WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 4-10, 2012)

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

U.S. Bishops Still Stonewall on Sex Abuse; Ten years after the ‘Dallas charter,’ church leaders keep dodging accountability.” By David Gibson. Wall Street Journal. June 7, 2012. Who will guard the guardians? Ten years after the Catholic hierarchy of the United States gathered in Dallas and adopted unprecedented policies to address the scourge of child sexual abuse by clergy, the question of accountability at the top remains unanswered. To be sure, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People—the Dallas charter, for short—took some critical steps. In June 2002, the bishops passed a “one-strike” policy for abusers and began pushing the Vatican to streamline the processes that would allow them to more easily defrock molesters. The bishops also vowed to report allegations to the civil authorities instead of keeping them in-house, to more rigorously screen not only seminarians but all church workers and volunteers, and to teach children in Catholic facilities to avoid potential abusers. In addition, they set up an office of child protection to audit each diocese’s compliance with the charter, and they established the National Review Board, composed of lay Catholics, to make sure they were doing what they promised. But throughout it all, the bishops exempted themselves from accountability—even though records showed that feckless inaction by many bishops, or even deliberate malfeasance by some, had allowed abusers to claim so many victims. The best answer the bishops had to this in Dallas was a behind-the-scenes “fraternal correction” policy, by which a bishop would quietly pass along any concerns about another bishop to that bishop. Church tradition was invoked to preclude any external oversight by laypeople or other prelates. As always, each bishop would answer only to the pope, who alone had the authority to remove the head of a diocese. Now, as the bishops gather next week in Atlanta for their annual spring meeting, they will hear an update on the Dallas charter but are unlikely to address this enormous loophole—despite events that make it all the more urgent.

DEVELOPMENT

RIO+20: Earth Summit Negotiated the Size of the Zero.” By Thalif Deen. Interpress Service( (ipsnews.net). June 7, 2012. Amidst much political fanfare, the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro concluded with the adoption of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the landmark Agenda 21 blueprint for a sustainable future in the 21st century. Still, there was widespread disappointment over the final outcome of that conference – primarily because there were no firm funding commitments by the world’s rich nations. Asked about the frustrations on financing, a former secretary-general of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Dr. Gamani Corea made perhaps the most realistic assessment at that time when he famously declared: “We negotiated the size of the zero.” But will history repeat itself? The funding demands at the Earth Summit were expected to be met primarily in three ways: by creating the Global Environmental Facility (GEF); increased official development assistance (ODA), specifically earmarked for sustainable development; and commitments by the various international financial and development institutions. But over the last 20 years, there remained that yawning gap between promises and performances and between pledges and deliveries.
Although next week’s U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio+20, is by no means a pledging conference, there are lingering fears that all the best laid plans may fall apart if there is no financing to implement them. The summit meeting of world leaders will take place Jun. 20-22 against the backdrop of a spreading global economic and credit crisis in Europe, with far reaching consequences in the United States and newly emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil. “The Future We Want”, to be adopted by world leaders next week, may well be a plan in desperate search of funding.
Related story:
Rio+20 Earth summit: leaked draft reveals conflict among countries; UN’s vision for one deal to save the Earth is in peril as countries bicker over phrasing of clauses and key terms in the draft text.” Guardian. June 8, 2012

EGYPT

Americans Appear At NGO Trial In Egypt.” By Michele Kelemen. All Things Considered/National Public Radio. June 5, 2012. Egyptian-American Dawat Soulam wanted to be a part her country’s revolution and got a job training political parties with the democracy promotion group, the International Republican Institute. Soulam quit soon after, complaining that the U.S.-funded group refused to work with Islamist parties. She raised concerns with Egyptian authorities about that and questioned IRI’s other activities. Months later, the IRI and other U.S. and Egyptian NGO’s had their offices raided and shut. These revelations come at a complicated time as U.S. and Egyptian NGO’s are back in court in Cairo.

