Tag Archives: South Africa

What the US can learn from apartheid-era book bans in South Africa

Books are often targeted when they are sympathetic to the oppressed.
Eskay Lim / EyeEm via Getty Images

Helen Kapstein, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Beloved.” “The Hate U Give.” “Maus.” “Burger’s Daughter.”

Each of these books has been banned at some point in time, but one stands out. Instead of being banned in 21st-century America, Nadine Gordimer’s “Burger’s Daughter” was banned in 20th century South Africa during apartheid, that country’s period of official white supremacist rule.

So why include it in this list? Despite the decades and distance between bans on this book and the others, the rise in attempts to ban and censor books in America in 2022 looks an awful lot like what South African censors did during apartheid. I make this observation as a scholar who specializes in studying literature to better understand the intersections of race, oppression and resistance. Continue reading

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‘A Big Deal’: US, African Scientists to Collaborate on mRNA Vaccine Development

“Scientists are leading the way,” said one advocate. “Perhaps political leaders will follow.”

Logo: Afrigen

By Kenny Stancil  Published 7-8-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. government scientists on Friday agreed to share technical know-how related to the development of next-generation vaccines and treatments with their counterparts at Afrigen Biologics, a South African drug manufacturer that hosts the first mRNA technology transfer hub established by the World Health Organization and its partners.

The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) pioneered the use of mRNA and its parent organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), co-invented Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Together, NIAID and Afrigen seek to expedite the production of mRNA vaccines—not only to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic but also to address other infectious diseases and cancer. Continue reading

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Western hypocrisy: What Joe Biden gets wrong about Russia

Those in the Middle East know the kind of destruction seen in Ukraine all too well – the West was the perpetrator

By Paul Rogers  Published 4-2-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr/CC

Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine remains in a violent stalemate. Russian forces are pausing their attempts to occupy Kyiv, having withdrawn some of their forces from around the capital, but a major retreat is highly unlikely given Russia is recruiting several thousand mercenaries from Syria.

The Kremlin’s strategy now is to concentrate on overrunning the southern Ukraine port city of Mariupol, before joining up Russian forces in Crimea with those in Donbas to take control of as much of the region as possible. Continue reading

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‘We Won’t Stop Fighting,’ Vow South African Activists After Judge OKs Shell Seismic Blasting at Sea

“We must do everything we can to undo the destructive colonial legacy of extractivism, until we live in a world where people and the planet come before the profits of toxic fossil fuel companies.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-6-2021 by Common Dreams

Photo: Greenpeace Africa/Twitter

South African activists on Monday vowed to keep fighting after a court ruling allowing fossil fuel giant Shell to proceed with massive underwater explosions off the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast, a move environmentalists say would cause “irreparable harm” to marine life.

“We won’t stop fighting,” tweeted Greenpeace Africa following Sunday’s nationwide protests. “Shell must immediately stop oil and gas exploration off S.A.’s Wild Coast.” 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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Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

“We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed,” said Greenpeace.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-29-2021 by Common Dreams

Photo: Greenpeace Africa/Twitter

Environmentalists responded with outrage to reports that oil giant Shell plans to spend the next several months conducting underwater explosions to search for deep-sea oil and gas reserves off South Africa’s coastline—a move that threatens to worsen the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis, undermine the livelihoods of fishers, and harm marine life.

“The extraction [of oil and gas] would bring devastation to the at-risk marine life, to local fishers whose livelihoods depend on the natural ecosystems and fish stocks, and [to] the communities on the coast of the Eastern Cape,” Project 90 by 2030, a South African social and environmental justice organization, told Metro.co.uk. Continue reading

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Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Tied to ‘Historic Shift’ Away From ‘Perilous Profiteering’

“Financial institutions that continue investing in companies building nuclear weapons face regulatory risks as more countries join the treaty. They also face an increased reputational risk.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 11-11-2021 by Common Dreams

ICAN action against investments in nuclear weapons. April 2012, Melbourne. Photo: ICAN (Tim Wright)/flickr/CC

The latest Don’t Bank on the Bomb report, released Thursday, sheds light on the early impacts of a global treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide while also exposing the companies and financial institutions responsible for continuing to build up governments’ arsenals.

The new report from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and PAX comes as the world nears the one-year mark of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entering into force after opening for signature in September 2017. 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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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

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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

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