Archive for category News
Foreign Office hoarding 1m historic files in secret archive
Justice secretary signed authorisation to place retention of files – some created in 19th century – on legal footing for 12 months
The Foreign Office has unlawfully hoarded more than a million files of historic documents that should have been declassified and handed over to the National Archive, the Guardian has discovered.
The files are being kept at a secret archive at a high-security government communications centre in Buckinghamshire, north of London, where they occupy mile after mile of shelving.
Most of the papers are many decades old – some were created in the 19th century – and document in fine detail British foreign relations throughout two world wars, the cold war, withdrawal from empire and entry into the common market.
They have been kept away from public view in breach of the Public Records Acts, which requires that all government documents become public once they are 30 years old – a term about to be reduced to 20 years – unless the department has received permission from the lord chancellor to hold them longer. The secret archive is also beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Foreign Office is not the only government department that has been unlawfully hoarding files. This month the Guardian disclosed that the Ministry of Defence was unlawfully holding more than 66,000 historic files at a warehouse in Derbyshire, including thousands of files from the army’s Northern Ireland headquarters.
However, the Foreign Office’s secret archive, which is estimated to hold around 1.2m files and occupies around 15 miles of floor-to-ceiling shelving, is believed to be far larger than the combined undisclosed archives of every other government department. One of Britain’s leading historians describes its size as “staggering”
A long-running feud has pitted protesters from a small town of 2,000 people in the shadows of Australia’s temperate rainforest against one of the world’s most recognisable brands.
Tranquil Tecoma, 35km (20 miles) east of central Melbourne, has become a battleground between McDonald’s and “community” protesters over the construction of a 24-hour drive-through restaurant.
Opponents say the restaurant would be too close to a nursery and primary school, would damage other businesses and disrupt the fabric of a leafy community known for its artists and wildlife.
The plan was initially rejected by the local council, but the fast-food giant won an appeal at a state planning tribunal, and work on the site is under way.
It’s been a two-and-a-half-year fight spanning two continents.
Last month, campaigners delivered a petition containing 97,000 signatures to the company’s global headquarters in Chicago.
Looking for a ‘tree change’
“We knocked on the door of every house in Tecoma and we discovered that nine out of 10 people didn’t want this,” says Garry Muratore, a spokesman for No McDonald’s in the Dandenong Ranges, who denies the group is on an anti-corporate crusade.
“They have the legal right, but they don’t have the moral right.
An Alaskan airport has closed an aircraft access route because of a flaw with Apple’s Maps app.
Fairbanks International Airport told a local newspaper that in the past three weeks two motorists had driven along the taxiway and across one of its runways.
Apple’s app directs users along the taxiway but does not specifically tell them to drive on to the runway.
As the sabers rattle in our nation’s capital and the argument is made for retaliation against the violence perpetrated upon the Syrian people through chemical attack, the pulse of everyday America beats to a different heart. A war-weary nation still struggles to get on its feet from a kind of violence wrought by the greed and corruption in our highest financial sectors. Those crimes against humanity have gone unpunished. Retaliation is best served “profitable,” as in fodder for a military industrial machine or companies with trusted household names like Halliburton.
Meanwhile, back in America’s backyard, food insecurity is directly related to unemployment and poverty and is fueled by hopelessness. A country that allows its seniors and children to go to bed hungry seems to me the greater violence that begs to be addressed by those in power.
Read more on Bread, Bombs and Bullshit.
A 5.7m (19ft) python has been seized after it fell from the ceiling of a charity shop in Australia.
The python, weighing 17kg (37lbs), was recovered by a snake-handler after police investigated a suspected break-in at the shop in Ingham, Queensland.
“Its head was the size of a small dog,” said police spokesman Sgt Don Auld.
The snake fell through a ceiling panel, smashing shop goods. Police said it may have got in through the roof, which was damaged by Cyclone Yasi in 2011.
When police were initially called to the property on Monday, they believed a person had fallen through the ceiling because the roof panel had been cut in half.
Crockery, clothes and other goods were scattered all over the floor.
Police were called back to the shop the following day when a large crowd formed outside.
Sgt Auld said the snake must have been hiding when police went there the first time.
