Tag Archives: European Union

Digital Rights Groups Hail Record €746 Million Amazon Data Privacy Fine

La Quadrature du Net, whose complaint led to the Luxembourg fine, called the penalty a “first step,” but said that “we need to remain vigilant” in the face of Amazon’s ongoing violations.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-30-2021

Amazon/AWS offices in Luxembourg. Photo: -wuppertaler, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Digital rights advocates on Friday applauded a €746 million fine levied against Amazon by a Luxembourg regulator for the tech giant’s violation of European Union data privacy laws.

The record penalty—which converts to about U.S. $886 million—was imposed on July 16 by CNPD, Luxembourg’s data protection agency, and disclosed in an Amazon regulatory filing (pdf) on Friday, according to Bloomberg. Continue reading

Share Button

Critics Decry ‘Preventable Mass Death’ in Africa as Rich Nations ‘Just Sit Back and Watch’

“Our priority is clear,” said a top WHO official. “it’s crucial that we swiftly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of Covid-19.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-8-2021

Photo: WHO

Months into a debate at the World Trade Organization over suspending patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines in order to end the global pandemic, the delay has left Africa facing a third wave of deadly infections as countries across the continent confront dwindling supplies of vaccines.

As The Guardian reported Tuesday, eight countries have seen cases rise by more than 30% in the last week and officials have raised alarm over possible looming shortages of hospital beds and oxygen, unless the outbreaks can be brought under control. Continue reading

Share Button

As Rich Countries Hoard Vaccines, India and Other Developing Nations Face Uncontrolled Covid Spread

“I think we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. It is beyond horror, what is happening… Yet, this is not yet the worst.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-4-2021

Open air crematorium in India. Photo: Press Club of India/Twitter

As rich countries that have hoarded vaccine doses and technology for months begin to accelerate their reopenings as coronavirus case counts level off or decline, India, Brazil, Nepal, Thailand, and other developing nations are in the grip of deadly and uncontrolled Covid-19 surges that experts fear could prolong the global pandemic and endanger the entire world.

On Tuesday, India became the second nation after the United States to surpass the 20 million-case mark, with the South Asian country reporting at least 357,000 new infections and 3,449 deaths over just the past 24 hours—the latest figures from a wave that is overwhelming strained hospitals and leaving facilities with fatal shortages of oxygen and other critical supplies. Continue reading

Share Button

200+ Groups From 67 Nations Demand ‘Transformational Change’ at Corporate-Friendly WTO

“The WTO’s hyperglobalization rules shaped a global economy that is not working for most people, and it’s due time to replace them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-28-2021

WTO Headquarters. Screenshot: Sky News

More than 200 environmental groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations from 67 nations sent a letter to global heads of state on Wednesday demanding “transformational change” at the World Trade Organization, a relatively new institution that critics say is structurally inadequate and much too corporate-friendly to confront the planet’s most pressing challenges.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how the WTO model exacerbates insecurity, inequality, and instability,” argues the coalition, which includes Public Services International, Third World Network-Africa, and Public Citizen. “Legitimate global commercial rules should facilitate the improvement of the livelihoods, health, and wellbeing of all people around the world and the long-term survival of the planet. The WTO system has not met these goals: It was never fit for purpose and certainly is not now.” Continue reading

Share Button

Pressure Campaign Kicks Off in US to Force Big Pharma and Biden to End Vaccine Apartheid

The absence of a WTO patent waiver, say public health advocates, “means we won’t end the pandemic, millions of people will die, and the global economy will suffer.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-22-2021

“Pfizer has spent the past year making billions of dollars in profits while people continue to die from Covid-19,” tweeted Health GAP on April 22, 2021. “It’s time to #FreeTheVaccine so the whole world has access to these life-saving vaccines!” (Photo: Twitter screengrab via Health GAP)

As vast global inequalities in access to Covid-19 vaccines exacerbate the ongoing pandemic, a coalition of progressive groups in the U.S. kicked off a week of action Thursday to urge President Joe Biden to support a temporary suspension of patent protections and to pressure pharmaceutical corporations to share technology in order to maximize the worldwide production of life-saving doses.

