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2013 Mail

LATER Libel Reform3 Tax Thieves? LIbel Threat? Tax Thieves Bent Politics
Libel Reform2 Fake `Terror' Libel Reform NHS Changes Forecasts? Cat Signal!
"Class" & BBC How-to F.o.I NHS-Private? Cat Signal! Attractors! EARLIER


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Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 19:03:13 +0100
Subject: Defamation Bill - House of Lords final debate

Dear Friends

Thanks to all your work with us over the last few weeks, the proposal asking companies to show harm before they can sue for libel is back on the table.  The Government has made a concession and has suggested an amendment on this for debate this afternoon in the House of Lords.  You can watch the debate here: from around 4.30pm.

There will also be a vote on whether the Derbyshire principle should be included in the Defamation Bill and extended to private companies performing a public function so that citizens are able to criticise taxpayer funded services, whoever provides them, without fear of libel threats.

After the debate this afternoon the Bill will go straight to the Commons on Wednesday for ratification before it becomes law at Royal Assent - this could be as soon as Thursday.  We'll be issuing lots of comments but can you tell us what you want to do?  Should we find somewhere for everyone who has worked with us to achieve this to come together to hear from some champions of the libel reform campaign?  Email and let us know asap!

Best wishes
Síle & Mike


Date: Mon, 22 Apr 2013 13:21:58 +0100
Subject: FWD - ""Eric Schmidt defends Google tax affairs"

Ha!  These MPs (congressmen) are full hypocrites: they made the tax-laws, the corporations just obey them.  The tax-laws are purposely corrupt, and had been kept secret until now - when ordinary folk have started investigating. *

In fact the English Prime Minister - David Cameron - a (secret) multi-millionaire - has a family fortune based almost entirely on tax-avoidance: his father amassed the family's wealth running off-shore tax-avoidance schemes for the very rich. [details (text version)]

So, while I've no sympathy for Google, they aren't the criminals here - the real thieving scum are the MPs (especially Cameron) and the senior bureaucrats who have set-up and run this stinking system* for so long. [details]
A careful estimate shows there is so much bureaucratic incompetence, waste and corruption in the system that a mere 10% Flat Tax, with no allowances or exemptions, would actually bring in more money to the Treasury.  Only problem is: the rich (inc. Cameron?) won't even pay a 10% tax - and the rich own the Gov't. - RD
"Eric Schmidt defends Google tax affairs"
Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has defended the internet giant's tax affairs, saying the firm was playing a key role in the UK's high-tech growth.
The firm paid just £6m in corporation tax in 2011, but Schmidt said the arrangements "fully comply with the law" and it was acting in the same way as other firms.
The tax arrangements of multinational firms including Google were heavily criticised by MPs in a scathing report earlier this year.
The Public Accounts Committee accused Google, Starbucks and Amazon of "using the letter of tax laws both nationally and internationally to immorally minimise their tax obligations".
(more at page ...)

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2013 20:35:15 +0100
Subject: We need your help - tell us about companies using libel laws

Dear Friends

We need your stories to tell the Government why choosing business interests over citizens is wrong.

Last night the Government voted against reform that would put limits on companies' abilities to sue people for libel. It is deeply disappointing that the Defamation Bill now doesn't do anything to stop companies using the laws to threaten citizen critics.

But, there was some progress during the debate. Under pressure from the Labour party and from some Government MPs, and thanks to everyone who wrote to your MP and to the PM, the Minister for Justice Helen Grant agreed to consider restoring one part of the corporation's clause back into the Bill. They will revisit the provision that asks companies to prove harm before they can sue when the Bill returns to the House of Lords on Tuesday 23rd April. This is great and it is down to all of your efforts over the last week that the Minister felt the strength of feeling behind this.

However, the Government agreed only to revisit this one provision. They also need to stop private companies taking the public pound from suing because citizens should be free to criticise a public sector service, no matter who delivers it. We have to make sure that every Member of the House of Lords knows about the injustices being done by companies being allowed to sue and will tell the Minister that this has to change.

To do this, we need to hear your stories about legal threats from companies.

Please, tell us about your experiences. We know some of you have been threatened, had lawyer's letters and non-legal letters, and fought cases and threats that had no merit - please tell us about it. Even if you have told us before please tell us again to make sure we know.

Politicians need to be told again about the extent of this problem, and that they must act to fix it. Companies should not be able claim libel damage and then refuse to show how they have been harmed. And it is a citizen's right to criticise and question public services without fear of a lawyers letter.