It has been released in nearby wetlands.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Prime Minister) says no; and in doing so has opened the gates to exactly that possibility. Talk about being the author of ones own possible demise.
“Erdogan’s dismissive attitude to the mass demonstrations contrasted increasingly with President Abdullah Gul, who sounded conciliatory and pointedly rebutted Erdogan’s message. “Democracy does not mean elections alone,” he said, in what appeared to be a sharp riposte to the prime minister’s repeated insistence on the strength of his parliamentary mandate.” – The Guardian
Indeed, the demonstrations are democracy in action. Democracy is what the people want, not what the prime minister wants.
The question is, why does Erdogan insist so vehemently that these plans go ahead? Has he been paid by the developers for ensuring such a prime site? One must wonder. What other reason could there be?
But assuredly, Erdogan has blown his credibility, politically, I am sure he is finished.
What started as a protest over the redevelopment of a park has become a rebellion against the reign of the prime minister and the blame lies squarely on the prime minister’s shoulders.
The protestors have reason, cities need lungs, Gezi Park is just that in a sea of asphalt and buildings. Claimed to be the last green area in the city.
Dutch government to probe export of milk formula to China
The Dutch government is investigating a shortage of certain brands of baby formula, as well as potentially illegal exports of the products to China.
However, the Dutch Economic Affairs ministry said there was no national shortage in the country.
Tainted milk scandals in China have created distrust of local brands, with families willing to pay a premium for foreign brands.
Hong Kong, Australia and the UK have set limits on the sale of baby formula.
Let the Chinese have it!
Put Western babies back on the breast where they belong!
Windows 8 to be redesigned by Microsoft as PC sales plummet
Biggest expectation is that update will revive start button familiar to users for 17 years before removal from Windows 8
When Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer first revealed his software for the touchscreen world in February 2012, he said he was “betting the company” on it.
But just six months after the official release, Microsoft – which relies on Windows licences for about half its profits – is getting ready to make compromises to key aspects of the software. It comes after its leap into the tablet computing future was described as “confusing” (or worse) by new users and has been blamed for plummeting sales of PCs, which had their sharpest drop on record in the first three months of this year, down 14%.
The biggest expectation is that the update to Windows 8, codenamed Blue and due within a few weeks, will revive the start button that had been familiar to users for 17 years but which was removed from the new version.
If correct, it will be a U-turn as momentous in its way as Coca-Cola’s abandonment of “New Coke” in 1985 just three months after its launch following consumer protests.
Tami Reller, promoted to head Microsoft’s Windows division after Ballmer ejected former chief Steve Sinofsky in November, announced on an internal Microsoft blog on Monday that Blue will be “an opportunity for us to respond to the customer feedback that we’ve been closely listening to” since the October launch.
“Are there things that we can do to improve the experience? Absolutely,” Reller told the Associated Press. “There is a learning curve [to Windows 8] and we can work to address that.”
The principal challenge for experienced users of Windows is the total absence of a Start button, familiar since 1995 as the place with all their programs and shortcuts stored in a huge list. Windows 8 instead introduces a layer of giant “tiles” over the traditional desktop.
But users find that perplexing – so much so that one of the bestselling apps on Windows 8 has been Stardock, which lets the user add the start button back in, and ModernMix, which lets tile apps run on the old desktop. That will have given Reller pause – along with the fact that sales of Windows PCs have shrunk for the past four quarters, declining sharply year-on-year by 11.4% between January-March to about 74m.
The blame for that was put squarely at Sinofsky’s door by Bob O’Donnell of the research company IDC: “At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” he said.
MicroSoft finally admits it screwed up!
I haven’t touched a MicroSoft product since XP, as far as I can see all the innovations since then have been utter CRAP!
While MicroSoft need products for the tablets and smartphones with touch screen technology, there is still a world that uses PCs and if they can’t keep a decent platform for them, they will continue to lose market share.
I will never consider this ‘Blue’ thing either.
I went to buy a new PC, it was loaded with Windows 8, I asked for it to be converted to XP and was told it couldn’t be done. I didn’t buy the PC. I went next door and bought an older secondhand (newer than the one I’ve got) and refurbished it and installed XP.
XP is the ONLY MicroSoft product that I, and I am sure many others, have any confidence in!