October 31 - November 06 on openDemocracy

This week the ongoing crisis in Greece, the #Occupy protests in London and the US, the future of Europe and discrimination in the UK were themes that came to the fore. Fintan O’Toole’s tour de horizon of the twists and turns of Ireland’s relationship with the EU revealed some of the historic challenges to all concerned, while John Palmer reminded us of the multilayered nature of shifting European identities, and Andrew Watt asked whether wage-setting could provide a way out of the currency crisis. Anthony Barnett’s timely piece on the Greek referendum that wasn’t argued that it would have provided the first breath of democracy in the entire eurozone crisis; Takis S Pappas, however, considers Prime Minister Papandreou fundamentally undemocratic.
14 November 2011

The #Occupy protests continue to pose questions about the nature of contemporary protest, and the identity and goals of those involved.  Lawrence Rosenthal situated the Occupy Wall Street protests in the broader American political landscape, finding points of comparison with the Tea Party protesters of the Obama era.  Ryan Gallagher noted how, although the #OccupyLondon site at St Pauls is a thriving community, lack of transparency could defeat the movement’s own demands.  In ‘So goes California, so goes the nation?’ Alex Andrews talked to Oakland activist Brad Johnson about the protest’s prospects and calls for a general strike in California.

Paul Rogers anatomises the role of NATO and arms companies in Libya, as the story of how Gaddafi fell and who benefits continues to be contested. Aaron C Taliaferro and Shanthie Mariet D’Souza, meanwhile, explored Washington DC’s incoherent position on Afghanistan, notably the absence of frameworks of reconciliation; while Sadegh Zibakalam tracked Iranian incoherence on the Arab spring.

This week, openDemocracy’s 50.50 section launched Centrestage, a series asking what it will take to build a truly inclusive society in the UK. Editor Barbara Gunnell set the context of economic exclusion; while Melissa Benn looked at Britain’s ‘educational apartheid’; and  Shauneen Lambe drew attention to the UK’s credibility gap on securing children’s rights, three years after the UN criticised Britain for its negative public attitudes to children. 

From debates on inclusion and exclusion in the EU, the US and in Britain, the week ended on a more contemplative note, with Daniel Zylbersztajn reflecting on neighbourly relations in the 1930’s and now, and a potentially transformative dialogue which has taken decades to cultivate. 

Three links we wouldn’t want you to miss:

The Nation: Greece spins out of control

Murmuration by Sophie Windsor Clive (video)

Wayback from Edinburgh to Skye (video)

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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