New information boosts Gulf War vet’s campaign
A GULF War veteran believes a Freedom of Information request has proved soldiers were given “experimental” vaccines.
Since returning from the 1991 conflict, Andrew Coombes has suffered from a catalogue of illnesses including extreme fatigue, poor short-term memory, muscular and joint pains, gastric problems and skin irritations.
His complaints fall under the umbrella of Gulf War Syndrome, something which one in four veterans are reported to suffer from.
Andrew and many of his comrades believe it is untested vaccines designed to protect them against anthrax, which were administered ahead of their deployment, causing their ill health.
Thurrock Gazette | 26th May 2012
Words to avoid online to stop US agencies from spying on you
“Cloud”, “team” and “Mexico” – these are some of the words used by government spies to scour social networking sites and online media for evidence of threats to the US, it has emerged.
The intriguing list, released by the US Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act, also includes obvious choices such as “attack”, “Al Qaeda”, “terrorism” and “dirty bomb”, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.
Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networking sites and media organisations for comments that “reflect adversely” on the government.
Press Trust of India | 27th May 2012
Secret list of asbestos danger sites
THE State Government is keeping secret a list of schools, hospitals and public servant housing containing high risk asbestos.
The most recent asbestos management report, obtained under Freedom of Information, revealed there was asbestos at two Education Department sites that needed to be removed promptly and 141 where asbestos needed to be removed as soon as practicable.
SA Health had 37 sites flagged for asbestos removal and the Planning Department had 93 sites – most of which were houses occupied by teachers, police officers, medical staff and other government employees.
Sheradyn Holderhead | 27th May 2012
Fewer traffic wardens- but tickets every five seconds
A freedom of information request has revealed that a total of 6.8 million parking tickets were issued in 2011 – one every 4.6 seconds.
They raised a total of £234m for local councils.
The tickets were handed out despite a decline in the number of traffic wardens working across local authority areas, from 3,882 in 2010 to 3,693 in 2011.
Channel 4 | 25th May 2012
Despite its calls for more scientific transparency, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has been exposed as extremely secretive, The Guardian reports.
The newspaper reveals Benny Peiser, who is the director of the influential climate sceptic thinktank, has been consistently refusing Freedom of Information requests, leading to accusations of double standards and secrecy about its funding.
The GWPF, which is chaired by Lord Lawson, has also received the criticism of the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne.
Replying to a report sent by Lawson the Secretary said: “Let me say straight away that [I] believe that you have been misinformed and that your conclusions are poorly supported by the underlying science evidence.” He goes on: “It would be perverse to ignore this well-attested and thoroughly reviewed body of evidence.”
Addressing also Lord Turnbull, a former head of the civil service and GWPF trustee, Huhne continues: “It is not true to say that UK climate change policy relies on a single source of evidence.”
Lawson’s original report questioned the belief in what sceptics refer to as “climate alarmism” and claimed “huge controversy about the relative contribution of man-made CO2 versus natural forces” indeed exists.
Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, stressed GWPF’s negative impact on climate change policy-making and the need for accountability on their part.
More than 1,000 cases of private data loss by UK councils
British councils have lost individuals; private data 1,032 times during the last three years, a Freedom of Information investigation by The Telegraph revealed. The information included details relating to children and vulnerable people in care.
Freedom of information receives huge blow in South Africa
Editors of newspapers across South Africa have been warning against the Protection of State Information Bill that the National Assembly voted in favour of yesterday with a majority of 229 votes. The bill has been viewed as a major assault to freedom of the press and freedom of information. The Mail & Guardian reports the bill – if passed – would allow any organ of state to classify any documents as secret and set out harsh penalties of up to 25 years in jail for whistleblowers.
Olympic Legacy Company spends more than a million in legal bills
The Olympic Park Legacy Company has spent almost £1.3million of tax-payers money to defend a judicial review of its decision to award West Ham preferred-tenant status on the stadium, FoIA requests revealed. The Telegraph reports the challenge came from Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient, who said a £40million loan from Newham breached European state aid rules.