Thank you again for your efforts this week. Please e-mail us with your stories as soon as you can.

Best wishes

Mike & Síle


Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2013 16:14:21 +0000
Subject: Npower

Dear Ray,

Is Npower the new Starbucks? At the same time as hiking our energy bills, Npower are using accounting tricks to dodge paying their fair share of tax in the UK. Yesterday it was revealed that they haven't paid a single penny in corporation tax for the last three years! [1]

But now this is out in the open, Npower are vulnerable. Just look what a PR disaster it was for Starbucks when their tax affairs were exposed last year. Tax dodging scandals can ruin a company's reputation. And that can cost them their customers. [2]

Npower rely on their customer loyalty. If they realise that their tax scams are damaging their reputation, they'll have to back down. So let's make them feel the strength of public opposition by building a HUGE petition warning them that their customers are ready to leave them. Please click here to sign:

A huge petition can help turn this tax dodge into a full-on PR crisis for Npower. It'll help spread the word and raise awareness of what they're up to. And it'll encourage the media to keep reporting on this scam. That's exactly what Npower's PR team don't want to happen!

After Starbucks' tax scams came out, customers crossed the street to buy coffee from another cafe. Npower will already know that they're at risk from customers switching gas and electricity providers. It's not like it's that difficult to switch - we proved that last year, when thousands of us switched together to get a better deal. [3]

The news of yet another huge company like Npower dodging tax stinks, and not just because it comes at a time when our gas and electricity bills are going through the roof. By dodging tax, Npower are actively contributing to the UK's deficit - and to the stinging impact of government cuts.

Let's force Npower to stop using accounting tricks to dodge their fair share of tax . Sign the petition to Npower now:

Thanks for being involved,

James, Becky, Susannah and the 38 Degrees team

PS: NPower's accounting scam works like this: they are turning UK operating profits into accounting and tax losses by making large "interest payments" to other parts of their own business, based overseas. This is currently legal - and in the longer term, we need to push the government to close this blatant loophole. But right now we have a chance to force Npower to drop this scam - so please sign the petition now:

[1] The Sun - Energy giant pays zero tax:
[2] The Economist: Wake up and smell the coffee:
[3] Read more about the Big Switch on the 38 Degrees website here:

Follow 38 Degrees on Facebook and Twitter.

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2013 13:21:59 +0000
Subject: Are you free this Friday?

Dear Ray,

This Friday, 38 Degrees members in North Shropshire are meeting with the environment minister, Owen Paterson to tell him to vote to protect our bees.  Next week, he'll take part in an important European vote, which could see the pesticides blamed for killing bees taken out of use across Europe.

Scientists and governments across Europe say that certain pesticides are killing our bees, and are calling for them to stop being used. [1]  But Owen is refusing to listen to the mounting scientific evidence.

Over 150,000 people have now signed our petition demanding he protects our bees, but now we have the chance to speak to him face to face before the vote.

Can you join us and demand that Owen takes action to protect our bees? We're meeting at:
4:30pm this Friday, The Fox Inn, Church Street,Oswestry,Shropshire, SY11 2SU

You don't have to be an expert on bees to come to the meeting with Owen Paterson.  It's his job to listen to the views of the people he represents.

Changing Owen's mind won't be easy, we're battling against `furious lobbying' from the big pesticide companies. [2] But his refusal to act is beginning to look very out of touch with science and public opinion.

Even a committee of Owen's fellow MPs said his current approach is "extraordinarily complacent". [3] Last time he refused to vote in favour of stopping these pesticides. This time let's make sure he votes to protect our bees.

If you've not done so already, can you sign the petition to save our bees?

If you have any questions about the day then please drop an email to

Thanks for being involved and we hope to

Robin, Rebecca, Hannah and the 38 Degrees Team.

[1] BBC: Neonicotinoid pesticides 'damage brains of bees'
[2] Private letters reveal Syngenta and Bayer's furious lobbying against EU measures to save bees
[3] Guardian: Bee-harming pesticides should be banned, MPs urge

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 18:25:00 +0100
Subject: We need your help - last chance to write to your MP

Dear Friends

It's not too late to write to your MP, to make sure vital new additions to the Defamation Bill are agreed today.

If your MP is a back bencher please urge them to vote against any amendment removing the new clause placing restrictions on companies.  This new clause does not prevent companies from suing for defamation.  It simply requires companies to show that they have experienced financial loss before a case can proceed.

