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Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 16:14:46 +0000
Subject: Defamation Bill news: agreement reached on removing 'Leveson clause'

Dear Friends

There has been some important news today.  An agreement has been struck to remove the `Leveson' amendment to the Defamation Bill.  This is welcome news.  All your letters to MPs and the Prime Minister have made clear why the Defamation Bill matters, and why it must not be caught up in the debate about press regulation.  Thank you so much for taking up the cause so actively.

We are still waiting for confirmation that the Defamation Bill will be back before Parliament in the next couple of weeks, so if you haven't written to your MP or the Prime Minister already, could we urge you to do that now?  We also have much to do to make sure that all MPs (and especially those who joined Parliament in 2010) know about the injustices that gave rise to the Bill. We are meeting with as many as we can to talk about ending libel tourism, the hurdle of "serious harm" to prevent vexatious cases, restrictions on corporations suing individuals and a new public interest defence.

As soon as we have further information about a timetable for the Defamation Bill returning to the House of Commons we will let you know.

Best wishes,

Síle and Mike


Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:14:42 -0000
Subject: FWD - Recent Fly-bys

Ha! Although the asteroid article below is reassuringly worded, somehow I'm not reassured.  Why?  Here's a much closer-to-home case which the experts _still_ got wrong! - Ray
"experts' dictum on "rogue waves".  For years they'd calculated and decreed that a giant wave would arise only once per thousand years or so.

Now however, the reports of actual sailors are being confirmed by latest satellite recordings of wave-heights.  Several giant waves occur, around the world, every week or so!

What went wrong?  First - the experts hadn't bothered to gather all available facts.  Second - they'd chosen the wrong mathematics." UNQUOTE
Asteroid 2013 ET Buzzes By Earth During Weekend Replete With Flybys
Reuters - Posted: 03/09/2013

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 9 - An asteroid as big as a city block shot relatively close by the Earth on Saturday, the latest in a series of visiting celestial objects including an asteroid the size of a bus that exploded over Russia last month, injuring 1,500.

Discovered just six days ago, the 460-foot long (140-meter) Asteroid 2013 ET passed about 600,000 miles from Earth at 3:30 p.m. EST. That's about 2-1/2 times as far as the moon, fairly close on a cosmic yardstick.

"The scary part of this one is that it's something we didn't even know about," Patrick Paolucci, president of Slooh Space Camera, said during a webcast featuring live images of the asteroid from a telescope in the Canary Islands.

Moving at a speed of about 26,000 miles per hour, the asteroid could have wiped out a large city if it had impacted the Earth, added Slooh telescope engineer Paul Cox.

Asteroid 2013 ET is nearly eight times larger than the bus-sized asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15. The force of the explosion, equivalent to about 440 kilotons of dynamite, created a shock wave that shattered windows and damaged buildings, injuring more than 1,500 people.

Later that day, another small asteroid, known as DA14, passed about 17,200 miles from Earth, closer than the orbiting networks of communications and weather satellites.

"One of the reasons why we're finding more of these objects is that there are more people looking," Cox said.

Two other small asteroids, both about the size of the Russian meteor, will also be in Earth's neighborhood this weekend. Asteroid 2013 EC 20 passed just 93,000 miles away on Saturday - "a stone's thrown," said Cox.

On Sunday, Asteroid 2013 EN 20 will fly about 279,000 miles from Earth. Both were discovered just three days ago. "We know that the solar system is a busy place," said Cox.

"We're not sitting here on our pale, blue dot on our own in nice safety ... This should be a wakeup call to governments."

NASA has been tasked by the U.S. Congress to find and track all near-Earth objects 0.62 miles or larger in diameter, and estimates about 95 percent have been identified.

However, only about 10 percent of smaller asteroids have been discovered, NASA scientists have said.

The effort is intended to give scientists and engineers as much time as possible to learn if an asteroid or comet is on a collision course with Earth, in hopes of sending up a spacecraft or taking other measures to avert catastrophe.

About 100 tons of material from space hit Earth every day. Astronomers currently expect an object about the size of what hit Russia to strike the planet about every 100 years.

Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 13:40:55 -0000
Subject: FWD - "The Skeletons in Benedict's Closet

Ha! Amateur analysis says that Ratzinger resigned so that he can hide away in the Vatican grounds, immune to legal action - and that he'd sniffed out moves to have him, and the guilty cardinals and bishops (and Protestant (i.e. C of E) archbishops, bishops etc) prosecuted for their clear and obvious complicity in pedophile abuse - Ray
The Skeletons in Benedict's Closet

If a report on Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica is to be believed, Pope Benedict XVI's recent decision to resign just got a whole lot more interesting.  The paper claims that around the time that Pope Benedict decided to step down, the pontiff learned of a faction of gay prelates in the Vatican who may have been exposed to blackmail by a group of male prostitutes in Rome.  The revelations allegedly appeared in a 300-page report by three cardinals that the pope commissioned to investigate the release of internal documents by his butler, the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal.  (A Vatican spokesman has refused to confirm or deny La Repubblica's claims, and the internal Vatican report is reportedly stowed away in a papal safe for Pope Benedict's successor to peruse.)

