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Leahy marks Sunshine Week with FOIA hearing

first_imgThe Congress has also made good progress in strengthening FOIA.  Last year, the Senate unanimously passed the Faster FOIA Act ‘ a bill that Senator Cornyn and I introduced to establish a bipartisan Commission to study FOIA and to make recommendations to Congress on ways to further improve FOIA.  We will reintroduce this bill later this week.  As Americans from every corner of our Nation commemorate Sunshine Week 2011, they have many good reasons to cheer.  I am pleased that one of President Obama’s first official acts when he took office was to issue a historic new directive to strengthen FOIA.  Just yesterday, the Department of Justice launched the new FOIA.gov website, which compiles all of the Department’s FOIA data in one online location. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) held a hearing Tuesday on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nation’s premier open government law.  The nation is celebrating Sunshine Week, an observance of the importance of an open and transparent government.The Vermont Legislature is going through the process of rewriting its open meeting and open records laws (ACLU explantaion). ‘The right to know is a cornerstone of our democracy,’ said Leahy.  ‘Without it, citizens are kept in the dark about key policy decisions that directly affect their lives.  Without public access to government information, officials can make decisions in the shadows, sometimes in collusion with special interests, escaping accountability for their actions.  In the digital age, FOIA remains an indispensable tool in protecting the people’s right to know.Leahy is a longtime advocate of open, transparent government, and has been a leader in Congress in pushing for reforms to update and strengthen FOIA.  He is the co-author of the OPEN Government Act, which was signed into law in 2007, and which made the first major reforms to FOIA in more than a decade.  He is also the co-author of the OPEN FOIA Act, which required greater transparency for legislative exemptions to FOIA.  The legislation was signed into law in October 2009. Member statements and witness testimony, as well as a webcast of the hearing, are available online. # # # # # Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),Chairman, Committee On The JudiciaryHearing On ‘The Freedom Of Information Act:  Ensuring Transparency And Accountability In The Digital Age’   March 15, 2011Today, the Committee holds an important hearing on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  When Congress enacted FOIA more than 40 years ago, this watershed law ushered in a new and unprecedented era of transparency in government.  Four decades later, FOIA continues to give citizens access to the inner workings of their government and to guarantee the right to know for all Americans. I hope that the Congress will quickly enact this good government legislation.  There is also reason to cheer the recent unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T Inc., concluding that corporations do not have a right of personal privacy under the Freedom of Information Act.  I am pleased that, in reaching this decision, our highest court honored congressional intent about the narrow scope of the personal privacy exemption to FOIA. These FOIA victories have made our Government more open and accountable to the American people.  But, our Government is still not as open and accessible to its citizens as it could ‘ and should ‘ be.Implementation of FOIA continues to be hampered by the increasing use of exemptions ‘ especially under section (b)(3) of FOIA.  Last year, Senators Grassley, Cornyn and I worked together on a bipartisan basis to repeal an overly-broad FOIA (b)(3) exemptions in the historic Wall Street reform bill, so that the American public will have access to important information about the state of our financial system.It is also essential that the American people have a FOIA law that is not only strengthened by reform, but properly enforced.  A report released yesterday by the National Security Archive found that, while there has been some progress in implementing the President’s FOIA reforms, only about half of the Federal agencies surveyed have taken concrete steps to update their FOIA guidance and assess their FOIA resources.  FOIA delays also continue to be a problem.  Twelve of the agencies surveyed had pending FOIA requests that were more than six years old, according to the report.  That is simply unacceptable.I am pleased that we have representatives from the Department of Justice and the Office of Government Information Services to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts to address these concerns and strengthen FOIA.  We are also fortunate to have a distinguished panel of FOIA experts to provide valuable perspectives on the importance of FOIA in guaranteeing the public’s right to know. I have said many times before ‘ during both Democratic and Republican administrations ‘ that freedom of information is neither a Democratic issue, nor a Republican issue.  It is an American issue.  I value the bipartisan partnership on FOIA matters that I have shared with Senator Cornyn over the years.  I will continue to work with Senator Cornyn, Senator Grassley and others on this Committee to advance freedom of information, so that the right to know is preserved for future generations.  I thank all of the distinguished witnesses that are appearing before the Committee today.  I look forward to today’s discussion. The Attorney General has also issued new FOIA guidance to help make our government agencies more open to the American people.  Last year, the Obama administration also issued another FOIA memorandum instructing federal agencies to update their FOIA training and guidance. The right to know is a cornerstone of our democracy.  Without it, citizens are kept in the dark about key policy decisions that directly affect their lives.  Without public access to government information, officials can make decisions in the shadows, sometimes in collusion with special interests, escaping accountability for their actions.  In the digital age, FOIA remains an indispensable tool in protecting the people’s right to know. WASHINGTON (Tuesday, March 15, 2011) ‘  # # # # #last_img read more