How can it be right that a company can claim libel damage - pursue it through expensive court proceedings and even take someone's house to pay for it - and yet not be required to show that it actually happened?

If your MP is on the front bench please urge them to support Sir Peter Bottomley's amendment to the public interest defence that would ensure it doesn't revert back to the current complicated and costly law.

Write to your MP

Best wishes

Mike & Síle


Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 09:28:34 +0100
Subject: Re: Boston explosions

Right - am getting cynical / disbelieving about "terror" claims.

There were many bombs directed against ordinary people in Italy (from memory the one in Bolgna railway station killed about 80 people, maiming many more - a young Italian friend was crying her heart out when she told me about it).

They were all blamed on "left-wing terrorists" (because the right-wing Gov't was unpopular and needed `patriotic support').

But years later it was found out that ALL the bombs were set by members of the intelligence forces, to keep the government in power -- see the `Gladio Conspiracy' (wiki).

-----Original Message-----
From: J.M. C*****
Sent: Monday, April 15, 2013 8:51 PM
Subject: Boston explosions

Lets see where the finger points this time.

N.b - maybe see notes on `False Flag'
n.b2 - worked some years in Italy

Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2013 15:01:54 +0100
Subject: Libel Reform at risk - We need your urgent help

Dear Friends

Four days before the Defamation Bill has its final and decisive debate in the House of Commons we find ourselves writing to you about disgraceful behaviour from politicians that will put everything we've worked for at risk.

Conservative MP and libel barrister Sir Edward Garnier is trying to remove the part of the Bill that would limit companies' ability to use libel threats to intimidate critics into silence.  His attempt to remove this will be voted on during debate on the Bill on Tuesday 16th April.  Please write to your MP and tell them not to support Garnier's amendment.

We've heard that the Conservatives might back Garnier on this, and that the Lib Dems will join their Conservative colleagues even though restricting corporations from suing individuals unless they can prove harm is Lib Dem party policy!  It was voted for overwhelmingly in the House of Lords.  Please write to Nick Clegg and David Cameron and urge them to tell their parties not to support Garnier and to make sure the clause on companies becomes part of the Defamation Bill.

Read our briefing for MPs on why this along with a clear strong public interest defence would do the most to lessen the damage the laws are doing to free and open debate.  A Bill without either reform would be a wasted opportunity.  Please point your MP towards our briefing at this link when you write to them:

We've seen the best of democracy in action - we have forced libel reform onto the political agenda and when politicians have listened to us all we've seen the best improvements to the Defamation Bill.  But behind closed door dealing and cowardly behaviour threatens everything we've worked for.  Please tell your MP not to support Garnier amendment and tell David Cameron and Nick Clegg that the Government shouldn't either.

Best wishes
Mike & Síle


Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2013 13:27:22 +0000
Subject: NHS

Dear Ray,

Last week, the NHS started to change. The laws which the government pushed through last year came into force. The changes would probably be even more alarming if it wasn't for all the campaigning we've done together. But it's all still pretty worrying.

With the changes now in force, we need to decide what we want to do next. What's the priority? How can we best work together to defend the idea of a decent public health service we can rely on to look after us when we need it?

You can help us decide where the NHS campaign goes next. Please take two minutes to vote in a poll:

When the government finally got its changes through last year, 38 Degrees members were disappointed. But we voted to keep the campaign going. And since then, by working together, we've made a huge difference:

Thousands of 38 Degrees members across the country have asked their local GPs to put patients first and keep the NHS public. We've already signed up groups of local GPs in the Midlands, south-west and London. [1]

We moved fast when we heard that the government was looking at a new tax dodge for the private health industry. Thousands of us wrote in to complain. The plan was dropped within hours! [2]

There's been big problems with privatised GP out-of-hours care in places like Cornwall. So hundreds of thousands of us demanded an investigation into what happened there. An inquiry has now been launched by the influential Public Accounts Committee of MPs. [3]

Just last month, the government announced new rules which could force GPs to hand almost all health contracts to private companies. Over 350,000 of us signed the petition and wrote to our MPs. This helped force the government to withdraw the rules - a big win, though there's still more to do. [4]
It works because we all work together. So please help decide what we do next:

Should we be focusing on protecting the NHS from budget cuts? Stopping further privatisation? Supporting local campaigns like those against hospital closures? Or making sure that when managers fail to protect patient care, like in Mid Staffs, they're held properly responsible?

