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The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s NHS plan: trading patient data | Editorial episode download
8 décembre, par Editorial[ —]
Donald Trump has made clear he wants a post-Brexit Britain to let US tech companies and big pharma access medical records

The NHS is a goldmine of patient data which the United States wants to be quarried by some of its biggest companies. Britain’s health service is home to a unique medical dataset that covers the entire population from birth to death. Jeremy Corbyn’s NHS press conference revealed that the US wanted its companies to get unrestricted access to the UK’s medical records, thought to be worth £10bn a year. A number of tech companies – including Google – already mine small parts of the NHS store. Ministers have been treading carefully after an attempt to create a single patient database for commercial exploitation was scrapped in 2016 when it emerged there was no way for the public to work out who would have access to their medical records or how they were using them.

However, such caution might be thrown to the wind if Boris Johnson gets his way over Brexit – and patients’ privacy rights are traded away for US market access. This would be a damaging step, allowing US big tech and big pharma to collect sensitive, personal data on an unprecedented scale. Donald Trump’s officials have already made clear that this is what they are aiming for. In the leaked government records of talks between US and UK trade representatives White House officials state that “the free flow of data is a top priority” in a post-Brexit world. Trump’s team see Brexit as an opportunity “to avoid forcing companies to disclose algorithms”. The US wants the UK to drop the EU’s 2018 data law, in which individuals must be told what is happening with their medical data, even if scrubbed of personal identifiers.

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The Guardian view on North Korea: a brewing nuclear crisis | Editorial

8 décembre, par Editorial[ —]
Pyongyang’s truce with Washington could end with terrible results. To avoid that, international efforts – notably from the US – are needed

North Korea often appears to have styled itself upon a James Bond adversary. We have seen the dramatic announcement of a deadline (New Year), followed by the arch threat that “it is up to the US what Christmas gift it will choose to get”. (Experts predict a missile test.) Its fondness for baroque menace is matched by its flair for provocation – Sunday saw the announcement of a “very important” test at its Sohae site, which the US said it had agreed to destroy. A flurry of pictures of Kim Jong-un mounted on a white horse, at the sacred site of Mount Paektu, surely herald, according to state media, “a great operation to strike the world with wonder again”. The theatricality is intentional: Pyongyang wants international attention. It should also be taken seriously. The North walked out of talks in October, frustrated that there is no sign of sanctions relaxation. The White House has reminded people that the US could use force and described Mr Kim as “Rocket Man” again – and warned he had “everything to lose”.

It would be easy to mistake this for another instalment in a predictable series. But it is only half true to say that we have been here before. Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” followed by a charm offensive (“we fell in love”) have not merely failed to resolve the underlying problem; they have made a bad situation worse. He claimed progress by pretending there was no difference between something Pyongyang would not object to (multilateral denuclearisation of the peninsula) and something it would never agree to (complete unilateral denuclearisation). This was not a solution; only an illusion of progress.

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Global heating plus inequality is a recipe for chaos – just look at Chile | Maisa Rojas

8 décembre, par Maisa Rojas[ —]

The protests that forced the COP25 climate conference from Santiago to Madrid had the climate crisis at their core

Maisa Rojas is scientific coordinator for COP25

It’s a grey winter day as I walk through the UN climate conference (known as COP25) in Madrid. The pavilions and rooms all have the names of cities, regions and rivers in Chile. They’re especially familiar to me: as well as being scientific coordinator for COP25, I’m director of Chile’s Centre for Climate and Resilience Research. It’s all a stark reminder that we should be in Santiago.

But on 18 October 2019, the president of Chile declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew to quell three days of public unrest that started because of an increase in metro fares. The outbreak of anger was summed up by the message, “This is not about 30 pesos, it is about 30 years”, referring to discontent lasting three decades, which appeared on walls across the city and on social media. The protests ultimately led to COP25’s move to Madrid.

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Privatisation continues to threaten our NHS | Letters episode download
8 décembre, par Letters[ —]
With the National Health Service a prominent issue in this general election, readers air their views

Rob Delaney’s deeply moving account of his son’s illness and the family’s experience with ill-health, seen from the perspective of a US citizen, reminds us that it often takes somebody from the outside to see things clearly (The NHS is a British marvel. Vote to save it, Journal, 5 December).