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The conspicuous silence from euthanasia activists about Belgium’s horrific child euthanasia law

first_imgLifeSiteNews 19 February 2014The Belgian Parliament passed a change to their euthanasia laws on the 14th of February making euthanasia available to minors – children. One commentator incorrectly – but nonetheless poignantly called it a ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’. Most, however, questioned the ability of minors to make such grave decisions and/or the problems with euthanasia in general, of which child euthanasia is a savage symptom.Listed against the proposal were a group of some 200 Belgian paediatricians, a group from within the Assembly of the Council of Europe and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) who issued a declaration from their international conference in Mumbai in the days preceding the vote. The ICPCN were clear: euthanasia is not part of palliative care and is not an alternative to palliative care.While our thoughts go out to our Belgian colleagues and friends who fought valiantly against this latest bill, other Belgians, like Bart Sturtewagen, the Chief Editor of De Standaard newspaper – one of Belgium’s largest daily newspapers – seemed more than a little angry at the international attention.“I’m annoyed at hearing ‘you’ll kill children’ in the foreign media. We don’t use that kind of language anymore. It’s a very different debate on a different level,” he said. Sturtewagen was responding to comments such as this one from U.S. publishing executive Steve Forbes who wrote in an opinion piece last month: “We are on the malignantly slippery slope to becoming a society like that envisioned by Nazi Germany, one in which ‘undesirables’ are disposed of like used tissue.”And it was the subtle and not-so subtle references elsewhere to the Nazi regime and the pre-war death program for those considered by the regime to be ‘unworthy of life’ that must have rancoured. The group statement from members of the Assembly of the Council for Europe made such an allusion when they said that child euthanasia, “promotes the unacceptable belief that a life can be unworthy of life which challenges the very basis of civilised society.” (Emphasis added)Sturtewagen also told the Reuters network that after 12 years of legal euthanasia in the country, Belgians had grown used to it as an option for the final stages of their lives.Australian academics, White and Wilmott, noted pro-euthanasia & assisted suicide authors, tried to dismiss the Belgian news in an article on The Conversation website: “Belgium is literally on the other side of the world in terms of this issue, due in part to a different culture and history in this field.”All cultures vary by degrees, but one would have thought that the Nazi experience of last century would have informed Belgian culture a great deal – even 60 plus years on. But what is more to the point, and where the difference really lies, is the 12 years’ experience in killing people, as Sturtewagen observed.Other pro-euthanasia commentators have been less defensive – but most have been utterly silent. Sean Davidson of the pro-euthanasia group Dignity South Africa made the only comments I can find in the Anglophone world from pro-euthanasia groups actually condemning the move. (Davidson was tried and found guilty in 2011 of assisting his mother to die in New Zealand.) He told the Volksblad newspaper: (Google translation from Afrikaans)“I can understand why the Belgian legislature’s responsiveness to this decision was motivated, but it is hard to believe that a child is able to make an informed decision about his or her life, while there are adults with those difficulty understanding. It often happens that an adult decision to his or her life to end when they are terminally ill, but their lives and clinging to the end unable to deal with the decision to push through it.“How can it be expected that a young child such a decision?”But he also told Volksblad that “Adults do not even always understand the concept of euthanasia.” This is something of an admission that even euthanasia for adults includes indelible risks. No, it really can’t be made safe, no matter what the so-called safeguards.http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/the-conspicuous-silence-from-euthanasia-activists-about-belgians-horrific-clast_img read more

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(Updated) Ighalo’s Goal Secures Maximum Points for Nigeria

first_imgEagles playing against Burundi — the lowest-ranked side at the tournament — had problems in the first half as the deep playing John Obi Mikel could not fit well into the role having been converted to a defensive midfielder.The Burundians had struck the crossbar in the first half through defender Frederic Nsabiyumva’s looping header to signal they were not in Egypt to make up the numbers.With a series of substitutions with Mikel going out for Ahmed Musa and Ighalo coming in for Paul Onuachu, the game changed for the three-time African champions.In the other game of the group, Guinea will face Madagascar in a debutant affair. Substitute Odion Ighalo’s 77th minutes lone strike was all Nigeria needed to beat Burundi on Saturday in Alexandria to begin the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on a promisory note.The former Watford front man curled finish past Burundi goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana from an Ola Aina back heel flip to register his presence in the tournament.Ighalo was the highest scorer in the qualifier with seven goals. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more