INDIA

After income tax, service tax department slaps Rs 4.94 crore notice on Ramdev’s trust.” No by-line. Times of India. June 4, 2012. After income tax, it’s now the turn of the service tax department to issue a notice of Rs 4.94 crore dues to Yoga guru Ramdev’s trust for alleged duty evasion on its income raised through country-wide ‘yog shivirs’ (camps). The department’s snoop and investigation wing, directorate general of central excise intelligence (DGCEI), has also launched a scrutiny of accounts of various activities conducted by the trusts run by Ramdev across the country post-2006. The latest tax notice, after the income tax department had slapped a notice of Rs 58 crore against Ramdev’s trusts, has been issued against the Haridwar-based Patanjali Yog Peeth for “sale of coupons” of different denominations for organising ‘yog shivirs’, both residential and non-residential. Thousands of people have participated in these camps conducted across the country in the last five years. In his reaction, Ramdev’s spokesperson S K Tijarawala said they will counter the service tax department’s action. “We are replying to the notice. Yog shivirs are classified under the category of providing medical relief which cannot be termed as earning commercial profit,” he said. Sources said income generated from Ramdev’s yoga camps, in which people participate after buying coupons, is liable to be brought under the service tax domain. Under service tax provisions, Yoga is in the taxable list of health and fitness services.

“‘Apna Ghar’ woman found begging.” By Bhaskar Mukherjee. Times of India. June 4, 2012. On a day the Rohtak police got an advertisement released of 29 missing inmates of the now disgraced Apna Ghar, a home for the destitute run by Jaswanti Devi, a 40-year-old woman was found begging outside the bus stand here. She was identified by the commuters, who informed the local police, who further tipped off their peers in Rohtak. A police party, lead by the case supervising officer DSP Tula Ram took the woman back to Rohtak for further investigations. The woman has been identified as Guddi, who was admitted to Apna Ghar 12-years ago after her husband allegedly abandoned her, he said. Guddi had apparently gone missing before National Council for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) conducted the raids on the shelter home last month. “Guddi is not in that state of mind to reveal as to how she came here.,” the officer said on Saturday evening.

VATICAN

As Vatican Manages Crisis, Book Details Infighting.” BY Rachel Donadio. New York Times. June 3, 2012. In an undisclosed location here, the Vatican authorities are busy questioning Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, and others in a widening leaks scandal that has made the seat of the Roman Catholic Church appear to be a hornet’s nest of back-stabbing and gossip. Across town, in the lobby of a fancy hotel on the Via Veneto, Gianluigi Nuzzi, the investigative reporter whose new book based on some of the leaks has sent the Vatican into a tailspin, was holding court and looking rather pleased. “I’m serene, I’m tranquil, convinced that I did my work in a correct way, without raising questions about the Holy Father,” Mr. Nuzzi said in an interview last week, during which he was twice interrupted by fans asking him to sign copies of his book, “Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI.” With its glimpses of behind-the-scenes spats in the Apostolic Palace, where the pope lives, and high-stakes power struggles over the secretive — and lucrative — Vatican bank, the book has set Italy abuzz even during a week dominated by a deadly earthquake, dismal economic forecasts and a soccer match-fixing investigation that has shaken Italians’ faith in an institution almost as beloved as the papacy. The product of multiple, interlocking controversies, “VatiLeaks” looks poised to become one of the most destructive, if one of the most hermetic, crises of Benedict’s troubled papacy.

UK

Guardian charity awards 2012: shining a light on small pioneers.” By Alison Benjamin. Guardian. June 5, 2012. The Guardian charity awards, now in their 20th year, have supported a huge range of charities. Asylum seekers, disabled people, and emotionally disturbed children are just some of the client groups that have benefited from the recognition, credibility and support the awards have brought to small, winning charities. There are countless examples of winners being able to use their raised profile, and the coaching they get as part of the prize, to secure more funding and contracts.

Charities need to do more to develop female leaders; Despite the fact the voluntary sector is well ahead of the private sector, women are still under-represented at senior levels.” By Ian Joseph. Guardian. June 6, 2012. When it comes to women holding senior leadership and board positions, the charity sector is ahead of the private sector. However, according to a recent report Women Count: Charity Leaders 2012, charities still need to work harder to improve gender diversity at board level. Women Count found that only 25% of the top 100 charities by income have female chief executives and only 17% of the top 100 charities by assets have female chief executives. This lack of gender diversity also applies to the trustees – four charities out of the top 100 by income have no female trustees and just 17% of chairs are women. Among the top 100 charities by assets, 12 have no female trustees and another 12 have only one female trustee. Compare this to FTSE 250 companies, where only 2.4% of chairs, 9.4% of board members and 4% of chief executives are women, and charities seem to be leading the way in gender diversity. However, when you consider that 68% of workers in the charity sector are women, the figures are disappointing. The sector has many boards that are stale, pale and male. We all know that diverse boards make better decisions and high-performing boards tend to have trustees with a range of skills and experience, who can improve governance and enhance decision-making. The business case is quite clear. Achieving a more balanced board is even more important in today’s economic climate as funders and commissioners are increasingly examining boards as part of their due diligence and those that are not diverse will suffer where it hurts most – in their pockets. Charities need to do more to progress female talent and equip them for the board by providing leadership training, mentoring and coaching, and creating talent pipelines to progress women with leadership potential from more junior roles. They also need to audit their boardroom skills and look at ways they could improve and review their recruitment processes for employees and trustees to widen the gene pool

