WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)



A Variety of Sources Feed Into Taliban’s War Chest.” By Eric Schmitt. New York Times. October 19, 2009. The Taliban in Afghanistan are running a sophisticated financial network to pay for their insurgent operations, raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the illicit drug trade, kidnappings, extortion and foreign donations that American officials say they are struggling to cut off. The C.I.A. recently estimated in a classified report that Taliban leaders and their associates had received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan. Private citizens from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and some Persian Gulf nations are the largest individual contributors, an American counterterrorism official said.

DEVELOPMENT: Anti-Poverty Fight Needs More Than Money.” By Suzanne Hoeksema. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 19, 2009. Over the weekend of Oct. 16 to 18, millions of people around the globe used the occasions of World Food Day and World Anti-Poverty Day to push their leaders harder to meet longstanding pledges for every human being to have the essentials of a decent life, such as housing and clean drinking water. Last year, more than 116 million people participated in the Stand Up action, breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest mobilisation of human beings in recorded history. Facilitated by Skype and Ustream to connect global citizens in the campaign, this year organisers aimed to exceed that number. So far, faith-based organisations and student groups in the U.S. have been among the most active in the Stand Up Campaign.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Grassroots Campaign Calls for Bold Steps.” By Marcela Valente. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 24, 2009. Through nearly 5,000 different actions planned in 170 countries for Saturday, climate change activists will try to raise public awareness on the need for a new global climate treaty which would set an upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide that would effectively prevent environmental catastrophes.
Related story:
Global demonstrations to push for reduced carbon levels; U.S. officials, experts lowering expectations before December talks.Washington Post. October 24, 2009.


Do starving Africans a favour. Don’t feed them; There is famine in Kenya and Ethiopia again. Sending food and emergency relief will make things worse in the long term.” By Sam Kiley. Times of London. October 23, 2009. The Horn of Africa is in the grip of the worst drought for 47 years! Some 23 million people are threatened with starvation! When you see children on TV with distended bellies keening over their dying parents, it would be inhuman not to be moved to tears. But do them a favour. Sit on your hands.


“Jesus saves, but shattered Anglicans regret not having that luxury.” By Cathy Wilcox. Sydney Morning Herald. October 20, 2009. The shaken Anglican Archbishop of Sydney admits he has wondered whether God had decided to punish his diocese. The global crisis has slashed the value of the diocese’s assets and forced a restructure of its regional organisations in a year it is undertaking a million-dollar mass evangelisation campaign.

Uni dream fades for strapped students.” By Heath Gilmore. Sydney Morning Herald. October 23, 2009. POOR students and those from regional and remote areas are finding the dream of going to university more elusive than ever and entry to elite Sydney institutions virtually impossible. The number of first year students from low socio-economic areas flatlined in the eight years to last year.
At the same time, enrolments from regional areas fell by more than 6 per cent and from remote areas by 23 per cent in a sign that tougher economic times and the drought are curtailing the educational dreams of young Australians. Institutions such as the University of Sydney, the University of NSW, Macquarie University and the University of Technology, Sydney, remained largely out of reach, with less than 9 per cent of their domestic enrolments being disadvantaged students.

Elite schools splash out on property deals.” By Josephine Tovey and Jonathan Chanceller. Sydney Morning Herald. October 24, 2009. WHILE squirrelling away funds for years to make its successful $35.2 million bid for the historic Graythwaite estate this week, one of Sydney’s wealthiest private schools also managed to expand its portfolio to 86 properties. Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), which receives annual funding from state and federal governments of more than $4 million, has in the past decade bought 12 properties around its 5.65-hectare campus near North Sydney’s business district and nine hectares of playing fields in Northbridge. Other well-heeled private schools are spending up on property. The Mayor of North Sydney, Genia McCaffery, said the expansion of schools in here area, such as Shore – which had the highest concentration of schools in the country – was a problem because schools did not pay rates on properties they owned. ”It has a significant impact on our rates base,” she said. These purchases have reignited the debate about federal funding of independent schools.

Small axe fells big timber.” No by-line. Sydney Morning Herald. October 24, 2009. Grassroots environmental activists have forced the government to admit that it had unlawfully approved major developments. Monday’s admission that the Government had acted unlawfully in approving Huntlee brought a fresh round of criticism of the state’s beleaguered planning system. Conservationists and planners said it was the inevitable result of the Government doing private deals with developer mates, while developers complained there was little point striking agreements with the Government when they were based on such flimsy advice.


U.S. Aid Must Leverage Reforms, Rights Groups Urge.” By Matthew Berger. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 22, 2009. In congressional testimony, NGO leaders and Colombian human rights defenders noted “a surge in threats against defenders and their family members, as well as a number of physical attacks and assassinations, and unexplained break-ins of defenders’ offices”, said Kelly Nichols, executive director of the U.S. Office on Colombia, an NGO that has helped organise a campaign to promote recommendations for how to protect Colombian human rights defenders. “Colombian activists are subject to the full gamut of human rights violations,” said Andrew Hudson of Human Rights First, “including torture, threats, misuse of state intelligence, systematic stigmatisation, unfounded criminal proceedings and impunity for violations of defenders.”


