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Cuba and Venezuela call it

17 September 2005

I wish I had stuck around for the President of Venezuela yesterday (I had to go). Yesterday, I complained the world leaders were too sterile. Well, Hugo Chavez is completely infectious.

Witness the 4000 blog posts that have been written about his appearance at the UN yesterday. He said the document of the meeting has been "hijacked" by the US. He waved it in the air and called it an "illegal" document "approved with a dictator's hammer". Check out the video.

Chavez suggested (and he wasn't joking) that we should move the UN out of the US, because they do not respect international law. He said this had been a proposal from the World Social Forum. And went on to suggest it's new location could be Jerusalem... after it were converted to an international city for all peoples. He also refused to stop speaking after his 15 minutes ran out, saying that Bush had been allowed 20.

Save for the impracticality (ahem) of some of Chavez suggestions, it was refreshing to hear someone say out loud what most people here seem to be thinking. The document is weak and undemocratic. Some bloggers are being pretty snide about Chavez' comments, saying the US doesn't want the UN anyway (ha, there's more where this comes from). Meanwhile Cuba's envoy Ricardo Alarcon agreed with Chavez, saying:

"The purpose of this meeting was hijacked amid tortuous manipulation. Those who imagine themselves the owners of the planet do not even want to recall those promises that were proclaimed with hypocritical fanfare"..."Even worse, those countries are trying to impose an alleged reform of the U.N. that seeks only to totally dominate the organization and convert it to an instrument of their global dictatorship."

You might not like where it's coming from, and certainly it's not a very diplomatic way of saying it (dare I say politically correct?), but I think both left and right can agree the UN struck out at this Summit. Check openDemocracy's UN democracy debate for more thoughtful commentary on US maneuvers and how to repair the United Nations, and why it's so important we get it right.

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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