Tag Archives: South Africa

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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As Rich Countries Shield Pharma Monopolies, Just 0.2% of Covid Vaccine Doses Have Gone to Poor Nations

“We need the cooperation of the whole world and the elimination of all the barriers to the production and distribution of vaccines.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-11-2021

Graphic: Our World in Data/CC

The head of the World Health Organization estimated in a recent address that of the more than 700 million coronavirus vaccine doses that have been administered across the globe, just 0.2% have gone to people in low-income nations—inequity that experts warn will persist unless rich countries end their obstruction of an international effort to suspend vaccine patents.

Speaking to the media on Friday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus warned that “there remains a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines” as pharmaceutical companies cling to their monopoly control over technology that was developed with large infusions of public money. Continue reading

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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

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‘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

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Two-thirds of Earth’s land is on pace to lose water as the climate warms – that’s a problem for people, crops and forests

Cape Town residents queued up for water as the taps nearly ran dry in 2018. Morgana Wingard/Getty Images

Yadu Pokhrel, Michigan State University

The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town, South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was a plea for help.

By drastically cutting their water use, Cape Town residents and farmers were able to push back “Day Zero” until the rain came, but the close call showed just how precarious water security can be. California also faced severe water restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little rain. Continue reading

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‘Day of Rage’: Palestinians and Global Allies Rise Up Against Annexation Plan and Israeli Apartheid

“The Palestinian struggle today is not just about fighting annexation, which we must continue to do. It is about dismantling the entire system of apartheid.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-1-2020

Photo: Days of Palestine/Twitter

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip—backed by allies across the globe—organized protests on Wednesday against the Israeli government’s looming plan to further its apartheid policy by annexing up to a third of West Bank territory under U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called “vision for peace” for the region, which was unveiled in January and championed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Gaza City, the Associated Press reports, thousands of protesters marched with Palestinian flags and signs decrying the annexation plan as a “declaration of war” on the Palestinian people. Following that demonstration, which reportedly ended peacefully in the early afternoon, other rallies were planned in the West Bank. Continue reading

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At #SandtonShutdown, South African Women Disrupt Business as Usual as Fury Over Gender-Based Violence Boils Over

“My body is not your war zone,” read one protest signs.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-13-2019

Protesters march against gender-based violence, organised by several NGO?s and organisations at the JSE in Sandton on September 13, 2019 in Sandton, South Africa. There has been a public outcry after the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town. Several protests and marches have been held across the country to highlight the plight of women and children wh o are constantly fall victims of gender-based violence. Photo: Ndebele Superhero/Twitter

Thousands of protesters rallied outside the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Friday to protest staggering levels of violence against women in South Africa after a spate of recent killings and rapes fueled civil unrest over the issue.

Protesters carried placards with messages including “My body is not your war zone,” and “We should not need protection to survive in our streets and our homes.” Continue reading

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South African Officials Among Many Denouncing Trump’s “Disgusting” White Supremacist Talking Point on Land Reforms

“Tucker Carlson is acting as a direct pathway communicating narratives between white nationalists and the president of the United States.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-23-2018

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected President Donald Trump’s attempt to insert himself into the debate of land expropriation in South Africa, using debunked white nationalist talking points. (Photo: GovernmentZA/Flickr/cc)

After apparently tuning in to Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump waded into the affairs of the South African government, pushing a talking point favored by white nationalists regarding the country’s land reforms—and angering South Africans as well as others who understand South Africa’s history of racial oppression.


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