Seen in the context of Pope Benedict's career in the Catholic Church, it is difficult to understand why revelations of yet another sex scandal would push him to resign.  For over a decade, he has served as the church's point person for responding to allegations of abuse.  From 1985 until his election to the papacy in 2005, Benedict served as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a powerful Vatican body charged with policing church doctrine.  In 2001, Pope John Paul II transferred responsibility for dealing with the sex scandals enveloping the institution to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's office.  In that role, Ratzinger received tens of thousands of complaints alleging sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.  Those documents often went into lurid detail, and Ratzinger is said to have been deeply affected by the experience.

As a theologian and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Benedict gained the not-so-flattering nickname "God's Rottweiler" for his rigid interpretations of doctrine and his stringent enforcement of church rules.  In practice, he has frequently displayed a preference - both as a pope and as a cardinal - for confronting predatory priests behind closed doors and protecting the church's reputation at the expense of public accountability.

Here's how Benedict tackled some of the most prominent scandals to have struck the church during his career.

Peter Hullermann, Germany, 1980
While serving as the archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger may have played a role in shielding a pedophile priest, Peter Hullermann, from prosecution, transferring him to different parishes when parents complained that he had abused their children.  In 1980, Ratzinger approved a plan to send Hullermann, who was facing allegations (that he did not deny) of abusing children in the German city of Essen, to Munich for therapy.  Over the objections of a psychiatrist who was treating the priest, the German archdiocese permitted Hullermann to resume his pastoral work shortly after beginning therapy and did not inform the priest's new parish of his history.  In 1986, Hullermann was convicted of sexual abuse in Bavaria.

Lawrence Murphy, United States, 1996
As head of a Wisconsin school for deaf boys from 1950 to 1974, Father Lawrence Murphy is alleged to have molested upwards of 200 children.  Yet when the case was presented to Ratzinger in the mid-1990s, he declined to defrock the priest.  In 1996, Ratzinger ignored letters from Rembert Weakland, the archbishop of Milwaukee, seeking guidance from the cardinal on how to proceed against Murphy and another priest.  Eventually, the church initiated a canonical trial against Murphy, but when the priest personally appealed to Ratzinger for clemency, saying that he was in poor health, the cardinal intervened to stop the proceedings against him.

2001 Letter to Bishops
After being tasked in 2001 by Pope John Paul II to assume responsibility for sex abuse allegations, and after gaining access to a trove of documents that laid out allegations against abusive priests, Ratzinger took action.  He did so in a 2001 letter sent to every one of the church's bishops.  In it, Ratzinger laid out the church's guidelines for investigating claims of sexual abuse, which asserted that the church - and not civil authorities - still held primary authority over investigations and that the church had a right to keep evidence in such cases confidential until 10 years after a minor turned 18.  That assertion led to charges by victims' rights advocates that Ratzinger had committed worldwide gross obstruction of justice, a charge that critics saw as compounded by Ratzinger's assertion in the letter that such cases required absolute secrecy.  Breaking the code of silence carried a range of penalties, among them excommunication.  Ratzinger's order effectively removed the possibility that sex abusers would be brought to justice in lay courts and guaranteed that the church would retain its investigatory prerogative.

Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field, Ireland, 2010
In an attempt to help bring closure to victims affected by sexual abuse in the Irish Catholic Church, two auxiliary bishops, Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field, accused of helping to cover up rampant abuse offered Pope Benedict their resignation in 2010.  In a move that stunned critics of the church and victims' rights groups, the pope rejected their resignation and informed the bishops that they would be allowed to stay on in the church, despite the fact that other priests accused of covering up the scandal were allowed to resign.  "By rejecting the resignations of two complicit Irish bishops, the Pope is rubbing more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of child sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics," said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in a statement.  "He's sending an alarming message to church employees across the globe: even widespread documentation of the concealing of child sex crimes and the coddling of criminals won't cost you your job in the church."

2010 Apology to Ireland
By 2010, the hard-line strategy advocated by Pope Benedict became unsustainable.  Explosive and wide-ranging reports of abuse - including allegations against Ratzinger himself during his time in Munich - put the church firmly in the cross-hairs of public opinion.  Detailed investigations by the Irish government unearthed widespread abuse, and Ireland became something of a ground zero for the scandal.  In response, Pope Benedict issued a public apology to his parishioners in Ireland. "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.  I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured," the pope wrote.  "Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.  Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen."  Priests read the letter aloud in church.

But if the apology to Ireland signaled a willingness within the church to more openly confront its past, subsequent guidelines to bishops quashed that notion.  In 2011, Pope Benedict issued new guidelines that reaffirmed bishops' authority in adjudicating cases.  Although that letter underscored the importance of stopping the abuse of minors, victims remained dismayed at the lack of an enforcement mechanism.

