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Artists, monsters and the jobless – The Week in 1 Minute: January 6 – 12 on openDemocracy

openDemocracy kicks off the week with a revealing and moving interview with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, talking frankly to En Liang Khong about China's exploitative development, and an artist’s duty.

12 January 2014

On openSecurity Jimmy Carter and Robert Pastor discuss the increasingly complex conflict in Syria; while Iraq's Sunni civil war and the rise of Al-Qaeda is examined by Juan Cole. The influence on Moroccan cinema of the classic film The Battle of Algiers is the latest in this series from the partnership on Algeria and the Arab Revolutions: Pasts, Presents and Futures.

Playwright Ann Henning Jocelyn delves into history to explore what Scottish Independence might learn from Irish Independence. Poet Marisa Handler writes on the hunger strike her friend is undertaking to protest against forced-feeding at Guantanamo Bay. The mythical monster Grendel also makes an appearance, as Janey Stephenson argues that challenging the 'Beowulf Complex' needs to be top of the activist agenda.

Relations between Russia and Belarus have thawed, with the help of some Machiavellian foreign policy – according to Arkady Moshes. Yaroslavl was called 'the birthplace of the Russian Spring' after the election of reformist Yevgeny Urlashov as mayor: now he has been jailed…? And in the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad, Ola Cichowlas reports on an initiative allowing Russians to travel to Poland for Lidl and bright lights.

In Europe there is much trouble in Austeria, according to John Grahl, with a slim window of opportunity for social democracy. The Director of European Alternatives urges that Europe is heading into a 'joyless and jobless stagnation' to be ignored at our peril. What Europe needs, argues former Danish government speechwriter Rune Kier Nielsen, is a big bold idea.

Machismo is on the move in Finland, dangerously connected to the rise of populist politics, argues Johanna Korhonen. In a global information age, it is time to get serious about data on women to tackle inequality, says Valerie Hudson. And in Cambodia, Theresa de Langis looks at the textile workers’ strike to improve women’s wages.

After the election of a new mayor in New York, Max Holleran and Sam Holleran look back at the Bloomberg years in city government. Meanwhile, Honduras is contemplating privatised 'charter cities' to tackle violent crime, state violence and institutional disarray. In Indonesia, the President is granting 'special autonomy plus' status to West Papua, but many Papuans are concerned about the downside. Finally, Liam Barrington-Bush considers 'The constructive radical's guide to organisational change', and in particular some tips on how to undermine hierarchies in NGOs.


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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).

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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.

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