Mark Field, Minister for Asia and the Pacific, attended the annual Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on 20-21 March. The forum was attended by more than 2,000 participants from government, private sector and civil society from over 120 countries.This year’s forum was focused on ‘Tech for Trust’: looking at how new technologies are not only changing government, business and society but also opening new avenues for corrupt behaviours and simultaneously offering new tools to address them.In his speech to forum attendees, the Minister said:Secretary General, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It is a great pleasure to be here with the corralling power of the OECD to bring together such a wide range of people from across the globe. Something I feel passionate about, I look upon this organisation as being one of the absolute pillars in this work and hope that you continue to stand up for these values.And it’s a great pleasure to follow you, Secretary General. I very much endorse what you said about using technology to help us tackle corruption, and I thank you for including the example of our Serious Fraud Office using Artificial Intelligence.That is just one example among many.Another is the OECD’s Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Hub, which the UK will be funding as part of our new £45 million Global Anti-Corruption Programme that I launched here yesterday.The Hub will give all its users access to a huge bank of OECD data and analysis, and enable them to engage both with the OECD and with everyone else who is working to tackle corruption.The UK is also successfully using technology to improve transparency and prevent corrupt interests inserting themselves in the public procurement process, thanks to our Government Digital Service.Under our new Anti-Corruption Programme, we will be sharing this digital model with target countries to help them achieve greater transparency and scrutiny of bids for public contracts.Secretary General, you rightly say that technology can also prove destructive in the wrong hands, which is why the theme of this conference – Tech for Trust – is so apt.As technology becomes part of every sphere of life, trust – or lack of it – is becoming a real issue. This particularly applies to the media, including social media, so I am pleased that today’s discussion will focus on that, and the dangers of disinformation.Because as we are increasingly aware, corruption is not just about money. To its great credit, the OECD is trying to address the issue holistically, as this discussion shows.DisinformationOf course disinformation is by no means a new phenomenon.Indeed, to be frank with you, at the height of the Cold War the UK was involved in activities which might today be characterised as propaganda or fake news. But those were very different times.Today, mindful of our values, and the vital importance of freedom of speech, propaganda is not a tool we deploy, but an evil we strive to counter and expose. And there is a growing need to do so. Changes in how we read and process information, and the rise of the internet, have given new wings to an age-old problem.Technology has become a breeding ground for new and insidious ways to deceive audiences, and allow false or manipulated information to spread further and faster than ever before, often at low cost.We know that more and more people rely on social media for their news and that many of them are aware that the information they are reading could have been manipulated. This has led to a growing sense of suspicion and distrust – even towards reputable news outlets.In fact last year the Reuters Institute found that less than half of the UK population had faith in the news they were reading.Of course the problem goes beyond undermining public trust in their news sources. When the information around us is deliberately confused, it can have serious, and much wider, consequences.Conspiracy theories and malign information on social media can also fracture community cohesion; reduce trust in institutions; and undermine the perception of the integrity of governments, constitutions and democratic processes.The UK Government is deeply concerned about this threat and we are taking action to confront it. Our aim is to take a ‘whole of society’ approach and to address the issue on three fronts:First, by bearing down on the sources of disinformation themselves;Secondly, by tackling vulnerabilities in social media that enable disinformation to spread;and thirdly, by empowering audiences to recognise disinformation and protect themselves from it.We are very aware of the balance between tackling online threats effectively on the one hand, while promoting technological innovation and respecting freedom of expression on the other.Protecting media freedom, and our citizens’ freedom of expression, is absolutely fundamental because they are essential elements of any healthy democracy.Whatever we do to tackle disinformation, we will not put those fundamental freedoms at risk. That’s because, as we all know, a robust, free, vibrant and varied media will itself help to challenge disinformation and raise awareness of it.And we also know that the countries with the freest and most trusted media also suffer the least corruption.London ConferenceThis is why, this year, the flagship campaign of the UK Foreign Office is about championing media freedom and the protection of journalists. As the centrepiece of that campaign, we will co-host, with Canada, a major international conference in London in July.We will bring together ministers, key industry figures, civil society, academia and the media to push for a greater appreciation of the value of an independent media, and a more co-ordinated approach to securing the safety of media professionals.I hope we can count on your support.ConclusionTo conclude, ladies and gentlemen, while we must continue to embrace innovation and reap the benefits of new technologies, we must also ensure sufficient safeguards are in place against the threats they pose. Those threats are global and cannot be addressed by any one country alone.It is therefore vital that we work together, in forums like this, to ensure that we keep abreast of new technologies – and ideally one step ahead of those who would misuse them.The UK has a long tradition of championing good governance and fundamental human rights, including a free media. We are a steadfast opponent of corruption, in all its forms, and a steadfast advocate for an online environment that is free, open, peaceful and secure.We are committed to working with our OECD partners, and with tech companies, industry, academia and civil society to create such an environment, one that is worthy of the trust of our citizens, and that respects and safeguards our fundamental human rights.