Date: Fri, 08 Mar 2013 18:52:03 +0000 Subject: One week to save the Libel Reform Bill

Dear Friends
We still urgently need your help.  If you haven't done so already, please write to your MP and ask them to urge the Government to bring the Defamation Bill back to the House of Commons as soon as possible.  This needs to happen in the next week or so otherwise the Bill could be lost.  You can email your MP with just a few clicks here:

We have all worked hard to win the case for reform - to show the chilling effects of the current law on citizens, to secure commitment from the three main parties and to get a bill that would do a lot to end bullying and protect the public interest.  All this could be lost if the Bill is not brought back to the House of Commons soon.  Please write to your MP today.

Best wishes,
Síle and Mike


Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2013 09:41:58 -0000
Subject: Re: A Quote by Bacon - "Scripture"?

Hi Jim,

as posted:  `like the sound of it', due to a long time spent operating, trouble-shooting, instructing and inspecting practical `machinery':  ie. electronics, communications (inc. satellites), large-scale human networks and even the day-to-day paraphernalia of military units (inc. weapons).

Found that the best rule, when complex problems arise is "Go back to basic principles to find what works".  I.e - if someone poses a difficult and complicated-sounding glitch involving many radio or satellite stations and multiple data-traffic nodes; then simple logic (follow the signals), and simple `laws' (say Ohm's Law for electronics plus Laws of Motion and Gravity for mechanics plus any ensuing mathematical methodology) will cut through the tangle of of formal rules and arguments.

[That's because, in civil or military glitches, people and orgs _always_ claim "The fault's not here - must be at the other station(s)"; but you often find it's been caused by combinations of small disparities at several different locations - exactly like eco-problems of plant, animal and human life can be caused by intrusive hard infra-structure being mixed with `cocktails' of chemicals / radiation / noise etc. each being over-enthusiastically applied by many different (ignorant) human beings / organizations - who will each claim "The faults not here".]

So I tend to use the same rule when analysing (and dismissing) the claims and excuses of greedy corporates / politicos and even some scientists etc:

"That we make a stand upon the Ancient Way, and then looke about us, and discover, what is the straight, and right way, and so to walke in it."

(Only I'm probably meaning Ohm's Law or somesuch)


From: jim *****
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2013 7:10 AM

> in our youth we were guided by society and agreed to follow the ancient way eg. Ten Comandments or other moral codes.

> when we became enlightened, we were one with God or Spirit and now we do as God would have us do for our personal evolution and to fully participate in the master [Master's] plan.

> love - jim

On Thu, 3/7/13, Ray D

>> Hello All,
>> just now re-reading Bacon's `Civil and Moral Essays' (as he was fairly well-connected with monarchs and suchlike maybe he was attempting a Machiavelli-type work, some of it reads a bit like that but most is more "moral").

>> There's a short chapter `Of Innovations' which he ends with what he says is `Scripture', quoting:

>> "That we make a stand upon the Ancient Way, and then looke about us, and discover, what is the straight, and right way, and so to walke in it."
>> (original spelling and punctuation)

>> Like the sound of it but don't recognize a source - any ideas?
>> Ray

Date: Mon, 04 Mar 2013 17:38:09 +0000
Subject: 10 days to save libel reform

Dear Friends
We need your urgent help this week to get the libel reform bill back to the House of Commons.  There is the real risk that unless we act it will be dropped.

We have all worked hard to win the case for reform - to show the chilling effects of the current law on citizens, to secure commitment from the three main parties and to get a bill that ends bullying and protects the public interest.  We did all of this and politicians rose above the fray to work together on it.

But it is now threatened.  As you may have read over the past week, the bill has been hijacked by a group of peers who have inserted amendments to introduce press regulation proposals from the Leveson debate "by the back door".  The bill needs to go back before the Commons in the next two weeks, but the Government has not tabled it.  It has to do so, because if the bill does not complete its passage before the parliamentary session ends in late April or early May it will be lost.

Please write to your MPs, any other MPs you know, party leaders and anyone else in the House of Commons whom you think might be urged to press the Government.  We have to tell MPs that:

The Defamation Bill is a citizens' bill.  Tens of thousands of people and hundreds of organisations have engaged in bringing it about.  It has been through three public consultations, two working groups and seven parliamentary debates.  It has been a uniquely collaborative process with an impressively principled political response.  The political manoeuvring of a group of peers should not threaten this.  These matters should be pursued in more suitable legislation and the amendment reversed in the Commons.

The Government should put the bill back into the Commons now, so that the amendment can be removed, final tweaks made and the law changed.  The case for reform emerged from a series of revelations that libel threats are silencing scientists, doctors, biographers, community lawyers, consumer groups, human rights activists and many others all over the world, while current libel laws offer a poor, inaccessible system of redress.  Every week that the bill does not progress, this situation continues.  You can write to your MP through this website

Don't hesitate to contact us with questions and other ideas about how to bring this to everyone's attention, and to share your correspondence.  We need you all.

