Tag Archives: Bangladesh

Unpatented Shot Dubbed ‘The World’s Covid-19 Vaccine’ Wins Emergency Approval in India

“This announcement is an important first step in vaccinating the world and halting the pandemic,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a U.S.-based vaccine scientist.

By Jake Johnson.  Published 12-28-2021 by Common Dreams

Image; ZeeNews

An unpatented Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, and the pharmaceutical firm Biological E. Limited received emergency-use authorization from Indian regulators on Tuesday—news that the jab’s creators hailed as a potential turning point in the push to broaden global vaccine access.

“This announcement is an important first step in vaccinating the world and halting the pandemic,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said in a statement. Continue reading

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“Four Meals from Anarchy”: Rising Food Prices Could Spark Famine, War, and Revolution in 2022

The political consequences of hunger are profound and unpredictable but could be the spark that lights a powder keg of anger and resentment that would make the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests look tame by comparison.

By Alan Macleod.  Published 12-17-2021 by MintPress News


Soldiers from the 1177th Transportation Company support warehouse and distribution operations at the Atlanta Community Food Bank as a part of the Georgia National Guard COVID-19 response force, April 2020. Photo: Georgia National Guard/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Already dealing with the economic fallout from a protracted pandemic, the rapidly rising prices of food and other key commodities have many fearing that unprecedented political and social instability could be just around the corner next year.

With the clock ticking on student loan and rent debts, the price of a standard cart of food has jumped 6.4% in the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the cost of eating out in a restaurant similarly spiking, by 5.8% since November 2020. Continue reading

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‘We Are Fighting Back’: Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

“We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-25-2021 by Common Dreams

Workers at the FRA3 Amazon datacenter in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Amazon Workers International/Twitter

On Black Friday, more than 70 labor unions and progressive advocacy groups shut down workplaces and hit the streets in cities around the globe to demand—on Amazon’s most profitable day of the year—that the sprawling tech and logistics corporation pay a living wage to its employees and a fair share of taxes to compensate the societies in which it operates.

“From oil refineries, to factories, to warehouses, to data centers, to corporate offices in countries across the world, workers and activists are rising up in strikes, protests, and actions to Make Amazon Pay,” reads the campaign’s website. While the international coalition held its first Black Friday day of action 12 months ago, opposition to Amazon’s abuses has only grown since then, and work stoppages and rallies targeting the e-commerce giant were expected in at least 20 countries on every inhabited continent this year.

According to the Make Amazon Pay coalition, planned actions include:

  • In Kathmandu, Nepal, organizers from the UNICOME Nepal and UNI Nepal Liaison Council will protest in defense of Amazon suppliers and their rights to decent conditions;
  • In Berlin, Germany, warehouse workers will march on the site of Amazon’s HQ to launch the Amazon Workers Against Surveillance;
  • In Toronto, Canada, postal workers and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center will march on the Brampton Amazon facility to demand better wages;
  • In Buenos Aires, Argentina, activists will take action at the Axion oil refinery against Amazon’s services to fossil fuel corporations like BP; and
  • In Warsaw, Poland, a broad coalition of unions and environmentalists will take to the streets to protest Amazon’s worker repression and arbitrary firings at its warehouses.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said Friday that people worldwide are demonstrating “to end corporate impunity, to end the scandal of [Amazon’s] monopoly power.”

“They pay little or no tax, yet their obscene wealth is actually untrammeled,” Burrow continued. She emphasized the need to “stan[d] with Amazon workers every day” and thanked unions for their solidarity.

Amazon is headquartered in the United States, but its reach is global—with a massive workforce of roughly 1.3 million people, excluding countless others employed by the company’s subcontractors, and a carbon footprint larger than two-thirds of the world’s countries. Resistance to one of the most powerful corporate empires in history—founded by Jeff Bezos, currently the second-richest person on the planet—is also transnational.

“Amazon is everywhere, involved in almost every step of the global economy, but we are too,” explains the coalition, which includes Progressive International, UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, and dozens of other trade unions and civil society organizations working to stamp out inequality, tax evasion, and climate injustice.

“At every link in this chain of abuse, we are fighting back,” the coalition says. “We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

Campaigners from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Bangladesh, Germany, Cambodia, and Poland described how “Amazon just doesn’t give a shit”—exploiting workers and consumers, despoiling the environment, dodging taxes, and using its ill-gotten gains to wield enormous, anti-democratic influence over lawmakers.

The Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, “has exposed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society, and our planet,” the Make Amazon Pay coalition notes on its website.

