Monday, March 26, 2007

Newspaper Stories Overview

3/22 PPD, p. 9B. Story, headlined "Railroad accused of destroying documents", is about the Canadian Pacific RR allegedly destroying documents and e-mails to avoid their being used in a law suit involving chemical spills in Minot, ND.

3/22 PPD, p. 2A. Story, headlined "Inefficiency curbs world food aid", is another government report documenting how poorly a government program to feed the hungry has been run for the last few years including a 43% drop in food delivered.

3/22 PPD, p. 5a. Story, headlined "Anti-Clinton online ad creator unmasked", is another demonstration of the power of the net and poor judgement of some of the young ones who are adept at using the net.

3/22 Strib. p. A1. Story, headlined "Huckleberry Finn wins first round in St. Louis Park", documents the latest attempt to censor Twain's classic.

3/23 PPD. p. 2C. In the "Technology" subsection there is a story, headlined "Net neutrality studied", about the beginning of an FCC study which will look at how to keep the net available to everyone.

3/23 Strib. p. B5. Story, headlined "Traffic camera bill hits red light", is about the photo cop bill dying (perhaps) in a House of Reps. committee.

3/23 Strib. p. B5. Story, headlined "Funding sought for program to protect battered women", is about another instance of a good program, protecting addresses of battered women, which has not been started because of lack of funding.

3/23 Strib. p. A1. Story, headlined "Doctors ties to drug firms raise concerns", is about reports that drug companies have been required to file with the state Board of Pharmacy describing payments to doctors and for what. It was only recently that anyone looked at the reports. The executive director of the Board is quoted in the article as saying that now that they know there is interest in the reports they may be posted on their web site.

2/24 Strib. p. A7. Story, headlined "Memo shows Gonzalez approved of Attorneys' firings", continues to show the importance of actual data in sorting out what our government is doing.

2/24 Strib. p. A6. Story, headlined "France's X-files - first country to put UFO sightings on a web site" is about another interesting use of the net.

2/24 PPD. p. 1A. Story, headlined "Gonzales, aides met to discuss firing attorneys", is similar to the Strib story noted above.

2/25 PPD. p. 2C. Story, in Technology subsection and headlined "Search suit dismissed" is about a lawsuit brought by a web site alleging Google intentionally designed its index to make the site difficult to find.

2/25 PPD. p. 1E. The Watchdog column has a story entitled "Travel Insurance" which includes commentary about how credit card companies monitor the uses of cards in real time.

Friday, March 23, 2007

3/19 PPD, p. 6B. This is David Broder's column, which is headlined "Accountability matters, but voters wanted a lot more than investigations", in which, among other things, Broder reports on changes to the federal FOIA [Freedom of Information Act.]

3/19 Strib, p. A3. Story, headlined "Smithsonian records show off curator's champagne lifestyle", demonstrates why public records that show how taxpayers money is spent must be public.

3/18 PPD, p. 14A. Story, headlined "Young woman's DNA points to an inevitably grim fate", is about the affect of DNA testing on actual individuals.

Government information in the news

PPD=St. Paul and Strib is Mpls Star Tribune

3/20, PPD, p. 1A. Story, headlined "E-mails shed new light on prosecutor firings", is the latest in the ongoing saga which, from an access perspective, demonstrates how important access is.

3/20, PPD, p. 1B. Story, headlined "Racial gap found in juvenile sentencing", once again shows how records can be used to identify racism in the criminal "justice" system.

3/21, PPD, p, 3A. Story, headlined "FBI data collection may have broken law up to 3000 times", is the latest chapter in this story about how law enforcement violates the law when it goes after information.

3/21, PPD, p. 6B. Story, headlined "Watchdog group faults drug company reporting", is about records on how much drug companies pay doctors and how little anyone notices.

3/21, PPD. p. 12B. Column, headlined "Brain becomes just another scannable, searchable body part", is about technology which scans how the brain works and potentially reveals much.

3/21, Strib, p. A1. Story, headlined "How much do drug companies pay doctors?", provides a little more detail about reports sitting at the state Board of Pharmacy which have been rarely used.

3/21, Strib. p. A6. Story, headlined "Six ranked in top third of prosecutions filed", is based on analysis of the actual performance records of the fired U.S. attorneys.

3/21, Strib. p. A9. Story, headlined "Law makers warn FBI it could lose broad spying powers because of abuse, is similar to PPD story described above but includes more details including an allegation that 600 of the record searches were because of misconduct.

3/21, Strib. p. A12. Letter to the editor, headlined, "Medical Records Bill. Redefines Privacy Right", is a letter describing a bill going through the legislature which the writer believes diminishes medical privacy.

Don G.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sunshine Week in the News

We have seen quite a few mentions of Sunshine week in various media and web sites, including the following:

Minnesota Based Sites:


Charlotte Observer

News of Interest-St. Paul Pioneer Press & Star Tribune

Pioneer Press 3/11, p. 3B. Story, headlined "Bismarck, N.D. / NCAA can keep suit documents private", is about a judge's decision, in the lawsuit brought against the University of North Dakota by the NCAA, to make certain documents provided in the lawsuit by the NCAA not public. The article describes a publication of the North Dakota Attorney General's Office which summarizes the North Dakota public records law.

Pioneer Press, 3/11, p. 4B. Story, headlined "Journalists petition for cameras in the courtroom", describes efforts by the media community to liberalize use of cameras in courtrooms. This is a Sunshine Week activity for the media.

Pioneer Press, 3/11, p. 2A. Story, headlined "Privatization Comes Under Fire", describes criticism of the company with ties to the Bush administration, that was managing some of the bad facilities at Walter Reed. Privatization almost always raises information access issues.

Pioneer Press, 3/11, p. 5A. Story, headlined "South Korea reviews painful past", is about individuals in South Korea who, during the time of military dictatorship, were tortured into confessing to being subversives and who are now trying to clear their records.

Star Tribune, 3/11, p.AA2. This is a column by the Strib's reader rep, Kate Perry, entitled "It's time for more access to Minnesota's courts". It is about the petition submitted to the Supreme Court asking for changes to the rules about cameras in the court room.

Pioneer Press, 3/12, p. 3A. Story, headlined "Feds fall short on e-record access", is about a study, done by the National Security Archive in D.C., about how well federal agencies are doing with the amendments to the federal foia that were supposed to improve public access. In short, those agencies are not doing well.

Pioneer Press, 3/13, p. 3B. Story, headlined "High Court Explores Photo Cop Conflict", is about yesterday's argument before the Supreme Court about the legality of the Minneapolis photo cop ordinance.

Star Tribune, 3/13, p. B4. Story, headlined "Justices Drill Down on Photocop's Issues", is also about argument before supreme court.

Friday, March 2, 2007

In this issue of the Utne (March 1, 2007) Mary O'Regan hits the proverbial nail on the head....

Censoring Our Educators
A nationwide effort is underway in statehouses to foster intellectual diversity by censoring professors

March 1, 2007 Issue

Political views in the United States are heavily divided, with each side worrying that the other is corrupting today's youth. And who has more access to fresh, young minds than teachers? That's why the latest argument about when and where free speech flies is taking place in the classroom. ....