MAJOR STORIES (September 14 – 20, 2009)

ADVOCACY

75 years on freedom’s front lines.” By Josh Richman. Oakland Tribune. September 19, 2009. An organization created to defend Californians’ constitutional rights marks its 75th anniversary today, celebrating a track record of cases that have played a big part in shaping civil liberties in the Golden State and across the nation. Be it labor rights, wartime internments, free speech, police abuses, abortion, same-sex marriage or a litany of other issues, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has put itself at the forefront of the biggest debates of the times.

The 16 years’ war: A Wal-Mart proposed for a cornfield has long divided a small Vermont town.” By Sarah Schweitzer. Boston Globe. September 20, 2009. Longing for Wal-Mart’s prices may be keen in St. Albans, a one-time railroad depot a half-hour from the Canadian border, where the main thoroughfare’s weathered Victorian homes quickly give way to a jumble of car dealerships and strip malls. Yet it is here that a group of residents, teamed with preservation and environmental groups, spent four years fending off a 1993 effort to raise a Wal-Mart in a cornfield and the last nearly six trying to spoil a second attempt. The battles add up to what is believed to be the nation’s longest ongoing Wal-Mart fight.

ARTS & CULTURE

New York Philharmonic gets big gift.” By Miriam Kreinin Souccar. Crain’s New York. September 14, 2009. The New York Philharmonic Music announced that it will receive a $10 million gift from Henry R. Kravis to endow its new composer-in-residence position. The gift, given in honor of Mr. Kravis’ wife, Marie-Josee, will create a two-year post where a composer works with the orchestra. Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg will hold the position first. The Kravis gift will also fund a $250,000 prize for new music, one of the largest awards of its kind. The grant will be given every two years, beginning with the 2011-12 season.

IN THE FRAY: Ghosts in the Museum.” By Eric Gibson. Wall Street Journal. September 16, 2009. The art museums hit hardest in the financial crisis have been those in the building game. Some have squeaked past the crisis. For others, like the Cleveland Museum of Art, it’s been touch and go. Last fall, with the start of the second and last phase of the plan on the horizon, the museum found itself caught in what Michael J. Horvitz, the board’s chairman, calls “a perfect storm”: With $138 million remaining to be raised, philanthropy dried up, the credit markets froze, and the museum’s endowment plummeted—to $558.5 million as of June 30 this year from $736 million before the crash. To be able to proceed, the museum has chosen a highly unorthodox way out of its quandary. It has gone to court for permission to draw up to $75 million over 10 years from the interest paid out on two endowment funds and two outside, restricted trusts for acquisitions. A decision is expected by the end of this month. The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), a professional oversight body, prohibits museums from selling works of art—”deaccessioning”—for any purpose other than purchasing other works of art. But it has (so far) no prohibition against raiding a restricted acquisitions trust for non-art purposes. Presumably it believes museums will honor donor intent as a matter of course. The Cleveland Museum, though, doesn’t see its actions as violating its donors’ wishes. On the contrary, it cites precedent: In 1955, when the museum ran short of funds for an expansion, it received permission from a judge to use money from restricted acquisitions endowments to pay the bills.

CHARITY

D-Day memorial in dire need.” By Andrea Stone. USA Today. September 15, 2009. The financially troubled National D-Day Memorial in the southwest Virginia may close unless it receives a major infusion of funding. Constructed with $19 million in private funds, the memorial has relied on admission fees and donations since its dedication in 2001. Visitor fees bring in $600,000 for a memorial that costs $2.2 million a year to run. Because of its remote location and relatively small number of visitors, the National Park service has declined to assume ownership of the memorial.

Pastor raises funds for charity with English Channel swim.” No by-line. USA Today. September 20, 2009. A Rockford Illinois pastor has fulfilled his goal of swimming the English Channel to raise money for a school in Africa. His goal is to raise $50,000 to build a school in Waku Kungo, Angola. So far, he’s raised more than $30,000.