Last year, for instance, Amazon became a trillion-dollar corporation. According to a video on the coalition’s website, “Amazon’s wealth has increased so much during the pandemic that its owners could pay all 1.3 million of its employees a $690,000 Covid bonus and still be as rich as they were in 2020.”

Bezos—who paid a 1.1% true tax rate between 2006 and 2018, according to a June report from ProPublica—also became the first individual to amass a personal fortune of more than $200 billion. He surpassed that figure in August 2020, just a few months after he eliminated the short-lived hazard pay of Amazon employees, who have continued toiling at great risk to their own health.

In addition, Amazon’s union-busting tactics were on full display earlier this year in Bessemer, Alabama during a drive organized by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

Union organizers at the Bessemer warehouse came up short in the April election, but an official at the National Labor Relations Board has recommended invalidating those results and mandating a new vote after RWDSU filed nearly two dozen complaints alleging that Amazon illegally threatened employees with loss of pay and benefits, installed and surveilled an unlawful ballot collection box, and expelled pro-union workers from so-called “captive audience” meetings during which management argued against unionization.

In addition to ruthlessly squashing unionization efforts, Amazon denies governments revenue “through its world-beating efforts at tax dodging,” says the Make Amazon Pay Coalition.

“Like all major corporations, Amazon’s success would be impossible without the public institutions that citizens built together over generations,” the coalition stresses. “But instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow,” the e-commerce giant “paid just 1.2% tax in the U.S.” in 2019, “up from 0% the two previous years.”

As far as pollution goes, the coalition points out, “Amazon’s growing delivery and cloud computer businesses are accelerating global climate breakdown.”

Bezos, meanwhile, said in July—immediately following his first suborbital flight, which he admitted was paid for by Amazon workers—that he thinks it would be a good idea to relocate industrial production to outer space, threatening, however unrealistically, to push capitalism’s detrimental impacts beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

A study published earlier this month found that “the emissions from a single billionaire spaceflight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people” in the world.

Highlighting Amazon’s environmental destruction here on planet Earth, Extinction Rebellion blocked a total of 15 fulfillment centers throughout Europe on Black Friday, in solidarity with striking workers.

In its list of demands, the Make Amazon Pay coalition says that it is fighting for better pay for Amazon’s workers—”in line with the increasing wealth of the corporation, including hazard pay and premium pay for peak times”—as well as improved working conditions and benefits, such as paid sick leave “so that no worker has to choose between their health or their job.”

The coalition also seeks to protect Amazon workers’ rights to organize as well as unions’ rights to promote the interests of employees—without fear of surveillance and retaliation, throughout the company’s global supply chains.

In addition, the campaign is pushing for Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and to eliminate “tax abuse through profit shifting, loopholes, and the use of tax havens,” among other demands to safeguard consumers’ data.

“Amazon is not alone in these bad practices,” the coalition acknowledges, “but it sits at the heart of a failed system that drives the inequality, climate breakdown, and democratic decay that scar our age.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Have Larger Presence at COP26 Than Any Single Country: Report

“COP26 is being sold as the place to raise ambition, but it’s crawling with fossil fuel lobbyists whose only ambition is to stay in business.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 11-8-2021 by Common Dreams

Glasgow Green – march for the climate on November 6, 2021. Photo: The Left/flickr/CC

A coalition of watchdog groups estimated Monday that fossil fuel industry representatives have a larger presence at COP26 than officials from any single country, a finding that further intensified environmentalists’ concerns about the legitimacy of the high-stakes climate summit.

After pouring over a 1,600-page United Nations list of approved COP26 attendees, the coalition led by Global Witness published an analysis showing that at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists have been admitted to the summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Continue reading

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Number of Journalists Murdered in Retaliation for Their Work More Than Doubled in 2020: Report

“The fact that murder is on the rise and the number of journalists imprisoned around the world hit a record is a clear demonstration that press freedom is under unprecedented assault.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2020

Graphic: Committee to Protect Journalists

In what one leading advocate called “a failure by the international community,” the number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, according to a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ’s annual report contains a database of 30 journalists who were killed in 15 countries during the course of the year. Of these, six died while working “dangerous assignments,” three were caught in the crossfire during the ongoing Syrian civil war, and 21 were murdered. Continue reading

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Walmart, Gap, H&M Called Out for Global Worker Exploitation and Abuse

Three years after Rana Plaza collapse, labor violations still rampant, reports find

By Nadia Prupis and Deirdre Fulton, staff writers for Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2016

The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster killed more than 1,100 people. (Photo: Jaber Al Nahian/flickr/cc)

The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster killed more than 1,100 people. (Photo: Jaber Al Nahian/flickr/cc)

Some of the world’s biggest retailers, including Walmart, Gap, and H&M, have failed to improve workplace safety three years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 people and turned a spotlight on dangerous labor conditions faced by some of the world’s poorest workers.

