Strong men and uncertain outcomes: August 6th - 12th on openDemocracy

Meles Zenawi, Ethiopias own strong man, it seems, is ill. Information is scarce, but it invites René Lefort to think about what might happen to the State and party that have become so reliant on his leadership. And what happens in Ethiopia matters - not just for its 86 million diverse inhabitants, but also its fractious neighbours Somalia and South Sudan.

12 August 2012

The strong men of dissident Irish Republicanism are put under the microscope by Paul Nolan. Why, after an exemplary peace process, does violent sectarianism still play such a role in Northern Ireland?Nolan explains the world from the point of view of all the fighters who can’t give up their struggle. 

Russia is familiar with strongmen, and recent laws restricting freedom mark another step backwards in the direction of Soviet style policies. Still, a new law on defamation is necessary, argues Poel Karp, only not this one. 

Timothy Garton Ash leads a project on the Free Speech Debate: openDemocracy’s editor Rosemary Bechler meets him in Oxford,wondering who and what is best equipped to help the peoples of the world to be sufficiently free and able to rise to the challenges we face. 

Our Editor-in-Chief Magnus Nome muses on the blood sport of politics, and how Romney’s choice of the ideologically extreme Paul Ryan as VP candidate might influence the race

In Syria, where Assad’s position is weakening but his arsenal still formidable, Issa Khalaf worries that Washington has set in motion processes it can’t control

A lot of the strong women and men of openDemocracy’s week came through the happier door of our Olympics coverage. OurBeeb’s Lydia Graystone asked what we all thought of the BBC’s coverage; Heather McRobie examines whether any medals should be awarded for gender balance; Patrice de Beer wonders whetherflags and anthems ought to be banned; Mark Perryman gives us the thinking person’s Olympics reading list; and the front page editor goes to town on stills from Leni Riefenstahl. 

Strong men in fiction - or is it men in strong fiction - are the subject of James Warner’s overview of the gay sci-fi oeuvre of Samuel R Delany, while the weakness of great strength - and vice versa - is the subject of Tony Curzon Price’s essay on Conrad’s Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness


Links not to miss: 

A heartbeat away from the presidency? The New Yorker profiles Paul Ryan before tap

Man 1, Bank 0 – harmless fun with a fake check turns serious 

The best UK Economics blog commentary on UK macroeconomics 

And, social exclusiveness exists within groups of dolphins 


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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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