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The Week in 1 Minute: Getting back down to business (January 7 – 13 on openDemocracy)

As we said good-bye to the best of 2012, Dan Hancox began our 2013 coverage and a new column -  Revel, Riot, and Rebellion – with a spirited ‘good riddance’ to 2012 in Britain.

23 May 2013

The uproar in India at the brutal gang rape of a 23 year old student elicits oD commentary at its best, from 50.50’s Naila Kabeer and Rachira Gupta posing the haunting question of what needs to be done to counter the idea that women are commodities, to N Jayaram’s warning that India could become a country where retribution and insecurity rule, and the nuanced conclusions of Vijay Nagaraj.

Angshukanta Chakraborty considerably broadens the provocation by finding ‘ravished maidens’ so recurrent in world literature and myth down the centuries as to be an ongoing expression of ‘institutionalised rape’. But it takes Julian Sayarer, a cyclist who has circumnavigated the globe, to tell us what these protests really mean for all of us.

oD Russia gets down to business with a new series on the Russian economy and its problems: two overviews by Dmitry Travin on the reasons for the fall in GDP growth rates and Vladimir Gryaznyevich, looking at the life of an ordinary person in St Petersburg – Pavel Usanov on the investment climate in Russia today, Andrey Zaostrovtsev on the negative effect on that climate of senior officials who wield considerable influence in the business sphere, and Zaostrovtsev on pension reform.

They are not the only ones with problems. Ann Pettifor says 1100 professional economists at the IMF have made a mistake which threatens global stability, while Mario Pianta and Alessandro Bramucci ask why European economic forecasts always get it wrong, and John Grayson and Adri Nieuwhof give us ‘Ten reasons to vote for G4S as the World’s Worst Company’.

Bernard Rorke informs us that 2013 is the European Year of Citizens, but presents a shocking catalogue of European ill-treatment of Roma, while Jan Hornat gives us unusual insight into how Czech energy policy is being silenced by competition between the United States and Russia.

We have discovered the ‘Brexit’ word: David Blunkett explains British ambivalence towards the EU, while René Schwok warns Euro-sceptics against any premature hankering after the Swiss model. Compare both to the French relationship to the EU in Rosemary Bechler’s lively December interview with Jean-Luc Melénchon, leader of the Left Front.

On OurKingdom, Jeremy Gilbert looks back to ourBeeb and pays a tribute to a BBC series on that most elusive of concepts, ‘culture’. We have Ken Loach on the Battle of Algiers (short), Edna Longley on the poetry in the relationship between Britain and Ireland (long), and Dan Smith launching his latest State of the World Atlas.


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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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