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30.04.2021 – Asia – Countercurrents

Urgent call to three rich Asian country governments – Japan, South Korea and Singapore to stop opposing TRIPS waiver at WTO
(Image by Stock File)

The Peoples Vaccine Alliance (PVA) in Asia is calling on Japan, Singapore and South Korea to take action on the voices of citizens across Asia and the global South by supporting the ‘temporary TRIPS Waiver’ proposal at the WTO’s general council meeting on 30th April, 2021, and ensuring big pharmaceutical companies and rich country governments voluntarily join the WHO-led COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.

By people’s Vaccine Alliance, Asia Chapter

The appeal letter to Asian governments comes from 100 organizations including ActionAid, APCASO, Asia Dalit Rights Forum, Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), Global Call to Action Against Poverty -Asia (GCAP-Asia), Oxfam International, South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication, Fight Inequality Alliance India and 50 prominent individuals.

Compared to the terrifying speed at which the virus is spreading and mutating, as we are witnessing in India, scaling up global COVID-19 vaccine access and inoculation has been painfully slow.

Most of the world’s population, especially in middle- and lower-income countries, lack access to the vaccine. At the speed at which vaccination is proceeding, it will take decades to vaccinate all who need it.

The intellectual property over COVID-19 vaccines is owned by big pharmaceutical corporations who are refusing to share the science and technology required to speed up mass production and distribution for the entire planet.

“No single corporation will ever be able to produce enough vaccine doses quickly for everyone who needs it. If history has taught us anything, it is that pharmaceutical corporations create and protect monopolies in order to maximise profits instead of improving public health. We have seen this in the past with vital medicines for illnesses like HIV or cancer that have been priced far too high, out of reach for most people”, said Karyn Kaplan of Asia Catalyst.

A temporary waiver of World Trade Organization (WTO) intellectual property rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, proposed by South Africa and India and supported by more than 100 WTO member states and numerous health experts worldwide, is a vital, necessary and urgent step to bring an end to this pandemic.

A waiver of WTO TRIPS rules must be combined with ensuring vaccine know-how and technology is shared openly. This can be achieved through the World Health Organization COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. These actions would expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access.

“When the pharmacy of the world is gasping for breath, keeping a monopoly over vaccine science for the sake of profit is immoral, self-defeating, and a collective failure”, said Mustafa Talpur, campaign and advocacy manager of Oxfam International in Asia.

All these roadblocks to control COVID-19 spread are surmountable. The Asia region has a world-class generic pharmaceutical industry.  With a little more shared technology and know-how, Asia-based companies can quickly support new manufacturing capacity in other countries, thereby reducing the negative impacts of COVID and improving response capacity for future pandemics. Countries in Asia, including China, India, Thailand, and others have demonstrated capacity to produce vaccines.

“Vaccine equity will directly improve health outcomes, as no one is safe until everyone is safe. It is key to the enjoyment of human rights and is equally vital to a comprehensive economic rebuilding out of inequality, poverty and hunger. There is no time to lose! This is an urgent call for a solidaristic, humanitarian and accountable response to save millions of Asian people and their futures”, said Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director of ActionAid Association India.

About People’s Vaccine Alliance:

The People’s Vaccine Alliance Asia chapter includes people with lived experience of COVID, health rights and humanitarian organisations, past and present world leaders, healthcare providers, social movements, civil society organizations, journalists, faith leaders, economists, lawyers, and others. The movement advocates that Covid 19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.  www.peoplesvaccine.org

Read the letter signed by 97 organizations and 50 individuals in Asia here or  https://cutt.ly/pbaAJ8z

The peoples of Asia have spoken! Read the charter here or https://cutt.ly/TbaAM1p

29.04.2021 – Quito, Santiago de Chile, Dinamarca – Redacción Ecuador

This post is also available in: Spanish

Myanmar: “The people will not surrender until the military junta is overthrown”

In Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma, on February 1, the Tatmadaw, the national Army, regained power with a coup, declaring a state of emergency for a year and arresting civilian leaders, whose government it had been ratified again with an overwhelming victory for the National League for Democracy in the November 2020 elections. From the first day, a massive and transversal popular mobilization has been rebelling against the return of the military Junta at the head of the State, parading in the streets with the gesture of the three fingers raised. The repression of the protest has been fierce and bloody, leaving hundreds of deaths among the protesters, who despite everything continue to fight firmly against the new dictatorship. To learn a little more about the current reality in Myanmar, in the Four Elements radio program on April 22, 2021 we connected with Claus Kiaer, Danish humanist activist for peace and nonviolence and promoter of a campaign for the cessation of violence. violence in Myanmar, and Zakaria Abdul Rahim, an ethnic Rohingya, active in integrating Burmese in Denmark and in solidarity and international cooperation with the Rohingya.

