Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Media update

Guardian - Ambassador warned of Azerbaijan oil pipeline risk
"A British ambassador warned that emergency services would not cope if terrorists blew up a strategically important oil pipeline heavily supported by the UK government, a Whitehall document shows."

Daily Telegraph - How top-secret tunnellers of MI5 infiltrated the man from the Pru
"Top-secret tunnels dug under central London to protect ministers and military chiefs from atom bomb attack were rumbled when digging upset the man from the Pru. The Cabinet Office file on the programme, which began in 1949, is marked "not to be released to the Public Record Office", the former title of the archives. That decision has been reversed under the Freedom of Information Act."

Daily Telegraph
- Blunders by NHS kill thousands of patients each year
"Such incidents should be flagged up to local strategic health authority bosses. But a series of requests under the Freedom of Information Act has uncovered how the culture of under-reporting remains."

Scotsman - Executive is worst for withholding information
"THE Scottish Executive was singled out as the worst performing public authority yesterday in its response to freedom of information requests. Kevin Dunion, Scotland's Information Commissioner, told an audience at the Festival of Politics that the Scottish Executive - which drew up the Freedom of Information Act - only provided information for a third of requests."

Observer - Hidden world of Britain's tormented families is laid bare
"When we left the country, they said if we returned they would reassess the children. We were unaware of this; we only found out now because of documents we demanded under the Freedom of Information Act."

The Guardian - Activist ejected from Labour conference had been spied on in 1960s
"Walter Wolfgang, the peace campaigner thrown out of last year's Labour party conference for heckling, was under clandestine surveillance by special branch as long ago as 1962, new documents reveal.... Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that special branch was keeping a file on him by the early 60s, recording what he said at public meetings.
Ananova - McDonald's cooks up burger probe
"McDonald's has sparked an official review of Britain's recommended guidelines for cooking burgers. It says the Chief Medical Officer's advice on temperatures and times - issued in 1998 - is more stringent than the US equivalent. The chain contacted the Food Standards Agency (FSA) which in turn sought independent scientific advice on burger cooking. McDonald's is referred to only as "an American fast food restaurant chain" in the FSA's papers. E.coli support group HUSH learned the chain's identity after asking the FSA for it under the Freedom of Information Act."

"SPY microchips that can monitor how much rubbish people throw out have been put in 500,000 wheelie bins.Richard Carden, South Norfolk council chairman, said they have been installed in more than 90,000 bins during the past two years.Residents were aware of them and some had even made requests under the Freedom of Information Act to access council records."

Regional News

Bridgwater Mercury - Shock youth drug figures
"SHOCKING statistics uncovered this week have shown 50 per cent more youngsters are being taken into custody in Bridgwater for possession of drugs than in Taunton....The statistics were uncovered following a Freedom of Information Act request asking for the number of juveniles found in possession of illegal drugs in the Avon and Somerset police area."

Suffolk Eveninhg Star - Arson-hit school's police call record
"COPLESTON High school, which was hit by an arson attack overnight, had to call police in 49 times last year - the fourth highest amount of calls of any school in the country. The figures, revealed in a national newspaper, were released under the Freedom of Information Act and placed Copleston High fourth in the paper's “league of shame”."

Norwich Evening News - Airport drugs seizures stay secret
"Customs bosses have refused to release information on drug seizures at Norwich Airport because they say it could threaten security at airports across the country and be used by smugglers to work out whether it is an easy target. Using the Freedom of Information Act the Evening News requested details from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the seizure of illegal drugs and other goods during the past two-and-a-half years."

Surrey Online - Five cases of court fines for parents of truant kids
"The figures,released under the Freedom of Information Act, show one parent was fined £300 and ordered to pay £80 in costs after her two children did not turn up at school."

International news

USA - Omb Watch - Open Government Rising Issue for 2006 Elections
"With November--and its many state, local and midterm Congressional elections--just around the corner, candidates are promising citizens a more open government in exchange for their vote. Access advocates believe that recent revelations about government secrecy (such the National Security Administration's covert warrantless spying program) and Washington corruption scandals have boosted public support for more democratic and less secretive government at the national, state and local levels, and campaigns are picking up on it."

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