John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation which advises companies and individuals on donations, said giving was “about our vulnerabilities” and a matter of personal preference rather than moral absolutes.

Rules on bursaries for poorer pupils to be reviewed; Dominic Grieve: has asked for court ruling.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. September 30, 2010. Rules forcing private schools to provide bursaries for poor pupils could be scrapped after an unprecedented intervention by the Attorney-General on behalf of the independent sector. Dominic Grieve has asked High Court judges to rule whether the Charity Commission is acting illegally by making fee-charging schools offer means-tested bursaries or lose their charitable status and face closure. The commission, a quango, has threatened to revoke charity status from independent schools that fail its “public benefit” test under guidance to the Charities Act 2006 that it issued in 2008. But last night the Attorney-General stepped in to the two-year battle, seeking a full review of the law applied to private schools. The Charities Tribunal, an independent body that can overturn decisions by the commission or clarify legal ambiguities, will now rule on the matter. Mr Grieve said that the “operation of charity law” had left private schools confused and unsure as to whether they were breaking the law.

Britain faces brain drain as cuts force top scientists to leave country; University heads warn proposed cuts to science budget threaten ‘an insidious grinding down of UK research community’.” By Jeevan Vasagar and Jessica Shepherd. Guardian (UK). September 30, 2010. Britain is facing a major brain drain as scientists abandon the country for better-funded jobs abroad, a Guardian investigation reveals today. Leading researchers, including an Oxford professor of physics and a stem cell researcher seeking a cure for the commonest form of blindness, say they are poised to quit Britain. Meanwhile the heads of several prestigious universities warn that proposed government cuts to Britain’s science budget threaten “an insidious grinding down of the UK research community”. This comes against a background in which universities say they are already struggling to attract the best candidates to important research and teaching posts, and warnings that this month’s spending review could, according to some estimates, take as much as 25% out of Britain’s total spending on scientific research. The Guardian has spoken to researchers in fields ranging from cancer and human fertility to nuclear physics, and found that many are preparing to emigrate.

Turner prize winners lead protest against arts cutbacks; More than 100 of UK’s leading artists write to culture secretary warning 25% drop in funding will sabotage achievements.” By Peter Walker. Guardian (UK). October 1, 2010. More than 100 of the UK’s leading artists, including almost every winner of the Turner prize, have warned that government cuts risk destroying the country’s “remarkable and fertile landscape of culture and creativity”. Their extraordinary open letter to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also sent to the Guardian, has among its many signatories David Hockney, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Grayson Perry, Steve McQueen, Bridget Riley, Wolfgang Tillmans, the Chapman brothers and Marc Quinn. It warns that proposed cuts to arts and museum funding could obliterate decades of work done creating a British cultural scene “that is the envy of the world”. “It enriches the lives of millions of Britons and attracts millions more visitors from other countries. It does all this at a cost that is no more than a tiny fraction of the national budget,” says the letter. It is the latest salvo in a wider campaign that includes a series of new artworks by those involved. The artists, among them 19 Turner prize winners and a further 28 previous nominees, say: “We appeal to the government not to slash funding to the arts and heritage. It risks destroying this remarkable and fertile landscape of culture and creativity, and the social and economic benefits it brings to all. We recognise that cuts and efficiencies are necessary, but the 25% or more funding cuts being considered will sabotage Britain’s unparalleled achievements in this area.” Most at risk, they warn, will be smaller regional museums and art galleries, many of which gave them and others early inspiration. The proposed deep cuts could mean hundreds of institutions either close or radically cut back their operations.

Oldest people will be hit hardest by spending cuts, charity warns; Age UK research suggests average household with someone over 75 will lose 14% of their income.” By Randeep Ramesh. Guardian. September 29, 2010. The oldest people in society will be hit hardest by cuts in public spending – losing almost a sixth of their household income by 2014, according to a leading charity. A study by Age UK shows that the average household with someone over 75 will lose £2,200 worth of public services a year by 2014, which represents about 14% of their household income. Even worse the poorest of the over-75s will lose a third of their income. The findings, said the charity, show that old people will suffer the most from public spending cuts, “sparking new fears that far from being fair the coalition government’s spending plans are in fact deeply regressive”. Using an analysis that discounts health, because its budget is ringfenced, and assumes that cuts to education and defence will be at least 10% and 15%, it shows the coalition government plans an extra £31bn of spending cuts on top of what the previous government proposed. Looking at the impact of spending cuts across society, Age UK shows all households will lose out. The brunt of the cuts will be borne by those younger families with children and older pensioners. Families with children will lose out mostly through cuts to education but pensioners – who tend to have lower incomes than other groups – will largely lose out as a result of cuts to social care and housing. The charity is calling on the government, ahead of the comprehensive spending review next month, to recognise that slashing budgets for services that people rely on later in life could have a devastating impact on the most frail and vulnerable, putting thousands of lives at risk.

British ruling establishes religion status for Druids.” By Sylvia Hui. Washington Post/Associated Press. October 2, 2010. The ancient pagan tradition of Druidry has been formally accepted as a religion under charity law in Britain – a decision its followers hailed Saturday as giving long-overdue recognition to the worship of spirits and the natural world. The Druid Network, a group of about 350 Druids, will receive exemptions from taxes on donations after the semi-governmental Charity Commission granted it the same status as mainstream religions such as the Church of England. To register as a religious charity in Britain, an organization must satisfy requirements that include belief in a supreme entity, a degree of cohesion and seriousness and a beneficial moral framework. After a process that took nearly five years, the Charity Commission ruled that Druidry fit the bill. “There is sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law,” the commission said. Druids have been active for thousands of years in Britain and in Celtic societies elsewhere in Europe.

University students could face more than £10,000 a year in fees; Government’s official adviser to propose radical new plan; Browne recommends bursaries for poorer students.” By Anushka Asthana and Toby Helm. Guardian (UK). October 2, 2010. A free market in tuition fees in which universities will be free to charge more than £10,000 a year for courses is expected to be recommended by the government’s official adviser on higher education next week. Unveiling the most important report on higher education in decades, Lord Browne will say that universities should be allowed to keep all the income from tuition fees up to an annual level of £10,000. The current cap is £3,290. The Observer has learned that he will also recommend they be allowed to cross that threshold if they pay a rising proportion of the additional income into a central fund. The money could be used to support students from poorer families. If they are accepted, the radical proposals by Browne, the former chief executive of BP, would amount to the most far-reaching shake-up of higher education in decades and could result in middle-class students leaving university with debts in excess of £80,000. It will be up to ministers how they respond to the plans. The issue of fees is toxic for the Liberal Democrats, with many of the party’s MPs having signed a pledge to oppose any increase in fees. Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: “If this is true, then Browne’s attempt to deliver a free market in higher education is a proof that he is seeking to price out the poorer students. The average debt already is in excess of £25,000.” Students would hold the Lib Dems to account, he added, in relation to the coming decision on tuition fees.

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