Thursday, February 24, 2005

24 feb 2005

Spate of sex abuse charges against priest shock USA
Washington, Feb 20. (PTI):More than 1,000 people in the United States have
alleged in 2004 that they were "sexually abused" as children by Roman
Catholic priests and deacons, a new national audit of US dioceses has said.

The 1,092 allegations were against 756 priests and deacons, half of whom had
previously been named in similar accusations, it said.

The figures released on Friday by the Roman Catholic Bishops said during
2004, the church spent 157 million dollars on legal settlements and other
costs related to sexual abuse.

More than 300 clergy members were temporarily removed and 148 permanently
defrocked, it said, adding three dioceses have declared bankruptcy.

It brings the total number of alleged victims since 1950 to 11,750, the
number of accused priests to 5,148, and the church's expenses to more than
840 million dollars.

The national audit of US dioceses was done to determine how well they have
complied with the child protection policy American prelates instituted
nearly three years ago at the height of the clergy molestation crisis.

Teams of auditors, comprised mainly of former FBI agents, compiled data in
visits to dioceses across the country.

The auditors found that more than 95 percent of dioceses have taken the
required steps to keep children safe.

Seven dioceses and Eastern rite territories were out of compliance and one
diocese, Lincoln, Nebraska, refused to participate.


52 per cent dropout in schools

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 21. Four years after the Government of India adopted the
"mission mode" to universalise elementary education through the Sarva
Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), only 47 of the 100 children enrolled in Class I reach
Class VIII. This puts the dropout rate at 52.79 per cent which, according to
the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, "is unacceptably high."

Chairing the first meeting of the Governing Council of the National Mission
for SSA, Dr. Singh attributed the high dropout rate to a "lack of adequate
facilities, large-scale absenteeism of teachers and inadequate supervision
by local authorities." Reaffirming the Government's commitment to
universalising elementary education and referring to various deadlines set
for achieving this, he said: "We give dates that have lost meaning. We need
education for all, today."

Later, briefing the media, the Human Resource Development Minister, Arjun
Singh, said the dropout rate at the elementary level (Class I to VIII) was
52.79 per cent with that at the primary level (Class I to V) being 34 per

Among girls, it was 53.45 per cent at the elementary level and 33.72 per
cent at the primary level. Among boys, the rate stood at 52.28 per cent at
the elementary level and 35.85 per cent at the primary level.



The credit card generation

By Hasan Suroor

There is widespread concern over the easy availability of credit cards
and loans, which have pushed up personal debt across age-groups to
unprecedented levels in Britain.

WE WERE all teenagers once, a little awkward with money and never quite in
control of our modest finances. Fortunately for our parents, however, the
era of rampant consumerism was still some years away and credit cards were
something only "others" had.

One survey shows that more than 80 per cent of British teenagers have their
own television sets, stereos, and mobile phones. Other expensive gadgets,
found in most households with teenagers, include computers, PlayStation
consoles, ipods and digital cameras. Research by Money, Money, Money, a
financial guide, suggests that most youngsters have no sense of money
because of the cushioning provided by their parents. And when confronted
with the real world they simply cannot handle their financial affairs, the
guide says noting that "living with mum and dad might seem like a nightmare,
but there is always milk in the fridge, a landline for long chats with
friends, and washing that just sort of happens."

It is estimated that more than half of Britain's "new" bankrupts are below
30, borrow heavily on credit cards and spend indiscriminately regardless of
whether they can afford it. Nearly 60 per cent of recent personal insolvency
cases reportedly involved twenty-somethings with debts exceeding £60,000.

Credit cards are the reason why most people fall into debt and the young,
with their carefree attitude to money, are more vulnerable. Pollsters say
that people, particularly the young, end up spending more when they shop
with a credit card, often buying things they do not need. "If you go into a
shop with a credit card, you will spend seven times more than you would with
cash," a spokesman for a leading accountancy firm told a newspaper.

A parliamentary committee, in a recent report, criticised credit card
companies for not being sufficiently transparent in how they charge their
customers - and Nationwide, one of Britain's leading building societies,
claimed that, according to new research, credit card providers and banks
were making "half a billion pounds of profit every year" by manipulating the
way they charge interest.

Debt counsellors say that while government intervention is welcome,
ultimately it is for people themselves to make sure that sums add up. They
are advising families to go back to basics and re-learn the old-fashioned
art of living within their means - and say that while at it they should
explain a few home truths about money to their children as well.

The good old Indian ethic of thrift, anyone?


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