Tory donor’s fury over hospital VAT bill; Jimmy Thomas gave £2.3 million for a hospital ward.” By Michael Savage. Times of London. June 8 2012. A major Conservative Party donor who gave more than £2 million to refurbish a hospital has vented his anger at David Cameron after being handed a £460,000 VAT bill. Jimmy Thomas, a multimillionaire casino owner, said that he had been “appalled” to learn about the tax he owed after his decision to fund a refurbishment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Mr Thomas, 78, who has donated £120,000 to the Conservatives since 2008, said that he had lobbied the Prime Minister at a private event to make such donations tax-free. He was angry to be writing a cheque that would not benefit the hospital. “If it had been for the cost of the ward, fine,” he said. “But when I know that money isn’t going to the sick and vulnerable that the ward was built for, it upsets me tremendously.” Mr Thomas, who co-founded the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, London, gave £2.3 million to refurbish the hospital’s Ellis Ward. His late wife Alma had been treated there before her death in 2008. VAT at 20 per cent was then applied to the building work. George Osborne has already reversed a decision to apply VAT to church repairs. Anger from Conservative donors also contributed to his having to ditch a plan to curb tax breaks for major philanthropists.

Charities and the rise of the impact thought police; Ideas orthodoxy about impact is suffocating its development and putting small charities in particular at a disadvantage.” By Joe Saxton. Guardian. June 8, 2012. We should let charities develop their own ways of measuring impact rather than being prohibitively prescriptive. Charities have a new big brother. A new set of what is right and what is wrong about how they should think and behave. A new set of permitted words and phrases that are allowed and those that aren’t. A new set of jargon and acronyms that serve only to confuse and emasculate. The source of all this new oppression? Its the attempt to make charities to measure and communicate their impact. Don’t get me wrong – charities should absolutely be able to measure their impact – its one of the most important challenges they face. I have even described the non-profit organisations that can successfully measure and communicate their impact as being like our sector’s equivalent to Google or Amazon: they will change the way the sector works. But the way to do this is to let organisations try their own ideas. Let the free market of ideas and approaches blossom. This will let the best ideas flourish and the poor ones wither. Unfortunately some people just can’t let charities do this. For example, try measuring your impact in outputs and the thought police will be on you: “That’s just measuring bums on seats, not impact”. That’s because the impact-thought-police want you to measure outcomes – the difference that a charity has made. The problem is that outputs are easy to measure whereas outcomes are hellishly difficult.

How unemployment and the recession is affecting volunteering; There are plenty of potential volunteers out there but charities must do more to attract the best candidates.” By Sam Bacon. Guardian. June 7, 2012. Despite the continuing recession, in recent weeks unemployment figures have thankfully started to recover. However, there are still more unemployed young people than since records began in 1992. For a sector that relies on volunteers, there is a temptation to imagine that this increase in supply makes it a buyers market. Surely, with more people looking for jobs and volunteer opportunities the more selective charities can be, and the less attractive they need to make themselves? The reality is much more complex, and if charities are serious about getting the best volunteers and employees, high youth unemployment should present a major challenge to recruitment and retention policies. A large number of young people want a career in which they can make a difference and look to charities for that fulfillment. Given the importance of getting that first big break, this has considerably increased the pool of people interested in volunteering. But simply having a large pool of potential applicants isn’t enough to ensure those people become volunteers and organisations get the best applicants. If there was ever a moment when charities could succeed on the basis of an engaging vision and mission statement, that time has truly passed. The marketplace has become exceptionally crowded, with more charities offering opportunities to become engaged on previously inaccessible niche issues. There are also clear shifts in how people, especially young people, relate to issues and organisations; they are much more likely to care about a broad range of causes rather than one or two policy areas. These two factors create a worrying challenge for most organisations – more competitors and less ability to expect brand and value loyalty from supporters. In this context, record numbers of youth unemployment looks less like a large pool of applicants simply waiting to be chosen by charities. We see a complex and nuanced group in need of specific and well-developed recruitment strategies if the best volunteers are to be brought on board. To really understand what those strategies might be though, we need to consider the difficulties and pressure that high unemployment figures present to those looking for work.

