Tag Archives: COVID-19

Bombings Kill Dozens in Pakistan on Eve of Contentious Elections

As Pakistanis prepare to head to the polls with the country’s most popular politician behind bars on dubious charges, human rights groups sounded the alarm on a wide range of election-related repression.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 2-7-2024 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: YouTube

Dozens of Pakistanis were killed Wednesday in two bombings targeting political offices on the eve of highly contentious parliamentary elections from which the country’s most popular leader—who is jailed on what critics say are politically motivated charges—is banned.

The blasts both occurred in the southwestern province of Balochistan, homeland of the nomadic Baloch people, who also inhabit a large swath of southeastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. Government officials said the first bombing, which targeted independent candidate Asfandyar Khan’s office in the Pashin district, killed 18 people. A second blast approximately 80 miles away then killed at least 12 people at the Qilla Saifullah office of the Sunni fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema Islam party, which has close ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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‘Unacceptable’: US Homelessness Hits Record High

“Without significant and sustained federal investments to make housing affordable for people with the lowest incomes, the affordable housing and homelessness crises in this country will only continue to worsen,” warned one campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 12-15-2023 by Common Dreams

A homeless encampment in Minneapolis January 2023 Screenshot: KARE

The number of people in shelters, temporary housing, and unsheltered settings across the United States set a new record this year, “largely due to a sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time.”

That’s a key takeaway from an annual report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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Critics Say Biden Plan to Cut Drug Costs Too Friendly to Big Pharma

“Federal agencies have shown themselves reluctant to act against unreasonable prices, and this new proposal may give them permission to continue to do nothing,” said one expert.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 12-7-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: ccPixs.com

While welcoming the White House’s willingness to tackle pharmaceutical companies’ patent abuse and high prescription drug prices, progressive critics argued Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden must do more to challenge Big Pharma’s monopoly power.

The White House on Thursday announced “new actions to promote competition in healthcare and support lowering prescription drug costs for American families, including the release of a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of march-in rights on taxpayer-funded drugs and other inventions.”

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‘For Shame’: Pfizer to Charge $1,390 for Lifesaving Covid Drug That Costs Just $13

“Pfizer treats Paxlovid like a Prada handbag; a luxury for the few rather than a treatment for the many,” said one consumer advocate.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 10-19-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Ministério da Saúde/flickr/CC

U.S. consumer watchdog Public Citizen on Thursday excoriated Pfizer after the pharmaceutical giant announced it would more than double the price of a lifesaving Covid-19 treatment, which will soon sell for an estimated 100 times the cost of production.

Pfizer said Wednesday that it will price its patented Covid treatment nirmatrelvir-ritonavir—sold under the brand name Paxlovid—at $1,390 for a five-day course. Researchers Melissa J. Barber and Dzintars Gotham recently estimated it costs Pfizer $13 to produce five days’ worth of the drug, which is taken in three-pill doses.

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UN should be learning from sustainable food producers – not hosting Big Ag

Small-scale farmers and Indigenous groups say they have again been shut out of the UN Food Systems Summit

By Shalmali Guttal and Sofia Monsalve. Published 7-21-2023 by openDemocracy

With support from Oxfam, small-scale farmers in Tanzania are thriving. Photo: Alun McDonald/Oxfam/CC

A UN summit on global food systems should be an opportunity to address structural inequalities and tackle hunger. It should be a chance to learn from small-scale producers whose sustainable food practices feed 70% of the world. Instead, next week’s conference in Rome will be a festival of greenwashing, allowing Big Agriculture corporations to tighten their grip on food systems.

This will be the second Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). The first, in 2021 was supposed to address the lack of progress towards the UN’s sustainable development goals. It was dubbed a “people’s summit” by the organisers, but caused an outcry among local producers when their calls to roll back the power of transnational corporations were cynically ignored.

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World’s 500 Richest People Added $852 Billion to Their Wealth in First Half of 2023

“They can afford to pay their fair share in taxes.”

By Jake Johnson. Published 7-7-2023 by Common Dreams

Elon Musk at a Neuralink presentation. Photo: Steve Jurvetson/flickr/CC

The 500 richest people on the planet collectively added $852 billion to their fortunes in the first half of 2023 due in large part to a record-breaking rally in the U.S. stock market.

According to a Bloomberg analysis of its Billionaires Index, the world’s richest people added an average of $14 million per day to their wealth over the past six months, “the best half-year for billionaires since the back half of 2020, when the economy rebounded from a Covid-induced slump.”

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House Dems Revive Bill to Make Poverty-Eradicating Child Tax Credit Permanent

“In 2021 alone, the expanded Child Tax Credit reached more than 61 million children and lifted nearly 4 million of them out of poverty.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 6-7-2023 by Common Dreams

Graphic: White House

As congressional Republicans intensify their assault on vital social programs, a trio of House Democrats on Wednesday reintroduced legislation that would make permanent the expanded monthly Child Tax Credit—a policy credited with lifting millions of U.S. children out of poverty.

The American Family Act—reintroduced by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and backed by 204 House Democrats—would ensure the permanency of the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) as established in the American Rescue Plan, the sweeping $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021. The expanded CTC expired at the end of 2021 amid the Omicron surge of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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15 Million People Could Lose Coverage as Nightmarish Medicaid ‘Purge’ Begins

“I feel sick,” said one physician. “Medicaid is not enough: we need seamless, lifelong universal care now.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 4-1-2023 by Common Dreams

Image: CC

Beginning on Saturday, states across the U.S. will start the process of stripping Medicaid coverage from millions of people as pandemic-related protections lapse, part of a broader unraveling of the safety net that was built to help families withstand the public health crisis and resulting economic turmoil.

Medicaid’s continuous coverage requirements were enacted early in the Covid-19 pandemic to help vulnerable people maintain insurance amid the health emergency, resulting in record-high Medicaid enrollment.

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Three Years Into Covid Pandemic, World Leaders Say ‘Never Again’ to Vaccine Apartheid

“These past three years should act as a warning for future pandemics,” said former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We need a return to genuine cooperation between nations in our preparation and response to global threats.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3–10-2023 by Common Dreams

National COVID 19 Vaccine Introduction Launching Program at Eka Kotebe Hospital Addis Ababa, March 13,2021. Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia/fluckr/CC

Around 200 current and former world leaders, Nobel laureates, health and faith leaders, and activists this week marked the third anniversary of the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 pandemic declaration by taking aim at the “vaccine apartheid” that according to one advocacy group was responsible for one death every 24 seconds during the outbreak’s first year alone.

letter led by the People’s Vaccine Alliance notes that three years have passed since “the World Health Organization (WHO) first characterized Covid-19 as a pandemic” on March 11, 2020 and implores governments to “never again” allow nationalism and capitalist greed to supersede human needs.” Continue reading

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Extra SNAP benefits are ending as US lawmakers resume battle over program that helps low-income Americans buy food

For some Americans, the decline will be quite sharp.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

 

Tracy Roof, University of Richmond

Millions of Americans will find it harder to put enough food on the table starting in March 2023, after a COVID-19 pandemic-era boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits comes to an end. Congress mandated this change in budget legislation it passed in late December 2022.

Roughly 41 million Americans are currently enrolled in this program, which the government has long used to ease hunger while boosting the economy during downturns.

Many families enrolled in the program, commonly known as SNAP but sometimes called food stamps, stand to lose an average of roughly US$90 per person a month. Continue reading

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