Smear Campaign

5 July 2005

Its amazing how quickly the US and Israel have begun their smear campaign in order to pressure Iran more. While I don't disagree completely with their objectives, I think there's a few things to bear in mind:

1) it is unclear what the new president's agenda is. Many have noted that it doesn't matter, given that the president is allocated little to no matter under the Iranian constitution. This is true to a large extent. The president's role has always been symbolic, but with that he has the potential to lobby for small social changes by presence alone. In this case, Ahmadinejad's close relationship with Khamanai will probably give us a closer insight on the regime's true intentions, particularly since Khamanai has never really taken a public role.

2) the elections proved that the central issue amongst Iranians are social and economic rights and development. It would wise for the Bush administration to focus on those issues to pressure the Iranian government, rather than Iran's nuclear development. Iranians support the development of peaceful nuclear technology and believe they such right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Until there is undeniable proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Bush exclusive rhetoric on the issue weakens his promise to "help the Iranian people." If the administration really believes that the only way to control Iran is if it becomes more democratic, then it ought to change its rhetoric to human rights, corruption, and economic development. Those are the things Iranians are concerned with.

3) the major Iranian institutions which want military action against Iran are hardline monarchists and members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), a terrorist organization with close connections amongst hardliners in the US, who believe that regime change in Iran would present them with the opportunity to rule the country. News coming from these sources, including the first accusation that Ahmadinejad was involved in the hostage crisis (it was first posted on Iran Focus, a website ran by the MKO, and then picked up by different news agencies), should not be trusted in that they are intentionally manipulating the agenda.

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.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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