 [The interview was conducted in English and you can listen to the recording translated and dubbed into Spanish below]

https://ar.ivoox.com/es/player_ej_69064431_6_1.html

A democratically elected government had been in power since 2015, but the Army, which had ruled the country for decades, had not disappeared from either the state or Burmese political life. It was left with a lot of power, but somehow accepting the government of the National League for Democracy. What happened at the end of 2020, when the NLD won the elections again but this time the Armed Forces did not accept the results? For what reason did they carry out a coup d’état on the day of the inauguration of the new Parliament?

ZAKARIA ABDUL RAHIM: First of all, let me tell you that the military never really accepted the democratic government. Never. What they did was try to use Aung San Suu Kyi as a puppet so that she would do whatever they wanted. This is what happened. They used it to continue acting as they wanted, but being free from all the difficulties they had previously. They somehow tried to make things easier for themselves through Aung San Suu Kyi. Regarding your questions: what happened in the last elections in 2020? And why now a coup has been reached? It happened that the military wanted the democratically elected government (let’s not call it 100% democratic, but they did the best they could) to be led by the military and they wanted to keep the most important positions, but the members of the democratically elected government did not accept that. The military wanted to continue to hold the reins of government and always wanted to preserve its central role. Although the front was a democratically elected government, the military always maintained the key ministries. Externally, the “democratic” government acted, like a puppet, but in reality, behind it, it was the Army that was really ruling. An example of all this is what happened in the case of the Rohingya in 2017. When many Rohingya villages were burned and many people fled to Bangladesh, it was the Army that burned the houses, not the “democratic” government. The “democratic” government somehow endorsed and accepted that to try to survive, thinking that this would have given them more openness and more room for maneuver from then on, but the coup finally arrived anyway.

Claus, you know Myanmar well because you lived there and are in contact with many local people. What has been the reaction of the people to the coup? I know that there have been protests and the repression against the protesters has been very violent. In fact, you are one of the promoters of a campaign to stop the violence against the people of Myanmar. What can you tell us about that?

CLAUS KIAER: Well, I read the news of the coup almost at the exact moment it happened, in the capital Naipyidó. I immediately sent a message to my friends there and they confirmed what was happening. They told me that at first they had been concerned, but later they affirmed that “we are already prepared for this, we are already living it.” And in fact very quickly, in the first two days only in the big cities like Rangoon, Mandalay and a few others, and then all over the country, the protest against the military coup spread. And according to my interpretation and also based on what I have been told and what I have seen at other times in Myanmar, the demonstrations have great national support. The first time I was in the country, in 2009, during the process against “the Lady”, Aung San Suu Kyi, in the streets there was more silence, the protest was more silent. But nevertheless it was perceived that the people were united in resisting, in the temples, in the streets, in the mountains, in the lakes, in all the parts of the country where I went. But this time it is different because it is also a new generation that is fighting, which in the last 10 years has learned a lot from what has happened internationally, in the rest of the world. A generation connected through social networks and who have already lost their fear. From what I have been able to know through my friends and the networks, people are reacting in different ways, there is a bit of everything. The most varied emotions: from fright, terror, to a kind of feeling of unity, of feeling all together. They know, or at least I am convinced that they know, that they are not alone. But at the same time, they also know that they need international support to get rid of this military regime. The Army at this moment has the power alone and solely by having the weapons, but it does not have the support of the population. In this regard, the humanist campaign that we have launched is very simple. It is a very clear letter, addressed to the Myanmar Embassies in the world, that is, directly to the regime, to the military Junta. We are already spreading it among our friends, in the network of humanists around the world, among families and to different organizations. Each person can personally send the letter to the Embassy of their choice or it can also be sent by organizations, parties, groups …Of course, the aim is to raise awareness, to make people aware of what is happening in Myanmar.

Zakaria, you were talking about the Rohingya. Many times in the program we have talked about the genocide and the violence that this ethnic component of Myanmar with a Muslim religion is suffering. At this minute, and with a coup in the offing, what is going on with them?