We can do a lot, but we can't do everything. So please vote to say what you think is most important:

Thanks for being involved,

Ian, Travis, Belinda and the 38 Degrees team

[1] 38 Degrees blog - NHS: Local Campaign Success in Bristol
38 Degrees blog - NHS: Local Campaign Success in Haringey
[2] 38 Degrees blog - You couldn't make it up!
[3] Parliament website - PAC Chair statement on out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall
[4] 38 Degrees blog - Meeting with health minister Norman Lamb

Follow 38 Degrees on Facebook and Twitter.

[ Still not sure why this `petition' came here - maybe David saw this analysis ]

Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2013 21:05:18 +0100
Subject: Re: global heating

Hi Dave, thanks for giving me a lot of work.

So have poked around for explanations and they're just not there (not in any consistent and believable way - just waffle about "possible changes in ocean circulations").  About 2,000 yrs ago it was very warm for about four hundred years (Roman Warm Period) which allowed the Romans to colonize N Europe (and grow vineyards in Northern England where it's much too cold just now).  Then it got colder for about four hundred years until it warmed up again (Medieval Warm Period).  None of that is really explained.

But one event I'm pretty certain about - the sudden cooling at 4,200 yrs ago.  If you read the `official version' at Wiki (below) it's not explained what started it - but I'd happened to hit on some clues some time ago - and, from the evidence of lots of charcoal around the world where trees can grow, it seems to have started with a "fire from the sky" event - i.e lots of impacts, then a nuclear winter lasting tens of years [maybe a hundred or more].  It's all recorded at normreal.html#egypt and large-event.txt
The 4.2 kiloyear BP aridification event was one of the most severe climatic events of the Holocene period in terms of impact on cultural upheaval.[1] Starting in 2200 BC, it probably lasted the entire 22nd century BC. It is very likely to have caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia.[2] The drought may have also initiated southeastward habitat tracking within the Harappan cultural domain.[3]
A phase of intense aridity in ~4.2 ka BP is well recorded across North Africa,[4] the Middle East,[5] the Red Sea,[6] the Arabian peninsula,[7] the Indian subcontinent,[3] and midcontinental North America.[8] Glaciers throughout the mountain ranges of western Canada advanced at about this time.[9] Evidence has also been found in an Italian cave flowstone,[10] and in Andean glacier ice.[11]
The onset of the aridification in Mesopotamia near 4100 B.P also coincided with a cooling event in the North Atlantic, known as Bond event 3.[1][12][13]
The drought may have caused the collapse of Neolithic Cultures around Central China during the late third millennium BC.[19] At the same time, the middle reaches of the Yellow River saw a series of extraordinary floods.[20] In the Yishu River Basin, the flourishing Longshan culture was hit by a cooling that made the paddies shortfall in output or even no seeds were gathered. The scarcity in natural resource led to substantial decrease in population and subsequent drop in archaeological sites
Adhikari and Kumon (2001), whilst investigating sediments in Lake Nakatsuna in central Japan, finding a warm period from AD 900 to 1200 that corresponded to the Medieval Warm Period and three cool phases, of which two could be related to the Little Ice Age.[36] Another research in northeastern Japan shows that there is one warm/humid interval from AD 750 to 1200, and two cold/dry intervals from AD 1 to 750 and 1200 to present.[7] Ge et al. studied temperatures in China during the past 2000 years; they found high uncertainty prior to the 16th century but good consistency over the last 500 years, highlighted by the two cold periods 1620s - 1710s and 1800s - 1860s, and the warming during the 20th century. They also found that the warming during the 10 - 14th centuries in some regions might be comparable in magnitude to the warming of the last few decades of the 20th century which was unprecedented within the past 500 years.[37]
A 1979 study from the University of Waikato found that "Temperatures derived from an 18O/16O profile through a stalagmite found in a New Zealand cave (40.67°S, 172.43°E) suggested the Medieval Warm Period to have occurred between AD 1050 and 1400 and to have been 0.75 °C warmer than the Current Warm Period."[38] The MWP has also been evidenced in New Zealand by an 1100-year tree-ring record.[39]
A reconstruction based on ice cores found the Medieval Warm Period could be distinguished in tropical South America from about 1050 to 1300, followed in the 15th century by the Little Ice Age. Peak temperatures did not rise as high as those from the late 20th century, which were unprecedented in the area during the study period going back around 1600 years.[40]