EDUCATION

GENERAL

Harvard education school offers 1st new degree since ’35.” No by-line. USA Today/Associated Press. September 15, 2009. Citing what it calls a “leadership deficit” in the nation’s schools, Harvard University is introducing a doctoral education program aimed at attracting top talent to transform the U.S. education system. The Doctor of Education is designed for people who want to be top-level managers — such as superintendents of large districts or state education agency heads — and seeks to attract upper-echelon candidates who normally would choose other, more lucrative fields. The program will be based on collaboration with the Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, both strongholds of management education.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Levin’s pay tops $1 million.” By Isaac Arnsdorf. Yale Daily News. September 15, 2009. Yale President Richard Levin’s compensation reached seven figures for the first time in the 2007–’08 academic year, according to the University’s most recent tax filings. But Levin was still only the fourth-highest paid employee at Yale. Topping the list, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen’s salary and benefits amounted to $4.3 million, about twice what he made the year before. Swensen’s deputy, Dean Takahashi, earned the second most, with $2.6 million in salaries and benefits. Swensen’s and Takahashi’s pay trails that of their counterparts at the Harvard Management Company, some of whom have earned as much as $35 million in recent years.

At tiny colleges, a bit of the old rah-rah-rah; Try to raise their profile with mascots and cheerleaders.” By Tracy Jan. Boston Globe. September 19, 2009. Boston has long been known as the Athens of America, boasting the highest concentration of colleges and universities of any metropolitan area in the country. But beyond the Harvards and the MITs, many locals would be hard-pressed to name a fraction of the 80-plus colleges dotting the city and its suburbs, even if they pass the campuses routinely. Fed up with their anonymity, many of these colleges are stepping up efforts to put themselves on the map by boosting student pride – efforts some college presidents say could also help increase enrollment and alumni donations.

HEALTH CARE

Nonprofit Groups Upset at Exclusion From Health Bills.” By Stephanie Strom. New York Times. September 14, 2009. Nonprofit organizations say they are upset that Congress and the Obama administration have not addressed their rising health care costs in the various health care proposals being floated on Capitol Hill. The main bill in the House would award a tax credit to small businesses that provide their employees with health insurance — but nonprofits do not pay income taxes and thus would not benefit. Some nonprofit groups have called for a subsidy along the lines of the Earned Income Tax Credit, in which money would be returned to organizations that demonstrate they have paid for an employee’s health care. As a group, nonprofit organizations are the nation’s fourth-largest employer. But their advocates say policy makers know little about the workings of nonprofits, which pay payroll taxes and, in rare instances, taxes on unrelated business activities, but are exempt from taxes on their income.

Is the Mayo Clinic a Model Or a Mirage? Jury Is Still Out. Duplication Wouldn’t Be Easy, Critics Say.” By Alec MacGillis and Rob Stein. Washington Post. September 20, 2009. Few question the accomplishments of the nonprofit Mayo Clinic, the Rochester, Minnesota medical complex to which President Obama has pointed as a possible model for health care reform. The clinic brings in $9 billion in revenue a year and hosts 250 surgeries a day. But some health-care experts and lawmakers question whether its success can be so easily replicated, since Mayo’s patients are wealthier, healthier and less racially diverse than those elsewhere in the country. It has few poor patients, limits the number of procedures it performs per patient, and charges private insurers and self-paying patients higher than average rate, which is why it thrives despite the lower Medicare spending cited by its supporters.

HUMAN SERVICES

NYC food bank says demand rising sharply.” By Kira Bindrim. Crain’s New York. September 16, 2009. Some 90% of the New York Food Bank’s member organizations are reporting increases in the number of people coming to them for emergency food assistance. Over half of the Food Bank’s organizations have seen demand grow by more than 25% in the last year. The growing number of needy New Yorkers is made more challenging by a falloff in charitable giving. More than half of corporations have cut back their giving because of the recession, according to an August study from the LBG Research Institute. And money allocated to emergency food services from the federal stimulus bill, as well as last year’s federal farm bill, has not been enough to offset the increase in food costs.

