October 10 – 16 on openDemocracy

Do we live in killing times? From the Hague guest editor Ivan Briscoe puts together chilling reports on the everyday slaughter of gangs, drugs and religion in parts of the world that get little media coverage: Karachi, Medellín, Freetown, Central Asia, Somalia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Burundi while Mariano Aguirre reports on the deep violence of occupied Palestine and oDRussia adds Kyrgyzstan. Ivan himself joins the links of his theme in Shots Across the Ocean. It’s a must read in which he debates Steve Pinker’s new book.

20 October 2011

This argues we are becoming more peaceful and less violent. Really? Are we the beneficiaries of an ongoing civilizing process or do we face a return to the barbarism of extreme inequality? Once again an openDemocracy guest editor provides a refreshing optic, if this time a bleak one.

An immediate example of such tension is in the Middle East as the Arab Awakening shows that citizens want peaceful, democratic civilian rule. But Paul Rogers hears the wardrums beating - although there are reasons for hope in Tunisia, where Islamists may be embracing pluralism. As for Europe, Takis S Pappas warns that if Greece fails as a state it will take the EU with it.

Female power links our coverage of Africa and the Ukraine. Jessica Horn continues the 50:50 dialogue Our Africa and Maggie Baxter remembers the wonderful Professor Wangari Maathai while we have three views on the jailing of the charismatic Tymoshenko, by Labour MP Dennis MacShane, her one-time advisor Dmitry Vydrin, and a journalist’s overview from Valery Kalnysh.

Well, is a world revolution beginning? Pedro Silverio Moreno makes the case that one is, writing from Madrid about the spreading movement of protest. Cas Mudde compares the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street. (henceforth #OCW – we link to its live stream from our front page); Stefan Simanowitz  stretches credulity to claim that the people are too big to fail, but has some great pictures. Dan Hind optimistically shares the lessons on how general assemblies deliberate, while OurKingdom thinks three things about public occupations.

But OK also goes against the grain. The protestors are global in their language but isn’t the form of politics firmly national? Not in England, where there are no national institutions - only British ones. So it has launched For England’s Sake! A new debate edited by Gareth Young which starts with the bang! of the great Scottish writer, Tom Nairn, reflecting on the Windsor monarchy.

Four interesting links from elsewhere:
Juan Cole Frames the Arab Spring in a podcast of the LSE’s first Fred Halliday lecture
Banking should be a public utility: it works, Truth Out reports from Germany
(YouTube video, #OWS) When Noam Chomsky agreed with Ron Paul … the arrival of the anti-corporatism coalition
The BBC's Paul Mason on the economic roots of the protest movement


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.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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