MoD admits campaign in Afghanistan is ‘an unwinnable war’
British soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are part of a campaign that attempted to “impose an ideology foreign to the Afghan people” and was “unwinnable in military terms”, according to a damning report by the Ministry of Defence.
The internal study says that Nato forces have been unable to “establish control over the insurgents’ safe havens” or “protect the rural population”, and warns the “conditions do not exist” to guarantee the survival of the Afghan government after combat troops withdraw next year.
The report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, says that when troops leave, Afghanistan “will be left with a severely damaged and very weak economic base”, which means that the West will have to continue to fund “large-scale support programmes” for many years to come. Read more.
Richard Cookson | The Independent | 14th March 2013
Nuclear boss wants to cut family fuel aid
The boss of a company set to build two nuclear reactors in Somerset has been demanding cuts to renewable energy subsidies and to help for people in fuel poverty while quietly lobbying the European Commission for financial help for new nuclear power stations.
Areva, which is part owned by the French state, has signed a contract to build nuclear reactors for EDF, another French company, at Hinkley Point. If it goes ahead, it will be the first new nuclear power plant in Britain for a generation. Areva already has hundreds of engineers working on the project.
Until now, it was widely assumed that EDF was leading the call for subsidies for new nuclear. But a new document reveals that last November, Areva’s chief executive officer, Luc Oursel, lobbied the European Environment Commissioner, Connie Hedagaard, for financial help for the construction of new nuclear power stations. He asked the commission and European Central Bank to give “credit guarantees … to be used as a catalyst to ease the financing of low-carbon technologies”, such as nuclear. His letter was obtained by the NuclearSpin website under European Freedom of Information laws. Read more.
Andy Rowell and Richard Cookson| The Independent | 17th March 2013
Aaron Swartz to Receive Posthumous Freedom of Information Award
The late activist and coder Aaron Swartz will be posthumously honored Friday, when his family will receive the Freedom of Information award in a ceremony at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center in Washington, D.C.
Democratic California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who won last year, will present the award, which is officially named the James Madison Award and administered by the American Library Association. Lofgren has been one of Swartz’s most vocal supporters in D.C., criticizing the prosecution that accused him of computer crimes and proposing a bill named “Aaron’s Law” to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was levied against him. Read more.
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai | Mashable | 15th March 2013
Former MP Sir Cyril Smith ‘bullied police investigating claims he molested young boys’.
Sir Cyril Smith tried to bully police after they launched an investigation into claims he molested young boys, according to files. The late politician went to a police station in 1970 and demanded to know why detectives were investigating the claims.
Officers later submitted a file to prosecutors with a covering letter that said: ‘He appears guilty of indecent assault.’ During their meeting Smith tried to find out from officers who his accusers were and admitted approaching two of the teenagers.
An officer then warned him about interfering with witnesses and accused the politician of ‘fishing’ for information, according to the records. Last night an MP claimed the documents – released in a Freedom of Information request this week – prove that 30st Smith was trying to meddle with the police investigation. Read more.
Jaya Narain | Daily Mail | 15th March 2013
Obama Administration Falling Behind In Freedom of Information Requests, Senators Charge
The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday expressed frustration with the Obama administration’s inability to comply with a 2007 open government law that Congress enacted to speed up the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests.
Advocates say that if the administration wants to get serious about improving its record on access to information, it should apply the tech savvy that has become a hallmark of the Obama brand.
Both Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and its top Republican Chuck Grassley during a Wednesday morning hearing on the OPEN Government Act cited analyses from open government groups that showed that executive branch agencies are either simply not complying with the law, or not keeping up. Both senators cited a December 2012 study from the National Security Archive, a research institute and archive at George Washington University, that found that 56 federal agencies haven’t fully complied with the 2007 OPEN Government Act. Read more.
Sarah Lai Stirland | Tech President | 13th March 2013