Killing Kid Care: Carol and Hurt Porter Jr. ran a well-connected, million-dollar “model charity” in Houston—until it all came crashing down.” By David Theis. Texas Observer. September 18, 2009. Until 2002, the Porters headed a nationally prominent charity, Kid Care. Started in the kitchen of their modest northside house in 1984, Kid Care had grown spectacularly, feeding more than 20,000 a month in the nation’s first Meals on Wheels program for hungry children. As donations came in, the program had branched out into delivering health care and providing cultural-enrichment programs for inner-city kids. The charity was named as one of George Bush 41’s “Thousand Points of Light”—No. 866. Kid Care went international and was recognized as an NGO by the United Nations. But in the fall of 2002, an investigative reporter the local ABC affiliate, produced the first in a series investigating how Kid Care spent its money. , the Porters were sued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The AG’s office shut down Kid Care and ordered another charity for children opened (without the Porters’ involvement) in its place. The IRS joined in, claiming the Porters owed $550,000 for unreported income. The exposé was later exposed as being written with the knowledge that it would create a false impression in order to influence the outcome of a Houston mayoral race.

A Lifeline for Victims of Violence Needs One of Its Own; D.C. Nonprofit Set to Close as Funding Dries Up.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. September 20, 2009. WEAVE, a D.C. nonprofit organization that has provided legal and emotional help to tens of thousands of victims of domestic violence over the past 13 years, has decided it doesn’t have enough funds to keep operating and has voted to begin the process of shutting down. With 25 employees and a budget of $2 million, WEAVE is the second-largest nonprofit agency assisting victims of domestic violence in a city where, according to a national survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, an average of 10 battered women a day were turned away last year because there wasn’t enough help available.

IN MEMORIAM

Irving Kristol, Godfather of Modern Conservatism, Dies at 89.” By Barry Gewen. New York Times. September 19, 2009. Irving Kristol, the political commentator who, as much as anyone, defined modern conservatism and helped revitalize the Republican Party in the late 1960s and early ’70s, setting the stage for the Reagan presidency and years of conservative dominance, died Friday in Arlington, Va. The neoconservatism with which he was identified may have begun as a dispute among liberals about the nature of the welfare state, but under Mr. Kristol it became a more encompassing perspective, what he variously called a “persuasion,” an “impulse,” a “new synthesis.” Against what he saw as the “nihilistic” onslaught of the ’60s counterculture, Mr. Kristol, in the name of neoconservatism, mounted an ever more muscular defense of capitalism, bourgeois values and the aspirations of the common man that took him increasingly to the right. Kristol profoundly influenced American philanthropy by persuading conservatives to overcome their deeply rooted suspicions of foundations and other nonprofits and to build a nonprofit infrastructure of grant makers and policy think tanks to develop and disseminate conservative ideas and policies. The Philanthropy Roundtable, an influential organization of conservative grant makers, grew out of a movement, inspired by Kristol, to rein in what he and his followers viewed as the dangerously leftward drift of the Council on Foundations, then the major philanthropic trade association.
Related Stories:
Irving Kristol, ‘Neoconservative’ And Father Of William, Has Died.” National Public Radio. September 18, 2009.
Editor Was Godfather Of Neoconservativism.Washington Post. September 19, 2009.
Irving Kristol: 1920-2009; Neoconservative Pioneer Paved Way for Reagan.Wall Street Journal. September 19, 2009.
Remembering Irving Kristol” — links to reportage and unpublished writing from the Weekly Standard.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL

Activists, Big Business Converge on G20 Meet.” By Jeb Sprague. Interpress News Service Agency. September 22, 2009. As media and government delegates prepared for the G20 Summit held in Pittsburgh, local business and activist groups promoted clashing visions of days to come. Not far from the Regional Enterprise Tower, where business groups promoting the summit met, a peace and justice coalition based out of Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Centre is organized for a people’s march against the G20, sending a very different message. The umbrella coalition, including organized labour, anti-war activists, and numerous environmentalist, socialist, and grassroots organizations, leveled steep criticism at the G20 leaders and global capitalism, most pointedly the effects on low-income and working-class people by state policies meant to benefit transnational corporations.

JAPAN

Social welfare organization diverts 18 million yen in subsidies.” No by-line. Asahi Shimbun (Japan). September 14, 2009. Shady activities have been uncovered at a social welfare organization that helps mentally disabled people, including diverting research subsidies to a struggling hotel and using the association’s funds for gambling and political donations. The chairman and other officials at Zenkoku Seishin-Shogaisha Shakai-Fukki Shisetsu Kyokai (National association of facilities for rehabilitating people with mental disabilities) has admitted to diverting 18 million yen in subsidies.
Related Story:
Welfare organization for mentally ill people bought politician’s party tickets.” Asahi Shimbun. September 15, 2009.

