Iran's response to Katrina!

5 September 2005

Thousands of people are believed to have died as a result of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in the US. A total human disaster. Many countries have offered aid to help with the relief effort. Among them are Sri Lanka, one of the poorest countries still suffering from the pains caused by tsunami, and Indonesia, another tsunami hit country. Even Cuba and Venezuela put aside their differences with the Bush administration to offer assistance. But what did the Iranian government have to offer? Zilch! Not even a word of condolence to the victims. And this is the government which claims that it wants to take the lead in 'globalising Islam'!

I recall when earthquake hit the Iranian city of Bam in December 2003, Bush was among the first leaders of the world to react by expressing his sympathy with the victims (the US also sent considerable aid to Iran). On another corner of the globe, John Howard, the Australian PM, in his new year message to Australian nation, said that the hearts and minds of Australians were with Iranians at the time hardship. But what did the "leader of Islamic civilisation" had to say to Americans as he appeared to preach on the festive day of Maba'ss (the day when Angel Gabriel was revealed to Mohammad)? Nothing but the same worn-out stories of hostility of enemies of Islam towards Iran.

So I wish to speak for all Iranians who are well-known for their kindness and caring attitude towards others? Our hearts are with victims of this massive and sad human tragedy. We have not forgotten Americans' generousity during the time of our nation's hardship (in Gilan and Ghazvin in 1990, in Bam in 2003) and we wished we would have been able to return the favour. Alas! We are not.

Iran hopes

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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