A series of new reports released Tuesday by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a coalition of rights groups and trade unions, finds that tens of thousands of laborers in Bangladesh are still making garments in buildings without proper fire exits, while pregnant workers in Indonesia and India face discrimination and wage theft. Continue reading

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Read All About It

Rural Bangladeshi Children. Photo By Mark Knobil from Pittsburgh, USA (Rural Kids 1) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Rural Bangladeshi Children. Photo By Mark Knobil from Pittsburgh, USA (Rural Kids 1) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve maybe seen those cute Free Little Library stands in neighborhoods across the country – people sharing their love of books and reading with others that share the interest. Some claim the idea originated in 2009 with Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin.

Not to take credit away from a job well done by the enterprising Wisconsinite, we have found the truly original little library project that not only predates the 2009 story, but has also changed a country.

In 2006, Abdus Satter Khan set up a library in his bedroom to share his treasured books with his friends in Arjuna village of Bangladesh. The idea took off, and today there are over 3,000 readers in 30 libraries across the area benefitting through the efforts of the Village Library Movement (VLM). Khan became a teacher by profession and now works as Coordinator for VLM, a non-proft platform that feels the need for library services to promote reading habit besides making youngsters socially and politically conscious and active.

In an in-depth article from Al Jazeera, we learn the original library set up by Khan is now housed at the proposed Haji Ismail Khan College. Last December, the members of the library felt that a college in the village will help the community as the nearest college is two kilometres away. “Members of the library collected funds, bought the land, bought raw materials and have managed to construct the Haji Ismail Khan College in a matter of six months,” Khan said. The library currently has a collection of approximately 5,000 books.

“Humayun Kabir, 24, the founder of Shanok Boyra Anusandhan Library in Bhuiyapur of Tangail, is satisfied with the number of readers who frequent his library daily. Kabir, who loves books as well, had founded the library in his bedroom in April 2012.

Kabir currently resides in another district where he works for a living now. But that does not stop the readers to come to the library in his house and read books, both fiction and non-fiction, along with dailies and journals. They can also take them home by registering in a record book by themselves. Kabir says, though the system is open, the library has not lost any of its books, so far. “Religious books and novels are most popular,” he informed.

In order to encourage the habit of readership, the library organizes annual reading contests.

Shahinur Islam, 20, a student of Hemnagar Degree College, had won the first prize at last year’s reading contest. He shared with Al Jazeera that before the library was setup, he bought books from a market that is a few kilometres away from his house. He also had to borrow books from others to quench his thirst for reading. “Libraries are required in every rural and urban area, he said. “Usually the youth have very little to do after their school or college hours. A library can help them acquire knowledge and entertainment through books,” he said.

Shahnaz Akter Sumi, 22, of the same village and a mother of a three-year old, came in second during the reading contest last year by reading the highest number of books. “My husband encourages me to read more books. I try to read novels and religious books mostly,” she said. She recalled that before the library was set up, she had to buy books from different fairs and shops in the upazila headquarters, nine kilometres away from her house.

Kabir said that although the library has nearly 200 members from the village, the number of books in the library has not crossed 100. “These are mostly donated, as the library was initiated by myself and it still has no funds to buy books,” he said. He is looking forward to more donations, as “a number of economically-solvent village elders with interest in intellectual development, have promised to donate books.”

Being true to the vision, almost all of the 30 libraries have been engaged in community development work.

“Initially, the elders of our village were sceptical about the library,” recalled Md Limon Khan, former chairperson and a member of Arjuna Onnesha Library. “But the members of the library have fixed roads, worked toward relief outreach during floods and disasters, erected tube wells in remote area, constructed bus-sheds in the village and much more till date. Now, the locals are eager to help in all initiatives taken by the library,” he said.

Sathowai Marma, founder of Rafru Memorial Library in Rajjomoni of Khagrachhari, said that his library and neighbouring Aurong Library had provided aid to repair temples in surrounding areas. “Such work has helped in uniting our members while also attracting the attention of other youths toward the library,” he said.

Khan said that the movement aims to help setup a library in each of the 388 unions in Bangladesh by year 2025.”

Read on, citizens of Bangladesh. The rest of us will try to learn by your fabulous example.

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