Okubos plead not guilty in Kanji case.” Asahi Shimbun. September 19, 2009. Two former directors of the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation pleaded not guilty to some of the breach of trust charges brought against them. The two are accused of causing about 287 million yen in losses to the organization by transferring money to two businesses run by the senior Okubo as commissions for fake subcontracting work between 2004 and 2009.

MEXICO

In Mexico, where state is vital to arts, museums struggling.” By Tracy Wilkinson. Boston Globe/Los Angeles Times. September 20, 2009. Across Mexico City’s eclectic art world, museum directors, curators, artists, and performers are bracing for a round of recession-triggered budget cuts that could prove devastating. across Mexico City’s eclectic art world, museum directors, curators, artists, and performers are bracing for a round of recession-triggered budget cuts that could prove devastating. Many museums in Mexico rely heavily on government money, part of what is seen here as a legacy of the Mexican Revolution, whose goal to modernize the country included building up education and the arts. With the state taking such an active role, the tradition of philanthropic support for museums lagged. And where private donors do figure, their contributions also have diminished in hard times.

UK

Cameron will have to fight the quangocracy; If they are to succeed in cutting spending, the Tories must win control over the plethora of bodies that dole out public money.” By William Rees-Mogg. Times of London. September 14, 2009. If the conservatives win the next election, they will have to take the responsibility for deciding public expenditure away from the quangos. Spending public money ought to be controlled by accountable elected bodies, either Parliament or local authorities. He will not be able to cut public expenditure in a considered way unless he greatly reduces the number of quangos. They will also need to rebalance the boards of the quangos. He will not be able to control public spending if he waits for the normal process of board resignations working through the quangos. Neither the British budget nor British culture can afford another five years of the big spenders who control too many quango boards.

Third academy declared ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.” By Tom Peck. The Independent (UK). September 14, 2009. A £30m school created under the Government’s flagship academy scheme has been given an “inadequate” rating by Ofsted following a visit by inspectors in July, making it the third such school to be placed in special measures. The verdict will come as a significant blow to Labour, particularly given that the school it replaced was not said to have been failing. Labour introduced the academy scheme to replace failing schools with semi-autonomous institutions directed by sponsors from industry as well as private individuals, universities and colleges. At the start of this school year 67 new academies opened, bringing the total to 200.

QC challenges private school law.” By Polly Curtis. Guardian (UK). September 14, 2009. New government rules forcing private schools to open up their services, including the provision of more bursaries, are unlawful, according to a leading attorney who has accused the charities watchdog of “attacking” fee-charging schools. Independent schools should be considered charities simply because they educate children and should not be forced to provide free classes for those who cannot afford their fees, she argues. The Charity Commission is establishing new rules after a change in the law in the Charities Act 2006 which means private schools have to show their fees are not a barrier to the services they provide, or risk losing charitable status. Loss of status would mean forgoing £100m in tax breaks independent schools receive every year.

Prince Charles’s architecture body faces inquiry.” By Robert Booth. Guardian (UK). September 14, 2009. Charity regulators are investigating the activities of one of Prince Charles’s most prominent causes, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. The move was sparked by reports in the Guardian last month that the prince and his charity had influenced the course of a series of major property developments in the UK. The Charity Commission has ordered the foundation, which describes itself as an educational charity, to explain its trustee decision-making, the activities it undertakes to further its charitable purposes for the public benefit and its relationship with the prince.

Deluxe introduction to the voluntary sector; The UK’s new graduate scheme saw more than 1,000 people around the world registering interest, so how does it measure up?Guardian (UK). September 16, 2009. At least 14 graduates will this month begin a one-year programme described as the “ultimate introduction” to working in the charity sector. The Charity Works scheme, which launches this year, will offer its first cohort of new graduates and rising stars already working in the sector an overview of how the industry works through management training, mentoring, peer-to-peer support and placements. The programme is being run in partnership between the development agency, Vanilla, and six national charities – Together, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Advance, Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) and the Children’s Society – and its purpose is twofold. It aims to offer new graduates a paid route into an industry that has few graduate programmes, while making it attractive enough to retain good staff by offering quality training.

