Week in 400 words, 16-23 June

There are many women writers on openDemocracy this week, and two new debates which have us pinching ourselves: is this the twenty-first century? The first, on AIDS 2012 sees the US banning people with HIV from attending a conference plus the ongoing Sisyphean task of giving women informed choices. The second launches ‘Stories you weren’t meant to hear: women, tradition and power in Russia’s North Caucusus’, an astonishing unfolding of tragic lives from ChechnyaDagestanIngushetia, and a man’s world few Russians have heard of, in Kabardino-Balkaria.

23 June 2012

OurKingdom’s continuing campaign on G4S focuses people’s minds on what is really going wrong. It coincides with a heartfelt appeal for a public moral debate on immigrationVron Ware’s insights into a broader strategy to integrate military into civilian life in the UK; how the UK inspired South Africa’s militarisation of border defence with similar dress rehearsals around sports activities, Sir Richard Jolly on the lack of vision regarding demilitarisation in today’s world, and a huge question mark over the probity of UK arms sales to the Middle East.

This week’s window on that region wonders how much can we hope for? Were the elections the easy part in Libya? Have Palestinians expected too much from the new Egypt? And in whose interests is the big push on the securitisation of Yemen that is under way? Rita writes from Damascus, not so long ago considered the safest place in Syria.

As the world’s newest state struggles to surviveMichael Gardiner warns against a BBC that serves the state rather than the nation; the Balkans suffer from a mixed message; Lammert de Jong wants to see an end to ‘state sovereignty’ in Europe, while Lorenzo Fioramonti calls for a new bottom-up, regional solution.

As we reach the anniversary of Breivik’s Norway massacre, we are torn over a notion of evil which religion, morality and psychiatry fail to explain. Is this a lone act, or a collective, political reproach? Take the way banks have been risk amplifiers since Lehman’s went bust; at how to banks, money is real, but it is we who do not exist; how corporate power distorts aid and development in India and the UK. Isn’t it odd that one of the most important responses we might make is to resist the narcissistic vision of homo oeconomicus assumed by modern economists? 

Meanwhile, Paul Rogers reminds us that in the twenty-first century world war can break out by accident.

Don’t miss:

The Plague of Thugs: dictators using hoodlums in the Middle East
Conspiracy theories at home and abroad as Clinton is jeered in Egypt
Adam Curtis’ history of the US love affair with counter-insurgency

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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