May 1, 2, 3

Posted by: on May 10, 2007 | No Comments

Strib=Star Tribune and PPD=St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch

5/1. Strib. p. A6. “Olmert rejects call for resignation”. The aforementioned call is in an Israeli government report.

5/1, Strib. p. A6. “Study: Arctic sea ice melting 30 years faster than expected” is based on a government study.

5/1, Strib. p. A3. “Report shows sharp increase in terror attacks in 06” is based on a State Department report. Surprise, surprise, the largest number of attacks were in Iraq.

5/1, Strib. p. A5. “Gonzales gave aides power to hire/fire appointees” describes a “secret” signed by Mr. Gonzales.

5/1, Strib. p. D1. “U.S. wants options data withheld” concerns access to the alleged backdated stock options in the United Healthcare case.

5/1, PPD. p. 1C. “CEO’S pay raises hackles at NWA” is based on filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission [SED].

5/2, Strib. p. A10. In Nation subsection, story, headlined “Interior official resigns before inquiry” is the latest development in the case of the Bush appointee who was changing government reports for alleged political purposes.

5/2, PPD. p. 3B. “Dog bites actually declining in city” is based on government records.

5/2, PPD. p. 2A. In Nation and World Briefing subsection, story, headlined “Court widely OK’d wiretaps warrant, among others states that only one wiretap request was disapproved.

Also on page 2A of the PPD are stories similar to those above about the Olmert report and the Interior official’s resignation.

5/3, Strib. p. B5. Story, headlined “Keep month of supplies handy”, is about a new Minnesota Department of Health website that helps prepare for emergencies. In order to use the site, the user must provide detailed personal information. Similar story in PPD, 5/3, on p. 12B.

5/3 Strib. p. B1 Story, headlined “3M did research on water in 1990’s”, see the light of day because of documents provided to the state.

April 29 and 30

Posted by: on May 1, 2007 | No Comments

St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/29, p. 4A. “Katrina aid largely unused. Documents and interviews paint picture of government bumbling and waste”. And so, the Katrina saga of horrible mismanagement continues.

StarTribune, 4/29, p. A6. “‘Successful rebuilding didn’t last”, is a story, based on a government report on shoddy construction in Iraq.

St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30, p. 1B. “Victim sought high security” is a story about the alleged failure of a home security system which led to the murder of two people in a domestic dispute. The government information angle is that the security system companies want access to active criminal investigative data which law enforcement will not give them until after any appeals of the alleged perpetrator.

St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30, p. 5B. “Wolfowitz bank seek graceful parting” updates us about the Wolfowitz scandal at the World Bank and includes an information aspect in that Wolfowitz’s attorney is threatening to get information about Bank salaries and perks and make that information public.

St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30, p. 2A. Story, headlined “Google pushes for public data”, describes how Google, with changes in its software, wants to work more closely with state governments to have Google used as a public access tool.

St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30, p. 2A. Story, headlined “Traffic stops still target minorities”, is based on a federal study. Similar story appears in 4/30 StarTribune on p. A3.

St.Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30, p. 3A. Story, headlined “Report will increase pressure on Olmert”, about a soon to be published Israeli government report on the latest war in Lebanon. Similar story appear in 4/30 StarTribune on p. A9.

One story in particular is incredible.

Posted by: on Apr 30, 2007 | No Comments

Fairly quiet lately but one in particular is incredible.

St.Paul Pioneer Press 4/25, p. 1A. Story, headlined “U archives unvarnished look at war detainees”, describes an archive of government documents that are on a U web site that is describing some terrible things that have happened to some of the Guantanamo detainees and their families. The story also contains the following comment on what some federal flacks think of freedom of information.

” A Defense Department spokeswoman acknowledged the U documents were originals sent to the ACLU, but she declined further comment.

‘Further dissemination of this material isn’t in the spirit of the FOIA program,’
spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.”

St.Paul Pioneer Press 4/25, p. 4A. Story, headlined “Stories of war ‘war heroics’ criticized”, illustrates why actual records of government are needed to check against official lies.

St.Paul Pioneer Press 4/25, p. 4A. Story, headlined “America marks 500 years on map”, is about the 500th anniversary of the creation of the first map that used the term America to describe this hemisphere and illustrates why government archives and the money for them are so important.