In the coming days, public health campaigners will gather at the headquarters of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson in an attempt to push the major drugmakers to share relevant technology through the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool. Continue reading

Share Button

The Coming Antibiotic-Resistance Pandemic that Could Make COVID Look Like the Flu

While the Global South overprescribes antibiotics, in the West farm animals are pumped full of them, farmers even giving them to healthy animals so they can be packed tighter in ever-increasing herd sizes.

By Alan Macleod  Published 4-6-2021 by MintPress News

Photo: Gerard D Wright/CC

Big pharmaceutical companies have not come out of COVID-19 looking like model global citizens. Pfizer has been accused of bullying South American governments after demanding they put up military bases as collateral in exchange for vaccines. Meanwhile, Bill Gates persuaded Oxford University to sign an exclusive deal with AstraZeneca for its new offering, rather than allow it to be copied freely by all. The British/Swedish multinational quickly announced it would fall 50 million vaccines short on its first shipment to the European Union.

But what if there were a looming health crisis that could make COVID look almost minor in comparison? The World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning of just such a case for some time now, predicting that antimicrobial resistance will kill up to 10 million people every year by 2050 — almost four times as many as the coronavirus has killed in the past 12 months. Continue reading

Share Button

Big Pharma Quietly Planning Price Hike for Covid Vaccines in ‘Near Future’: Report

“As this shifts from pandemic to endemic, we think there’s an opportunity here for us,” said Pfizer’s Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2021

Photo: KALW/CC

Eager to capitalize on the lasting presence of the coronavirus, executives at Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer—the pharmaceutical corporations that supplied the Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S.—are quietly planning to hike prices on doses “in the near future,” once they decide the pandemic is over, The Intercept’s Lee Fang reported Thursday.

Although the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines—made possible by large infusions of public resources—has given Big Pharma companies “a boost in goodwill… the public is still sensitive to drug pricing and the reputational risk has, so far, curtailed their ability to reap large financial rewards,” Fang noted. “But that environment, they hope, will change once the pandemic ends: a date that drugmakers themselves reserve the right to declare.” Continue reading

Share Button

‘Deeply Alarming’: AstraZeneca Charging South Africa More Than Double What Europeans Pay for Covid-19 Vaccine

“This is the problem when you have essential medicines in the hands of big business, with almost no transparency as to pricing.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-22-2021

Photo: Jmarchn/Wikimedia Commons/CC

“The unfair patent system is now one the biggest obstacles to defeating this virus.”

That was the core critique from Nick Dearden, executive director of the U.K.-based advocacy group Global Justice Now, on Friday morning in response to news this week that South Africa is paying more than double for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine compared to most countries in Europe.

According to a report by The Guardian, a Belgian minister leaked information revealing that European Union members are paying  €1.78 ($2.16) per dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Meanwhile, even as the pharmaceutical giant has said it would cap the price at €2.50 (approx. $3) per dose, South Africa’s deputy director general of health Anban Pillay confirmed to the newspaper that it was quoted a price of $5.25 per dose. Continue reading

Share Button

Climate Emergency Persists as 2020 Ties for Earth’s Hottest Year on Record

“It took over 200 years for [atmospheric CO2] levels to increase by 25%, but now just over 30 years later we are approaching a 50% increase.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-8-2021

The Apple Fire burns into the night north of Beaumont, California on Friday, July 31, 2020. Photo: Brody Hessin/CC

Highlighting global campaigners’ demands for urgent and bold climate action, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service announced Friday that despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, 2020 tied with 2016 for being the warmest year on record and closed out the warmest decade on the books.

“It is notable that 2020 matches the 2016 record despite a cooling La Niña, whereas 2016 was a record year that began with a strong warming El Niño event,” the agency known as C3S said. Continue reading

Share Button

‘A Farce’: Trump Critics, European Allies Challenge Pompeo Claim About Snapback of UN Sanctions on Iran

“With a track record of failure on Iran, the Trump administration’s spin machine appears to be going into overdrive heading into November.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2020

Mike Pompeo. Photo: kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons

The international community is pushing back against U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Saturday night claim that United Nations sanctions on Iran have been restored—the administration’s latest attempt to escalate tensions with the country—by noting that President Donald Trump ditched the related nuclear deal two years ago.

“With a track record of failure on Iran, the Trump administration’s spin machine appears to be going into overdrive heading into November,” Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), declared in a statement Saturday. “Whether this is mere bluster or portends a potential October surprise remains to be seen but anyone opposed to more reckless wars should be on high alert.” Continue reading

Share Button