Best wishes,

Síle and Mike


Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2013 15:59:51 -0000
Subject: Re: Which of us knows this and understands its import?

Hello Steve
- that's an interesting document and it's talking about things which affect us all today, in Europe _and_ the USA.

Because it inevitably gets bogged down in legal niceties and formal waffle, when starting (a while ago), to research the subject, chose to read a bit about the intentions of the `Founding Fathers'.  Was impressed by their clarity of thought and fore-knowledge of the probabilities of future corruption arising within the political, legal _and_ financial machinery of a State.

I.e. in the first case, they were strongly against the formation and operation of political parties (which some of them referred to as `cliques'), as being inimical to fair elections and a proper democracy
- see George Washington on the `Baneful Effects of Political Parties' - "I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State, ... Let me now take a more comprehensive view, & warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally."
Excerpt from George Washington's Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

In the second case the founding fathers wished to preserve `natural justice' as expressed by England's (and Scandinavia's) "Rights Immemorial" so they wanted to keep Common Law (inc. habeous corpus) and the rights of the people to be judged by ordinary, working people rather than by State appointed "judges" (judges were - and still are - most likely to be corrupt and biased in favor of the rich and powerful).

For instance, to protect citizens from oppression, if the State (or ruler) was prosecuting a citizen then all twelve of the jury had to be people who knew that citizen well, but in `private' cases where two people were opposed to one another in court then six jurors had to know one and six the other - as mentioned in `The Icelandic Sagas'

Then Flosi said "Now I will name my daysmen: First I name Hall, my father-in-law; Auzur from Broadwater; Surt Asbjorn's son of Kirkby; Modolf Kettle's son" - he dwelt then at Asar; "Hafr the Wise; and Runolf of the Dale . . . "
. . . and then Njal stood up, and said "First of these I name, Asgrim Ellidagrim's son; and Hjallti Skeggi's son; Gizur the White; Einar of Thvera; Snorri the Priest; and Gudmund the Powerful".
. . . After that Njal and Flosi . . . shook hands . . . that they would hold to what those twelve men doomed.
from "The Story of Burnt Njal" translated by Sir George Webbe Dasent; *daysman = a juror - "neither is there any daysman betwixt us" Job. 9:33

Additionally, when a citizen was being prosecuted by the State, the jury had (and still has) the right to find that person "Not Guilty" regardless of the Law and regardless of the facts of the case.  That's because those "Rights Immemorial" gave a jury the power to say that a law is unjust or is being used unfairly. See Jury Nullification

N.b. we can see that judges today often try to deceive juries when they say they _have_ to find someone guilty.  In fact when people remind judges of the fact of Jury Nullification they are often (illegally) punished for "contempt of court".  I.e. for (indirectly) telling the judge he is a liar.
In the third case the founding fathers had seen, in England and northern Europe generally, how rulers would steal from the people by debasing the currency (i.e creating `fake money'), and wanted to prevent that by using a currency which had actual worth (as silver or gold), regardless of the wishes of a possibly corrupt State.

In addition they knew how usury (living off the interest on loans) _always_ corrupted States (from the Greeks and Romans onwards) by creating an `aristocracy' of non-working rich who would eventually concentrate all wealth into their own hands, giving them enormous power over ruling assemblies and imposing a form of interest-paying slavery on working people.
[BTW - believe that's why _all_ moral religions originally said that usury was a "sin"]

As all can see, we're suffering from those same problems again today.
`The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance'

From: Steve ******
Sent: Monday, March 04, 2013 1:40 PM
Subject: Which of us knows this and understands its import?

> `The Two United States and the Law' by Howard Freeman

Date: Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2013 04:45:31 GMT

I help maintain Masters In, a web guide for people who are interested in the religious studies and pursuing work in related fields.  I'd like to share a recent article we've published featuring 101 Top Sites on Religion:

While much of our site focuses on Christianity and the Bible, we feel it is important to give our readers knowledge of the other holy books and writings of religious leaders from around the world.  The sites on this list offer insight into the sacred texts, cultures, and beliefs of the world's largest religions.

We're trying to spread the word about this list.  If you find it valuable and think others would be interested, I'd be so pleased if you would share it with your readers and anyone else you can think of.

Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or feedback about the article or site in general.

Thanks so much,

See they've also put a link to the `Sacred Texts' site - an independent, well-researched, long-running and very useful web-resource.

Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2013 19:26:25 +0000
Subject: Don't kill the Defamation Bill - Report stage update

Dear Friends

The Libel Reform Campaign is urging the government not to drop the Defamation Bill after it was amended in the House of Lords to include proposals from the Leveson Report.

In the Guardian today Tracey Brown warns "Don't hold the Defamation Bill hostage".

Write to your MP and tell them it's vital these two very different issues should be dealt with separately.

