The Week in 1 Minute: Friends, enemies and the paths between (February 4 – 8 on openDemocracy)

In our debate on ‘drifting apart’, we’ve been asking, Where to for Europe and Britain? An important voice speaks in the form of Alexander Alvaro, the Vice President of the European Union. Splendid isolation will do us no good, he says.

23 May 2013

The leader of the Syrian opposition is less isolated than some would like, after he reneged on his resolution not to hold talks with the Syrian regime. Ahmed E. Souaiaia asks why, while Vicken Cheterian explains the opposition’s growing bitterness in the face of ‘rhetorical’ backing from the international community rather than real action.

David Mepham gets to the truth of another uncomfortable connection: Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi. Berlusconi profited not so much from friends but from the weakness of the opposition, argues Geoff Andrews, and it turned out that in terms of real change, Mario Monti wasn’t much better. His is s story of squandered chances, says Francesca E. S. Montemaggi.

It is precisely the lack of an organised opposition that has weakened Algeria and helped stifle regime resistance there, says Zena Kalli. And Amro Ali explains how the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys the support of Qatar in painting the Egyptian revolution as a simple anti-religious struggle. Martin Shaw deconstructs armed struggles altogether, explaining why peaceful ones are more effective.

Ending violence against women will be an even longer fight, says Ruth Rosen, looking back twenty years to when it was declared a violation of human rights by the UN. Nando Sigona outlines how UK Border Agency policies are favouring a London-centric, male-dominated elite, and Meredith Tax analyses the position of some African-American and Islamic feminists. They are caught in a double bind. At least women are allowed into combat for the US military now, writes Heather McRobie, but this is more legal recognition than material change: they were already in harm’s way.

What of progress? Luke March has words for the European radical left, who missed a historic opportunity – but Joe Guinan gives social democrats another chance, with a call for a more radical stance.

Also on openDemocracy this week, Chilean novelist Carlos Labbé comments on an extradition request for one of Pinochet’s thugs; Marko Bucik looks at a Slovenia in turmoil; and Marijn Nieuwenhuis tells us what the financial crisis has done to the archetypal Hollywood villain.

Don’t miss:

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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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