A. R .: The situation now is the same as before the military coup and those responsible for the entire crisis are the military. Probably many people do not know it, but the situation is that the Rohingya villages are being burned and this is the result of an agreement of the military junta with China, so that it can install its factories and production plants in that part of Myanmar. Every time they have to hand over land to Chinese industries, the military sets villages on fire. This is what they really do. However, they cover everything with propaganda of a religious nature and try to generate hatred among the Burmese themselves. The military even uses Buddhist monks, obviously false monks, to carry out acts of violence against the Rohingya. Most of the country is Buddhist, it follows Buddhism, and the military takes advantage of this to try to install the idea that in a “democracy” in which there is a plurality of religions, the one with the largest part of the population is the one that wins and has to command and make decisions, while everyone else has to keep quiet. This is what the military Junta tries to do, which was behind this violence while the democratically elected government was formally in power, generating difficulties for the government itself. All ethnic minorities lived and are experiencing problems similar to those of the Rohingya, with fires and other types of violations of their rights. Likewise, all minorities blame the “democratic” government for not having done anything to improve their condition. This government effectively acted by doing what was best for it and what allowed it to stay in power, so the situation of the Rohingya and other minorities remained exactly the same. Not that they could do much either, but the main problem occurred when the Rohingya genocide case reached the International Court of Justice and Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the democratically elected government, denied the existence of that genocide. Undoubtedly the military somehow forced her to say this, they were behind her, like putting a gun to her back. But I think that on the other hand, it was a serious mistake to say that. Also, pleasing the military with that didn’t help her that much either. The military carried out the coup d’état, and immediately arrested Suu Kyi. Now she is in jail on six charges, all fabricated, and she cannot do anything.

Of course, those statements by the “Lady” were a great disappointment and somehow determined the downfall of her myth, of her figure as a fighter for human rights, denying this genocide she denied her history …

ZAR: Yes, indeed many leading human rights defenders, from all over the world, suggested to her to do something in favor of the Rohingya people and minorities But she ignored these pressures, she ignored even the Dalai Lama and other great figures of the same wingspan that tried to push her and “wake her up.” But there was no case and precisely the international community was very upset with her behavior.

Returning to the protests against the coup, I wanted to ask what has been the role of social movements in these mobilizations. I have read that for example health professionals, students, teachers, are playing a very important role in the rebellion against the coup.

K .: According to the information I have, which reached me a few weeks ago, in the first demonstrations all of those you mention have been active in the streets for weeks. Then there have been days when no one else was outside, in the streets, and there protests began in other places, such as in hospitals, in schools. As far as I know, they are in fact in a very particular situation: they are employees of the system, of the regime, but at the same time they are in favor of the people. They are among the families and this violent regime, I imagine that it is being very hard for them to demonstrate: the risk of ending up killed is very high. In fact, many teachers have been murdered for protesting. But I think Zakaria can better explain all this.

 A. R .: Speaking of demonstrations, I think it is important to talk about the difference between the current and old demonstrations, the protests against previous coups and those of today. We have experienced this many times in Burma, and I believe that the military imagined that this time it would have been the same as the others, that they would have been able, through violence, to repress and dominate the people who were demonstrating without major difficulties. People before have always been very conscientious and brave, and I have also been part of them, of the generation of those who protested in 1988 and on many other occasions afterward… However, I salute with great respect and take my hat off to the young people who are demonstrating today. They are much more organized, they plan the demonstrations very well and try to put them together in many different ways, even without people, in the lakes, using different types of materials … These days, for example, they have called for a boycott of our famous and traditional Water Festival, in protest against the coup d’etat and to demonstrate wearing our famous yellow flower of padauk. Different strata of the Burmese population are participating in the protests. There are several generations participating, the X, the Y and the Z together, perhaps it is the Z (those under 20 years of age) that participate the most, but parents and entire families support them. We have a lot of experience of coups and protests, which as a people we have always carried out unarmed. We have always been unprotected and the military has always done what they wanted with us, they have killed us inside our homes, on the streets, in schools. People know, for example, that there are soldiers in civilian clothes who are in schools, hospitals and report on what is happening to repress and arrest or kill those who protest. Despite all that, they are no longer afraid. People know that it is very risky to protest and that they can lose their lives. But they are determined and they want democracy. And they want this time to be the final one, to be the final fight to get it. This time the military junta has to be overthrown, the people will not surrender until they achieve that. Never before have I seen the Burmese population so determined and organized as it is now, that is the reason why the protests today are so powerful. In addition, the military has always maintained power by trying to divide the people, also taking advantage of the different ethnic groups: “divide and conquer”. But this time, while they are trying in different ways, they are not succeeding. It is not working for them to break the unity and organization of the people. The people are fighting hard, this younger generation, the so-called generation Z, is very very strong and is managing to unite the people. This same generation in 2017, when the whole country was united against the Rohingya minority, also endorsed the massacre perpetrated against them. But today, for example, several student unions are apologizing to the Rohingya and other minorities. And this is not minor, since the educational system in Myanmar is highly conditioned by the military, who manipulate the Bamar, the largest ethnic group, pushing them to unite against all other minorities. This time it is very different: all the different ethnic groups are united against a common enemy: the military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing. Since February I have been closely following what is happening in my country, I am constantly aware of what is happening, I cannot sleep well but I try to keep my spirits high because I need to support my people, and our future leaders, from here, in every possible way. At this moment I am dedicating myself a lot to the educational issue, so that young people can discover their talents, strengthen themselves as individuals and fight for their rights. And this time I am sure that we will win, we have to win because we are on the right side.

