A short wish-list

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. As Isabel Hilton asks: What does 2006 have in store? (Part one)
Todd Gitlin
Todd Gitlin
22 December 2005

To harness hopes to practical prospects is the trick, and amidst the seasonal uplift I’d rather err on the hopeful side as long as I can walk there. So here are some hopes:

1. At least one Democratic house of Congress next November. The Senate looks more movable than the House, but if Bush doesn’t pull miracles out of his tin hat, either is (if remotely) possible.

2. A minimally decent Iraqi government that stands on its own tripod. Preferably one that can stitch together sensibles, secularists, and practical people of various tendencies with a conviction that they can manage without the Americans – or Iran.

3. Not unrelated to 2., an American commitment to renounce permanent bases in Iraq.

4. A new publisher of the New York Times, someone more grown-up than Arthur Sulzberger, Jr, less witless, less tolerant of servility in Washington. (For particulars, see Ken Auletta’s profile in the New Yorker (19 December 2005) and my own review of the Judy Miller/Bob Woodward follies in the January American Prospect.)

5. More indictments of high criminals and misdemeaniacs from Patrick Fitzgerald and other prosecutors looking into the malfeasances of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and other Republican grandees.

6. The Chinese Communist Party recognising that its legitimacy is in shreds and that the only way to recoup losses is to give free play to democratic currents – serious law, open debate, multiple parties.

7. A simultaneous decision by fundamentalists of all stripes that it’s long past time to tamp down their crazies.

8. From Europeans, deep recognition that integrating Muslims is hard – and necessary. From Americans, deep recognition that torture is a bad foreign policy. A lot less smugness all around.

9. Global post-Kyoto competition over who can invest more intelligently in sustainable, non-CO2-producing energy.

But before this list veers any closer to cloud-cuckooland, I’d better sign off. As the man said, you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.


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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