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A Monkey in a Backpack

29 January 2006
For those of you who chose not to attend the social forum because you fear being surrounded by preachy ideologues and endless panel discussions on neo-liberalism, you will be heartened to know that after dark the party in Caracas is just beginning.  As I type the sounds of Salsa music are floating through the pressroom, while tireless journalists rush to finish copy before they head off in search of cerveza.  Despite the rain, the Brazilians had a rousing affair last night (complete with conga lines and spirited American counterparts).  Parque Central has had non-stop live music where forumistas and the locals mingled to reggeton, merengue, salsa, and even hip-hop.   But the real experience comes from the Casa Cuba where the dance party keeps going till . . . well I don't know.  They are going long past this blogger has retired to her luxury accommodations at the Hotel Pinar.
I recently learned from my Colombian counterpart that saying you are like "a monkey in a backpack" is an appropriate euphemism for describing boredom.  It is with this kernel of cultural knowledge that I suggest partying with your fellow man can be as productive as an anti-imperialist discussion.  And if the monkey gets a little exercise, that wouldn't be terrible.

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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