Claus, how can we support the campaign that you are carrying out in favor of the Burmese people, from Ecuador or anywhere else?

K .: Actually, there are many ways to do it. I think people in general have a lot of creativity, no matter how old they are. We have written this letter, we have translated it into different languages ​​and invite you to send it to the Myanmar Embassies around the world. Based on it, we are making a press release that we will disseminate to different media. In Myanmar, there is a particular way of expressing solidarity: picking up some flowers, putting them around the feet and then taking a photo and posting it on social media as a sign of support for the Burmese people. You can also organize workshops or virtual meetings, organize protests outside municipalities or parliaments, although now this is more difficult due to the pandemic … It is very important to highlight the concept of civil disobedience against violence. Everyone can find their own way to support the people of Myanmar and also various peoples who are currently victims of a violent system, I am thinking for example of Yemen, Syria and others.

Original interview in English and translation into Spanish: Domenico Musella

Dubbing: Stephania Aldana Cabas, Domenico Musella, Mariano Quiroga

28.04.2021 – UN News Centre

FROM THE FIELD: Rights of indigenous peoples highlighted in UN photo exhibit
Girls (left to right) from Siberia, Russia, East Sepik, Guatemala and El Quiché, Guatemala proudly display their traditional dress. (Image by Alexander Khimushin)

The rights of indigenous people to make decisions about their cultural heritage and traditional way of life is being recognized in a United Nations photo exhibition.

The UN estimates there are some 476 million indigenous people in more than 90 countries around the world who have been denied the opportunity to control their own political, social, economic and cultural development.

Alexander Khimushin / Adults (left to right) from the Omo River, Ethiopia, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala and Taimyr Peninsula, Russia feature in the photo exhibition.

The images collected in the World in Faces exhibition showcase the diversity of indigenous cultures on every continent and have been released to coincide with the 20th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) which is currently underway online and in person at UN Headquarters in New York.

The meeting is bringing together people to discuss the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16 which is focused on promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.

Follow this link to see more of the inspiring portraits.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

My buddy Garrison — well, I did meet him once, and he even told me a couple of his secrets, which I blabbed here in 2016. And we’re the same age; we always are, except for the sad months of from September until early December. He gets older first. And now he’s charging into the…

Garrison Keillor Goes Contemporary — A Friendly Letter
When Women Become Allies to Save Watersheds and Wildlife
From left to right: Giniw Collective founder Tara Houska, Jane Fonda, and Honor the Earth executive director Winona LaDuke tour part of the Line 3 pipeline’s route by the Mississippi River in Northern Minnesota. (Image by Tessa Wick)

The word “Minnesota” derives from one of two Dakota words, either Mni Sóta meaning clear blue water or Mnissota meaning cloudy water. Just one letter can change the entire meaning. Just one oil spill could ruin the entire ecosystem.

By Barbara Williams

I traveled to northern Minnesota with Jane Fonda and Tessa Wick in March to stand with the Ojibwe who are fighting a massive assault on their ancestral territory. Line 3 is a pipeline that was built in the 1960s and currently has 900 structural problems according to Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns it. Under the guise of replacing it, Enbridge is in fact abandoning the old one and aggressively laying the infrastructure to expand it into a larger pipeline with greater capacity. The proposed monstrosity would snake through 200 pristine lakes and rivers in northern Minnesota including watersheds for the wild rice that is unique to this part of the world and has been intrinsic to the Anishinaabeg/Ojibwe way of life for centuries. A spill could permanently destroy rice beds as well as the fish and wildlife habitat. Enbridge has had over 800 spills in the last 15 years, most notably the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history when 1.2 million gallons leaked into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. A spill is inevitable.

