A day in FoIA: Lawsuits seeks assessment of Shell Arctic drilling risks, 75% of Northern Irish Schools contain asbestos, academies serving banned junk food, Scottish music tuition cost school pupils £3m per year, FBI release new details on Black Panther arming informant, FOIA letters reveal shocking cases of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) groping,
Lawsuit seeks release of Arctic offshore safety data
A lawsuit filed Aug. 30 in federal court in Anchorage seeks release of testing data that would shed some light on whether an incident similar to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico could happen offshore in Arctic Alaska.
The concern of plaintiff Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and expert in oil spill response, comes as Shell Oil moves closer to its plan to drill up to five exploratory wells on the Alaska Arctic Outer Continental Shelf.
Steiner is also a board member of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, whose attorneys filed the lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in Anchorage
Steiner is requesting the actual Shell cap test data under the Freedom of Information Act
Margaret Bauman | The Cordoba Times | September 7th 2012
Asbestos: The deadly material that lurks in 75% of Northern Ireland schools
Thousands of pupils are returning for the new term this week in buildings which contain potentially deadly asbestos.
The dangerous fibres — which can cause serious illness, including lung cancer — are present in 75% of Northern Ireland’s schools’ estate.
The close on 900 schools affected include dozens of nurseries and primaries.
Details of the extent of asbestos presence in schools are contained in papers released by the five education boards following a Freedom of Information request.
Adrian Rutherford | Belfast Telegraph | September 7th 2012
Junk food banned in maintained schools is being sold in academies
A third of academy schools are selling junk food that is banned in maintained schools under regulations introduced to protect children‘s health, a series of freedom of information requests has revealed.
Out of 108 academies that responded to the requests, 29 were selling chocolate and other confectionery, nine admitted selling fizzy drinks and seven sold energy drinks such as Red Bull.
An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches found that 37 out of the 108 academies that responded were selling at least one food or drink product that was not permitted before they became academies. Such schools are state-funded but independently run; more than half of secondaries in England are now academy schools, which can opt out of national standards for school meals.
Jeevan Vasagar | The Guardian | September 10th 2012
Pupils pay £3m a year for musical tuition in Scotland
SCOTLAND’S local authorities are raking in almost £3 million a year by charging parents up to £340 for instrumental music lessons.
Figures gathered under the Freedom of Information Act by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and due to be presented to Holyrood’s education and culture committee on Tuesday show that councils such as Aberdeen City are making as much as £523,000 a year by forcing cash-strapped families to pay for their children to learn to play musical instruments.
The figures come as Scotland on Sunday’s Let the Children Play campaign for free instrument lessons in schools, backed by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and violinist Nicola Benedetti, has learned that the Scottish Government is reviewing the legality of local authority tuition charges – the full extent of which were revealed in this newspaper last weekend.
Emma Cowing | Scotland on Sunday | September 9th 2012
FBI files reveal new details about informant who armed Black Panthers
Revelations that prominent radical activist Richard Aoki was an FBI informant have prompted angry denials among his supporters, but newly released records confirm Aoki was secretly providing information to agents during the period he gave the Black Panthers guns and firearms training.
The documents from Aoki’s FBI informant file – totaling 221 pages – were released after a court challenge under the Freedom of Information Act and show that Aoki was an informant from 1961 to 1977, with only brief interruptions. The records say that at various points, he provided information that was “unique” and of “extreme value.”
The records chronicle Aoki’s 16-year career as an informant during the time he was a student at Merritt College in Oakland and at UC Berkeley, participating in a series of radical groups, including the Black Panthers, the Asian American Political Alliance and the Third World Liberation Front, a 1969 protest for more ethnic studies that involved the most violent strike to date at UC Berkeley and led then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to declare a state of emergency.
Seth Rosenfeld | California Watch | September 7th 2012
FOIA letters reveal shocking cases of US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) groping
Hundreds of letters of complaint about the TSA’s invasive security procedures released this week under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) include numerous horror stories about TSA screeners directly touching people’s genitals during pat downs.
Following a FOIA request in 2010, the non-profit website Governmentattic.org has released the files after a two year battle with the TSA to make them public.
The letters confirm what prisonplanet.com first reported back in 2010, that the TSA’s new security procedures for “advanced pat downs” include literally touching and in some cases groping the genitals of travelers.