Best wishes
Mike and Síle

Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2013 17:00:37 +0000
Subject: CFOI Update: The FOI Act is at risk!

Dear Colleague,
I enclose an update on the Campaign for Freedom of Information's recent work and the latest FOI developments.

Due to financial pressure, the Campaign needs to move to smaller, less expensive office accommodation in London. If you know anywhere that may be suitable for 2/3 people or an organisation that has space to sub-let or share, please let us know.
The FOI Act is at risk! Briefing meeting, 18 February 2013

The Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA (map)

The government is planning to amend the Freedom of Information Act to make it easier for authorities to refuse requests on costs grounds. This could have serious implications for requesters.

At the moment, authorities can refuse requests if they estimate that the cost of finding and extracting the information exceeds certain limits, currently £600 for government departments or £450 for other authorities. The government wants to allow them to also include the cost of considering the request and deleting exempt information. New or complex issues, which are always likely to require significant consideration time may be refused in future, without the substantive issue ever being addressed.

The government is also proposing to allow unrelated requests from one person or group of people to the same authority to be refused if their number is overly burdensome. This may involve resuscitating the Blair government's proposal to allow unrelated requests to be refused if their combined cost exceeded the limit for a single request. Local newspapers, which cover a range of different issues involving the same authority, could be among the first casualties of this proposal. The government is also considering reducing the cost limit itself.

Ministers are also considering introducing charges for appealing to the Information Rights Tribunal - a measure likely to discourage many appeals from being made.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information is holding a briefing meeting on Monday 18 February 2013 at 2 pm to discuss the proposals and what can be done about them.

If you would like to attend please RSVP to or @CampaignFOI on Twitter. Please circulate details of the meeting to any friends or colleagues you think would be interested. The details are available from

The Campaign's commentary on the government's proposals can be found at:

Scottish Information Commissioner Decisions, Glasgow 26 February The Campaign is providing a course on the latest decisions from the Scottish Information Commissioner on 26 February 2013 in Glasgow. The course is aimed at FOI practitioners and those with a good working knowledge of the legislation. The course is presented by the Campaign's director, Maurice Frankel, who has worked in the field for 27 years. It will cover the most significant decisions issued by the SIC since our last course in March 2012.

For further details see

Draft code of practice on datasets
The Campaign has responded to a Cabinet Office consultation on a draft code of practice on the release of datasets under the FOI Act. Changes to the Act to facilitate the release of datasets without copyright restrictions were made by the Protection of Freedoms Act. The Campaign's response asks why certain issues, such as the inappropriate use of copyright restrictions, are addressed solely in relation to datasets when the problem affects all FOI disclosures. It queries whether the guidance's approach to the definition of "dataset" is correct. It also says the code should acknowledge that the relevant disclosure provisions also apply to environmental information.

The response is available from

Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
The Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 16 January 2013. The Bill, as passed, is available from

The Bill makes a number of changes to the Scottish FOI Act (FOISA) including: (a) a requirement for Scottish Ministers to report to Parliament every two years on the use of the power to extend the coverage of FOISA; (b) an extension of the time limit for prosecuting authorities which have deliberately destroyed requested records; (c) allowing authorities to neither confirm or deny whether personal information is held where doing so would itself reveal personal information, and (d) an amendment to the exemption for information that is already accessible to the applicant to more clearly exempt information identified as available in an authority's publication scheme.

The Bill had initially contained a new absolute exemption, along the lines of that introduced to the UK Act in 2010, for information relating to communications with the monarch and next two in line to the throne. However, the Scottish Government dropped this provision after a successful campaign led by the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFOIiS) and Scottish Information Commissioner.

CFOIiS had also been pressing for FOISA to be extended to contractors delivering public services. Although these amendments were not accepted, the Scottish Government has announced plans to extend the scope of the Act to arms-length bodies established by local authorities

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland has produced a number of briefings on the Bill which are available from

20-year-rule begins to comes into force
In January 2013, the Government took the first steps towards releasing public records when they are 20 years old instead of 30. A number of Orders have been made implementing the amendments in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, which reduce the period within which records must be transferred to The National Archives (TNA) or other places of deposit from 30 years to 20, and prevent certain FOI exemptions from applying to records more than 20 years old.

The changes are being phased in starting with government departments and other bodies that transfer records to TNA. Over the next 10 years, departments will double the amount of files transferred to TNA each year until the transition is complete in 2023. This means that during 2013 TNA will receive two years' worth of records (i.e. covering 1983 and 1984) instead of just the 1983 records.

Once records are transferred to TNA they usually become open to the public. This is because certain exemptions in the FOI Act cease to apply at the same time. From 1 January 2014, the maximum lifespan of certain FOI exemptions will be reduced by one year per annum over a 10 year period. This will apply to sections 30 (investigations and proceedings conducted by public authorities); 32 (court records); 33 (audit functions); 35 (formulation and development of government policy); 36 (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs), except in relation to Northern Ireland and the work of Executive Committee of Northern Ireland Assembly; and 42 (legal professional privilege).

