Tobacco giant JTI goes on offensive over ‘plain’ packs
Tobacco group JTI has gone on the offensive over ‘plain’ tobacco packaging with a national ad campaign claiming that the government does not fully accept that it would help cut rates of smoking.
The campaign, which is running in national newspapers and magazines, features a print-out of an email obtained by JTI in which an unnamed official at the Department of Health requests an impact assessment from an Australian counterpart of that country’s move to ban branded packaging.
The email – which was obtained under Freedom of Information laws – states that the main difficulty for the pro-plain tobacco packaging lobby is that “there isn’t any hard evidence to show that it works”. The line is highlighted and JTI’s strapline simply says: “We couldn’t have put it better ourselves”. Read more
See the advert here: tobacco.cleartheair.org.hk_wp-content_uploads_2013_04_JTI-advert-08-04-2013
Josh Brooks | Packaging News | 8th April 2013
Planning advice is ignored over building near nuclear sites
Ministers have chosen to ignore warnings that residential and commercial property should not be built too close to the UK’s nuclear plants.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the government rejected advice from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), regarding the lessons to be learned following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
The regulator recommended restricting development near nuclear plants, advice that was overridden last week when the government approved the expansion of Lydd airport in Kent, a couple of miles from Dungeness nuclear power station. Read more
Jamie Doward | The Observer | 14th April 2013
WikiLeaks releases ‘The Kissinger Cables’
WikiLeaks has released a new trove of documents, more than 1.7 million U.S. State Department cables dating from 1973-1976, which they have dubbed “The Kissinger Cables,” after Henry Kissinger, who in those years served as secretary of state and assistant to the president for national security affairs.
One cable includes a transcribed conversation where Kissinger displays remarkable candor: “Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.’ [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.”
While the illegal and the unconstitutional may be a laughing matter for Kissinger, who turns 90 next month, it is deadly serious for Pvt. Bradley Manning. After close to three years in prison, at least eight months of which in conditions described by U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Ernesto Mendez as “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” Manning recently addressed the court at Fort Meade. Read more
Amy Goodman | The Citizen | 13th April 2013
Public is entitled to know how its money is spent
BELFAST – The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) has more reasons than most for sending its minister or civil servants abroad on promotion and fact-finding missions.
Indeed, it could be argued, it would be failing in its purpose if it did not engage in such outreach activities. So why then is it so reticent about releasing details of overseas travel? For 10 weeks it has ignored Freedom of Information requests from this newspaper on this issue, even though it is obliged by law to respond and should do so within 20 working days.
Perhaps DETI is taking its lead from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister which was revealed recently to have failed to answer 40 FoI requests within the stipulated period, with 25 of the requests outstanding for more than a year. That is unacceptable and only fuels public suspicion about what goes on, whether that suspicion is justified or not. Read more
Belfast Telegraph | 15th April 2013
CANADA: BC Election 2013: Put Information Rights Front And Centre
A few short days from now, the writ will drop on the 2013 provincial election, kicking off twenty-eight days of heated campaigning. And while there’s no shortage of issues for voters to consider, recent controversies around government secrecy and attempts to undermine Freedom of Information make it clear that information policy should be a top priority for voters.
The information rights of British Columbians are being undermined on many fronts. When it comes to access to information, a widespread and growing ‘oral culture’ at even the highest levels of government is making it tougher than ever before to obtain records and hold government to account.
And when it comes to privacy, the story isn’t much better. New data linkage and information sharing schemes like the BC Services Card and the Integrated Case Management System have been slammed by civil society organizations and Legislative officers as privacy-invasive, unreliable, and even dangerous to vulnerable communities. Read more
Vincent Gogolek | Huffpost British Columbia | 12th April 2013
USA: State’s new nuclear agency gets cloak of secrecy
Virginia is creating a new agency to support development of nuclear power – a move that has upset environmentalists and open-government advocates, because the entity won’t have to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act and other laws.
For the past year or so, companies that work with nuclear energy have been speaking with experts at Virginia universities with nuclear engineering programs and at industry-related nonprofit groups. The goal was to foster collaboration among nuclear-energy advocates, according to Del. T. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg.
In January, Garrett introduced a bill to create the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority. Sen. Jeffrey McWaters, R-Virginia Beach, sponsored companion legislation in his chamber. Both bills were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell. Read more
Stephen Nielson | Capital News Service | 12th April 2013