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Secrecy in the “Sunshine Era”
March 28th, 2015 - (0 Comments)

Secrecy

Image via Flickr user stevendepolo

In the 1970s, a series of laws ushered in a new “sunshine era” of unprecedented government transparency. In his new book Secrecy in the Sunshine Era, Jason Ross Arnold (Virginia Commonwealth University) investigates how, despite these reforms, government officials developed new workarounds, including overclassification, concealment, shredding, and burning. And: Has the Magna Carta’s 800-year legacy been a snowball of misinterpretations? Thomas McSweeney (College of William and Mary) says he doesn’t think its authors intended it to be the foundational text for common law that it became. Plus: Last year, a commission of experts found new history textbooks approved by the Board of Education in Texas were pushing a specific ideology. One of the experts, Emile Lester (University of Mary Washington), says parts of the textbooks weren’t just misleading; they were false.

Later in the show: Waldo Jaquith is a pioneer in using the web to foster more open and accessible government. His projects include Ethics.gov for the White House, States Decoded, and a website that allows users to watch video of floor action in state capitols and even vote on what they’d like to see in a bill. Also featured: Electronic health records can save billions of dollars and increase patient safety. But in the United States, they can also put individual privacy at risk, more so than in the European Union. Janine Hiller (Virginia Tech) spent a semester in Sweden studying Europe’s approach to balancing patient privacy and health rights. And: Wikipedia has been viewed with skepticism or worse in the academic community. But Kyle Nicholas (Old Dominion University) has his students edit Wikipedia pages to develop their critical thinking skills and media literacy.