A table setting out the year in which a record was created (Column 1) and the end of the year in which the above exemptions will cease to apply (Column 2) can be found in the Schedule to The Freedom of Information (Definition of Historical Records) (Transitional and Savings Provisions) Order 2012

Best wishes,
Katherine Gundersen

Campaign for Freedom of Information
Suite 102, 16 Baldwins Gardens, London EC1N 7RJ, UK
Tel: (020) 7831 7477 | |

Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2013 21:21:20 -0000
Subject: FWD - "Prehistoric Clay Figurines in Greece

Interesting (for me) because, so far the scientists have found "There is no evidence of a central authority ..." - ie no palaces, no barracks, no prisons, no slave quarters, BUT equally good-quality housing for all.

Which, intriguingly, seems identical to _all_ the very earliest civilizations found to date:
Indus Valley :- (Indus - Sarasvati Valleys) from 7,000 - 8,000 years ago
Çatalhöyük, Turkey :- up to 9,500 years old
Göbekli Tepe, Urfa, S-E Turkey :- about 11,000 or 12,000 years old
Archaeologists Unearth More Than 300 Prehistoric Clay Figurines in Greece
Jan. 7, 2013 - Archaeologists from the University of Southampton studying a Neolithic archaeological site in central Greece have helped unearth over 300 clay figurines, one of the highest density for such finds in south-eastern Europe.

The Southampton team, working in collaboration with the Greek Archaeological Service and the British School at Athens, is studying the site of Koutroulou Magoula near the Greek village of Neo Monastiri, around 160 miles from Athens.

Koutroulou Magoula was occupied during the Middle Neolithic period (c. 5800 - 5300 BC) by a community of a few hundred people who made architecturally sophisticated houses from stone and mud-bricks. The figurines were found all over the site, with some located on wall foundations. It's believed the purpose of figurines was not only as aesthetic art, but also to convey and reflect ideas about a community's culture, society and identity.

"Figurines were thought to typically depict the female form, but our find is not only extraordinary in terms of quantity, but also quite diverse - male, female and non-gender specific ones have been found and several depict a hybrid human-bird figure," says Professor Yannis Hamilakis, Co-Director of the Koutroulou Magoula Archaeology and Archaeological Ethnography project. He continues, "We still have a lot of work to do studying the figurines, but they should be able to give us an enormous amount of information about how Neolithic people interpreted the human body, their own gender and social identity and experience."

Excavations at Koutroulou Magoula were started in 2001 by Dr Nina Kyparissi (formerly Greek Archaeological Service) and this latest project began in 2010. The site is roughly four times the area of a football pitch and consists of a mound up to 18 feet high featuring at least three terraces surrounded by ditches. The people who lived in the settlement appear to have rebuilt their homes on the same building footprint generation after generation, and there is also evidence that some of the houses were unusual in their construction.

Professor Hamilakis comments, "This type of home would normally have stone foundations with mud-bricks on top, but our investigations at Koutroulou Magoula have found some preserved with stone walls up to a metre in height, suggesting that the walls may have been built entirely of stone, something not typical of the period.

"The people would have been farmers who kept domestic animals, used flint or obsidian1 tools and had connections with settlements in the nearby area. The construction of parts of the settlement suggests they worked communally, for example, to construct the concentric ditches surrounding their homes..

"There is no evidence of a central authority to date, yet large numbers of people were able to come together and carry out large communal and possibly socially beneficial projects."

In later centuries, the settlement mount became an important memory place. For example, at the end of the Bronze Age, a 'tholos' or beehive-shaped tomb was constructed at the top and in Medieval times (12-13th c. AD) at least one person (a young woman) was buried amongst the Neolithic houses.

In addition to excavation, the project has conducted ethnography amongst the local communities, exploring their customs and culture and their relationship to the site. It has engaged in a series of community and public archaeology events, including the production and staging of site-specific theatrical performances, which turn into communal celebrations with food, drink and dance. In part, this aims to examine the importance of Koutroulou Magoula to contemporary communities and make the site an important feature in the social and cultural life of the area.

The project team will carry out two study seasons in 2013 and 2014.
1 Obsidian is the rock formed as a result of cooled magma.

Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2012 20:15:17 -000
Subject: Re: FWD - "Israel takes in more Bnei Menashe 'lost tribe' members

Boris - You have a good point or two there.  If we step outside of those insulated boxes we can find a huge amount of ignored evidence of a much longer existence of at least one or more cultivated groups - ranging from OOPARTS, to unexplained origins of `near-perfect' mathematics, astronomy, architecture - all apparently happening at the `dawn of civilization' - against all reason and logic.  It all points to an inheritance from even earlier but vanished groups.

