Drug Giant Silencing Governments

one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine makers appears to have restricted — appears to have restricted access to those very vaccines. The People’s Vaccine Alliance says just 14% of the 1.8 billion doses rich nations promised to donate have been delivered so far. And this week Germany said it expected to miss its target to donate 100 million doses this year, due in part to legal restrictions imposed by vaccine manufacturers.

We are in the worst public health crisis in over a century, and Pfizer has used its monopoly over a life-saving vaccine, a remarkable vaccine, to extract really concerning concessions from desperate governments around the world. And so we detail six examples. And I should say that the contracts are mostly the same, but there are variations within each contract. But almost all the contracts contain, for example, a provision that allows Pfizer to control, essentially, what is said about the contracts. Almost all the contracts contain a provision that says, if there is a vaccine shortage, then Pfizer gets to unilaterally decide what the priority of deliveries is, and the countries will simply accept those terms. There’s provisions about donations, and Pfizer gets to say whether a country can either donate a Pfizer vaccine or even accept a donated Pfizer vaccine. And so, there’s just all kinds of things in these contracts.

— source democracynow.org | Oct 22, 2021

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Pfizer’s Power

In February, Pfizer was accused of “bullying” governments in COVID vaccine negotiations in a groundbreaking story by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.[1] A government official at the time noted, “Five years in the future when these confidentiality agreements are over you will learn what really happened in these negotiations.”[2]

Public Citizen has identified several unredacted Pfizer contracts that describe the outcome of these negotiations. The contracts offer a rare glimpse into the power one pharmaceutical corporation has gained to silence governments, throttle supply, shift risk and maximize profits in the worst public health crisis in a century. We describe six examples from around the world below.[3]

— source citizen.org | Zain Rizvi | Oct 19, 2021

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Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands

Amazon.com Inc has been repeatedly accused of knocking off products it sells on its website and of exploiting its vast trove of internal data to promote its own merchandise at the expense of other sellers. The company has denied the accusations.

But thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters – including emails, strategy papers and business plans – show the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.

The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform. The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, “in the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.

— source reuters.com | ADITYA KALRA, STEVE STECKLOW | Oct. 13, 2021

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The Deathly Tragedy of American Exceptionalism

No other nation has endured as much death from Covid-19 nor nearly as a high a death rate as has the United States.

With 4.25 percent of the world population, America has the tragic distinction of accounting for about 30 percent of pandemic deaths so far.

And it is the only advanced nation where the death rate is still climbing. Three thousand deaths per day are anticipated by June 1st.

No other nation has loosened lockdowns and other social-distancing measures while deaths are increasing, as the U.S. is now doing.

No other advanced nation was as unprepared for the pandemic as was the U.S.

We now know Donald Trump and his administration were told by public health experts in mid-January that immediate action was required to stop the spread of Covid-19. But according

— source robertreich.org | May 11, 2020

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Capitalism has been suspended

David McWilliams: I think it is fair to say that capitalism – in the course of this unprecedented crisis – has been suspended. We are not going back to where we were, to business as usual. The state has come back, and this episode will not be forgotten by the electorate. I don’t know where we are going, but one thing seems clear: we are not going back.

Yanis Varoufakis: I like this phrase: capitalism has been suspended. The last time capitalism was suspended in the west was during the second world war, with the advent of the war economy: a command economy that fixed prices. The war economy marked the transcendence of the standard capitalist model.

But what we see now is not so much the suspension of capitalism. The rules of capitalism may have been suspended – all those sacrosanct policies are gone, the neat separation of

— source yanisvaroufakis.eu | May 8, 2020

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John Deere workers go on strike after rejecting wage deal

About 10,000 members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike against farm and construction equipment maker John Deere early Thursday morning. The UAW had reached a tentative agreement on a new six-year contact with the company two weeks ago, only to see 90% of the rank-and-file members of the union reject it in a ratification vote that concluded this past Sunday. Union and management negotiators talked into the night Wednesday trying to reach a new deal but were unable to do so. This is the nation’s largest private-sector strike since the UAW waged a costly six-week strike against General Motors (GM) two years ago. The union said that 98.6% of members had voted to authorize a strike if there is no new deal by then.

— source cnn.com | Oct 14, 2021

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Racist Medical System Stole Henrietta’s Cells

The family of Henrietta Lacks, the African American cancer patient whose cells were taken by Johns Hopkins University Hospital without her consent in 1951, is suing the pharmaceutical company Thermo Fisher Scientific and demanding reparations and the intellectual property of those cells.

Henrietta Lacks was a young Black mother in segregated Baltimore who suffered from metastatic cervical cancer. Doctors took tissue samples from her womb, unknowingly, that went on to become one of the most productive cell lines, leading to groundbreaking research that became a cornerstone of modern medicine, from cancer care and HIV/AIDS treatment to helping scientists produce remedies for several diseases, including the first polio vaccine and even COVID-19 vaccines. Her cells were just known as “HeLa” cells — H-E-L-A — the first two letters of Henrietta Lacks’s first and last name. But even her family had no clue about her legacy until more than 20 years after her death.

— source democracynow.org | Oct 08, 2021

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