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Searching the Pope

4 April 2005

John Paul II is headlining everywhere this week. Even the Arab media have been leading on the story, say the New York Times. Online, the most thorough posthumous account of the Pope's life is found on Wikipedia. Lord knows how many people helped edit and write the entry. 

One of the Top 40 articles that making the rounds in the 'blogosphere' (see Outside the Beltway) is by Christopher Hitchens on Slate, "Papal Power: John Paul II's other legacy". For all the official apologies the Pope made over the years (...anti-semitism, mafia relations, etc), Hitchens reminds us of the Pope's failure to act quickly on sexual child abuse in the Church.

Conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin and John Henke were quick to dismiss posthumous criticism of the Pope as distasteful ("nekro-heckling"), but readers in both these blogs defended Hitchens' argument.

Would things have been different with a democratically elected leader of the Church? Probably not so long as the terms last a lifetime. Some great discussion in openDemocracy's forums going on...

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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