Boris G wrote:
> And I am glad the paradigms that reject such past obvious facts
> are changing.
> Even the age of man has been steadily pushed back by the
> researches and archaeological discoveries, however faulty their
> carbon estimates. As long as they announce the discoveries
> piecemeal and in closed insulated boxes instead of drawing the
> entire picture, or redrawing it, they can hang on to their
> half-truths. But there will be a time when they can no longer
> avoid putting the jigsaw together.
> Then the time will have come for a full review of history and
> all the sciences that purport to add their bricks to it.
> Boris

Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2012 07:40:46 -0000
Subject: FWD - "Israel takes in more Bnei Menashe 'lost tribe' members

Interesting - from the photo (and from a quick Google Images check) you might think they were Burmese, Thai or even Malaysian - And that item reminded of an email chat some while ago (2006) - Ray
Israel takes in more Bnei Menashe 'lost tribe' members

Dozens of members of an Indian tribe said to be lost descendants of ancient Israelites have emigrated to Israel after the government lifted a visa ban.

Some 1,700 of the 7,200-strong Bnei Menashe already arrived nearly a decade ago after a chief rabbi recognised the community as a lost tribe in 2005.

Israel stopped issuing visas to the group two years later but recently reversed the policy.

Some critics have questioned the authenticity of the tribe's claims.

The community says it is one of the lost 10 tribes of Israel who were exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th Century BC.

According to its oral tradition, the tribe travelled through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China and on to India, where it eventually settled in the north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram.

'Never forgotten'
Around 50 people landed in the city of Tel Aviv on Monday.

Eyewitnesses said there were emotional scenes at Ben Gurion airport as the newcomers were greeted by relatives who had moved to Israel during the first wave of immigration.

Several hundred more Bnei Menashe members are due to arrive in the coming weeks, said Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel group which helped organise the journey for the Bnei Menashe members.

"The members of this tribe have never forgotten where they came from and we are excited to be able to help them come back," he told AFP news agency.

But some critics say the Bnei Menashe's link to Judaism are "historically untenable". They accuse the community of using their status to escape poverty India.

In March 2005, Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar officially backed Bnei Menashe's claims after an investigation lasting several years.

The announcement led to a wave of immigration to the "Promised Land", where members were formally converted to Orthodox Judaism.

The flow stopped in 2007, however, when the government rescinded visa rights to the Bnei Menashe.

Israel's decision to reverse the policy is expected to pave the way for all remaining members to migrate.

Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2012 22:50:02 +0000
Subject: Libel reform Bill committee stage update

Dear Friends

The Defamation Bill is getting better - but there is still a lot to fight for

The Bill is now at committee stage in the House of Lords. The first six clauses will be debated on Monday and Wednesday.

Many of you have worked with us to press for a new effective public interest defence. After promising this, the public interest clause published by the Government earlier this year turned out to be a very poor copy of the existing Reynolds defence. We already know this is very expensive to run and has been of little use to scientists, NGOs, doctors, consumer groups or bloggers - the very people who have supported the Libel Reform Campaign. To highlight this, we held a parliamentary rally; Dara O'Briain, Dave Gorman and Brian Cox took a petition of all your signatures to Downing Street, and we put together a briefing for Parliament on 10 cases

We've had some positive news. Yesterday the Government responded and put down their own amendment to strengthen the Clause 4 Public Interest Defence in advance of the Lords discussing this at committee stage. This is entirely down to the efforts of all the individuals and community groups who have continued to fight alongside us for a fairer law.

The Government's proposal is an improvement on what has been proposed in the Bill. We are still holding out for a stronger defence - one that protects defendants if they promptly and prominently correct or clarify. We are encouraging members of the House of Lords to debate the Government's new clause and our clause.

The House of Lords will also be tabling amendments for which we argued, for calling for early strike out of weak or vexatious cases, measures to protect Internet service providers better and to restrict the use of libel laws by bullying corporations. If these are accepted by the Government it'll be a huge victory for the campaign.

We'll be at the committee debates in Parliament on Monday and will let you know what happens.

Best wishes
Mike and Síle

Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:41:28 -0000
Subject: FWD - "Indus Valley 2,000 years older than thought

Interesting - think there's been a sort-of `reticence' to properly investigate the Indus Valley Civ and instead to downplay it.  Why?  Because it was a highly developed society, with well organized weights, measures and `transfer-receipts' (those "seals" which have been found as far West as Egypt and Mesopotamia) - and above all because it was _egalitarian_ - that is, NO palaces, NO military barracks, NO prisons, NO slaves and EVERY household had good quality hygiene and running water and rubbish disposal.  [Some folk have said that their standard of general housing has never been equaled since in that part of the world] - Ray
November 9, 2012
Indus Valley 2,000 years older than thought
By Nivedita Khandekar | Hindustan Times - Sun 4 Nov, 2012

New Delhi, Nov. 4 -- The beginning of India's history has been pushed back by more than 2,000 years, making it older than that of Egypt and Babylon. Latest research has put the date of the origin of the Indus Valley Civilisation at 6,000 years before Christ, which contests the current theory that the settlements around the Indus began around 3750 BC.