During his lame-duck period, Donald Trump approved Line 3, in spite of no environmental impact study. It is currently under review. Now that justice has been rendered in the George Floyd case, there is hope that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will turn his attention to the social and environmental injustice of Line 3. President Biden should overturn the Army Corps permit to Enbridge as he did with the Keystone XL pipeline.

Our first stop was at a compound on the White Earth Reservation. It houses 8th Fire Solar, a facility where tribal members are building thermal solar panels. It is the headquarters for Honor the Earth, an organization founded by Winona LaDuke, with the mission of creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues. Winona is a magnetic and fiery leader who has long been a vital force protecting the earth. In addition to harvesting wild rice (manoomin) and building solar panels, Winona runs a fledgling hemp business, taps maple trees, and has ventured into small-batch coffee roasting. The people on the White Earth Reservation are making every effort to be self-sufficient through sustainable activities.

We were served delicious buffalo egg rolls while the women water protectors shared stories of getting roughed up by the local police for protesting the pipeline. They were strip-searched and kept in overcrowded cells—in the time of COVID-19. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has created an Enbridge-funded account to pay for policing Enbridge opponents—meaning they are paid more when they harass and arrest activists. When we were convoying to a press conference, the two women driving in front of us were pulled over for not signaling 100 feet before turning. Fortunately, they were both constitutional lawyers—and white, I might add. After delaying them for 15 minutes, the officer realized what she was up against and backed down.

On the banks of the Crow Wing River, against a backdrop of Ojibwe grandmothers in traditional garb, Jane and Winona shared a panel with Tara Houska, an Ojibwe, Yale-educated tribal lawyer who hung up her suit in D.C. to come back and live with other water protectors on a 70-acre resistance camp called the Giniw Collective.

Jane’s presence had brought out a slew of media. She has become the wise woman educating and inspiring her vast network of old and new fans. She spoke knowledgeably on the salient issues surrounding climate change. She emphasized the importance of good-paying jobs being in place as we transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. She mentioned a statement Winona made about a moment when we had the choice to have a carbohydrate history or a hydrocarbon history, and we chose the wrong one, adding, “It’s time to correct that.” Tara explained the illegitimacy of Line 3 being built on public lands. She has joined the charge of young activists fed up with ineffectual political policy who are using their bodies and agency to say “no more.” Winona quoted Arundhati Roy, urging us to see the “pandemic as portal”: “We must go through the portal leaving dead ideas behind, ready to imagine a new world.”

The crowd was energized; everybody was wearing red. There was a festive feeling of optimism in the air. At key points, a giant black bear puppet roared with approval or grunted with displeasure. Indigenous drummers drummed. River otters played.

Four years ago, I accompanied Jane on a flyover of the Canadian tar sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, source of the dirty oil that Enbridge exports. From the air, the open-pit mines made me think of cancer sores with the outgoing vessels bringing disease to the rest of the body. The jobs pay well. It’s how my sister and her husband bought their home. Workers go where the money is. But it’s a dying industry. Justin Trudeau enthusiastically signed on to the Paris climate accord and vowed to invest in renewable energy sources, but he has bowed to the corporate powers who are squeezing out every ounce of filthy lucre from the tar sands before they collapse. Not only is tar sand extraction the dirtiest and most inefficient process, but it’s also the most uneconomical. If the government took the bold step of subsidizing other sectors of the economy such as renewables, housing and transportation, to the degree they subsidize the tar sands, it would be far more beneficial to the economy and people’s lives—in the long run. But they are shortsighted.

The fish and wildlife that the Métis First Nations of the Athabasca region have traditionally subsisted on are riddled with deformities and tumors. Eighty-seven percent of the community believes the tar sands are responsible. We sat with Cece, who was a heavy equipment operator for seven years. At 60 years old, she had outlived all her coworkers, including her husband, who died of cancer the year before. She ran for tribal chief on a platform of pushing for stricter tar sands regulations, but the industry bribed her opponent with the promise of a senior care facility if he would show his support. She lost by one vote. Divide and conquer, the age-old tactic of domination.

