Tag Archives: Poland

Calls to ‘Stop the Deal’ as US Military Contractor Moves to Buy NSO Group

“NSO Group should not be rewarded for its facilitation of human rights violations and dangerous business practices with a lucrative offer from a U.S. defense contractor,” said one campaigner.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 6-14-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: NSO Group/Facebook

Digital rights advocates sounded the alarm on Tuesday following reports that U.S. military contractor L3Harris Tech plans to acquire NSO Group, a private Israeli firm widely condemned for selling surveillance technology to repressive governments across the globe.

NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware has been used to crack down on dissidents and journalists, worsening “human rights abuses around the world, from Palestine to El Salvador to Poland,” advocacy group Access Now said in a statement urging U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to “stop the deal.” Continue reading

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Poland Establishes ‘Terrifying’ Pregnancy Register After Banning Almost All Abortions

“Another violent attack on sexual and reproductive rights in Poland,” said a progressive lawmaker.

By Julia Conley  Published 6-7-2022 by Common Dreams

Protest against Poland’s abortion laws held in Gdansk on 24.10.2020 Photo: LukaszKatlewa/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A new government database tracking people’s pregnancies in Poland is sparking fears that medical data will be used to prosecute women who obtain abortion care in other countries or by getting abortion pills through the mail, and potentially to target women who have miscarriages.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski approved an ordinance last Friday expanding the kind of information that can be stored in a central database on patients, including allergies, blood type, and pregnancy status. Continue reading

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‘We need to take an unusual step’: a Polish feminist’s message to her US sisters

I’ve seen what a draconian abortion law can do in Poland. Here is what I think we should do

By Klementyna Suchanow  Published 5-12-2022 by openDemocracy

Protest against Poland’s abortion laws held in Gdansk on 10-24-2020. Photo: LukaszKatlewa/Wikimedia Commons/CC

I co-founded the Polish Women’s Strike, which led a series of anti-government demonstrations following the almost-total outlawing of abortion in 2020. I have spent six years of my life protesting attempts to restrict women’s access to it and to defend democracy. That’s why nothing surprises me about the Roe v Wade situation in the United States. In fact, there is a clear similarity: public opinion says one thing, while a group of zealots forces an entire nation to do the opposite.

Poland has had restrictive laws in place since 1993, with abortion only legally available in cases of rape and incest, threat to the mother’s life, or severe foetal abnormality. After an unsuccessful attempt to further restrict abortion in the Polish Sejm (the lower house of the country’s parliament) in October 2016, a law banning the abortion of non-viable foetuses finally came into force on 22 October 2020. It was imposed by the Constitutional Tribunal, an institution whose independence and legality is itself in question. The new law means that women are now forced to carry their pregnancy to term and give birth to a dead foetus. Continue reading

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‘Fox News Model’ Fomenting Divisions Within Democratic Societies, Global Watchdog Warns

“The ‘Fox News-ization’ of the media poses a fatal danger for democracies because it undermines the basis of civil harmony and tolerant public debate,” said the leader of Reporters Without Borders.

By Kenny Stancil   Published 5-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Members of Truth Tuesdays and Rise and Resist gathered at the first weekly “Fox Lies Democracy Dies” protest outside the NewsCorp Building in New York City on November 23, 2021. Photo: Diane Greene Lent/flickr/CC

A global press freedom watchdog group warned Tuesday in its annual report that media polarization within and between countries—driven by the rapid spread of right-wing disinformation on social media and the proliferation of pro-authoritarian propaganda—is “fueling increased tension” and escalating the likelihood of violence.

The 20th World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) assesses the state of journalism around the globe. The 2022 edition details the “disastrous effects of news and information chaos”—the product of “a globalized and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda.” Continue reading

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Mass Anti-War Protests Held Across Europe as Russia’s Assault Continues

In addition to protests in Berlin and London, people took to the streets in occupied Ukrainian cities and in Moscow, despite the threat of arrest.

By Jake Johnson  Published 3-13-2022 by Common Dreams

On Sunday across Russia, police detained 866 people in 37 cities for taking part in anti-war protests. These numbers are not final and likely to increase further Photo: Alex Kokcharov/Twitter

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to join anti-war demonstrations across Europe on Sunday as Russia continued its deadly assault on Ukraine, bombarding major cities and intensifying a humanitarian crisis that is having reverberating effects worldwide.

In addition to protests in Berlin, London, Warsaw, and Madrid—where participants carried signs and banners that read “Stop the War” and “Peace and Solidarity for the People in Ukraine”—demonstrations sprang up on a smaller scale in occupied Ukrainian cities and in Moscow, despite the threat of arrest and police brutality. Continue reading

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A wave of grassroots humanitarianism is supporting millions of Ukrainian refugees

Women offering Ukrainian refugees a place to stay in Berlin on Mar. 4, 2022.
Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Indiana University

Along the Poland-Ukraine border, Polish volunteers have been driving Ukrainian refugees to local train stations, or directly to cities like Warsaw.

Other Poles are doing their volunteer work online or at train stations and airports, matching Ukrainian refugees with perhaps the most generous volunteers of all: those who are hosting some of the more than 2 million Ukrainians had fled their beseiged country, in their own homes.

The largest refugee flow in Europe since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s – has elicited an enormous volunteer humanitarian effort in Europe, particularly in Poland, as well as in Germany, Moldova and Romania. Continue reading

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‘Disgraceful’: Supreme Court Sides With Hiding CIA Torture

“Basically, the Supreme Court has allowed the CIA to decide what can be said in court about the torture of prisoners in CIA black sites.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 3-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Demonstrators hold a sign that says “Torture Is Wrong” at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. (Photo: takomabibelot/flickr/cc)

Human rights advocates on Thursday sharply condemned the Supreme Court’s decision that the U.S. government can block the testimony of two former Central Intelligence Agency contractors for a Polish criminal investigation into the torture of a Guantánamo Bay detainee.

“Basically, the Supreme Court has allowed the CIA to decide what can be said in court about the torture of prisoners in CIA black sites,” tweeted Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “It’s really a disgraceful abdication of responsibility.” Continue reading

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The Cold War, modern Ukraine and the spread of democracy in the former Soviet bloc countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Michael De Groot, Indiana University

As Russia masses forces and equipment on Ukraine’s border, international tensions over a possible invasion intensify almost daily. Ukraine has emerged as ground zero of what some pundits have dubbed a new Cold War between Russia and the West.

In my view as a Cold War historian, this comparison distorts the Cold War and misrepresents the stakes of the current crisis.

Yet reviewing the Cold War is important because its legacy shapes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policy toward Ukraine. Continue reading

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Why learning about gender diversity is urgent

To avoid bigotry and discrimination, we must learn about the broad human spectrum of gender-diverse experiences, now and in the past

By Chrissy Stroop.  Published 12-23-2021 by openDemocracy

Imae: Sonzal Welfare Trust/Facebook

This week, openDemocracy published a story about Indian-administered Kashmir’s transgender community. The article focused on the longstanding cultural role that transfeminine Kashmiris have played (and still play) as matchmakers and wedding performers, as well as on the bullying and marginalisation that they experience, in most cases beginning with their own families.

The article ends on a note of hope, observing that living as their authentic selves outside a performance context is becoming a realistic option for some young transwomen, and quoting an Islamic cleric who is opposed to anti-trans discrimination. 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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