Ever since the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the early 1920s, the civilisation was considered almost as old as those of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The finding was announced at the "International Conference on Harappan Archaeology", recently organised by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Chandigarh.

Based on their research, BR Mani, ASI joint director general, and KN Dikshit, former ASI joint director general, said in a presentation: "The preliminary results of the data from early sites of the Indo-Pak subcontinent suggest that the Indian civilisation emerged in the 8th millennium BC in the Ghaggar-Hakra and Baluchistan area."

"On the basis of radio-metric dates from Bhirrana (Haryana), the cultural remains of the pre-early Harappan horizon go back to 7380 BC to 6201 BC."

Excavations had been carried out at two sites in Pakistan and Bhirrana, Kunal, Rakhigarhi and Baror in India.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2012 13:20:29 -0000
Subject: FWD - "Science is broken. ... Scientific fraud is rife:

Ha!  Anyone who reads the news will know these `pressures to fake' exist in all public authorities:  education, local gov't, policing, courts & judicial, fiscal (taxing & spending), and over-archingly in parliament - all these can be seen to be more or less corrupt.
I.e. - as Mahatma Gandhi said - "What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea."  only reading democracy for civilization - Ray
PS - Think that greed for power and just self-interested stupidity are mainly to blame - RD
Friday 2 November 2012 07.00 GMT,
Scientific fraud is rife: it's time to stand up for good science

The way we fund and publish science encourages fraud. A forum about academic misconduct aims to find practical solutions

Science is broken. Psychology was rocked recently by stories of academics making up data, sometimes overshadowing whole careers. And it isn't the only discipline with problems - the current record for fraudulent papers is held by anaesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, with 172 faked articles.

These scandals highlight deeper cultural problems in academia. Pressure to turn out lots of high-quality publications not only promotes extreme behaviours, it normalises the little things, like the selective publication of positive novel findings - which leads to "non-significant" but possibly true findings sitting unpublished on shelves, and a lack of much needed replication studies.

Why does this matter? Science is about furthering our collective knowledge, and it happens in increments. Successive generations of scientists build upon theoretical foundations set by their predecessors. If those foundations are made of sand, though, then time and money will be wasted in the pursuit of ideas that simply aren't right.

A recent paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that since 1973, nearly a thousand biomedical papers have been retracted because someone cheated the system. That's a massive 67% of all biomedical retractions. And the situation is getting worse - last year, Nature reported that the rise in retraction rates has overtaken the rise in the number of papers being published.

This is happening because the entire way that we go about funding, researching and publishing science is flawed. As Chris Chambers and Petroc Sumner point out, the reasons are numerous and interconnecting:

* Pressure to publish in "high impact" journals, at all research career levels;
* Universities treat successful grant applications as outputs, upon which continued careers depend;
* Statistical analyses are hard, and sometimes researchers get it wrong;
* Journals favour positive results over null findings, even though null findings from a well conducted study are just as informative;
* The way journal articles are assessed is inconsistent and secretive, and allows statistical errors to creep through.

Problems occur at all levels in the system, and we need to stop stubbornly arguing that "it's not that bad" or that talking about it somehow damages science. The damage has already been done - now we need to start fixing it.

Chambers and Sumner argue that replication is critical to keeping science honest, and they are right. Replication is a great way to verify the results of a given study, and its widespread adoption would, in time, act as a deterrent for dodgy practices. The nature of statistics means that sometimes positive findings arise by chance, and if replications aren't published, we can't be sure that a finding wasn't simply a statistical anomaly.

But replication isn't enough: we need to enact practical changes at all levels in the system. The scientific process must be as open to scrutiny as possible - that means enforcing study pre-registration to deter inappropriate post-hoc statistical testing, archiving and sharing data online for others to scrutinise, and incentivising these practices (such as guaranteeing publications, regardless of findings).

The peer-review process needs to be overhauled. Currently, it happens behind closed doors, with anonymous reviews only seen by journal editors and manuscript authors. This means we have no real idea how effective peer review is - though we know it can easily be gamed. Extreme examples of fake reviewers, fake journal articles, and even fake journals have been uncovered.

More often, shoddy science and dodgy statistics are accepted for publication by reviewers with inadequate levels of expertise. Peer review must become more transparent. Journals like Frontiers already use an interactive reviewing format, with reviewers and authors discussing a paper in a real-time, forum-like setting.

A simple next step would be to make this system open and viewable by everyone, while maintaining the anonymity of the reviewers themselves. This would allow young researchers to be critical of a senior academic's paper without fear of career suicide.

On 12 November, we are hosting a session on academic misconduct at SpotOn London, Nature's conference about all things science online.

The aim of the session is to find practical solutions to these problems that science faces. It will involve scientific researchers, journalists and journal editors. We've made some suggestions here, but we want more from you. What would you like to see discussed? Do you have any ideas, opinions or solutions?

We'll take the best points and air them at the session, so speak up now! Let's stop burying our heads in the sand and stand up for good science.



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