By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaKroger customers can help build a new cabin at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center by buying a $1 paper icon at any of the grocery retailer’s 173 stores across Georgia between now and Feb. 2. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Georgians to support an organization that has provided countless opportunities for our children throughout the years,” said Glynn Jenkins, Kroger communications director.Kroger is the first corporate partner in the Rock Eagle 4-H Center Cabin Campaign, said Mary Ann Parsons, the Georgia 4-H Foundation director of development. Campaign organizers hope to raise $27 million to construct 52 new cabins, including the Kroger cabin, at the center, which is near Eatonton, Ga.“At the conclusion of this campaign, we will not only have raised funds to support the 4-H program,” Jenkins said, “but we will also have informed Kroger customers and others across Georgia about the important role Georgia 4-H plays in shaping our children.”The center has 54 cabins originally designed in the 1950s and renovated in the late 1980s. They have given shelter to more than 3 million 4-H’ers and adults.In 2004, a new prototype cabin was built at the center. It is open for use now. The new cabins will be handicap accessible and accommodate 22 people.To find the Kroger store nearest you, visit www.kroger.com. To learn more about the fundraising project, visit www.georgia4hfoundation.org.
US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has formally informed US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials of his concerns about the size and scope of the new port of entry planned for Morses Line, Vermont. In a letter to CBP s acting commissioner, Leahy asked the agency to improve consultation with local landowners, to review the size and scope of the project, and to protect the historic resources near the border. The text of Leahy s letter, which was submitted during the official comment period on the proposed project, is below.Leahy also announced that an official from the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency handling portions of the planning process for CBP, will meet with the Rainvilles later this week to review the latest land acquisition and design plans. I understand the need to replace the Morses Line port of entry that is now more than 70 years old, said Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved funding for the project. However, any new facility needs to be right-sized for its purpose and location. I appreciate that after my inquiry the Army Corps will be meeting with the Rainville family later this week. I expect that they will be kept apprised of the planning, design, and construction process for the new port from now on.Information on the project can be found online at: http://www.northernbordernepa.com/(link is external). Public comments may be submitted on or before October 14 by mail or online at:Northern BorderP.O. Box 6760Chesterfield, MO [email protected](link sends e-mail)[The text of the letter Leahy has submitted during the project Comment Period is below or you can view a PDF of the letter online at http://leahy.senate.gov/DOX/093009MorsesLineLetter.pdf.](link is external)September 30, 2009Mr. Jayson P. AhernActing CommissionerU.S. Customs and Border Protection1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20229Dear Acting Commissioner Ahern:I write to comment on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Modernization and Operation of the Morses Line Land Port of Entry in Franklin County, Vermont.I understand the need to replace this port of entry that now is more than 70 years old. However, any new facility needs to be right-sized for its purpose and location. After reviewing the draft document and having staff members visit the site, I do not believe that the size and scope of this proposal fits the operational conditions at Morses Line, where Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted just 16,140 inspections in 2007, and the port is staffed by only two officers from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily.First, I am concerned about the lack of outreach by CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers to affected landowners and neighbors. I understand that prior to a recent inquiry by my office, CBP and the Army Corps had not contacted the adjacent landowners about the design and construction process since May, and that these landowners found out about the draft environmental assessment from an ad in a local newspaper. I appreciate that the Army Corps subsequently has set up a meeting with these landowners, and I ask and expect that they will be kept apprised of the planning, design, and construction process.Second, I am concerned about the large amount of land envisioned for the new port of entry. I do not believe that the federal government needs to purchase 10 acres of prime farmland for this port, as there are several steps that could be taken to reduce the footprint of the project, including moving the new port closer to the existing road, streamlining the roadway s circulation pattern, and reducing the number of parking spaces. In addition, I suggest that CBP allow the adjacent landowners to continue farming any unused land surrounding the security fence at the new port.Third, I am concerned about protecting the historic resources in the area around the Morses Line port of entry. While the draft document refers to a draft Memorandum of Agreement between CBP and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, I suggest that CBP make that document available to the public and expressly declare that all resources eligible or listed on the National Register of Historic Places will be preserved.Thank you in advance for your consideration of these comments. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.Sincerely,PATRICK LEAHYUnited States Senator Source: Leahy’s office. (WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2009)
Topics : Claycourt master Rafa Nadal passed his first real test of this year’s French Open with a 7-6(4) 6-4 6-1 victory against Italian rising star Jannik Sinner as his quest for a record-breaking 13th title gathered momentum on Tuesday.The Spaniard, also looking to match Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, was stretched like rarely before by the 19-year-old Sinner as he set up a clash with Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who beat him in the Italian Open quarter-finals last month.The 34-year-old Nadal’s 97 previous victories at Roland Garros made the difference in the key moments with the Spaniard rallying from a break down in the first two sets.Sinner, the first French Open debutant to reach the last eight since Nadal in 2005, confirmed his immense potential but lacked just a bit of composure when it mattered.