With Line 3, Enbridge does not want to repeat the clashes they encountered at Standing Rock, so they have pumped money into targeted communities. The chronic neglect of government on the reservations, exacerbated by the economic downturn from the pandemic, has served to Enbridge’s advantage. People need to feed their families, and Enbridge is there with the jobs. Enbridge created a trust from which the Fond du Lac tribal government doles out monthly payments to their members. It’s a terrible dilemma for individuals who fear reprisal if they express opposition. The project has created deep divisions within the Indigenous community, but the vast majority are fervently against it.

With people coming to work from all over the country, the Enbridge man camps are potential COVID-19 superspreaders. According to the Violence Intervention Project in Thief River Falls, at least two women have been sexually assaulted. Numerous women say they have been harassed by pipeline workers and do not feel safe. Two Enbridge employees based in Wisconsin were recently arrested for sex trafficking.

Jane did a Skyped interview with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. In a breathtaking six-and-a-half-minute uninterrupted spiel, she laid out the micro and the macro of the entire situation. Later, she worried it might have come across as manic. No, Tessa and I assured her, it came across as urgent.

After a long drive, Tara led us down a narrow, snow-covered dirt road to a small encampment of tents where they were sugaring the maple trees. Sap is collected and continuously poured into a gigantic hand-hewn pot mounted over an open fire, then reduced down for several days. It’s very labor-intensive—the ratio is 26 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. They are not selling the syrup; they want to hold on to it in case there’s a shortage or some other catastrophe occurs. They’re holding on to their wild rice too. Everyone is on tenterhooks waiting for a decision from the White House. Their future hangs in the balance.

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Community of Madrid condemned for endangering the health of primary care doctors

The Ministry of Madrid has been condemned for endangering primary care doctors by not providing them with “complete means and measures” of protection in their workplace.

By the Humanists of Carabanchel

Yesterday the High Court of Justice of Madrid has sentenced that the Ministry of Health did not provide “full means and measures of protection” in the workplace of the primary care doctors and pediatricians of the public health system. The lawsuit was filed by Primary Health Care called “Se Mueve” on 3 December 2020.

It was already obvious to the Madrid population that the doctors have been exposed with hardly any protective measures. There were also insufficient protective measures for nurses, assistants and administrative staff.

And if the claim was filed before COVID, it is clear that with the pandemic that the risks have been multiplied exponentially, and the consequences are highly unfortunate.

But although it does not tell us anything we do not already know, what matters is that the Court has the power to force the Ayuso government to provide doctors the means to ensure their health and favorable working conditions. According to the sentence, the Regional Ministry of Health will have to carry out a risk analysis and determine the workload of the doctors and establish personnel in accordance with it and with the range of existing vacancies.

The program will also establish quotas, the maximum number of patients to be attended per working day and the minimum time to be devoted to each of them.

All this had been repeatedly complained about by the doctors, but the Ayuso Health Department had paid no attention to them. Quite the opposite, it had allowed the damage and discouragement of the doctors to keep growing, with the negative effects this implied for the population of Madrid.

We celebrate it and we are happy with this news, it is a recognition of the doctors’ work, and a disgrace to Ayuso government, which instead of appreciating it, has undervalued it as much as possible, endangering their health and lives.

We already know that the Ayuso government does not like autonomous communities that do not comply with court sentences and they are the first to call for an iron fist for those who disobey, so we expect them to take action on this matter immediately.

Translation by Mireia Navarro Lopez,  from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!

Quakers in Britain are signatories to this letter pointing out that while big business lobbies with seeming impunity, charities trying to speak out face restrictions and on occasion are subject to attack by ruling party MPs, as has happened to the Runnymede Trust recently. We stand in solidarity with all those working to end racism and recognise that organisations run by racialised people and organisations seeking to tackle inequality are disproportionately targeted by attempts to discredit and quieten them.

  • 21 April 2021

In a debate in parliament yesterday Sir John Hayes (Conservative) said that he and 20 other members of the House had written to the Charity Commission to complain about the Runnymede Trust’s response to the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. A  report that has now been widely discredited including by academics referenced in the report and the UN. Further to this Sir John asked for assurance from minister Kemi Badenoch that she make representations across government to “stop the worthless work—often publicly funded—of organisations that are promulgating weird, woke ideas…”

Many charities exist because the state has failed and a clear example of the failure of the state is a failure to dismantle race inequality in Britain. This is not the first time that MPs have complained to the Charity Commission when charities have sought to raise awareness about or tackle the issues that are harming people that MPs are elected to serve. The changes that charities are asking for are not “worthless” or “weird” but focused on solving some of this country’s most enduring challenges.

