Jack Straw's Plan to Keep it Zipped

For The Observer/Guardian UK
I am convinced the only person in Britain with a true understanding of the consequences of Freedom of Information is Jack Straw. The home secretary's critics claim his resistance to FoI is rooted in some pathological distrust of open democracy. That's quite unfair. His concerns are rational indeed. This government has some very specific information – records of meetings,phone calls, deals – it would hope to keep very un-free.

UK Fat Cats? Mere Kittens

For The Observer/Guardian UK
It's that time of year again, when executive pay league tables hit the headlines and set off a chorus of union leaders, professors of ethics and the plain jealous who yowl about fat cat pay.
The Monks Partnership issues the most-watched listing and has given The Observer a sneak preview. This year, the finger-waggers won't be disappointed. The bosses' pay is up by an average 9 per cent over last year's 546,000, excluding share options. Take away inflation and that's three-and-a-half times the percentage pay hike for the average British employee.

Bank Appoints Controversial TV Evangelist

The Bank of Scotland has appointed the controversial American TV evangelist Dr Pat Robertson as chairman of its US retail banking holding company. The fundamentalist minister is known in America as founder and president of the 1.2-million member far-right Christian Coalition and for his statements attacking feminists, homosexuals, Democrats and Hindus.

Are Scots on the Oregon Trail a lot Smarter than they seem?

While we were in jail in Washington during the war in Vietnam, my comrades and I spent part of our night as guests of the state singing several choruses of the song, ‘Waist Deep in the Big Muddy'.
I would not compare Scottish Power chairman Ian Robinson to President Lyndon Johnson. And Robinson's invasion of the US power industry through his plan to purchase PacifiCorp of Oregon is not exactly the landing at Da Nang. But there is a little bit of LBJ's resolute optimism, while marching deeper into the quicksand, which has me humming that old song.

Don't Buy Exxon's Fable Of The Drunken Captain

For The Guardian UK
Thirty years ago this month, Alaskan natives sold Exxon and its partners an astronomically valuable patch of land — the oil terminal at Valdez for a single dollar.
The Chugach Natives of the Prince William Sound refused cash. Rather, in 1969, they asked only that the oil companies promise to protect their fishing and seal hunting grounds from oil.

Ten Years After But Who Was To Blame?

By Gregory Palast for The Observer/Guardian UK
The captain, Joe Hazelwood, was below decks, sleeping off his bender. The man left at the helm, the third mate, would never have hit Bligh Reef had he simply looked at his Raycas radar. But he could not. Why? Because the radar was not turned on. The complex Raycas system costs a lot to operate, so a frugal Exxon management left it broken and useless for the entire year before the grounding.

Monsanto saw Secret EU Documents
US Biotech Firm under Fire in Europe

Monsanto, the US biotech group fined in an English court last week for failing to control genetic modification trials, is under attack on two new fronts. First for obtaining an advance look at confidential European Commission documents during its campaign to win regulatory approval for its controversial bovine growth hormone (BST). Second, because of its legal actions against hundreds of North American farmers for failing to pay for its genetically modified seeds.