This seems to be serious, but most of the people committing the crime are being released by the courts. (Understanding White Collar Crime)
Question 3a: What is a FOIA request and is it likely to be granted?
The request is under the Freedom of Information Act, and it is targeted to the United States Department of Justice, and there is no reason to think that the Department of Justice will refuse to reply. The question is of political interference occurring affecting the trial in the last stages of the trial against the cigarette industry. Let us not assume that the Department of Justice is now being totally controlled by the politicians, and that is why they will stop from replying. At worst, there will be the appointment of a committee to investigate and look into the matter. Even that will help the cigarette industry as they will get more time, which is probably what they are looking for. As for the legal theory supporting the change of mind by the Department of Justice, it is difficult to point out any reasons, but there may be some other considerations which may not have been made public. (TPLP to issue a Freedom of Information act request to U.S. Department of Justice over dramatic retreat in Tobacco Rico Trial)
3b. What is RICO and how is it being applied in this case?
RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. This act has been applied by the civil division of the Department of Justice in this case after the cigarette companies were brought under the civil provisions of the act. These enforcers have done a good job in showing that the cigarette companies had violated the law and thus set up a racketeering organization. At the same time, there are now rulings from the United States Court of appeals which find this action not in order. The basic question is whether RICO can be used for stopping these actions. It is a legal controversy, and it is best left to the experts to continue arguing about these, as there will be interpretations and counter-interpretations. (TPLP to issue a Freedom of Information act request to U.S. Department of Justice over dramatic retreat in Tobacco Rico Trial)
3c Does the tobacco industry's political ties subvert the public interest?
There is no proof that there is a direct link of the tobacco industry to the politicians, more than any other industry. All industrialists use their own connections for their own benefits, and if the tobacco industry is also doing it, there should be no surprises. Regarding the public, ultimately who cares? It is just the question of votes and well you have to vote for one - Republican or Democrat. Both want money much more than votes and that comes only from the business interests.
3d How might this case relate to recent reports of a high government official editing a global climate change report?
There is no direct proof of a link, but according to New York Times, there are internal documents of the White House which show that Mr. Cooney has edited government climate reports in a manner that reduces the connections between emissions from emissions and global warming. This person has been now promoted to be the chief of staff for White House Council on Environmental Quality. Apparently he has changed many words to make it seem that findings which experts feel are sure to make them sound doubtful. He has never had any scientific training but was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute till 2001. (Bush Aide edited climate reports) Well the truth about Cooney is probably being exposed by New York Times, but there are no such reports yet about a link in this regard.
3e Are anti-smoking education programs effective?
One does not know much about anti-smoking education, but in practice, one can see that smoking is coming down over the last thirty years or so. This is happening more due to information from research findings about the harms of smoking than any other reason. Anti-smoking campaigns can help, but it is very difficult to measure the relative effects of the different reasons when the trend of the habit itself is down. In short, the contribution through this method is practically unknown.
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