Passion for a cause.” Joe Public blog. Guardian (UK). September 16, 2009. Compulsory community work will succeed at a certain level, says Stephen Greene. Better though that young people volunteer because they want to make a difference. This month, 20,000 school-leavers will begin compulsory community service. The scheme paves the way for a wider national youth service that would see teenagers perform 50 hours of community work. In the US, local school district schemes already operate in some cities. The jury is still out on the longer-term effects, as there is conflicting data on the long-term impact of this requirement. When exercising your civic conscience becomes something into which you are forced, it does raise the question what the true legacy of compulsory schemes will be?

The Big Issue celebrates its 18th birthday.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). September 16, 2009. Exactly 18 years on from the launch of the Big Issue, this radical street paper is still offering a vital lifeline for homeless people. It is 18 years this week since Gordon Roddick, who with his wife Anita ran the Body Shop, came up with the idea for a UK street paper. In 1991, at the height of the homelessness crisis, Roddick had seen a street paper on sale in New York. The only thing that troubled Roddick was that homeless people were being given that paper for free. A pioneer of social business, he thought selling it to the homeless instead might end what he saw as a disempowering and dehumanising cycle of charity.

Demand for care homes rising, market survey finds; Government policy has been for older people to live in the community; Market has been declining for 15 years.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). September 18, 2009. Demand for places in care homes for older people has started to rise again after 15 years of decline, according to the leading annual market survey. According to one survey, the number of residents in homes in the independent sector is projected to grow from 419,000 this year to 459,000 over the next decade. The news will come as a relief to care home chains that have been struggling to stop occupancy rates falling. Southern Cross, the biggest chain, last month reported that its rate had dropped to 88% from more than 90% in 2008. But government ministers will not be so pleased: the clear thrust of policy is to encourage more older people to live independently in the community, with appropriate support, rather than enter costlier residential care.

Universities to axe places for UK students.” No by-line. Times of London. September 20, 2009. LEADING universities are drawing up plans to slash thousands of places for British undergraduates and replace them with foreign students paying far higher fees to cope with an expected cut in government funding of 20%-25%. They argue that reducing admissions is preferable to making deep cuts to staff numbers and harming the quality of teaching, for which universities have recently faced fierce criticism.

Government warned of quango bungling last year.” By Jack Grimston. Times of London. September 20, 2009. THE government was warned a year ago of failings at the quango whose bungling has left an estimated 100,000 students likely to start university or college in the new academic year without knowing what loans and grants they will receive.

Taxpayers fund ‘Doolittle’ awayday for quango staff.” No by-line. Times of London. September 20, 2009. MOST would regard it as horseplay, but staff at a disability quango have been sent to a farm at taxpayers’ expense to improve management skills by communicating with animals.The “equine assisted leadership” courses are among a series of bizarre awaydays and team-building exercises used by public bodies to train staff, according to documents obtained under freedom of information rules.Councils, Whitehall departments, police forces and quangos are spending millions of pounds sending staff to Shakespeare-themed classes, go-karting and on escapades involving black cabs. “I don’t think taxpayers will approve of this kind of expenditure, particularly in the current climate,” said Jeremy Hunt, the Tory culture spokesman.

“The slumdog banker giving the poor a break; Many Britons have no choice but to take out loans at exorbitant rates. But Faisel Rahman tells us there is another way.” No by-line. Times of London. September 20, 2009. Faisel Rahman is a visionary financier — named as a “young global leader” at the World Economic Forum earlier this year — who has shown with his scheme in east London that it is possible to run a social enterprise that, though small, pays its own way. After working for the pioneering microfinance enterprise, Grameen Bank, Rahmeen decided to bring the idea back to Britain. There crucial difference between his UK plan and the Bangladeshi model. The Grameen relies on groups of borrowers holding each other to account, so few debts turn bad. That kind of “peer lending” could never be effective in Britain’s inner cities, where communities are not so close-knit. The solution was for individual lenders and borrowers to get to know each other properly and build a relationship of mutual trust — just like old-fashioned banking. Five years since Fair Finance launched, it seems he may have got it right.