St.Paul Pioneer Press 4/26 10B, Editorial, headlined “Strong enough to face the facts about threats”, commends the U for putting up the document archive.

St.Paul Pioneer Press 4/26 1B. Story, headlined “Sheriff forms ‘rat squad’ to home in on bad guys”, describes a Washington County web site of the County’s most wanted criminals.

Posted by: on Apr 27, 2007 | No Comments

I am trying, except in special instances, to stay focused on stories about government information. So, here is the latest.

StarTribune, 4/21, p. A11. Story in Nation section, headlined “Social security numbers exposed”, is about another poorly protected government website.

StarTribune, 4/21, p. B3. Story, headlined “Twins’ extra money for stadium is confidential”, is about Hennepin County refusing to disclose how much extra money the Twins are kicking in to pay for the stadium site.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/21, p. 4C. Story, headlined “Google deal hits privacy question”, discusses some of the privacy implications of Google buying Doubleclick which has a bad reputation for tracking and selling information about people’s Internet usage.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/21. p. 4A. Story, headlined “Social Security data found online”, is the St Paul take on the Department of Ag. data.

StarTribune, 4/22. p. A21. Story, headlined “Report: penalties for abuse nursing home inadequate”, summarizes another GAO report the problem of nursing home abuse.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/23. p.3A. In Nation/Word section, story, headlined “Audit finds more waste by FEMA”, is another government report documenting federal management failure and possible corruption.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/23. p. 3B. Story, headlined “AT&T backs cable bill to expand market”, is a Wisconsin story based on campaign contribution reports.

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/23. p. 8B. Story, headlined “Librarians boost immigrant services”, describes how out-state libraries are helping immigrants particularly with bilingual materials.

Posted by: on Apr 12, 2007 | No Comments

The latest update from two local papers.

4/7 PPD, p. 6A. Story, headlined “Global warning papers softened by U.S., China”, is another example of politics trumping science in government information.

4/8 PPD, p. 1A. Story, headlined “When drug firms pay doctors, what do they get?”, illustrates what we can all learn from state information. http://www.twincities.com/searchresults/ci_5616131?nclick_check=1

4/8 PPD, p. 1B. Ruben Rosario’s column, headlined “Prosecutor’s office loses its way” illustrates the reluctance of government agencies to provide access to embarrassing information.

4/8 PPD, p. 3D, Story, headlined IRS Lax in preventing ID Theft”, is another in a continuing series of instances of government computers,full of personal information,being lost or stolen. (500 IRS laptops lost or stolen over a 3.5 year period.

4/8 Strib, p. A3. Story, headlined “Scientists feel climate report is too weak”, is also about politics interfering with science.

4/9 Strib, p. A9. Story, headlined “Iraq’s resilient symbol of hope: the library” includes information about a unique role for a library director – finding guns and ammo to protect the library.

4/9 Strib, p. A3. Story, headlined “Army prosecutions for desertion up sharply”, is based on a government report.

4/9 Strib. p. A8. Story in Nation subsection, headlined Effort to catalog all species living tops 1 million”, is about the work of the National Museum of National History.

4/9 PPD, p. 2A. Story: headlined “Army cracks down on targets deserters”, is similar to Strib story above.

4/9 PPD. p. 4B, Story, headlined “Used car title search settlement criticized”, is about Carfax and its access or lack thereof to public records that it uses to develop car histories.

4/10 Strib, p. A1 Story, headlined “Ex-Viking Marshall gets pardon for drugs”, illustrates the affect of public records.

4/10 Strib, p. A1. Story, headlined “Minnesota joins states backing ban for a national ID”, is about legislation opposing the national ID, i.e. driver license, federal mandate.
http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1110277.html

Posted by: on Apr 10, 2007 | No Comments

This weekend there was a fairly chunky update from our two local papers.

4/4, Strib, p. H3. Story, headlined “Rain barrels for city residents”, presents the interesting problem of only being able to order something from the government if you can go to a web site.

4/5, Strib. p. A5. Story, headlined “Sun is threat to Global Positioning System” demonstrates that nature sometimes will overcome technology.

4/5 Strib. p. A7, Story in Nation subsection, headlined “Man pleads guilty to National Archive theft”, is about an intern stealing historical documents and putting them on E-bay.

4/5 PPD. p. 6B. Story, headlined “Surveillance operation alleged by a fired Wal-Mart worker”, discusses possible spying by Wal-Mart on a number of people including critics.

