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Nonprofit news roundup for July 18, 2008

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Judge dismisses suit over religious treatment program

A federal judge in North Dakota has dismissed a lawsuit filed by atheists and agnostics over the sentencing of juvenile offenders to time at the church-affiliated Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, The Associated Press reported July 17 (see Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch story). The nonprofit had no right to sue, the judge decided, but critics say the government should not be forcing juveniles to attend religious treatment programs and using taxpayer money to foot the bill.

Maryland police accused of spying on activists

Undercover Maryland state police spied on Iraq war protesters and death penalty opponents in 2005 and 2006, documents released yesterday say, The Washington Post reported July 18 (see activists story). The surveillance, which the then-state police superintendent says was legal, continued even though no reports of illegal activity or plans for violent protests were logged.

University of Louisville grant went to defunct nonprofit

A $694,000 federal grant, managed by the University of Louisville and intended to boost student achievement, went to an Illinois nonprofit group that was dissolved one year before the grant was awarded, Nancy C. Rodriguez said in a blog at The Louisville Courier-Journal July 18 (see U. Louisville grant story). The university’s investigations also have revealed that the person listed as director of the nonprofit was on the university’s payroll until April of this year.

Ad campaign pushes education as presidential issue

Strong American Schools, an education advocacy campaign backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, has begun airing ads suggesting to presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama ways to improve the standing of U.S. schools compared with other industrialized nations, The Washington Post reported July 13 (see American schools story). Yet the president’s policies are unlikely to influence basic and secondary education, where there is very little room for “federal say-so,” said Michael Lisman in an opinion column at The Guardian of London July 1 (see education president story).

In Brief:

* U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel asked the House ethics committee to look into whether he violated any rules in his fundraising for a new educational center at City College, The New York Times reported July 18.

* The second trial of the man accused of a fatal shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has been postponed, The Seattle Times reported July 16.

* The Frick Collection’s appointment of George Wachter, a Sotheby’s auction-house official, to its board raises questions of conflicts between a museum’s best interests and a market professional’s commercial interests, Lee Rosenbaum said in her blog CultureGrrl July 14.

* The May earthquake in southwest China has sent 1.4 million people back into absolute poverty, Agence-France Presse reported July 15.

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