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openDemocracy joins the global blackout: 16 - 23 January 2012

At its first editorial meeting of the year, openDemocracy decided to strike. We joined the global blackout. Joichi Ito and Ethan Zuckerman explain what we opposed. The next day our editor, Rosemary Bechler, attends the Oxford launch of the FreeSpeechDebate where guest speaker Jimmy Wales pronounces the one-off action a great success. We hope so. And we will now publish the arguments against such a drastic step!
30 January 2012

There is a scoop in the latest Paul Rogers column. He discovers that there are now two new, freshly stocked US carrier strike groups in the seas off Iran – an unpublicised and unusual deployment. He fears the next stage in what he predicted a decade ago would be a thirty-years war.

Kirsty Hughes launches an excoriating attack on the “democratic disgrace” of EU politicians. Not alone in having found her critical voice in 2012, she is joined by thirteen Hungarians - opponents of the Communist regime in the 1970’s -  who warn of a new dictatorship; while Tony Curzon Price argues that EU governments have been outsourcing what should be public political judgements to the credit rating agencies.

On our Arab Awakening page, the debate of the week is on western attitudes to Bahrain between resident expert, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen and Bahraini co-author Elham Fakhro, while Hasan Tariq Alhasan asks: are moderates being outflanked by extremists? The page is welcoming many first-time openDemocracy writers: Benedetta Berti, from Tel Aviv, on Hamas strategy; Karen Kramer on the possibility of Assad surviving in Syria; Joshua Jacobs on why the global media is failing democracy by ignoring street conflict in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, and former Guardian correspondent, Rory McCarthy, on radical Salafism in Tunisia. Reyhaneh Noshiravani explains why imposing oil sanctions on Iran could backfire and Richard Rousseau and Michael Doliner assess the threat of war against Iran, although unaware of the Paul Roger’s scoop.

For your entertainment, Meryl Streep’s performance as Thatcher gets Anthony Barnett to recall his own brief encounter with the Rusting Lady on the edge of her defenestration.

Tanmoy Sharma - another new voice, this time from the Northeast Indian state of Assam – condemns the threat of mega dams and the Indian media for denying the resistance publicity. But we are reminded of a haunting, now silenced, voice of an old friend of oD, Hrant Dink, as tens of thousands mobilise in his memory in Istanbul and we reprint his first article for us on the persistence of Armenia.

Links you won’t want to miss:

openDemocracy’s week in 400 words is emailed to Members and Friends to help pay for our great content. Please forward this to any contact you think might be interested and want to join, they should see here or email [email protected].

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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