Can’t find work? Volunteer and you could get some unexpected bonuses; No housing costs, no utility bills, free training … volunteering can offer an attractive alternative route into the jobs market.” By Joanne O’Connell. The Observer. June 9, 2012. More and more people are applying for all-expenses paid full-time voluntary work as a way to gain experience in a notoriously competitive jobs market, according to charities. Rising unemployment, coupled with the increased cost of living, makes such placements, which often come with free board and lodgings, more appealing than ever. Long-term voluntary placements mean giving up a salary and, in many cases, long hours with no guarantee of paid employment at the end, but charities say this is not putting people off. “Working as a full-time volunteer should not mean you’re out of pocket,” says Is Szoneberg, head of volunteering at Community Service Volunteers. “There are positions which offer board and living expenses paid. In times of economic uncertainty, it can work well for people to no longer have to pay their housing costs and utility bills.” For those who have been made redundant and may otherwise have to claim benefits, full-time voluntary positions can even mean they will be better off, says Szoneberg. In some cases, volunteers can live for free in anywhere from historical buildings on remote Scottish islands to picturesque properties in rural England. Some charities also have opportunities for families to live for free, while parents volunteer in the UK or overseas. In many cases, redundancy or a period of unemployment gives people the spur to try a voluntary job. Major charities, such as the RSPCA report a surge in people who have been made redundant applying for volunteer posts. Almost half of volunteering inquiries are now from people who are unemployed, according to Volunteering England.

We’re all poorer when we seek Kim Kardashian’s take on poverty; Charities may be waking up to the fact that, far from aiding their causes, celebrity advocacy is actually damaging them.” By Marina Hyde. Guardian. June 8, 2012. A new, large-scale survey carried out by the UK Public Opinion Monitor, an initiative of the Institute of Development Studies, which in this case examined public responses to celebrity advocacy. The survey’s designers stress the data is still being analysed, but one interesting finding has emerged with some clarity: most people claim not to be swayed by celebrity-fronted campaigns, but they do think that other people are swayed by them. Which suggests that celebrity campaigns are popularly believed to be popular – but falsely so. If this is true, it would require such a rethink of the way causes advance themselves that all sorts of heads might explode. The UN has a whole celebrity outreach department, while the celebrity liaison officers of UK charities are so legion they hold regular forums. Celebrity advocacy has even developed its own awards industry, hosting glitzy galas where showbiz humanitarians are given gongs. Angelina Jolie has won at least five, most of which were confected for her, and even Paris Hilton has a couple. (Those who devote 365 days of the year to working tirelessly and anonymously on these causes don’t seem to be eligible.) Shamefully, of course, the reason charities feel they have to deploy entertainers in this way is because the media – across the board, though to varying degrees – have become progressively less willing to highlight an issue, or capable of it, without a celebrity’s involvement. It’s a vicious cycle, rarely broken by anything that might be considered “actual research”, which makes the IDS’s survey such an interesting nugget. It certainly seems superior to recent research in which some US undergraduates were presented with a selection of celebrities and social causes, as a detailed questionnaire sought to determine which star would be the most effective advocate for a cause, in terms of their fit with the mission and their ability to make people part with money. The results indicated that the best celebrity to “help a child in extreme poverty” was Kim Kardashian. Can Kim Kardashian really change the world? You know, for the better? Or does giving American college students course credits for participating in studies like these (as happened in this case) go on to skew all kinds of debates more important than “do you reckon Kim’s 72-day marriage was a stunt?”. Alas, the idea that celebrity advocacy may not be the answer to some of the world’s most intractable problems appears yet to have taken meaningful hold of the charitable imagination. But there are a few more questioning voices.

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