The NHS, now over 70 years old, is indeed a marvel, consistently offering world-class care despite its many well-publicised shortcomings. Don’t believe me? Look at the independent reports from the Commonwealth Fund, which assess both overall features and key outcomes for the major health systems across the western world, and you’ll see that the NHS consistently excels.

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Don’t write Labour off – there is still hope for a fairer Britain | Letters episode download
8 décembre, par Letters[ —]
Les Bright and Dr Nicholas Falk respond to an article by Jonathan Freedland on a faultline running through Labour. And Alexis Rowell says he’s backing Jeremy Corbyn

It is understandable that Jonathan Freedland doesn’t want to waste time jostling with others for space to write a postmortem on the warm entrails of Labour’s campaign next weekend (Can Labour bring its divided family together?, Journal, 7 December). But with days to go until the general election was it too much to expect that he might write about the key messages and actions needed to secure a Labour win, or at least to prevent a Tory victory, rather than assuming it’s all over – even though the fat lady is yet to sing?

His analysis is simplistic and presents two key constituencies of past, present and future voters as if they are now, and always will be, irreconcilable. People sink their differences to support a cause they want to get behind – not just at general elections but around small-scale local campaigns; sometimes in doing so they have to accept that other personal goals will be delayed or get ditched as a consequence, but it’s a price they understand and pay. I hope and expect that many people will be making such calculations as they weigh up where to place their cross on Thursday.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

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Don’t blame parents for low vaccination take-up | Letter

8 décembre, par Letters[ —]
As cases of measles continue to rise, access to health services is a greater problem than online conspiracy theories, writes Prof Roger Penn

The issue of lowering take-up of vaccinations for measles (MMR 1 and 2) is disturbing and serious (The rising toll of measles: nearly 10m cases and 142,000 deaths, 6 December). However, it is far too easy to blame parents and social media for the problem.

Research that we conducted at Lancaster University in conjunction with Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust (PCT) a few years ago revealed that there was little evidence of systemic hostility to these vaccines among parents of children who had not completed their vaccination programme by the age of five. Rather, the main problems centred upon the delivery of the service itself.

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New teachers caught in an ideological trap | Letter episode download
8 décembre, par Letters[ —]

The Conservatives’ framework for teacher training ignores recent theories of learning and offers inadequate preparation, write education experts. The next government must hit rewind

A mandatory “content framework” for all trainee teachers in England was rushed out by the Conservative government in the final hours before purdah. This framework represents the most profound shift in what the state expects prospective schoolteachers to be taught in over two decades. It is remarkable both for its heavy emphasis on memorisation and for its selective and reductive use of the evidence.

World-leading education systems prepare their teachers thoroughly, giving them a solid grounding in theories of learning as well as teaching. Initial teacher education in England has been heavily skewed towards practical teaching experience for nearly 30 years.

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War service that will remain a mystery | Letters episode download
8 décembre, par Letters[ —]
Ann Gordon responds to a piece by John Crace in which he reveals that his father never talked about his experience of war

Like John Crace’s father (Digested week, 7 December), my father rarely talked about his war service, but it stayed with him until he died aged 87.

He served in Holland, Belgium and France, and was evacuated at Dunkirk. For the rest of his life he suffered the after-effects, now labelled PTSD, and was never free of bouts of depression and insomnia/nightmares. How I wish I had understood what had happened to him. It was only while watching the BBC’s World on Fire that the full horror of it all struck me. Above all, the sound of non-stop gunfire, shelling, shrieks, and the burning.

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The bells are ringing out for a better Christmas song list | Brief letters episode download
8 décembre, par Letters[ —]
Christmas songs | Apostrophes | Daily Mail | Feast | Boris Johnson

Mariah Carey at No 1 above The Pogues (Ranked! Top 10 Christmas Songs, G2, 6 December)? Wham! at No 11 and Springsteen’s Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (or any other version of the song come to that) not even in the top 50 online? I usually take your top 10s with a pinch of salt, but this time you have gone too far. Santa will surely not be visiting Michael Hann this year.
Bernie Kingsley

• Re apostrophe misuse (Letters, 5 December), my late lamented schoolteacher friend Ronnie spotted this classic outside an Edinburgh cafe some years ago: Various’ ice’s’. Can anyone top three mistakes in two words?
David Harvie
Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire

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