Tag Archives: COVID-19

What will 2022 bring in the way of misinformation on social media? 3 experts weigh in

A cutout display at a protest highlighted the connection between social media and the real-world effects of misinformation.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

Anjana Susarla, Michigan State University; Dam Hee Kim, University of Arizona, and Ethan Zuckerman, UMass Amherst

At the end of 2020, it seemed hard to imagine a worse year for misinformation on social media, given the intensity of the presidential election and the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 proved up to the task, starting with the Jan. 6 insurrection and continuing with copious amounts of falsehoods and distortions about COVID-19 vaccines.

To get a sense of what 2022 could hold, we asked three researchers about the evolution of misinformation on social media. Continue reading

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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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‘A Huge Deal’: Biden Rebuffs Georgia’s Medicaid Work Requirement—Last in US

“By ending work requirements in many states, Biden is erasing one of Trump’s cruelest legacies.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-24-2021 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: CNN

After the White House on Thursday rejected a proposal to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients in Georgia—the last state with a federal waiver permitting such restrictions—President Joe Biden received praise for “quietly erasing” one of his predecessor’s “cruelest legacies.”

“The announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, delivered in a 79-page letter to Georgia’s health agency, also reversed a federal waiver allowing the state to charge premiums for the health insurance program for the poor,” according to the New York Times. Continue reading

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Some Prisoners Released During Pandemic Can Stay on Home Confinement, Says DOJ

“We commend the attorney general for listening to thousands of families who asked not to be separated from their loved ones.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-21-2021 by Common Dreams

Protesters from the Decarcerate Minnesota Coalition and the Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
outside the Department of Corrections headquarters in St. Paul.in July 2021. Screenshot: KARE 11

Rights advocates and progressive U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday welcomed an announcement that some federal prisoners released to home confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic will not be required to return to prison—a reversal of a controversial Trump administration policy.

“We commend the attorney general for listening to thousands of families who asked not to be separated from their loved ones,” tweeted the ACLU. “Thousands of people can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will be able to remain in the communities where they have been living and working.” Continue reading

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‘Utterly Obscene’: Just 8 Pfizer and Moderna Investors Became $10 Billion Richer After Omicron Emerged

“Pharma execs and shareholders are making a killing from a crisis they helped to create,” said one justice campaigner.

By Jon Queally.  Published 12-5-2021 by Common Dreams

In the first week that the Omicron variant sparked global fears of a new wave of infections, a small handful of investors and executives with Pfizer and Moderna—currently the world’s preeminent makers of Covid-19 vaccines—saw over $10 billion in new wealth, with the Moderna’s CEO alone adding over $800 million to his personal fortune.

Based on data compiled by Global Justice Now and released Saturday, “just 8 top Pfizer and Moderna shareholders” added a combined $10.31 billion to their fortunes last week after stock prices soared in response to the emergence of Omicron. According to a statement by the group: Continue reading

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Poll: Majority of Young Americans Say US Democracy ‘in Trouble’ or Already ‘Failed’

“After turning out in record numbers in 2020, young Americans are sounding the alarm.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 12-1-2021 by Common Dreams

Photp: Ted Eytan/CC

In the lead-up to U.S. President Joe Biden’s “Summit for Democracy,” polling results released Wednesday show that a majority of young adults nationwide are concerned about the state of American democracy.

The Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School surveyed adults aged 18 to 29 across the political spectrum from October 26 to November 8—amid ongoing GOP attacks on U.S. democracy in the form of gerrymandering and blocking various federal voting rights legislation. Continue reading

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Number of Covid Boosters Given in US Exceeds Single Shots in 8 African Nations Combined

“Our leaders’ failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering.”

By Jake Johnson.  Puclished 11-30-2021 by Common Dreams

Nurse Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi was the first healthcare worker in South Africa to receive the vaccine. Photo: GovernmentZA/flickr/CC

An analysis released Monday shows that the number of Americans who have received a coronavirus booster shot to date exceeds the number of people who have gotten a single vaccine dose in eight countries in southern Africa combined, a finding that came as the international community grappled with the threat posed by Omicron.

According to a Public Citizen review of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, around 37 million people have received a booster shot in the U.S., which has authorized boosters for its entire adult population. 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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School surveillance of students via laptops may do more harm than good

School laptop surveillance systems monitor students even when they’re not in school.
Jacques Julien/Getty Images

Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

Ever since the start of the pandemic, more and more public school students are using laptops, tablets or similar devices issued by their schools.

The percentage of teachers who reported their schools had provided their students with such devices doubled from 43% before the pandemic to 86% during the pandemic, a September 2021 report shows.

In one sense, it might be tempting to celebrate how schools are doing more to keep their students digitally connected during the pandemic. The problem is, schools are not just providing kids with computers to keep up with their schoolwork. Instead – in a trend that could easily be described as Orwellian – the vast majority of schools are also using those devices to keep tabs on what students are doing in their personal lives. Continue reading

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More Than 100,000 Take to Streets on Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

“We can either intensify the crisis to the point of no return, or lay the foundations for a just world where everyone’s needs are met.”

By Kenny Stancil   Published 11-6-2021 by Common Dreams

More than 100,000 people marched through Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, November 6, 2021 to demand that governments move from climate inaction to climate justice Photo: COP26 Coalition/Twitter

As diplomats from wealthy countries continue to say “blah, blah, blah” at COP26, over 100,000 people growing increasingly impatient with empty promises and inaction marched through Glasgow on Saturday, with thousands more hitting the streets in cities around the world during roughly 300 simultaneous demonstrations on a Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

“Many thousands of people took to the streets today on every continent demanding that governments move from climate inaction to climate justice,” Asad Rehman, a spokesperson for the COP26 Coalition, said in a statement. “We won’t tolerate warm words and long-term targets anymore, we want action now.” Continue reading

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