4/5 PPD. p. 1A. Story, headlined “Mammograms best read by human eyes”, is another story about the limits of technology.

4/5 PPD p. 6A. Story, headlined “National Archives intern admits theft”, is same as story described above.

4/6 PPD p, 1A, Story, headlined “Justices strike down Photo Cop in Minneapolis, is about the end of the photo cop lawsuit.

4/6 PPD p. 1A. Story, headlined “Pentagon debunks Saddam ties to al-Qaida, is about a government report help us understand reality between truth and fiction.

4/6 PPD p. 9A. Story, headlined “FCC wants better tracking of 911 cellular calls”, is one of those good/news bad news technology stories.

4/6 PPD. p. 1B Story, headlined “Metro leans hard on water reserves”, summarizes a state study of water use.

4/6 PPD. p. 1B Story, headlined “2 pawn chains sue city and police”, describes a lawsuit in which collection and use of customer data is part of the dispute.

4/6 Strib. p.B1. Story, headlined “Caution: Lots of road work ahead”, includes a brief description of a MNDOT spokesperson decision to withhold MNDOT ratings of construction impoact from the public until challenged.
http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1102643.html

4/6 Strib. p. B3. Story, headlined “Pawnshop firms sue St. Paul”, is similar to story described above.

4/6 Strib. p. A1. Story, headlined “Red-light cameras illegal, state high court rules”, is similar to other photo cop story described above.

Lots of news on government information

Posted by: on Apr 4, 2007 | No Comments

3/28 PPD, p. 2C. In the National subsection, a story headlined “Research firm sues to see auto safety data”, is about a group that studies tire failures suing the U.S. Department of Transportation.

3/29 Strib, p. E4. in “News of the Weird”, the first item describes a website being operated in Finland that allows voters to match their physical appearance with the appearance of candidates so they can vote for people who look like them.

3/30 Strib. p. A10. Story, headlined “Soldiers’ VA cure hindered by lapses in use of digital medical data”.

3/30 Strib. p. A12. Story, headlined “Interior official altered reports, inspector says”, is about another instance of government reports being altered for political reasons. The story also describes release of confidential information to selected businesses.

3/30 PPD, p.1C. Story, headlined “Ridder’s clear break scuffed” includes allegations that the new publisher of the Strib took confidential data from the PPD.

3/30 PPD, p. 1A. Story, headlined “St. Paul candidates join You Tube nation”.

3/30 PPD, p. 7a. Story, headlined “Bush appointee altered species reports to benefit landowners”, is the same story as described above but with a more direct headline.

3/31 PPD, p. 2C. Story, headlined “Technology ‘xxx’ hits red light again”, is about defeat of a proposal to give pornography its own address on the web.

3/31 PPD, p. 1C. Story, headlined “Ridder says exit made in good faith”, continues the saga of what Rider took from St. Paul to Minneapolis on his laptop.

4/1 PPD, p. 3A. Story, headlined “Bush fills attorney post with insider” is based on analysis of the resumes of new U.S. attorneys.

4/1 Strib. p. A9. Story, headlined “Many prosecutors had inside track”, is the same as the Pioneer Press story mentioned above.

4/1 Strib. p. D1. Story, headlined “In a hurry for ultrafast Internet”, is about the City of Eagan looking for high speed internet for the entire city including the possibility of laying fiber citywide.

4/1 Strib. p. B1. Nick Coleman’s column, headlined “If Heffelfinger hadn’t quit would he have been purged”, is Coleman’s take, using public e-mails, on the local effect of the U.S. attorney fiasco.

4/2 Strib, p. A11. Story, headlined “From cabarets in Cyprus to drivers in Qatar, dangers abound for Americans abroad, the State Dept. warns”, is about a state department cataloging dangers of foreign travel, which is put up mostly for businesses, according to a spokesperson, but is available to anyone.

4/2 PPD, p. 2B. In the “Bulletin Board” feature is an item, headlined “Will the library let me borrow this book? It’s ‘TOO SOON TO TELL'”, is about a technology twist in libraries.

Newspaper Stories Overview

Posted by: on Mar 27, 2007 | No Comments

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. http://www.startribune.com/1244/story/1074012.html

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.
http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1076414.html

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.

Posted by: on Mar 23, 2007 | No Comments

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

Posted by: on Mar 23, 2007 | No Comments

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.