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The awful complacency of our establishments (Nov 26 – Dec 2):

People have a pent-up need for discussion’, remarks Finnish journalist Johanna Korhonen, winding up this week’s launch of a Counterpoint series on oD exploring rising right wing populism in Europe, and asking how to retrieve support for our democracies. We learn about a contrasting case of failed consensus in the Netherlands; the ease of stigma in Denmark; and Greece’s self-defeating ‘national exceptionalism’ as compared with ‘identity populism’ being a ‘no-go area’ in Germany.

14 December 2012


If Our Kingdom has anything to do with it, a serious discussion of the public interest in UK media and its freedom without accountability will take place after all, in the aftermath of Lord Leveson’s report; and Stuart White launches a new partnership to explore whether republicanism can inspire a citizens’ political economy for the common good.

Trust Women and 50.50 launches on human slavery with Lydia Cacho, who has risked her life defending the Mexican victims of traffickers and drug lords, and celebrates a rare victory by domestic workers; 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence offers testimony from Cameroon to Spain, poetry and short stories.

On oDRussia, Masha Karp looks at a new Russian documentary film, Dmitry Butin detects paralysing pragmatism, Ben Judah asks if the opposition has lost its way and Augusto Come exposes corruption in Russia’s education system, while Donald Rayfield finds the Georgian Dream troubling.  

In addition, Valeria Costa-Kostritsky’s warning that French anti-veil laws are de facto racist and Patrice de Beer’s tale of two brawling Sarkosy successors; Sergio Casesmeiro’s lament and de Beer’s acknowledgment of the reductive impact of politicians on the Catalonian question, alongside Christophe Solioz’ account of how a virtuous circle has turned vicious in post-Dayton Bosnia, make it not so difficult to conclude with Nicole Scicluna that we are circling around a deep-structural European failure to live up to its ideals. An exception may be Estonia, whose president is willing to back a novel democratic experiment (and comment on oD).

Of course, there are some discussions which our establishments seem to encourage and some they don’t. A strenuous attempt to stop the world asking why Palestine shouldn’t become a state was rebuffed this week. In Ethiopia, haunted by Meles, the anti-terrorism law is being used to eliminate the regime’s adversaries; Joe Stork says the UAE is belatedly coming under EU human rights scrutiny; while in Egypt, as Amro Ali and Karim Malak point out, the fight is finally on as to whether or not Egypt belongs to its people, a question nobody’s asking about Syria according to Ahmed E.Souaiaia and Odai Alzoubi.

India’s Green Revolution is failing, Honduras is the most violent country in the world, and Paul Rogers foretells the era of drones.


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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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