Dirt Diggers Digest No. 57
December 8, 2004

Editor: Philip Mattera

1. Chinese-government-backed business search engine debuts
2. EPA releases 2003 TRI data ahead of schedule
3. Improvements in lobbyist disclosure information
4. European social responsibility organizations form research group
5. Electronic files for federal courts now include criminal cases
6. Ziggs search engine targets people in business
7. CRS looks at data mining
8. Factiva gains ground on Nexis

1. Chinese-government-backed business search engine debuts

Accoona <www.accoona.com>, the latest entry in the search
engine derby, was launched this week with a high degree of
hype--including a speech by Bill Clinton, whose spokesperson
later insisted it was a (paid) speaking engagement rather than
a product endorsement. Be that as it may, Clinton's appearance
was made more controversial by the fact that Accoona's main
backer is China Daily Information Company, which operates the
official Chinese government website. Accoona's website contains
a quote from an official acknowledging the Chinese government's
support of the project.

Apart from questions about who's involved, the early product reviews
of Accoona--which boasts about its use of articial intelligence--have
not been positive. Online information guru Gary Price writes that
Accoona "isn't ready to play ball in the big leagues." (See his article at
An article in today's edition of Newsday
reports that some of the information obtained via Accoona's Business
Profiles feature was incorrect. Accoona won't reveal the source of the
company information.

2. EPA releases 2003 TRI data ahead of schedule

The Environmental Protection Agency has for the first time released
facility emissions reports obtained as part of the annual Toxics Release
Inventory (TRI) exactly as they are submitted to the agency rather than waiting
until the data are processed and analyzed. The early release of the reports,
which cover 2003, appears to be a response to the frequent criticisms of the
two-year lag time between data submittal and public availability in previous
TRIs. The full release, including analysis, will take place in the Spring. For
more, see http://www.epa.gov/tri-efdr/.

The National Library of Medicine recently unveiled an online resource called
TOXMAP, a geographic information system that allows users to visually
explore TRI data. See http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/main/index.jsp.

In another related development, the Political Economic Research Institute of the
University of Massachusetts-Amherst, recently released a report on what it
called the Misfortune 100--the companies responsible for the highest quantities
of air pollution in the U.S. (http://www.umass.edu/peri/resources/Misfortune100.htm).
The Institute's analysis begins with the TRI but also factors in Census data
and toxicity weight data to answer the question of which corporations' air
emissions do the most harm to people and the environment.

Toxic release information was also released recently in Europe, when the
European Commission issued a report reviewing the performance of the
European Pollutant Emission Register. Among other things, the report
revealed which companies are the largest polluters in 15 member states.
The report and EPER data can be found at http://www.eper.cec.eu.int/eper/default.asp.

3. Improvements in lobbyist disclosure information

Tyson Slocum writes:
Thought you might be interested to know that the Senate Office of Public
Records has greatly improved the search functions of its lobbyist
disclosure database: http://sopr.senate.gov/
Whereas one was limited to searching by lobbyist name, lobbyist
organization and/or client, one can now search by a larger, more useful
list of variables.

4. European social responsibility organizations form research group

Organizations involved in "corporate sustainability research" from nine
European countries have banded together to form the Association for
Independent Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility Research. AICSRR,
which calls itself a trade association, intends to promote transparency and
accountability among socially responsible investment groups themselves as
well as the corporations they monitor. For more information, see

Another indication of the European focus on socially responsible investing
(and consuming) was the recent publication in Britain of the Rough Guide
to Ethical Shopping (http://www.roughguides.com/store/details.html?ProductID=541).
5. Electronic files for federal courts now include criminal cases

The Administrative Office of the United States Courts announced
recently that the electronic case files for federal criminal cases
will be available via the same online systems that provide access
to civil cases (http://www.uscourts.gov/ttb/oct04ttb/access/index.html).
The decision, made after a study by the Federal Judicial Center, applies
to electronic versions of actual case documents, not simply the case
chronologies contained in the dockets available through the PACER
system. As with civil and bankruptcy cases, the criminal case documents
will be stripped of personal identifiers such as social security numbers.

6. Ziggs search engine targets people in business

A new search called Ziggs <www.ziggs.com> claims to provide access
to biographical information on more than 1 million people in the business
world. The site could be handy for researchers, but Ziggs's promotional
material is heavily oriented to executives, who are urged to submit profiles
of themselves that will pop up when someone searches their name. The
Ziggs site includes the following pitch: "Millions of people are searched for
online every day. When someone searches for you online, what do they find?
At Ziggs, we believe you should be found – the way you want to be found –
presented with a professional profile that you control." It remains to be
seen whether Ziggs turns into a serious research tool or is just a glorified
collection of resumes.

7. CRS looks at data mining

Data mining--detailed analysis of patterns in large banks of information--has
become a routine activity among companies obsessed with figuring out the
proclivities of their customers. The practice is more controversial when it is
used by government for security matters. The Congressional Research Service
produced a report on the subject earlier this year that has just been made
available through the Federation of American Scientists, one of the few  remaining
public sources of CRS documents. See http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL31798.pdf.

8. Factiva gains ground on Nexis

One of the main full-text claims to fame of Nexis has been that it was the only
source for the full online archive of the New York Times (going back to 1980). That
distinction has now been lost with the announcement by rival Factiva (owned by
Dow Jones and Reuters) that it has obtained the rights to provide the full archive
of the so-called newspaper of record to its U.S. customers. Factiva, which remains
the exclusive source for the full online archive of the Wall Street Journal, brags that
it is now the sole provider of full access to all top ten U.S. daily newspapers (see

For those looking for even deeper newspaper archives, the leading source is
ProQuest Historical newspapers, which has digitized the full archive of leading
papers such as the Times and the Journal going back to the 19th Century (see
http://www.umi.com/products/pd-product-HistNews.shtml). This service can be
accessed through large library systems, but there is access for retail customers
to historical NYT articles at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/nytimes/advancedsearch.html.

A cumulative list of resources featured in the
Dirt Diggers Digest can be found on the web at:

Philip Mattera
Research Director & Director of the Corporate Research Project
Good Jobs First