LAW & PUBLIC POLICY

Panhandling bans drive some fundraisers from streets.” By Judy Keen. USA Today. September 15, 2009. Communities seeking to prevent panhandlers from venturing into streets are stirring controversy with bans that also prevent people from approaching vehicles to ask for charitable donations. The ordinances’ advocates say they must apply to everyone to ensure safety and preclude legal challenges, but groups such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) say such bans hurt fundraising. When Dallas passed a panhandling ban that included charity solicitations, MDA collections dropped from $260,000 to less than $50,000.

Judge says Hindu temple must allow creditors onto property.” By Andria Simmons. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 17, 2009. A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday ruled that the Hindu Temple of Georgia must allow creditors onto its property to inventory its assets and must not spend its income.
Attorneys for the temple, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month to avoid foreclosure of its Norcross facility, had sought to block creditors from photographing or entering its holy places. They said any non-Hindus were barred from entering the temple while the priests are undergoing a 216-day period of spiritual cleansing. However, Judge James E. Massey found a compromise: whoever is sent by creditors to photograph and inventory the rooms must be a Hindu. The temple had defaulted on a $2.3 million bank loan and was facing foreclosure of its $5 million, nine-acre property.

Court Strikes Down Regulations Limiting Nonprofits’ Campaign Funds.” By Del Quentin Wilber. Washington Post. September 18, 2009. A federal appeals court has struck down regulations that strictly limited how nonprofit groups raise and spend money for political campaigns. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit made the ruling in a lawsuit brought by Emily’s List, which backs women Democratic candidates who support abortion rights. The group had challenged the regulations, which went into effect in 2005, as being an unconstitutional infringement on its free speech rights. The regulations, which were enacted by the Federal Election Commission in response to concerns about the flow of “soft money,” which are unlimited donations by individuals, corporations, political action committees and unions, to nonprofit groups, placed a $5,000 cap on donations.
Related Story:
Court Backs Outside Groups’ Political Spending.” David D. Kirkpatrick. New York Times. September 19, 2009.

Groups Push to End Hiring Bias Legalized for Religious Charities.” By Carrie Johnson. Washington Post. September 18, 2009. Nearly 60 groups concerned with civil rights, labor, health and education urged Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday to renounce a Bush-era memo allowing religious charities that receive federal grant money to discriminate in hiring. The groups signing the letter include the Anti-Defamation League, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the NAACP, which are asking the Justice Department to withdraw a legal finding that they say stands as “one of the most notable examples of the Bush administration’s attempt to impose a constitutionally questionable and unwise policy.”

Arts community shocked by new tax burden.” By Stephan Salisbury. Philadelphia Inquirer. September 20, 2009. The $27.9 billion state spending plan announced Friday night includes expansion of the state sales tax to performing-arts programs – dance, music, theater – and other cultural venues, such as museums and zoos, to generate about $100 million. The tax will not be imposed on movies or sports events. The bulk of the ticket-tax revenue – the exact percentage was unclear – will go into a special fund for cultural institutions and the arts and will be to support institutions previously subsidized by the general fund, such as museums, theaters, and zoos.

PHILANTHROPY

$150 Million Gift to Children’s Aims to Revolutionize Surgery; D.C. Philanthropist Arranges Abu Dhabi Largess.” By Susan Kinzie. Washington Post. September 16, 2009. In one of the largest philanthropic donations ever made to a U.S. pediatric hospital, Children’s National Medical Center will receive $150 million from the government of Abu Dhabi — a gift that the hospital hopes to use to dramatically change pediatric surgery. The money comes from the government of Abu Dhabi, one of the United Arab Emirates. The Persian Gulf country has given large sums to Johns Hopkins Medicine and other U.S. institutions. But the gift was arranged by Joseph E. Robert Jr., a prominent Washington philanthropist with deep ties to Children’s and personal connections to wealthy members of the UAE’s royal family.
Related Story:
Abu Dhabi Gives U.S. Hospital $150 Million.” New York Times. September 16, 2009.