Graph of last 10,000 yrs Temps
The 8.2 kiloyear event is the term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6,200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. Milder than the Younger Dryas cold spell that preceded it, but more severe than the Little Ice Age that would follow, the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was a significant exception to general trends of the Holocene climatic optimum. During the event, atmospheric methane concentration decreased by 80 ppb or 15% emission reduction by cooling and drying at a hemispheric scale.[1] A rapid cooling around 6200 BCE was first identified by Swiss botanist Heinrich Zoller in 1960, who named the event Misox oscillation (for the Val Mesolcina).[2] It is also known as Finse event in Norway.[3] Bond et al. argued that the origin of the 8.2 kiloyear event is linked to a 1,500-year climate cycle; it correlates with Bond event 5.[4]

The strongest evidence for the event comes from the North Atlantic region; the disruption in climate shows clearly in Greenland ice cores and in sedimentary and other records of the temporal and tropical North Atlantic.[5][6][7] It is less evident in ice cores from Antarctica and in South American indices.[8][9] The effects of the cold snap were global, however, most notably in changes in sea level during the relevant era.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, April 06, 2013 7:53 PM
Subject: Re: global heating

Was any specific reason given for the periods of melting? It would be interesting to compare the causes from each period.

Quoting Ray D
Hi Dave - seems there's interesting info on that page - and it
> provoked a Wiki search: (below) - Ray

> Ice-core records suggest melting events so extreme have only
> happened once every 150 years or so over the past 4,000 years.
> The
> settlements, such as Brattahlíd, thrived for centuries but
> disappeared sometime in the 15th century, perhaps at the onset
> of the Little Ice Age.

Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2013 15:47:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Cat Signal!

Dear IDL members,
We need to beat back a bad proposal to expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) -- in a hurry. So we're asking the Internet Defense League to snap into action on Monday and Tuesday of next week. (April 8th and 9th.)

Our friends at Demand Progress have created code for an embeddable contact-Congress widget. Read more and grab the code here. Internet Defense League code will be available soon:

You'll be joining Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, EFF, Boing Boing, Reddit, and other great groups and sites as we stand together against this awful proposal.

As many of you probably know, our friend (and friend to many of you) Aaron Swartz committed suicide earlier this year, while he was being prosecuted for downloading too many academic articles from the JSTOR cataloguing site. Prosecutors were hanging four decades in prison over his head!

Aaron was charged under the CFAA, a law that passed in the mid-80s, before more than a handful of Americans even had personal computers -- let alone Internet access.

Yet law enforcement interprets this statute so broadly that it claims it criminalizes all sorts of mundane Internet use: potentially even breaking a website's fine print terms of service agreement. Don't set up a Myspace page for your cat. Don't fudge your height on a dating site. Don't share your Facebook password with anybody, ever. You could be committing a federal crime.

We've been pushing to change this, and have made some progress: Reps and Senators are pulling together a proposal called "Aaron's Law".

But... then last week members of the House Judiciary Committee floated an audacious proposal that would actually expand and harshen certain parts of the CFAA. Think of it as the opposite of Aaron's Law. And we're hearing that it could come up for a vote as soon as next week.

We need your helping beating back this awful proposal and to build momentum for Aaron's Law.

Please click here to read more and grab Demand Progress' code for our embeddable widgets (IDL code coming soon):

Reforming the CFAA is a real chance for the US Congress to make laws governing the Internet better and fairer. And it's a chance for the coalition that came together around SOPA to actually pass positive reform. If all of us take action next week, it won't just kill a bad bill, it will help us build real momentum to passing positive change in the wake of Aaron's death.


Holmes Wilson
Internet Defense League

Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2013 07:51:31 +0100
Subject: FWD - Crappy BBC claims "UK 'now has seven social classes'

Ha!  Typical of the class/wealth-obsessed, and snobby-arty fixated BBC.  Not only do they put the "aristocrats" (incompetent, inbred & worse) at the top, they only recognise wealth capital & social/cultural capital (as decided by `Establishment' & MSM).

The `Establishment' & MSM (which the BBC represents) just can't see reality:  I.e in today's world, and only partly due to the Internet, people earn their self-respect and the respect of their peers by what they say and do in interaction with others, maybe around the world.

So, like it's always been, real "capital" is how you see your life-actions (and how they're seen by your peers - those you respect) - maybe best expressed in the Buddhist / Hindu concept of `dharma':  i.e. discernment, self-enlightenment and self-control.

