Tag Archives: France

‘Appalled’ by Vaccine Booster Plans, WHO Chief Rebukes Big Pharma, Rich Nations

“I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-9-2021

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr

With the Biden administration expected to begin offering third doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. public in less than two weeks despite vocal pushback from many experts, the head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday demanded a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of the year in order to free up supply for low-income nations.

During his weekly press briefing, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is “appalled” that rich nations are moving ahead with booster campaigns as billions of people across the globe lack access to a single dose. Less than 2% of people in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to Our World in Data. Continue reading

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‘Red List of Threatened Species’: A Grim Tally of Those Facing Extinction

“It’s hard to watch the rise of nationalism in the face of a global threat that requires global cooperation, global action”

By Common Dreams.  Published 9-4-2021

Protesters demonstrate to demand action against the climate emergency on the sidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) congress. Photo: Martin Pigeon/Twitter

Of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist more than 38,000 are now at risk of extinction, as the destructive impact of human activity on our planet deepens.

An update of the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’ was released Saturday morning. Continue reading

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The global implications of the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan

The Taliban is expected to take control of Afghanistan within weeks or even days. This would be the most important political development of 2021

By Paul Rogers.  Published 8-13-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Jim Roberts/Twitter

Two weeks ago, there was still a belief that the Taliban might take months to take control of Afghanistan and that they might even agree to a peace deal, perhaps viewing one as a useful step on their way to power.

That has now changed dramatically. Last week, the US called a desperate, last-ditch meeting with Taliban negotiators in Doha, the Qatari capital, involving countries in the region, as well as Russia and China. The aim was to convince the Taliban that they would be treated as a pariah state if they seized power by force. In parallel, the Afghan government offered a share of power in return for a ceasefire. Negotiations have since ended with both endeavours failing. Continue reading

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The disturbing rise of the corporate mercenaries

It’s not too late to rein in these unaccountable armed giants, but we need to act fast

By Felip Daza and Nora Miralles  Published 8-6-2021 by openDemocracy

Pre=deployment training at Tier 1 Group. Photo: T1G/Facebook

When the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government in 2018, it caused an international scandal. Now, it turns out that his killers were trained in the US. In June, The New York Times reported that four Saudis involved in the killing had received paramilitary training from Tier 1 Group, a private security company based in Arkansas.

This was no renegade operation, however. Tier 1 Group, whose training had approval from the US State Department, is part of a burgeoning global industry. Corporate mercenaries – or, more properly, private security and military companies – are increasingly taking over functions that were once carried out by states, with grave implications for human rights and democracy worldwide. It’s big business, too: Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity fund that owns Tier 1 Group, also owns a string of arms manufacturers. In April 2010, Cerberus merged with DynCorp International, one of the world’s largest corporate mercenary companies. Continue reading

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G7 Countries Reach Deal on 15% Global Minimum Tax Rate for Multinational Corporations

One critic of the agreement said that “by settling for anything less than a 25% tax rate, the G7 is telling their citizens and the world that they’re willing to keep the race to the bottom alive and kicking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-5-2021

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the World Bank 2021 Spring Meetings. Phpto: World Bank/flickr/CC

Representatives from seven of the world’s wealthiest nations reached an agreement on Saturday to support a global minimum tax rate of at least 15% for multinational companies, a move aimed at curbing the use of tax havens and ending the decades-long race to the bottom on corporate taxation.

The deal struck by the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, and Canada still faces a long road to implementation, but Saturday’s development marks substantial progress toward a global accord that could allow governments to raise revenue from corporate giants notorious for shifting operations and profits overseas to avoid taxes. Continue reading

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7 ways women of colour resisted racism this year

Women are leading anti-racist activism around the world, from Black Brazilians running for election to Germany’s migrant rights movement. #12DaysofResistance

By Sophia Seawell  Published 12-30-2020 by openDemocracy

Anti-Racism Protest in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. June 8, 2020. Photo: Andrew Mercer/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The murder of George Floyd in May this year triggered uprisings against and conversations about racism in countries across the world. It felt as though the Black Lives Matter movement – founded in 2013 by three Black women in the US – had gone global on an unprecedented scale.

And while racism is an issue that transcends borders (White supremacy was, after all, a colonial project), it takes on different forms in different contexts. What constitutes racism in Canada may look quite different from racism in India or Brazil. Continue reading

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‘Can Anybody Still Deny That We Are Facing a Dramatic Emergency?’ Asks UN Chief at Climate Summit

“If we don’t change course,” he warned, “we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-12-2020

The Orroral Valley Fire viewed from Tuggeranong, Australia on the evening of January 20, 2020. Photo: Nick-D/CC

World leaders aren’t doing enough to address the human-caused climate crisis.

That seemed to be the main message of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ speech on Saturday at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020, hosted by the U.N., the United Kingdom, and France in partnership with Chile and Italy to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement.

“Paris promised to limit temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible. But the commitments made in Paris were far from enough to get there. And even those commitments are not being met,” Guterres said. “Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs. Today, we are 1.2 degrees hotter than before the industrial revolution. If we don’t change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century.” Continue reading

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France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment

Sparked by a new bill that would make publishing photos of police illegal and a viral video soon after that shows French police brutally beating a black man, it appears that France may be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment.