In 2014 Conservative MP Connor Burns complained to the Charity Commission about an Oxfam campaign which linked cuts in benefits to poverty. Last year Conservative MPs who have come together as the ‘Common Sense Group’ called for a Charity Commission investigation into Barnardo’s after it published an article explaining white privilege. The Charity Commission CEO has already made it clear, in a blog written in response to complaints made about the National Trust’s work on colonialism, that “Charities are allowed to campaign and to take controversial opinions in support of their purpose…”

Yesterday’s debate in parliament comes in the same week that the Greensill lobbying scandal has shown that those with power and connections have access to the heart of the government while those campaigning on social justice issues are frequently denied an audience, in the same year that the government has introduced a bill that closes down the space to protest, and in the same decade in which we have seen a Lobbying Act that created a chilling effect on civil society campaigning, party political appointments to senior roles in non-ministerial departments (including the Charity Commission) and in public bodies. While party political appointments to important public offices have occurred under successive governments of different parties, the Good Law Project is currently seeking to end that practice by bringing a judicial review. This judicial review has been joined by the Runnymede Trust who are challenging the equality of the hiring practices.

Many of the issues that charities deal with are political, not party political (which is against charity law) but political in the sense that they are issues of the people. Civicus, a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action, defines the civil space in the UK as ‘narrowed’. Civic space means the space in which citizens and civil society organisations are able to organise, participate and communicate without hindrance. This means that civic action is more constrained in the UK than it is in neighbouring countries like the Republic of Ireland and fellow G7 countries like Germany and Canada.

We stand in solidarity with all those working to end racism and recognise that organisations run by racialised people and organisations seeking to tackle inequality are disproportionately targeted by attempts to discredit and quieten them. We also stand with all charities and civil society organisations working for the public good to create the kind of safe, just and free society that benefits us all.

24.04.2021 – Pressenza New York

Chernobyl is everywhere!

Start: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 • 8:00 PM • Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd (GMT+03:00)

Host Contact Info: info@progressive.international

“Chernobyl is everywhere.” Back in 1986, just after the nuclear meltdown in the north of Ukrainian SSR, the philosopher Günther Anders adjusted his previous slogan “Hiroshima is everywhere” to signal that our entire Earth could collapse in an instant of nuclear devastation — whether in Japan, Ukraine, or the Marshall Islands.

35 years later, we mark the anniversary of Chernobyl by asking the fundamental question of the nuclear age: Were these nuclear disasters just “accidents,” or were they cooked into a nuclear politics that attempted to draw a line between “military use” and “peaceful use” of nuclear energy while driving us to the total annihilation of space and time?

In this episode of The Internationalist, we will not only reflect on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and its everlasting consequences, but also consider the deeper political and ethical meaning of nuclear politics in the age of endless ecological crisis.

With:

  • Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Philosopher and author of The Second Coming.
  • Kate Hudson, Political activist, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
  • Sabu Kohso, Activist and author of Radiation and Revolution.
  • Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will and author of “Banning the Bomb, Smashing the Patriarchy”.
  • Srećko Horvat, Philosopher, PI Council member and author of After the Apocalypse.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

26.04.2021 – Stockholm, Sweden – Pressenza London

World military spending rises to almost $2 trillion in 2020

Total global military expenditure rose to $1981 billion last year, an increase of 2.6 per cent in real terms from 2019, according to new data published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The five biggest spenders in 2020, which together accounted for 62 per cent of global military expenditure, were the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom. Military spending by China grew for the 26th consecutive year.

Military expenditure increases in the first year of the pandemic

The 2.6 per cent increase in world military spending came in a year when global gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 4.4 per cent (October 2020 projection by the International Monetary Fund), largely due to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, military spending as a share of GDP—the military burden—reached a global average of 2.4 per cent in 2020, up from 2.2 per cent in 2019. This was the biggest year-on-year rise in the military burden since the global financial and economic crisis in 2009.

Even though military spending rose globally, some countries explicitly reallocated part of their planned military spending to pandemic response, such as Chile and South Korea. Several others, including Brazil and Russia, spent considerably less than their initial military budgets for 2020.

‘We can say with some certainty that the pandemic did not have a significant impact on global military spending in 2020,’ said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘It remains to be seen whether countries will maintain this level of military spending through a second year of the pandemic.’