Stressing results, charity retools grant-giving.” By Erin Ailworth. Boston Globe. September 16, 2009. The biggest public charity in New England is changing the way it hands out millions of dollars to a wide range of community groups, giving more money to those it considers to be the most effective and cutting funding to others. The shift in strategy at The Boston Foundation, which gave out $86 million in its most recent fiscal year, is raising concern among nonprofit organizations that some will be forced to scramble for other funding, or to cut programs.

Harvard To Award $100K in Grants.” Michelle L. Quach and Peter F. Zhu. Harvard Crimson. September 20, 2009. The grants benefit initiatives focused on health, education, and neighborhood improvement. Earlier this year, six local nonprofits, including a community health center and a poetry outreach project, were awarded grants. Alston is the Boston neighborhood where Harvard is planning major physical expansion.

RELIGION

Biggest U.S. churches ‘contemporary, evangelical’.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman. USA Today. September 16, 2009. The October issue of Outreach magazine lists the 100 largest U.S. churches, based on attendance statistics gathered by LifeWay Research, Nashville. The newest trend in church growth involves transmitting worship services to multiple sites. Such contemporary, aggressively evangelistic and evangelical churches are “moving beyond the ‘big box’ megachurch model.” Despite growth among the evangelicals, the Hartford Seminary’s latest edition of Faith Communities Today finds that, overall, the nation’s congregations — Catholic, Protestant and other world religions — are suffering. Only 19% say they are in excellent financial health, down from 31% in 2000.Less than half (48%) could report at least 2% growth in worship attendance, down from 58% in 2005.

Survey: Number of female senior pastors doubles in 10 years.” By Daniel Burke. USA Today/Religion News Service. September 17, 2009. One in 10 U.S. churches employs a woman as senior pastor, double the percentage from a decade ago, according to a new survey by the Barna Group. Most of the women — 58% — work in mainline Protestant churches, such as the United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Episcopal Church; only 23% of male senior pastors are affiliated with mainline churches, the survey said.

Hindu Americans face challenges, growth in following their faith.” By Michael Paulson. Boston Globe. September 20, 2009. Among issues facing the estimated 1.5 million to 2 million Hindus in the United States is the challenge of transmitting faith from immigrants, most of whom grew up in predominantly Hindu India, to their children, who are growing up in a predominantly Christian society. Temples are launching religious education programs, modeled after those in churches and synagogues.

SCANDAL

Cemetery task force report to paint dismal picture of industry in Illinois; Task force due to issue report Tuesday amid Quinn-Hynes spat.” By Kim Janssen. Chicago Tribune. September 14, 2009. Crooks demanding cash payments from grieving families in their weakest, most confused moments. Whistle-blowers ignored or treated as “cranks” by public officials unwilling or unable to act. Untrained cemetery workers employed without even the most basic background checks. That’s the unflattering picture of parts of the Illinois burial business painted at hearings of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Cemetery Oversight Task Force, due to report Tuesday its recommendations on how to prevent the Burr Oak Cemetery grave desecration scandal from being repeated.

Senate Votes to Halt HUD Grants to ACORN.” No by-line. Washington Post/Associated Press. September 15, 2009. The Senate voted Monday to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from giving grants to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a community organization under fire in several voter-registration fraud cases. The group is suffering from bad publicity after conservative activists, who posed as a prostitute and her pimp, released hidden-camera videos in which ACORN employees in Baltimore gave advice on home buying and how to account on tax forms for the woman’s income. Other videos depict similar situations in ACORN offices in Brooklyn and the District. The Senate’s move would mean that ACORN would not be able to win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages and for fair-housing education and outreach.
Related stories:
The GOP’s Blame-ACORN Game.” Nation. November 10, 2008.
ACORN Fires 2 After Hidden Camera Video; 2 Southeast D.C. Workers Are Shown Advising Couple on How to Buy House to Use as Brothel.Washington Post. September 10, 2009.
Census Bureau Cuts Its Ties With Acorn.Wall Street Journal. September 12, 2009.
Senate Acts to Deny Acorn Aid.USA Today. September 15, 2009.
ACORN Confronts More Pressure Over Videos.” Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2009.
Conservatives Draw Blood From ACORN, Favored Foe.” New York Times. September 16, 2009.
ACORN Employee Says She Thought Couple Was Part of a Stunt.Washington Post. September 17, 2009.
ACORN to Review Incidents
White House Joins Criticism Over Hidden-Camera Videos
.” Washington Post. September 17, 2009.
House votes to block ACORN funding.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
Pelosi punts on ACORN funding ban.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
“‘Writing is on the wall’ for ACORN.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
Nadler: ACORN ban unconstitutional.” Politico.com. September 17, 2009.
The $1,300 Mission to Fell ACORN; Duo in Sting Video Say Their Effort Was Independent.” Washington Post. September 18, 2009.
ACORN May Cut Voter-Registration Work.” Wall Street Journal. September 18, 2009.
House Prohibits Federal Money to ACORN.” New York Times. September 18, 2009.
ACORN could open Pandora’s box.” Politico.com. September 18, 2009.
Did ACORN get too big for its own good?San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press. September 19, 2009.
ACORN scaling back or shutting down in many cities; The community activist group is taking no new clients while it investigates its operations, which have been dragged down by the poor economy and recent scandals.” Los Angeles Times. September 19, 2009.
For ACORN, Video Is Only Latest Crisis.” Washington Post. September 20, 2009.