By Alan Macleod. Published 11-30-2020 by MintPress News

Screenshot: EuroNews

Award-winning Syrian photographer Ameer Alhalbi lies dazed on the ground. His head is heavily bruised and bandaged, blood covers his face, arms, and much of his body. Lengths of cotton wool have been stuffed up his broken nose, giving him an almost comical appearance. Alhalbi has been badly beaten by police. But this is not Syria, it is Paris, where he was covering — ironically — huge, nationwide protests against police brutality this weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning is that new laws pushed through by the government of Emmanuel Macron and passed by France’s National Assembly (akin to the U.S. House of Representatives) mean that sharing images of Alhalbi or other victims of police brutality might soon be considered illegal.

Article 24 of the country’s new national security bill, which now only needs to be ratified by the Senate, specifically outlaws the publishing and dissemination of images of police that undermine their physical or psychological “integrity,” and is punishable with a fine of up to €45,000 and up to one year in jail. The bill specifically states that filming police in such a manner would be against the law, but questions have been raised about how liberally authorities would interpret the nebulous language of the new edict. Media unions and human rights groups warn that it could prevent journalists from documenting police abuses.

The National Assembly’s decision to approve the law last week sparked large protests in many major cities around France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, and Nantes. However, an incident caught on camera on Saturday threw large amounts of fuel on the fire of resentment, drastically increasing the demonstrations’ size and intensity.

Images from mobile phones and closed-circuit television showed an unprovoked police attack on a young black music producer at his place of work. A group of four officers can be seen chasing after Michel Zecler, following him from outside into his studio, where they kick, punch and beat him with truncheons. Zecler also alleges they shouted racial abuse while they assailed him.

Before the videos went viral on social media, the officers testified that Zecler had, in fact, attacked them, and was resisting arrest. The officers have now been charged with “deliberate violence” and with “falsifying statements.” Two of the gang of four, including a 44-year-old senior officer with the rank of brigadier, remain in custody, while two others have been released.

The viral images provoked a storm of condemnation across the country this weekend, and propelled as many as 500,000 people into the streets, with demonstrations in dozens of cities. Protestors marched through the streets, setting light to cars, damaging buildings, and clashing with police, of whom a reported 98 were injured nationwide. Many of Paris’ iconic boulevards resembled a war zone as thousands of demonstrators pitched battle with lines of police in riot gear.

President Macron said he was “very shocked” by the footage of the police attack on Zecler, yet continues to be a driving force behind the new security law, under which many have noted that the images might never have come to light, given as they essentially identify the Parisien officers and clearly undermine their integrity or authority. Without the footage, it is possible that Zecler would have been facing prosecution himself.

Although the bill and the protests against it are dominating French politics, the story has been covered sparsely in the American corporate press, with no coverage whatsoever in MSNBCCBS News, or CNBC. Fox News, meanwhile, reprinted one Associated Press article, featuring an egregious, uncorrected error in its subheadline, asserting that protestors were shooting tear gas at themselves.

While foreign desks have been seriously cut in recent years, huge demonstrations in central Paris should not have been too difficult to cover. Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah suggested that if the rallies had been happening in countries antagonistic to the United States, they would have been front-page news. Certainly, similar protests in Iran and Hong Kong dominated the news cycles last year, prompting constant reaction from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State is yet to comment on the events in France, suggesting that they are not at the front and center of his thoughts.

President Macron came to power in 2017, winning in the final round of the election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. A strong believer in neoliberalism and an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he has insisted that France must not merely be reformed, but transformed, and has attempted to radically alter the shape of French society, away from a social democratic model to one more resembling the United States. Almost immediately after gaining the presidency, however, his average approval rating tumbled and has not risen above 40% since.

Indeed, the 42-year-old former investment banker has faced almost constant resistance to his agenda from the general public. His attempts to increase the cost of fuel in 2018 sparked the Yellow Vest movement across the country. Meanwhile, his plans to raise the age of retirement and reform France’s pension system was met with a months-long general strike that paralyzed the country last winter. Despite losing over 50,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen his popularity increase this year due to the government’s financial response to the virus, which included aid to small businesses and paying employees to stay home. Despite this, it appears possible that France might be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment, where its racial injustices are finally reckoned with.

This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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Calling for End of ‘Shadow Pandemic,’ Rallies Across Globe to Mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

“Men’s violence against women is also a pandemic—one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-25-2020

Activists and policymakers around the world on Wednesday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and kicked off 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, with advocates holding rallies as global leaders took steps toward fighting what many have called the “shadow pandemic” of violence against women.

The rallies were held as experts reiterated warnings that were first issued when economic shutdowns began in many countries around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic: As many families have been largely confined to their homes this year to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, reports of violence by men against women have skyrocketed. Continue reading

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World Leaders Urged to ‘Stand Up for Democracy’ and Refuse to Meet With Pompeo After He Denies Election Outcome

“We cannot normalize Pompeo’s threats to democratic legitimacy and the principles of a peaceful transition of power,” stressed Serra Sippel of the Center for Health and Gender Equity.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-11-2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is being accused of hypocrisy for castigating and sanctioning nations for “undermining democracy” while ignoring the legitimate results of the U.S. presidential election. .Photo: kremlin.ru

Responding to alarming remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denying the results of the 2020 presidential election, the head of an international health organization on Wednesday urged world leaders to refuse to meet with Pompeo until he acknowledges President-elect Joe Biden’s legitimate victory.

A day after the White House directed federal agencies to refuse cooperation with Biden’s transition team, Pompeo raised eyebrows and ire on Tuesday after asserting that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” Continue reading

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