Strong increase in US military spending continues in 2020

In 2020 US military expenditure reached an estimated $778 billion, representing an increase of 4.4 per cent over 2019. As the world’s largest military spender, the USA accounted for 39 per cent of total military expenditure in 2020. This was the third consecutive year of growth in US military spending, following seven years of continuous reductions.

‘The recent increases in US military spending can be primarily attributed to heavy investment in research and development, and several long-term projects such as modernizing the US nuclear arsenal and large-scale arms procurement,’ said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘This reflects growing concerns over perceived threats from strategic competitors such as China and Russia, as well as the Trump administration’s drive to bolster what it saw as a depleted US military.’

China’s military expenditure rises for 26th consecutive year

China’s military expenditure, the second highest in the world, is estimated to have totalled $252 billion in 2020. This represents an increase of 1.9 per cent over 2019 and 76 per cent over the decade 2011–20. China’s spending has risen for 26 consecutive years, the longest series of uninterrupted increases by any country in the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.

‘China stands out as the only major spender in the world not to increase its military burden in 2020 despite increasing its military expenditure, because of its positive GDP growth last year,’ said Dr Nan Tian, SIPRI Senior Researcher. ‘The ongoing growth in Chinese spending is due in part to the country’s long-term military modernization and expansion plans, in line with a stated desire to catch up with other leading military powers.’

Economic downturn leads to more NATO members passing the spending target

Nearly all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) saw their military burden rise in 2020. As a result, 12 NATO members spent 2 per cent or more of their GDP on their militaries, the Alliance’s guideline spending target, compared with 9 members in 2019. France, for example, the 8th biggest spender globally, passed the 2 per cent threshold for the first time since 2009.

‘Although more NATO members spent more than 2 per cent of GDP on their militaries in 2020, in some cases this probably had more to do with the economic fallout of the pandemic than a deliberate decision to reach the Alliance’s spending target,’ said Lopes da Silva, Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Other notable developments

  • Russia’s military expenditure increased by 2.5 per cent in 2020 to reach $61.7 billion. This was the second consecutive year of growth. Nevertheless, Russia’s actual military spending in 2020 was 6.6 per cent lower than its initial military budget, a larger shortfall than in previous years.
  • With a total of $59.2 billion, the UK became the fifth largest spender in 2020. The UK’s military spending was 2.9 per cent higher than in 2019, but 4.2 per cent lower than in 2011. Germany increased its spending by 5.2 per cent to $52.8 billion, making it the seventh largest spender in 2020. Germany’s military expenditure was 28 per cent higher than in 2011. Military spending across Europe rose by 4.0 per cent in 2020.
  • In addition to China, India ($72.9 billion), Japan ($49.1 billion), South Korea ($45.7 billion) and Australia ($27.5 billion) were the largest military spenders in the Asia and Oceania region. All four countries increased their military spending between 2019 and 2020 and over the decade 2011–20.
  • Military expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 3.4 per cent in 2020 to reach $18.5 billion. The biggest increases in spending were made by Chad (+31 per cent), Mali (+22 per cent), Mauritania (+23 per cent) and Nigeria (+29 per cent), all in the Sahel region, as well as Uganda (+46 per cent).
  • Military expenditure in South America fell by 2.1 per cent to $43.5 billion in 2020. The decrease was largely due to a 3.1 per cent drop in spending by Brazil, the subregion’s largest military spender.
  • The combined military spending of the 11 Middle Eastern countries for which SIPRI has spending figures decreased by 6.5 per cent in 2020, to $143 billion.
  • Eight of the nine members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for which SIPRI has figures cut their military spending in 2020. Angola’s spending fell by 12 per cent, Saudi Arabia’s by 10 per cent, and Kuwait’s by 5.9 per cent. Non-OPEC oil exporter Bahrain also cut its spending by 9.8 per cent.
  • The countries with the biggest increases in military burden among the top 15 spenders in 2020 were Saudi Arabia (+0.6 percentage points), Russia (+0.5 percentage points), Israel (+0.4 percentage points) and the USA (+0.3 percentage points).

Media contacts

For information and interview requests contact Alexandra Manolache, SIPRI Communications Officer, (alexandra.manolache@sipri.org, +46 766 286 133) or Stephanie Blenckner, SIPRI Communications Director, (blenckner@sipri.org, +46 8 655 97 47).

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

Over 45 years ago, I was invited into a peculiar way of life, a way of unity in diversity, authentic relationship, respect for conscience and the work of love’s light within, fidelity to one’s measure of that light, and moral freedom.

A Quaker Way of Life — The Postmodern Quaker

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We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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