Postal Museum Rental Violated Policy.” By Jacqueline Trescott. Washington Post. September 16, 2009. The Smithsonian Institution restated its policies on renting its facilities to outside groups Tuesday, acknowledging that it had made an error in allowing the Federation for American Immigration Reform to hold an event Tuesday night at the National Postal Museum. “This was a violation of the special-events policy that says it is unacceptable to have groups which are partisan, political or religious in nature use the Smithsonian space,” a Smithsonian spokesperson said.

Details emerge on WNET’s Justice probe.” By Matthew Flamm. Crain’s New York. September 16, 2009. A Department of Justice investigation dating back to 2008 into how funds were used by Channel Thirteen continues to hurt the public television station, The investigation has contributed to a cash crunch at the organization, resulting in delayed payments to vendors. The federal investigation followed an audit into how grants were used by WNET subsidiary Educational Broadcasting Corp. for the animated children’s math series Cyberchase, according to a statement issued Monday by WNET. The funds in question included those provided by the National Science Foundation, and go back to 2000. The grants totaled $10.5 million, and the investigation of how they were used was begun by the inspector general of the foundation.
Related stories:
WNET’s Use of Grants for Children’s Math Show Is Under Investigation.” New York Times. September 15, 2009.
WNET’s Use of Grants Is Under Examination.” New York Times. September 16, 2009.

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Merck, British charity to jointly develop vaccines.” No by-line. Crain’s New York/Associated Press. September 17, 2009. Drugmaker Merck & Co. and Britain’s largest charity, the Wellcome Trust, said Thursday they are starting a not-for-profit partnership to create affordable vaccines against diseases common in poor countries. The joint research venture will develop new vaccines for diseases with unmet need and work to improve existing vaccines, such as by finding lower-cost production methods or tweaking them to make them stable at room temperature.

“Billions of dollars and a Nobel Prize later, it looks like ‘microlending’ doesn’t actually do much to fight poverty.
” By Drake Bennett. Boston Globe. September 20, 2009. Two new research papers suggest that microcredit is not nearly the powerful tool it has been made out to be. The papers are believed to be the most thorough, careful studies yet done on the topic. They find that, by most measures, microcredit does not offer a way out of poverty. It helps a few of the more entrepreneurial poor to start up businesses, and at the margins it may boost the profits of existing microenterprises, but that doesn’t translate into gains for the borrowers, as measured by indicators like income, spending, health, or education. In fact, most microcredit clients actually spend their borrowed money not on a business, but on household expenses, on paying off other debts or on a relatively big-ticket item like a TV or a daughter’s wedding. And while microcredit champions point to microloans as a tool for empowering women, the studies see no impact on gender roles, and find evidence that if any one group benefits more, it’s male entrepreneurs with existing businesses. “Microcredit is not a transformational panacea that is going to lift people out of poverty,” says Dean Karlan, an economics professor at Yale and a co-author of one of the studies. “There might be little pockets here and there of people who are made better off, but the average effect is weak, if not nonexistent.”

One Response to “MAJOR STORIES (September 14 – 20, 2009)”

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