Indian Firms Shift Focus to the Poor.” By Eric Bellman. Wall Street Journal. October 20, 2009. Indian companies, long dependent on hand-me-down technology from developed nations, are becoming cutting-edge innovators as they target one of the world’s last untapped markets: the poor. India’s many engineers, whose best-known role is to help Western companies expand or cut costs, are now turning their attention to the purchasing potential of the nation’s own 1.1-billion population. Inventions such as cheap and efficient stoves and refrigerators represent a fundamental shift in the global order of innovation. Until recently, the West served rich consumers and then let its products and technology filter down to poorer countries. Now, with the developed world mired in a slump and the developing world still growing quickly, companies are focusing on how to innovate, and profit, by going straight to the bottom rung of the economic ladder. They are taking advantage of cheap research and development and low-cost manufacturing to innovate for a market that’s grown large enough and sophisticated enough to make it worthwhile.


Which Way for Hamas?” By Nicolas Pelham and Max Rodenbeck. New York Review of Books. November 5, 2009. Review-Essay of Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement by Zaki Chehab, Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence by Jeroen Gunning, and Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas. Addresses the question of whether Hamas is a terrorist group or “an enlilghtened, moderate Islamic movement.”


Building Solidarity Through Blood Donations.” By José Adán Silva. Inter Press Service News Agency. October 19, 2009. The Nicaraguan Red Cross is conducting an awareness-raising campaign to increase voluntary blood donations and meet hospital demand, in order to compensate for changes in blood collection practices and address a severe health crisis caused by outbreaks of dengue fever, pneumonia and H1N1 influenza. Under the old system, patients undergoing surgery or in need of transfusions were required to have relatives donate a certain amount of blood. But the new arrangement between the Red Cross and the health ministry ended this practice, because it was found to promote blood trafficking, as poor people would offer themselves as “donors” to wealthier families in exchange for money. With the new policy that calls for voluntary donors we’re not only eliminating the voucher system, so that anyone can have free access to the blood transfusions they need, but we are also fostering social solidarity by encouraging people to donate.


The number of sex offenders working as charity trustees trebles.” By Adam Sherwin. Times of London. October 20, 2009. Growing numbers of convicted sex offenders are being appointed as charity trustees, bringing them into contact with vulnerable people, the Charity Commission has found. The watchdog removed or suspended 30 such trustees last year, three times as many as the year before. The people involved included rapists and paedophiles, the commission says in a report out today. It urged charities to refer potential trustees to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) for vetting before making any appointments where children might be put at risk.

Series: Charities and the law: Q&A: Charities and disputes.” By Robert Oakley. Guardian (UK). October 20, 2009. In the fifth of a series of pieces giving legal advice to the charity and social enterprise sector, Robert Oakley, a partner at Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, answers questions on charities and disputes.

400,000 former Anglicans4 worldwide seek immediate unity with Rome.” No by-line. Times of London. October 22, 2009. Leaders of more than 400,000 Anglicans who quit over women priests are to seek immediate unity with Rome under the apostolic constitution announced by Pope Benedict XVI. They will be among the first to take up an option allowing Anglicans to join an “ordinariate” that brings them into full communion with Roman Catholics while retaining elements of their Anglican identity. The Pope’s move is regarded by some Anglicans as one of the most dramatic developments in Protestant christendom since the Reformation gave birth to the Church of England 400 years ago.
Related stories:
Vatican makes Anglicans an offer: Come back to the church.USA Today. October 20, 2009.
Offer Raises Idea of Marriage for Catholic Priests.” New York Times. October 22, 2009.


“Anglicans told to gather up wares on road to Rome; Defectors on collision course over property.” Guardian (UK). October 23, 2009.
Church politics: A way out for the archbishop.” Guardian (UK). October 23, 2009.
Backwards in faith: Disgruntled members of the Church of England should remember that the road to Rome is rocky.Guardian (UK). October 24, 2009.
Vatican’s lack of warning on Anglican priests ‘inexcusable’ say Carey.” By Laura May. Independent (UK). October 24, 2009.

Series: Charities and the law: Q&A: Setting up a charity.” By Emma Tarran. Guardian (UK). October 22, 2009. As part of our series of pieces giving legal advice to the voluntary sector, Emma Tarran of Trowers & Hamlins, explains what you need to know when setting up a charity

Dog-lovers desert RSPCA over ‘inhumane’ killings.” By Simon de Bruxelles. Times of London. October 24, 2009. Dozens of animal lovers have cancelled their regular donations to the RSPCA as part of a campaign against the use of an “inhumane” device used to put down unwanted dogs. The backlash began after the society, which relies on millions of pounds of public-donated money each year, ordered the destruction of ten German shepherd dogs whose owner had recently died.The dogs, which had been kept indoors for several weeks and were said to be aggressive and in poor condition, were killed with a captive bolt gun of the kind used in abattoirs to stun livestock before slaughter. The use of captive bolt guns is deemed “inhumane” and “unacceptable” for the destruction of dogs by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

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