[N.b - Most of the folk I know and admire don't readily fit in _any_ of the BBC's "seven classes" - which tells me something]
3 April 2013 Last updated at 05:00
UK 'now has seven social classes'

People in the UK now fit into seven social classes, a major survey conducted by the BBC suggests. It says the traditional categories of working, middle and upper class are outdated, fitting 39% of people. It found a new model of seven social classes ranging from the elite at the top to a "precariat" - the poor, precarious proletariat - at the bottom. More than 161,000 people took part in the Great British Class Survey, the largest study of class in the UK.

Class has traditionally been defined by occupation, wealth and education. But this research argues that this is too simplistic, suggesting that class has three dimensions - economic, social and cultural. The BBC Lab UK study measured economic capital - income, savings, house value - and social capital - the number and status of people someone knows. The study also measured cultural capital, defined as the extent and nature of cultural interests and activities.

The new classes are defined as:

Elite - the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals

Established middle class - the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital

Technical middle class - a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy

New affluent workers - a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital

Traditional working class - scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66

Emergent service workers - a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital

Precariat, or precarious proletariat - the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital
(more at page ....)

Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2013 13:34:24 +0000
Subject: Training on using the FOI Act - 23 April 2013

Dear Colleague,

Using the FOI Act - training for requesters in London, 23 April 2013

Do you want to learn how to make effective use of the Freedom of Information Act?  Are you already using the Act, but want to know more about how the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal are interpreting its key provisions?

While making a FOI request is straightforward, making an effective request is more difficult.  The Campaign for Freedom of Information is running a practical training course designed to help requesters make effective use of the legislation.

The course is divided into two sessions.
The morning session provides a working guide to the legislation, covering both the Freedom of Information Act and the parallel Environmental Information Regulations, and includes an interactive session on drafting requests.  The afternoon session is more advanced and covers some of the key decisions made under both regimes and explains their implications for you.

The morning session will explain:

What information you are entitled to - and from whom
How to make an effective request
Key pitfalls and how to avoid them
What authorities should do to help you
When requests can be refused on cost grounds
How the Act's exemptions and the public interest test work
Challenging refusals

The afternoon session will look at key Tribunal and Commissioner cases on issues such as:

FOI requests for contracts
Minutes of meetings with lobbyists
Requests for civil service advice
Names of officials - can they be withheld?
Commercial confidentiality claims
When requests for environmental information really pay off
Arguing the public interest case

We think most requesters will benefit from attending the whole day. However, you're free to attend only one of the sessions if you wish.

The courses will be presented by Maurice Frankel, who has worked for the Campaign since it was established in 1984 and been its director since 1987, and Katherine Gundersen the Campaign's research officer.

The Campaign is uniquely placed to help requesters use the Act.  It has worked exclusively on FOI since 1984, playing a crucial role in persuading the government to introduce the Act, strengthening it in Parliament and fighting off later attempts to restrict it.

Further details are in the attached leaflet which can also be downloaded from from

Best wishes,
Katherine Gundersen

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

Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2013 08:48:59 +0000
Subject: NHS
From: David Babbs - 38 Degrees

Dear Ray,

We have a big meeting on Thursday - and I need your help to get ready for it.  Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb has agreed to meet with 38 Degrees representatives.  It's a chance for us to say what we think of his response to our campaign against dodgy, pro-privatisation NHS regulations.  [1] I need your help to plan what we say to him.

38 Degrees brings together over 1 million of us - too many to fit in one meeting room!  I'll only be able to take in a few other people with me.  But if everyone else takes a couple of minutes to fill in a short survey telling us what to say, it will help ensure 38 Degrees members' views are truly represented to the health minister.

The meeting is at 2pm on Thursday - please click here to fill in the quick survey before then:

In the past few weeks, we've proved again that people-powered campaigning can work.  Through a 350,000 signature petition, thousands of messages to MPs, and member-funded legal advice we helped push Norman Lamb to scrap the first version of these dodgy, pro-privatisation NHS regulations. [2]

But that's where things started getting more complicated.  Norman Lamb rushed to publish a new version of the regulations.  The new version does look a little bit better - but they are still nowhere near perfect. [3]

So 38 Degrees member donations paid for two extra bits of legal advice.  One, from an NHS law specialist, explains how Norman Lamb's new version still doesn't fully keep earlier promises not to impose privatisation. [4]  The other, from a competition law specialist, is a bit more positive but also says it may well be impossible for these promises to ever be fully met. [4]

That means we now have important choices to make about how we respond.  For example should we prioritise pointing out ways in which the new version of the regulations could be improved?  Or should we still be campaigning for the regulations to be scrapped altogether? [5]

It's not usual for 38 Degrees to go into Westminster for a meeting with a Minister.  Our power doesn't come from being chummy with politicians.  But on this occasion, we have a chance to put our views directly to the Minister just as he is deciding what to do next.

