Friday, May 22, 2009

Barack Obama - Is there no end to cronyism in Washington?

Barack Obama is on record as saying that he wanted to offer more of the top diplomatic jobs to career diplomats.

Despite a promise to end cronyism in Washington, Barack Obama is expected to appoint one of his home town friends and financial backers Louis Susman, a lawyer and financier with little experience of foreign affairs, to the plum posting of US ambassador to London.

The London posting is not alone in being used to reward political supporters. Other positions in Europe are expected to be filled on the basis of patronage with Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, who campaigned for Obama, becoming the US ambassador to Dublin.

If confirmed it continues the practice adopted by previous administrations where ambassadors have been political appointees more interested in country walks than Iraq or nuclear non-proliferation and most of the work is left to the embassy's number twos who are usually career diplomats.

Is this simply a continuation of cronyism, is it a one off, or an intentional snub to the United Kingdom?

Participate in this open survey Barack Obama - Is there no end to cronyism in Washington?

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Important is the Freedom of Information Act?

British MPs have for a long time being trying very hard to ensure that they are not bound under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act.

Since the FOI act was introduced pariliament has filibustered on requests to release certain information, arguing that there should be restrictions in the volume of requests made by the media, the right for MPs to refuse requests on the grounds of cost and that an exemption was needed to protect correspondence between MPs and their constituents from being published.

Early in 2007 there was a concerted effort to pass an amedment to the FOI act that would have effectively removed both the Commons and House of Lords from the list of public authorities obliged to release information under the 2000 act, which when only came into force in 2005 with the purpose of making government more open and accessible and accountable.

Parliament fought tooth and nail to prevent details of their expenses from being released under FOI requests but despite their delay tactics detailed information on their expense claims has now started to enter the public domain and exposed MPs from all parties to have been guilty of milking the expense system.

There have been repeated calls under the FOI act for the release of the minutes of the cabinet meetings that led to the British support for the US led invasion of Iraq.

These requests have been rejected on grounds that what is said in cabinet must remain private.

Many feel that Britain was involved in an illegal war and that those who authorised Britain's involvement were fully aware at the time that the argument for war was seriously flawed.

Does the recent scandal relating to MPs expenses demonstrate the power of having an effective FOI in place?

Should politicians be responsible and held to account for decisions they make?

Should minutes of cabinet meetings be released in a timescale so that those responsible for operating above the law can be prosecuted?

Participate in this open survey How Important is the Freedom of Information Act?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Water Boarding Torture or Enhanced Interrogation?

The water board technique dates back to the 1500s during the Italian Inquisition. A bound and gagged prisoner has water poured over him to make him think he is about to drown.

When he was President George Bush said that such techniques were not torture and merely an acceptable form of enhanced interrogation.

President Obama wasted no time and outlawed its use as soon as he took office - where do you stand?

Participate in this open survey Water Boarding Torture or Enhanced Interrogation?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Promoting Your Survey - Update

We have updated the promoting your survey information to include the opportunuity that social media websites bring.

Social Media Sites

Social media sites are websites such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube that operate in the ever expanding social media market space that at the time of writing had over fifty such offerings.

Some social media sites such as those previously mentioned are general in their target market, others like LinkedIn, and Ecademy are aimed squarely at the business and commercial world.

All social media sites provide a shop window for attracting participants to a survey and can be used effectively to target a particular group that matches the particular survey's target market.

As the number of social media sites increase, they can become very niche and for example if a survey was published that was on green issues and the survey's publisher wanted to target environmentalist they could use the social media site Care2 to promote the survey since Care2 is 'the global network for organizations and people who Care2 make a difference' aimed squarely at businesses that are keen to be proactive in going green.