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Foreign aid for America

8 September 2005
I pledged to send some money to victims of Katrina the other day, and was surprised to receive a few emails and comments from friends and family who had consciously decided not to donate because they felt the US should help itself - or rather - learn to help its poor instead of wasting all their resources making a mess of Iraq. I think it's bizarrely optimistic to expect anything good to come out of not sending food, soap and water to desperate people. Or maybe I should call it cynicism. Strange, that intense anger and frustration over the images on TV should cause people to do nothing instead of something. Well. The US has received official offers of aid from 95 countries in the past weeks (about a billion dollars worth), and judging by this transcript from the foreign press briefing at the US Department of State yesterday there is no lack of cynicism with regard to the offers or the responses to them. Fidel Castro offered 1,500 doctors only weeks after snubbing a US offer of US$50,000 aid to help with hurricane Dennis in Cuba. Iran offered 20 million barrels of oil, but only on the condition that America lifted sanctions against the country. Is it too late to make my offer conditional on better behaviour of the Bush administration?

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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