Norman Lamb will have to listen to us if he knows we speak on behalf of thousands and thousands of 38 Degrees members.  The more of us that have filled in the survey, the more weight my words will carry.  So please help by taking the quick survey now.

Thanks for everything you do,
David [Babbs]
Executive Director, 38 Degrees

PS: Are you happy for 38 Degrees reps to even go to a meeting like this?  I think it's probably a good opportunity, but 38 Degrees belongs to all of us and I'll cancel if a majority say we shouldn't go.  Have your say here:

[1] Under Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012
[2] The Telegraph, Norman Lamb: NHS competition rules must be reviewed:
[3] The new version of the regulations can be seen here:
[4] Our legal advice:
[5] This is quite an important decision.  We could decide the regulations still fall well short, and demand that the regulations are withdrawn for a second time and completely rewritten again.  But many experts advise that this is a very long shot and we may struggle to win.  On the other hand we could decide that we've done all we can to improve the regulations, and that the priority should be pushing for the Minister to write clear guidance to accompany the regulations.  This probably isn't as watertight a solution as rewriting the regulations, but we probably have a far higher chance of winning.
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[ Don't know why this `petition' came here - maybe David saw this analysis ]

Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 20:17:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Cat Signal!

Dear Internet Defense League member,

Last year, right on the heels of our historic victory against SOPA, a piece of really nasty legislation almost passed that would have radically undermined online privacy.

It was called CISPA.  And it raced through the US House of Representatives, passing before any of us had a chance to react.  We stalled the bill in the Senate, but now CISPA is back, and we don't want to make the same mistake twice.   Before there is *any* movement on the bill, we want to send a strong message to Congress that CISPA shouldn't pass.

That's why we're partnering with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to launch an Internet Defense League action starting tomorrow, Tuesday March 19th.

Can you participate?  If so, get the code for your site here:

And help get more people signed up by sharing this page with your social network:

Wait, what is CISPA?  And why does it matter so much?

CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) would give companies complete freedom to share your personal data with the US government.  It doesn't *require* them to do so, but if the government asked it would be hard to say no, and they'd have no reason to - CISPA would free them from any promises made to customers in public statements or privacy policies.

Your emails, your Facebook account, your bank statements, the websites you visit, your real-time location (courtesy of your cellphone company) - all of it could soon belong to a slew of government agencies and even local police, who could use it against you without a warrant.

Get the code:

The IDL action will display only tomorrow. The banner looks like this: The modal looks like this:

And they both link to this action page hosted by the EFF:

Please spread the word.

Thanks! Sincerely,
Holmes Wilson - Internet Defense League

P.S. If you'd like to learn more about CISPA, the EFF has a great FAQ page here:

Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 16:41:44 -0000
Subject: FWD - For folk too busy to research _real_ science on `climate-change'

The earth's climate is a huge dynamical system, and it seems to have at least two attractors:  the mild kind of climate we are currently experiencing and ice ages. You might think it a trifle odd to talk of ice ages when everybody's worrying about the greenhouse effect and global warming; but global warming is just a change of a few degrees.  It moves the "mild" attractor a little.  Ice ages take our climate to a totally different attractor, one that is colder by a hundred or more degrees.

We are currently on the mild attractor, but out in the space of the possible there lurks an ice age.  Disturbances - and we're throwing enough junk into the environment to create them ourselves - could switch our climate to the cold attractor.
And the really nasty feature is that it may take only the tiniest of changes to trigger the switch.  This is emphatically not a fantasy.  It is a respectable way of expressing some of the things we know about climate change.

We could tell a similar story about earthquakes, hurricanes, avalanches, and heart failure.  The universe is always ready to realize an unexpressed potential.

pp. 211/212 - `The Collapse of Chaos' by Profs. Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen, ISBN 0-670-84983-9

[posted to help folk who've read AGW Scam MSM article and maybe want background info]


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